Commonwealth War Graves
Due to its proximity to South Coast ports and its railway
connections, in 1914 the War Office selected Brockenhurst as a World War
One hospital centre. This comprised the main section formally known as
'The Lady Hardinge Hospital' but known to the locals as 'Tin Town' - a
500 bed tented and galvanised accommodation hospital complex situated on
at Tile Barn on Church Hill on the ridge overlooking the village and
the forest - and two minor sections at the commandeered Balmer Lawn and
Forest Park Hotels, known collectively as the 'Meerut General Hospital',
after which Meerut Road is named.
The hospitals treated
soldiers of the 3rd (Lahore) and 7th (Meerut) Divisions from the Indian
Army Corps who were sent to help the British Expeditionary Force
fighting in France and Flanders. Almost 3,000 Indian wounded were
treated before the Corps was posted to Egypt in November 1915.
January 2016 'Tin Town' was taken over to form part of the No. 1 New
Zealand General Hospital and further huts were erected and hotels
commandeered. Over 21,000 casualties were treated in Brockenhurst but
sadly more than a hundred New Zealand, Indian and other soldiers died in
the village's hospitals. St Nicholas' Churchyard contains 93 New
Zealand graves, 1 Australian grave plus those of three Indian and three
unidentified Belgian civilians.
The No. 1 New Zealand General
Hospital remained at Brockenhurst until its closure in early 1919.
Auckland Avenue and Auckland Place commemorate this period of village
life and the Churchyard plot was organised into its present format in
1924, the impressive engraved headstones erected on the order of the
Imperial War Graves Commission, replacing the original white wooden
crosses, and the cenotaph added three years later in 1927. The graves
are looked after by the Parish Council who seek to ensure that the
headstones remain in the same condition as they day they were erected.
this day an annual service is held here on the Sunday closes to Anzac
Day and is attended by representatives of the New Zealand High
Commission, New Zealand Forces and many Brockenhurst villagers alike.
Further information on the No. 1 New Zealand General Hospital can be found on the New Zealand Government's WW100 website and Auckland Museum website.