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Webmatters : Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension

Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension

Location

The town of Abbeville is on the main road from Paris to Boulogne (N1), about 80 kilometres south of Boulogne. The communal cemetery and communal cemetery extension are located on the left hand side of the road when leaving the town in a north-east direction for Drucat.

CWGC direction signs will be found within the cemetery. Enter the Communal Cemetery by the left hand side main gate and follow CWGC signs within the Cemetery.

Or more simply drive to the top of the road and park at the CWGC gate.

The Cemetery and extension can be a little confusing because the plot numbering repeats itself. The Extension is on the upper deck in the area of the Cross of Sacrifice, the Communal Cemetery plots are those down below nearer the Civilian and French military graves.

GPS N E Wikimapia
Decimal 50.12141 1.83222 Map

Abbeville Communal Cemetery

 

Historical Information

For much of the First World War, Abbeville was headquarters of the Commonwealth lines of communication and No.3 BRCS, No.5 and No.2 Stationary Hospitals were stationed there variously from October 1914 to January 1920. The communal cemetery was used for burials from November 1914 to September 1916, the earliest being made among the French military graves. The extension was begun in September 1916.

During the early part of the Second World War, Abbeville was a major operational aerodrome, but the town fell to the Germans at the end of May 1940. On 4th June, an attempt was made by the 51st Division, in conjunction with the French, to break the German bridgehead, but without success. Towards the end of 1943, eight large ski shaped buildings appeared near Abbeville. These proved to be storage units for flying bomb components and they were heavily bombed by Commonwealth air forces. Abbeville was retaken on 4th September 1944 by the 1st Polish Armoured Division—part of the II Canadian Corps.

Abbeville Communal Cemetery contains 774 Commonwealth burials of First World War and 30 from the Second. The Extension contains 1,754 First World War burials and 348 from the Second.

The Commonwealth sections of both cemetery and extension were designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

Workers from Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps

Workers from Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps

 

An unusual Story

Lena Ashwell was a well known actress and theatre manageress. In 1915, she became the first person to organise companies of actors to travel to France and perform for the troops.

Even though the war ended in November 1918 it was not possible to simply ship everybody back home. Apart from the fact that the Armistice had to be renewed from time to time—it was an cease fire rather than a definitive cessation of hostilities—the administration of demobilising everybody was going to take time.

The luckier troops got to be entertained by concert parties.

Emily Pickford and Fred Taylor of the YMCA

Emily Pickford and Fred Taylor of the YMCA
Who died on 7th February 1919

Emily Pickford
Member of Lena Ashwell’s Concert Party
Aged 38
Daughter of Mr and Mrs W Pearn, of Penarth
Wife of Ernest Pickford
of 101 Windsor Rd, Penarth, Glam
Fred Taylor
Member of Lena Ashwell’s Concert Party
Aged 29
Son of Herbert and Alice Taylor, of Hornsey, London
Unable to serve owing to physical disability
Grave: V G 23 Grave: V G 24

Emily had been the musician and Fred the baritone in a seven man troop which included other singers and a ventriloquist.

This photo was taken just after the 90th Anniversary of their deaths. On a similarly freezing night the party had put on a concert at Gouy l’Hôpital 45 kilometres away on the road towards Beauvais. They had been provided with two cars and the return journey brought them in near the SNCF Railway station and, as today, along the banks of the River Somme.

It would appear that coming along the tow path the lead vehicle with Emily and Fred on board lost the road and slipped into the river. Although the driver and another passenger were rescued, Emily and Fred drowned in the icy waters.

Their bodies were later recovered and brought to the Communal Cemetery only a few kilometres away from the place of the accident.

 


Lieutenant Murray Smith

Lieutenant Murray Smith
3rd Bn Canadian Infantry
Central Ontario Regiment
Died on 31st October 1916 aged 25
Son of Mr and Mrs John Smith
of Woodsetton, Dudley, England

Also his brother
Captain John Smith
Killed 31st August 1916

Grave: Extension I J 8

His brother is commemorated on the
Thiepval Memorial: Pier 7B
1st Bn South Staffordshire Regiment, aged 24


Corporal Hawton Mitchell

Corporal Hawton Mitchell 3532
8th Bn Australian Infantry
Died on 1st September 1918 aged 21
Son of Hannah and the late Braddon Mitchell
of “Bailabbe,” Wodonga, Victoria, Australia
Of Bethanga, Victoria
His brother Frederick Mitchell also fell.

Grave: IV D 18

After two weary years
God took him
To his twin brother
My Hawton

Frederick is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Grave: II E 112).


Sergeant Robert Cowan

Sergeant Robert Cowan 1319861
Navigator
431 (RCAF) Sqdn
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died on 19th November 1943 aged 22
Son of David and Mabel Cowan
Husband of Dorothy Cowan
of Rogerstone, Monmouthshire
Western Universities Teaching Certificate
and Archbishop’s Certificate, 1941.

Grave: VI D 2

Born of the sun
Flying into the sun
He signed the vivid air
With his honour

The crew of Halifax Bomber LK640 SE-Q had taken off from Tholthorpe on a bombing mission to Mannheim. All seven of the crew were killed and are buried/commemorated on both sides of the Channel.


Porucznik Stanislav Wator

Porucznik (Flying Officer) Stanislav Wator P1948
Navigator
305 Sqdn. Polish Air Force
Died on 24th May 1944 aged 33
Born 8th September 1910 in Kraków.

Grave: VI E 2

Wator and his pilot Por. Michel Latawiec (in the grave alongside) took off in their Mosquito NT145 SM-Z from Laaham. They were shot down by Flak over Wanel just to the south of Abbeville.

 

Other cemeteries in the area


Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

CWGC Poppy Button