LE TOURET MILITARY CEMETERY
LE TOURET MEMORIAL
Pas de Calais
General Directions: From Bethune follow the signs for Armentieres until you are on the D171. Continue on this road through Essars and Le Touret village. Approximately 1 kilometre after Le Touret village and about 5 kilometres before you reach the intersection with the D947, Estaires to La Bassee road, the Cemetery lies on the right hand side of the road. Located at the east end of the cemetery is Le Touret Memorial, which commemorates over 13,000 servicemen who fell in this area before 25 September 1915 and who have no known grave.
The Cemetery was begun by the Indian Corps (and in particular by the 2nd Leicesters) in November, 1914, and it was used continuously by Field Ambulances and fighting units until March, 1918. It passed into German hands in April, 1918, and after its recapture a few further burials were made in Plot IV in September and October. The grave of one Officer of the London Regiment was brought in in 1925 from a position on the Estaires-La Bassee road near "Port Arthur", and the 264 Portuguese graves of March, 1917 and April, 1919 were removed to Richebourg-L'Avoue Portuguese National Cemetery after the Armistice.
Casualty Details: UK 891, Canada 11, India 9, Germany 4, Total Burials: 915 (Cemetery)
The Le Touret Memorial
The Memorial takes the form of a loggia surrounding an open rectangular court. The court is enclosed by three solid walls and on the eastern side by a colonnade. East of the colonnade is a wall and the colonnade and wall are prolonged northwards (to the road) and southwards, forming a long gallery. Small pavilions mark the ends of the gallery and the western corners of the court.
The Le Touret Memorial commemorates over 13,400 British soldiers who were killed in this sector of the Western Front from the beginning of October 1914 to the eve of the Battle of Loos in late September 1915 and who have no known grave. The Memorial takes the form of a loggia surrounding an open rectangular court. The names of those commemorated are listed on panels set into the walls of the court and the gallery, arranged by regiment, rank and alphabetically by surname within the rank. The memorial was designed by
John Reginald Truelove, who had served as an officer with the London Regiment during the war, and unveiled by the British ambassador to France, Lord Tyrrell, on 22 March 1930.
Almost all of the men commemorated on the Memorial served with regular
or territorial regiments from across the United Kingdom and were killed in
actions that took place along a section of the front line that stretched
from Estaires in the north to Grenay in the south. This part of the Western
Front was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting of the first year of
the war, including the battles of La Bassée (10 October – 2 November 1914),
Neuve Chapelle (10 – 12 March 1915), Aubers Ridge (9 – 10 May 1915), and
Festubert (15 – 25 May 1915). Soldiers serving with Indian and Canadian
units who were killed in this sector in 1914 and ’15 whose remains were
never identified are commemorated on the Neuve Chapelle and Vimy memorials,
while those who fell during the northern pincer attack at the Battle of
Aubers Ridge are commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial.
The British Expeditionary Force in French Flanders, 1914 - 1915
In October 1914, II Corps of the British Expeditionary Force moved north from Picardy and took up positions in French Flanders where they were immediately engaged in the series of attacks and counter attacks that would become known as the ‘race to the sea’. Over the course of the next year most of the British activity in this sector focused on attempting to dislodge the German forces from their advantageous position on the Aubers Ridge and capture the city of Lille, a major industrial and transport centre which the Germans had occupied early in the war. The ridge is a slight incline in an otherwise extremely flat landscape from which the Germans were able to observe and bombard the British lines. Following the British capture of the village of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915, the Germans greatly strengthened their defences along the ridge, reinforcing their positions with thick barbed wire entanglements, concrete blockhouses and machine gun emplacements. These extra defences frustrated British attempts to break through enemy lines and led to very heavy casualties at the battles of Aubers Ridge and Festubert in May 1915.
Victoria Cross: 10694 Private Abraham Acton, VC. "B" Coy. 2nd Bn. Border Regiment, 16/05/1915, aged 21. Panel 19 and 20. Son of Robert and Elizabeth Eleanor Acton, of 4, Regent Square, Senhouse St., Whitehaven, Cumberland.
