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Photographer: Tim Skelton

Dive Copse British Cemetery

Gazetteer No. G0698


Address Sailly-le-Sec, Somme France


In June 1916, before the Somme offensive, the ground north of the cemetery was selected for a concentration of field ambulances; later this was to become a principal Casualty Clearing Station. Dive Copse was a small grove in the vicinity, south of the road from Bray to Corbie, and was named after the officer in command of the Clearing Station. Between July and September 1916, plots i and ii were filled with casualties from these medical units. The cemetery fell into disuse in the spring of 1918 due to the German offensive. Plot iii contains the graves of 77 soldiers who were killed in August 1918, when the cemetery was recaptured. This plot also contains graves that were transferred here from the battlefield and from various cemeteries in the vicinity.

The cemetery lies along a country road and has an unusual layout. The main form is irregular and the ground is divided into three parts, corresponding with the history of the development of the cemetery. Between the plots, two identical entrances have been constructed with paths between the plots. The War Stone is opposite plot ii, on the east side. The Cross of Sacrifice is in the middle of plot iii.

There are no buildings of special significance in the cemetery, apart from a shelter that is not on the drawing and is probably a later addition. It is a standard-type building as found in several cemeteries by Lutyens, such as Monchy British Cemetery, La Laiterie Military Cemetery and The Huts Cemetery. The small building that is a blend of temple motifs with a triumphal arch is also found in cemeteries by other architects, such as Cambrin Church- yard Extension by the architects Holden and Von Berg.

The ground falls away to one side. This shows from the height adjustments in the brick wall surrounding the cemetery covered with an upright course of brick.114 The plain entrances have a design of high walls of natural stone at right angles to the wall surrounding the ground.115 The walls are on a plateau of natural stone with a semicircular shape at the inside end. The graves face east, in the direction of the Stone. The diagonal position of the graves in plots i and ii is emphasized by the location of the pillar-shaped trees, two of which flank the War Stone, while another three are in a diagonal line parallel to the oblique part at the back. The other greenery is simple. There are backborders between the graves and the wall beside the entrance. (Geurst, 2010, p.274)


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

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Imperial War Graves Commission