Longueval is a village approximately 13 kilometres east of Albert and 10 kilometres south of Bapaume. Caterpillar Valley Cemetery lies a short distance west of Longueval on the south side of the road to Contalmaison.
There are several key assocations with this area. Nearby Delville Wood is the site of the South African Memorial, commemorating a defining battle which cost the South African Brigade dearly.
The other association is with New Zealand. On 6 November 2004, the remains of an unidentified New Zealand soldier were entrusted to New Zealand at a ceremony held at the Longueval Memorial, France. The remains were exhumed by staff of the CWGC from Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, France, Plot 14, Row A, Grave 27 and were later laid to rest within the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, at the National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand.
Caterpillar Valley was the name given to the long valley which rises eastwards, past Caterpillar Wood, to the high ground at Guillemont.
The cemetery now contains 5,569 Commonwealth burials; 3,796 of whom are unidentified. There are also special memorials to 32 casualties known to be buried among them.
From an Australian perspective this area is associated with fighting in late 1916, and the worst winter in living memoriy in what became "winter Quarters" for the AIF.
This excerpt from www.ww1westernfront.gov.au
The Australians fought at Flers and Gueudecourt in the dying days of the Battle of the Somme in November 1916. Basically, these last operations were conducted to try and push the British positions forward out of the low valley beyond Flers and up to the Bapaume ridge for the winter. From there the British could look over the German rear lines rather than the other way around. But the Flers fighting achieved little and it was conducted in the most appalling conditions. So bad was the going across the devastated landscape between Longueval and Flers that the first Australian units to make their way in late October 1916 up to the front from rear camps, a distance of about eight kilometres, took between 9 and 12 hours. The men, wrote Bean, ‘were worn out before they arrived’. Further torrential rain produced a situation where to get along with full equipment over a distance of just three kilometres could take up to six hours.In these circumstances attack after attack was simply postponed.
Steve Larkins RSLVWM June 2016