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Archive for September, 2009


Westoutre British Cemetery,22 Aug 09

Westoutre British Cemetery,22 Aug 09

The village of Westoutre (now Westouter) remained in Allied hands from the early months of the First World War to the Armistice, but in the summer of 1918, after the Battles of the Lys, it was within 2.4 Kms of the front line. Westoutre British Cemetery was begun in October 1917. It was used until the following April and again in August-October 1918, and 50 graves were brought into it from the battlefields of the Ypres salient, from BIXSCHOTE GERMAN CEMETERY and KEMMEL FRENCH CEMETERY after the Armistice. French units used the cemetery in April-August 1918, but these graves were later removed. The cemetery now contains 175 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 52 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to five casualties known or believed to be buried among them. The four Second World War burials all date from May 1940 and the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force to Dunkirk ahead of the German advance. There is also one French burial from this period. The cemetery was designed by W H Cowlishaw.

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Eric Stuart Dougall VC MC,Westoutre British Cemetery,22 Aug 09

Eric Stuart Dougall VC MC,Westoutre British Cemetery,22 Aug 09

An extract from “The London Gazette,” dated 31st May, 1918, records the following:-“For most conspicuous bravery and skilful leadership in the field when in command of his battery. Capt. Dougall maintained his guns in action from early morning throughout a heavy concentration of gas and high-explosive shell. Finding that he could not clear the crest owing to the withdrawal of our line, Captain Dougall ran his guns on to the top of the ridge to fire over open sights. By this time our infantry had been pressed back in line with the guns. Captain Dougall at once assumed command of the situation, rallied and organised the infantry, supplied them with Lewis guns, and armed as many gunners as he could spare with rifles. With these he formed a line in front of his battery which during this period was harassing the advancing enemy with a rapid rate of fire. Although exposed to both rifle and machine gun fire this officer fearlessly walked about as though on parade, calmly giving orders and encouraging everybody. He inspired the infantry with his assurance that “So long as you stick to your trenches I will keep my guns here”. This line was maintained throughout the day, thereby delaying the enemy’s advance for over twelve hours. In the evening, having expended all ammunition, the battery received orders to withdraw. This was done by man-handling the guns over a distance of about 800 yards of shell-cratered country, an almost impossible feat considering the ground and the intense machine gun fire. Owing to Captain Dougall’s personality and skilful leadership throughout this trying day there is no doubt that a serious breach in our line was averted. This gallant officer was killed four days later whilst directing the fire of his battery.”

Eric Stuart Dougall was promoted to Major and awarded the Victoria Cross.He is buried in Westoutre British Cemetery.

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Reninghelst New Military Cemetery,22 Aug 09

Reninghelst New Military Cemetery,22 Aug 09

The village of Reninghelst (now Reningelst) was occupied by Commonwealth forces from the late autumn of 1914 to the end of the war and was sufficiently far from the front line to provide a suitable station for field ambulances. The earliest burials took place in the Churchyard, but in November 1915, the New Military Cemetery was opened. It remained in use until September 1918. There are now 798 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

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Clive Gordon Clarke,1st Divisional Signals Company,AIF

Clive Gordon Clarke,1st Divisional Signals Company,AIF

In November 1917 the 1st Div Signals of the AIF were situated in the ramparts at Ypres.Cpl Clive Gordon Clarke was a motorcycle despatch rider attached to the company.

On the 8th of November, as he was returning to Ypres after a despatch mission to Zonnebeke,a shell exploded,causing him multiple injuries.He died before arrival at the dressing station of the 2nd Field Ambulance,AIF.

Gordon Clarke was 23 and had already served at Egypt,Gallipolli,the Sinai Desrt and France.

He is buried in Reninghelst New Military Cemetery.

Clive Gordon Clarke,Reninghelst New Military Cemetery,22 Aug 09

Clive Gordon Clarke,Reninghelst New Military Cemetery,22 Aug 09

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Basil Thomas Wilmer,Reninghelst Military Cemetery,22 Aug 09

Basil Thomas Wilmer,Reninghelst Military Cemetery,22 Aug 09

Born in Tasmania in 1887,Basil Wilmer was the son of a clergyman.He worked as a clerk with the Bank of Australia and joined the regulars in September 1914 following a spell in the militia.

By July 1917 he had served in Gallipolli and France and was now at the rank of Sgt.

Moving into gunpits near Zillbeke on the night of 20/21 July 1917 the 1st and 2nd Field Artillery Brigades came under fire.The Medical Officer,Captain WR Aspinall MC was killed.At roughly 3 pm the next day as the Australians were registering their guns they again came under enemy shell-fire;7 men were killed including Sgt Basil Wilmer.

He now rests in Reninghelst New Military Cemetery.

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William Raymond Pasteur MC,Reninghelst New Military Cemetery,22 Aug 09

William Raymond Pasteur MC,Reninghelst New Military Cemetery,22 Aug 09

No matter the weather,the mud,the enemy fire or any other hardship the ammunition for the guns had to get through;and that it invariably did is testament to the efforts of the men in the ammunition wagons and columns.

On the night of 9/10 July 1916 the shelling was particularly heavy and upon reaching Shrapnel Corner several drivers and horses of D/102 Ammo Colummn had already been hit.

The commander of the column,Capt Pasteur was among thos wounded but urged his men on until he was hit a second time. Both his legs were shattered but, showing courage and fortitude to the last,he directed his wagons until he died by the roadside.

William Raymond Pasteur MC is buried in Reninghelst New Military Cemetery

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Charles Edward Ridgeway Bridson,Reninghelst New Military Cemetery

Charles Edward Ridgeway Bridson,Reninghelst New Military Cemetery

Captain Bridson and the Lancastrians attacked near St Eloi in an attempt to close the gap in their line caused by German occupation of the so called Crater No5.

Like the Royal Fusiliers before them the Lancastrians were confused by the ground and darkness and they occupied Crater No4 in error.Luckily though this helped them ouflank the German force of 5 officers and 77 men in Crater No5.This force surrendered the next day and following a period of consolidation the Lancs withdrew to Poperinghe.

Unfortunately Charles Edward Ridgway Bridson and 17 of his comrades did not return;they remained behind,killed near Crater No4 at the hell that was St Eloi.He is buried in Reninghelst New Military Cemetery.

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