St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery, Haisnes, France
There are over 1,800 burials from the First World War in St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery. Of these burials there are 218 identified casualties. Most of the burials are for casualties killed at the Battle of Loos (25th September - 13th October 1915).
Origin of St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery
In 1919 the Loos battlefield was cleared and burial parties removed the remains of many hundreds of British and Canadian soldiers from the battlefield area north of Loos village. This cemetery was created by the concentration of these graves into one site after the war. Almost 2,000 casualties were buried here from that time.
Most casualties were found in isolated graves or small burial plots on the battlefield. Nine soldiers were relocated from a burial site at the Loos Communal Cemetery, the original civilian cemetery for the village located in the south-west corner of Loos. They had originally been buried there in February 1916 but the cemetery was badly damaged by artillery shellfire by the end of the war and their graves were relocated.
To the left, right and rear of the War Stone at the southern end of the cemetery there are Special Memorials. Left and right of the War Stone the special memorials are to soldiers believed to be buried among the casualties brought into this cemetery.
To the rear of the War Stone five headstones and a Special Memorial stone commemorate five soldiers from the United Kingdom who were known to be buried in Loos Communal Cemetery during the war, but whose graves were destroyed by artillery shellfire before the Armistice in November 1918.
The majority of the burials in this cemetery were killed or died of wounds on the battlefield during the Battle of Loos (25th September - 13th October 1915). Some graves, known and unknown, are also for British and Canadian servicemen who died in the area after that time until the Armistice. The Allied and German Front Lines more or less stabilized here for the following three years after the Battle of Loos until the later months of 1918 when Allied offensives gradually pushed the Germans eastwards in the Allied Advance to Victory (8th August - 11th November 1918).
In mid 1917 the Canadian Corps mounted an offensive against the German line east of Loos in the Battle of Hill 70 (15th - 25th August 1917), with the objective to draw the Germans to this place at the start of the Allied offensive further north in the Ypres Salient. The Canadians suffered several thousand casualties of killed, wounded and captured in that battle action. Canadian servicemen Missing in Action from this battlefield are named on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial (see link below).
Both the Battle of Loos and the Battle of Hill 70 were battles where gas was used as a weapon of war. At the start of the Battle of Loos the British First Army released clouds of poisonous chlorine gas towards the German Front Line trenches. This was the first use of gas on the Western Front by the British Army. Its success was varied as a result of inconsistent wind and complications with the release of it on the day. In the Battle of Hill 70 the Canadians and the Germans used poisonous gases against one another.
Lieutenant John Kipling, Irish Guards
John Kipling, the only son of Carrie and Rudyard Kipling and brother to Elsie and Josephine, is buried in this cemetery.
At the age of 17 John had enthusiastically answered the call for volunteers to join the British army immediately after the outbreak of war on 4th August 1914. Although John was initially passed over twice for military service due to his eyesight that August, his father asked his friend Lord Roberts, Colonel-in-Chief of Overseas Forces and former Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Guards, to nominate John for an officer's commission in the Irish Guards. The nomination was successful and John joined the regiment in training in mid September 1914. Almost exactly one year later, promoted to Lieutenant and just turned 18, John was on the battlefield in action with the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards for the first time on the afternoon of 27th September. The battalion was in an attack by the 2nd Guards Brigade in the Guards Division against the Chalk Pit and pit head north-east of Loos village. According to the battalion War Diary, within an hour of the attack at 4pm John Kipling, named as a Second Lieutenant, was wounded and missing (1).
The date of John's death is recorded as 27th September 1915 and, like so many thousands of other young men who died in battle in the Great War of 1914-1918, the whereabouts of his body was unknown.
During and after the war John's remains were officially recorded as “missing”. His distraught father spent many years searching for him by visiting the battlefield where he was in action, visiting hospitals and searching out Veterans, looking for witnesses who had been with John at the time of the attack when he was killed. But despite his connections and personal influence with political figures and influential people in the nobility, the government and the military, Rudyard died in 1936 without knowing the whereabouts of his beloved son. Curiously he never knew that that the body of the unidentified Irish Guards' Lieutenant found near Chalk Pit Wood in September 1919 by the burial party clearing the battlefield, and reburied in St. Mary's A.D.S. cemetery in Plot VII, Row D, Grave 2, was indeed most likely to be the body his beloved son.
