"Silent Cities" Revisited
In 1929, Sidney C. Hurst published his book 'The Silent Cities', its intention was to show a general view of the finished cemetery and also to give basic instructions on how the cemetery could be visited. Mr Hurst travelled the battlefields taking images of all the completed or nearly completed cemeteries with 40 or more burials. Such was the task that he had set himself, he was allowed time off from working for the then Imperial War Graves Commission to finish his project. The book, shown above, was the finished article. Below, we have tried to recreate the images taken by Sidney Hurst in the modern day. We hope that you find the comparisons interesting. However, please note that it is not always possible to find the exact angle or position that an image was taken from all those years ago and modern cameras do not alway provide the same angle of image no matter how long is spent trying, this also makes identifying specific headstones a challenge. Please bear this in mind when viewing the modern images and the information below. Our intention is to give an approximate, modern day view of the original image and a short description of any major changes. We do not claim the images to be exact replicas.
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Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension
Avesnes-le-Comte Communal Cemetery Extension
A more elevated angle for the modern image, shows that the trees planted in the original image have now matured and obscure the Cross of Sacrifice. The cemetery boundary is still a hedge but the trees which are on the left of the original image in the Communal Cemetery have been removed. At the far end of the cemetery are a number of houses, the original image shows no buildings whatsoever in that area.
Beehive Cemetery, Willerval was named after a German Pill Box which stood 25 yards north of the cemetery. The original image shows four young trees, one in each corner, the modern image now shows these as tall, mature trees in the same positions. In the original image a simple wire fence has been erected as a boundary. Today's image shows a thick hedge surrounding the cemetery, meaning that the sole headstone on the right of the Hurst picture can no longer be seen.
Bois-Guillaume Communal Cemetery
These two images of Bois-Guillaume Communal Cemetery show little that is obviously different. There is still a private memorial cross on Plot 1. Row C of the original image, this would appear to be the grave of 19 year old, William James Jeffries of Worle, Weston Super-Mare, he served with the 12th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment. The angles in these two images do differ slightly but little has changed over the decades.
Bois-Guillaume Communal Cemetery Extension
Little has changed in today's scene at Boisguillaume Communal Cemetery Extension. The shelter is still in place as is the house behind the shelter. To the left of the picture is another house, this one in the same place as the white house in the original image, it is very similar in design although the windows on the end aspect no longer match, it is probable that this property was redeveloped and extended over the intervening years. In the Extension itself, there is very little difference between the pictures, the only obvious ones are firstly, it appears that the original plot may have been surrounded by a wall, it is now a hedge and secondly, to the front of the original picture is what appears to be a flowerbed, this is now grassed over, other than these two changes, all is very much as it was when Sidney Hurst took his original picture.
Courcelette British Cemetery
Similar but not exact replicas. A number of bushes and trees can be sen both to the left and right of the entrance shelter in the original image. Of these, 6 remain, one, either side of the cross and two on each side at right angles to the cross. To the left of the original image appears to be a sapling, no trees stand in the centre areas of the cemetery today. The landscape behind the cemetery remains unchanged in the decades since Sidney Hurst visited.
Frankfurt Trench Cemetery
Grandcourt Road Cemetery
Grandcourt Road Cemetery in 1929 is very much identical to the modern day. Both images are taken at ground level and standing in-between rows B and C looking towards the Cross of Sacrifice. On the original image, just visible are two trees, today there are two mature trees in the same position. The headstones are planted both front and rear on the original image, now only the front is planted. An original wooden grave marker also remains on Sidney Hurst's image in front of a grave in row D. The modern day image now also shows a line of trees lining a farm track which runs diagonal to the rear of the cemetery. Apart from these few minor changes the cemetery looks very much the same, even the landscape behind the cemetery is virtually unchanged.
Habarcq Communal Cemetery Extension
This image shows Plot I. Row A of the cemetery, the grave to the right of the French cross is that of Second Lieutenant Anthony Harvey Bowman and the elongated cross on his headstone can be made out on the original image. The cemetery boundary remains the same and is still surrounded by a hedge although the trees from the original image to the right of the headstones are now gone. In the background, trees have grown up along the edge of the neighbouring field.
Munich Trench Cemetery
A very similar, almost identical scene at Munich Trench today as it was 90 years ago. Still surrounded by a hedge, if you look closely to the left of the cross on the original image, you can see the growing sapling, this is shown as it is today on the modern day image. The only other change is that in the original image, both the front and reverse of the headstones were planted. Today, the flowers are only in front of the headstones.
New Munich Trench British Cemetery
The landscape has barely changed in these two images taken 90 years apart. The path to the rear of the cemetery which goes from right to left across the original image remains to this day. In Sidney Hurst's image, to the rear of the cemetery and either side of the Cross of Sacrifice can be seen two small trees, these are no longer within the cemetery today. To the front of the modern day image can be seen repair work to the wall, the stonework below the repairs is identical to the original image if you look closely.
Quarry Cemetery, Montauban
Similar angles of Quarry Cemetery, Montauban. There is now shelter behind the Cross of Sacrifice as we look at the images, this had not been erected at the time of the original image. The road still winds its way uphill towards Bazentin but in the modern picture is hidden by trees. Both Images are taken from the bank in the corner, outside the cemetery. In the original image, against the far wall can still be seen a number of wooden crosses, this would later be replaced by the conventional headstones. In the near corner of the original image is a small tree, this was later removed and no trace remains.
