Norfolk, just one cemetery in the Somme

by Scott Manning on May 8, 2013

There are three predominate features of the Somme—farms, woods, and cemeteries. The French and British took a different approach with this massive battlefield. Instead of having one giant cemetery, they have numerous “small” ones. When you consider that the Allies suffered nearly 700,000 casualties in a mere 4 and a half months of fighting in 1916, you need to adopt different techniques for burying your war dead.

I was headed toward a specific destination in the Somme, but after passing a dozen random cemeteries in the first 20 minutes, I had to stop and explore.

The following photos and description come from my journey on April 19, 2013.


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This is the Norfolk Cemetery and at first glance, I estimated a few hundred buried here, but there are roughly 540. In addition, I only saw British graves, but there are also some Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, and one Indian.

I took a choppy video to provide better perspective and give my initial impression.

The first thing that struck me was condition of everything. In just 20 minutes, I passed at least a dozen cemeteries. By the time I left the Somme, I passed several dozen more. Each cemetery was in fantastic condition. The logistics for visiting each of these spots and ensuring they look so good must be immense.

The graves were in decent condition after nearly 100 years.

norfolk-unknownsoldier

The grass was cut and each grave had some plant in front of it. This of course gave the visit a very peaceful feeling.

norfolkcemetery-row

Each cemetery featured some sort of cross. Some were militaristic with swords and some were Celtic style, but they were always unique.

norfolkcemetery-cross

There was a seating area, which featured a plaque in English and French, stating that the land was a “free gift of the French people” for the Allied Armies that fell in 1914-1918. I saw similar plaques all over the Somme.

norfolkplaque

This was a smaller cemetery of the Somme, but it is a good sampling of what you would continually pass as you drove through this region in France.

norfolkcemetery

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stefan Geißler May 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Hi there and thanks for your post!
I work on an HGIS-Project about the British Casuatly Clearing Stations during WWI in France/Belgium which are now the cemeteries.
If i remmeber correct, i already georeferenced Norfolk, i know that G+ image ;-)

Ciao,
Stefan

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2 Scott Manning May 9, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Stefan, that is great. When I originally went there, I neglected to write down the name. Luckily, I took at least one photo with my iPhone, which recorded the longitude and latitude.

Do you have a link to a website we can plug?

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3 Stefan Geißler May 9, 2013 at 2:23 PM

It`s still work in progress. I started it in 2011 as i found some diaries and combined then some sources with the data from the Commonwealth War Graves Comission and georeference the CCS/Cemetaries by myself.
Actually, i put all the data into an ArcGIS Database, but this is at the moment only my “hobby” project. I have some other fulltime HGIS projects which cost me most of my time ;-)

But i will soon publish some details on a page and post it then here!

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