DERNANCOURT COMMUNAL CEMETERY  EXTENSION

Dernancourt

Somme

France

 

General Directions: Dernancourt is a village 3 kilometres south of Albert. The Communal Cemetery is a little west of the village, and the Extension is on the north-west side of the Communal Cemetery.

Field ambulances used the Communal Cemetery for Commonwealth burials from September 1915 to August 1916, and again during the German advance of March 1918. It contains 127 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

The XV Corps Main Dressing Station was formed at Dernancourt in August 1916, when the adjoining EXTENSION was opened. The 45th and 56th (1st/1st South Midland) Casualty Clearing Stations came in September 1916 and remained until March 1917. The 3rd Australian was here in March and April 1917, and the 56th from April 1917 to February 1918. The 3rd Casualty Clearing Station came in March 1918 but on 26 March, Dernancourt was evacuated ahead of the German advance, and the extension remained in their hands until the village was recaptured on 9 August 1918 by the 12th Division and the 33rd American Division. In September it was again used by the 47th, 48th and 55th Casualty Clearing Stations under the name of "Edgehill", due to the rising ground on the north-west.

At the Armistice, the Extension contained more than 1,700 burials; it was then enlarged when graves were brought in from isolated positions in the immediate neighbourhood and certain small cemeteries, including:-

MOOR CEMETERY, EDGEHILL, DERNANCOURT, was about 800 metres West, near the top of the hill. It contained the graves of 42 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell on the 23rd-25th March, 1918.

ALBERT ROAD CEMETERY, BUIRE-SUR-ANCRE, was nearly 3 Kms West, on the straight road from Amiens to Albert. It contained the graves of 65 soldiers from the United Kingdom and 33 from Australia, who fell in April-August, 1918. It was made by Australian units and by the 58th (London) and 12th Divisions.

The extension now contains 2,162 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 177 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 29 casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and to two buried at Albert Road Cemetery, Buire-sur-Ancre whose grave could not be found on concentration.

The extension was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens & George Hartley Goldsmith

Victoria Cross: 358 Serjeant, Thomas James Harris, VC. MM. 6th Bn. Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), 09/08/18. Plot VIII. J. 20. (Extension).

Image courtesy of Tony Grant Citation: An extract from The London Gazette, No. 30967, dated 18th Oct., 1918, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack when the advance was much impeded by hostile machine guns concealed in crops and shell-holes. Serjt. Harris led his section against one of these, capturing it and killing seven of the enemy. Later, on two successive occasions, he attacked single-handed two enemy machine-guns which were causing heavy casualties and holding up the advance. He captured the first gun and killed the crew, but was himself killed when attacking the second one. It was largely due to the great courage and initiative of this gallant N.C.O. that the advance of the battalion was continued without delay and undue casualties. Throughout the operations he showed a total disregard for his own personal safety, and set a magnificent example to all ranks."

 

Click here for an article on Serjt. Harris

 

 

 

Casualty Details: UK 1640, Canada 8, Australia 425, New Zealand 51, South Africa 33, India 5, Germany 2, Total Burials: 2164

 

 

237 Lance Corporal

Reginald Severn Tonge

22nd Bn. Royal Fusiliers

17/02/1917, aged 37

Son of Julia Tonge, of Raby Lodge, 35, Oliver Grove, South Norwood, London.

Plot V. B. 24

392280 Rifleman

Leslie George Field

9th Bn. London Regiment, (Queen Victoria's Rifles)

08/09/1918.

Plot VIII. E. 14.

30369 Lance Corporal

John Brown

6th Bn. King's Own Scottish Borderers

26-27/03/1918.

Plot X. B. 7.

"Gone but not forgotten"

 

Remembered by his nephew Billy Mundell

 

Second Lieutenant

Henry Edward Vernon Winkworth

6th Bn. Northamptonshire Regiment

16/02/1917, aged 21.

Son of Edward and Sarah Winkworth, of 7, Wilbury Gardens, Hove, Sussex.

