cemeteries  
  The nature of the Passchendaele fighting precluded the honoured or normal burial for the majority of those who died in battle. German artillery was fierce even after the battle ended and prevented the collection of those already dead. Consequently, many dead remained where they fell, in shell holes, or were absorbed into the sucking mud. Only those who died of their wounds had the honour of a known burial. In 1919, when the battlefield clearances began, the bodies of 25,000 Commonwealth soldiers were found in the area north, south and east of Passchendaele. Most were found in solitary unmarked graves. More than 70% were unidentifiable. Throughout France and Belgium cemeteries fall into three main categories:

Regimental or Frontline Cemeteries: Located near the front lines, these cemeteries were for quick burials of soldiers killed at the front. They may also be small battlefield cemeteries set up by Divisional or Corps Burial Officers immediately after a battle. Often the layout and rows are irregular.

Battlefield Clearance Cemeteries: These were usually small cemeteries that were greatly expanded after the war by the concentration of remains brought in from surrounding battlefields. They contain a high proportion of unidentified graves and the layout of the rows is regular and often symmetric.

Hospital Centre Cemeteries: These are near main hospital centres or casualty clearing stations. All burials are in chronological order and few graves are unidentified.
Below are a list of some of the cemeteries for Canadian soldiers that fought at Passchendaele. For a complete listing, please refer to Norm Christie's book For King and Empire, The Canadians at Passchendaele.

 
  Regimental or Frontline Cemeteries and Battlefield Clearance Cemeteries
Hospital Centre Cemeteries



 
 
  Regimental or Frontline Cemeteries and Battlefield Clearance Cemeteries

 
 
Tyne Cot British Cemetery
 
 
Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world. Started in 1917, the cemetery lies three kilometres southwest of the village of Passchendaele. Concentrations from the battlefields during the searches between 1919 and 1921 enlarged the cemetery considerably. It contains 11,871 war graves, of which 70 percent are unidentified. Of the 966 Canadians in the cemetery, 554 are unidentified. Nine hundred graves are those of Canadians killed in the Passchendaele fighting of 1917.

 
 
Passchendaele New British Cemetery  
 
 
  Passchendaele New Cemetery is on the road to Gravenstafel, north of Passchendaele, resting on the Bellevue Spur at Mosselmarkt. The cemetery was made in 1920 and 1921 from battlefield clearances and contains 2,091 Commonwealth burials of which 77 percent are unknown. Canadian burials, all casualties of Passchendaele, number 650; 452 (70 percent) of them are unknowns.

 
  top  
 
Poelcapelle British Cemetery
 
 
Poelcapelle Cemetery lies in open country east of the village of Poelcapelle and was made in 1919 and 1920 from the clearances of the battlefields. Of the 525 Canadians buried here, 80 percent are unidentified. Four hundred of the Canadians were killed at Passchendaele. This rarely visited cemetery is perhaps the one that most represents the battle of Passchendaele. Sadly, only 1,300 of the 7,500 men killed in a sea of mud have a name. The other forgotten heroes rest in oblivion or, as their headstones explain, "Known unto God."

 
 
Ypres Reservoir Cemetery  
 
 
  The Ypres Reservoir Cemetery was used continuously throughout the war and enlarged by the battlefield clearances. It now contains 2,611 Commonwealth graves, including 151 Canadians. The Canadian soldiers were killed in a variety of battles between 1915 and 1917. Roughly half are graves of those killed in the Passchendaele fighting.

 
  top  
 
  Hospital Centre Cemeteries

 
 
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinghe
 
 
The second largest Commonwealth War Cemetery in Belgium is two kilometres south of Poperinghe in open country. This area was the direct communication link with Ypres throughout the war. A light gauge railway was built between the two towns to transfer supplies, munition and reinforcements to the front and to withdraw casualties. As Lijssenthoek was near the railway siding, wounded were brought there from the salient throughout the war. The 1,051 Canadians buried here represent minor and major actions in which Canadians participated in the Ypres Salient between 1916 and 1917, particularly Mount Sorrel and Passchendaele.

 
 
Nine Elms British Cemetery, Poperinghe  
 
 
  This cemetery, located on the western side of the town, was a hospital centre specifically set up for the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele). Of the 289 Canadians buried here, all are casualties of Passchendaele.

 
  top  
 
Vlamertinghe, New Military Cemetery
 
 
This is a typical hospital centre cemetery, used predominantly for wounded from the battle of Passchendaele. It contains 1,813 Commonwealth burials of which 155 are Canadian.

 
   
   
 
 
back 
 
home battlefields resource centre the archive culture & war collector's forum