Charmes / Essegney military cemetary


As far as I know this is the most Southerly CWG cemetery on the Western Front. It is particularly interesting due to the variety of nationalities buried there, all with CWG Portland stone headstones.
Not the easiest place to find, and certainly one that nobody finds by accident, if anyone is thinking of visiting, PM me for more specific info.

CWGC - Cemetery Details
Oh and your photo of Lewis Grayson's headstone is an interesting and rare item. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French. The IWM has some very interesting journals and diaries which give an idea of his contribution to the war effort.

Also possibly of interest - when you are a"buff" you forget what is and isn't of interest to normal people...

On 12th September, 1914 the first Red Cross ambulances, volunteers from the Royal Automobile Club, were sent to France. Considering at the start of the War, medical transport was all horse-drawn, they were an immediate success and resulted in the creation of the Motor Ambulance Department (MAD), later of the JWC. An appeal was launched on 2nd October, 1914, with the support of the Times, for funds to provide Motor Ambulances, with an estimate of £400 to purchase a chassis and fit the body, and £250 for six month’s upkeep. In three weeks, funds were raised for 512 ambulances.

Many organisations donated or lent vehicles. Each vehicle was examined for suitability and condition at the Royal Automobile Club garage. Owners were expected to make any necessary repairs and only those passed were accepted. For example, it was necessary for the vehicle to have a minimum wheel base of 10 foot 6 inches to support the body. All owners had to agree to accept loss of their vehicle or damage. In fact, many were wrecked or totally worn out during the War. Most donors actually agreed to their surviving vehicles to be sold to the Society’s benefit at the end of the War.

Drivers were voluntary or paid, with the same contracts (right) and underwent the same medical examination and driving test. Voluntary drivers supplied their own uniforms and were provided with superior billeting. All vehicles were dispatched from the JWC office at 83 Pall Mall, London, where the contents and equipment were checked by an official and responsibility transferred to the driver.

By 19th September, 1914, 9 cars had left for France, up to 25 the next week with increasing average weekly numbers to January 1915. By then, 466 4-stretcher and 178 2-stretcher motor ambulances out of a total of 830 vehicles had been dispatched via Folkestone or Southampton.

Early in the War, in one month, 89 different makes of vehicle were accepted which caused problems in maintaining spares. Gradually vehicles were standardised. This was particularly necessary for the Motor Ambulance Convoys made up of 15-20 ambulances and other vehicles. The types of vehicle were eventually reduced to 16 – Argyll, Belsize, Buick, Crossley, Daimler, Darracq, Dennis, Ford, G.M.C., Mors, Napier, Siddeley Deasy, Wolseley, Talbot, Vauxhall and Vulcan. Ten to fifteen tons of spares were dispatched weekly.

During the course of the War, the MAD dispatched 2,171 motor ambulances of 3,446 vehicles to various theatres of war, 1,484 to France. 983 vehicles were loaned, 520 gifts and 1,943 purchased. In France, 7,250,286 sick and wounded cases (ie the same man often several times) were carried by the MAD. Each ambulance carried an average of 3,939 cases and 2,500 drivers, male and female, served during the War.

The Motor Ambulance Department organised its Motor Ambulances into the Chain of Evacuation, liaising with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and the Army Services Corps (ASC). Near the front line, Regimental Aid Posts patched up the wounded and returned them to the line or sent them back, walking or carried by relays of RAMC stretcher-bearers, to Advance Dressing Stations (ADS), through miles of landscape impassable by horse or motor transport. From here, those who could not be returned to the line were transported to Main Dressing Stations (MDS) and then to Casualty Clearing Stations (CCS), usually 20km behind the front line. Transport between the ADS and the MDS and sometimes on to the CCS was provided by RAMC Field Ambulances, mobile organisations, part bearer, part hospital attached to the Medical Transport of a Division. ASC Motor Ambulance Convoys, manned by ASC drivers and RAMC attendants, under the orders of the Director of Medical Services of the Army, were attached to the CCSs and the main means of evacuation from the MDS. Casualties were then cleared by Field Ambulances or Hospital Trains to hospitals in the Base Areas such as Boulogne, Etaples, Paris, Rouen and Havre, and from there by Hospital Ship to England.

Initial military opposition on the basis of obstructing Lines of Communication was soon replaced by the necessity for quick movement of the sick and wounded and working arrangements with the Red Cross were formalised by the Army Medical Service on 18th October, 1914. At this point there were 120 Ambulances and a few other vehicles: 50 ambulances with supporting vehicles were operating as No.2 Motor Ambulance Convoy at the front; 25 ambulances were based in Boulogne for evacuation of the wounded arriving from the battlefields of Ypres; other units were operating elsewhere; and No.4 Motor Ambulance Convoy was forming at Boulogne, operational by the end of October and served the Ypres front from Bailleul.

The Motor Ambulance Convoys were commanded by RAMC officers, whilst running repairs, supplies, parts, petrol, billeting and rationing were the responsibility of the ASC; major repairs were to be conducted by the BRCS at Boulogne or other Base. By October 1915, the questions of leave, discipline and punishment relating to volunteers, led to all members of the two Convoys becoming enlisted men only, those refusing to do so being withdrawn. In the autumn of 1915, 2 further Convoys were provided and each car was labelled with the name of the organisation that had provided it – hence the labels on the Salvation Army Motor Ambulances seen later in this article. There were eventually 7 JWC Motor Ambulance Convoys – 2, 4, 6, 16, 24, 27 & 42 MAC with 350 ambulances at the Front. Although Red Cross personnel had been withdrawn and control was vested in the Military Authorities, the Officers maintained close relations with the Red Cross Headquarters in Boulogne, including providing returns of their operations.

