Vailly British Cemetery

Location

Vailly-sur-Aisne is a small town within the Department of the Aisne, on the north bank of the Aisne River. It is 13 kilometres east of Soissons and 18 kilometres south of Laon. Leaving from Centre Ville in Soissons, take the first right hand turning, following the sign Toute Directions, which is then followed by a left turn, signposted Laon.

Follow the river and cross over at the first bridge, still following the road signs for Laon. At the next road junction continue straight over, again following the signs for Laon. After a total of 3 kilometres turn right at the signpost indicating the direction of Vailly-sur-Aisne, which will be on the D925 road. Stay on this road for the remainder of the journey.

The Cemetery is adjacent to the road on the left side shortly after entering the town.

Vailly Cemetery

Historical Information

Vailly-Sur-Aisne village was the point at which the 3rd Division crossed the river on the 12th September 1914, in the advance from the Marne. It fell to the Germans in 1915.

It was retaken by the French on the 18th April 1917, lost again in June 1918, and finally captured by the French on the 15th September 1918.

The Chemin des Dames ridge The Chemin des Dames ridge

Vailly British Cemetery was made after the Armistice, by concentration from other burial grounds and from the battlefields.

The majority of those buried here died in September 1914, but many graves of 1918 are in Plot I, Row AA; Plot II, Rows AA, G and H, and Plots III and IV. There are now over 650, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, nearly half are unidentified and special memorials are erected to forty officers and men known or believed to be buried among them.

Other special memorials record the names of three soldiers, buried in other cemeteries, whose graves could not be found. The cemetery covers an area of 2 130 square metres and is enclosed by a stone curb on three sides, and against the road by a rubble stone wall.

A French soldier lies here as opposed to next door

The following were among the burial grounds from which British graves were taken to Vailly British Cemetery.

Aizy French Military Cemetery, North-East of the village, where 17 British soldiers were buried.

Bazoches Communal Cemetery Extension (Aisne), where 172 French soldiers and six British (of 1914) were buried.

Braine French Military Cemetery (not the present French National Cemetery), in which the bodies of ten British soldiers and an unknown Canadian airman were reburied by the French.

Brenelle Churchyard French Extension, which contained about 500 graves. Here were buried nine men of the RGA killed in September 1914, by the bursting of a gun, and one Lancer who fell in the same month.

Bucy-le-Long Churchyard, in which one British and a number of French soldiers were buried in 1918.

Château Thierry Communal Cemetery, where one British soldier from 1914 was concentrated in 1936. Two other British soldiers were moved from this cemetery, to Montreuil-Aux-Lions British Cemetery in June 1934.

Chavonne Communal Cemetery, where seven British soldiers (five 2nd Coldstream Guards, one Dragoon Guard and one Queen's Bay) were buried in 1914.

Courchamps Churchyard, in which eight British soldiers were buried in the North-West corner of the churchyard. Two of the soldiers are unidentified.

Courcelles Communal Cemetery, where two British soldiers were buried, one of which is unidentified.

Courcelles Communal Cemetery Extension (Aisne), where 177 French soldiers, 104 German, 17 Italian and (in July 1918) three British were buried.

Glennes Churchyard Extension, where three British soldiers were buried by the Germans in May 1918, and eight (of 1914) reburied by the French; it contained also 803 French and 400 German graves.

La Cour-de-Soupir Farm, Soupir, where 66 British soldiers (mainly 3rd Coldstream, 2nd Connaught Rangers and 2nd OBLI ) were buried in two plots in September and October 1914.

Laffaux German Cemetery (on the main road 800 metres South-West of the Mill), where one British soldier was buried in July 1918.

La Noue German Cemetery, Chavonne, where two Scottish soldiers were buried in July 1918.

Mont-Notre Dame Military Cemetery (near the road to Quincy), where 46 British soldiers and two members of the Friends' Ambulance Unit were buried in 1918.

Paars Churchyard, where one British soldier was buried.

Soucy Communal Cemetery, South of the village, where one British soldier was buried in the South-West corner.

Vasseny French Military Cemetery (near the road to Couvrelles), where one British soldier was buried in 1918.

Vieil-Arcy British Cemetery, near the Ferme Chauveau, where 27 British soldiers were buried in September and October 1914.

 

Immediately to the right of the British Cemetery is the French Military Cemetery.

French National Cemetery French Monument
 
Theodore Wright VC

Captain Theodore Wright VC
Royal Engineers
Died on 14th September 1914 aged 31
Son of the late William Walter and Arabella Wright, of Talgai, Albury, Guildford

London Gazette dated 16 November 1914

Gallantry at Mons on 23rd August in attempting to connect up the lead to demolish a bridge under heavy fire; although wounded in the head he made a second attempt.

At Vailly, on 14th September he assisted the passage of the 5th Cavalry Brigade over the pontoon bridge and was mortally wounded whilst assisting wounded men into shelter.

Grave: II B 21

 
Brigadier General Neil Findlay

Brigadier General Neil Findlay CB
Commanding 1st Division Royal Artillery
Died on 10th September 1914 aged 55
Son of the late T D Findlay of Easterhill, Lanarkshire
Husband of the late Mrs N Findlay

Brigadier General Findlay died of wounds and was the first British General to be killed in the war.

Grave: VI A 53

 

A short drive from here will take you to the Fort de Condé which is well worth the visit.

Fort de Condé Fort de Condé

Immediately to the south of Vailly (via the D 14) is the village of Braine where you will find a unique Military Cemetery: that of the Danish soldiers from Schleswig and Holstein who, like the Frenchmen from Alsace, had been conscripted to the service of the Kaiser.

Danish Military Cemetery Danish Military Cemetery