QUEANT ROAD CEMETERY
Pas de Calais
General Directions: Buissy is a village about 2 kilometres south of the main Arras to Cambrai road (D939) and about 25 kilometres from Arras. Queant Road Cemetery is situated on the north side of the D14 road that leads from the village towards Queant, about 3 kilometres from Buissy.
Buissy was reached by the Third Army on 2 September 1918, after the storming of the Drocourt-Queant line, and it was evacuated by the Germans on the following day.
Queant Cemetery was made by the 2nd and 57th Casualty Clearing Stations in October and November 1918. It then consisted of 71 graves (now Plot I, Rows A and B), but was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when 2200 graves were brought in from the battlefields of 1917-1918 between Arras and Bapaume, and from the following smaller burial grounds in the area:-
BARALLE COMMUNAL CEMETERY BRITISH EXTENSION, which was made in September 1918, contained the graves of 25 soldiers from the United Kingdom; and the GERMAN EXTENSION, from which two graves were brought.
CAGNICOURT COMMUNAL CEMETERY, contained the grave of one soldier from the United Kingdom who fell in September 1918.
LAGNICOURT (6th JAEGER REGIMENT) GERMAN CEMETERY, East of the village, contained 137 German graves and one British.
NOREUIL BRITISH CEMETERIES No.1 and No.2. These were close together, about 400 metres North of Noreuil village. They were made in April-August 1917, and they contained the graves of 50 soldiers from Australia and 16 from the United Kingdom (some of these were re-buried in H.A.C. Cemetery, Ecoust-St. Mein).
NOREUIL GERMAN CEMETERY No.1, next to Noreuil Australian Cemetery, contained 78 German graves and ten British.
PRONVILLE GERMAN CEMETERY "near the Cave", on the Western outskirts of Pronville, contained 17 British graves.
PRONVILLE GERMAN CEMETERY No.4, South of Pronville on the road to Beaumetz, contained 83 German and 83 British graves (52 of the British being those of soldiers of the Black Watch).
PROVILLE CHURCHYARD, contained two British graves.
There are now 2,377 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 1,441 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 56 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate 26 casualties buried in German cemeteries in the neighbourhood, whose graves could not be found on concentration.
Casualty Details: UK 1289, Canada 87, Australia 995, New Zealand 1, Unidentified 5, Total Burials: 2377
Captain Percy Herbert Cherry, VC, MC, 26th Bn. Australian Infantry, Australian Infantry Force, killed in action 27/03/1917 aged 21. Plot VIII. 3. 10. Son of John Gawley Cherry and Elizabeth Cherry, of Cradoc, Huon, Tasmania. Born at Drysdale, Victoria.
Citation: An extract from the "London Gazette," dated 11th May, 1917, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery, determination and leadership when in command of a company detailed to storm and clear a village. After all the officers of his company had become casualties he carried on with care and determination in the face of fierce opposition, and cleared the village of the enemy. He sent frequent reports of progress made, and when held up for some time by an enemy strong point, he organised machine gun and bomb parties and captured the position. His leadership, coolness and bravery set a wonderful example to his men. Having cleared the village, he took charge of the situation and beat off the most resolute and heavy counter-attacks made by the enemy. Wounded about 6.30 a.m., he refused to leave his post, and there remained, encouraging all to hold out at all costs, until, about 4.30 p.m. this very gallant officer was killed by an enemy shell."
Two Australian soldiers, probably of the 1st Machine Gun Battalion, stand in the arched doorway at the site where Captain P. H. Cherry won his Victoria Cross. The sign painted on the brick wall of the building reads Vaulx-Vraucourt Noreuil.
Percy Herbert Cherry was born to John Gawley and Elizabeth (nee Russel) Cherry in Drysdale Victoria on 4 June 1895. The family moved to Tasmania and settled on an orchard, 'Cherry Vale', in Cradoc when he was seven. He attended the local school until he was aged 13 when he was privately tutored. At around this time he joined the cadets, eventually becoming a second lieutenant, and later served in the 93rd Infantry Militia as a lieutenant.
