Departement du Nord
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
Merville is a town 15 kilometres north of Bethune and about 20 kilometres south-west of Armentieres. The Communal Cemetery is on the north-east side of the town to the north of the D38 road to Neuf-Berquin.
Merville was the scene of fighting between the Germans and French and British cavalry early in October 1914 but from the 9th of that month to 11 April 1918, it remained in Allied hands. In October 1914, and in the autumn of 1915, the town was the headquarters of the Indian Corps. It was a railhead until May 1915, and a billeting and hospital centre from 1915-1918. On the evening of 11 April 1918, in the Battles of the Lys, the Germans forced their way into Merville and the town was not retaken until 19 August. The cemeteries were not used again until the concentration of battlefield burials into the Extension began, after the Armistice. During the Second World War the River Lys was the southern end of a deep but narrow area held by British forces at the end of May 1940. Merville is on the territory over which were fought desperate rearguard actions during the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force to the coast, for evacuation from Dunkirk.
Merville Communal Cemetery was used by French troops (chiefly cavalry) in October 1914, and for Commonwealth burials from that date until August 1916 (in the case of officers, to March 1918). It now contains 1268 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 12 French war graves. There is also 1 non-war burial.
Merville Communal Cemetery Extension was opened in August 1916, and used by Commonwealth and Portuguese hospitals until April 1918. It was enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields immediately north and east of Merville and from Caudescure Halte Cemetery, Morbecque. The Extension now contains 920 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 345 of them unidentified. The 92 Second World War burials (18 of them unidentified) occurred mostly during the fighting in May 1940 and are interspersed among the First World War graves. The Extension also contains 19 war graves of other nationalities. The Extension was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.