I chose to come here to show a comparison of British and German Cemeteries. There are two main differences that I can see. One is that the German headstones are lay flat, whereas those of the Commonwealth are upright. The other difference is that in the German cemetery there are usually multiple names on one headstone. With the Commonwealth graves, if it was possible to identify a body, therefore giving it a name, then that soldier would have his own grave. It was only the unidentifiable bodies which were in a mass grave.
Very occasionally, we have people who are offended by a visit here and it is usually because they have very close ties to someone who fought for Britain in the First or Second World War. Today however, everyone was very interested to see it and to quote one of our ladies, 'they were all someone's Son'.
Our next stop was at Tyne Cot Cemetery. Tyne Cot Cemetery is the resting place of 11,954 soldiers of the Commonwealth Forces. This is the largest number of burials contained in any Commonwealth cemetery of either the First or Second World War. It is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world. The dates of death of the soldiers buried at Tyne Cot cemetery cover a period of four years, from October 1914 to September 1918 inclusive.
Tyne Cot cemetery first came into being in October 1917 when the ridge where the cemetery is now located was captured by the British Army. One of several German blockhouses was large enough to be used as an Advanced Dressing Station. As a result of casualties not surviving their wounds in this medical Dressing Station there were 354 burials near the Dressing Station. Most of the graves in the vicinity of the Cross of Sacrifice will, therefore, be identified as they died of wounds in this place and were subsequently buried here. The graves of these burials are for soldiers, including some Germans, who died between 6thOctober 1917 and the end of March 1918 when the German Army attacked and retook this ridge of high ground south of Passchendaele village. The cemetery was then again in German occupied ground from 13th April until 28th September 1918, when the Belgian Army captured the ridge in the final push during the last weeks of the war.
Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries, V.C. Captain Jeffries was serving with the 34th Battalion Australian Infantry during the Battle of Broodseinde Ridge which began on 4th October 1917.
Sergeant Lewis McGee, V.C. Sergeant McGee was serving with the 40th(Tasmanian) Battalion Australian Infantry, taking part in the attack on the Broodseinde Ridge on 4th October 1917. For his gallant actions in knocking out German blockhouses in the vicinity of HAMBURG FARM he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Private James Peter Robertson, V.C. Private Robertson was serving with the 27th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) when he was killed on 6th November 1917.
They were fabulous. I sat on the cobbles watching them and as far as I know all our passengers came too. They finished in time to march down the road to the Menin Gate where they were also involved in the Last Post. When they left the main square, I tagged along behind, marching with them, almost hanging off their coat tails!
They were just brilliant! We stayed for the ceremony of the Last Post.