World War I
Mill Road Cemetery - Commonwealth Cemetery - Thiepval
Mill Road Cemetery near Thiepval
Mill Road Cemetery is on the north side of the D73, near the Ulster Tower Memorial.
The old Route du Moulin connects the village of Hamel to Thiepval Memorial to the Missing and village and runs at the edge of Thiepval Wood.
In the spring of 1916, the woody hill was on the front line that ran from Thiepval to Beaumont-Hamel.
This is where the men of the 36th Ulster Division were positioned and suffered heavy casualties when they attacked the Schwaben Redoubt during the Battle of the Somme.
Thiepval Wood original trenches are on private land.
However, they were carefully excavated and kept in their war state and are today open to guided tours from March to November.
Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, Mill Road Cemetery is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission necropolis.
It was open in the spring of 1917 as a battlefield cemetery under the name of Mill Road Cemetery no2.
It initially contained 260 graves, but was enlarged in 1919 when to receive the remains of the men who had been buried in temporary battlefield graves.
It was enlarged a second time in 1920 to receive the remains of the soldiers who fell during the offensives of Beaumont-Hamel and Thiepval.
Their bodies were recovered from the small temporary field cemeteries and those of the surrounding villages.
Mill Road Cemetery now contains the graves of 1,304 Commonwealth soldiers of the Great War, among which 815 unidentified graves.
Special memorial slabs also honour the memory of three soldiers who are believed to be buried among them.
Another set of memorials pay tribute to three other men buried in Divion Road Cemetery No.1, and whose graves were destroyed by shellfire.
Mill Road Cemetery’s flat gravestones
The cemetery was open directly above the Schwaben Redoubt.
This elaborate system of defence consisted of an extensive network of underground galleries/dug-outs extended and improved over the months.
Most of the battlefield land was filled in after the war, however, some areas are still subject to a lot of subsidence.
The gravestones located above the unstable sections were therefore laid down flat to avoid them from falling and being damaged.
How to get there?
Follow a farm track that originates on the D73, almost opposite Connaught Cemetery and a stone's throw from the Ulster Tower Memorial.
Department of Somme - Picardie region
Coordinates: Lat 50.061096 - Long 2.683255
Photos via Wikimedia Commons: Header - cemetery general view - Flat headstones - Cemetery entrance by Wernervc are licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
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