Whitby High School
Battlefields Tour 22nd-25th March 2009
Enroute to the Somme we paused to visit Warlencourt British Cemetery, on the Bapume to Albert Road, to search for the grave of Private William Richards. This was the beginning of our research into tracing many of the names off our local war memorial in Ellesmere Port. This has been an ongoing project over the past few years back home where pupils from The Whitby High School have been researching the men recorded on the memorial. This trip to the battlefields was an opportunity to search for the resting place of many of the men who pupils had tried to discover more about, such as where they lived, worked, their family and so on.
We have constructed a dedicated website to this work which can be viewed here:
Sian Knowles and Samantha Whiteside locate the grave of Private Richards
The Cemetery and Battlefield
Warlencourt, the Butte de Warlencourt and Eaucourt-L'Abbaye were the scene of very fierce fighting in 1916. Eaucourt was taken by the 47th (London) Division early in October. The Butte was attacked by that and other divisions but it was not relinquished by the Germans until the following 26 February, when they withdrew to the Hindenburg Line.
The 51st (Highland) Division fought a delaying action here on 25 March 1918 during the great German advance, and the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division recaptured the ground on 25 August 1918. The cemetery was made late in 1919 when graves were brought in from small cemeteries and the battlefields of Warlencourt and Le Sars.
The only considerable burial ground moved into this cemetery was:- Hexam Road Cemetery, Le Sars, on the West side of the Abbey grounds. (Hexham Road was the name given to the road leading from Warlencourt to Eaucourt. Le Sars was captured by the 23rd Division on the 7th October, 1916, and again by the Third Army on the 25th August, 1918.) This cemetery was used from November, 1916, to October, 1917, and contained the graves of 17 soldiers from the United Kingdom and 13 from Australia.
The cemetery now contains 3,505 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 1,823 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 55 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate 15 casualties buried in Hexham Road Cemetery, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (designer of the Thiepval Memorial).