Ovillers is a village about 5 kilometres north-east of the town of Albert off the D929 road to Bapaume. The Military Cemetery is approximately 500 metres west of the village on the D20 road to Aveluy. The Cemetery is signposted in the village.
Travelling from Albert you will see this large cemetery just over to your left as you reach La Boisselle.
On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 8th Division attacked Ovillers and the 34th Division La Boisselle. The villages were not captured, but ground was won between them and to the south of La Boisselle. On 4th July, the 19th (Western) Division cleared La Boisselle and on 7th July the 12th (Eastern) and 25th Divisions gained part of Ovillers, the village being cleared by the 48th (South Midland) Division on 17th July. The two villages were lost during the German advance in March 1918, but they were retaken on the following 24th August by the 38th (Welsh) Division.
Ovillers Military Cemetery was begun before the capture of Ovillers, as a battle cemetery behind a dressing station. It was used until March 1917, by which time it contained 143 graves, about half the present Plot I. The cemetery was increased after the Armistice when Commonwealth and French graves where brought in, mainly from the battlefields of Pozières, Ovillers, La Boisselle and Contalmaison, and from the following two cemeteries :
There are now 3,440 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 2,480 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 24 casualties believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of 35 casualties, buried in Mash Valley Cemetery, whose graves were destroyed in later fighting. The cemetery also contains 120 French war graves.
The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
Private John Walls G/586
7th Bn Royal Sussex Regiment
Died on 7th July 1916 aged 21
Son of Mr W and Mrs F Walls
of Elmcroft, East Rd, Selsey, Chichester
Mash Valley Memorial 5
Captain John Lauder
1/8th Bn Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Died on 28th December 1916 aged 25
Son of Sir Harry and Dame Annie Lauder
of Laudervale, Dunoon, Argyll
Grave: 1 A 6
His father was Sir Harry Lauder a famous entertainer of the time. Sir Harry was so distressed by his sons death (at the hands of a ‘sniper’ on 28th December 1916) that having visited his son’s grave at Ovillers he composed the popular song: Keep right on to the end of the road.
Sergeant Alfred Norton 87281 DCM
Royal Field Artillery
Died on 26th August 1918 aged 24
Son of Samuel Norton
of 31, Benson Avenue, East Ham, Essex
Husband of Annie Norton
Born at North Worlington, Devon
Grave: XIII D 5
Lt Colonel Frederick Heneker
Leinster Regiment, commanding
21st (Tyneside Scottish) Bn
Died on 1st July 1916 aged 43
Son of the late Richard and Elizabeth Heneker
of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada;
Husband of Constance Heneker
of Southlands Grove, Bickley, Kent
Grave: III A 1
Private Hugh Mackenzie 6472
1/5th Bn Seaforth Highlanders
Died on 16th December 1916 aged 37
Son of William and Jessie Munro Mackenzie
Grave: I B 13
Captain Edward Underhill
8th Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Died on 12th October 1916 aged 21
Son of Joseph and Edith Underhill
of Warlingham, Surrey
Grave: VI O 8