Saint-Symphorien Cemetery World War 1

I read in the news that Theresa May, Prime Minister of Great Britain, is to travel to France to lay a wreath on the graves of two young British soldiers who were killed during World War 1.  One of them was the first man to die in that ‘war to end all wars’ and the other was the last man to die.   It reminded me that I had visited Saint-Symphorien cemetery where they are buried, a couple of years ago and I thought I would re-post my original piece but to my surprise either I hadn’t posted anything about that particular battlefield or I had somehow deleted it.

However, it is still in my mind now so I thought I would just put up a few photographs of the cemetery because it is so different from all the others in France, being in woodland, and having a more peaceful appearance.  It is also the only cemetery, I believe, in which both British and German soldiers are buried together.  My visit to Ypres last year was very different.   There massive cemeteries like Tyne Cot just filled one with a deep, deep sadness as the ranks upon ranks of white gravestones spreading across the fields could not but remind one of the carnage of that war.

First though, the gravestone of the young James Parr of the Middlesex Regiment who was the first man to die, on the 21st August 1914.

First British Man to die in World War 1

And the gravestone of Private George Edwin Ellison of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers who was killed on the outskirts of Mons at 9.30 a.m. just 90 minutes before the Armistice came into force.

Headstone for G.E. Ellison, last man to die in WW1

The cemetery:

German Grave in Saint-Symphorien Cemetery
A German Grave in Saint-Symphorien Cemetery, near Mons

And just to finish on, not far from here is the spot where the first shot was fired in that war.

First shot in the Great War was fired here

And the steely grey canal over which many battles were fought in this area.Le Conde Canal with Storm Clouds

7 Comments

    1. And the sad thing is that the slaughter still goes on, although not on the scale it did then – at least not for the Western world.

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  1. Many years ago an old military path of WW I in Slovenia at around 2,200 m altitude rescued us from a miserable situation because we had lost our path late afternoon. We saw also one old military building there, now just full of snow. It is crazy to imagine that only 100 years ago people were battling there at Alpine heights for many years without any sense (Isonzo frontline).

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    1. What an amazing experience. Yes, it is crazy to imagine the fighting in the snow 100 years ago. I toured some of the Italian mountain battlefields some years ago and getting my head around the fact of the war in Italy (my knowledge of WW1 in Italy was seriously lacking in those days) was difficult. So much of what went on then is a closed book to many people.

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  2. Hi Maris. Your pictures are always perfectly captured I keep revisiting them again and again. Your articles are informative and educative, I feel this a wonderful way for me to see and learn about the world. Have a great weekend

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments. May I say I get a great deal of pleasure from your Posts also. Let’s keep them going! You too have a great weekend. At the moment I’m doing some volunteer work transcribing 16th-century documents for our local archives, only 4 more pages to go! I shall be glad to sit down and read a mind-calming modern-day book where I don’t have to struggle with every line.

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