Cherry enlisted on 5 March 1915 in Franklin, Tasmania and was posted to D Company, 26 Battalion as quartermaster-sergeant. He embarked for overseas service on 29 June, arriving on Gallipoli in early September. There he was appointed D Company's sergeant major on 13 September.
On 1 December Cherry was wounded in the face and head by a bomb blast and was evacuated to Egypt. He was appointed second lieutenant on 8 December while convalescing in hospital. Recovering, Cherry was posted to Tel-el-Kebir for machine gun training, which he passed at the beginning of March 1916, and was seconded to the 7th Machine Gun Company (7MGC). He arrived in France with the unit on 21 March and took part in the failed attack against heavily defended German lines at Pozieres on 28/29 July.
Attacking the same objective on August 5 while in command of no. 2 Battery 7MGC, Cherry was severely wounded and evacuated to London. Later that month he was promoted to lieutenant. In December, after returning to France, Cherry was posted back to 26 Battalion. He was appointed the rank of temporary captain, which was confirmed in mid February 1917.
In March 1917, the battalion was involved in the fighting around Warlencourt and the attack on the German lines at Malt Trench. On 2 March, after the allied bombardment failed to clear the wire in front of Cherry's company's objective, he led them to a gap in the wire and entered the German trenches. While leading his men through the wire Cherry was wounded but continued on and personally captured one machine gun and his men another. Cherry then turned the machine guns on the Germans, who fled when they realised they were being pressed from two sides. For this action Percy was awarded the Military Cross. The recommendation for the award reads:
'For conspicuous bravery and gallantry in action. In the attack on MALT TRENCH north of WARLENCOURT on the night 1st/2nd March, 1917 he led his Company with great dash and bravery. The wire was not well out, but he ran along the edge of the entanglements for a distance of about 50 yards until he found an opening, through which he led his men in single file. On entering the trench he met fierce opposition, but he rallied his men and cleared the trench, connecting up with the Companies on his Right and Left. His efforts throughout were most gallant and inspiring, and although he was wounded remained on duty. He captured two enemy machine guns, one of which he personally turned on the enemy.'
On 26 March 1917, Cherry was involved in an operation to capture the village of Lagnicourt by the 7th Brigade. While units successfully surrounded the perimeter, Cherry's company was detailed with clearing the village itself. Overcoming stiff resistance Cherry pushed forward only to find a heavily defended crater in the centre of the town. Not waiting for mortar reinforcements, Cherry captured the position under cover of Lewis Gun and grenade fire.
Reaching the far edge of the village, Cherry dug in his troops in anticipation of enemy counter-attacks. With only about a 100 men, he defended the village against a battalion sized attack throughout the day. Later that afternoon he was killed by a single German shell. For his actions during the taking of Lagnicourt Cherry was awarded the Victoria Cross.
His Victoria Cross and Military Cross were presented to his parents by the Governor of Tasmania, Sir Francis Newdegate in October 1917.
The original grave, at Lagnicourt of Percy Cherry
All images and text in relation to Percy Cherry courtesy of
John (Jack) James White
22nd Bn. Australian Infantry,
A. I. F.
03/05/1917, aged 29.
Son of Arabella Beddoe White and the late Charles White of "Durban", Foster St., Aspendale, Victoria. Born at Baringhup, Victoria.
Plot VIII. B. 28A
Listed as missing, presumed killed in action, his name is engraved on the wall at Villers-Bretonneux. In 1994, some 77 years after his death, his remains were found quite close to the “Digger” Memorial at Bullecourt.. A re internment ceremony with full military honours saw him finally laid to rest at Queant Road on October 11th, 1995. The photograph shows Jack with his wife Lillian Isabella Mildenhall and children, Colin (1913-1983) and baby daughter Myrle who was only 10 months old when Jack enlisted in 1916. Myrle was aged 80 when she attended the re internment service in France. I delivered the family eulogy at the service.
Photograph and dedication by Colin John (Jack) White (of Beaconsfield Upper, Victoria) Grandson of John James White.