Sunday, 20 March 2022

WWI Belgians on CWGC Cemeteries!

 for most of the people it's unknown that Belgians are buried on CWGC Cemeteries. Usually British soldiers and soldiers from the Commonwealth Countries are buried on this cemeteries. Sometimes there are also German burials. Sometimes it's logic, wounded Germans who are as prisoner of war captured by the British eventually died from their wounds and they have been buried in the CWGC cemeteries. Also Belgians have been brought to Casualty Clearing Station and Hospitals as wounded or ill and sometimes they died too.

This will not given all the answers on the 360 Belgians that are buried on CWGC cemeteries, but looking at the statistics in this article, you will find some answers, that's for sure.

also 3 members of the Merchant Navy, strictly they are civilians, are listed apart in the CWGC database.


Of course, most of the fatalities in African countries are Belgians who have been in our colony at the time, but also some of the Indigenous people who have been served in the Belgian Army


the countries where they are buried

Here you can see on what cemeteries they are buried, this is also a special information. May I suggest, when you visit one of those places, that you pay your respect at the gravestone? I have seen some on places where I have already been without knowing they are buried there, it's a pity I didn't know, because I would surely be gone to visit them.

The Belgians sorted by rank

this is an extra table with all the names/age/date of death and unit/regiment of the Belgians who are on a CWGC cemetery

Monday, 14 March 2022

The WW1 Death in Numbers for the ANZAC's

 Part 1 New Zealand

this tables give the number of New Zealand soldiers death or missing per country (where they are buried and/or commemorated) and per regiment, other tables are following in this blog. These are people serving for New Zealand in WWI. There have been New Zealanders serving for other countries e.g. Australia, but they are NOT in these tables they will be counted in the Australian tables in Part 2. Some extended research on those tables will give you another view of what happens, when during the war and where the remains are. 

As far as I know this calculations based on the real numbers from the data available in the CWGC database have never been done before, also - I suppose - because it gives us another view on what many people thought. A couple of examples will help to understand; you will see that the losses are extremely high in the infantry battalions, nevertheless there was a significant loss in other regiments as well, but never so high. that's the reason why, when people make a book or article about a battle, it is almost always seen in the perspective of the infantry while other groups of soldiers (here marked as regiments - as it is in the CWGC database) are almost never mentioned (pioneers, artillery, etc... have been part of the divisions and they had losses too). One life lost is one too many!

Another example are the losses per day/month/year. Here you can clearly see what the loss was when the soldiers where in Gallipoli (1915), the Somme France (1916), Belgium (1917), and the Last 100 Days in France(1918). I know, some will say that people died in hospitals behind the front line (on the same day of a battle in another place) because they have been wounded earlier on days of a significant battle. That is correct, but it is very easy to see where they died (and are buried) and if you know the distance of the burial place to the place of the battle (see google maps) you can see very easy and clear if it was possible that this victim was buried as a victim of this battle or not. Some victims died days/months and even years after the battle they have wounded. I don't say that the numbers of people that died on a specific day were killed in action (KIA) in a specific battle but it's sure that the total numbers and distribution of the numbers per day as they are recorded show the significance of that day and that battle.

The next question is if these numbers are correct. These numbers are the outcome of an analysis of the records in the CWGC database and if there are mistakes in the database there will be also mistakes in these numbers. However, I'm quite sure that these mistakes are not high and very acceptable. I think it's the only available reliable database because it has been checked during more than 100 years by family, researchers, employees and members of the different Commonwealth Countries.

this tables have been calculated from an extract of the CWGC database on 08/02/2022. 

thanks to the amazing work of the CWGC and giving us, researchers, on line access for free it is possible to do some extended research that never has been done before. 

the same remarks I was given for the New Zealanders are valuable for the Australians in Part 2 of this article.

Don't forget, it is not because they are buried in France or the UK that they did not died from wounds received in another country like Belgium. Therefore we are sure that there are more victims in Belgium than it's stated in the official statistics. some wounded have been transported to casualty clearing stations just over the border in France where they died or they have been transported to Hospitals in France or the UK where they died some days, weeks, months or even years after they received their wounds in Belgium. Anyway we should not forget the sacrifice they did 105 years ago. On the other hand I know that people who have been wounded in Northern France have been buried in Comines-Warneton AKA Plugstreet/Ploegsteert (Belgium) but these are exceptional.

click on the table(s) to see more details and discover how many in what country are buried or commemorated.

