PTE HUGH DALZELL

Tyne Cot Memorial

Private Hugh Dalzell

9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers

came originally from Newtonards, Co. Down. His family moved to Belfast. Missing in action 16th August 1917. He joined the British Army on 17th March 1916 and arrived in France on 30th June 1916, the day before the Battle of the Somme began.

He was posted to ‘D’ Company 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was killed on 16th August 1917 during the 3rd Battle of Langemark. Gone but not forgotten – Faugh a Ballagh!

Name Panels on Tyne Cot Memorial

During the Passchendaele 100 commemoration on 31st July 2017 I read out his name during a live BBC television broadcast from the Tyne Cot nemorial and cemetery.

TYNE COT R.IRISH RIFLES

dsc_09142018726172.jpg

Tyne Cot Cemetery

At Tyne Cot Cemetery, the graves can be seen of six members of the Royal Irish Rifles who died at the Battle of Passchendaele on 15th and 16th August 1917. I have now researched their background using the CWGC website and discovered that three came from Co. Down and one from Belfast. The fifth was from Luton and there are no details available for the sixth soldier, Rifleman W. Witterick. We will remember them.

Lance Corporal Samuel Coffey

COFFEY_SAMUEL

18/1063 Lance Corporal Samuel Coffey, 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 15th August 1917 (Passchendaele), aged 21. Son of John and Mary Coffey of Killyleagh Street, Crossbar, Co. Down.

Lance Corporal William Gihon

GIHON_WILLIAM

14701 Lance Corporal William Gihon, ‘B’ Company, 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 16th August 1917 (Passchendaele), aged 24. Son of John and Jane Gihon of no.5 Adela Place, Antrim Road, Belfast.

Rifleman Arthur Hawes

HAWES_ARTHUR

41477 Rifleman Arthur Hawes, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 16th August 1917 (Passchendaele), aged 26. Son of Thomas and Kate Hawes of 18 Dudley Street, Luton, England.

Rifleman Hugh McDonald

McDONALD_HUGH

16744 Rifleman Hugh McDonald, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 16th August 1917 (Passchendaele), aged 23. Son of George Francis and Margret McDonald of Gallows Street, Dromore, Co. Down.

Lance Corporal Henry Greer Mills

MILLS_HENRY_GREER

18479 Lance Corporal Henry Greer Mills, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 16th August 1917 (Passchendaele), aged 27. Son of John and Annie Mills of Marino, Holywood, Co. Down.

Rifleman W. Witterick

WITTERICK_W

42590 Rifleman W. Witterick, 14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 16th August 1917 (Passchendaele).

Unknown soldier from the Royal Irish Rifles

TYNE COT MEMORIAL

Tyne Cot memorial and cemetery

Tyne Cot Memorial bears the names of some 35,000 men of the British and New Zealand forces who have no known grave, nearly all of whom died between August 1917 and November 1918. This area on the Western Front was the scene of the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele. It was one of the major battles of the First World War.

Cross of Sacrifice at Tyne Cot cemetery

  • It was designed by Sir Herbert Baker with sculpture by Joseph Armitage and Ferdinand Victor Blundstone. He designed many of the CWGC memorials and cemeteries in Belgium and France.
  • The memorial was unveiled by Australian soldier and veterans’ rights activist Sir Gilbert Dyett, on 20th June 1927.
  • The names are carved on the memorial on panels of Portland stone, set in high flint walls which have been built in a half circle.

Tyne Cot cemetery

The memorial is a semi-circular flint wall 4.25 metres high and more than 150 metres long, faced with panels of Portland stone. There are three apses and two rotundas. The central apse forms the New Zealand Memorial and the other two, as well as the rotundas and the wall itself, carry the names of United Kingdom dead.

