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Remembrance 2020 - Coming Home - War Grave Locations

Brussels Branch Remembers 2020

Remembrance 2020 – Coming Home

Visit your nearest Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery 

Why we remember…. Remembrance honours those who serve to defend our democratic freedoms and way of life. In 2020, we pay tribute to the men and women of the Second World War generation, and to those of today’s, who have served and sacrificed to defend our nations. We remember the collaboration of the Commonwealth and Allied nations who stood shoulder to shoulder then to secure our freedom, and the communities coming together today to protect us all.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains 625 cemeteries across Belgium, commemorating those who fell during the First and Second World Wars here on Belgian soil.  

The following nine sites have been selected based on proximity to Brussels to allow people to travel to their nearest war graves. Visits are taken at own personal risk and should be conducted in accordance with current Belgium national guidance.

COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES OUTSIDE BRUSSELS-CENTRAL

 Heverlee War Cemetery – Vlaams-Brabant (First and Second World Wars)

Background

  • The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was involved in the later stages of the defence of Belgium following the German invasion in May 1940 and suffered many casualties in covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk. Commonwealth forces did not return until September 1944, but in the intervening years, many airmen were shot down or crashed in raids on strategic objectives in Belgium, or while returning from missions over Germany.
  • The original burial ground at Heverlee was on the opposite side of the lane. It was used after the liberation for burials from the 101st British General Hospital, which was then housed in Heverlee Girl's School close by. In July 1946, the present cemetery was created and was used for burials brought in from a wide area round about.
  • The cemetery now contains 977 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 37 of them unidentified. There are also 29 First World War burials which were brought into the cemetery from other locations where their security and maintenance could not be guaranteed.
  • In addition to the Commonwealth burials, the cemetery also contains the graves of one American and 11 Polish airmen.
  • The cemetery was designed by P.D. Hepworth.

How to get there?

  • Heverlee War Cemetery is located 30 kilometres from Brussels and three kilometres south of Leuven. Turn left out of Leuven railway station onto the Tiensevest (ring road R 23). Follow the Tiensevest through the junctions Tiensepoort and Parkpoort, and along the Naamsepoort. Turn left at the Naamsepoort onto the Naamsesteenweg (N251), signposted Namen, Waver and Heverlee. Continue until you cross the railway line at Heverlee and take the first left turn into the Hertogstraat. Follow Hertogstraat to the end and turn right at the Sport Hall onto the Kerspelstraat. Continue down the Kerspelstraat until you come to a crossroads at which the cemetery is located.

Templeuve Communal Cemetery and Allied Extension Tournai – Hainaut (First and Second World Wars) 

Background

  • The BEF was involved in the later stages of the defence of Belgium following the German invasion in May 1940 and suffered many casualties in covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk.
  • Templeuve Communal Cemetery contains 13 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. Nearby are ten First World War graves, all created during October and November 1918 and the Advance to Victory.
  • The following information relates to the fallen in the extension of the cemetery. Tournai was captured by the German II Corps on 23 August 1914, in spite of resistance from a French Territorial Brigade, and the town remained in German hands until it was entered by the 47th (London) and 74th (Yeomanry) Divisions on 8 November 1918. The 51st (Highland) Casualty Clearing Station arrived on 14 November and remained until 20 July 1919. During the occupation, the German sick and wounded were nursed in the "Asile", whilst the Commonwealth and Allied were cared for in the Hôpital Notre-Dame. The (Southern) Communal Cemetery, in the Faubourg-St.Martin, was used and extended by the Germans, although the graves were later regrouped by nationality and some were brought in from other cemeteries in a wide area around Tournai. The Allied extension now contains 689 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 34 of them unidentified. There are also 117 Russian burials, all men who died as prisoners of war, and two Belgian war graves. Almost all of the 52 Second World War burials in the extension date from May 1940 and the withdrawal of the BEF ahead of the German advance.

How to get there?

  • Tournai Communal Cemetery is located in the south-west district of Tournai, on the Chaussee De Douai (N508), a road leading from the R52 Tournai ring road. 900 metres after leaving the R523 and joining the N508, lies the left hand turning onto the Chaussee de Willemeau, and the cemetery is along this road on the right, fronted by large iron gates.

