The biggest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. During our tour of the Ypres battlefields, we weren’t quite circling around it, but everywhere we went we could see it in the distance. The cemeteries and other sites we visited were leading up to this one, following the history of the war, from the first two battles of Ypres, to the final battles at Passchendaele. Passchendaele is a small ridge/rise that you could see from the plain, but it looked so insignificant, it was hard to believe so many battles were fought, and so many lives lost, to control it. Yet once we got there, it was clear to see what an advantage that slight elevation had over the entire plain.
The cemetery was built around some German pillboxes that are still there. Soldiers from the Commonwealth are all buried here, plus a few Germans and one Belgian. Many of the buried here are known “only to God”, while the wall panels list those that were killed but whose final resting place was unknown. This was done partly because the designers of f the Menin Gate back in Ieper realized that there would not be enough room on the gate to list all the fallen, so all those who perished after August 15, 1917 are listed at Tyne Cot.
It’s a beautiful cemetery. We were there at the end of a beautiful day and in that bright sunlight the battles of the First World War seemed so far away.
Monuments: depending on your interest in the war and the regiments that the men were a part of (many of which are no longer around), you could spend hours looking at all the monuments. Despite their uniformity, there is a lot of variation in the regimental crests from the various countries, plus the little sayings that sometimes appear at the base.
Grounds: Although this is the largest of the war cemeteries, it’s still small enough to get around. Due to the nature of the visitors who come here, most of the grounds are easily accessible, with very few steps (except in some areas). It can be slippery when wet though.
Visitors: There were quite a few visitors here, of all ages, some in groups and others visiting independently
Notes: late afternoon provides long shadows and beautiful light over the salient.
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Cemetery
Established: October 4, 1917, but greatly enlarged after the war ended.
NotableInternments: 11,954 soldiers of the Great War. 8367 of those are unidentified.
Location: near Passendale, Belgium
Hours: 08:00-18:00, daily