ROISEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION
General Directions: Roisel is a small town 11 kilometres east of Peronne. The Communal Cemetery is on the east side of the road to Villers-Faucon and the Cemetery Extension is immediately to the north of the Communal Cemetery.
Roisel town was occupied by British troops in April, 1917, and evacuated after a strong defence by the 66th (East Lancashire) Division in the evening of the 22nd March, 1918. It was retaken in the following September. Roisel Communal Cemetery Extension was begun by German troops, who buried immediately to the North of the Communal Cemetery. It was developed in October and November, 1918, by the 41st, 48th, 53rd and 58th Casualty Clearing Stations, and it was completed after the Armistice by the concentration of British and German graves from the country North, East and South of Roisel. The graves of 88 soldiers of the United States Army buried here in October, 1918, have been removed to another cemetery.
The following were among the burial grounds from which British graves were removed to the Extension: Bernes Churchyard, in which 49 soldiers of the 46th (North Midland) Division and the Royal Field Artillery were buried in September, 1918; and the German Extension, in which one soldier from the United Kingdom was buried in September, 1917. Hesbecourt Communal Cemetery Extension, in which 35 Australian soldiers and 28 from the United Kingdom were buried by the 59th (North Midland) Division in April, 1917, and by Australian units in September and October, 1918. L'Abbaye German Cemetery, Vermand, between the village of Vermand and the hamlet of Villecholles, which contained the graves of 300 German soldiers and ten from the United Kingdom and one from Canada who fell in April and May, 1917. Roisel Churchyard, in which one Royal Flying Corps officer was buried in August, 1916. Vermand Communal Cemetery German Extension, in which seven soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried by the enemy in March and April, 1918.
Second Lieutenant John Crawford Buchan, VC, 7th Bn. Attached 8th Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, killed in action 22/03/1918 aged 25, plot II. I. 6.
Native of Alloa, Clackmannanshire.
Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 21st May, 1918, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. When fighting with his platoon in the forward position of the battle zone, 2nd Lt. Buchan, although wounded early in the day, insisted on remaining with his men, and continually visited all his posts, encouraging and cheering his men in spite of most severe shell fire, from which his platoon was suffering heavy casualties. Later, when the enemy were creeping closer, and heavy machine-gun fire was raking his position, 2nd Lt. Buchan, with utter disregard of his personal safety, continued to visit his posts, and though still further injured accidentally, he continued to encourage his men and visit his posts. Eventually, when he saw the enemy had practically surrounded his command, he collected his platoon and prepared to fight his way back to the supporting line. At this point the enemy, who had crept round his right flank, rushed towards him, shouting out "Surrender." " To hell with surrender," he replied, and shooting the foremost of the enemy, he finally repelled this advance with his platoon. He then fought his way back to the supporting line of the forward position, where he held out till dusk. At dusk he fell back as ordered, but in spite of his injuries again refused to go to the aid post, saying his place was beside his men. Owing to the unexpected withdrawal of troops on the left flank it was impossible to send orders to 2nd Lt. Buchan to withdraw, as he was already cut off, and he was last seen holding out against overwhelming odds. The gallantry, self-sacrifice, and utter disregard of personal safety displayed by this officer during these two days of most severe fighting is in keeping with the highest traditions of the British Army."
Casualty Details: UK 735, Canada 6, Australia 107, South Africa 29, Germany 514, Total Burials; 1391
Frederick George Harriss
49th Bn. Australian Infantry,
A. I. F.
Born at Crow’s Nest, Queensland Australia on 14 Sept 1893 son of Amos and Virginia Harriss of Ravensbourne, Queensland.
Plot III. J. 17.
Picture courtesy of great, great niece, Wendy Holt