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Click to see full size Photo © John East
Tyne Cot Memorial Photo © John East
Tyne Cot Memorial, Photo © John East

War memorials

Belgium: Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial, Passchendaele

Architect: Sir Herbert Baker
Owners: Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Location: Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen

When it was first proposed that the Menin Gate should be a Memorial to the Missing, it was assumed that the hall would be sufficient to contain all the names but, as research and exhumations continued, it soon became clear that it was far from big enough. Another Memorial to the Missing was therefore proposed, to be built in an existing war cemetery near Passchendaele. This was Tyne Cot Cemetery, so called because it contained one of the many strong reinforced concrete blockhouses which Northumberland regiments had nicknamed ‘Tyne cottages’. The architect of both cemetery and memorial was Sir Herbert Baker, with John Reginald Truelove as Assistant Architect.

In his autobiography, Baker recorded:

“I was told that the King, when he was there [in 1922], said that this blockhouse should remain. He expressed a natural sentiment, but in order to avoid the repellent sight of a mass of concrete in the midst of hallowed peace, which we wished to emphasize, a pyramid of stepped stone was built above it, leaving a small square of the concrete exposed in the stonework; and on this we inscribed in large bronze letters these words, suggested by Kipling, ‘This was the Tynecot Blockhouse.’ On the pyramid we set up on high the War Cross; thus from the higher ground at the back of the cemetery the cross can be seen against the historic battle-fields of the Salient, Ypres, and far and wide beyond.”

The Memorial to the Missing is a long curving wall at the back of the cemetery, of flint and stone, terminated by domed and arched pavilions. It is as if even this endless wall turned out to be not long enough to bear all the names of the Missing, for “cloistered recesses” open off it, some behind colonnades, to contain more of the total of 34,888 names carved here.

Gavin Stamp

Commonwealth War Graves Commission 


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