Cambrai Kriegsgräberstätte - German War Cemetery
Historical Information (Source: CWGC - Volksbund)
Cambrai East Military Cemetery was made by the Germans during their occupation and laid out with the greatest care, with monuments erected in it to the French, Commonwealth and German dead. On 11 August 1918, as an inscription in the cemetery records, the Bavarian Commandant handed over to the city the care and maintenance of the cemetery.
On 25 August 1914 the German Army entered Cambrai and remained there until 9 October 1918 when Canadian Forces liberated the town. Throughout the war the Allies made numerous attempts to regain the town which was a key position on the Hindenburg Line. Despite the use of 476 tanks, one such operation launched by the British Army on 20 November 1917 ground to a halt six kilometres from Cambrai with massive losses suffered on both sides. The subsequent German counter-attack pushed the Allies back to their starting point.
The town was used by the German Army as a major command and logistics centre and they also set up a number of hospitals there. Soldiers who died on the Western Front or in the hospitals were initially buried in the Porte-de-Paris Cemetery; however by March 1917 it became clear that a larger cemetery was needed and this was established on the Solesmes Road. From the very beginning it was used to accommodate soldiers of both sides. At the centre of the cemetery stands a large cross protected by a surrounding wall topped with a German and a French military helmet. The respect shown to the war dead of all nationalities is also expressed on three other memorials which bear the sculpture of a French Adrian helmet, a German Stahlhelm and a British Brodie helmet respectively.
Today the German War Cemetery on the Solesmes road accommodates 7,939 German soldiers. They lie in graves marked by white crosses, the original black crosses having been replaced in 1977, and an additional 2,746 are buried in the ossuary.