An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 18th Feb., 1915, records the following:-"For conspicuous bravery on the 21st December, at Rouges-Bancs, in voluntarily going from his trench and rescuing a wounded man who had been lying exposed against the enemy's trenches for 75 hours; and on the same day again leaving his trench voluntarily, under heavy fire to bring into cover another wounded man. He was under fire for 60 minutes whilst conveying the wounded men into safety".
Victoria Cross: 8191 Corporal William Anderson, VC. 2nd Bn. Yorkshire Regiment, 13/03/1915, aged 29. Panel 12. Native of Dallas, Elgin, Morayshire.
An extract from "The London Gazette", dated 21st May, 1915, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery at Neuve-Chapelle on 12th March, 1915, when he led three men with bombs against a large party of the enemy who had entered our trenches, and by his prompt and determined action saved, what might otherwise have become, a serious situation. Cpl. Anderson first threw his own bombs, then those in possession of his three men (who had been wounded) amongst the Germans, after which he opened rapid rifle fire upon them with great effect, notwithstanding that he was at the time quite alone".
Victoria Cross: 15518 Private Edward Barber, VC. 1st Bn. Grenadier Guards, 12/03/1915, aged 22. Panel 2. Son of William and Sarah Ann Barber, of Miswell Lane, Tring, Herts.
An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 19th April, 1915, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery on 12th March, 1915, at Neuve-Chapelle. He ran speedily in front of the grenade company to which he belonged, and threw bombs on the enemy with such effect that a very great number of them at once surrendered. When the grenade party reached Pte. Barber they found him quite alone and unsupported, with the enemy surrendering all about him."
Victoria Cross: 6016 Private Jacob Rivers, VC. 1st Bn. Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment), 12/03/1915, aged 32. Panel 26 and 27. Son of Mrs. Adeline Rivers, of 4 House, Wide Yard, Bridge Gate, Derby.
An extract from the "London Gazette", dated 27th April, 1915, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery at Neuve-Chapelle on 12th March, 1915, when he, on his own initiative, crept to within a few yards of a very large number of the enemy who were massed on the flank of an advanced company of his battalion, and hurled bombs on them. His action caused the enemy to retire, and so relieved the situation. Pte. Rivers performed a second act of great bravery on the same day, similar to the first mentioned, again causing the enemy to retire. He was killed on this occasion."
Shot at Dawn: 5919 Private Edward Tanner, 1st Bn. Wiltshire Regiment, executed for desertion 27/10/1914, aged 33. Panel 33 and 34.
Shot at Dawn: 14164 Private F. Sheffield, 2nd Bn. Middlesex Regiment, executed for desertion 12/01/1915, aged 26. Panels 31 and 32. Brother of James Sheffield, of 42, Franklin St., South Tottenham, London.
Shot at Dawn: 14232 Private Joseph Ball, 4th Coy. 2nd Bn. Middlesex Regiment, executed for desertion 12/01/1915 aged 20. Panel 31 and 32. Son of Thomas and Emily Ball, of 112, Lancefield St., Queen's Park, London.
Shot at Dawn: 2222 Private Thomas Cummings, 1st Bn. Irish Guards, executed for desertion 28/01/1915. Panel 4. Son of William Cummings, of Tully Muckamore, Belfast.
Shot at Dawn: 3379 Private Albert Smythe, 1st Bn. Irish Guards, executed for desertion 28/01/1915. Panel 4.
Shot at Dawn: 5231 Private James Briggs, 2nd Bn. Border Regiment, executed for desertion 06/03/1915. Panel 19 and 20.
Shot at Dawn: 6584 Private Alexander Sinclair (Served as John Duncan), 1st Bn. Cameron Highlanders, executed for desertion 07/03/1915. Panel 41 and 42. Son of William Cummings, of Tully Muckamore, Belfast.
Shot at Dawn: 70304 Driver John Bell, 57th Bty, Royal Field Artillery, executed for desertion 25/04/1915. Panel 1. Son of John Bell, of Finglas, Co. Dublin.
The mass pardon of 306 British Empire soldiers executed for certain offences during the Great War was enacted in section 359 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, which came into effect on royal assent on 8 November 2006.
Casualty Details: 13394 Identified casualties