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War Graves

Commonwealth War Graves Commission
In Their Honour

World War One Cemeteries
Gallipoli Graveyards
Cemeteries on the Somme Battlefields, France

Australian War Graves Photographic Archive
British War Graves Project
Queensland War Memorial Register


At the Western Front Battlefields during April-May 2008 I was able to locate very easily my grandfathers brothers grave of Stan Hastings Marchment. He is buried at Belgium Battery Corner Cemetery located two kilometres west of the town of Ypres.

Remember to look for the Cemetery Register book at the entrance of every war grave cemetery at the western front. This can be signed by visitors and gives brief information on the other soldier's graves that are buried at that particular cemetery.

I was very moved and emotional when I visited Stan's grave because he was family related. He was the youngest in the family and I felt the loss and sadness of his death.

I brought sand from the beach of Port Macquarie and soil from his hometown of Wauchope and buried it with him. From Timbertown I had a horseshoe made by a blacksmith (fuzz) and laid it on top. I planted a red bottlebrush that I bought from a florist near Menin Gate. On the last day in Belgium I was lucky enough to visit Ivan Sinnaeve. Also known as Shrapnel Charlie who gave me an Australian soldier made from melted lead balls from the war and buried it at the grave as well.

Finally I read out a letter from his brother and several reports from the Red Cross missing and wounded files. I said a few sad comments of my own. "You are always in my heart and I will never forget you mate. I will make sure the world remembers who you were and what you stood for. I told him I have to go home now and look after my family and kids. Take care mate and thank you for keeping the piece for my family."

A Story about War Graves at the Western Front

A day with Yves Folhn


I must admit I was pretty nervous about this day. I had just landed in France a few days earlier and driving on the wrong side of the road in the fog navigating like a pilot for two hours and trying not to be late was a true test and exciting. I met Yves at a different location than I expected at the village of Villers Bretonneux in the courtyard. He was standing there smiling and I knew in a few moments that this guy was a funny bloke and I could relax because I was defiantly in good hands.

The first place we drove to was Adelaide Cemetery just a few minutes down the road. We got out of the car and the first thing I noticed about Yves was he started to pick out individual grave stones of the A.I.F. soldiers. They had major significance about them that would have normally been missed by the average Australian.

(MM) Military Medal (DCO) Distinguished Service Order (MC) Military Cross and Bar are some of the awards that could easily be mist on headstones by people visiting the Western Front. He picked out one in the cemetery that just blew me away. It was the headstone of the Unknown Soldier who is now buried in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra and he represents all Australians who have been killed in war. Why this soldier after seventy years was the one that was picked from this cemetery I don't know but he was the one,

We continued on our way and located Machine Gun and Artillery Battery positions of my family's units who fought in the Somme area of 1918. Again you notice the cemetery's always seems to follow you on the same roads your travelling on. Dates on the headstones also line up with the battles that were fought in the area at the time. At the entrance gates of most cemeteries look for the Register Book hidden in a little box. The book contains information on the soldiers who are buried at that cemetery.

One that hit me quite heavily and close to home was at Bonnay Communal Cemetery. Yves read out two soldiers and J. Read was from my Grandfathers 50th Battery which is only six guns and the date on their headstones was the 24.4.1918. This date was significant to me because Henry Ernest Curry my Grandfathers brother was gassed very badly on this day but he carried on. The Unit War Diaries of the 13th Field Artillery Brigade explains that they got the horses and gun carriages teams out of the area as quick as they could and did remarkably well but there were casualties. These are some of the men who did not make it. It made me cry a little and broke me up because my family probably new these guys and I felt there sadness. Yves said, "don't be sad" and I felt all right after that encouragement.

One of the most amazing cemeteries I went with Yves was Heath Cemetery. It is near the village of Harbonniers on the N29 highway. It was small but it had such a mixture of unique units and men. For example: Sargent A.J. Archer number one signing of the A.I.F. Private J Hector number 100 signing of the A.I.F. J.E.Chapman and E.J.Bice (MC) from the Australian Flying Corps. Private W.R.Rawlings (MM) an Aboriginal soldier. Private R.M.Beatham (VC) 8th Battalion and Lieutenant A.E.Gaby (VC) 28th Battalion. Also from the English Army there was Captain W.H.Viveash and 304410 Private R.E.Bolton from the Tank Corps very rare. Yves also talked about soldiers with service numbers under 1000. Why? because these are the originals and probably Gallipoli veterans who landed on the beach in 1915.

Remember next time when you visit the cemeteries at the western front to look at the comments written at the bottom of the headstones. Every letter had to be paid by the families of the deceased. The loss and sorrows of the families can be felt quite deeply. When I was told that John Laffin touched every single Australian headstone at least twice I understand very much why he did that and at the back page of our Digger magazine is the section called Etched in Stone try to have a look next time because there is a lot of thought in them and they should never be forgotten and hopefully never will be.


 
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