LONGUENESSE (ST. OMER) SOUVENIR CEMETERY

St. Omer

Pas de Calais

France

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St. Omer is a large town 45 kilometres south-east of Calais. Longuenesse is a commune on the southern outskirts of St. Omer. The Cemetery is approximately 3 kilometres from St Omer, beside the Wizernes (Abbeville) road (the D928), at its junction with the Rue des Bruyeres. There is a large car park to the rear of the cemetery.

St. Omer was the General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force from October 1914 to March 1916. Lord Roberts died there in November 1914. The town was a considerable hospital centre with the 4th, 10th, 7th Canadian, 9th Canadian and New Zealand Stationary Hospitals, the 7th, 58th (Scottish) and 59th (Northern) General Hospitals, and the 17th, 18th and 1st and 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Stations all stationed there at some time during the war. St. Omer suffered air raids in November 1917 and May 1918, with serious loss of life.

The cemetery takes its names from the triangular cemetery of the St. Omer garrison, properly called the Souvenir Cemetery (Cimetiere du Souvenir Francais) which is located next to the War Cemetery.

The Commonwealth section of the cemetery contains 2,874 Commonwealth burials of the First World War (6 unidentified), with special memorials commemorating 23 men of the Chinese Labour Corps whose graves could not be exactly located. Second World War burials number 403, (93 unidentified). Within the Commonwealth section there are also 34 non-war burials and 239 war graves of other nationalities.

The cemetery was designed by
Sir Herbert Baker.

Casualty Details: UK 2486, Canada 150, Australia 155, New Zealand 53, South Africa 24, India 6, Germany 187, France 10, Total Burials: 3096

 

 

Victoria Cross: 3697 Lance Corporal, Cecil Reginald Noble, VC. "C" Company, 2nd Bn. Rifle Brigade, died of wounds 13/03/1915, aged 23. Son of Hannah Noble, of "Ferndean," 172, Capstone Rd., Bournemouth, and the late Frederick Leopold Noble. Plot I. A. 57.

Citation: An extract from the Supplement to the London Gazette of 27th April, 1915 (No. 29146) records the award of the V.C. to this N.C.O. and to C.S.M. H. Daniels "For most conspicuous bravery on 12th March, 1915, at Neuve-Chapelle, when their battalion was impeded in the advance to attack by wire entanglements, and subjected to a very severe machine-gun fire, these two men voluntarily rushed in front and succeeded in cutting the wires."

Cecil Noble's bravery was immortalised on this 1916 Martins "Glory Boys" Cigarette Card. (left) and a Cohen-Weenen "Victoria Cross Heroes card (right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13129 Corporal

Hugh Gibson

7th Bn. Royal Scots Fusiliers

09/09/1915, aged 34.

Son of Thomas and Jean Gibson, of Blantyre, Glasgow; husband of Jessie Stoddart Gibson, of 38, Broompark Rd., High Blantyre, Glasgow.

Plot II. A. 26.

 

Picture courtesy of great, great niece Mandy Larkins

 

 

French soldiers graves in the military cemetery, St. Omer, November 1915. 

IWM (Q 29050)

 

 

 

Shot at Dawn

7552 Lance Serjeant, William Walton, 2nd Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps, executed for desertion 23/03/1915, aged 26. Son of Mrs. H. Walton, of 5, Pelham Street, Hanley, Staffs.

Plot I. A. 68.

8752 Private, Isaac Reid, 2nd Bn. Scots Guards, executed for desertion 09/04/1915. Plot III. B. 26.

28719 Private, James Cuthbert, 9th Bn. Cheshire Regiment, executed for disobedience 06/05/1916, aged 20. Son of Mrs. Edith Cuthbert, of 61, Webster Street, Oldham, Lancs.

Plot V. F. 71.

404436 Private, E. J. Reynolds, 3rd Bn. Canadian Infantry, executed for desertion 23/08/1916. Plot IV. A. 39.

32559 Private, Charles Bain Nicholson, 8th Bn. Yorks and Lancaster Regiment, executed for desertion 27/10/1917, aged 19. Twin son of Alexander and Catherine Nicholson, of 11, Leven St., Middlesbrough. Plot IV. E. 66.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2569 Private

Wilfred Ernest Turner

4th Australian Pioneers

16/03/1918, aged 22.

