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Loos British Cemetery Extension

A fitting resting place for the soldiers of The Battle of Loos

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is undertaking an extension of Loos British Cemetery.

© Slap Paysage/Valentin Bodenghien Architecte

© Slap Paysage/Valentin Bodenghien Architecte

Extensive research by CWGC teams confirms that potentially hundreds of soldiers who have remained missing since the First World War may be affected by infrastructure works in the region around Loos-en-Gohelle, including a major canal construction project.

To give newly discovered casualties the burial place they deserve, Loos British Cemetery will be extended.

The CWGC will be working closely with the Office National des Anciens Combattants et Victimes de guerre (ONAC-VG) and the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (VDK) and will be the lead partner on this project.

We will also be working alongside the French government and local government of Loos-en-Gohelle.

“Honouring and caring for the men who died on these battlefields more than one hundred years ago has been at the heart of all discussions with our French partners and the CWGC is very grateful for their support and ongoing assistance. This project affords an opportunity to recover the remains of those who died in the Great War and who have, until now, been denied the honoured burial afforded to their comrades. The servicemen recovered will be buried with the dignity and honour their sacrifice deserves.” - Claire Horton, CWGC Director General

The extension has been designed in line with the CWGC's aesthetics and horticultural standards. (© Slap Paysage/Valentin Bodenghien Architecte)

A sustainable project

Loos British Cemetery Extension has been designed with sustainability in mind.

It’s our duty to care for all our sites, new and old, in perpetuity. Using sustainable building practices will help lower this project’s environmental impact and ensure Loos British Cemetery Extension can be experienced for generations to come.

How will we do that? Check out the video below to see how we’ll be putting our sustainability principles into action on this new project:

Where can you find Loos British Cemetery Extension?

Loos-en-Gohelle can be found close to the French-Belgian border in the Pas-des-Calais Department in Northern France. See the map below to find Loos British Cemetery Extension.

Loos British Cemetery Extension Frequently Asked Questions

Over the past five years, there have been more discoveries of remains from First World War casualties across northern France. This includes those recovered from the site of the new hospital being built at Lens. And with the potential for the CWGC to recover further casualties along the route of the new Canal Seine Nord Europe, the requirement for a new cemetery was agreed.  

The major battles in the area were the Battle of Loos (September- October 1915), the Arras Offensive (April-May 1917) and the Battle of Hill 70 (August 1917).  

We cannot say exactly but extensive research by the CWGC, ONAC-VG and the VDK confirms that potentially hundreds of soldiers who have remained missing since the war may be affected by the canal project. The remains of Commonwealth, French and German soldiers who died during the First World War will be recovered into the safekeeping of the CWGC, but there could be more casualties from other countries. We recover those of all nations, working on behalf of our Member Governments and other partners.  

Although the name of the site is Loos British Cemetery and Extension, the site will be used for the burial of Commonwealth casualties of the First World War who are found today in the vicinity of Loos and elsewhere in northern France. As with all war cemeteries, only those Commonwealth war casualties who died during the war may be buried there.

1,200 burials 

Wherever possible, we try to ensure that those who fell together are buried together. Extending Loos British Cemetery was the obvious choice because of the number of recoveries made/potential recoveries in the surrounding area.  

We are honoured that the people of Loos are so generously supporting our plans.

The main construction works will start from April 2023 and are likely to finish towards the end of this year. There will be no public access to the new extension until the autumn of 2024, to allow for all new plant life and horticulture to have fully settled at the cemetery. 

The formal inauguration of the cemetery extension will be announced in due course but is likely to be in the autumn of 2024. 

Towards the end of 2024, at the earliest.

Mainly for horticulture reasons, so that the grass, plants and hedges have a chance to take and grow. We want to make sure that those being buried and those present at the first ceremonies continue to experience our standards of horticultural excellence. 

As part of a sustainable approach, all the partners who will work on the site (for example: stonemasonry, structural work, earthworks, architect, horticulture) are located within a maximum radius of 40 km from the cemetery. 

The cemetery will be constructed to the same high standards as the Commission’s existing First World War memorials and cemeteries in France – using similar materials and horticulture. 

We have integrated sustainable management processes into our planning and construction, following our own sustainability guidelines.  As part of this cemetery extension, we will have created permeable road access, established new hedging, planted around 1500m² of flower meadow, and planted 20 trees and 50 shrubs.

We are reusing materials wherever possible, including re-using existing sandstone for the construction of the cemetery extension entrance. We are working with only local companies, and they will work within our stringent sustainability guidelines. 

Building a cemetery extension like this requires years of planning and working closely with the French government and local authorities. We must ensure we comply with our own policy and regulations, and carefully consider the local landscape and how a new site aligns with our sites and memorials all around the world.  

CWGC staff are responsible for the recovery of wartime remains in France and for the initial phase of the investigation into their identity. We do everything possible to maximise the chances of identification, but it is often not possible because of the nature of warfare and the passage of time.

Depending on what we have found, we will work with the relevant authorities to support their investigations. Whether an individual is named or not, they will be reburied with dignity and honour. 

Following our 1951 War Graves agreement, the land has been  acquired by the French government and granted in perpetuity to the CWGC for the purpose of the burial of war casualties. We will manage the site, but the French government remains the legal owner.   

Final considerations regarding commemorative events will be part of the ongoing discussions with our member governments and updates will be provided as soon as details are confirmed, but it is unlikely that any ceremonies will take place until 2028. 

Members of the public are encouraged to attend burial and rededication ceremonies, held throughout the year at CWGC cemeteries. Details are available on the CWGC website Events and News pages.  

The Battle of Loos

Loos-en-Gohelle was the site of the major Battle of Loos which took place between September-October 1915. 

The town was also the site of important actions during the Arras Offensive (April-May 1917) and the Battle of Hill 70 (August 1917).

Discover the history of the Battle of Loos below: