Summer Road Trip 2022 | Tyne Cot Cemetery | Belgium

Tyne Cot Cemetery

… this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of war

King George V, 11 May 1922

Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) burial ground for the dead of the First World War in the Ypres Salient on the Western Front. It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war. There are 11,965 graves, of which 8,369 are unnamed.

The cemetery has several notable graves and memorials, including the grave of Private James Peter Robertson (1883–1917), a Canadian awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in rushing a machine gun emplacement and rescuing two men from under heavy fire. He was killed saving the second of these men on 6 November 1917.

Two Australian recipients of the Victoria Cross buried in the cemetery are Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries (1894–1917), and Sergeant Lewis McGee (1888–1917). Jeffries led an assault party and rushed one of the strong points at the First Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917, capturing four machine guns and thirty five prisoners, before running his company forward again. He was planning another attack when he was killed by an enemy gunner. On the same day, McGee, who had earned his decoration eight days earlier at Broodseinde, was killed charging an enemy pillbox in the same battle.

The stone wall surrounding the cemetery makes-up the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing, one of several Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorials to the Missing along the Western Front. The UK missing lost in the Ypres Salient are commemorated at the Menin Gate memorial to the missing in Ypres and the Tyne Cot Memorial. Upon completion of the Menin Gate, builders discovered it was not large enough to contain all the names as originally planned. They selected an arbitrary cut-off date of 15 August 1917 and the names of the UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot memorial instead.

The memorial contains the names of 33,783 soldiers of the UK forces, plus a further 1,176 New Zealanders. Three British Army Victoria Cross recipients are commemorated here: Lieutenant Colonel Philip Bent (1891–1917); Corporal William Clamp (1891–1917) and Lance Corporal Ernest Seaman (1893–1918).

4 thoughts on “Summer Road Trip 2022 | Tyne Cot Cemetery | Belgium

  1. I think both of these memorials smack us in the face of how many were lost in the Great War, the war that was suppose to end all wars. Numbers in a book don’t somehow make the numbers of actual lives lost real. Seeing the graves, the names listed on the walls, just go on & on. War has such a cost we cannot re-pay. King George V was right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That initial impact when the visitor first sees Tyne Cot is really powerful. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that 1 in 4 are unidentified.


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