Trois Arbres

Location

Steenwerck is a village on the D77 about 6 kilometres south-east of Bailleul, and to the east of the road from Bailleul to Estaires. The Cemetery is situated to the north-east midway between the village and the main road from Bailleul to Armentières and north of the recently built motorway.

Coming from Bailleul/Armentières you will cross over a railway line. The cemetery is around the next bend on your right. Be prepared to stop. There is a small parking area out the front.

Trois Arbres Cemetery

Historical Information

Steenwerck village remained untouched for much of the First World War, but on 10 April 1918 it was captured by the Germans and remained in their possession until the beginning of October.

Trois-Arbres passed into German hands a day later than Steenwerck, after a rearguard defence by the 34th Division.

The site for Trois Arbres Cemetery was chosen for the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station in July 1916, and Plot 1 and the earlier rows of Plot II, were made and used by that hospital until April 1918.

Trois Arbres Cemetery

A few further burials were made in the cemetery after the German withdrawal at the end of 1918 and after the Armistice, graves were brought into it from the battlefields of Steenwerck, Nieppe, Bailleul and Neuve-Eglise.

There are now 1,704 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 435 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to ten casualties known or believed to be buried among them.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

Trois Arbres Cemetery
 
Corporal Julius Kammermann

Corporal Julius Kammermann 1119
11th Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery
Died on 11th July 1917 aged 23
Son of Olrich and Marie Kammermann, of Belalie North, South Australia

Grave: I T 1

 

Shot at Dawn

Private Peter Black

Private Peter Black 6744
1/7th Bn Black Watch
Royal Highlanders
Died on 18th September 1916

Private Black had been serving in France since April 1915. He had already deserted once and received a suspended sentence. Whilst the Highland Division in which he was serving was stationed on the Somme in 1916, Black went missing once again just before his regiment went into action.

He remained at large for a month before being arrested. With a previous record of desertion his case was not looked on with leniency and he was shot not far from his current resting place.

Grave: I B 1

Private John King

Private John King 6/1598
1st Bn Canterbury Regiment
Died on 19th August 1917 aged 32

Private King was an Australian serving in the NZEF. A miner by trade he had enlisted in the Canterbury Regiment in 1914 on the outbreak of war. He served at Gallipoli in 1915 and was evacuated to Egypt with a crushed finger. He remained there until 10th July when he sailed for France

On arriving in France he was immediately struck down with dysentery for two months. On returning to his unit he went absent on the 1st October. He was given 28 days punishment, and an absence of 20 minutes doubled the sentence.

Having served his punishment King went down with flu for ten days and then got himself drunk on the eve of Christmas and went absent until the following month. Then in April he went missing again and was tried for desertion. The court found him guilty of being Absent instead and by a stroke of good luck a clerical error suspended his year of hard labour.

King promptly went missing again on the 9th May 1917. He spent his period of absence roaming about the area of Steenwerck spending time with the Australian units billeted there. He was eventually arrested on the 23rd July 1917 and his long list of absences proved a deciding factor.

Ironically, if he had joined an Australian unit he would have survived - the Australians refused to carry out the death penalty.

Grave: I Z 23

Corporal George Latham

Corporal George Latham 2267
2nd Bn Lancashire Fusiliers
Died on 22nd January 1915 aged 23
Son of Mr and Mrs W. Latham, of Islington, London
Husband of Elizabeth Latham, of 5/69, Great Lister St, Nechells, Birmingham

The first NCO to be executed. Corporal Latham was a regular soldier who had gone missing at Le Cateau on the 29th August 1914 during the retreat from Mons. He was eventually recuperated but treated as a straggler.

Having got away with one absence he promptly took off again only to be arrested this time at Nieppe (a few kilometres away along the road towards the north) on the 21st December. The Military Police found him living with a French woman (despite being married himself). A case of desertion was pretty well cut and dried and the execution was carried out on the 22nd January 1915

Grave: II F 17

Private Fortunat Auger

Private Fortunat Auger 23621
14th Bn Canadian Infantry
Québec Regiment
Died on 26th March 1916 aged 25

Private Auger was one of the very first to enlist at Valcartier (Québec) in 1914 and arrived in France with the first Canadians in February 1915. Having been one of the first to enlist he was one of the first to go absent; three times in 1915 and twice in 1916. His final absence cost him his life as the Military court on 15th March 1916 had grown weary of him ignoring lesser penalties.

Grave: III H 5

 

There is a German Military Cemetery a short distance away.

Soldatenfriedhof The German Soldatenfriedhof