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Photographer: Chris Knowles

Railway Dugouts Burial Ground

Gazetteer No. G0762


Address Zillebeke, West-Vlaanderen Belgium


The cemetery owes its names to the dugouts at the railway where Advance Dressing Stations were located, and to the farm that was also used as a first-aid station. This cemetery began as a battlefield cemetery and was further extended by means of these Advanced Dressing Stations. However, a number of graves were destroyed by bombing, just as was the case with several cemeteries in the vicinity, such as Maple Copse Cemetery on the far side of Zillebeke. The soldiers who were in these wrecked graves are commemorated in two circular special memorials at the entrance. Their form is derived from the crater shape, just as is the case with the nearby Hooge Crater Cemetery. Beside the special memorials there are still the remains of a crater in the form of a pond.

The cemetery has an irregular layout. The first plots that were established there by battle units are the most chaotic. In the middle there is a separation between the first and the second part by means of a central path that ends at the Cross of Sacrifice. On the east side, in line with Lutyens’ principles, the War Stone has been placed in the middle of the largest circular special memorial that lies on an elevation. The two axes of the War Stone form the double entrance to the cemetery, of which one continues onward to the Cross of Sacrifice. The use of wide circles recalls some of Lutyens’ gardens in which circles are also used to effect changes in direction. However, the reference to the craters is unique.

A low wall surrounds the cemetery, following the differences in elevation of the ground in brusque jumps. The wall ends on both sides of the pond. Birches surround the special memorial, and these are also present elsewhere in the cemetery. However, most trees are large chestnut trees, laid out in groups in the cemetery between the graves and in a row along the railway line. Willows border the pond. (Geurst, 2010, p.394)


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

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Imperial War Graves Commission