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Webmatters : Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval
Rough Map of Area

Delville Wood Cemetery

Location

Longueval is a village 11 kilometres east of Albert. Delville Wood Cemetery is east of the village and on the south side of the road from Longueval to Ginchy.

Delville Wood Cemetery

 

Historical Information

Delville Wood was a tract of woodland, nearly 1 kilometre square, the western edge of which touched the village of Longueval in the Somme. On 14 July 1916 the greater part of Longueval village was taken by the 9th (Scottish) Division and on the 15th, the South African Brigade of that Division captured most of Delville Wood.

The wood now formed a salient in the line, with Waterlot Farm and Mons Wood on the south flank still in German hands, and, owing to the height of the trees, no close artillery support was possible for defence. The three South African battalions fought continuously for six days and suffered heavy casualties.

Delville Wood Cemetery

On 18 July, they were forced back and on the evening of the 20th the survivors, a mere handful of men, were relieved. On 27 July, the 2nd Division retook the wood and held it until 4 August when the 17th Division took it over. On 18 and 25 August it was finally cleared of all German resistance by the 14th (Light) Division. The wood was then held until the end of April 1918 when it was lost during the German advance, but was retaken by the 38th (Welsh) Division on the following 28 August.

Delville Wood Cemetery

Delville Wood Cemetery was made after the Armistice, when graves were brought in from a few small cemeteries and isolated sites, and from the battlefields. Almost all of the burials date from July, August and September 1916.

There are now 5,523 burials and commemorations of the First World War in this cemetery. 3,593 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 27 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of three soldiers buried in Courcelette Communal Cemetery German Extension, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

 

Private James Rathband

One of the younger casualties

Private James Rathband 24444
9th Bn Royal Dublin Fusiliers
Died on 9th September 1916 aged 16
Son of Mr and Mrs J Rathband, of Dublin

Grave: XXI B 2

 


Albert Gill VC

Serjeant 2815 Albert Gill VC
1st Bn King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Died on 27th July 1916 aged 36
Son of Harry and Sophia Gill,
of Birmingham, England
Husband of Rosetta Gill

Grave: IV C 3

The London Gazette
24th October 1916

For most conspicuous bravery. The enemy made a very strong counter-attack on the right flank of the battalion, and rushed the bombing post after killing all the company bombers. Serjeant Gill at once rallied the remnants of his platoon, none of whom were skilled bombers, and reorganised his defences, a most difficult and dangerous task, the trench being very shallow and much damaged.

Soon afterwards the enemy nearly surrounded his men by creeping up through the thick undergrowth, and commenced sniping at about twenty yards’ range. Although it was almost certain death, Serjeant Gill stood boldly up in order to direct the fire of his men. He was killed almost at once, but not before he had shown his men where the enemy were, and thus enabled them to hold up their advance. By his supreme devotion to duty and self-sacrifice he saved a very dangerous situation.


Private G Callaghan

Private G Callaghan 24467
1st Regiment South African Infantry
Died on 16th July 1916

Grave: IV G 4


Rifleman E Sharp

Rifleman E Sharp C/845
16th Bn King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Died on 15th July 1916

Grave: XVIII G 10


Gunner George Glock

Gunner George Glock L/47214
C Battery 190th Bde Royal Field Artillery
Died on 24th September 1916 aged 19
Son of William and Charlotte Glock,
of 64, Clifton Rd, Kingston-on-Thames,
Surrey

Grave: XXIV N 8

 

Other cemeteries in the area

In which you will find one of the New Zealand Memorials to their missing and the former grave of New Zealand’s Unknown Soldier.


Opposite the cemetery stands the South African National Memorial. Originally intended as a memorial to the South African servicemen who served and died in all theatres during the First World War, this was later extended to include the Second World War and Korean War.

Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

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