During the First World War, the town of Ypres (now Ieper) was practically destroyed by shelling. Near the location of the western gate into the old town, were located the prison, a reservoir and a water tower.
Three cemeteries were made near the old western gate: two between the prison and the reservoir, and one on the north side of the prison. During the First World War, the two cemeteries between the prison and reservoir were consolidated into the third cemetery. It is this expanded cemetery that is now call Ypres Reservoir Cemetery.
After the First World War had finished, Ypres Reservoir Cemetery was also expanded by the addition of graves from the battlefields of the Ypres Salient; several smaller cemeteries that could not be maintained.
Ypres Reservoir Cemetery now contains 2613 Commonwealth personnel, including special memorials to personnel known or believed to have been buried in the cemetery. 1034 graves contain the remains of unknown soldiers.
THE SIXTEEN MEN OF THE 6TH DCLI
In Plot V, Row AA are the graves of 16 men of the 6th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (DCLI). Whilst billeted in the vaults of St. Martin’s Cathedral, they were killed on 12 August 1915 by shelling from the German artillery firing from Houthulst Forest. These casualties were not recovered until after the end of the First World War.
HENRY BASIL and JAMES LEADBITTER KNOTT
Captain Henry Basil Knott, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers, died of wounds on 7 September 1915, and was buried in Plot V, Row B, Grave 15.
Major James Leadbitter Knott, 10th West Yorkshire Regiment, was aged 33 years’ old when he was killed on 1 July 1916; the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was moved from his original burial place, to rest next to his brother.
Both brothers had entered the France & Flanders area on 15 July 1915, as captains in the Northumberland Fusiliers. At some point, James Leadbitter Knott had transferred to the West Yorkshire Regiment. As a memorial to his two sons, their Father Sir James Knott paid for the tower in St. George’s Memorial Church in Ieper.
FRANCIS AYLMER MAXWELL
Plot I, Row A, Grave 37 contains the remains of Brigadier General Francis Alymer Maxwell. Maxwell was awarded his Victoria Cross for valour in the Boer War, when (together with other soldiers) he helped save the artillery guns at Korn Spruit on 31 March 1900.
At the time of his death on 27 September 1917, aged 46 years’ old, Brigadier General Maxwell was Commanding 27th Infantry Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division.
During the First World War, Maxwell was twice Mentioned-in-Despatches.
PRIVATES LAWRENCE, McCOLL and MOLES
Ypres Reservoir Cemetery contains the remains of three soldiers who were executed, on different occassions, at the nearby prison for desertion.
Private Thomas Lionel Moles, was originally from Somerset but emigrated to Canada where he enlisted in the Central Ontario Regiment, in August 1915. Some two years later Moles was found guilty of desertion and executed by firing squad on 22 October 1917.
His remains are located in Plot I, Row H, Grave 76.
Private Ernest Lawrence had gone absent on 5 May 1917 when he had been sent back from the support lines to fetch rations. Instead the soldier made his way to Rouen, where he reported himself. On 8 May 1917, Lawrence was detailed for the front line. However, he went absent and was arrested whilst trying to borrow money, using a false name, in Rouen. A short time later, Lawrence escaped from custody and entered the Royal Flying Corps repair shops in Rouen. This employment lasted until his arrest again on 9 August 1917. Lawrence was found guilty of desertion and executed by firing squad on 22 November 1917.
His remains are located in Plot I, Row I, Grave 145.
Private Charles McColl enlisted into the 11th East Yorkshires in 1914, before the battalion sailed for Egypt. A short time latter, the battalion was transferred to the France & Flanders theatre. In September 1916, McColl was injured by shell fire near Neuve Chappelle. After recovering from his injuries, McColl returned to France and joined the 4th East Yorks. On 28 October 1917, McColl went absent from his unit who were in the Houthulst Forest. Four days later, McColl was arrested in Calais. After a court martial, where he was undefended, McColl was sentenced to death. On 28 December 1917, Private McColl was executed by firing squad.
His remains are located in Plot IV, Row A, Grave 6.