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Tyne Cot CWGC Cemetery and Memorial

Tyne Cot
Tyne Cot.     Photo courtesy of Glyn Warwick

Tyne Cot is the largest CWGC Cemetery on the Western Front with 11,953 burials. This includes those believed to be buried in the Cemetery, or whose graves had been destroyed. This would have occurred because the Cemetery was started in October 1917, after the taking of the nearby village of Paschendaele, but fighting continued in the region and the Germans retook the ground and held it between 13 April to 28 September 1918.

Tyne Cot Entrance in the 1930s
Tyne Cot Entrance in the 1930s. Photo: NELS

Tyne Cot Cemetery Entrance today
Tyne Cot Cemetery Entrance today

Tyne Cot is well signposted, and is located just south-west of Passchendaele, on Tynecotstraat (see map below). There are many other Great War related sites to see in and around the viallge; please visit the seperate page covering Passchendaele.

Tyne Cot location
Tyne Cot location

If you approach from Passchendaele, you can appreciate the importance of the high ground as you move downhill towards Tyne Cot. As in so many other places, more new houses have appeared recently near Tyne Cot.

Tyne Cot from the west
Tyne Cot seen from a position marked Beecham on trenchmaps

1917 trench map showing Tyne Cot
Trench map from September 1917 showing the site of Tyne Cot (marked as Tyne Cott). Beecham can also be seen.

The name may derive from the fact that soldiers of the Northumberland Fusiliers thought the barn on the skyline resembled cottages at home, but this is not definite. In fact, there has been speculation recently on the Great War Forum that the name may derive from lettering on a cottage or barn, or else that several cottages in the area were named after rivers, Tyne being one of them. Within the Cemetery today, however, are three visible German pillboxes.

German Blockhouse within Tyne Cot
One of the German Blockhouses within Tyne Cot CWGC

A fourth was covered, at the suggestion of King George V, by the Cross of Remembrance, although the blockhouse wall can still be seen at the base. It should be noted that 8,366 or nearly 70% of the burials are of unknown soldiers. This is testament to the intense fighting, the nature of the ground during the Third Battle of Ypres (Paschendaele), and the famed mud of the salient.

Tyne Cot Cross of SacrificeTyne Cot Cross of Sacrifice
Tyne Cot Cross of Sacrifice

The base of the Cross of Sacrifice
The base of the Cross of Sacrifice showing the blockhouse structure underneath

The Tyne Cot memorial forms the far wall of the Cemetery and commemorates those with no known grave from August 16th 1917 on, and there are 34,870 names recorded. Again, these are arranged by regiment and then rank. As with any other CWGC Cemetery, the CWGC website has extensive information on the Cemetery and those commemorated. Information can also be found in the registers held at the cemetery.

The panels listing the missing
The panels listing the missing curve around the rear of the cemetery

On one visit, I saw a framed statement placed at the foot of one of the panels, which read "Remembering Lance Corporal Henry John Martin, blown to pieces at Poelcapelle on the 27th of November 1917". Just one of those with no known grave.

Tyne Cot: Gravestones
Tyne Cot: Gravestones

Tyne Cot Cemetery, with its serried ranks of headstones standing testament to the horrific battles and suffering here, is a deeply moving experience. The sight of so many graves brings a realisation of what the First World War meant, and the scale it was fought on.

Tyne Cot  in the 1930s
Tyne Cot in the 1930s. A crane can be seen working on the construction, top left. Photo: NELS

A new Visitors Centre and coach park to the rear of the cemetery has been open for some time, although the official opening was held on July the 12th 2007, when the Queen was present at Tyne Cot as part of the run-up to the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele. The Visitors Centre is a plain grey structure, with displays in an area to one side. There are also a number of contemporary photographs on display, one of which (see below) shows a blockhouse with the words 'Tyne Cott' on the side.

The new Tyne Cot Visitors CentreThe new Tyne Cot Visitors Centre
The new Tyne Cot Visitors Centre

Tyne Cott
Tyne Cott

The final picture (below) was taken as dawn broke on Sunday 13th of March 2005. It was bitter cold, and Tyne Cot was deserted except for those who lie in this silent city, and the names of those who fell across the salient and have no known grave.

Tyne Cot: Gravestones
Tyne Cot at dawn