Australian Division memorial at Tyne Cot cemetery

Two domed arched pavilions mark the ends of the main wall, each dome being surmounted by a winged female figure with head bowed over a wreath. The following inscription is carved on the frieze above the panels which contain the names:

1914 – HERE ARE RECORDED THE NAMES OF OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE ARMIES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE WHO FELL IN YPRES SALIENT, BUT TO WHOM THE FORTUNE OF WAR DENIED THE KNOWN AND HONOURED BURIAL GIVEN TO THEIR COMRADES IN DEATH – 1918

At each corner of the structure there are carved wreaths. Atop each of the pavilions is a winged figure in grief surmounting a globe. The globe itself is ringed with symbols including a Fleur-de-Lys, a shamrock, an anchor, a rose, an eagle and an oak leaf.

Tyne Cot memorial and cemetery

The sculptors Ferdinand Victor Blundstone and Joseph Armitage were commissioned to work with Baker on the memorial. Blundstone carved the angels surmounting the chapels and record building, and Armitage did the wreaths carried by the angels. There was concern about the fragile state of the sculptures and Blundstone arranged for them to be completed from a scaffold after they were hoisted into place.

Tyne Cot cemetery July 2017

Tyne Cot cemetery cross of sacrifice

HILL 62 SANCTUARY WOOD

Sanctuary Wood museum

In the last decade there has been a large increase in visitors to the Ypres Salient, and many have included a visit to the trenches at Sanctuary Wood, a few kilometres outside Ieper.

WWI shell and British Army cap badges

In the 1990s the trenches were covered in grass and the whole site was overgrown with undergrowth. Nowadays the ground around the trench line has been visited by so many pairs of feet that it is mostly bald with no grass or undergrowth.

British Army WWI recruiting poster

The need for the preservation of battlefield areas makes for an interesting discussion. The natural desire to be allowed to walk freely amongst historical remains such as these trenches is one side of the argument, the possibility that they will be damaged in so doing is another.

Vickers machine gun

It’s been a topic of discussion for some years already by battlefield historians, local authorities and the people who live with the scarred landscape all around them.

German machine gun

Sanctuary Wood is a fascinating example of how such war remains bring together the local people who own the ground and live with them daily, the people who come in their thousands each year to see them, historians who debate whether these trench remains are original or not, and the people who want to find ways to preserve endangered WW1 battlefield remains.

Belgian Royal Family Tree

The museum was developed by Jacques Schier, the grandson of the farmer who founded the museum and owned the site of the museum since before World War I. It has a unique collection of World War I items, including a rare collection of three-dimensional photographs, weapons, uniforms, decommissioned bombs and shells.

WWI British Army recruiting poster

On entering the museum through the café visitors will be in a room with display cases on tables in the centre of the room. Many interesting photographs are arranged on the walls. In this room you will find a large and rare collection of three dimensional photo images inside special viewing boxes. These 3D photographs were produced after the war and are absorbing and absolutely fascinating to look through.

Calling on young Belgians 18-25 to enlist

The museum collection contains equipment removed from the battlefield in the vicinity of Sanctuary Wood. There are several German grave markers reclaimed from the battlefields. These were removed from their original burial location after the burials were presumably moved from outlying battlefield burial plots into a formal German military cemetery during the battlefield clearance after 1918.

Last refugees in Ieper at the Cloth Hall 1915

Among the battlefield relics is a rare example of a British Army Cook’s Wagon. This was given a treatment of wood preserver in the 1980s by volunteers from the British Army’s Royal Corps of Transport serving near Antwerp.

Ruins of Ieper

In what was once a house, several rooms are dedicated to various displays of wartime memorabilia. They include some fascinating posters and pictures, including several showing the devastation of Ieper (Ypres) by the Germans during World War One.

More pictures of the destruction in the centre of Ieper

FLANDERS DAY FOUR

WWI German trench mortar at Sanctuary Wood museum

The fourth day included a highlight of the tour, attendance at the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate and participation in a wreath laying ceremony.

dsc_28146250370270623721567.jpg

Laying a wreath at the Menin Gate, Ypres, on Day Four

It also included a return visit (for me) to Tyne Cot cemetery, where I had taken part in the Paschendaele 100 service on 31st July 2017. These two important locations will be featured separately.

Tyne Cot Cemetery

The day began with a visit to Hill 62 Zillebeke Museum, a few kilometres from Ieper. This is a privately owned collection. It is located in the vicinity of the Canadian Hill 62 Memorial and Sanctuary Wood Cemetery.

