ESSEX FARM CEMETERY

 

Boezinge

 

West-Vlaanderen

 

Belgium

 

GENERAL DIRECTIONS: Boezinge is a village in the province of West Flanders, north of Ieper on the Diksmuidseweg road (N369). From the station turn left into M.Fochlaan and go to the roundabout. Then turn right and continue to the next roundabout. Turn left and drive to the next roundabout and then turn right into Oude Veurnestraat. Take the 2nd turning on the left, which is the Diksmuidseweg, and follow the road under the motorway bridge; the Cemetery will be found on the right hand side of the road.

The land south of Essex Farm was used as a dressing station cemetery from April 1915 to August 1917. The burials were made without definite plan and some of the divisions which occupied this sector may be traced in almost every part of the cemetery, but the 49th (West Riding) Division buried their dead of 1915 in Plot I, and the 38th (Welsh) Division used Plot III in the autumn of 1916. There are 1,199 servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 102 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate 19 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. It was in Essex Farm Cemetery that Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Army Medical Corps wrote the poem ' In Flanders Fields' in May 1915. The 49th Division Memorial is immediately behind the cemetery, on the canal bank.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield

 

Victoria Cross:

Private Thomas Barratt VC, 7th Bn. Service No 17114, Aged 22, South Staffordshire Regiment, died 27/07/1917. Plot I. Z. 8. Son of James and Sarah Ann Barratt.

Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 30272, dated 4th Sept., 1917, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery when as Scout to a patrol he worked his way towards the enemy line with the greatest gallantry and determination, in spite of continuous fire from hostile snipers at close range. These snipers he stalked and killed. Later his patrol was similarly held up, and again he disposed of the snipers. When during the subsequent withdrawal of the patrol it was observed that a party of the enemy were endeavouring to outflank them, Pte. Barratt at once volunteered to cover the retirement, and this he succeeded in accomplishing. His accurate shooting caused many casualties to the enemy, and prevented their advance. Throughout the enterprise he was under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, and his splendid example of coolness and daring was beyond all praise. After safely regaining our lines, this very gallant soldier was killed by a shell."

 

 CASUALTY DETAILS: UK 1107; Canada 9;  Entirely Unidentified 83; Germany 5; Total Burials: 1204

 

A/3567 Rifleman

A. J. Rothwell

"D" Coy. 10th Bn.

King's Royal Rifle Corps

12/04/1916, aged 23.

Son of James and Alice Mary Rothwell, of 57, Greenway St., Small Heath, Birmingham.

Plot II. H. 17.

 

 

The Battles of Ypres, 1917. The Canal at Boesinghe, after it had been passed by the British advance, showing bridge destroyed. 6th August 1917.

IWM (Q 2682)

 

 

 

Amongst those buried in this cemetery:

CAMPBELL, Lt. Donald. Coldstream Guards. Died 19th July 1916. Age 20. Son of Capt. The Hon John B. Campbell D.S.O. Coldstream Guards and the Hon. Alice Lady Stratheden and Campbell of Hunthill, Jedborough, Roxburghshire. II. V. 8. His father Capt. The Hon J. B. Campbell D.S.O. also fell and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial

EVANS, Pte. W. 20432. 2nd Bn. York and Lancaster Regt. Died 21st April 1916. 2. P. 11

SHIRLEY, Pte. Leonard John. 20753. 2nd Bn. York and Lancaster Regt. Died 21st April 1916. Age 27. Son of James and Agnes W. Shirley, of 426, Wimborne Road, Winton, Bournemouth, 2. P. 10

LE BLANC-SMITH, Lt. Charles Ralph. 8th Bn. Rifle Brigade. Killed in Action: 27th November 1915. Age 25. Born: 3rd March 1890. Attended Eton College and 3rd Trinity College, Cambridge.  Rowed in the 1910, 1911 & 1912 Boat Races against Oxford. Also part of the 4 man winning crew who won the Visitors Challege Cup at Henley in 1910. President of Cambridge University Boat Club in 1913.  I. R. 9.

PUSCH, Lt. Frederick Leopald. D.S.O. 1st Bn. Irish Guards. Died 27th June 1916. Age 20. Son of Emile and Helen Pusch, of 5 Albert Court, Kensington Gore, London. 1. A. 1. His brother 2/Lt. E. J. Pusch also fell and is buried in Flatiron Copse Military Cemetery.

STRUDWICK, Rfm, Valentine Joe. 5750. 8th Bn Rifle Brigade. Died 14th January 1916. Age 15. Son of Louisa Strudwick, of 70, Orchard Rd., Dorking. One of the youngest battle casualties of the war. I. U. 8.

Information collated by Barry Cuttell

Memorial to Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae author of the poem "In Flanders Fields"

 

Lieutenant-Colonel

John Alexander McCrae

30 November 1872 -

28 January 1918

 

Buried at Wimereux Communal Cemetery

 

In Flanders Fields


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Though various legends have developed as to the inspiration for the poem, the most commonly held belief is that McCrae wrote "In Flanders Fields" on May 3, 1915, the day after presiding over the funeral and burial of his friend Lieutenant Alex Helmer, who had been killed during the Second Battle of Ypres. The poem was written as he sat upon the back of a medical field ambulance near an advance dressing post at Essex Farm, just north of Ypres. The poppy, which was a central feature of the poem, grew in great numbers in the spoiled earth of the battlefields and cemeteries of Flanders. McCrae later discarded the poem, but it was saved by a fellow officer and sent in to Punch magazine, which published it later that year.

 

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