Before the war, the Tyne Cot area was known as the 'rozenveld - field of roses' (i.e. poppies). For the soldiers of the Northumberland Regiment who served here, the area remembered them of the cottages near the river Tyne.
When WW1 started, every side taught that it would end after a short campaign of about 40 days.
The reality was different. After the battle of the Somme (1916) it became clear that never ever the logistics could be developed to bring the killed soldiers back to their homeland.
The Ieper (Ypres) Salient was the scene for 3 major battles:
Ypres I (Oct. 19th - Nov. 22nd, 1914)
was a very dramatic moment in WW1: the last 'gap' in the 460km (286mi) long front from the French/German border (close to Metz/Nancy) to the Belgian Northsea Coast was closed - this implied that the war went from dynamic to static --> 'in trenches'. In remained like that for more than 4 years.
Ypres II (Apr. 22nd - May 25th, 1915)
At that point in time, the Canadians entered the war. Most of them were engineers, who had to build bridges over the river Ijzer (= the frontline).
On April 22nd the Germans used, for the 1st time ever, chloric gas (6,000 canisters !). Therefore, Ypres II is the beginning of chemical warfare worldwide.
The Canadian physician Dr. John Mc Crae (known from the immortal poem 'In Flanders Fields) had his surgery quarters very near the point in the frontline where the gas was first used.
Ypres III (July 31st - Nov. 11th, 1917)
This was the largest massacre of all, costing nearly 500,000 casualties for an advance of 9km (5,6mi) from Messines and Ypres to the Passchendale ridge. On Apr. 13th, 1918 the Germans reconquered the ridge until Sept 28th, 1918, when the Belgian Army captured the ridge in the final push during the last weeks of the war.
- Field grave (Geländegraber): reversed gun with helmet of the victim on top. The place of the grave was marked. Most of these graves got lost during later artillerie duels.
- Battlefield graves: on the battlefield itself, mostly around an aid or hospital post. These are small grave yards where the commemoration stones are placed in an irregular order.
- War cemeteries, where victims were buried per regiment or per group of regiments.--> Grave yards in the neighbourhood of major hospitals.
- Concentration cemeteries, of which Tyne Cot is the biggest.