Gwalia Cemetery

Casualty info

Total Burials: 472 including 3 German

Designed by

Sir Reginald Blomfield


History

The cemetery here was opened in early July 1917. It was situated in a meadow behind an old hop farm which had been claimed by the British for use as a Field Ambulance – christened ‘Gwalia Farm’ after the archaic Welsh name for Wales. As the Third Battle of Ypres raged from the end of July onwards, the Field Ambulance camp was built into a much larger medical facility and became a Main Dressing Station. Men were brought here for treatment from Advanced Dressing Stations (such as Essex Farm). The ADS did not have the facilities for surgery unless it was absolutely necessary, instead, urgent cases were transferred to the MDS at Gwalia. Men who did not survive were buried on site at what became Gwalia Cemetery.


Epitaphs

2nd Lieutenant R.H. Whitrod
The King's Liverpool Regiment
28th May 1918
Age 28

Better to die

In the flower of youth

Than to live at ease

Like the sheep

This inscription is taken from the story of Perseus (the mythological Greek hero) by Charles Kingsley- “Better to die in the flower of youth, on the chance of winning a noble name, than to live at ease like the sheep, and die unloved and unrenowned.'”

Private Frederick John Brown
5th Royal Sussex Regiment 
7th July 1917
Age 39

Rest after victory


When I at last, am seen and known

Lt. Col. Percy William Beresford, D.S.O, Twice Mentioned in Despatches – Plot II, E 9

Percy Beresford studied at Oxford University moving to Westerham, Kent in 1902 where he set up the first parish cadet corps in the country. In 1906 he was ordained as a priest and took over curation of his local church – St Mary’s. When war broke out he joined the 3rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers with the blessing of the Bishop of Rochester. Beresford had a long and varied war – gassed in 2nd Battle of Ypres in 1915 and wounded in September of the same year. He was beloved by his men and nicknamed ‘Little Napoleon’ he was respected as a true and fearless leader. One account recalls that whilst having a rest under heavy fire, Beresford was eating a hasty meal and reading his prayer book when a piece of shrapnel hit his water bottle. A fellow officer with him at the time remarked ‘Nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of a thousand would have moved away, but he went on with his reading’. His faith undoubtedly helped to make him an excellent Officer, as his continuation to hold services for his men, even under horrendous conditions, helped to ensure their comfort and coolness. Awarded the D.S.O at Bullecourt in March 1917, the citation referred to his ‘conspicuous gallantry and ability in command of his battalion during heavy enemy counter-attacks’.

In October 1917 he was wounded once more and on realising that his wounds were fatal he reportedly told the doctor: ‘Don’t worry about me. Attend to the others.’ with his parting words to be ‘this is a fine death for a Beresford’

During a memorial service for Percy held at home in Westerham, the Bishop of Rochester referred to him as ‘a true shepherd of souls’. Letters from his commanding and fellow officers were read out, with one Lt. Col saying of Beresford:

‘I do not believe the world ever knew a finer Christian gentleman in the truest sense of the words’

14 men of the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers – Plot I, Row H

These 14 men of the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers were killed in the early morning of 4 September 1917, in a German air raid over their camp nearby. The men were at rest at ‘Dirty Bucket Camp’, one of the largest camps in Flanders, named after a local estaminet known to the men as ‘The Dirty Bucket’. Although this area was considered reasonable safe, such a large concentration of troops frequently came under the scrutiny of German gunners and air raids, the graves of these men are a reminder that even in quiet sectors of the Salient, the risk of death was ever present.