Bayeux – British War Cemetery and Memorial
The Bayeux War Cemetery is also referred to as the British War Cemetery of Bayeux. And that is because the majority of soldiers buried here are British and British Commonwealth soldiers who died while trying to liberate France during WWII. Some 4,640 soldiers are buried here, most of them died during the World War II Normandy invasion. But not all of them are British, some are even German (466 of them)
By nationality, there were 3935 British, 466 Germans, 181 Canadian, 25 Polish, 17 Australians, 8 New Zealanders, 7 Russians, 3 French, 2 Czechs, 2 Italians and 1 South African. But there are 1,808 other names of British soldiers not on the graves:
Those names you will find on a majestic memorial placed in front of the cemetery.
The memorial has 1808 names of soldiers whose bodies were never recovered so they could not be buried. The inscription, in French (old French and difficult to translate), reads “On this monument are written to maintain in the memory the recognition of the men, the names of the British Commonwealth soldiers who fought for the common civilisation and died heroically in the Normandy campaign, without that their mortal remains can be ignored of their exact location to receive the honours they are due“.
In other words, these are 1808 soldiers whose bodies were never recovered.
Once you go through the gates of the cemetery, you see this stone with an engraving:
And then on the left, right and behind it are rows and rows of graves.
In the middle are two mausoleums, one on each side.
Inside it you’ll find another engraving:
So the French have donated for eternity the grounds on which the cemetery is placed.
At the other end of the cemetery is the the Cross of Sacrifice:
The graves are all well maintained and cared for. You can see that the graves receive regular visitors:
It’s a sobering experience coming here, like most of the war cemeteries. To see so many people killed at a young age makes you ponder about life. No matter what age you are, you should have visited one of the big war cemeteries at least once in a lifetime (like the Omaha Beach one).