Situated on the south-east side of Mons, the St. Symphorien cemetery is notable for containing German and B.E.F. graves. It is also unusual for the layout amongst trees on the site of an old quarry, giving the cemetery a topography and atmosphere very different to the majority of WW1 cemeteries, situated in wide open spaces on flat land. It is a woodland garden containing graves.
When the Germans created the cemetery in 1916, German and Commonwealth graves alike bore the inscription, " Enemies in Life but United in Death (German: Im Leben ein Feind, im Tode Vereint)", a German practice during WW1
The majority of the graves are of those killed in the Battle of Mons in August 1914. The B.E.F. was to hold the line of the Mons-Condé canal. They were faced by the German 1st Army which advanced south towards Mons in great numbers, some 18,000 soldiers per mile of front.
Three of the notable B.E.F. graves in the cemetery are those of Lt. Maurice Dease, 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, Private John Parr 4th Battalion Mddx Regt and George Price, Canadian Corps.
Lt Dease continued to operate a machine gun at the Nimy bridge after all his men had been killed and he himself wounded several times. When he was hit for the fifth time and mortally wounded, Private Sidney Godley continued to fire the machine gun to cover the withdrawal of the survivors of the unit. Both men were awarded the VC, Lt Dease being the first posthumous VC of WW1. Pte Godley was taken prisoner. Private Parr is noted as the first fatality of the British Expeditionary Force in WW1, on 21st Aug 1914. George Price is reputed to be the last man of the B.E.F. killed in the war, on the very day of the Armistice, 11th Nov 1918.
The R.H.A. Gunner is laying a wreath at the grave of Pte Parr.