THE HUTS

CEMETERY

 

Dickebusch

 

West-Vlaanderen

 

Belgium

 

GENERAL DIRECTIONS: Leave Ieper via Elverdingsestraat, straight over the roundabout onto J. Capronstraat, after 30 metres go left into M. Fochlaan and immediately after the railway station go right onto Dikkebusseweg (N375). On reaching the village of Dikkebus take a right turn into Melkerijstraat. Continue for 1km, over a crossroads and follow the road as it bends sharply to the right, then it meets a junction with the Steenakkerstraat. The cemetery is 200 metres after this junction on the Steenakkerstraat.

 

The cemetery is named after a line of huts which were strung along the road from Dickebusch to Brandhoek, these huts were used by Field Ambulances during the 1917 Allied offensive in this area. Most of the burials date from July-November 1917 and almost two thirds of them are Gunners from nearby artillery positions.

 

The cemetery closed in April 1918, when the German advance brought the front line very close. The advance was finally halted on the eastern side of the village following fierce fighting at Dickebusch Lake on May 8th 1918.

 

Cemetery designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens & George Hartley Goldsmith

 

Shot at Dawn: Private V. M. Spencer, 1st Bn. (Otago) New Zealand Regiment, executed for desertion 24/02/1918,  Plot 15. B. 10.

 

Shot at Dawn: Private H. Hughes, 1st/5th Bn. Yorks and Lancs Regiment, executed for desertion 10/04/1918, Plot 15. D. 15.

 

The mass pardon of 306 British Empire soldiers executed for certain offences during the Great War was enacted in section 359 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, which came into effect on royal assent on 8 November 2006

 

CASUALTY DETAILS: UK 822; Canada 5; Australia 243; New Zealand 19; South Africa 4; India 1; Germany 6; Total Burials: 1100

 

 

 

Image of the cemetery from around 1920's, the position of the photographer was similar to that from which the image below was taken.

 

31828 Private

Hedley Veale

8th Bn. The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

05/08/1917, aged 26.

Son of F. T. and A. M. Veale, of 136, New Hall St., Burnley.

Plot I. C. 14.

 

 

99669 Gunner

Henry Alfred Longworth

"A" Bty. 83rd Bde. Royal Field Artillery

02/08/1917, aged 29.

Husband of Catherine Longworth, of 8, Richardson's Buildings, Sykes St., Hull.

Plot I. C. 6.

 

95678 Gunner

William George Gray, MM.

"Z" 21st Trench Mortar Bty.

Royal Field Artillery

15/10/1917, aged 19.

Son of Lovedon and Alice Gray, of 193, Cocking, Midhurst, Sussex.

Plot X. C. 9.

 

Date & place of birth: 10 May 1898 in Chichester, Sussex


Date & place of death: 15 October 1917 (aged 19) near Ieper, Belgium

Gunner William George Gray was born in Chichester in 1898, the son of a brewery worker, who later moved to Cocking where he worked as a maltster.

William enlisted at Horsham in The Royal Field Artillery and was posted to northern France as part of the British Expeditionary Force in July 1915. He earned the Military Medal in July 1917, awarded “for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire”, when attempting to rescue an injured officer, but was killed himself three months later.

Family background

William was born in Chichester in the spring of 1898, the second surviving son of Lovedon Gray (1854–1921) and his wife Alice Lucy née Osborn (1868–1954). Lovedon Gray had been born in Berkshire in March 1854, but by 1871 was living at East Marden where he was employed as an agricultural labourer. In 1884, he married Marian Osborn (born 1852) but she died of tuberculosis three years later, having lost two children as infants.

In 1891, Lovedon was living in Lower Cavendish Street in Chichester, where his fellow residents were Alice and John Osborn, the children of Marian’s elder sister, Elizabeth. Lovedon and Alice were married St Mary’s Church, Portsea in February 1893 and their first son, Percy was born in August that year. The couple had eight children, of whom two died as infants, with William arriving in 1898.

In 1900, the family moved to Portland Street in Portsmouth, where Lovedon was employed as a general labourer in a brewery. Within three years, the family moved again, to Eartham to the north-east of Chichester, before moving to Cocking, where Lovedon was employed as a maltster, living in Crypt Lane.

The malthouse stood on the main road, just north of Crypt Lane, and produced malt for the brewery situated behind the Angel Hotel in Midhurst, run by Messrs. Parker & Popplewell. According to "A Short History of Cocking":

The building had two floors, the barley being spread out on the top floor and heated by a furnace on the lower floor. The barley was watered until it chit, and then it was put in a dryer, and when dry, it was cracked. This practice ended about the time of the First World War, the top floor was removed and it was used as the village hall.

Military service

William enlisted at Horsham soon after war was declared, joining the Royal Horse Artillery as a driver, later promoted to gunner in the Royal Field Artillery. His unit were sent to northern France on 28 July 1915.

In 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal with the award being recorded in the London Gazette on 9 July 1917. The medal was awarded for "acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire," and William earned his medal when attempting to rescue an injured officer.

Death & commemoration

William was killed in action near Ieper (Ypres) in Belgium on 15 October 1917, when a member of the Z (medium) Trench Mortar Battery with the 21st Brigade, part of the 30th Division. He was buried at Huts Cemetery at Dickebusch, south-west of Ieper and is commemorated on Cocking War Memorial.

Picture and text courtesy of great nephew, Andrew Coombs

 

 

 

 

 

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