Merville was the scene of fighting between the Germans and French and British cavalry early in October 1914 but from the 9th of that month to 11 April 1918, it remained in Allied hands. In October 1914, and in the autumn of 1915, the town was the headquarters of the Indian Corps. It was a railhead until May 1915, and a billeting and hospital centre from 1915-1918. The 6th and Lahore Casualty Clearing Stations were there from the autumn of 1914 to the autumn of 1915; the 7th from December 1914, to April 1917; the 54th (1st/2nd London) from August 1915 to March 1918, and the 51st (Highland) from May 1917 to April 1918. On the evening of 11 April 1918, in the Battles of the Lys, the Germans forced their way into Merville and the town was not retaken until 19 August. The cemeteries were not used again until the concentration of battlefield burials into the Extension began, after the Armistice. Merville Communal Cemetery was used by French troops (chiefly cavalry) in October 1914, and for Commonwealth burials from that date until August 1916 (in the case of officers, to March 1918). It now contains 1,268 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, and 21 French and German war graves. Merville Communal Cemetery Extension was opened in August 1916, and used by Commonwealth and Portuguese hospitals until April 1918. It was enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields immediately north and east of Merville and from Caudescure Halte Cemetery, Morbecque.
Photographed by Morag Sutherland.