Plot IV. F. 69.

 

A fireman of Maryborough Qld, with three years service in the Citizens' Military Forces (CMF), Turner enlisted as a Pte on 16 November 1915. He embarked from Brisbane aboard HMAT Seang Choon (A49) with the 5th Reinforcements on 19 September 1916. He was promoted to Lance Corporal (L Cpl) on 6 September 1917. L Cpl Turner died of disease on 16 March 1918, aged 22.

 

(Note: CWGC show his rank as Private)

 

 

 

 

WW2 Graves

 

WW2 Graves

 

WW2 Graves

 

WW2 Graves

 

 

 

30657 Private

Harry Pilkington

11th Bn. East Lancashire Regiment

28/06/1918, aged 19.

Son of Albert James and Lucy Pilkington, of 70, Disraeli St., Burnley.

Plot V. C. 14.

Harry enlisted in February 1917 and had been in France since September of the same year. His mother, Lucy, received the following letter from the Rev. Dennis Sudall, Army Chaplain;

"Dear Mrs Pilkington, I am more sad than I can say to hear the news that has just reached me, that your son, Pte. Harry Pilkington (30657), 11th East Lancashire Regiment, has died of his wounds in hospital. Our battalion made an attack on the morning of June 28th, and your boy was wounded early in the fight. We found him lying in a trench, and did all that we possibly could for him, getting him to the doctor, and we all hoped he would recover. He was one of the best, brightest, most splendid lads it has been my fortune to meet, and I personally feel that in losing him I have lost one of my greatest friends out here. For him I know we need not grieve, since we Christians do know that what seems to us to be death is in reality but the beginning of a fuller and freer life beyond the grave. I do know that your boy has already met the Saviour, whom he served so faithfully here on earth. I like to think that God needs lads like your son to teach others, who in this life have not had the chances he had of learning this exceeding love. He will no doubt in previous letters told you I prepared him for confirmation and he was confirmed. It is the greatest joy to me to think of that, and of the fact that just before the fight he and many others came to Holy Communion, which was celebrated in the corner of a field. Everyone was fond of him, as he never shirked anything, but gave all he had to give unselfishly and happily for us all, cheerful always in spite of adversity. I cannot say all that is in my heart, but I hope you realise what I really wish to convey to you".

With my earnest prayers and sympathy, believe me, yours sincerely, Dennis Sudall, Army Chaplain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lieutenant

Edward Leslie Graham Rowell MC

25th Bn. Australian Infantry, A. I. F.

15/11/1917, aged 25.

Son of Robert and Helena M. Rowell, of Victoria St., Warwick, Queensland. Native of Northumberland, England

Plot IV. F. 3

 

Edward Leslie Graham Rowell was born at Walbottle House, Northumberland, England. He enlisted in March 1915 and left for the Front as a member of the 25th Battalion A. I. F.  He played his honoured part as an ANZAC, having spent four months in the winter campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula.  He then served with the first Australian divisions in France fighting on the Western Front where he won his commission in the field.

 AWARDED THE MILITARY CROSS

At Westhoek Ridge on the 20th of September 1917 for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, when during the advance an enemy Pill-box from which the enemy were emerging, seemed likely to hold up the advance, this Officer rushed it single handed. Although his revolver was shot out of his hand, he engaged them with bombs, killing four and taking 20 prisoners. Later, when his Company Commander was wounded, he took charge of the Company, eventually carrying out a relief under heavy shell fire. Throughout his courage and coolness were a fine example to all ranks.

 

Picture courtesy of David Backhouse, great nephew of this officer

 

 

 

17386 Private

Isaac Charles

1st/5th Bn. South Staffordshire Regiment

25/03/1918

Plot IV. F. 78.

The above photo is a copy which was sent to his sister who had emigrated to Canada in 1904. She was my grandmother.

Isaac lived at Pelsall, Staffordshire and had 12 brothers and sisters. I was lucky enough to visit the town and the South Staffs Regimental Museum in 2010 where there is a copy of the war diaries from March 1918. Isaac was mentioned in the diary by name.

