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Webmatters : Mont St Eloi Communal Cemetery
Rough Map of Area

Mont St Eloi Communal Cemetery

Location

Mont-St. Eloi is a village and commune about 8 kilometres north-west of Arras, on the N341 road to Boulogne. The communal cemetery is north of the village, adjoining the ruins of an old monastery, which is classified as an historic monument and is an outstanding landmark. The Commission plot is near the southern corner of the cemetery.

Follow the signs for the Monument to the 4e Dragons. Turning off the main road there is an immediate steep climb. The entrance to the cemetery is on your right just before the abbey towers – again, follow the signs for the monument.

Mont St Eloi Communal Cemetery

 

Historical Information

The British plot, near the southern corner of the cemetery, contains the graves of five soldiers from the United Kingdom, one of whom is not identified.

These gunners were all killed in a tragic accident on the 22nd May 1940.

Au moment où les chars français abordent les abords de la ferme de Berthonval, une tragique méprise se produit. Des artilleurs britanniques qui sont là en position ouvrent le feu avec leurs canons anti-tanks contre les Français. Ces derniers ripostent, détruisent les 2 canons et mettent hors de combat les canonniers britanniques.

Just as the French tanks reached the edge of Berthonval Farm a tragic misunderstanding took place. Some British artillerymen who were in position at the farm opened fire on the French with their anti-tank guns. The latter returned fire putting the two guns and their crews out of action.

Vimy from Mont St Eloi

Berthonval Farm in the woods to the right and the Vimy Memorial

Berthonval Farm is the large farm that you can see in front of you in the valley. It was used as a Canadian Headquarters during the First World War and it was from there that the French Foreign Legion launched their assault on Vimy Ridge on the 9th May 1915.

On a clear day the twin white towers of the Canadian Memorial at Vimy are clearly visible on the horizon.

This entire area is noted for its hundreds of thousands of graves from the First World War. There is a large CWGC cemetery within five minutes at Ecoivres. Descend the hill, turn left towards Arras and then immediately right.

At Maroeuil in the communal cemetery you will find 35 soldiers of the 2nd Bn Northamptonshire Regiment who died fighting for the village on the 23rd May 1940. Immediately next to it is a large French Military Cemetery from the battles of 1915 in which you will find the two sons of Général Pouydraguin. Descend the hill, turn left towards Arras and then in a few kilometres turn right into Maroeuil. Follow the signs for the Cimetière.

Monument to the 4e Dragons

The monument to the 4e RDP in the cemetery

Within the cemetery is a monument recalling the 4e Régiment de Dragons Portés (who were the French tanks in question) as well as their own dead.

Graves of Dragoons from the 4e RDP

Graves of Dragoons from the 4e RDP

During the Battle of Arras in 1940 the French Dragoons were involved in a hard fought encounter with the German Panzers at Mont St Eloi and Berthonval Farm.

Together with the stand made by the British 4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiments at Arras, actions such as these managed to force Hitler to call a three day halt in his advance across France. The German lines were becoming extended for their narrow front and the ferocity of the counter attack at Arras made the German High Command fearful of a greater riposte.

Whilst it was not impossible to stop the Germans from reaching Boulogne and Calais the pause did allow Operation Dynamo to take place at Dunkerque saving thousands of British and French soldiers from capture.

 


Bombardier Thomas Dearlove

Bombardier Thomas Dearlove 849004
208 Battery, 52 Anti-Tank Regiment
Royal Artillery
Died on 22nd May 1940 aged 21
Son of Mrs. M. Dearlove, of Brixton, London

Grave: 2


Gunner Cyril Hughes

Gunner Cyril Hughes 1491403
208 Battery, 52 Anti-Tank Regiment
Royal Artillery
Died on 22nd May 1940 aged 21
Son of T and Florence Hughes, of Brislington, Bristol

Grave: 3


Lance Bombardier William Piper

Lance Bombardier William Piper 1452006
208 Battery, 52 Anti-Tank Regiment
Royal Artillery
Died on 22nd May 1940

Grave: 4


Serjeant Donald Budd

Serjeant Donald Budd 5378872
208 Battery, 52 Anti-Tank Regiment
Royal Artillery
Died on 22nd May 1940 aged 31
Husband of Muriel Budd, of Colchester, Essex

Grave: 5

 

Other cemeteries in the area


Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

CWGC Poppy Button