Scroll down to see more statistics.

The two following tables are given the numbers per regiment and the numbers per country while the table above this is given more detail, the numbers per regiment in a certain country.
the names of the regiments are coming from the CWGC database and sometimes you can ask questions about the names, but it is what it is; e.g. the Maori Reinforcements is stated as a regiment, there are only two victims. They are buried in Devonport (NZ) where the Maori reinforcements were trained. I suppose it was not sure yet to what regiment they would belong after departure abroad and that's why they are considered as belonging to the Maori Reinforcements as a regiment.

The numbers per country in the following table shows very well the sacrifice at the Western Front. More than 2/3 of the victims are in France and Belgium! It's difficult to say how many have been wounded in one country and died in another at the Western Front because casualty clearing stations have been used in France and Belgium. Hospitals have been used in France and the UK. 

Death and missing per year, you will see that the CWGC database has numbers until the end of August 1921. Even after this date people died of wounds received during the war. I don't know why they choose this date as end date but I'm confident they have thought about this more than I ever can do.

death and missing per year, per month and per day, so for every day from the start of the war till end of August 1921, you can see exactly how many died or are missing on a particular day during the war

 this table shows you per country how many are buried/missing per year. If you know where the soldiers have been during a certain year you can easily compare the losses per battle. As an example you can compare 1916-1918 (Western Front) with 1915 (Gallipoli).

The following table shows the number of victims per age; 5,837 have no age in the CWGC database, but I'm sure there is a possibility to find some of them in the personal military files.

the following table gives the numbers per rank. Sometimes you see serjeant and sometimes sergeant, I suppose this rank is equal, same for ser(j)((g)eant major, but I decided to take the same name as used in the CWGC database; Showing the numbers this way, as statistic information, is also a possibility to correct mistakes in the naming of certain data by those responsible for the correctness. they are sorted alphabetically per rank.

 the following tables are the numbers of fatalities per cemetery/memorial, highest numbers first. As can be seen most people are remembered on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial Memorial in France. The New Zealand fatalities are buried/remembered on 829 different places.

the following table gives the top  208 of victims per name. There are 6,549 different names in the CWGC database for soldiers serving with New Zealand. 4,056 names have only one single victim. Smith is the most used name with 192 death or missing soldiers.
number of death/missing per day above 19/day, highest first. 12/10/1917 is the Blackest Day in the history of New Zealand, date known as the 1st Battle of Passchendaele.

Order of Battle New Zealand Division
only the Infantry Battalions

Part 2 Australia

knowing that Australia came with 5 divisions to WWI and New Zealand with 1 division, there are almost 3.5 times as much death/missing
( 62,329 versus 18,070 ).

when you click on the table you'll see a bigger picture of the table details

fatalities per country, about 75% of the victims are buried/remembered at the Western Front!
buried/remembered per regiment


number of death/missing per age, for 24,080 people their age is not known in the CWGC database.The youngest was 14, the oldest 64.
number of death/missing per rank, they are sorted alphabetically per rank.

the following tables are the numbers remembered or buried per cemetery/memorial, highest numbers first. As can be seen there are most people remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial. they are buried/remembered on 1,560 places.


 this is the resume of the tables following, the numbers are given per month/per year

the following tables give the number per day, per month per year. so you can see for a particular day during WWI ending 31/08/1921 how many are missing/death in the CWGC database.

very interesting table showing the fatalities per country and per year

number of death/remembered per name, highest first, top 206. there are 15,006 unique names (way too much to publish here).

number of death/missing per day above 99/day highest number first. 04/10/1917 was the Blackest Day for Australia during WWI, the Battle of Broodseinde with 1,282 death or missing.

Order of Battle Australian Divisions
only the Infantry Battalions


If you want to use this tables or part of it, please mention the copyright information:
source: CWGC database on 08/02/2022 (c) Freddy Declerck
some people are still not convinced about the slaughter of Passchendaele (1917) compared with the Somme (1916), the 100 Last Days (1918) and even Gallipoli (1915) .If you only compare the Blackest Day (most losses that day), numbers are not lying, October 1917 have been for both countries the highest sacrifice. Their time in Belgium shows the highest losses.That's why the Belgians will never forget and we should spread the history as it is to everyone, everywhere because we should be grateful for their sacrifice. 
Lest we forget.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

A Belgian in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade during WWI


Headstone of Theophile Collard

While doing research I found a New Zealand soldier who died from disease and was born in Belgium. This is probably the only Belgian born New Zealand soldier during WWI who is recognised as a victim of WWI. His name is Collard Theophile.