Picture: Attack on a German Trench

The museum was developed by Jacques Schier, the grandson of the farmer who founded the museum and owned the site of the museum since before World War I.      It has a unique collection of World War I items, including a rare collection of three-dimensional photographs, weapons, uniforms, decommissioned bombs and shells.

WWI shells at Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood museum

In the ground beside the museum there is a preserved section of the British trench lines, featuring a muddy maze of trenches. The attraction also has a small bar, café and gift shop.

Decommissioned ordnance on display inside the museum

The site is now one of the few places on the Ypres Salient battlefields where an original trench layout can be seen in some semblance of what it might have looked like. Elsewhere the trenches were filled in and ploughed over by returning farmers leaving only the occasional chalky outline of what had once been there.

Trenches at Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood

In the last decade there has been a large increase in visitors to the Ypres Salient, and many have, of course, included a visit to the trenches at Sanctuary Wood. In the 1990s the trenches were covered in grass and the whole site was overgrown with undergrowth. Interestingly, nowadays the ground around the trench line has been visited by so many pairs of feet that it is mostly bald with no grass or undergrowth.

Converted room in former house now used for exhibits

The need for the preservation of battlefield areas makes for an interesting discussion. The natural desire to be allowed to walk freely amongst historical remains such as these trenches is one side of the argument, the possibility that they will be damaged in so doing is another. It’s been a topic of discussion for some years already by battlefield historians, local authorities and the people who live with the scarred landscape all around them.

British ‘corkscrew’ barbed wire posts

Sanctuary Wood is a fascinating example of how such war remains bring together the local people who own the ground and live with them daily, the people who come in their thousands each year to see them, historians who debate whether these trench remains are original or not, and the people who want to find ways to preserve endangered WW1 battlefield remains.

British WWI two-inch trench mortar known as the ‘toffee apple’

NEWFOUNDLAND MEMORIAL PARK

Newfoundland Memorial Park caribou memorial

Close to Thiepval and the Ulster Tower in the Beaumont Hamel area you will find the Newfoundland Memorial Park. The website greatwar.co.uk describes how it came to be situated there in an area that has particular significance for Canadians.

The Caribou is one of five such memorials on the Western Front which commemorate the location where the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment was in action. The caribou is the emblem of the Newfoundland Regiment. The sculptor of the bronze caribou was an Englishman called Basil Gotto.

The Caribou memorial is situated on high ground at the western side of the park, behind the British front line of July 196, from where the 1st Battalion the Newfoundland Regiment began its advance into the attack on that fateful morning. The shrubs around the rocks are native plants from Newfoundland.

dsc_0856-2077539340.jpg

Caribou Memorial

Newfoundland Memorial Park is a site on the Somme battlefield near to Beaumont Hamel. The land was purchased by the Dominion of Newfoundland after the First World War. It was named after the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, which had provided one battalion of 800 men to serve with the British and Commonwealth armies.

Pointing the way to Newfoundland

Its tragic part in the action of 1 July 1916 is remembered through this memorial park. The site is also a memorial to all the Newfoundlanders who fought in the First World War, most particularly those who have no known grave. At the base of the caribou memorial there are three bronze panels listing 814 names that make up the memorial to the Newfoundland missing, namely those who died on land or at sea during WWI and who have no known graves.

Memorial with names of those who died in WWI

The park does, nevertheless, preserve the memory of the men of the many other regiments from the French, British and German Armies who fought and died on this part of the Somme battleground from September 1914 into 1918.

dsc_0869-1691840694.jpg

29th Division Memorial

On the morning of 1st July 1916 as the Battle of the Somme began, the 29th Division was in action on the British front line in the location that now forms the Newfoundland Memorial Park. The Division suffered a high number of casualties as a result of the success of the German defence in this sector. Many were cut down before they got anywhere near the German front line. Many were killed and wounded as they moved forward from the rear of the front line to follow on in the attack. The divisional badge was a red triangle.

