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Webmatters : Le Crotoy Communal Cemetery

Le Crotoy Communal Cemetery

Location

Le Crotoy Ville

Le Crotoy is a village on the right bank of the Somme estuary and is 20 kilometres north-west of Abbeville. The Communal Cemetery is on the north-western side of Le Crotoy on the road to the beach and to the neighbouring hamlet of St Firmin.

Le Crotoy Communal Cemetery

I have found that the easiest way to find the cemetery is to follow the signs for the Centre Equestre du Crotoy (Riding School) which is signposted out the St Firmin Road from the roundabout. There is a football pitch next to the centre and the cemetery is opposite that.

 

Historical Information

Le Crotoy Communal Cemetery contains four Commonwealth burials of the First World War, four from the Second World War (one of which is unidentified) and one unidentified Polish war grave.

There is a large French Military plot which contains thirty three Frenchmen of whom sixteen were airmen who died whilst serving at the School of Aviation.

Pioneers of French Aviation the Caudron Brothers had their workshops here at Le Crotoy. There is a memorial to them near the Tourist Train Station. Their small but fascinating museum (Which is free) can be found in the town of Rue a few kilometres away. Bessie Coleman learned to fly here at Le Crotoy with the Caudron school becoming the first black female American pilot.

Jean-Claude Le Bihan

Amongst the graves in the Military Section can be found this grave to a 6 year old boy killed in 1944.

 


Able Seaman J Scanlon

Able Seaman J Scanlon Z/7530
Nelson Battalion
Royal Naval Division
Died on 22nd December 1916


Able Seaman J Jackson

Able Seaman J Jackson Z/2848
Hood Battalion
Royal Naval Division
Died on 12th January 1917


2nd Lieutenant Sydney Cragg

2nd Lieutenant Sydney Cragg
25 Squadron Royal Flying Corps
Died on 9th November 1917 aged 27
Son of James Anderson Cragg
of 18, Findon St., Kew, Melbourne, Australia

The nature
Of his actions ascended
Because of the nobility
Of his thought


Ordinary Seaman Albert James

Ordinary Seaman Albert James P/JX 629540
HMS Quorn
Royal Navy
Died on 3rd August 1944 aged 34
Son of Thomas and Charlotte James
of Islington, London
Husband of Emily Alice James
of Islington

Row: 3 Grave: 37


Able Seaman James McPeake

Able Seaman James McPeake P/JX 194123
HMS Quorn
Royal Navy
Died on 3rd August 1944 aged 35
Son of William and Jessie McPeake, of Glasgow

Row: 1 Grave: 39


Leading Signalman Richard Wootton

Leading Signalman Richard Wootton C/SSX32657
HMS Daffodil
Royal Navy
Died on 18th March 1945 aged 22
Son of Raymond and May Wootton
of Westcliff-on-Sea. Essex

Row: 2 Grave: 23


Ageb Habn

Ageb Habn
Soviet Armed Forces
Died on 18th May 1944


Lieutenant Roger Dix

Lieutenant Roger Dix

An American pilot who was killed in an aircraft accident at Le Crotoy in May 1918, aged 22.

Roger Dix joined the American Field Service in July 1917 for service in France (Before America’s entry into the war). He served in the Verdun area until in November 1917 he transferred to the US Aviation Service.

Wanting to get back to the front as quickly as possible he agreed to train as a bombing-observer rather than take the longer pilot’s course. His School of Instruction was here at Le Crotoy in the Bay of the Somme.

He was unfortunately killed on his last training flight when the plane in which he was acting as observer fell from 200 metres. Both he and his French pilot were killed.

Liked and respected he was sadly missed by all.

 


Sub Lieutenant Edwin Dyett

Sub Lieutenant Edwin Dyett
Nelson Battalion
Royal Naval Division
Died on 5th January 1917 aged 21
Son of May Dyett, of Rock Ferry, Cheshire
and the late Commander W Dyett, RNR

Shot at Dawn for Desertion

During the First World War the British Army executed some 300 soldiers, but only 3 officers (One for murder).

Edwin Dyett is probably the more famous of the two shot for desertion, with a number of books devoted to his case.

In essence his case was as follows:

Dyett was a young and somewhat ineffective junior officer in the Nelson Battalion of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. In October 1916 he found himself along with the rest of the Division on the Somme and about to take part in the battle for Beaucourt in the Ancre Valley. By this time he had already made application to transfer away from the front as he didn’t think that he was suitable — an impression shared by his Company Commander.

The Nelson Battalion was the reserve for the Hood and Hawke Battalions who were charged with taking the German Front Line on 13th November 1916. The attack was a success, though the Nelson Battalion lost 34 killed and 204 wounded with a further 120 missing.

As he was not considered to be quality material Edwin Dyett was left as a reserve officer and it was only in the course of the battle with confusion all around, that he was sent forward with reserves.

The Railway Station at Beaucourt

Not being able to find anyone from his unit Dyett and another officer decided to return to Brigade Headquarters for more information. At Beaucourt Station they met up with a junior officer on staff duties who had a number of men with him who needed taking back to the front.

This is where it all went wrong for young Edwin Dyett. Whilst his companion accompanied the men back to the front and went on to take part in the latter stages of the battle. Dyett took offence at being ordered by a junior officer and continued on his way towards the rear. He met up with a number of soldiers who were also lost, but in the dark none of them could find Brigade HQ and they spent the night in a shell hole.

What he did not realise was that the junior officer put in a report to HQ explaining Dyett’s refusal to go forward.

The following day Dyett was found at Englebelmer some kilometres behind the front line. He was placed under arrest and later charged with desertion.

Ferme du Champ Neuf

What then followed is the subject of much discussion. The trial was held at la Ferme du Champ Neuf near St Firmin a ten minute drive from Le Crotoy.

Dyett did not give evidence and the evidence of the prosecution was damning enough.

At the conclusion Edwin Dyett was condemned to death, with a plea for mercy on account of his age and lack of experience.

Major-General Shute in command of the 63rd Division recommended mercy, but General Gough made the damning remark:

If a private had behaved as he did in such circumstances,
it is highly probable that he would have been shot.

On 2nd January 1917 Field Marshal Haig confirmed the death sentence. Dyett was informed on the evening of the 4th and at 0730 hours on Friday 5th January 1917 he met his end, probably in the courtyard of the farm where he had been held and tried.

In my own mind there is little doubt that Dyett had no intention of going anywhere near the fighting if he could avoid it. There was no evidence put up to show that he had made any real attempt to go back up to the line. That he was ordered to take men to the front by a junior officer is perhaps neither here nor there, it was his duty as an officer to get up there and lead. His companion didn’t appear to have any problem with the instructions and did what Dyett should have done.

The other two executed officers were:

 


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