CHOCQUES MILITARY CEMETERY

Chocques

Pas de Calais

France

 

General Directions: Chocques is 4 kilometres north-west of Bethune on the road to Lillers. When you reach the traffic lights on this road at Chocques, follow the signs for the centre of town and go through the main street, then turn left towards Gonnheim. Take the next turning on the right and the cemetery lies approximately 400 metres down the road on the left.

Chocques was occupied by Commonwealth forces from the late autumn of 1914 to the end of the war. The village was at one time the headquarters of I Corps and from January 1915 to April 1918, No.1 Casualty Clearing Station was posted there. Most of the burials from this period are of casualties who died at the clearing station from wounds received at the Bethune front.

From April to September 1918, during the German advance on this front, the burials were carried out by field ambulances, divisions and fighting units. The groups of graves of a single Royal Artillery brigade in Plot II, Row A, and of the 2nd Seaforths in II D, and III A, are significant of the casualties of the 4th Division at that time. The big collective grave in VI A contains the remains of 29 soldiers of the 4th King's Liverpool Regiment killed in a troop train in April 1918. The stone memorial in IA is placed behind the graves of eight men of the 3rd Squadron, RFC, killed in a bomb explosion on the aerodrome at Merville in March 1915.

After the Armistice it was found necessary to concentrate into this Cemetery (Plots II, III, IV and VI) a large number of isolated graves plus some small graveyards from the country between Chocques and Bethune. Among the small cemeteries thus removed were:-

ANNEZIN Communal Cemetery Extension, a short distance West of Bethune, made by the 3rd Division in April, 1918, which contained 38 graves.

LES HARISOIRS British Cemetery, Mont-Bernenchon, 4.8 Kms North East of Chocques, made by the 4th Division in April, 1918, which contained 27 graves.

CANAL Cemetery, Les Harisoirs, made by the 4th Division in April, 1918, which contained 17 graves.

BOIS-DES-MONTAGNES British Cemetery, Vaudricourt, 3.2 Kms South West of Bethune, made by the 46th Field Ambulance in September, 1915, which contained 8 graves.

Chocques Military Cemetery now contains 1,801 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 134 of then unidentified. There are also 82 German war graves, 47 being unidentified.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens & Captain Wilfred Clement Von Berg, MC

 

Victoria Cross: Second Lieutenant Alexander Buller Turner, VC. 1st Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment, died of wounds 01/10/1915, aged 22. Plot I. B. 2.

Citation: An extract from the Third Supplement to the London Gazette of 16th Nov., 1915, No. 29371, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery on 28th Sept., 1915, at "Fosse 8," near Vermelles. When the regimental bombers could make no headway in Slag Alley, Second Lieutenant Turner volunteered to lead a new bombing attack. He pressed down the communication trench practically alone, throwing bombs incessantly with such dash and determination that he drove back the Germans about 150 yards without a check. His action enabled the reserves to advance with very little loss, and subsequently covered the flank of his regiment in its retirement, thus probably averting a loss of some hundreds of men. This most gallant Officer has since died of wounds received in this action."

Shot at Dawn: 18143 Private Albert Holmes, 8th Bn. King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), executed for desertion 22/04/1918, aged 22. Plot III. C. 10. Husband of Bessie Holmes, of 51, Croydon St., Easton Road, Bristol.

Shot at Dawn: 20808 Private Robert W. Simmes, 2nd Bn. Royal Scots, executed for desertion 19/05/1918, aged 25. Plot III. A. 19.

The mass pardon of 306 British Empire soldiers executed for certain offences during the Great War was enacted in section 359 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, which came into effect on royal assent on 8 November 2006.

Casualty Details: UK 1709, Canada 51, South Africa 4, India 36, Germany 82, Total Burials: 1882

2054 Corporal

Richard Henry Coad

2nd Lines of Communication Sect.

Royal Army Medical Corps

22/05/1915, aged 23.

Son of Richard Henry and Ellen Jane Coad. Born at Redruth, Cornwall.

Plot I. C. 48.

 

Dick lived at 47 March Street, Burnley. He was wounded on May 20th 1915 and handed over to the 4th (London) Field Ambulance for treatment.

His friend, Harry Greenhalgh, wrote to Dick's parents:

 

"Last Thursday evening the Germans started shelling this place, and a group of us were standing not far from our billet when a shell burst about ten yards away. Dick, Will and another of our chaps were hit, but we soon had them inside, and our officer, who is a doctor and was in the billet at the time, attended to them, and it was not long before they were taken into hospital. I went to see them the following day and found them all right. As I expect Dick will be all right in a few weeks. They have taken him away from this place, I don't know where he has been removed, but I am expecting a letter from him any time now. I received the parcel you sent to him yesterday, and Dick told me to divide it among the section. I am looking after his kit for him and will let you know if I hear something."

 

Sadly, Dick succumbed to his wounds and was buried at Chocques Military Cemetery. Harry Greenhalgh, also from Burnley, survived the war and ended up as a Serjeant in the R.A.M.C.

 

6165 Serjeant

Arthur Davies

1st/4th Bn. Royal Welsh Fusiliers

11/05/1915, aged 24.

Son of Mr. W. Davies, of II, Lodge Lane, Liverpool; husband of E. Conde (formerly Davies), of 2, Chirk Green, Chirk, Denbighshire.

Plot I. A. 110.