John's name was recorded on the Loos Memorial on Panels 9 and 10 for the men of the Irish Guards. It was in the 1990s that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission confirmed that they were confident the body of the unidentified Irish Guards Lieutenant found in 1919 was the body of Lieutenant John Kipling. They were convinced he had been reburied by the burial party of 1919 in a military cemetery close to where he was found at that time, St. Marys A.D.S. Cemetery. Although there is still debate about whether this is John Kipling because of the error in the map reference provided by the burial party on the burial return in 1919, the Commonwealth War Graves is, nevertheless, convinced it is John Kipling. A headstone for him at the grave of the unidentified Irish Guards Lieutenant found in 1919 marks his final resting place. John lies in St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery, Haisnes, grave reference Plot VII, Row D, Grave 2.
Rudyard Kipling and the Imperial War Graves Commission
As a result of Rudyard's search for his son, John, he was inspired to become closely involved with the burial services and commemorative monuments of the Imperial War Graves Commission, now named the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Rudyard Kipling was invited to become a Commissioner in 1917.
“Their Name Liveth for Evermore”
He was responsible for suggesting the phrase “Their Name Liveth For Evermore” (2), which was accepted as the inscription for the Stone of Remembrance (also known as the War Stone) found in many British and Commonwealth military cemeteries located around the world.
“Known unto God”
Rudyard also suggested the words “Known Unto God” for an inscription at the foot of a headstone marking the remains of an unidentified British or Commonwealth soldier. So many thousands of men had been “lost” to their families in the Great War of 1914-1918.
Over 1,500 graves in St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery are unidentified and will therefore bear the inscription “Known unto God”.
Design of St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery
The Stone of Remembrance (the War Stone) is located at the southern end of the cemetery (top of the plan shown here).
The Great Cross, the Cross of Sacrifice, is located at the northern end of the cemetery (bottom of the plan shown here), also the entrance to the cemetery from the Hulluch-Vermelles road.
There are 15 plots identified by Roman numerals I to XV. Each plot contains the remains of 120 casualties laid out in 20 graves in each row.
French Military Cemetery Relocated
By the end of the war a French military cemetery of 800 graves was located on the opposite side of the road to St. Mary's A.D.S. cemetery. The French Army was here from the early weeks of the war until the British Army took over the sector in mid 1915. The French had suffered very high casualties in the spring battles of Artois. In 1922 the graves in the French cemetery were exhumed and removed to the Ablain St-Nazaire “Notre Dame-de-Lorette” French National Cemetery (see link below).
St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery Location
St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery is located on the Route de Vermelles road from Hulluch to Vermelles. It is north of the village of Loos-en-Gohelle.
The cemetery and memorial are accessible to the public daily and there are no opening hours.
There is a small parking pull off area off the road at the front of the cemetery. Visitors are advised to take care when getting in and out of a car, especially on the side nearest the road. The road is generally not busy, but vehicles often travel at high speed, so visitors moving about around parked cars are advised to be aware of this.
Loos Memorial to the Missing
Canadian National Vimy Memorial
All Canadian servicemen killed in France and who have no known grave are named on the Vimy Memorial:
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
“Notre Dame de Lorette” French National Military Cemetery
french graves originally buried near to St. Mary's A.D.S. were moved to this cemetery, which became the largest French military cemetery in the world. It is located on the ridge of Notre Dame de Lorette north of the village of Ablain St. Nazaire, about 25 minutes' drive from the Loos battlefield:Ablain St. Nazaire French Military Cemetery “Notre Dame de Lorette”
(1) War Diary of the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards, September 1915. National Archives Reference WO/95/1220. See our link for the National Archives at:
(2) The phrase is taken from Ecclesiasticus, Chapter 44, verse 14: “Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore”. Source: The King James Bible.
(CWGC) Cemetery plan by kind permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.