Tyne Cot cemetery first came into being in October when the ridge where the cemetery is now located was captured by the British Army.
One of several German blockhouses was large enough to be used as an Advanced Dressing Station. As a result of casualties not surviving their wounds in this medical Dressing Station there were burials near the Dressing Station.
Most of the graves in the vicinity of the Cross of Sacrifice will, therefore, be identified as they died of wounds in this place and were subsequently buried here. The graves of these burials are for soldiers, including some Germans, who died between 6th October and the end of March when the German Army attacked and retook this ridge of high ground south of Passchendaele village.
The cemetery was then again in German occupied ground from 13th April until 28th September , when the Belgian Army captured the ridge in the final push during the last weeks of the war. The German cemetery no longer exists as the graves were removed after the First World War and re-interred in formal German military cemeteries.
The graves would have likely been moved to Langemarck German Military Cemetery, which is a only few miles away. There is a suggestion that the name of Tyne Cott or Tyne Cot as it is sometimes printed on trench maps was given to a small farm building near the level crossing of the Passchendaele-Broodseinde road by the Northumberland Fusiliers.
It is said that because the assorted buildings and German bunkers on the horizon gave an appearance of Tyneside cottages from the British position in the valley, this is why they named the building Tyne Cott.
This, however, is a doubtful explanation because the Northumberland Fusiliers were not in this area until the latter part of the Battle of Passchendaele in late , some time after the building was named on the maps. Tyne Cott or Cot was already marked on British Army trench maps before the Northumberland Fusiliers arrived in the battle area.
One of the numerous huge concrete German bunkers forming their strong line of defence on this ridge, left in the cemetery when it was enlarged after the war. It is more likely that the name was given to the farm building by the British Army map makers as one of a series of buildings named after several large European rivers.
Tyne would, therefore, more likely have been another large river in this sequence of river names. One of the two German blockhouses to the right and left of the cemetery entrance at Tyne Cot cemetery.
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When the British and Commonwealth military cemetery was formally established after the war, the closest British-named building to the cemetery was the farm building called Tyne Cott or Tyne Cot on the maps. And so it was named Tyne Cot Cemetery. Ypres Ieper is in the far distance, with the Kemmelberg beyond it on the horizon in the southernmost part of the Ypres Salient.
By late September of , the Battle of Passchendaele had been in progress for eight weeks. The lower ground lying south-west of the ridge was the river valley of the Hanebeek stream. At this time the British and German Front Lines were located either side of the stream. Owing to the smashed up state of the ground in this valley the Front Lines, however, were no longer formal lines of trenches.
As a result of heavy rain during August and September , in conjunction with the high water table of the area and the fact that this was a river valley, the ground here was a morass of thick, slimy mud. Shell holes from artillery fire were filled with water. The German Front Line position was, therefore, heavily defended by a second position sitting on higher ground to the north-east of it.
German trenches and concrete emplacements were built on the forward slope of the ridge.
From its position on higher ground the German Army had a magnificent view towards Ypres and across the British positions in the lower ground of the Ypres Salient. This ridge of high ground was extremely important for the German Army to hold on to because it also afforded excellent views to the north and and north east right across their own German rear areas.
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This map was used by commanders of the New Zealand Division during the October battles. The highlighted square area is the location of Tyne Cot cemetery as it is now. Two of the other buildings named after rivers can be seen on this map, namely Seine bottom left and Marne bottom right. Over 11, graves of British soldiers from the nearby battlefields of Passchendaele and Langemarck were located and brought into this cemetery. The graves from nine small burial grounds in the area were also brought to this site.
The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker. The sculpture was by sculpture by F V Blundstone. Entrance to the Cemetery One of the low stone pillars topped by a sculpted British steel helmet outside the entrance to the cemetery. Inside the entrance gateway visitors will find the brass box inset into the wall containing the Cemetery Register and the Visitors' Book. The Cross of Sacrifice can be seen through the entrance to the cemetery.
Outside the entrance visitors will notice a number of low Portland stone pillars topped with a sculpted British Army steel helmet. King George V visited Tyne Cot cemetery in At his suggestion the Cross of Sacrifice, also called the Great Cross, was built on the position of one of the concrete German blockhouses which had dominated the ridge.
It was on 4th October when the 3rd Australian Division captured the ground on which the Tyne Cot cemetery is now located. Until the mid s the capture of the blockhouse under which the Cross of Sacrifice is positioned was mistakenly attributed to the 2nd Australian Division on the inscription carved on the base of the cross. In preparation for guiding a battlefield tour to explain the battle and the capture of the Broodseinde Ridge the late Major Bertie Whitmore, MBE, discovered the error on the inscription.
His correspondence with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission resulted in an amendment being made in and the engraved Portland stone tablet was reworked. The amended inscription now reads 3rd Australian Division.
The text inscribed on the front of the Cross of Sacrifice now reads:
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