A "closer" visit to Serre, to the Sheffield Memorial Park, and its 4 copses along the front line. The Memorial Park is a Tribute to the northern English town's Pals Battalions of Lord Kitchener's New Army.
We start at Serre Road Cemetery No. 3,
near the former location of Matthew Copse.
There are now over 80 casualties commemorated in this site.
Of these, over half are unidentified and special memorials
are erected to four men, ...
... who are "believed" or "known to be buried" among them.
The 31st and 4th Divisions attacked north and south of this road on 1 July, 1916.
Parties of the 31st Division reached Serre, but the attack failed.
The 3rd and 31st Divisions renewed the attempt,
without success, on the 11th November.
Left the Memorial Park, on the horizon Luke Copse Cemetery,
and behind it the other length of the Serre Road.
A view from Serre Road Cemetery No. 3 to the copses of John, Mark, and Luke, which now have been grown together into
one copse: the Sheffield Memorial Park.
The entrance to the Sheffield Memorial Park.
These shallow ditches are the reminders
of the trenches in this copse.
We also find some memorials for Pals Battalions,
like this one, dedicated to the Accrington Pals, ...
... or these stones for the Chorley Pals, ...
... and the Barnsley Pals.
In 1914 Britain was not having a system of conscription. Various methods were adopted as a means of encouraging men to enlist with the armed services during the war's early years, including the 1915 Derby Scheme. None of these propaganda methods could ensure a constant supply of human material. Consequently conscription was finally embraced in January 1916.
Years before conscription, in the first weeks of the war in August 1914, Lord Derby encouraged the notion of encouraging whole towns and villages to sign up with the promise that they should also serve together: the establishment of Pals (or Chums) Battalions.
Wildly popular from the outset, and boosted by a highly publicised poster campaign led by the War Minister Lord Kitchener, men flocked to recruitment centres to enlist in whole groups. Some 3.000.000 men volunteered for service in the first two years of the war, with towns boasting Pals Battalions, but its drawbacks were brought starkly home with the first real test of the Kitchener's New Armies at 1 July 1916. On the first day of the battle many men who signed up alongside one another, also perished together.
On a tree a bronze plaque for the Bradford Pals.
This cross is a reminder for Private A.E. Bull
of the 12th York and Lancasters, killed on 1July 1916,
exhumated and reburied at 13 April 1928.
Many shell holes in between the trees.
This gateway forms the memorial for the Sheffield Pals.
Over this shell hole a view at Railway Hollow Cemetery.
Railway Hollow Cemetery lies along the former
location of a military rail road.
Railway Hollow Cemetery contains the graves of soldiers
of the 3rd, 19th and 31st Divisions, who died on 1 July
and 13 November 1916, and on 5 February 1917.
The cemetery contains 107 Commonwealth burials,
44 of which are unidentified.
There are also two French war graves.
We leave the Sheffield Memorial Park for ...
... the nearby Luke Copse Cemetery,
which contains 72 graves of casualties of
the 31st and 3rd Divisions, 28 of them unidentified,...
... including men of the Sheffield City Battalion,
who died in the attacks of 1 July and of 13 November 1916.
Not buried aside of each other, the graves of 2 brothers,
F. and W. Gunstone,
killed on the same spot on the same day, 13 November 1916.
The Cemetery gives a fine panorama at the other
lenght of the Serre Road.
The Germans evacuated Serre on the 24th February, 1917,
and the 22nd Manchesters entered the village on the following morning.
In the spring of 1917,
the battlefields of the Ancre were cleared by the V Corps.
V Corps created a number of cemeteries,
three of which are named after the Serre Road.
These cemeteries fell into German hands on 25 March 1918,
but were recovered on 14 August.
A last view from Serre Road Cemetery No.3,
our starting point of this page,
to Luke Copse Cemetery and Serre Road.
Continue to the next chapter: