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CWGC: Ypres Salient Cemeteries and Menin Gate Memorial, Belgium

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Image Above - By Marc Ryckaert - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Image right - Ypres Town Cemetery Extension By Wernervc - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Ypres Salient Cemeteries


Image Right - Menin Gate Memorial

The Salient stretched (broadly) from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war.

At the end of the Great War there were perhaps more than 500 military cemeteries in the area covered by the Ypres Salient. Some were only a handful of graves, while others were large sites where hundreds if not thousands of soldiers were buried. After the war the then Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission set about creating permanent cemeteries and many of the original ones were moved to larger burial grounds.

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Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient.
The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient. In the case of United Kingdom casualties, only those prior 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. New Zealand casualties that died prior to 16 August 1917 are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery.
The Menin Gate now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer on 24 July 1927.


Ypres Reservoir Cemetery

Image right - By ➨ Redvers - originally posted to Flickr as War cross, Ypres Reservoir cemetery, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

This cemetery was begun in October 1915, used by fighting units and field ambulances until after the Armistice, when it contained 1,099 graves. The cemetery was later enlarged when graves were brought in from the battlefields of the salient and the following smaller burial grounds:-

  • Ypres Reservoir South Cemetery, between the prison and the reservoir (also called "Broadley's Cemetery" and "Prison Cemetery No.1"). It was used from October 1914 to October 1915, and contained the graves of 18 soldiers from the United Kingdom.
  • Ypres Reservoir Middle Cemetery, immediately North of the South Cemetery (also called "Prison Cemetery No.2" and "Middle Prison Cemetery"). It was used in August and September 1915, and rarely afterwards. It contained the graves of 107 soldiers from the United Kingdom (41 of whom belonged to the 6th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) and one Belgian soldier.
  • The Cemetery at the Infantry Barracks (also called "the Esplanade"), was used from April 1915 to July 1916 and contained the graves of 14 soldiers from the United Kingdom, ten of whom belonged to the 6th Siege Battery, R.G.A.

In Plot V, Row AA, are the graves of 16 officers and men of the 6th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, who were billeted in the vaults of the cathedral and killed on 12 August 1915 by shelling from the "Ypres Express" firing from Houthulst Forest. The survivors were rescued by the 11th King's Liverpools, but these bodies were not recovered until after the Armistice.
There are now 2,613 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 1,034 of the burials are unidentified.

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.

Ypres Town Cemetery 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.
There are now 598 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in the extension. 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.

Graves of Interest

References and Sources