Lijssenthoek CWGC


 The entrance in 1922 and today
 
During the First World War, the village of Lijssenthoek was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields. Close to the Front, but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations. The cemetery was first used by the French 15th Hopital D'Evacuation and in June 1915, it began to be used by casualty clearing stations of the Commonwealth forces. From April to August 1918, the casualty clearing stations fell back before the German advance and field ambulances (including a French ambulance) took their places. The cemetery contains 9,901 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 24 being unidentified. There are 883 war graves of other nationalities, mostly French and German, 11 of these are unidentified. There is 1 Non World War burial here. The only concentration burials were 24 added to Plot XXXI in 1920 from isolated positions near Poperinghe and 17 added to Plot XXXII from St. Denijs Churchyard in 1981. Eight of the headstones are Special Memorials to men known to be buried in this cemetery, these are located together alongside Plot 32 near the Stone of Remembrance. The cemetery, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, is the second largest Commonwealth cemetery in Belgium.

The cemetery soon after the war.
The soberly beautiful Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery is the largest of the hospital cemeteries which grew up around the casualty clearing sta- tions to the east and west of Poperinge. Soldiers devised amusing names for these CCSs, which sounded curiously Flemish, but still had a grim meaning: Mendinghem, Dozinghem and Bandaghem. Lijssenthoek was also popularly known as Remi Cemetery, from the name of the farmer who lived behind the clearing station’s complex of tents. This farm can still be seen today.
During one visit I was most fortunate to have been given a tour of the cemetery by Mr. George Sutherland, an ex gardener of the CWGC, born adjacent to the cemetery in the interwar years to an ex RAMC veteran who was also one of the first CWGC gardeners. Both George and his father Walter Sutherland worked for over 70 years in Lissenthoek cemetery. His son Alex now carries on the tradition, devoting his life to ensuring the upkeep of cemeteries throughout the world.

The grave of Frederick Harold Tubb, VC after the war and today
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Lone Pine trenches, in the Gallipoli Peninsula, on 9th August, 1915. In the early morning the enemy made a determined counter attack on the centre of the newly captured trench held by Lieutenant Tubb. They advanced up a sap and blew in a sandbag barricade, leaving only one foot of it standing, but Lieutenant Tubb led his men back, repulsed the enemy, and rebuilt the barricade. Supported by strong bombing parties, the enemy succeeded in twice again blowing in the barricade, but on each occasion Lieutenant Tubb, although wounded in the head and arm, held his ground with the greatest coolness and rebuilt it, and finally succeeded in maintaining his position under very heavy bomb fire. —The London Gazette, No. 29328 15 October 1915
He later achieved the rank of major and died of wounds suffered in battle at Polygon Wood on 20 September 1917 whilst serving with 7th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1sr Australian Division when he was shot by a German sniper. Whilst being carried to the rear he was struck by British artillery shells and died here at the dressing station beside the cemetery:
The dressing station can be seen in this period postcard and has little-changed up to the present day.

