Delville Wood Cemetery & The South African Memorial | Richard Cartwright

Rich In History

Longueval is a village 11 kilometres east of Albert.
Delville Wood was a tract of woodland, nearly 1 kilometre square, the western edge of which touched the village of Longueval in the Somme.

On 14 July 1916 the greater part of Longueval village was taken by the 9th (Scottish) Division and on the 15th, the South African Brigade of that Division captured most of Delville Wood.

The wood now formed a salient in the line, with Waterlot Farm and Mons Wood on the south flank still in German hands, and, owing to the height of the trees, no close artillery support was possible for defence.

The three South African battalions fought continuously for six days and suffered heavy casualties. On 18 July, they were forced back and on the evening of the 20th. the survivors, a mere handful of men, were relieved.

On 27 July, the 2nd Division retook the wood and held it until 4 August when the 17th Division took it over.

On 18 and 25 August it was finally cleared of all German resistance by the 14th (Light) Division. The wood was then held until the end of April 1918 when it was lost during the German advance, but was retaken by the 38th (Welsh) Division on the following 28 August.

Delville Wood Cemetery was made after the Armistice, when graves were brought in from a few small cemeteries and isolated sites, and from the battlefields.

Almost all of the burials date from July, August and September 1916.

Opposite the cemetery stands the South African National Memorial. This was originally intended as a memorial to the South African servicemen who served and died in all theatres during the First World War, but this was later extended to include the Second World War and the Korean War.

The cemetery was designed by  Sir Herbert Baker.

Casualty Details: UK 5242, Canada 29, Australia 81,
New Zealand 19, South Africa 152, Total Burials: 5523