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History of The Wyvern Cemetery at Brunssum (Brunssum War Cemetery).

Badge of the (Wyvern Division), 43rd Wessex Division, with a Golden Wyvern.

"Wyvern Cemetery".

Photo of The Wyvern Cemetery from 1945.

On the British field of honour are the graves of fallen soldiers of the commonwealth. There is a headstone of white nature stone placed at every grave. On the field of honour there is a "Cross of Sacrifice" made out of nature stone which was manufactured in Portland. A bronze sword is attached to the cross. The cross is about 4 meters high.

The British fields of honour all look the same in all 140 countries in which the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for the maintenance of the war graves. The maintenance of the headstones happens by the cwgc office in Beaurains in France. The cemetery is maintained during the season one time per week and outside the season one time in the 14 days.

The cross of sacrifice is a symbol for the British soldiers who were killed in action in the Netherlands during World War Two.
"The cemetery was laid out by the British Army and the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries between 1945 and 1947. The Commission began to arrange horticultural maintenance for the site from September 1946 and took over control of the cemetery from the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries in February 1947. The architecture of the cemetery was designed by the Commission's Architect Mr. Hepworth. Headstones and the Cross of Sacrifice were erected during the summer of 1950 and the walls and other architectural features were added during 1951-1952."

Brunssum is a town close to the German border, approximately 35 kilometres north east of Maastricht and 11 kilometres south east of Sittard in the southern most portion of the Netherlands. From Sittard visitors should follow signposts for Heerlen on the N276. The N276 passes through the village of Windraak. 6 kilometres after Windraak lies the left hand turning to Brunssum, and the village lies 3 kilometres after this left hand turning. The War Cemetery is located next to the General Cemetery in the Heufstraat near the junction with the Merkelbeekerstraat.

Brunssum was liberated in September 1944 by U.S. forces; they were shortly afterwards followed by the British 43rd (Wessex) Division, who made their headquarters in the town, and in turn were succeeded by the 52nd (Lowland) Division. The first burials in the cemetery were made by an Advanced Dressing Station and a Casualty Clearing Station which were situated at Merkelbeek in November 1944 when the 43rd Division were engaged in clearing a triangle between the Rivers Roer and Maas. Later, other casualties were all brought back and buried in the same place; they included fifty men who were killed while clearing mines on the German border at the beginning of January 1945. Operations in the Geilenkirchen sector accounted for a great part of the casualties buried here. There are over 300 1939-1945 burials in this cemetery, they are made up entirely of soldiers of the British Army, of whom 1 remains unidentified.
No. of Identified Casualties: 327

Wheelchair access to site possible, but may be by an alternative entrance.

"Schimmert plots"

“According to our records, 18 casualties recovered from Schimmert and reburied in Brunssum war Cemetery in July 1946. There were 2 plots at Schimmert. The first plot containing 12 casualties was located to the North-East of Schimmert, in the vicinity of the junction of Leeuwenkuilsweg and Mareweg. The other plot of 6 casualties was to the North-West along the Langstraat. We do not have photographs of either of these plots.

Click here for the Schimmert casualty list

Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Plot Schimmert Mareweg click here

Plot Schimmert Langstraat click here

 

 

For old photographs of the Cemetery click here

For old postcards of the Cemetery click here

 

An extract from “ Borderers in Battle” by Captain Hugh Gunning Printed 1948 page 162

On 7th January the 4th Battalion, at Tripsrath, suffered the loss of 17 Borderers who with 30 men of the Royal Engineers were killed when laying an anti-tank minefield. There were 2,400 anti-tank grenades and 2,350 of them blew up in two terrific explosions. The battalion commander, Lieut.-Colonel C. L. Melville, and the divisional commander of the Royal Engineers, who were watching the work, escaped unhurt. Four Borderers were killed in another accident of a similar nature on the same night, bringing the battalion death roll up to 21. The men were buried in the British cemetery at Brunssum.

The story of Peter Hendriks
He tells us how he experienced some funerals at the English Cemetery in Brunssum.

Brunssum, February 12th 2011

At our home in the Steenbergstraat 37 in Brunssum, 2 English soldiers were billeted. A vicar and his assistant (Jozef). They possessed a little lorry which was often used to drive to Geilenkirchen in Germany. At the beginning it was not clear what they were doing there. Later it became clear to me that they collected the bodies from the battlefields. One day Jozef offered me to come along which I did. Once arrived in Germany I saw the vicar administer the last sacraments and the extreme unction to the dead in zipped bags. Then these bodies were loaded onto the lorry and transported to the cemetery in Brunssum. The id plates were removed and the bodies were slowly lowered into the graves. After this, the vicar spoke a few words and the bodies were covered with soil.

Peter Hendriks

Letter from Mrs. Roos Winckens in which she tells how she remembers the first burial at the English Cemetery in Brunssum.

Brunssum, January 17th 2011

This year I will be 80 and as a child, I was always playing in the Rozengaard (a quarter in Brunssum) as I was born there. One day, whilst playing in the so called Rooie Zandweg, a military lorry stopped. Somebody, I presumed it was a soldier whose boots were sticking out and packed in a green blanket, was carried to a grave. I will always remember the soldier walking in front, wearing a kilt and playing his bagpipes. It impressed me a lot. That was the first victim.

It may not have been very much, but I thought that at least he was not buried in silence and somewhat with military honor.

It is strange, but I think this music is wonderful, it touches you.

Roos Winckens

Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie

 
 
 
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