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Mud Corner Cemetery

Mud Corner Cemetery https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/mud-corner-cemetary Many of the men buried here fell during the Third Battle of Ypres. Ngā Tapuwae Trails https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/sites/default/files/stop/media/Western%20Front-Plugstreet-Mud%20Corner-Wairarapa%20Archive-11-072-004-004-028.jpg

Many of the men buried here fell during the Third Battle of Ypres.

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Mud Corner Cemetery

You are now in Mud Corner Cemetery, a beautiful spot on the edge of Plugstreet Wood. The high ground in front of you - had been the German frontline, and behind you, in Plugstreet Wood, was all New Zealand ground by this stage. After the capture of Messines in June 1917, the New Zealand Division, as part of Godley’s 2nd ANZAC Corps, followed the retreating Germans back towards the river Lys on your right, and attacked La Basseville. You can walk through these woods today, and still see the trenches and bunkers where men lived and fought. You get a sense of how high the water table is here - with the damp ground. You wouldn’t need to dig much to find wet, slushy soil, and that’s why the trenches were built above ground, as breastworks, with sandbags and wood.

Around you are New Zealand soldiers who fell in the fighting, in June, and - in particular - on 27 and 31 July, at the beginning of the 3rdBattle of Ypres. If you look at some of the headstones, many of the men are in their twenties, then you have someone like Private E. Beach, aged 54, who was too old to be here. Beach was part of the Wellington Regiment, and clearly someone who lied about his age. He fought and died at La Basseville.

Many of the headstones are of NCOs. The Non-Commissioned Officers, and the commissioned platoon commanders were critical to the tactics that had evolved in the lead up to Messines. Everything depended on how well the infantry sections and platoons fought as a team, and leadership was the key. Attacking the German defences depended on how well a corporal, sergeant, or officer led his men in taking out the pillboxes and bunkers - destroying the machine gun posts. You have someone like Sergeant James Francis, who won the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

This medal was often called the ‘Soldier’s V.C.’ because someone who won it was also usually someone who’d been considered for a Victoria Cross, but had been awarded a DCM instead, the awarding of the Victoria Cross was strictly rationed. Francis was killed in the first attack on 27 July as a member of the Auckland Regiment. In fact, that wasn’t even his real name. His real name was James Henry Frew, as he was serving under an alias. So imagine - all around you are very experienced soldiers who had taken Messines and were then asked to expand on that success. And the cost from those battles is seen in this lovely little cemetery.

How to get here

Getting there

Go back the way you came along the N365 and take a right at the signpost to Mud Corner Cemetery onto Chemin du Mont de la Hutte. Continue along this road for approximately 750 metres.

After Prowse Point Cemetery, take the signposted right turn to Mud Corner Cemetery.

Warning: The road to Mud Corner Cemetery is very narrow and often wet. It is possible to park at Prowse Point Cemetery and walk the remaining way to Mud Corner Cemetery.

Where to stand

Enter the cemetery and walk to the third row of graves. Stand and face E. Beach’s headstone.

GPS
50°44'31"N
2°53'54"E
Decimal GPS
50.74214
2.898378
  • A camouflaged tent sits in a clearing in Ploegsteert Wood
    A camouflaged tent sits in a clearing in Ploegsteert WoodCredits

    Wairarapa Archive, Reference Number: 11-072-004-004-028

  • A New Zealand artillery unit position what appear to be British 8 inch Howitzers in a clearing in Ploegsteert Wood.
    A New Zealand artillery unit position what appear to be British 8 inch Howitzers in a clearing in Ploegsteert Wood.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-012769-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23006966

  • A smiling soldier poses halfway out of his sandbagged bunker named Mud Lane Breastwork. Ploegsteert, Belgium, Winter 1917/18
    A smiling soldier poses halfway out of his sandbagged bunker named Mud Lane Breastwork. Ploegsteert, Belgium, Winter 1917/18Credits

    1990.1714.1 National Army Museum, NZ http://nam.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/1950

  • Soldiers pose with their small box respirators outside the entrance to their bunker, in the Ploegsteert sector, 1917/18.
    Soldiers pose with their small box respirators outside the entrance to their bunker, in the Ploegsteert sector, 1917/18.Credits

    1990.1714.1 National Army Museum, NZ http://nam.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/1948

  • Enemy shell fire exploding while soldiers search for cover in the area of Mud Lane, Ploegsteert.
    Enemy shell fire exploding while soldiers search for cover in the area of Mud Lane, Ploegsteert.Credits

    1990.1714.1 National Army Museum, NZ http://nam.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/1982

  • Two soldiers pose for the camera outside their sandbagged dugout in the rear area of Ploegsteert, Belgium.
    Two soldiers pose for the camera outside their sandbagged dugout in the rear area of Ploegsteert, Belgium.Credits

    1990.1714.1 National Army Museum, NZ http://nam.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/1988

Stories & Insights

As a young New Zealand officer, serving in the British army, Beauchamp was ‘full of beans’.

An example of the type of weapon used during a raid - a German trench club studded with nails.

Even in a quiet sector, raids were still conducted to keep the men aggressive and to obtain intelligence.

A postcard from Bill Jenkins, Armentières, 19 October 1916.

The YMCA aimed to make soldier's lives more bearable.

Because of his German heritage, Nimot was treated terribly by his fellow New Zealand soldiers.

A group of unidentified Australian and New Zealand soldiers with French civilians "somewhere in France".

New Zealanders often experienced culture shock when interacting with French locals.

McColl was excited to be leading a raid against the German lines.

Useful resources for those looking for more information.

A selection of First World War vocabulary and common phrases.

Take the next trail

The next Ngā Tapuwae trail is Arras. Proceed to La Carrière Wellington.
Link to the first stop

Decimal GPS:
71.00230776692428
-108.03456274999996
Sequence:
1
Decimal GPS:
72.8024499076606
-102.48248137500002
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Decimal GPS:
76.30009933657021
-90.4421890625
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Decimal GPS:
62.84465695507049
-48.31402806250003
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Decimal GPS:
55.75279326711145
-54.39751418750012
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5
Decimal GPS:
69.4024499074282
-15.595494218749991
Sequence:
6

Stop Images

Sequence:
1
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.73929
2.883406
Sequence:
2
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.74214
2.898378
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3
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.74951
2.9416
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.68663
2.882261
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.68626
2.863228
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6
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.66998
2.927455