In Rectory Lane Cemetery there are many graves with military connections to conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries, including the fallen of the two World Wars. Behind every memorial there are moving stories of bravery and tragedy.
Military burials in Rectory Lane Cemetery
Commonwealth War Graves in Rectory Lane Cemetery
In all, there are 14 CWGC burials of the First World War and 13 of the Second World War in Rectory Lane Cemetery.
In addition there are a further 23 others buried here who served in WWI or WWII, but for various reasons did not qualify for a CWGC headstone.
The World Wars
Inns of Court OTC soldiers marching down Berkhamsted High Street, c.1914
During World War I (1914–18), 200 men and boys who were born or lived in Berkhamsted lost their lives. While many who were killed in action were interred in the large battlefield Cemeteries of Belgium and France, a number were buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery.
Some returned home and died later as a consequence of their wounds; others fell victim to the 1918 Flu Pandemic.
British artillery during the Second Boer War (1899-1902)
Many from Berkhamsted also served in World War II (1939–45) and a number lost their lives. WWII burials are mostly in the upper part of the Cemetery and include a number of RAF casualties.
Because of the age of this burial ground, we also remember those interred here who served in earlier conflicts, such as the Egyptian War (1882) or the Boer War (1899–1902).
Commonwealth War Graves
A Commonwealth War Graves headstone (Private A. Pocock, Herts Regiment, d. 1918)
In Rectory Lane Cemetery there are a number of headstones of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC, formerly the Imperial War Graves Commission). These can be distinguished by their simple, white stone design. These were granted by the CWGC to military personnel who died in service — whether in combat, training accidents, air raids or from disease — during the periods around the First and Second World Wars:
- 4 August 1914 – 31 August 1921 (WWI)
- 3 September 1939 to 31 December 1947 (WWII)
The Garden of Remembrance
The Garden of Remembrance War Memorial was created in 2020, as part of the Rectory Lane Cemetery restoration project. It consists of a central timber totem, inscribed ‘Lest We Forget’ and bearing the names of 49 people buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery who died as a result of injuries fighting in the First and Second World Wars. This totem is flanked by a pair of smaller totems bearing the messages ‘Rest in Peace’ and ‘Live in Peace’, an expression of remembrance of past sacrifice and hope for future generations.
The new Rectory Lane Cemetery was memorial
During the Rectory Lane Cemetery restoration project, volunteer researchers looked into the stories of people buried in the Cemetery and identified 23 individuals who served in WWI or WWII, but for various reasons did not qualify for a CWGC headstone.
These names, along with the 27 names in CWGC burials, have been inscribed on the memorial plaque in the Garden of Remembrance. All the names inscribed here are buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery.
The Town War Memorial
The War Memorial outside St Peter’s Church
The War Memorial outside St Peter’s Church on Berkhamsted High Street commemorates the names of 276 local men and boys who fell in the World Wars. Most fallen lie buried in the war cemeteries of Belgium and France, but a few are buried here in Rectory Lane Cemetery. Their names are also inscribed on a marble wall monument inside the church.
St Peter's Church War Memorial
Additionally, within St Peter’s Church there is a marble war memorial mounted on the wall of the north aisle. This monument is inscribed with the names of the fallen of two World Wars, the same names that can be read on the Town War Memorial just outside the west door.
As you pass through Rectory Lane Cemetery, take a moment to remember those who have died in conflicts. Stop for a moment in our Garden of Remembrance to contemplate or pray. Learn about the lives of the fallen using this website on your mobile phone.
The graves we have in our care are a memorial to those how have given their all, and a vital reminder for future generations about the importance of building a peaceful world.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
For the Fallen
by Laucence Binyon
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