The Chinese Cemetery
A corps of Chinese labourers was established under an Anglo-Chinese agreement and the first contingent arrived in France in April 1917. The Chinese Labourers were set to work behind the lines, building military infrastructure, repairing roads and railway lines and handling supplies and munitions. Numbers grew from 54,000 men in 1917 to 96,000 by the time the Armistice was signed. 80,000 were still at work in May 1919, primarily engaged in clearing the the former battlefields of ammunition and bodies.
Of the 841 men buried in the Noyelles-sur-Mer Chinese Cemetery, many died of illness, especially Spanish flu, in the hospital for “native labour” near Noyelles-sur-Mer. The cemetery is located to the west of the Somme, in the coastal area near Le Crotoy and Saint-Valery-sur-Somme.
Bid for UNESCO World Heritage Status
The Noyelles-sur-Mer Chinese Cemetery and Memorial are among 11 sites in the Somme that have applied for UNESCO World Heritage status.
Uniquely, this site of remembrance is exclusively Chinese and several architectural and landscaping features, such as Chinese characters, pineapples, the design of the entrance and the types of plants used, highlight this fact. It also differs from other cemeteries because it pays tribute to foreign labourers, not soldiers, who came from far off countries in support of the war effort.
A ceremony is organised each year for the Qingming festival, the Chinese memorial day. This exceptional site of remembrance receives a great many visitors throughout the year.
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11 Longitude 1.718165 | Latitude 50.190612