Foreign war graves in Chichester Cemetery

Regular readers will know I have developed something of an interest in war dead and war graves, be it from a particular space dotted around the world, from a particular nation, or in a particular place. Equally, regular readers will know that some six months ago I made the quantum leap from Paulsgrove (if you don’t know, wikipedia it) to Chichester (ditto, and compare).

Anyway, I digress. Yesterday while walking to Lidl to go and do the shopping, I stumbled upon Chichester’s Portfield Cemetery. And a very interesting stumble it was too. Like 99% of municipal cemeteries it has its fair share of war graves. Apart from a few dotted around the cemetery, most of the war graves are collected into three beautifully tended plots – separate plots for WW1 and WW2 protestant graves, and a separate one for Roman Catholic burials. But here’s the interesting bit – there are 13 foreign (ie, non commonwealth) WW2 burials – 7 Czech, 4 Polish and 2 German. The Poles and Germans are RC burials, but the Czechs are split between  protestant and RC.

What I find really interesting, is that every nationality has its own shape and format for CWGC gravestones – UK and commonwealth are rectangular with a shallow curved top; polish have a more pronounced, pointy-curved top; Czech have a very interesting angular design; whilst German have a more straight, perpendicular look to them.

Obviously at the moment I have my hands full with looking into Australians buried in Portsmouth and Portsmouth’s WW1 dead, but at some point in the non-too distant future I am going to start taking a look at the foreign war graves in Chichester. My hunch is that many of them must be airman, with important WW2 air bases nearby at Westhampnett and Tangmere.



Filed under World War Two

12 responses to “Foreign war graves in Chichester Cemetery

  1. John Erickson

    So, you’re gonna make me ask, aren’t you.

    PHOTOS?!? 😀

    Any idea what brought the Czechs, Poles, and Germans there? Are they all aircrew, or was there another reason to bring the “free” forces and the enemy together in that cemetery?

    • James Daly

      All aircrew as far as I can see. Of course, many Poles and Czechs flew with the RAF, either in their own squadrons or in some cases integrated with regular RAF units. And of course there were quite a few airfields around Chichester in 39-45. Not sure about the Germans, but will try and look them up.

      Photographs will be forthcoming, dont worry!

      • John Erickson

        Germans were probably Luftwaffe, either died in a crash-landing or didn’t do well bailing out. I knew about the Czech and Polish squadrons, I was just wondering if their ground-based “free” forces were based anywhere near. The Czechs are a particularly unsung group of fighting folk – they REALLY need to get a good WW2 PR agent! 😀

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