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Webmatters : Serre Road Cemetery No 2
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Serre Road Cemetery No 2

Location

The village of Serre is 11 kilometres north-north-east of Albert.

Using the D919 from Arras to Amiens you will drive through the villages of Bucquoy, Puisieux then Serre-les-Puisieux (approximately 20 km south of Arras). On leaving Serre-les-Puisieux, 1.3 km further along the D919, Serre Road No.2 Cemetery can be found on the left hand side.

Serre Road Cemetery No 2

 

Historical Information

In June 1916, the road out of Mailly-Maillet to Serre and Puisieux entered no man’s land about 1,300 metres south-west of Serre. On 1st July 1916, the 31st and 4th Divisions attacked north and south of this road and although parties of the 31st Division reached Serre, the attack failed. The 3rd and 31st Divisions attacked once more on the 13th November, but again without success.

Serre Road Cemetery No 2

Redan Ridge Runs behind the cemetery

Early in 1917, the Germans fell back to the Hindenburg Line and on 25th February, Serre was occupied by the 22nd Bn Manchester Regiment. The village changed hands once more in March 1918 and remained under German occupation, until they withdrew in August.

In the spring of 1917, the battlefields of the Somme and Ancre were cleared by V Corps and a number of new cemeteries were made, three of which are now named from the Serre Road. Serre Road Cemetery No.2 was begun in May 1917 and by the end of the war it contained approximately 475 graves (Plots I and II, except for Row E, Plot II which was added in 1922 and Row AA, Plot I which was added in 1927), but it was greatly enlarged after the Armistice by the addition of further graves from the surrounding area, including graves from the following smaller cemeteries:-

The Original Plots

The original plots

  • Baizieux Communal Cemetery (Somme): one United Kingdom grave March 1918.
  • Boismont Churchyard (Somme): one United Kingdom grave of October 1914.
  • Bucquoy Communal Cemetery (Pas-de-Calais): 25 United Kingdom graves of August 1918.
  • Ercheu Churchyard (Somme): one United Kingdom grave of March 1918.
  • Frettecuisse Churchyard (Somme): one United Kingdom grave September 1916.
  • Hervilly Churchyard (Somme): one RFC grave of September 1916.
  • Holnon Communal Cemetery (Aisne): five United Kingdom graves April 1917.
  • Laboissiere Churchyard (Somme): one United Kingdom grave of April 1917.
  • Le Sars German Cemetery (Pas-de-Calais): one United Kingdom grave.
  • Madame Military Cemetery, Clery-Sur-Somme (Somme): three United Kingdom graves of February 1917.
  • Meaulte Churchyard (Somme): one United Kingdom grave of April 1916.
  • Pozières Communal Cemetery (Somme): one Canadian grave of September 1916.
  • Remiencourt Communal Cemetery (Somme): one United Kingdom grave of April 1918.
  • Somme American Cemetery, Bony (Aisne): two United Kingdom graves of July and October 1918, and one Australian of September 1918.
  • Voyennes Churchyard (Somme): seven United Kingdom graves of March 1918.
  • Ytres Churchyard (Pas-de-Calais): 14 United Kingdom and four New Zealand graves of September 1918, mainly from the 15th Field Ambulance.

Serre Road Cemetery No 2

The French Cemetery and Serre Road No 1 in the distance

There are now 7,127 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery, mostly dating from 1916. Of these, 4,944 are unidentified.

The cemetery, which was not completed until 1934, was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

 

Wilfred Owen

From Redan Ridge towards the French Chapel

The ground between the French Chapel and Serre Road Cemetery No 2

It is known that the poet Lieutenant Wilfred Owen served in this area with his unit the 2nd Bn Manchester Regiment. It is believed that somewhere between what is now the cemetery and the French Chapel is where Owen spent a period in a captured German bunker during January 1917.

His battalion was doing turn about with the 15th Bn Highland Light Infantry, holding the position which was almost as Owen was to put it: …not at the front but in front of it.

He wrote to his mother on 16th January 1917 how after wading through the mud and water he had to endure fifty hours of agony during which one of the sentries was blown down the steps by a bombardment.

The soldier had been blinded by the blast and the incident is thought to have inspired Owen later on in the year to write the poem: The Sentry.

There we herded from the blast
Of whizz-bangs, but one found our door at last.
Buffeting eyes and breath, snuffing the candles.
And thud! flump! thud! down the steep steps came thumping
And splashing in the flood, deluging muck —
The sentry’s body; then his rifle, handles
Of old Boche bombs, and mud in ruck on ruck.
We dredged him up, for killed, until he whined
“O sir, my eyes — I’m blind — I’m blind, I’m blind!”

 



Three unidentified soldiers

Three unidentified soldiers

70% of those buried here are unidentified. Each grave represents a name on the Thiepval Memorial.



Captain Francis Dodgson

Captain Francis Dodgson
8th Bn Yorkshire Regiment
Died on 10th July 1916 aged 27
Son of Henley Dodgson
of Bovingdon, Herts
Educated at Marlborough College
and Trinity College, Cambridge

Grave: XXVIII K 8

He has a small monument dedicated to him on the site where he fell near Contalmaison.


Private Ernest Budgon

Private Ernest Budgon 3757
20th Bn Australian Infantry
Died on 26th July 1916 aged 22
Son of William and Ellen Budgon
of “Corrabin,” Eaton St., Willoughby, New South Wales

Grave: IX D 1


Private A Noakes

Private A Noakes 1713/A
24th Bn Australian Infantry
Died on 28th July 1916

Grave: XXVIII A 12

 


Memorial cross to Lieutenant Valentine Braithwaite MC

Lieutenant Valentine Braithwaite MC

Just outside the cemetery and to the left of the main gateway you will see this cross.

It is dedicated to the memory of Lieutenant Valentine Braithwaite MC who served in the 1st Bn Somerset Light Infantry.

On the first day of the Somme, 1st July 1916, his battalion had attacked the Quadrilateral Redoubt (On which the cemetery now stands) suffering severe casualties. Braithwaite was killed but his body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier 2A).

 

Plaque to recovered soldiers’ remains

Plaque to bodies recovered at Serre

If you continue a little further along the road towards the French Cemetery and Serre Road Cemetery No 1 you will see this small monument on the right hand side of the road. It is not very high and is easy to miss.

It states that in October 2003 the remains of three soldiers were found in the field nearby.

  • Wehrmann Jakob Hönes, 09 12 1880 – 13 06 1915, 121 (Württembergisches) RIR
  • Vizefeldwebel Albert Thielecke, 31 12 1888 – 11 06 1915, 121 (Württembergisches) RIR
  • An unidentified British soldier, Died 1st July 1916, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment

They have since been reburied in their own national cemeteries. In the case of the two German soldiers this was at Labry Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof near Verdun on 26th August 2004.

 

Other cemeteries in the area


Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

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