The cemetery is located in the vicinity of Haisnes, which lies between the towns of Lens and La Bassée in the Pas-de-Calais. Although the Cemetery lies in open farmland, there are neighbouring towns of Vermelles, Loos-en-Gohelle and Hulluch.
The Cemetery can be reached from the D947, Lens to La Bassée road, and a CWGC signpost is visible on this road. The Cemetery is on the D39, Hulluch to Vermelles road.
In general the French do not aspirate the ‘H’ beginning a word. Nor do they pronounce a final -CH. This results in Hull-uck ! Being pronounced closer to Oo-loo. By the same token Loos is pronounced : Loss.
This can be a busy and very fast country road. Trying to turn around at the cemetery can be difficult and dangerous. It is often more prudent to continue towards Vermelles and use one of the side roads to accomplish the manoeuvre – though you may want to visit Le Rutoir Farm and the 46th Division’s monument before doing so.
The village was reached, or nearly reached, by the 9th (Scottish) and 7th Divisions on the 25th September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos; and parts of the commune were the scene of desperate fighting in the Actions of the Hohenzollern Redoubt (13th-15th October 1915). No further advance was made in this sector until October 1918, when the enemy withdrew his line.
St. Mary’s Advanced Dressing Station was established, during the Battle of Loos, and the cemetery named from it is at the same place. The cemetery was made after the Armistice, by the concentration of graves from the battlefield of Loos; the great majority of the graves are those of men who fell in September and October 1915.
The only defined burial ground from which graves were brought to this cemetery was:-
There are now nearly 2,000, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this cemetery. Of these, over two-thirds are unidentified and Special Memorials are erected to 23 soldiers from the United Kingdom, known or believed to be buried among them. Six other special memorials record the names of soldiers from the United Kingdom, buried in Loos Communal Cemetery, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire.
The cemetery covers an area of 6,097 square metres and is enclosed by a low rubble wall.
There was at one time a French cemetery of 800 graves on the opposite side of the road; but in 1922 these graves were removed to Notre Dame de Lorette French National Cemetery near Souchez.
Access to the Lone Tree can be gained by continuing along the road towards Vermelles. Turn left into the driveway of Rutoir Farm and then take the track out towards the tree. You may want to leave your vehicle along the track and walk it. If it is the hunting season wear something bright !
Private Henry Harrison 18190
1st Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Died on 25th September 1915 aged 33
Grave: V F 10
Henry enlisted with the regiment in November 1914 leaving behind his wife Jane and seven children. Killed on the first day of the Battle of Loos his widow would only receive official notification of his death in November.
French researchers looking into the story of the Beatles made the connection that Henry was the grandfather of George Harrison. Having reviewed the proffered documentation the CWGC stated in September 2015 that there is “compelling evidence” that Henry is indeed George’s grandfather. Just in time for the hundredth anniversary of his death along with over 8,000 British troops that day.
Private Charles Brant 204555
15th Bn Canadian Infantry
48th Highlanders of Canada
Died on 15th August 1917 aged 39
Son of Joseph Brant
Grave: XIV C 16
A soldier of the Great War
7th Bn London Regiment
Died on 16th October 1918
Guardsman W Shipp 10950
2nd Bn Grenadier Guards
Died on 11th October 1915
Grave: IX D 10
An Officer of the Great War
15th Bn Canadian Infantry
48th Highlanders of Canada
An interesting thought posed by the 15th Battalion’s Memorial Project Team.
There are only two identified members of the 15th Battalion buried in the cemetery; one of them being Charles Brant — above. The battalion’s only casualties in this area came from the Battle of Hill 70 on the 15th August 1917. This headstone (in theory) must therefore be either Lt Donald McDonald or Lt James Wylie as they are the only officers killed during this time period who have no known grave.
Lieutenant John Kipling
2nd Bn Irish Guards
Died on 27th September 1915 aged 18
Only son of Rudyard and Carrie Kipling
of Batemans, Burwash, Sussex
Grave: VII D 2
There has been a lot of discussion as to whether or not this grave is indeed Jack Kipling.
Rudyard Kipling, England’s great writer, pulled numerous strings to get his then seventeen year old son into the Irish Guards after he had (repeatedly) failed his medical for poor eyesight. He signed the necessary documents to allow his son to part for France as soon as he was eighteen — 17th August 1915.
Within weeks Jack Kipling was dead and Kipling and his American wife were distraught with grief (and possibly in his case a touch of guilt). Despite years of research and great effort their efforts to trace his body’s whereabouts came to nothing. He remained one of the Missing.
Then in June 1992 the Canadian researcher Norm Christie was working at the CWGC in France. He concluded that the unknown Irish Guard’s Lieutenant buried had to be Kipling, because he could account for all the others who had fallen during the battle. Thus the gravestone in his name.
The argument against this, is that Kipling had not been officially Gazetted as a full Lieutenant despite having been promoted. In theory then he would have only been wearing a Second Lieutenant’s rank. My own thoughts would be that if it was known that he had been made up, the other officers would have kitted him out with the necessary for the battle — rightly or wrongly he would have gone into battle as a full Lieutenant.
There has also been controversy over the exact location that the burial party found the body. Work by Canadian historians researching Canadian soldiers brought up inconsistencies in the map references by the exhumation teams working in the area. In some cases references were clearly wrong when compared with known and recorded burial locations. When corrected they bring Kipling back to the area where he fell (Near Puits 14bis).
The controversy does not end there though. The corrected grid references only help suggest that it could be him, they don’t actually confirm it. There is another candidate and indeed another possible grave for Kipling in Loos British Cemetery. If you visit the Loos Memorial you will still see Jack’s name inscribed there. The story continues and like Rudyard we may never know for certain.