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World War I

Cabaret Rouge CWGC Cemetery Souchez - WWI

This page was updated on: Sunday, December 10, 2017 at: 4:01 pm

Cabaret Rouge Café and sector

Cabaret Rouge CWGC Cemetery was named after a red bricks and red-tiled roof café.

Cabaret Rouge Café indeed stood along the D937- Arras-Béthune road, about 1km south of Souchez and was destroyed n 1915.

A commemorative slab was placed on its site and bears the following dedication:

"A cet endroit se trouvait le Cabaret Rouge si souvent cité dans les communiqués de l’année 1915
De nombreux soldats Francais et Allemands sont tombés dans ce secteur
Passant n’oublie pas."

"On this spot stood the Cabaret Rouge, so often named in the day orders of the year 1915
Many French and German soldiers fell in this sector
Passer-by do not forget.'

The Cabaret Rouge sector had indeed been under German occupation since August-September 1914.

Germans controlled the area from the top of Vimy Ridge and Lorette Ridge, respectively located to the east and west of the village of Souchez.

The French troops captured Lorette Ridge in 1915, and the Canadians Vimy Ridge in April 1917 at the price of a enormous number of casualties.

Most of the 3500 Canadian soldiers, who died between 9 and 12 April 1917 during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, were buried in Cabaret Rouge.

Cabaret Rouge CWGC Cemetery - Souchez

The French captured Souchez on September 26, 1915 (Second Battle of Artois).

They handed the sector to the Commonwealth Forces in March 1916.

Those - mostly men of the 47th London Division and Canadian Corps - immediately opened Cabaret Rouge CWGC Cemetery.

They buried the men who fell in the sector until August 1917 and at intervals until 1918.

Cabaret Rouge was enlarged after the Armistice in order to receive the remains of 7000 Commonwealth soldiers buried in 103 field cemeteries or individual graves scattered in the North and Pas-de-Calais areas.

The first burials are located in Plots 1 to 5.

Cabaret Rouge CWGC Cemetery today contains 7,655 Commonwealth burials from WWI and WWII; the latter are located on the southern side of the cemetery.

Sadly, over half the graves are unidentified!

Soldiers came from various Commonwealth Regiments.

This included of course the British Division and Canadian Corps, but also Indian Units of the Gurkha Rifles, Punjabi’s and Ludhiana Sikhs...

Most of the men buried in Cabaret Rouge fell during the Battle of Aubers Ridge in 1915.

The British troops led the attack near Arras, while the French assaulted the Germans between Souchez and La Targette Neuville Saint-Vaast.

Unknown Canadian Soldier from Cabaret Rouge

On May 25, 2000 the CWGC exhumed the remains of an unidentified Canadian Soldier.

His ashes were returned to Canada and laid to rest at the foot of the National War Memorial in Ottawa in order to pay tribute to the 116,000 Canadian soldiers who sacrificed their life during the conflict.

A ceremony was also held at Vimy Ridge Canadian Memorial.

A gravestone in Plot 8, Row E, Grave 7 marks the site of the Unknown Canadian Soldier’s original grave.

Cabaret Rouge CWGC Cemetery today stands among cultivated fields.

It is difficult to imagine that, a century ago, this was a scene of devastation.

The soil of the former battlefield indeed bears no scar of the fighting...

Cabaret Rouge CWGC Cemetery was built by the architect Frank Higginson, who served in the Canadian Army and joined the CWGC in the 1920’s.

It is also one of the largest war cemeteries in the region.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

In 1917, the six Commonwealth countries - Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and United Kingdom - created a joint-funded War Graves Commission, in order to commemorate all the war Dead individually and 'in a uniform and equal fashion, irrespective of military or civil rank, race or creed' .

The CWGC became in charge of maintaining 23,000 war cemeteries and memorials erected in 150 different countries and dedicated to the Unknown Soldiers.

It also keeps the archives documents on 1,7 million soldiers who fell during WWI and WWII.

France has the largest number of war memorial sites, monuments, slabs and cemeteries that pay tribute to 575,000 Commonwealth and 12,700 other nationals war Dead.

Tragically, half these Soldiers have No Known Grave.

Department of Pas-de-Calais - Souchez
Coordinates: Lat 50.380460 - Long 2.741400

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