Belying the stereotype of lions being led by donkeys, there are a number of senior officers buried here, giving lie to the myth that the Generals in the Great War kept safe and sound out of harm's way:
Hugh Gregory Fitton, GOC 101st Brigade, 34th Division, has the unique distinction of being the only general officer to become his division’s first battle casualty. On 18 January 1916, three days after the division completed its deployment to France, he was wounded by a German sniper while on an instructional visit to 16th Brigade and died two days later. He was the seventeenth British general to be killed in action or to die of wounds on the Western Front. He had served in the Sudan 1885, Egypt 1885-86 and several Nile Expeditions in the 1890s; ironically, three weeks before Fitton's Brigade landed in France, it was preparing to be sent to Egypt. He had also served in the Boer War 1899-1902. As one officer wrote of him, "Nothing was too much trouble to him as long as his men were thoroughly trained and he had their love and respect" whilst another spoke of "his habit, which endeared him to all, of doing himself everything that the men were asked to do."
Major The Hon. Sir Schomberg Kerr McDonnell QOCH was born in Glenarm, County Antrim, and was educated at Eton and Oxford. He served as private secretary to Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. He fought in the Boer War and was knighted in 1902 and died at Ypres in 1915. The caricature of him of from the October 18, 1894 issue of Vanity Fair captioned "He was Lord Salisbury's Private Secretary."
Brigadier-General Alister Gordon (sharing his name with the Brigadier from Dr. Who), who commanded the 153rd Infantry Brigade, and was a veteran of the Ashanti Campaign of 1901 and also the South African War. He died of wounds on the 31st of July 1917 aged 45. On that day, the 153rd Brigade, part of the 51st Highland Division, attacked at 3.50 a.m. south-east of Langemarck on the first day of Third Ypres.
Brigadier General Robert Clement Gore, commander of the 101st Infantry Brigade Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who died on Saturday 13 April 1918 at the age of fifty.
Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer, CB (17 September 1859 – 3 June 1916) was a Canadian general, barrister and art patron who practised law in Toronto and led the 3rd Canadian Division during the first two years of the First World War before he was killed in action at Mount Sorrel in Belgium. Mercer was an experienced militia commander and had demonstrated a great flair with training and organising the raw Canadian recruits during the opening months of the war. He also demonstrated courage under fire, visiting the front lines on numerous occasions at the height of battle and personally directing his forces in the face of poison gas attacks and heavy shellfire. Mercer remains the most senior Canadian officer ever to die in combat and was unfortunate to be killed at the opening engagement of the largest battle of his career, when he was trapped by shellfire during a front line reconnaissance and overrun during the subsequent German attack. The division Mercer created and trained remained one of the best units of the Canadian army under his successor Louis Lipsett and Mercer was remembered by the men under his command, many of whom attended his funeral in the aftermath of the battle of Mount Sorrel.
Mr. Sutherland showing a German grave where the widow's ashes were deposited surreptitiously many years after the war.
A photograph remembers Lieutenant Christian Creswell Carver, of "A" Battery, 83rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, age 20, who died of wounds 90 years ago on 23 July 1917 by the battery dug out on the banks of Zillebeke Lake and died of his wounds several days later in the Remy Sidings Casualty Clearing station. Buried nearby in this cemetery is his Battery Commander Major George Eustace Summers MC, aged 29, who died on 26 July.
The grave of Lieutenant Henry Richard Thomson after the war and today
The grave of Lieutenant John Edward Raphael of the King's Royal Rifle Corps who had captained England during the All Blacks' first UK tour 1905. He died of wounds in 1917 at the Battle of Messines whilst fighting in the country of his birth, having been born in Brussels.
Leland Wingate Fernald- 'A volunteer from the USA to avenge the Lusitania Murder'
Lance Corporal George Alderson was the only soldier serving with the Durham Light Infantry to be awarded the Albert Medal First Class in Gold (only 45 were ever given) for having "seized a bomb which he knew would explode in four seconds." He died October 15, 1915 after having had his hand blown off in the explosion and his widow received the medal.
 Among the inscriptions found in this cemetery is this for Sapper John Rees Davies 343rd Road Construction Coy. Royal Engineers who died August 8, 1917 at age 39
"Tread softly and doff thy cap for such as he stopped the gap."
Staff Nurse Nellie Spindler of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service was with the 44th Casualty Clearing Station then based near Brandhoek when she died on the 21st of August 1917, aged 26 after the Germans had shelled the area at around 10 a.m., critically wounding her. She was buried here with full military honours with the Last Post played over her grave and was officially described as 'killed in action' by the War Office after only having been on the Western Front since May 1917. According to the CWGC records she is one of only two female Great War casualties who are buried in Belgium.
Memorial stones placed on the graves of the many Jewish soldiers buried here.
The grave of Private William Baker of the 26th Bn. Royal Fusiliers, shot at dawn after having deserted previously after he had deserted April 22, 1918 by trying to take the mail boat to Boulogne where he was arrested May18 and brought back to his battalion. He then escaped and tried to reach the hospital in Etaples but was arrested again on June 21. Sentenced to death by F.G.C.M. (Field General Court Martial), he shot at dawn in the field August 14, 1918. 

A section given to French dead.
Beside the French graves is a section to those of the Chinese Labour Corps.

Some of the 35 Chinese graves.
 1920 photograph of the original gravemarker for 宋守元 Shoon Shou Yuen who had died in the Spanish influenza epidemic providing his home-address (or of his next of kin)- 山东省长山县南十八里黄家坡  (Huangjiapo village eighteen miles South of Changshan county in Shandong Province), the date of his death combining the Chinese Republican calendar and the lunar calendar (17th day of the 3rd lunar month of the 8th day of the Republic = 17 April 1919) and the number of the company to which he belonged (39th).
Major (acting Lt Col) George Ernest Beaty-Pownall, awarded the DSO in the June 4, 1917 Gazette 'for distinguished services in the field.' Died of his wounds October 10, 1918.
The grave of Thomas McGrath, the only civilian buried in Lijssenthoek. During the war he had served as a Sergeant and worked as team leader for the Chinese Labour Corps. After the war he devoted himself to the Imperial War Graves Commission, later the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and lived at 'Café Remy' in Poperinge before dying of illness at the age of 31 on St. George's Day in 1920.
One of the three graves in the cemetery marked as American (despite non-American dating system on stone) as they had fought under the American flag. Other Americans buried here joined the Canadian or the British Army until April of 1917. To maintain the fiction that the US was neutral, any American who joined a foreign army before then automatically lost his US citizenship and were left effectively stateless upon their deaths. This had changed in the twenties when the US Congress adopted a law that retroactively restored their citizenship.
James Pigue left for Europe on May 4 1918, leaving behind forever his newlywed wife and a son who he would never know. His regiment was assigned to the British Second Army near Ypres for training. Given that the British Second Army was experiencing a shortage of officers at this time. Pigue spent some time commanding British and Australian artillery units. On July 18 he was at an observation post when a sniper shot him through the heart. He was the first man from the Old Hickory Division to be killed in action during the First World War.