Langemark is located north of Ieper off the N313, a road that runs between Ieper and Poelkapelle. From the N313 turn off towards Langamark along the Zonnebekestraat (opposite the St. Julian Canadian Memorial). Follow the Zonnebekestraat into the village to the traffic lights, go straight over at the lights into Klerkenstraat and the cemetery is along here on the left, at the outskirts of the village.
You should note that you are now required to park in the car park at the far end and you enter via there.
Not far away is the memorial to the British 34th Division
The names of the two British casualties can be found on a plaque to the left of the entrance, on the face of the first German memorial stone.
Visitors to Commonwealth Cemeteries in Belgium will always note the inscription that the land has been donated in perpetuity, in remembrance of the sacrifice to save Belgium.
The situation for the quarter of a million German dead from the battles in West Flanders is somewhat different. Originally the Soldatenfriedhofs were as numerous on the ground as Britain’s. However the territory was rented and initially for only 30 years.
After the Second World War an agreement was reached between the two governments and Belgium allowed four cemeteries which would act as concentration cemeteries. This land has also been given on a permanent basis.
The main entrance constructed with red Weser stone has two rooms. One with oak panels showing the names of the missing, the other containing the register and visitors book. There is also an interesting map showing where all the original cemeteries used to be.
At 0800 hours on 23rd October 1914, during the 1st Battle of Ypres, the German army attacked Langemark which was being defended by the British 1st Division with the 2nd Division outside the village on the right.
About 15% of Germany’s volunteers were students and high school graduates. Entire lecture-rooms and classes — together with professors and teachers — had taken themselves down to the recruiting offices.
That morning the German Army hurled these units of enthusiastic but untrained students into the fray against Langemark. That evening at 1730 hours dense lines of troops were seen advancing towards the British 2nd Division’s positions.
They were shot down in thousands by the only professional Army in Europe — the British. Most of these students lie here at Langemark and for this reason the cemetery is often known as the Studentenfriedhof — Students Cemetery.
The British Official History records that the 1st Bn Gloucesters fired an average of 500 rounds of ammunition per man between 0800 hours and 1300 hours when the attack came to a halt in their sector.
The cemetery has been under the sponsorship of various Student Organisations ever since.
44,061 German soldiers are buried here under the oak trees (a constant in most German Military cemeteries, representing strength).
Immediately in front of the main gate you are confronted by a mass grave of 24,917 men. The Volksbund has been able to work out the names of about 17,000 of them. These have been cast on bronze plaques, which are positioned around three sides of the grave.
In the older part of the cemetery the graves are marked by granite plaques bearing up to 20 names.
The graves are watched over by the statues of four of their comrades designed by Emil Krieger in 1956.
The inspiration for the group may have come from a photo of a funeral service of the Rhein Reserve Infantry Regiment Nr 258 at the Bouillonville Cemetery in 1918.
To the right hand side are bunkers from the Langemark Line with Divisional Memorials on the blocks between them.