Hotton – Luxembourg Region (Second World War)

Background

  • The BEF was involved in the later stages of the defence of Belgium following the German invasion in May 1940, and suffered many casualties in covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk. Commonwealth forces did not return until September 1944, but in the intervening years, many airmen were shot down or crashed in raids on strategic objectives in Belgium, or while returning from missions over Germany. The village of Hotton was the western limit of the great German counter offensive in the Ardennes in January 1945. A great many of the burials in Hotton War Cemetery date from that time, although there are also some from May 1940. The cemetery contains 666 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 21 of them unidentified.

How to get there?  

  • Hotton is located south of Liège on the N86. On reaching Hotton, follow the N86 towards Menil along the Rue de la Libération. The Cemetery is along this road on the right. 

Mons (Bergen) Communal Cemetery – Hainaut (First and Second World Wars) 

Background

  • Mons remained in German hands from the Battle of Mons (23 August 1914) until the arrival of the Canadian Corps on 11 November 1918. The communal cemetery was extended by the Germans on its north side and in this extension, now part of the town cemetery, were buried Russian, French, Italian, Romanian and Belgian soldiers, as well as German and Commonwealth. The 4th Canadian and 1st Casualty Clearing Stations, besides field ambulances, were posted in the town after the Armistice. They opened a new cemetery (MONS BRITISH CEMETERY) across the road from the East Gate of the communal cemetery, but the graves created there were later removed to the communal cemetery. There are now 393 Commonwealth burials or commemorations of the First World War in the cemetery. 11 of the burials are unidentified, but special memorials commemorate three casualties known to be buried among them. There is also one Commonwealth burial of the Second World War, one non-war burial (a retired member of the Commission's staff) and 110 war graves of other nationalities. The Commonwealth plots were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

How to get there?

  • Mons (Bergen) Communal Cemetery is located in the north-east of the town of Mons ("Bergen" in Flemish), on the Chemin de la Procession, a road leading from the N56 connecting Mons to Brussels. 600 metres after the N56 leaves the R50 ring road lies the Chemin de la Procession. The cemetery is located one kilometre along the chemin de la Procession on the left hand side of the road. 

St. Symphorien Military Cemetery (First World War)

Background

  • The cemetery at St. Symphorien was established by the German Army during the First World War as a final resting place for British and German soldiers killed at the Battle of Mons. Among those buried here is Private John Parr of the Middlesex Regiment, who was fatally wounded during an encounter with a German patrol two days before the battle, thus becoming the first British soldier to be killed in action on the Western Front. The cemetery remained in German hands until the end of the war, and afterwards came under the care of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission. It also contains the graves of Commonwealth and German soldiers who died in the final days of the conflict, including George Ellison of the Royal Irish Lancers and George Price of the Canadian Infantry. Ellison and Price were killed on 11 November 1918, and are believed to be the last Commonwealth combat casualties of the war in Europe. There are 229 Commonwealth and 284 German servicemen buried or commemorated at St Symphorien, of whom 105 remain unidentified. 

How to get there?

  • St. Symphorien Military Cemetery is located 2 Kms east of Mons on the N90 a road leading to Charleroi. On reaching St. Symphorien the right hand turning from the N90 leads onto the Rue Nestor Dehon. The cemetery lies 200 metres along the Rue Nestor Dehon.

COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES IN THE BRUSSELS-CENTRAL AREA

Brussels Town Cemetery (First and Second World Wars)

Background

  • Brussels was in German hands from 20 August 1914 to the date of the Armistice. Plot X of the cemetery contains the graves of 54 Commonwealth casualties, 49 of which were brought back from Germany by the Canadian Corps in April 1919.
  • The BEF was involved in the later stages of the defence of Belgium following the German invasion in May 1940, and suffered many casualties in covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk. Commonwealth forces did not return until September 1944, but in the intervening years, many airmen were shot down or crashed in raids on strategic objectives in Belgium, or while returning from missions over Germany.
  • Most of the Second World War casualties buried in the town cemetery died on lines of communication duties after the liberation of Brussels at the beginning of September 1944, but a few date from the brief period that the BEF spent in Belgium in May 1940.
  • Brussels Town Cemetery contains 54 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and a further 587 from the Second World War, four of which are unidentified. There are also 35 Foreign National burials here and five Non World War Service burials.

