Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez Back to Search

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Cemetery Details

Location 5000F Rue Carnot, Souchez, Pas-de-Calais - Hauts-de-France, France
Co‑ordinates N50.38061, E2.7416

Location Information
Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery lies just south of the town of Souchez and 11.4 km. north of the centre of Arras. From the centre of Arras take rue Meaulens, D264 and Route de Bethune through Sainte Catherine. At the roundabout, take the third exit onto the D937 to Souchez. The cemetery is located 6.6 km. further on the left.

History Information
"Caberet Rouge" was a small, red-bricked, red-tiled café that stood close to this site in the early days of the First World War. The café was destroyed by shellfire in March 1915, but it gave its unusual name to this sector and to a communication trench that led troops up the front-line.

Commonwealth soldiers began burying their fallen comrades here in March 1916. The cemetery was used mostly by the 47th (London) Division and the Canadian Corps until August 1917 and by different fighting units until September 1918. It was greatly enlarged in the years after the war when as many as 7,000 graves were concentrated here from more than 100 other cemeteries in the area. For much of the twentieth century, Cabaret-Rouge British Cemtery served as one of a small number of ‘open cemeteries’ at which the remains of fallen servicemen newly discovered in the region were buried. Today the cemetery contains more than 7,650 burials of the First World War, over half of which remain unidentified.

The Canadian Connection
Many different Commonwealth units served in this sector during the war and the cemetery contains the graves of British, Irish, Australian, New Zealand, Indian and South African soldiers. It is also the final resting place of more than 70 officers of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force. Cabaret Rouge has a particularly close connection with the Canadian Infantry, however, as hundreds of Canadians who were killed at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 were ultimately laid to rest here.

In May 2000, the remains of an unknown Canadian soldier were taken from this cemetery and buried in a special tomb at the foot of the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada. A focal point for remembrance, he represents more than 71,000 Canadians who lost their lives during the First World War. A headstone in plot 8, Row E, Grave 7 marks his original grave.

The Importance of Vimy Ridge
German forces seized the village of Souchez and the surrounding countryside as they advanced through Northern France in 1914. German artillery units were able to control this sector of the front from two ridges which flanked the village – Vimy Ridge to the east, and Notre Dame de Lorette to the west. After 12 months of bitter fighting, the French forces captured the high ground at Lorette in the autumn of 1915. When the French handed this part of the line to the Commonwealth forces in March 1916, Vimy Ridge was still in German hands.

Vimy Ridge was the key to the German defensive system in this sector. It protected an area of occupied France in which coal mines and factories were in full production for the German war effort and the fortified vantage points on the ridge dominated the surrounding battlefields.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge formed part of the opening phase of the British-led Battle of Arras which began on 9 April 1917. The Canadian forces managed to capture most of the German positions on the ridge on the first day of the attack and by 12 April they had occupied the village of Thélus and pushed the Germans back to the Oppy-Méricourt line. By taking the ridge the Canadians achieved a major tactical success, but in just four days of fighting they suffered more than 10,000 casualties, 3,500 of whom were killed. The battle was the first action in which all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together and had a major impact on Canadian national identity

The cemetery and shelter buildings were designed by former Canadian Army officer Frank Higginson. Higginson worked as an architect for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the 1920s and later acted as Secretary to the Commission



Showing 8 people of interest from cemetery

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LEVETT, Albert Raymond

Service number 2195
48th Infantry Battalion
Born Feb 1895

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BEECKEN, Herman Ernest

Service number 6345
10th Infantry Battalion
Born 9 Apr 1884

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HALL, Harold Albert

Service number 2798
16th Infantry Battalion
Born 15 Nov 1896

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MARTIN, Alexander Vernon

Service number 85
5th Field Ambulance
Born 1891

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KLINTWORTH, William Melville

Service number 171
36th Heavy Artillery Group
Born 9 Oct 1880

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APPLEBY, Arthur Harold

12th Infantry Battalion
Born 13 Mar 1892

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Service number 4134
54th Infantry Battalion
Born Jul 1879

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DOBIE, Meldrum Boyd

Service number 392
Second Lieutenant
1st Pioneer Battalion
Born 1885

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