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THE CEMETERY

 

(The Devonshire Cemetery continued)

 

The surviving Devons erected a wooden cross at the end of the trench and inscribed it:

THE DEVONSHIRES HOLD THIS TRENCH

THE DEVONSHIRES HOLD IT STILL

Eventually the wooden cross rotted away and was replaced by a stone which stands just outside the cemetery gate - the Commonwealth War graves Commission does not allow memorials inside its cemeteries.

The Devonshire Memorial at Mametz

The Memorial outside the Devonshire Cemetery

The central inscription is a replica of the original wooden cross

 © Roy Hewitt

 

The Cemetery is not visible from the nearby main road. However it is marked by one of the green Commonwealth War Graves signposts. From the road you go up a track and follow a pathway and up some steps into the copse.


Like all British War cemeteries, it is beautifully kept. It is long and narrow as one would expect from a trench, bounded on one side, and at one end, by the trees of the copse and on the other by arable land. Because it is a trench burial carried out by comrades of the dead soldiers, it is in reality a mass grave but the headstones are laid out in groups of ten down the length of the cemetery.  In laying out the cemetery, the designers placing the headstones seem to have run out of space at the end of the trench as the last section of headstones bear more than one name.

 

CaptainMartin'sGrave

Private Frederick George Oxford of the 8th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment. Son of James and Mary Oxford of 40 Alexandra Road, Ford, Devonport. Born in Plymouth. Died 1 July 1916 aged 22.

Captain Duncan Lenox Martin of the 9th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment. Officer commanding "A" Division. Son of Thomas and Ann Martin. Born in Algiers. Died 1 July 1916 aged 30.

Private Marshall Frank Williams of the 9th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment. Son of Edwin & Georgina Williams,4 Summerland Buildings, Clifton Road, Exeter. Born in Exeter. Died 1 July 1916 aged 22.

© Roy Hewitt  

 

8th BATTALION - OFFICERS KILLED OR DIED OF WOUNDS 1 JULY 1916

Captain Geoffrey Philip Tregelles aged 23

2nd Lieutenant John Frederick George Rew aged 25

2nd Lieutenant Robert Henry Walter Davidson aged 31

9th BATTALION - OFFICERS KILLED OR DIED OF WOUNDS 1 JULY 1916

Captain Duncan Lenox Martin aged 30

Lieutenant William Noel Hodgson aged 23

2nd Lieutenant Travers Farrant Adamson aged 20

2nd Lieutenant C. P. Hirst

2nd Lieutenant Raymond Boycott Holcroft aged 20

2nd Lieutenant H. L. Rayner 

2nd Lieutenant William Riddell aged 29

2nd Lieutenant Cyril Harry Shepard aged 39

 

After their terrible losses, the 9th Battalion withdrew for badly-needed reorganisation. The 8th Battalion continued in the line until 5 July 1916. An officer wrote:

 

"Only at this point did the men get a chance to examine the German positions and see how strong and elaborate they were. We stood gaping with wonder at the long flights of steps banked up with 3" timber, and at the safe and comfortable bunks within. The ordinary German soldier must have enjoyed a degree of comfort which no one short of a general tasted on our side of the line."

 
 
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