Villers-Cotterêts is a small town 22 kilometres south-west of Soissons in the direction of Meaux. From Soissons take the N2 (sign posted to Paris, Meaux, Senlis), passing after 3.5 kilometres the Military Cemetery of Vaubuin and after a further 6 kilometres a French War Memorial on the right.
Ignore the left hand turn towards Villers-Cotterêts (The D231) but continue along the N2. After about a kilometre you will come to a large junction with a slip road on your right. Take this exit and turn right onto the D81 towards Vivières. After a further 3 kilometres you will come to a Y junction with the main road following round a sweeping bend to the right. The Cemetery is just after this bend and before the next which is a hairpin left hand bend. The Cemetery is set down in a hollow next to the road on the right, but you will easily see the cross and wall.
Parking can be a bit difficult as you are between bends.
To the north and north-east of Villers-Cotterêts is the great forest through which the I Corps marched on 1 September 1914 and it was on that day the three Rearguard Actions of Villers-Cotterêts were fought.
In one of these actions the 4th (Guards) Brigade, covered the rear of the 2nd Division and the Irish Guards, the 2nd Grenadiers and the 3rd Coldstreams fought their way to Villers-Cotterêts with some loss.
The main action began about the Rond de la Reine, a clearing on the main road now marked by the Guards' Memorial; the Guards' Grave is just south-west of the memorial on the south-east side of the main road.
The Guards' Grave was made originally by the people of Villers-Cotterêts and was put nearly into its present form by the Irish Guards in November 1914.
The grave contains 98 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 20 of which are unidentified.
The graves of four officers and one man of the Guards were moved here from Villers-Cotterêts Communal Cemetery after the Armistice.
From left to right
Second Lieutenant George Cecil
No 4 Company 2nd Bn Grenadier Guards
Died on 1st September 1914, aged 18
Son of Colonel Lord Edward Cecil (Grenadier Guards), fourth son of the third Marquess of Salisbury, and of Violet (Lady Edward Cecil), daughter of Admiral Frederick Maxse
Grave: II 4
Lieutenant Geoffrey Lambton
Died on 1st September 1914, aged 26
Son of the Hon. F and Mrs Lambton, of Fenton, Wooler; husband of Dorothy Lambton
Grave: II 3
Major Charles Tisdall
Died on 1st September 1914, aged 39
Husband of Mrs G Tisdall
Grave: II 2
Lieutenant Colonel The Hon George Morris
1st Bn Irish Guards
Died on 1st September 1914, aged 42
Son of Baron Morris and Killanin, of Spiddal, Co. Galway, and Anna, daughter of the Hon. G Hughes, a Baron of the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, husband of Dora Morris, of 4 Lancaster Gate Terrace. London
Grave: II 1
On the corner of the bend just above the cemetery is the private monument to 2 Lt George Cecil, Grenadier Guards.
Erected by his mother it also honours those Guardsmen that fell here on 1 September 1914.
As can be seen above he was 18 when he died and was one of the four officers brought in from the local Communal Cemetery.
An inscription on the rear explains:
In honour of the officers and men of the Grenadier Coldstream and Irish Guards who fell near this spot on 1st September 1914. This memorial was placed here by the mother of one of them and is especially dedicated to Second Lieutenant George Edward Cecil
The inscription on the front is possibly best translated as:
Passers-by, pause a moment.