Redan Ridge Cemetery, No. 2
Redan Ridge Cemetery, No.2. A slightly more elevated picture was taken by Sidney Hurst, although we are in almost an identical position for the modern image. On the left of the image is a single headstone and then moving right the headstones become 'doubles'. To the back, right of the original image, can be seen a small tree, this has now been removed. To the front left of the original image can be seen a sapling, this is the tree in front of the camera in the modern image. Two other things worth noting from the original picture, firstly, the farmer with his horse drawn plough, centre right of the image and also to the right of the sapling, we can see the shadow of the photographer (presumably, Sidney Hurst).
Redan Ridge Cemetery, No. 3
A slightly different angle on the modern image which shows the plinth where the Cross of Sacrifice should stand, on this visit it had been damaged and removed for repairs. The original image shows that were trees either side of the cross, these have now been removed, other than this, there is little difference in the intervening years between images. The landscape behind the cemetery remains unchanged.
Regina Trench Cemetery
A slightly different angle but taken from close to the original and to the left of the central walkway. The shelters and cross remain in place and the trees to the rear of the cross are now mature. However, the other trees that can be seen in the original picture on both sides of the walkway and in a line towards the camera have recently been removed. The landscape behind the cemetery remains the same as in the original image. Note the figure standing to the right of the image.
Rue-Du-Bacquerot (13th London) Graveyard
An interesting comparison, although not an exact angle. The shelter remains in place but now has an information plaque attached to the facing wall. The cemetery appears to have a double wall at the front in the original image, this has now gone and the area in-between the two original walls flattened and the road dressed with tarmac to bring it to the same level as the cemetery entrance. Other than this, the entrance remains the same. Noticeable by their absence are a number of trees. in the original image, at least eight trees can be seen in the picture, of these, all but the two either side of the Cross of Sacrifice have been removed.
St. Sever Cemetery
Not an identical match by no means but still in place down the central driveway is the French memorial and wall. Interestingly, the graves appear to be closer to the path in the original image. Judging by the position of the trees in that image, it appears that the grassed area was extended onto the driveway and bushes planted as a border.
St. Sever Cemetery Extension
Once again, not quite the same angle, but both images are taken from the Cross of Sacrifice which can just be seen in the bottom left of the original image. To the right is the chapel and the central walkway remains, new trees have been planted to replace the originals.Behind the chapel in the new picture is the skyline of the suburbs of Rouen.
Stump Road Cemetery
Stump Road Cemetery has changed very little, if at all. The storage facility is still in place and there is still nothing in the background or on the horizon except for a small copse of trees (centre). The images are taken from the front row (A), the first headstone that can be seen is that of Frederick Barnes, 7th Bn. Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) and John Douglas Scott, 8th Bn. Border Regiment shares the headstone but his regimental badge cannot be seen. This headstone is Row A. 7/8. The first full headstone that we can see is that of M. Curran, 8th Bn. Border Regiment and Horace Frederick Chatterton, 7th Bn. The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), this grave is recorded as A. 9/10. To the rear of the row A and in front of row B are two wooden crosses. To the right of the shelter on row A there also appears to be a gap where a wooden cross still stands.
Ten Tree Alley Cemetery
The original image of Ten Tree Alley still shows gaps in the long, joined row of headstones that form Row A., of the cemetery, these gaps appear to still have the original wooden crosses marking the grave. In the modern picture, taken by Werner Van Caneghem, the Row A., now consists of 1 completely joined line of 54 burials. From the left, the first headstone missing would appear to be that of Private E. Briggs, 2nd Bn. King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the next gap that of Private Irving Sykes of the same battalion and regiment. Thereafter it becomes too difficult to distinguish the individual headstones on the original image. Sidney Hurst's picture shows at least three young trees growing within the boundaries of the cemetery, today, there are none. The landscape in the background, apart from the growth of trees and bushes, remains unchanged.
V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery And Memorial
One major change in the intervening years between photographs, is the inclusion of two stone crosses laid into the grass in front of the memorial, these are not seen in the original picture. The rose beds remain, although in a slightly different design whilst a number of trees planted in front of the memorial in the original image have been removed.
Ville-sur-Ancre Communal Cemetery Extension
Two images of Ville-sur-Ancre Communal Cemetery Extension, although these images were taken 90 years apart nothing has really changed. The small tree to the left of the original image has now grown into a thick trunked mature tree. The graves in the original image appear to have been planted both front and rear but are now only planted to the front. Behind the cross, which is now partially obscured due to the tree, the landscape has barely changed.
Waggon Road Cemetery
There is very little to comment on in these two similar images of Waggon Road Cemetery. The two headstones visible in the first gap on the front row left of the original image are those of Private H. Embrey, 20th Bn. Manchester Regiment and Private William Alfred Randall, 9th Bn. Devonshire Regiment. in Row E 7/8 respectively, the row at the front of each image is Row F. In the original image there looks to be at least two trees growing, in the modern image, taken by Johan Pauwels, there are none. The cemetery is still surrounded by a hedge and the landscape behind, remains untouched.