Plot V. C. 11.

 

He died of wounds at 45th Casualty Clearing Station on 18th February 1917 after being wounded by a gunshot wound to the chest at Boom Ravine on 17th February, possibly by machine-gun fire whilst crossing Grandcourt Trench.

Henry was born on 7th December 1895 at Brighton, Sussex, the son of Edward Henry Thomas Winkworth, an auctioneer (b. 1857, Windsor, Berks.),
and Mrs Sarah Jane M. Winkworth (nee Merryweather, b. c-1868, m. 1890 at St. Giles, London) 7 Wilbury Gardens, Hove.
He was brother to Cecilia Clara Winkworth and John Staverton Winkworth.

"Lest We Forget"

 

Picture courtesy of Liz & Bob Matthews

 

9006 Lance Corporal

Edmond James Guy

1st Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment

12/03/1917, aged 26.

Son of Walter Thomas and Alice Mary Guy, of 14, Fentons Avenue, Plaistow, London.

Plot VI. D. 11.

 

Brave soldier and beloved brother of Milly, Rose, Elsie, Lily and Gertie
Still mourned by his family. He was ours.

 

 

 Memories of Dernancourt

Reminiscences of Bob Booker, the son of a CWGC Gardener

My father was a war graves gardener based at Dernancourt during the late fifties and the early sixties, Dad was almost too young for WW2. But couldn’t be called up anyway as he was in a reserved occupation working in a factory on war equipment which he had been doing since leaving school. He was called up immediately after the war when he was both old enough, and the reserved occupations ended. He then served in Malaya during the Malayan campaign. After his national service he never returned to the factory but went into gardening. As a gardener he replied to a War Graves advert for gardeners. He was offered a job, and so we moved from Cornwall to Dernancourt in France in 1959 and we lived as a family on the other side of the railway bridge from the cemetery with just one farm house between us and the railway line. We also went to school in Dernancourt village. The posts which supported a chain link fence along the length of our back garden at Dernancourt were old British narrow gauge rails which had been used for moving war supplies somewhere and after the war had been recycled into fence posts.

As children in the late autumn and winter we used to follow the furrows after the plough looking for the scrap which was brought to the surface. In one particular field we would always find cutlery and kitchen type paraphernalia. On one occasion Dad helped a local farmer to widen a gateway just past the cemetery. It was a mutual task in that they needed top soil for levelling some ground in the cemetery. Whilst doing this they uncovered a listening post which had been buried for the past forty years. Some time ago I read a book of eye witness accounts which include one written about two soldiers who made their way to where the field canteen had been. This was after the German advance and after the allies had retreated from Dernancourt leaving their supplies behind. Whilst the Germans were in Dernancourt village they made their way at night along the side of the railway line up past the listening post to the remains of the canteen to retrieved what ever supplies they could find and carry. Of all the eye witness accounts which I used to read this was the most vivid. I had known the area so well and could follow accurately every move they made.

I remember once, after heavy rain a small amount of land slipped away from the railway embankment and a well rotted crate of German stick grenades slid down and opened it self up on the grass verge just by the railway bridge. The grenades just lay there at the side of the road where they had tumbled for weeks possibly months before they were cleared away. We just got used to them being there. On the other side of the bridge a small area was used by the farmers for stacking the unexploded shells which they unearthed whilst ploughing. These would gradually accumulate during the season as they dropped them off on their way back from the fields at the end of the day. In the spring these were collected for disposal by the authorities and the grenades must have stayed where they lay until they were removed at the same time as the shells. There were still a lot of horses in use in the early sixties; I remember a farmer who had a wooden box fitted to the back of his horse drawn plough, and if he unearthed a shell he would pop it into the box in front of the plough handles and carry on ploughing with the shell just in front of him.

During his 14 years as a War Graves Gardener we also lived in Albert, St. Pol-sur-Ternoise and also Ypres in Belgium where dad worked at the Menin Gate and the Ypres Reservoir Cemetery.

 

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