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AIF Burial Grounds, Grass Lane

Written by Mike

Flers was captured on September 15, 1916 in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.  The village was entered by the New Zealand and 41st Divisions, following the newly revealed tanks.  The village was overrun again by the Germans in March 1918, and recaptured by the Allies at the end of the following August.

Australian medical units started the AIF Burial Grounds in November 1916 after they had set themselves up in nearby caves alongside a track known as Grass Lane.  These original graves are in Plot I, Rows A and B.

After the Armistice, AIF Burial Grounds, Grass Lane was enlarged and now contains the graves of:

  • 2,811 British soldiers, sailors and marines
  • 402 Australians
  • 84 New Zealanders
  • 68 Canadians
  • 27 South Africans
  • 163 French
  • 3 German prisoners

That makes a cosmopolitan total of 3,842 graves including those not known.  An indication of the intensity of the fighting in the area is that 2,262 graves – almost 60% of the burials in the cemetery - are unknown.

Special memorials

Special memorials are erected to 15 Australian soldiers, five from the UK and three from New Zealand thought to be buried in the cemetery.

Other special memorials record the names of three soldiers from the UK buried by the Germans in a cemetery at Flers whose graves could not be found.

AIF Burial Grounds, Grass Lane is situated 0.5km west of Guedecourt, south of the D74 road to Le Sars, covers an area of 11,753 square yards and is enclosed by a rubble wall.

Sergeant Harold Jackson, VC

Buried in the cemetery is Sergeant Harold Jackson, VC, of ‘C’ Company, 7th battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment.

He was killed in action on August 24, 1918 aged 26.  He was the son of Thomas and Mary Ann Jackson of Allandales, Kirton, Boston.  An extract from the London Gazette dated May 7, 1918 records the following:

‘For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.  Sergeant Jackson volunteered and went out through the hostile barrage and brought back valuable information regarding the enemy’s movements.  Later, when the enemy had established themselves in our line, this NCO rushed at them and single handedly ‘blomed’ them into the open.  Shortly afterwards, again single handed, he stalked an enemy machine gun, threw mills bombs at the detachment and put the gun out of action.  On a subsequent occasion when all his officers had become casualties, this very gallant NCO led his company in the attack, and when ordered to retire, he withdrew the company successfully under heavy fire and carried the wounded’.

 

Mike

Mike

Mike McCormac has been a photographer since about ten years old.  He's a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, and splits his time between living in Olney in the United Kingdom and a village in the hills near Paphos in Cyprus.

Read his full Bio