La Ville aux Bois


La Ville-aux-Bois British Cemetery lies south of Laon and north of the city of Reims. La Ville-aux-Bois British Cemetery can be reached from the direction of Laon via the D 1044 (old number N44), Laon to Reims road.

After about 18 kilometres from leaving the Laon ring road, the road goes through the village of Corbeny. After a further 4 kilometres, La Ville-aux-Bois British Cemetery is visible on the right side of this busy road.

A CWGC sign gives an early indication several metres before the cemetery.

Ville au Bois Cemetery

Alternatively, the cemetery can be reached from Junction 14 of the A26 motorway (Berry au Bac).

Coming from there or Berry au Bac you will pass the French Tank Memorial at the roundabout.

Monument to the Chars d'assaut Monument to the Chars d'assaut

Continue for three kilometres towards Corbeny and you will see the cemetery on your left.

There is a café on the road which has given the area its name: La Musette

Historical Information

La-Ville-aux-Bois-lès-Pontavert village was captured by the French, after severe fighting, in April 1917; and on the 27th May 1918

The British 50th Division was driven from the high ground behind it, in the Battle of the Aisne.

The 2nd Devon's and the 5th Battery, 45th Brigade, RFA (both 8th Division), won the Croix de Guerre for their devoted courage on this occasion, and a granite cross, erected by the Devonshire Regiment, stands within the village near the place where the Battalion was annihilated. The village itself was completely destroyed.

The 2nd Devon's The 2nd Devon's

The British Cemetery was made after the Armistice by the concentration of isolated graves from a wide area and from two cemeteries named below, and one further burial was made in 1920.

There are now 564 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-18 war commemorated here, of which 413 are unidentified. There are also 2 burials of the 1939-45 war, 1 being an airman of the United Kingdom and 1 being a French Foreign National.

Ville au Bois Cemetery

Special memorials are erected to four United Kingdom soldiers, known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of 18 others, buried in certain German Cemeteries, whose graves could not be found.

The cemetery covers an area of 1,700 square metres and is enclosed on three sides by a low rubble wall.

The following burial grounds are represented here either by graves brought in or by special memorials: Pontavert, Sissonne, and Notre Dame-de-Liesse German Cemetery; Prouvais Communal Cemetery German Extension; Bouvancourt French Military Cemetery.

Lt Colonel Christopher Buckle DSO MC

Lt Colonel Christopher Buckle DSO MC
2nd Bn Northamptonshire Regiment
Died on 27th May 1918 aged 30
Son of Maj General Christopher Buckle, CB CMG DSO, and Elizabeth Buckle, Iffley, Oxford;
Husband of R Buckle, of Overstrand, Cromer, Norfolk

Grave: II A 10

Lt Colonel B Gibson DSO

Lt Colonel B Gibson DSO
4th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers
Died on 27th May 1918 aged 42
Croix de Guerre avec Palme (France)
Son of Colonel and Mrs W Gibson, of Hexham, Northumberland;
Husband of Margaret Gibson, of the Lodge, Snainton, Yorks

Grave: I E 15

Major The Hon George Boscawen DSO

Major The Hon George Boscawen DSO
116th Battery Royal Field Artillery
Died on 7th June 1918 aged 29
Son of the late 7th Viscount Falmouth, KCVO CB DL JP, and Viscountess Falmouth, of 11, Stanhope Place, Connaught Square, London

Grave: Notre Dame-de-Liesse Memorial 9

Lieutenant Meredith Lewis

Lieutenant Meredith Lewis
54th Squadron Royal Air Force
Died on 15th July 1918 aged 22
Son of Grace Lewis, of 1000, Spruce St Philadelphia, USA, and Charles Lewis
Born in Philadelphia, USA

Grave: III B 2


The Chemin des Dames

This area is at the eastern tip of the Chemin des Dames which was the scene of an immense battle in 1917.

The Chemin des Dames The Chemin des Dames

There are numerous monuments as well as British and French Military cemeteries throughout the area.

The British had also fought here in 1914 and there is a monument to the 1st Loyal North Lancashires at Cerny en Laonnois.

The Plateau de Californie at Craonne is only a ten minute drive away and offers superb views over the countryside as well as acting as a monument to the futility of the French assault and its heroism.