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Webmatters : Rancourt German Military Cemetery

Rancourt Soldatenfriedhof

Location

Rancourt is a village almost equidistant between Bapaume and Peronne on the D 917 (D 1017 in the Somme). So about 12 kilometres from either.

Rancourt Soldatenfriedhof is located just to the west of the village on the D20 towards Combles. It is well sign posted with the junction on the Peronne side of the French National Cemetery and the Chapel at Rancourt.

GPS N E OSM
Decimal 49.99718 2.90528 Map

Rancourt Soldatenfriedhof

 

Historical Information

Today Rancourt has the dubious privilege of hosting three military cemeteries : French, British, and German. It is also the key site for the commemoration of the French participation in the Battle of the Somme.

Rancourt Soldatenfriedhof

This village, like all those nearby, was entirely destroyed during the Great War. It was partly recaptured by Allied troops on 25 September 1916 ; the troops then went on to attack Saint Pierre Vaast Woods, taken back by the British in March 1917 during the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line farther north.

There are only a few graves here from the early months of the war. Two thirds of the dead lying here are from the Battle of the Somme between July and November 1916. Most of the remainder are from the summer of 1918.

There are now 11 422 burials within the cemetery only 3 930 of them have individual graves.

The mass grave

The remaining 7 492 soldiers ; only 2 316 of whom are identified, are buried in a mass grave marked by Gothic crosses. Plaques give the names of those known to be buried amongst the remains.

In 1929 repairs were carried out following negotiations with the French Government and the mass graves were given a proper wall and planted with roses. Trees were planted and the cemetery was inaugurated on 17 September 1933.

The problem of how to mark the names of the fallen had to wait until the end of the Second World War for a solution. Eventually in 1972 the wooden crosses were replaced with crosses made from Belgian granite.

The chapel

The carving by Geiger

A small chapel made from red Vosges sandstone inaugurated in September 1933 lies within the cemetery. Inside is a carving by Professor Geiger (I am presuming Willi) of an interment.