United Kingdom / Cemetery
Brookwood Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the UK. It includes a both large RAF and Canadian sections and commemorates those who died in the Dieppe and St Nazaire Raids. There are several also several notable grave sites of individuals who performed integral roles in the liberation of Western Europe.
Brookwood Cemetery commemorates 3,476 Allied service personnel from World War II including those who served with the Special Operations executive and the Royal Air Force who died in occupied Europe. The Brookwood Memorial, situated in the Canadian Section, commemorates the 3,500 individuals who died in campaigns at Dieppe and St Nazaire and have no known grave, and accompanies the plots containing Canadian, French, Polish, Czech, Belgian and Italian sections. The Military Cemetery and Memorial are managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Amongst the notable individuals buried here, Wing Commander Forest Frederick Edward Yeo-Thomas was a highly decorated Special Operations Executive agent given the codenames ‘Shelley’ and ‘Seahorse ’ by his peers and ‘The White Rabbit’ by the Gestapo. As one of the most prolific undercover agents, he parachuted into France in 1943 to implement a plan to halt the German occupation of Europe and quickly gained the trust of several high-ranking Nazis. He worked alongside the French resistance, eventually appealing to Winston Churchill for funds and supplies to support the role of the resistance in the liberation of France. He was later captured and tortured in concentration and prisoner of war camps before escaping to Allied territory in April 1945. He was awarded the George Cross for his outstanding bravery and work as a special agent in undermining the Nazi regime.
Brigadier Joe Vandeleur, famously portrayed by Michael Caine in the film A Bridge Too Far, served with and led the Irish Guards XXX Corps during Operation Market Garden. Following the D-Day landings and the Allied breakout from Normandy, Vandeleur led a group from XXX Corps through the Netherlands from 17 to 25 September in order to capture several major bridges and secure an invasion route. The plan to advance across Europe pushing the German army back in a pincer movement did succeed in liberating the cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen, but ultimately failed to secure the bridges and invasion route which was hoped would end the war by December 1944.