Sanctuary Wood Cemetery - History and Facts | History Hit

Sanctuary Wood Cemetery

Ypres, Flanders, Belgium

Sanctuary Wood Cemetery is a WWI Commonwealth cemetery containing the remains of soldiers who were killed in the region during the conflict.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Wikimedia CC, Wernervc

About Sanctuary Wood Cemetery

Sanctuary Wood Cemetery near Ypres is a First World War Commonwealth cemetery containing the remains of soldiers who were killed in the conflict.

The area around Sanctuary Wood Cemetery was close to the front lines during the 1914 Battle of Ypres and was also the scene of the 1915 Battle of Mount Sorrel.

Today this cemetery contains the graves or memorials of 1,989 Commonwealth servicemen.

Sanctuary Wood Cemetery history

The fighting between the British and German Armies arrived in the countryside of Flanders east of the town of Ypres in the late autumn of 1914. During the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914 the British Army used the cover of a large wood south of the Ypres-Menin road near Hooge for tending to their casualties. The area was given its name on the 1914-1918 British Army battlefield maps, called Trench Maps, due to the fact that it provided a place of sanctuary to the wounded.

At the Armistice, the cemetery contained 137 graves. From 1927 to 1932, Plots II-V were added and the cemetery extended as far as ‘Maple Avenue’, when graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefields.

Most of these burials were from the 1914 Battles of Ypres and the Allied offensive of the autumn of 1917. There are now 1,989 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 1,353 of the burials are unidentified.

Many graves are identified in groups but not individually. In Plot I is buried Lieutenant G.W.L. Talbot, in whose memory Talbot House at Poperinghe was established in December 1915. The first list of the graves was made by his brother the Reverend N.S. Talbot, MC, later Bishop of Pretoria. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Sanctuary Wood Cemetery today

Sanctuary Wood, located about two miles east of Ypres, is a key destination in the Salient for battlefield visitors. The Hill 62 museum located here sets the scene of the history of the site.

One of the main features is the trenches behind the museum which demonstrate the mud and misery of the trenches in the Salient.

Getting to Sanctuary Wood Cemetery

Sanctuary Wood Cemetery is located 5 Kms east of Ieper town centre, on the Canadalaan, a road leading from the Meenseweg (N8), connecting Ieper to Menen. From Ieper town centre the Meenseweg is located via Torhoutstraat and right onto Basculestraat. Basculestraat ends at a main cross roads, directly over which begins the Meenseweg. 3 Kms along the Meenseweg lies the right hand turning onto Canadalaan. The cemetery itself is located 1.5 Km along Canadalaan on the right hand side of the road.

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