Jerusalem War Cemetery, Chouain, France

Near the village of Chouain, in the tiny hamlet of Jerusalem, about 9 km outside Bayeux, lie the remains of 46 Commonwealth war dead plus one.

Small cemetery set admid lush greenery. White paving stones lead to a small white cross. Farm buildings are visible in the background

Back in June of 1944, the tranquillity of this area was shattered as a German armoured column tried to retake Bayeux. They started burying the dead on 10 June. Later, P.D. Hepworth would design what we see today; he included the Cross of Sacrifice, as the magic number of 40 was exceeded.

Three rows of white tombstones with shrubs at the base set in green grass with bushes to the left and farmbuildings to the right

Jerusalem War Cemetery contains 47 burials, 46 of them named. One of them is unidentified. Among the Commonwealth soldiers is a lone Czech grave.

A single tombstone with the words OTTO AUFFARBER SVOR CZECIT inscribed on the base between a lion coat of arms - pink and purple flowers planted in the ground in front

In what reminds me of a Tabernacle is the Book of the Dead containing the names and current locations of those buried here. We saw the same at the Bayeux War Cemetery. I checked, as I always do, for someone with my dad’s name. I’ve no clue why.

A stone monument with words etched in the stone on either end (illegible). A small bronze door with a cross is set into the back wall. In the middle is a stone bench with a wooden top. IN the background are two trees in front of farm buildings.

As we walk the rows, reading the names, and saying a quiet prayer in recognition of the sacrifice these boys have made, I wonder for the umpteenth time when we, as a race of sentient beings, will learn.

Perhaps because of its size, it feels so personal. I feel privileged to be there. Knowing that some of the dead have not been forgotten helps.

A single tombstone with a coat of arms in which is written DLI. On the stone is etched the words: 14429036 PRIVATE J. BANKS The Durham Light Infantry 21st July 1944 Age 16 This is followed by a cross under which is written GOOD WILL TELL US WHY SOME DAY HE BROKE OUR HEARTS AND TOOK YOU AWAY. On the ground in front is a wreath of plastic poppies inside of which is a photo of a young bow. To the right is a card, in plastic, with text that cannot be read.

A wreath of poppies into which is set a photo of a young man - the card to the right reads: Loving remembrance of our young Jack Banks who lost his life aged 16. He gave his life to the cause of freedom. You are honored and never forgotten from the Banks family and Jackie and Megan. Presented by Commander Terry Burton, Normandy Veterans Group (On Facebook) In remembrance

Not all who died were soldiers. Irish Army Chaplain Revd. Fr. Pascal Hanrahan explains:

A collage of two headstones. 1 CHAPLAIN TO THE FORCES THE REV C.J. HAWKSWORTH ROYAL ARMY CHAPLAINS' DEPT 7th July 1944 - Age 35. This is followed by a white cross under which is written At the going down of the .... the rest is covered by greenery. 2. CHAPLAIN TO THE FORCES THE REV G. NESBITT D.PH. ROYAL ARMY CHAPLAINS' DEPT 5th July 1944 - Age 33. This is followed by a white cross under which is written Sacred Heart of Jesus, grant to this thy priest eternal rest.

It’s a lovely spot, one to search out and detour to if necessary. Thanks to M for the tip.











@ 2024 Mary Murphy