Wounded at the Battle of Aubers Ridge 9th May 1915 and died of wounds two days later 11th May 1915, his death is mentioned in All that we had we gave, by Peter Glynn

 

13970 Private

James Miller Taylor

10th Bn. Cameronians

(Scottish Rifles)

Husband of Mrs. M. G. Cartwright (formerly Taylor), of 41, May St., Burnley Wood, Burnley.

Plot II. C. 3.

 

Picture courtesy of Grandson, Gareth Davies

 

12111 Private

Richard Jarvis

12th Bn. East Yorkshire Regiment

17/08/1916, aged 36.

Plot I. A. 67.

 

Son of Benjamin and Eliza Jarvis, husband of Ada of 2 Selkirk Street, Hull, father to Richard, Harold and Ada Alkimia. Brother to my grandmother Matilda Ward (nee Jarvis). Also brother to 10657 Private Arthur Harold Jarvis, 6th Bn East Yorkshire Regiment killed Monday 9th August 1915 at the Dardnelles in the Gallipoli campaign. Commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey.

 

Remembered with honour and pride by great niece Liz Cook and all his descendents

 

700121 Driver

Edward Washington

"C" Bty. 210th Bde. Royal Field Artillery

10/03/1918, aged 26.

Son of John and Sarah Waddington, of 116, Cleaver St., Burnley.

Plot I. O. 33.

 

Edward died of bronchial pneumonia at No.1 Casualty Clearing Station, France. The chaplain, Rev. R. G. Gamble wrote the following words to his parents:

 

"Your son has given his life for his country and for love of you and yours. He did not suffer much, but passed away quietly in his sleep. We laid him to rest in a little cemetery near here this afternoon, and his officer and many of his fellow-men attended to do him last honour."

 

2603 Private

Alfred Herbert Jardine

9th Bn. The King's (Liverpool Regiment)

27/08/1915, aged 17.

Plot I. D. 79.

 

 

Alfred's parents visit his grave in Chocques Military Cemetery after the war (left)

 

Alfred's nephew, George Bancroft and his son visit his grave many years later (centre)

 

A portrait of Alfred Herbert Jardine (right)

WW1 Service
A Liverpool Boy soldier

The sad loss of my Grandfather’s only son.
Like many of his friends and other Liverpool youngsters at that time; they enlisted enthusiastically and like Alfred, many were under age.
For Alfred it would result in a life cut so tragically short when he was killed in Action at just 17 years of age.

Alfred Herbert Jardine was born in Wavertree, Liverpool on the 5th July 1898, the only son of Alfred Jardine & Lucy Emily Jardine nee Herbert.
He lived with his parents & three sisters Dorothy, Winifred & Elsie (the second eldest sister being my mother Winifred Lucy Bancroft nee Jardine,) at 77 Alderson Road, Wavertree, Liverpool.

I have always had an interest in Family History and I have a number of Memorabilia items for my uncle Alfred that relate to his short life.
One of these being a copy of an essay written by Alfred at his school- Lawrence Road, Wavertree in 1912 entitled ‘My Life’.
A fascinating innocent window of his life, his hobbies and pleasures.

I also have several sketches he did, one of these being a picture dated June 1914 of the liner ‘Empress Of Ireland’ that sank in the Saint Lawrence

River following a collision with the Norwegian collier SS Storstad in the early hours of 29 May 1914.
By a strange coincidence my Wife’s Great Uncle George Oswald Willis was a Smoke Room Steward and one of the fatalities of the accident which claimed the lives of 1,012 (840 passengers, 172 crew)

It is hard to believe that such a happy childhood would be brutally interrupted in 1914 and have a devastating impact for him and his family the following year in 1915 when he was killed in action.
He enlisted in Liverpool with the 9th Battalion, The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) Private 2603 on the 29th September 1914 giving his age as 18 years 2 months.
My Mother told me that on hearing from Alfred that he had enlisted, her Father went to the recruiting office to try and get the papers cancelled because his son was under age. This was refused as the official papers had been signed.
So began Alfred’s short but brave military career.
He was stationed at home in the UK 29th September 1914 to 11th March 1915.
Embarked at Southampton for France 12th March 1915
From his arrival in France till his death he would be engaged in a number of actions with his battalion.
Family story has been passed to the present generation that Alfred was shot by an enemy sniper after leaving his trench to collect firewood.
To date I have not found any evidence for this or what action he might have taken part in.
From his British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920 I do know, that he died on the 27th August 1915 of wounds received in action on 26th August 1915 in Vermelles situated 6 miles south east of Béthune, Pas de Calais, France and he is buried at Chocques Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
I still have the dreadful telegram dated 7th September 1915 ..”It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has this day been received from the War Office notifying the death of…………..” that my Dear Grandfather had to open on that tragic day, like so many other families would have to endure.
In fact, two years later in 1917, my paternal Grandfather would receive the same painful telegram to report the death of my second uncle to die in the Great War - Thomas Wright Bancroft (See his story on the Arras Memorial Roll of Honour page)

They are truly 'not forgotten' and I have had the honour to visit their War Graves on two occasions and pay our family respects for their sacrifice.

The casualty sheet from Alfred's service record

 

Pictures and text courtesy of George Bancroft, nephew of Alfred Jardine

 

41438 Gunner

William MacAllister

"C" Bty. 96th Bde. Royal Field Artillery

03/10/1915

Plot I. E. 125.

 

The reverse side of the picture postcard

(Note that the CWGC show him as McAllister but he writes his name as MacAllister)

 

Pictures courtesy of Michel Leclercq


 

German Offensive in Flanders. Prisoners captured near La Bassee at Chocques, 10 April 1918, outside a medical inspection hut.

© IWM (Q 8687)

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