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Wancourt British Cemetery

Gazetteer No. G0786


Address Wancourt, Pas de Calais France


The cemetery lies on a slope southeast of the village and is clearly visible from a distance due to the tall Lombardy poplars that mark the field. You first go past the cemetery before entering on the high side. The cemetery has two entrances, which are situated symmetrically in the two corners. At the main entrance, there is a gateway building behind the two pillars that mark the entrance. From this entrance there is a vista through the gateway to the War Stone, which stands on a plateau on the slope. The Cross of Sacrifice is situated opposite the War Stone on the other side, at the heart of the second entrance.

The gateway building is soberly implemented in brick and has a flat roof. The lower part has three bays, two of which on the entrance side are closed while the one on the other side has a door and two openings. The storage space is situated on one side of the entrance, and a shelter occupies the other side, although it is not linked to the gateway. The upper part consists of a cordon that continues round the arch above the gateway. A cornice completes the roof edge. The gateway has barrel vaulting with stucco work. However, a photo from 1929 does not yet show the building.

The cemetery lies on a slope that descends from the entrance. A beech hedge surrounds the cemetery, with the exception of the entrance area. The entrance lies two steps higher than the cemetery. The entrance is preceded by two natural stone pillars that recur at various cemeteries by Lutyens and Goldsmith, such as the cemetery at the nearby Monchy-le-Preux. At the main entrance, the pillars are followed by a frontal area with low walls and shrubs and a side path with two posts, just as at the main entrance. The visitor then reaches the cemetery via the gateway building. A striking feature is that the poplars partly impede the view of the War Stone from the entrance. An old photo shows that a lane of trees originally stood there. They vanished with the advent of the gateway building.

The graves that were laid out during the war lie in irregular rows at the front and are oriented away from the valley toward the southeast. The new graves follow this orientation in regular rows with a central path. The cemetery has no clear main axis but two lateral axes from the two entrances. These are connected by the lateral axis between the Cross of Sacrifice and the War Stone. The War Stone has been placed on a horizontal terrace and is accessible on the low side via six steps.

The field of graves is bordered on two sides by irregular rows of poplars. Other examples of cemeteries surrounded by poplars are H.A.C. Cemetery in nearby Écoust-Saint- Mein and Favreuil British Cemetery north of Bapaume. (Geurst, 2010, p.434)


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

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Imperial War Graves Commission