How to get there?

  • Brussels Town Cemetery is located in the north-east corner of Brussels in the district of Evere. Follow the E40 Brussels-Liège road in the direction of Brussels and leave at junction 19, signposted Woluwé and Evere. Follow the sign for Evere to the right and continue 500 metres along the Avenue des Communautés to the first set of traffic lights. Go straight ahead here and down the Avenue Ciceron to turn left around the roundabout at the bottom of the road. The entrance to the Town Cemetery is then on your right. Follow the main avenue through the cemetery as far as you can go and the Commission plot is on your left. 

Ixelles (Elsene) Communal Cemetery (First World War)

Background

  • The Commonwealth servicemen buried in Ixelles Communal Cemetery died as prisoners of war and are buried in a "pelouse d'honneur" with Belgian, French, Russian and Italian soldiers. The cemetery contains 13 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

How to get there?

  • The cemetery lies to the south of Brussels centre in the commune of Ixelles (Elsène). From the Brussels inner ring road, turn off at Louizaplein and follow the Louizalaan to the end. At the end of the Louizalaan bear left into Emile De Motlaan. At the first junction turn left into Boulevard de la Cambre. At the next junction take the second left onto Boulevard Général Jacques (the tram route runs along the centre of this road). At the third junction turn right into Jaargetijdenlaan and follow this road to the roundabout where the main entrance to the cemetery leads off the roundabout. Go through the main entrance and at the first roundabout turn left into the Avenue No 2. Follow this road to the next roundabout and go straight over. The graves are located on the right, in Block A. 

Auderghem (Oudergem) Communal Cemetery (Second World War)

Background

  • The BEF was involved in the later stages of the defence of Belgium following the German invasion in May 1940, and suffered many casualties in covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk. Commonwealth forces did not return until September 1944, but in the intervening years, many airmen were shot down or crashed in raids on strategic objectives in Belgium, or while returning from missions over Germany.
  • Auderghem Communal Cemetery contains six Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. The graves are marked by private memorials erected by the local authorities.

How to get there?

  • Auderghem is located seven kilometres south-east of Brussels. The cemetery is about 230 metres south of the road to Wavre. The cemetery entrance is to be found on Jean van Hoorenbeecklaan. On entering the cemetery, walk down the centre path until the second roundabout with the large war memorial in the centre. Two of the Commonwealth graves are in the plot directly behind the war memorial whilst the other four are in the plot to the right. All six headstones have a badge in the form of the Union Jack flag.

Jette (St. Pierre) Communal Cemetery (Second World War)

Background

  • The BEF was involved in the later stages of the defence of Belgium following the German invasion in May 1940, and suffered many casualties in covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk. Commonwealth forces did not return until September 1944, but in the intervening years, many airmen were shot down or crashed in raids on strategic objectives in Belgium, or while returning from missions over Germany.
  • Jette (St. Pierre) Communal Cemetery contains one Commonwealth burial of the Second World War, that of a Belgian airman who served with the Royal Air Force. The grave is in the Belgian “pelouse d'honneur”, marked by a private memorial.

How to get there?

  • Jette is on the northern outskirts of Brussels, about four kilometres from the city centre. The cemetery is close to the church of St. Pierre, its main entrance being in Boulevard de Smet de Naeyer, at its junction with Avenue Secrétin. On entering the cemetery’s main entrance, walk to the left of the war memorial and down the first path. Then take the first path to the right and the war grave is the seventh grave on the right. 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

Please contact the Royal British Legion Brussels Branch to order wreaths or poppy crosses/sticks for your Act of Remembrance.

 

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Payee: RBL Brussels

Account: BE89 2100 1555 2485

Reference: Poppy Appeal 2020

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www.branches.britishlegion.org.uk/branches/brussels

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