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Webmatters : Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension

Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension

Location

Beuvry is a town in the Pas de Calais, approximately 3 kilometres east of Bethune. The Communal Cemetery is 200 metres north of the church on Rue Edouart Vallant and the Extension is situated to the left of the Communal Cemetery.

GPS N E Wikimapia
Decimal 50.523178 2.677832 Map

Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension

 

Historical Information

Beuvry village was largely occupied during the War by Royal Engineers, Supply units and Artillery horse-lines. It remained in British possession even during the German offensive of Apri, 1918. Beuvry Communal Cemetery was used by units and Field Ambulances from November 1914, to August 1916.

The Cemetery Extension was begun in March 1916, and used by units and field ambulances until October 1918.

Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension

After the Armistice graves were concentrated into it from the battlefields of 1914-18, North and East of Bethune.

There are now over 200, 1914-18 and nearly 20, 1939-45 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, over 30 from the 1914-18 War are unidentified.

The Extension covers an area of 846 square metres and is enclosed on two sides by a rubble wall.

Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension

An unusual headstone for an unknown French soldier
Placed by the local Veterans’ Association

 


Edward Smith VC DCM

107894 Lieutenant (QM)
Edward Smith VC DCM
2nd Bn Lancashire Fusiliers
Died on 12th January 1940 aged 41
Native of Maryport, Cumberland

Grave: I B 7

The London Gazette
18th October 1918

Serjeant Edward Smith, DCM, Lancashire Fusiliers, while in command of a platoon, personally took a machine gun post with rifle and bayonet, killing at least six of the enemy, regardless of the hand grenades they flung at him. Later he led his men to the assistance of another platoon he saw in difficulties, took command, and captured the objective.

During the counter attack next day he led forward a section and restored a portion of the line. His personal bravery, skill and initiative were outstanding, and his conduct throughout an inspiring example to all.

It will be noted that Smith died before the Germans invaded on the 10th May 1940. One can only therefore presume that he was killed in a training accident.

 


CSM Reginald Mines

CSM Reginald Mines 687
17th Bn Royal Fusiliers
Died on 26th June 1917 aged 26
Son of Richard and Ellen Mines, of 8, Buckthorne Rd, Crofton Park, London
Enlisted September 1914

Grave: I A 1

 

Two very different stories

Visitors to the cemetery and its extension will notice that the graves of Lance Serjeant Williams and Private Archibald are of the same design. Nothing marks them as being different from anybody else’s. Yet Williams had been murdered and Archibald executed.

In death they were treated no differently than the hundreds of others who surround them in these two cemeteries. Rank and title changed nothing, everyone received the same headstone.

There are a few exceptions that allow a grave to stand out amongst the others, one is the Victoria Cross, another in later years the George Cross. All recipients of these awards have the medal engraved on their headstone.

Only one grave of an executed soldier carries testament to his fate, for the others, you would never know.


Lance Serjeant Edwin Williams

Lance Serjeant Edwin Williams 25585
2nd Bn Welsh Regiment
Died on 13th April 1918 aged 42
Son of David and Maria Williams
of Trehafod, Pontypridd
Husband of the late Mary Williams

Grave: III B 3

Lance Serjeant Williams was shot dead whilst arresting Private James Skone of the same battalion. Skone was later tried and executed for the murder on the 10th May 1918. Skone is buried in Hersin Communal Cemetery.


Private James Archibald

Private James Archibald 25531
17th Bn Royal Scots
Died on 4th June 1916 aged 20
Brother of Mrs E Gray
of 9, Rosevale Place, Leith, Edinburgh

Grave: II D 15

Shot at Dawn for desertion

Archibald was the first Bantam soldier to be executed during the war. In order to increase the supply of soldiers the government had reduced the height restriction for men who were otherwise fit and healthy.

Archibald had previously been sentenced for neglect of duty and was serving out a period of Field Punishment No 1, (which meant being strapped to a wagon wheel for two hours a day in full view of his comrades).

He was tried and convicted of desertion, having abandoned his unit on being warned for sentry duty. He was later found asleep in a barn some miles behind the lines.

His case has become particularly noted for a report made by his CO :

He is considered by his platoon commander to be of poor intellect, and I consider he is a typical slum product of a low level of intelligence. From a fighting point of view, Private Archibald was of not much consideration … I am doubtful that he realised the gravity of the offence he was committing.

 

Other cemeteries in the area


Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

CWGC Poppy Button