Picture courtesy of great niece, Shirley Runte

 

 

British graves in the Military cemetery, St. Omer, November 1915.

IWM (Q 29045)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33875 Private

George Eastick

1st/7th Bn. Duke of Wellington's Regiment.

30/06/1918, aged 17. (Age officially given as 19)

Born Great Yarmouth. Son of James Alfred and Alice Maud Eastick, of 20, Norfolk Place, Boston.

Plot V. C. 22

 

Picture courtesy of Glynis Eastick

 

 

     
 

      

French ladies tending the graves of British soldiers in the Military cemetery at St. Omer, 1915.

IWM (Q 29044)

 

 

 

Gunner 26365

Robert Johnston

1st Siege Battery

Royal Garrison Artillery

19/05/1915

Plot I. A. 25

 

Image courtesy of Joe O'Raw and William Kilgour

 

     

 

 

3/9906 Private

George Sibley

2nd Bn. Northamptonshire Regiment

06/10/1915, aged 20.

Son of Alfred W. and Avis A. Sibley, of New Lodge, Warkton, Kettering. Native of Stamford Hill, Kettering.

Plot II. A. 48.

 

Picture courtesy of Mrs Sandy Hall, niece of this soldier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14107 Private

William Stanley Argyle Gammon

4th Bn. Coldstream Guards

15/09/1915, aged 21.

Son of William and Eva L. Gammon, of 90, Divinity Rd., Oxford.

Plot II. A. 29.

 

Picture courtesy of Wendy Purslow

 

 

 

681649 Driver

Ralph Toone

"B" Battery, 286th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery

28/11/1917, aged 22.

Son of James and Alice Ann Toone, of 2, Hoyle Mill Rd., Stairfoot, Barnsley. Native of Hoyland, Barnsley.

Plot IV. F. 12.

 

Picture courtesy of Jennie Nuttall, his niece.

 

 

 

 

Captain

Thomas Wilkes Lonsdale, MC.

7th Bn. Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

05/06/1916, aged 22.

Son of Thomas Henry Burnett Lonsdale and A. D. Lonsdale, of 51, Parkwood Rd., Bournemouth.

Plot II. C. 2.

 

 

 

 

 

202306 Private

James Lindsay

6th Bn. King's Own Scottish Borderers

01/11/1918, aged 32.

Son of James Lindsay, of Stewarton, Ayrshire;

husband of Ellen Rafferty Lindsay, of Gateside, Beith, Ayrshire.

Plot V. E. 37.

 

"Remembered with honour"

 

Picture courtesy of grandson, Lindsay Smith

 

 

British graves in the Military cemetery, St. Omer, November 1915.

IWM (Q 29046)

 

 

 

 

 

20447 Private

Frederick Snelus

2nd Bn. Worcestershire Regiment

30/09/1915

Plot II. A. 39.

 

Picture courtesy of granddaughter, Brenda Nicolaou

 

 

     
 

 

 

 

18365 Private

Jabez Butterfield

2nd Bn. East Lancashire Regiment

23/08/1916

Resident of 63 Cromwell Street, Burnley.

 

Note: CWGC erroneously state his first initial as "G"

 

 

 

 

45248 Private

John William Harrop

1st Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers

10/08/1918, aged 29.

Son of Elizabeth Butterworth (formerly Harrop), of 72, Grosvenor St., Ashton-under-Lyne.

Plot V. D. 45.

 

Picture courtesy of Jean Payne - I am his great niece-the only grandchild of his half-sister Jane Harrop

 

 

 

19818 Private

Sydney Pepper

11th Bn. East Lancashire Regiment

13/04/1918, aged 19.

Son of Ann Pepper, of 44, Belgrave St., Stoneyholme, Burnley,

and the late Joseph Pepper. Native of Borrowdale, Cumberland.

Plot V. A. 11.

 

     

5182922 Drummer

Sidney Phelpstead

5th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment

20/05/1940, aged 19.

Son of Sidney William and Gertrude Phelpstead, of Gloucester.

Plot 8. B. 27.

 

 

M2/081988 Private

W. Basil Paine

4th Bridging Train,

Army Service Corps

05/04/1916

Plot III. B. 1.