On the Lines of Communication, Red Cross Motor Ambulances were operational from early October 1914 and remained in the control of the Red Cross. The Red Cross and then the JWC were given responsibility for all the ambulance work from Deauville in the west to Dunkirk in the east; and hospitals were hurriedly prepared around Boulogne and along the coast in preparation for the expected casualties from Ypres. Orders for ambulances were conveyed to the Red Cross by the Embarkation Medical Officer who reported to the Deputy Director of Medical Services who had responsibility for the medical arrangements at each Base. At Boulogne, the RAMC provided spare parts, tyres, petrol, rations, accommodation and a garage, whilst running repairs was the responsibility of the BRCS; at other Bases and the Front, the RAMC conducted repairs and did not provide garages.

On 15th October, 1914, 17 Ambulances with drivers had arrived in Boulogne from Folkestone and were not sent on to Paris or Abbeville as previously due to the expected flow of casualties from Ypres. Six days later, trains loaded with wounded were arriving at Boulogne’s Gare Maritime. Hotels were still being converted into hospitals in Boulogne and surrounding areas and drivers and bearers helped remove furniture to make room. In one day 3,687 wounded were moved with 25 ambulances. The Motor Ambulances were garaged in an old building in the middle of town and the drivers billeted in hotels. However, a new Garage was established on the Quay Gambetta with repair workshops and the personnel billeted in some temporary buildings erected on the Quay to house a Fishery Exhibition. The Boulogne Red Cross garage became the focus of transport organisation, receiving and dispatching all vehicles and spares. Boulogne was the busiest Base in France, carrying 1,823,458 cases during the War. The standardisation of vehicles during the War meant the concentration of diverse, returned vehicles in Boulogne.

The Boulogne Convoy maintained a strength of 120 ambulances with a night and day driver for each vehicle. It was divided into seven Sections. Each Section had a Section Leader, Sub-Section Leader and a Corporal, two of whom were on day-duty and one on night-duty. The day-duty men paraded at 7:30am, the night-duty men at 7pm, when they were inspected by the Officer Commanding or the Adjutant. The day-duty men then proceeded to service their vehicles. The Officer Commanding or Adjutant inspected the vehicles daily and an Officer inspected the cars minutely day by day.

Due to continual enemy aircraft bombing and the exposure of the Quay, a duplicate emergency Garage was established at Trouville. During 1917 and 1918 when air raids were almost nightly, the Convoys of Ambulances were separated for their own safety and to deal with casualties more expeditiously. They could respond with a few minutes notice “frequently whilst bombs were dropping and shrapnel falling.”

On 9th December, 1918 B Section of the Boulogne Convoys was taken over by V.A.D. women drivers so that the men could go to Brussels to assist in the movement of returning British prisoners. Women took over the remaining work of the Boulogne Convoy and it was finally dissolved on 30th April, 1919. Shipments of demobilised vehicles began in December 1918 and were complete by August 1919.


Well I think I am normal, and I found it interesting.... :)

I find myself looking into specific rather than general things - like the Rajputana Rifles and Hodsons Horse units of a couple of those chaps above had on their gravestones.

It is my personal interpretation of "they will not be forgotten".
Exactly how I feel...the personal or specific is often so much more interesting than the genral or the big picture...I remember visiting Dartmoor Cemtery on the Somme. In a row near the rear wall were the graves of a father and son, killed on the same day...and that of the oldest known (declared) casualty, a 68 year old Transport Officer with an MID - Henry Webber...

It's a particularly interesting cemetery that one - with a VC grave and a general officer...blimey I must be boring you. Thanks for the Charmes phots.
Some good photos reminds me of the CWGC cemetery in St Omer that is sadly overlooked by many...again it has many nationalities: Indians, Chinese labourers as well as British ansd Empire troops.

One that I found is in Dinant in Belgium. At the top of the fortress is a French war cemetery from the WW1. In the corner however, are two ww2 Bomber crews - Aussies IIRC. You get the feeling that they are not visited very often.
I am not sure whether Moussey is higher or lower lattitude than Charmes, Moussey Churchyard has the bodies of men killed on Operation Loyton.. These men - and the French people who protrected them are commeorated by a small shrubbery at the NMA.

CWGC - Cemetery Details
Love the stuff about the ambulances.

I'll have to find a publication specifically about the history of the military ambulance, unless someone can kindly give me directions.
"The Motor Ambulance Convoys were commanded by RAMC officers, whilst running repairs, supplies, parts, petrol, billeting and rationing were the responsibility of the ASC; major repairs were to be conducted by the BRCS at Boulogne or other Base."

On a slight tangent ,my Great-Grandfather who was 45 at the outbreak of war, got turned down when he volunteered for the infantry for being too old. As he was a motor engineer and he then asked about the ASC and was within 10 days of attestation in France. He ended up in a ASC Repair Depot - 21st MT Coy, GHQ ASC - in Paris repairing...Red Cross Ambulances.

The depot was in St Denis in the north of Paris and the Stade de France was built over it. Always makes me chuckle that the French are playing on a British Army base!

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