In my previous blog entry The Mysterious Red Writing – Maricourt Wood it was mentioned that no further maps or photos could be found of the area in and around Maricourt Wood. It was in these maps we wanted to attempt to determine: 1) the location of the railways in the area; 2) the location of any drop points on this railway; and 3) the possible location of any burials. Then one of my readers [thanks Phil] spotted a June 1918 map (57c NW) of the Vaulx-Vraucourt area which may well have helped us check off all three of these items.

The images below show the area in and around Maricourt Wood which, as previously discussed, lies on the road between Vaulx-Vraucourt and Morchies. Now it should be pointed out here that I have a very rudimentary understanding of all of the elements that appear on the map shown in these images. I am willing to attempt to analyse them but will yield to anyone who can offer a better explanation or correct any mistakes made.

This first image shows the area of land between Vaulx-Vraucourt and Morchies and also the land to the south of Vaulx-Vraucourt. On this image you note three small circled areas and one large oval area marked in yellow. You will note that the location of two of these camp areas (as per the legend in the centre of the map), located south and east of Vaulx-Vraucourt, match the locations indicated on the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance diary map, and subsequently the map drawn by me in ‘The Mysterious Red Writing – Maricourt Wood’. The additional camp area in the middle may well have been established some time later. You will also note the red hashed lines running between these points which are ‘tracks’, as per the legend, again match the the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance diary map. Also of interest on this image is the Maricourt Wood area, in the yellow oval, which appears to indicate two large ‘camp area located in very close proximity to the northern boundary of Maricourt Wood, and a large ‘trench’ near its eastern boundary (just behind the wire entanglement)

In this close up view of the Maricourt Wood area you will note there is also another camp area visible to the north-west (small yellow oval) and that the trench located to the east of the wood appears to somewhat larger than the other trenches in the area. It is too difficult to determine whether or not the red rectangles to the north of Maricourt Wood are hatched areas indicating a camp area or maybe something else.

When an even closer view of the map is taken, of the camp area to the north of Maricourt Wood and the trench to the east, it still is not clear exactly what the markings actually are. It is possible that the red markings may also be indicating something other than a camp area, and that the large blue trench may just be a over zealous scribble when indicating the location of posts.

Whatever the case, there is nothing on these maps that definitively establishes an area where soldiers remains may have been buried. There is of course the possibility that the original remains were repatriated from the area around Maricourt Wood, but because the graves were either damaged or the markers missing (or destroyed) that they were simply re-interned as an unknown soldiers.

Interestingly, for the date period in question (3rd May 1917 – 9th May 1917) there are only 13 recorded burials for the 3rd Battalion in 4 cemeteries (5 additional soldiers Died of Wounds and were buried outside of the Pas de Calais region):

Grevillers British Cemetery – 7 graves

Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy – 3 graves

Vaulx Australian Field Ambulance Cemetery – 1 grave

Vraucourt Copse Cemetery, Vaulx-Vraucourt – 1 grave

Two of these cemeteries, Vaulx Australian Field Ambulance Cemetery and Vraucourt Copse Cemetery, Vaulx-Vraucourt are in very close proximity to both Vaulx-Vraucourt and the railway lines mentioned in my previous entry The Mysterious Red Writing – Maricourt Wood. Is it possible that the remains of the missing men are buried in one (or more) of these two cemeteries as unknown solders? Maybe, but with there being so many other cemeteries in that region this would prove to be a challenging question to answer (see image below).

Also, add to this that the list of GPS co-ords that I am working from appears to be incomplete. The cemetery named Vraucourt Copse Cemetery, Vaulx-Vraucourt appears to be missing from my list. It is located north of Vaulx Hill Cemetery midway along the road between Vaulx-Vraucourt and Noreuil. According to the Australian War Graves Photographic Archive and Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) there is only one 3rd Battalion soldier buried there who died on 6 May 1917, which is within our identified time period.

Again, I am left in an untenable situation as the CWGC does not list numbers of unmarked graves in these cemeteries let alone the numbers that might be Australian. As stated in my previous post I think that a trip to the Australian War Memorial archives is in order to try and locate any additional maps or aerial photos of the region.