DOUCHY-LES-AYETTE BRITISH CEMETERY
Pas de Calais
General Directions: Ayette is a village some 13 kilometres south of Arras on the road to Amiens, and Douchy-les-Ayette is a village 1 kilometre west of Ayette. The British Cemetery is opposite the Communal Cemetery on the north side of the road, halfway between the two villages next to a barn.
Douchy-les-Ayette was in German occupation from October, 1914 to the 21st March, 1917. In March, 1918, the enemy advanced as far as the Communal Cemetery, and held it for a few days. The village was never completely evacuated by the inhabitants. It contained a German Cemetery of 380 graves, now removed. The British Cemetery was begun in August and September, 1918, by the 3rd Division Burial Officer; and the 81 graves then made are scattered among eight Rows in what are now Plots II and IV. It was enlarged after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from the battlefields of Arras and the Ancre and from other burial grounds.
The following were among the burial grounds from which British graves were taken to this Cemetery: Brasserie Military Cemetery, Le Fermont, Riviere, on the Bretencourt-Wailly Road, begun by French troops, and containing the graves of ten soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in April, 1916, and one who fell in January, 1918. Favreuil German Cemetery, at the North-East corner of the village, containing the graves of 389 German soldiers and of four from the United Kingdom and one from Canada, buried by the enemy in 1916. Fremicourt Communal Cemetery, in which 20 German soldiers and two R.F.C. officers (who died in 1916 in a German hospital in the Church) were buried. Gastineau Farm French Military Cemetery, Ransart, on the Bellacourt-Berles road, in which one soldier from the United Kingdom was buried in February, 1916. Gomiecourt German Cemetery, a little West of the village, in which 126 German soldiers and 27 from the United Kingdom were buried in 1916-18. Grosville Churchyard, Riviere, in which two men of the Liverpool Scottish were buried by their comrades in February, 1916. L'Alouette French Miltary Cemetery, Ransart, on the Bellacourt-Berles road, in which ten soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried by their comrades in 1916. Morchies Communal Cemetery German Extension, containing the graves of 400 German soldiers, five Australian and one from the United Kingdom, who fell in 1916-17. Moyenneville German Cemetery (one of several in the Commune), in the South-West part of the village, in which eleven soldiers from the United Kingdom (including six R.F.C.) were buried by the enemy in 1916-17. Ransart Churchyard, in which one soldier from the United Kingdom was buried in March, 1917. Ransart M.D.S. Cemetery, in the village, where 12 soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried at the end of August, 1918. Sapignies German Cemetery, in the South-West corner of the village, containing the graves of 28 soldiers from the United Kingdom (including two R.N.D.), who fell in 1916-18, and 840 German soldiers. Wailly Military Cemetery, at the North-East end of the village, containing 30 French graves and those of 23 men of the 55th Division who fell in 1916. Willow Road Cemetery, Boiry-Ste. Rictrude, in which 25 soldiers from the United Kingdom (largely of the Guards Division) were buried in 1918.
Lance Corporal Thomas Woodcock, VC, 2nd Bn. Irish Guards, died 27/03/1918, plot IV. F. 3.
Born at Wigan. Son of Henry and Isabella Woodcock; husband of Mary Woodcock, of 41, Cambridge St., Wigan. A scholar at St. Patrick's School.
Citation: An extract from the "London Gazette," dated 16th Oct., 1917, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery and determination. He was one of a post commanded by Lce. Serjt. Moyney, which was surrounded. The post held out for 96 hours, but after that time was attacked from all sides in overwhelming numbers and was forced to retire. Pte. Woodcock covered the retirement with a Lewis gun, and only retired when the enemy had moved round and up to his post and were only a few yards away. He then crossed the river, but hearing cries for help behind him, returned and waded into the stream amid a shower of bombs from the enemy and rescued another member of the party. The latter he then carried across the open ground in broad daylight towards our front line regardless of machine gun fire that was opened on him."
Casualty Details: UK 727, Canada 1, Australia 5, South Africa 2, Germany 1, Total Burials: 736