VIEILLE-CHAPELLE NEW MILITARY CEMETERY
Pas de Calais
General Directions: Vieille-Chapelle is a village north east of Bethune. From Bethune follow the D945 to Estaires for approximately 10 kilometres. Take the right turn onto the small road signposted to Vieille-Chapelle opposite Zelobes Indian Cemetery. Follow this small road and on entering Vieille-Chapelle village, the Vieille-Chapelle New Military Cemetery lies on the right hand side of the road.
The Old Military Cemetery (now removed) was closed in November 1915,
as being too near the school; and the New Military Cemetery was begun in
that month and used by fighting units and Field Ambulances until March 1918.
The village and the cemetery fell into German hands in the following month,
in the Battles of the Lys; but in September 1918, on the German retirement,
some further burials took place. These original graves are in Plot I and
Plot IV, Rows A and B.
Victoria Cross: Second Lieutenant Joseph Henry Collin, VC, 4th Bn. King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), killed in action 09/04/1918, aged 24. Plot III. A. 11.
Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 25th June, 1918, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice in action. After offering a long and gallant resistance against heavy odds in the Keep held by his platoon, this officer, with only five of his men remaining, slowly withdrew in the face of superior numbers, contesting every inch of the ground. The enemy were pressing him hard with bombs and machine-gun fire from close range. Single-handed 2nd Lt. Collin attacked the machine gun and team. After firing his revolver into the enemy, he seized a Mills grenade and threw it into the hostile team, putting the gun out of action, killing four of the team and wounding two others. Observing a second hostile machine gun firing, he took a Lewis gun, and selecting a high point of vantage on the parapet whence he could engage the gun, he, unaided, kept the enemy at bay until he fell mortally wounded. The heroic self-sacrifice of 2nd Lt. Collin was a magnificent example to all."
Victoria Cross: Second Lieutenant John Schofield, VC, 2nd/5th Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers, died of wounds 09/04/1918, aged 26. Plot III. C. 8.
Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 25th June, 1918, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in operations. 2nd Lt. Schofield led a party of nine men against a strong point which was reported strongly held by the enemy, and was attacked by about 100 of the enemy with bombs. He disposed his men so skilfully, and made such good use of rifle and Lewis gun fire, that the enemy took cover in dug-outs. This officer himself then held up and captured a party of twenty. With the help of other parties this position was then cleared of the enemy who were all killed or captured. He then collected the remainder of his men, made his party up to ten, and proceeded towards the front line, previously informing his Commanding Officer as to the position, and that he was proceeding to retake the front line. He met large numbers of the enemy in a communication trench in front of him and in a drain on his right and left. His party opened rapid rifle fire, and he climbed out on to the parapet under point blank machine gun fire, and, by his fearless demeanour and bravery, forced the enemy to surrender. As a result, 123 of the enemy, including several officers, were captured by 2nd Lt. Schofield and his party. This very gallant officer was killed a few minutes later."
Shot at Dawn: 18/313 Private H. Crimmins, 18th Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment, executed for desertion 05/09/1916. Plot 5. F. 9
Shot at Dawn: 18/356 Private A. Wild, 18th Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment, executed for desertion 05/09/1916. Plot 5. F. 6.
Shot at Dawn: 7595 Private J. A. Haddock, 12th Bn. Yorks & Lancs Regiment, executed for desertion 16/09/1916. Plot 6. F. 5.
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 918, Canada 1, India 72, Total Burials: 991
This picture courtesy of Colin Ellender