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Webmatters : Lillers Communal Cemetery

Lillers Communal Cemetery


Lillers is a small town about 15 kilometres west-north-west of B├ęthune and the Communal Cemetery and Extension lie to the north of the town. From the Mairie in the centre of the town, head north on the D182, after 500 metres turn right onto Rue St Venant. The cemetery is a further 200 metres on the left hand side.

Within the Communal Cemetery the Commonwealth war graves are situated on the right hand side half way up the cemetery central path, and the Extension is at the far right end of the Communal Cemetery. Both cemeteries are signposted.

Decimal 50.569501 2.477674 Map

Lillers Communal Cemetery


Historical Information

Lillers was used for billets and headquarters’ offices from the autumn of 1914 to April 1918. At that time it was a hospital centre with the 6th, 9th, 18th, 32nd, 49th and 58th Casualty Clearing Stations in the town at one time or another. These units buried their dead on the right of the central path of the communal cemetery, working back from Plot I. In April 1918, the Germans advanced as far as Robecq; Lillers came under shell-fire, and the units holding this front continued to bury beyond the cemetery boundary, in the extension.

Lillers Communal Cemetery

The Communal Cemetery contains 894 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 67 of which are unidentified. There are also 15 German graves in the Commonwealth plots.

The Extension contains 71 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, six of them unidentified.

Lillers Communal Cemetery

The Extension is the two rows immediately to the front


William Cotter VC

Private Charles Thomson 21190
1st Bn Cameron Highlanders
Died on 15th March 1916 aged 16
Son of Magnus and Ruby Thomson
of Leith, Edinburgh.

Grave: IV E 46

6707 Corporal William Cotter VC
6th Bn The Buffs
East Kent Regiment
Died on 14th March 1916 aged 33
Son of Amy Cotter
of 2, Barton Cottages, Sandgate, Kent.

Grave: IV E 45

The London Gazette 29527
28th March 1916

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. When his right leg had been blown off at the knee and he had also been wounded in both arms, he made his way unaided for fifty yards to a crater, steadied the men who were holding it, controlled their fire, issued orders, and altered the dispositions of his men to meet a fresh counter-attack by the enemy.

For two hours he held his position, and only allowed his wounds to be roughly dressed when the attack had quieted down. He could not be moved back for fourteen hours, and during all this time had a cheery word for all who passed him. There is no doubt that his magnificent courage helped greatly to save a critical situation.

David Nelson VC

Major David Nelson VC
“D” Battery 59th Brigade
Royal Field Artillery
Died on 8th April 1918 aged 31
Son of the late George and Annie Nelson
Husband of Jessie Nelson
of 92, Ranelagh Rd Ipswich
Native of Deraghland, Co. Monaghan, Ulster.
Gained “VC” whilst serving with
“L” Battery RHA on 1st September 1914.

Grave: V A 16

The London Gazette 28976
13th November 1914

Helping to bring the guns into action under heavy fire at Nery on 1st September, and while severely wounded remaining with them until all the ammunition was expended — although he had been ordered to retire to cover.

The action at Nery (Oise) is one of the most famous of the war. The remaining gun from the battery managed to stop the German cavalry from overrunning the British position. Three Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the team.


Guardsman E Davidge

Guardsman E Davidge 970
1st Bn Welsh Guards
Died on 7th October 1915 aged 16
Son of Mr HDavidge
of Farnham, Blandford, Dorset.

Grave: IV C 10

Private Patrick McCausland

Private Patrick McCausland 22145
7th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers
Died on 1st May 1916 aged 17
Son of Edward and Elizabeth McCausland
of 88, Lepper St., Belfast.

Grave: V B 45

Private Reginald Martin

Private Reginald Martin 3367
19th Bn London Regiment
Died on 1st June 1915 aged 17
Son of the late William Martin and of Flora Martin
of 10, Cotham Gardens, Redland, Bristol
Born Merriott, Crewkerne, Somerset.

Grave: II C 17

He gave himself
Cheerfully and willingly
And the world is the poorer
For his loss

Major General Sir Thompson Capper

Major General Sir Thompson Capper
K C M G, C B, D S O, Mentioned in Despatches
Commanding 7th Division
Late East Lancashire Regiment
Died on 27th September 1915 aged 51
Husband of Mary Capper
of 67, Portland Court, Marylebone, London.

Grave: In front of II A

One of six generals killed during the battle of Loos

Drummer Arthur Sear

Drummer Arthur Sear 1964
3rd Bn London Regiment
Royal Fusiliers
Died on 12th March 1915 aged 19
Son of Joseph and Annie Sear
of 16, Goodinge Rd., Islington, London
Lce. Serjt. L.D.C.L. Bde

Grave: III A 13

Stand Fast
Quit ye like men

Corinthians [16.13]


Shot at Dawn

Private John Dennis

Private John Dennis 6807
1st Bn Northamptonshire Regiment
Died on 30th January 1916
Son of the late Samuel and Anne Dennis
Native of Cheetham Hill, Manchester

Grave: IV E 16

Shot at Dawn for desertion

John Dennis was already serving under a suspended prison sentence for desertion when he was brought before a Court Martial in December 1915 for a second offence. The judges were not prepared to accept his plea that he had been affected by heavy shelling.

A fortnight after his case Sir Douglas Haig took over command of the British Army and Dennis’s was the first execution to be carried out authorised by Haig. The delay of fifty-eight days between verdict and execution was the longest for any condemned man.


Other cemeteries in the area

Recent Additions

Brimont Churchyard

Braine Communal Cemetery

Soupir Churchyard

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