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Victoria Cross: 1272 Private John Lynn VC. DCM. 2nd Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers, 02/05/1915, aged 27. Commemorated on the Vlamertinghe Churchyard Memorial within the cemetery. Cross of the Order of St. George, 4th Class (Russia). Foster son of Mrs. E. Harrison, of 20, Hindsley Place, Forest Hill, London.

John Lynn's grave in Grootebeek British Cemetery (left) and his original memorial in 1920


Citation: An extract from the "London Gazette," dated 29th June, 1915, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery near Ypres on 2nd May 1915. When the Germans were advancing behind their wave of asphyxiating gas, Pte. Lynn, although almost overcome by the deadly fumes, handled his machine gun with very great effect against the enemy, and when he could not see them he moved his gun higher up on the parapet, which enabled him to bring even more effective fire to bear, and eventually checked any further advance. The great courage displayed by this soldier had a fine effect on his comrades in the very trying circumstances. He died from the effects of gas poisoning."


Drawing of John Lynn's action from The War Illustrated



General Directions: Grootebeek British Cemetery is located 8 km west of Ieper town centre on the Bellestraat, a road leading from the N308 connecting Ieper to Poperinge via Vlamertinge. From Ieper town centre the Poperingseweg (N308), is reached via Elverdingsestraat then direct ly over two small roundabouts in the J. Capronstraat. The Poperingseweg is a continuation of the J. Capronstraat and begins after a prominent railway level crossing.


On reaching the village of Vlamertinge take the left hand turning onto the Bellestraat, after crossing the N38 Ieper Poperinge road the cemetery lies a further 5 km along the Bellestraat which changes its name to Vlamertingseweg. The site is on the right hand side of the road in the hamlet of Ouderdom.


The village of Reninghelst was in Allied hands from the autumn of 1914 to the end of the First World War. From March 1915, Commonwealth burials were made in the Churchyard, the Churchyard Extension and the New Military Cemetery, but in April 1918, during the Battles of the Lys, a new cemetery was made by field ambulances and fighting units near the hamlet of Ouderdom, on the Poperinghe-Wytschaete road.


It was originally called OUDERDOM MILITARY CEMETERY, but later renamed Grootebeek British Cemetery, from the stream (Grootebeek, or Groote Kemmelbeek) which runs beside it. It was used at intervals until the end of September 1915 and it absorbed a small Indian cemetery made on the spot in April 1915.


The cemetery contains 109 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. One grave destroyed by shell fire is now represented by a special memorial, and another special memorial records the name of Pte J. Lynn, VC, who was buried in Vlamertinghe Churchyard but whose grave was similarly destroyed. The two Second World War burials date from May 1940 and the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force ahead of the German advance. The cemetery was designed by William Harrison Cowlishaw.


Casualty Details: UK 100; New Zealand 1; South Africa 1; India 7; Total Burials: 109







The two Second World War Graves within the cemetery



John Charles Victor Harder, M. I. D.

"D" Bty. 50th Bde. Royal Field Artillery

26/04/1918, aged 22.

Son of Charles A. and Mabel Gertrude Harder, of " Roskear," 53, May St., Coburg, Melbourne, Australia. Native of Melbourne, Australia.

Row C. 5.