Fort Pitt Military Cemetery

On the boundary between Chatham and Rochester lies the site of Fort Pitt, one of the Napoleonic Forts built around Chatham. Little remains of the original fort, but in the south-western corner of the site, unnoticed by the thousands of people who pass it every day, lies Fort Pitt Military Cemetery.

The entrance to the cemetery is in City Way. At the top of a ramp are a pair of white-painted gates, with swords attached, leading through to an open space with a small chapel on the left.

19th Century War Memorial in Fort Pitt Military Cemetery, ChathamThis entrance space is dominated by a large stone memorial, topped with cannon, rifles, hammers and pick axes. The inscription reads:

To the Memory

of many brave

British Soldiers

buried near this spot

who gave their lives

for the honour of their

Sovereign

and Country in

1854 - 8

During this period, the British army fought in the Crimean War (1854-56), the Second Opium War (1856), the Anglo-Persian War (1856-57), the Indian Mutiny (1857) and destroyed the Mughal Empire (1857) in Afghanistan.

19th Century Graves in Fort Pitt Military Cemetery, ChathamThe graves in this southern area of the cemetery are the oldest. They're quite sparse, which isn't surprising given their age. As the fort was built in 1805, I assume the graves date from then onwards. I didn't get time to check the dates when I took these photos as it was already past the cemetery's closing time, and I was worried about getting locked in. I'll take a closer look next time I go there.

Cross of Sacrifice in Fort Pitt Military Cemetery, Chatham The north half of the cemetery contains the graves of soldiers who died during and after the First World War. In the middle of the path is a stone cross of sacrifice, stained green with the verdigris from the bronze sword set into it.

The inscription on it says:

THIS CROSS OF SACRIFICE IS ONE IN DESIGN

AND INTENTION WITH THOSE WHICH HAVE

BEEN SET UP IN FRANCE AND BELGIUM AND

OTHER PLACES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

WHERE OUR DEAD OF THE

GREAT WAR ARE LAID TO REST

Graves in Fort Pitt Military Cemetery, Chatham Close to the cross of sacrifice, almost all of the grave stones are of the usual Commonwealth design, seen in cemeteries throughout the world, showing that these men were casualties of war.

Before the 1990s the British Government repatriated very few men who had been killed in action, so these men probably died of injuries or illness after they'd been brought home.

Graves in Fort Pitt Military Cemetery, Chatham Moving further away from the cross, some different types of grave stones appear. These normally, but not always, signify that the dead soldier did not die due to injuries sustained during active service. I'll be trying to find out the dates on these stones, to see whether the soldiers died during the inter-war years.

Graves in Fort Pitt Military Cemetery, Chatham Although the fort was closed in the 1920s, the most recent graves date from around the 1990s with few of them being in the Commonwealth style. All of them I saw, in the brief time I was there, were the graves of old soldiers and their families.

In-Site Links:

All photographs copyright 2007 Jason Ross