Newfoundland became a province of Canada in 1949. The Newfoundland Memorial Park is one of only two Canadian National Historic sites outside Canada. The other is also in France at Vimy Ridge. The landscape architect who designed the park was RHK Cochius.

dsc_086326227267.jpg

Remains of WW1 trenches seen from the caribou memorial

Beaumont-Hamel was attacked by the 29th Division on 1st July 1916 and although some units reached it, the village was not taken. It was finally captured by the 51st (Highland) and 63rd (Royal Naval) Divisions on the following 13 November. The 29th Division included the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment, as it was then called. The attack on Beaumont-Hamel in July 1916 was the first severe engagement of the regiment, and the most costly.

On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, no unit suffered heavier losses than the Newfoundland Regiment which had gone into action 801 strong. The roll call the next day revealed that the final figures were 233 killed or dead of wounds, 386 wounded, and 91 missing. Every officer who went forward in the Newfoundland attack was either killed or wounded. For this reason, the government of Newfoundland chose the hill south-west of the village, where the front-line trenches ran at the time of the battle, as the site of their memorial to the soldiers (and also to the sailors) of Newfoundland.

Of the few battlefield parks in France and Belgium where the visitor can see a Great War battlefield much as it was, Beaumont Hamel is the largest. The actual trenches are still there and something of the terrible problem of advancing over such country can be appreciated by the visitor. The memorial itself stands at the highest point of the park and consists of a great caribou cast in bronze, emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. At the base, three tablets of bronze carry the names of over 800 members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve and the Newfoundland Mercantile Marine, who gave their lives in the First World War and who have no known grave (CWGC information).

Caribou memorial

The Danger Tree is a petrified tree and the only original tree in this location to survive the 1914-18 fighting in this location. It had been part of a clump of trees located about halfway into No Man’s Land and had originally been used as a landmark by a Newfoundland Regiment trench raiding party in the days before the Battle of the Somme. As a result, the Regiment suffered a large concentration of casualties around the tree.

The Danger Tree in front of the German lines is to the left of the cross of sacrifice at the CWGC cemetery

CAMPBELL COLLEGE WWI

Cambell College CCF Pipe Band from Belfast laid a wreath at the Ulster Tower

Our visit to the Ulster Memorial Tower at Thiepval came just after a group from Campbell College in Belfast. We met the CCF Pipe Band as they were tuning up at the nearby Thiepval Memorial and we were just leaving, but it was nice to hear them playing.

Ulster Tower at Thiepval

The Campbell College group laid their wreath at the same time as a group from the Orange Order in Scotland, who we met the following evening at the Menin Gate Last Post ceremony in Ieper.

Union Flag flies at the Ulster Tower built in memory of the 36th Ulster Division

View from the Ulster Tower towards the Thiepval Memorial

Unfortunately we were a day too early for the Campbell College pipe band’s performance at the Last Post ceremony. We also missed them at Tyne Cot cemetery where some of their pipers paid tribute to the Royal Irish Fusiliers whose names are inscribed on the huge memorial as their bodies were never identified and they have no known graves.

Campbell College CCF Pipe Band from Belfast tuning up at Thiepval

The name on the bottom right of this panel is Private Hugh Dalzell of the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers. Two years ago during the Passchendaele 100 commemoration I stood at this spot and read out his name as part of the live television broadcast by the BBC. We will remember them.

Campbell College at the Royal Irish Fusiliers memorial panel 140 at Tyne Cot cemetery

It was interesting to see a plaque the following day at St George’s Anglican Church in Ieper that commemorates all the past pupils of Campbell College who died in WWI and who the pipe band were remembering on their visit, organised by Anglia Tours.

We met some of the Campbell College group again on our fourth day when we went to Tyne Cot. They were visiting Poperinge where the Toc-H house founded by Reverend Talbot is situated. (There will be a separate story on that later).

The visit by the pipe band with some of their pictures (which they have kindly given me permission to use) featured in the News Letter. There is also an interesting website with the stories of the Old Campbellians and their part in WWI. They include a former Irish rugby international, Captain Alfred Taylor from Windsor Avenue North, off the Malone Road in South Belfast.

Their photos and stories have been turned into an exhibition ‘The Men Behind the Glass” currently on display in the PRONI, Belfast.