Theophile was a Belgian born New Zealander who was living in Auckland during the 1st World War. He was born on 05/04/1875 in Liege (Belgium) and his first forename was Gilles (Gilles Joseph Theophile Collard). He was the son of Gilles Joseph Collard and Marie Catherine Julienne Gustin. So he was a French speaking Belgium from the eastern part of Belgium.

He married Anne Flavie Marguerite Keyseler (daughter of Henri Keyseler and Marie Joseph Jamotton) on 14 April 1896 at Li├Ęge, Belgium. Anne died on 13-04-1939. I didn’t found any proof of divorce nor did I found that she was remarried, so I think he simply left Belgium.

He married, secondly, Phoebe Elizabeth Newdik in 1911 in New Zealand.
They settled in Palmerston North. They had at least one son; Theophilus Collard (1912-1979).
He and Phoebe probably separated soon after their son's birth. She passed away in 1939 at the age of 54 in Auckland, New Zealand.

In his military record it is stated that she was insane and his next of kin was recorded as Mrs A.K. Goodson (friend) from Whakarewarewa, Rotorua, New Zealand. This friend was also the liaison between him and his son who was only 4 years and 2 months old when he enlisted.

When WW1 broke out Theophile was working as a chef (cook) in Auckland Grand Hotel.
He enlisted 25/09/1916 but declared he was born in 1877 ( he was 39 for the NZ Army, in fact he was already 41) and he served as a Rifleman with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. He embarked for Plymouth, Devon on 19 Jan 1917 and arrived 27 March 1917. The vessel was Waitemata. His service number was 36950.

Belgium Marriage Certificate

Belgium Birth Certificate
He served on the Western Front during about 4 months (1917-18). Most probably he served in Belgium during the winter of 1917 from November 1917 till early 1918 and not in France as said in his military file. He was in the 1st Battalion and this battalion was deployed around Polygon Wood and Reutel at the frontline during that time.
He became serious ill end of December 1917 and on 25 January 1918 he was treated in No. 1 New Zealand General Hospital (1NZGH) at Brockenhurst, UK.
He returned to New Zealand in May 1918 with the vessel Marama because he was unfit for active service due to his illness.
He passed away on 17 May 1919 in Auckland Hospital at the age of 44. Cause of death: Bright's Disease. He is buried at Auckland Waikumete Cemetery. His son, who died in 1979 was cremated and is also resting on the same cemetery.

We will remember him 

Saturday, 5 February 2022

Waitangi Day 1918 in Belgium

An Auckland officer placing a wreath, purchased by his company, on the grave of Lieutenant W P Richards. Taken on Nine Elms Cemetery near Poperinge, Belgium, 6 February 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders.What a nice gesture to visit the grave with a wreath on Waitangi Day 1918 by this officer representing the company who was still in combat.

Credit: An Auckland officer placing a wreath on the grave of Lieutenant W P Richards, near Abeele, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013744-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22673914

credit: Auckland War Memorial

William Paul Richards enlisted on 01/05/1915 in the 2nd Bn Auckland Regiment. On 11/10/1916 he embarked for the UK in Wellington. He was wounded on 4 October 1917 during the attack on Passchendaele at ‘s Graventafel (AKA Battle of Broodseinde).
He had a gunshot wound in the abdomen. He was brought over to 44 Casualty Clearing Station at Nine Elms ( Poperinge) the same day. Unfortunately he died on the 7th October 1917. William was a cabinet maker. He served as a territorial before enlisting and he was 21 years young when he died.

William was from Ponsonby Auckland as Dave Gallaher was (the former Original 1905 All Black Captain) who was wounded and died on the 4th October and they were also serving in the same Battalion. On the cemetery plan you can see that their graves are in the same plot but a different row and number on Nine Elms Cemetery.

We will remember them - Ka maumahara tonu tatou ki a ratou


credit: CWGC website