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Ypres Salient Cemeteries

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At the end of the Great War there were possibly more than 500 military cemeteries in the area covered by the Ypres Salient. Some were only a handful of graves, while others were large sites where hundreds if not thousands of soldiers were buried. After the war the then Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission set about creating permanent cemeteries and many of the original ones were moved in to larger burial grounds. 

There are three main types of military cemetery at Ypres:

bulletOriginal wartime cemeteries: These are cemeteries which were made on or just behind the battlefield while the war was still on. Many of them were begun by particular regiments, brigades or divisions and as such they are ‘comrades cemeteries’. Only a few of these still exist – 1/DCLI Cemetery on the Bluff is a good example. Started by men of the 1st Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry in April 1915, fifty one officers and men from this unit are buried here – out of a total of ninety-nine graves.
bulletPost-war concentration cemeteries: With more than 500 British military cemeteries around Ypres by 1919, maintaining them all was an impossible task. The Imperial War Graves Commission therefore decided to close a large number of them, and move the graves into larger burial grounds, often specially created at key sites on the battlefield. Tyne Cot Cemetery at Passchendaele is a classic example. The largest British military in the world with over 11,000 graves, there were only a handful of burials on this site at the end of the war. The IWGC moved in the 11,000 from all over the Ypres battlefield and as such almost every regiment and each of the four battles of Ypres are represented here.
bulletBehind the lines cemeteries: These are usually war-time created cemeteries on the sites of former Advanced Dressing Stations, Casualty Clearing Stations and Field Hospitals. Many soldiers died of their wounds and were buried in cemeteries like these. The most important of them is Lijessenthoek Military Cemetery near Poperinghe. With nearly 10,000 graves it is the second largest cemetery at Ypres next to Tyne Cot. However, were as most of the graves at Tyne Coy are unknowns, those at Lijessenthoek are almost all knowns. Among them are simple Privates, Gunners and Sappers, and also high ranking officers: Lieutenant Colonel, Brigadier Generals and even a Major General – Major General Mercer who died commanding the 3rd (Canadian) Division in June 1916.


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