A visit to the Ypres Town Cemetery Extension
A visit to this cemetery won't be found on any Leger Battlefields Tour, but if you are staying in Ypres and have some spare time it is worth making the effort to go and have a walk around.
How to find it: Ypres Town Cemetery Extension is located 1 km east of Ypres town centre, on the Zonnebeekseweg (N332), connecting Ypres to Zonnebeke. From Ypres town centre, the Zonnebeekseweg is located via Torhoutstraat and right onto Basculestraat. Basculestraat ends at a main cross roads and the first left hand turn is the Zonnebeekseweg (N345). The cemetery itself is located 300 metres along the Zonnebeekseweg on the right hand side of the road.
YPRES TOWN CEMETERY, close to the Menin Gate, was used from October 1914 to May 1915, and once in 1918. The cemetery contains 145 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, grouped in plots among the civil graves. The EXTENSION, on the east side of the town cemetery, was also begun in October 1914 and was used until April 1915, and on two further occasions in 1918. The extension was much increased after the Armistice when 367 graves were brought in from small cemeteries and isolated positions east and north of Ypres. During and after the fighting of May 1940, three civilian hospitals in the town, (Hospital de Notre Dame, the Clinique des Soeurs Noires and the Red Cross Hospital in St. Aloisius School, D'Hondstraat), cared for the wounded, and those who died were buried in the Town Cemetery Extension. Others buried on the battlefield were later brought in by the Ypres town services. There are now 598 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in the extension. A total of 137 of the burials are unidentified, and there are special memorials to 16 servicemen known or believed to be buried among them. Second World War burials number 43, of which 13 are unidentified. The extension was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.*
Remembering some of the fallen
Below are a few of the soldiers that can be found in this cemetery. I have tried to include as much information about them as I could find, so that they are more than just a name and number on a stone.
H.H. Lieutenant Prince Maurice of Battenberg
The youngest grandson of Queen Victoria & Cousin to King George V.
"Serving with the 1st King's Royal Rifle Corps, Prince Maurice was killed by shrapnel on top of Passchendaele ridge."** on 27 October 1914.
Lord Charles Sackville Pelham Worsley
Lord Charles Sackville Pelham Worsley was 27 and serving in C Squadron of the Household Cavalry on 30 October 1914 (the action described briefly above). An order to withdraw did not reach the machine gun section he was in charge of, or some of the other soldiers. They were cut off, and Lord Worsley was first listed as 'missing', and was officially recorded as dead early in 1915. However, Worsley's body had been found and buried by the Germans, and a plan of where he had been buried was later passed on via diplomatic channels from the Germans. In December 1918 his grave was located by a British officer using the plans, with the upright wooden portion of the cross which had been placed there by the Germans still standing. A replacement wooden cross was put there in January 1919, and Lord Worsley's widow later purchased this land.
However in 1921, as part of the process of concentrating graves, Lord Worsley's body was exhumed and reburied in Ypres at the Town Cemetery Military Extension.***
2nd Lieutenant Logan Studley
Logan Studley enlisted at aged 17 years eight Months whilst still a scholar with 7th Battalion Black Watch Special Reserve in Edinburgh on 12 September 1913. He was released to join 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment on 11 January 1914. On 5 October 1914 the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment sailed for Belgium. On 16 October 1914, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the East Yorkshire Regiment. He died from wounds sustained on 25 October 1914 aged 18, after having only served overseas for less than three weeks at Ypres
Gunner Walter Marchant & Colonel Arthur Jex Blake Percival
Gunner Walter Marchant. Born in Tunbridge Wells in 1889. Prior to enlisting on 29/08/04, he was an upholsterer like his father.
He came to France on 16 October 1914 with 35th Heavy Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery.
He was killed on 31 October 14 during the defence of Gheluvelt close by Kemmel Hill.
Another soldier with the 35th Heavy Battery that day, Gunner Arthur Wilkinson, wrote about the Germans searching out the British guns.
"About 10am the German shells were falling all over the place... the wood in which the horses were concealed was shelled by heavy explosive and I got a message to say that our horses were in a bad plight. I went to see them and found that two drivers were dead and three wounded, and 10 horses severely wounded. I had to shoot six of them with my revolver as they were torn to bits."****
Colonel Arthur Jex Blake Percival was born in 1870. He was a career soldier, also serving during the Boer war.
As with Gunner Marchant, Percival was also killed on 21 October 1914, probably by the same means as Marchant was, though in a different location. The following describes the events surrounding Percivals death;
"Shells were falling in the vicinity as the Germans were continuing to bombard the Menin Road back towards Ypres. About 13.15 hours a cluster of four shells straddled the (Hooge) chateau, the second bursting immediately outside (Major General) Monro's office. Five staff officers were killed outright including GSO1 of 1st Division, Colonel F.W. Kerr and the GSO2 of 2nd Division, Lieutenant Colonel AJB Percival."*****
Private Arthur Doyle, Gunner Harry Hudson, Gunner Walter Williamson & Private John Beckett
Private Arthur Doyle arrived in France on 9 September 1915 with the Northumberland Fusiliers, and was killed in action on 28 September 1917.
Gunner Harry Hudson, a tool smith striker from Sheffield, arrived in France with the Royal Field Artillery on 19 April 1915 and was killed aged 23 on 23 June 1917.
Gunner Walter George Wilkinson entered France with the Royal Field Artillery on 6 November 1914 and as killed on 23 June 1917, aged 32.
Private John William Beckett, a greengrocer from Hadfield Street in Manchester. He enlisted on 27 July 1916 and arrived in France with the 18th Manchesters on 11 December 1916. He was killed in action on 18 June 1917.
* Information about the Ypres Town Cemetery is from www.cwgc.org
** Extract from "Ypres - The First Battle 1914" by Ian F.W. Beckett
*** Information from www.ww1battlefields.co.uk
**** Extract from "The Gunners of August 1914" by John Hutton
***** Extract from "Ypres - The First Battle 1914" by Ian F.W. Beckett