September 27, 2017. After successfully finding our way to a number of cemeteries in France, we were growing more confident. Next on our list was to find the Bellacourt Military Cemetery in Riviere, 10 km southwest of Arras, the burial place of two soldiers listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion – Patrick Phillip DEEGAN (aka DEIGHAN) and Percy FARRAR (aka FARROW). Both men died in the same area, about 5 km south of Arras.
All of the Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries have a stone fence around them, and inside the cemeteries there is green grass, and the graves all have a white headstone of the same shape and size. In each cemetery there is a Cross of Remembrance and a memorial stone. Most of the time there is also a sign on the road directing you to the cemetery.
In each of the cemeteries we’d been to so far, we’ve been the only visitors, and Bellacourt was no different. Most of the cemeteries we’d seen had been surrounded by farm fields. Bellacourt, however, is near a waste collection centre! Luckily, it’s not visible from the cemetery.
According to the information provided by the Commonwealth Graves Commission, the cemetery began by French troops in October 1914, and carried on by various British divisions and later by the Canadian Corps. There are 432 Commonwealth burials in the cemetery, 1 of which is unidentified, and 117 French burials.
At the time of their deaths, both Percy Farrar and Patrick Deegan were with the 26th New Brunswick Battalion. Private Patrick Phillip Deegan was born November 25, 1894 in Cape Traverse, the son of Alexander Deegan and Margaret Anne Tierney.
A clerk employed by Messrs. R. T. Holman, & Co. before the war, Deegan had twice been turned down for enlistment before being accepted as part of a reinforcement draft with the 105th Draft Regiment in 1916. In his obituary in the May 4, 1918 Agriculturalist publication, “In the 105th he quickly was raised to Corporal and instructor in musketry but in order to get to the front he sacrificed his stripes, and went over about two months ago.”
On April 21, 1918, Deegan was instantly killed in action by an explosion of an enemy shell in the trenches in the vicinity of Mercatel, 11 km east of the cemetery.
Percy Farrar (sometimes spelled Farrow) was born July 30, 1895 in North Tryon, the son of William Farrar and Margaret Jane McKinnon, and enlisted in October 1915.
Like Deegan, he died in the vicinity of Mercatel, two months after Deegan, on June 23, 1918, during German Spring offensives on the Western Front.
After Farrar’s death, his family moved to California. The San Diego Union newspaper of March 13, 1921 noted that Farrar had died “while manning a machine gun”. The newspaper noted that Farrar’s father received “two memorial scrolls from Buckingham Palace, London, in commemoration of the death of his son, Percy Earle Farrar, who was killed in action in the World War on the western front in France, June 23, 1918.” One of the scrolls was signed by King George of England and stated that “I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the great war.”
In the next blog entry we continue our search for the Manitoba and Grandcourt cemeteries. Do you have information or photos for Patrick Phillip Deegan (Deighan) and Percy Farrar (Farrow)? Comments or stories? You can share them by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by commenting on this blog.
© Daria Valkenburg