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Vailly British Cemetery


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.

Decimal49.4088023.509536 Map
Vailly British Military Cemetery

Historical Information

The village of Vailly-sur-Aisne was the point at which the 3rd Division crossed the river Aisne on 13th and 14th September 1914 during the Allied advance from the Marne. It fell to the German forces in 1915, was retaken by the French during the Chemin des Dames Offensive in April 1917, lost again to the Germans in June 1918 and finally captured by the French on 15th September 1918.

Vailly British Cemetery was established after the Armistice when the remains of Commonwealth soldiers were brought here from other burial grounds and battlefields throughout the region. The following were among the burial grounds from which Commonwealth graves were taken to Vaillly 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 R.G.A., 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 O.B.L.I.) were buried in two plots in September and October 1914.
  • Laffaux German Cemetery (on the main road half a mile 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.

Most of those buried here were killed during the Battle of the Aisne in September 1914, but the cemetery is also the final resting place of over sixty Commonwealth soldiers who were killed or mortally wounded in the summer of 1918.

The cemetery now contains over 670 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War.

Vailly British Military Cemetery

An unknown French soldier apart from his coountrymen

Theodore Wright VC

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

Grave: II B 21

The London Gazette
16th 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.

Brigadier General Neil Findlay CB

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

Grave: VI A 53

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

Orderly Hugo Jackson

Orderly Hugo Jackson 1432
Friends Ambulance Unit
(attd. to the French Army).
British Red Cross Society
Died on 27th May 1918 aged 28
(attd. to the French Army).
British Red Cross Society
Son of Harrison and Lucy Jackson
of 1, West Grove, Kendal, Westmorland.

Grave: I AA 18

Other cemeteries in the area

The Chemin des Dames

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

There are numerous monuments as well as British and French Military cemeteries throughout the area. The British had also fought here in 1914 and 1918. There is a monument to the 1st Loyal North Lancashires at Cerny en Laonnois and one to the 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment at La Ville aux bois les Pontavert.

The Plateau de Californie at Craonne is only a short 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.