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Birr Cross Roads Cemetery

Gazetteer No. G0670


Address Zillebeke, West-Vlaanderen Belgium


The name Birr Cross Roads was given to the cemetery by the 1st Leinsters whose regimental depot at home in Ireland was located at Birr Cross Roads. The cemetery lies along the road from Ypres to Menen and is not far from Hooge Crater Cemetery. The cemetery was used by Casualty Clearing Stations, with the construction beginning in August 1917. At the end of the war, there were nine irregular rows of graves that now lie in plot i on the left-hand side of the current cemetery. After the war, the cemetery was substantially extended with the other graves. The original field was expanded westward. A path was laid between the old and the new part as a new central axis, with the entrance and the Cross of Sacrifice at either end. To the left of the entrance, the War Stone was placed on the east side. The old and the new graves are oriented to the central axis, in mirror formation.

The cemetery is surrounded by a wall that is lower on the roadside. According to the drawings, a high hedge must have stood on the inside of the wall originally. Trained lime trees have been planted on three sides around the cemetery in order to impede the view of the adjoining buildings. A modest gardener’s storage facility is situated in the south- east corner.[92]

The entrance consists of a forecourt with walls in the form of two quarter circles. On the left-hand side it is clearly visible that an extra section of wall has been applied in order to accommodate the sloping lie of the road, similar to the situation at Brown’s Copse Cemetery. The forecourt contains a natural stone plateau that is continued in a semi- circular form one step higher in the cemetery. The entrance consists of gate pillars that were often applied by assistant architect Goldsmith, the best example of which is at Monchy British Cemetery. On this occasion, the assistant architect was Rew, as was also the case with the three Lutyens’ cemeteries nearby: Hooge Crater Cemetery, Sanctuary Wood Cemetery and Maple Copse Cemetery. However, in this cemetery the gate pillars have been elongated depth wise in order to create space for the land tablets on the sides. (Geurst, 2010, p.220)


Geurst, J. (2010) Cemeteries of the Great War by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.

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Imperial War Graves Commission