HANGARD WOOD BRITISH CEMETERY

Hangard

Somme

France

 

General Directions: Hangard is a village between Domart and Demuin. The road to Villers-Bretonneux goes due north from the village, up a steep hillside. After 2 kilometres it passes between the two portions of Hangard Wood, and Hangard Wood British Cemetery will be found at this point.

At the end of March 1918, Hangard was at the junction of the French and Commonwealth forces defending Amiens. Between 4 and 25 April, the village and Hangard Wood were the scene of incessant fighting, in which the line was held and the 18th Division were particularly heavily engaged.

In July 1918, the site of the cemetery was in German hands, but it was cleared by the Canadian Corps early on 8 August 1918, and the Corps Burial Officer began this cemetery later in the month. A number of graves of April 1918, as well of those of August, were brought in, and after the Armistice other graves of April 1918, were concentrated from Villers-Bretonneux, and of October 1916, from other parts of the Somme battlefield.

The cemetery now contains 141 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 39 of which are unidentified. There are also 14 French burials in the cemetery.

Victoria Cross:

Private John Bernard Croak, VC, 13th Bn. Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment), died of wounds 08/08/1918 aged 26, plot I. A. 9., Son of James and Cecelia Croak, of New Aberdeen, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Born at Little Bay, Newfoundland.

Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 30922, dated 24th Sept., 1918, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery in attack when having become separated from his section he encountered a machine gun nest, which he bombed and silenced, taking the gun and crew prisoners. Shortly afterwards he was severely wounded, but refused to desist. Having rejoined his platoon, a very strong point, containing several machine guns, was encountered. Private Croak, however, seeing an opportunity, dashed forward alone and was almost immediately followed by the remainder of the platoon in a brilliant charge. He was the first to arrive at the trench line, into which he led his men, capturing three machine guns and bayoneting or capturing the entire garrison. The perseverance and valour of this gallant soldier who was again severely wounded, and died of his wounds, were an inspiring example to all."

Casualty Details: UK 58, Canada 61, Australia 17, South Africa 5, France 20, Total Burials: 161

 

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