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Photographer: Chris Knowles

Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery

Gazetteer No. G0736


Address Zillebeke, West-Vlaanderen Belgium


The construction of the cemetery began in April 1915 and the Allied troops kept this part occupied until April 1918. After the Armistice the cemetery was extended with graves from the battlefield and from German cemeteries in Belgium. It lies along the railway Ypres-Menen. There was an afforested wood between Verbrandemolen and Zwarte- Leen, and the cemetery was constructed north of this. The entrance lies next to a railway crossing.

The elongated cemetery consists of four parts, which are in line and take the visitor on a ‘scenic walk’ to the part with the graves, coming to an end at the high platform with the War Stone. The entrance is of an unusual design, with two long plant beds with a stairway in between, and has been raised in red brick and white stone. This is followed by a ‘borderwalk’ between plant beds as far as the cemetery proper, which broadens out after a while. The two shelters with alcoves have been placed on a platform of white natural stone with the War Stone. The size of the shelters has been halved in relation to the usual square size. The buildings have an alcove with a semicircular end on the platform side. They have been raised in red brick with a moulding, plinth and roof of white natural stone. They are similar to the shelter in the nearby Perth Cemetery.

The cemetery lies eight steps lower than the main entrance and at the cemetery proper there is a difference in height of three upward steps. The platform, in turn, lies five steps higher than the cemetery, so that the War Stone is level with the entrance, if the gentle slope is ignored. The cemetery is bordered by a low wall of red brick with a thin top covering layer of stone.

The irregular layout of the cemetery shows that an entrance construction with a borderwalk, along with a platform with the War Stone, has been added to the original field with graves. The Cross of Sacrifice, which has been placed at the intersection of two axes, connects the two additions. The central axis is at right angles to the railway and connects the War Stone and the Cross of Sacrifice. The lateral axis lies parallel to the railway and connects the entrance with the Cross of Sacrifice. The entrance with the borderwalk is slightly rotated in relation to this lateral axis. The majority of the somewhat irregular rows of graves are turned away from the railway and face the War Stone, which has been placed on the (north)east side, in line with Lutyens’ instructions.

The greenery consists of two old field maples. There are also half a dozen newly planted larches in various places in the field, as a reference to the original wood and the name of the cemetery. The profusion of plants is unusual with several species of shrubs in the entrance area and the ‘borderwalk’. Borderwalks were a recurring theme in the gardens that Lutyens had designed in conjunction with Gertrude Jekyll, before he was commissioned to design the war cemeteries. (Geurst, 2010, p.351-2)


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

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Imperial War Graves Commission