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Ypres Salient Tour Descriptor Notes  Back to Tour Map

11. Christmas Truce:

In that first Christmas of the war there were many locations where the soldiers on both sides spontaneously met in No Mans Land. St Yvon was one of the meetings just north of Ploegsteert Wood and recorded by Bruce Bairnsfather, creator of the Old Bill WW1 character. Here a wooden Cross marks where the meeting took place nearby. Sadly perhaps, Bairnsfather makes no mention of football being played: indeed describing the turnip field, where the meeting took place, as being boggy.

12. Hyde Park Corner and Ploegsteert Memorial:

The memorial commemorates more than 11,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in this sector during the First World War and have no known grave. The original intention had been to erect the memorial in Lille but France was getting a little uneasy at the amount of land being allocated for the remembrance of war. Those commemorated by the memorial did not die in major offensives, such as those which took place around Ypres to the north, or Loos to the south. Most were killed in the course of the day-to-day trench warfare which characterised their part of the line, or in small scale set engagements, usually carried out in support of the major attacks taking place elsewhere.

On the first Friday of every month there is a Last Post ceremony held here at 7.00pm.

Berks Cemetery Extension , in which the memorial stands, was begun in June 1916 and used continuously until September 1917. At the Armistice, the extension comprised Plot I only, but Plots II and III were added in 1930 when graves were brought in from Rosenberg Chateau Military Cemetery and Extension, about 1 kilometre to the north-west, when it was established that these sites could not be acquired in perpetuity. Hyde Park Corner was a road junction to the north of Ploegsteert Wood. Hill 63 was to the north-west and nearby were the Australian 'Catacombs', deep shelters capable of holding two battalions, which were used from November 1916 onwards. The cemetery, cemetery extension and memorial were designed by H Chalton Bradshaw, with sculpture by Gilbert Ledward.

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