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Webmatters : Quatre-Vents Military Cemetery, Éstrée-Cauchy

Quatre-Vents Military Cemetery

Location

Éstrée-Cauchy is a village 16 kilometres north-west of Arras on the main road from Arras to Boulogne. Les Quatre-Vents is a hamlet about 2 kilometres south-east of Éstrée-Cauchy. The cemetery is found just north of the junction of the main road (D341) and the road (D57) from Aubingy-en-Artois to Servins.

Quatre-Vents Military Cemetery

 

Historical Information

The area was used by Dressing Stations during the greater part of the War, and the cemetery was begun by French troops in June 1915, and carried on by British Field Ambulances from March 1916 to April 1918.

The 335 French and 19 German graves were removed after the Armistice to other cemeteries.

There are now over 100, 1914-18 casualties and one 1939-45 war casualty commemorated in this site.

The cemetery covers an area of 1,428 square metres and is enclosed by a rubble wall.

 

Shot at Dawn

The cemetery is unusual, for a small one, to have four burials of executed soldiers. The circumstances of each soldier show the wide variety of how the Courts Martial viewed the subject of desertion. You could be as easily shot for 24 hours absence as six months.


Private John Higgins

Private John Higgins 177753
1st Bn Canadian Infantry
Western Ontario Regiment
Died on 7th December 1916 aged 24
Son of David and Emma Higgins
of 24, Gwynne Avenue, Toronto, Canada
Born at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Grave: I B 2

Higgins enlisted on 23rd November 1915 at Montreal, Quebec. Whilst serving in France he went absent without leave for 16 days and on being apprehended was charged with desertion.


Rifleman Frederick Harding

Rifleman Frederick Harding 11528
1st Bn King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Died on 29th June 1916 aged 21

Grave: II A 6

On joining up in 1914 Harding had lied about his circumstances and the fact that he had been in trouble with the police (which would have barred him from recruitment). The fact that he may well not have been allowed to join the Army had no effect however on the verdict: as he had manipulated the system to enlist he would have to suffer the same consequences for having deserted.


Private Allan Murphy

Private Allan Murphy 12182
9th Bn Cameronians
Scottish Rifles
Died on 17th August 1916

Grave: II A 9

Murphy had managed to absent himself for six months before finally being detected. With such a long period involved, a guilty verdict for desertion was a formality.


Private Henry Kerr

Private Henry Kerr 457241
7th Bn Canadian Infantry
British Columbia Regiment
Died on 21st November 1916 aged 25
Son of Lizzie and Henry Kerr

Grave: III A 9

Unlike his compatriot Higgins, Kerr had only absented himself for 24 hours but his background forced his Brigade Commander to take a severe view.

Kerr constantly absented himself from his unit whether in Canada, England or France. In October 1916, as the 7th Bn were preparing to assault Regina Trench near Coucelette on the Somme, Kerr deserted one more. With other previous convictions for threatening superiors (on one occasion had to be forced at gunpoint to leave his dugout), Kerr was generally considered to be very bad for morale.

Brigadier General Fred Loomis recorded: It was a particular bad case, there were no extenuating circumstances. He also added that fortunately it was the first time that he had been forced to make the decision having successfully petitioned for clemency in a previous case.

 


Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

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