The British Cemetery at Elvas, Portugal (Portuguese: Cemitério dos Ingleses) is one of the oldest British Military Cemeteries in existence. It holds only five known graves but two of these are the only marked graves of the thousands of British soldiers who fell at the Battle of Albuera and another is the sole marked grave of the thousands who fell in the three sieges of Badajoz.
The British Cemetery is situated in the bastion of S. João da Corujeiro, high on the eastern wall of Fort Elvas and just below the castle, commanding a fine view over the plain to Badajoz in Spain. It is named after the nearby chapel, founded by the Friars of St. John’s Hospitallers in 1228 to mark the spot at which they broke into the Moorish defences.
The area containing the graves of Maj. Gen. Daniel Hoghton, Lt. Col. Daniel White, Lt. Col. James Ward Oliver, Maj. William Nicholas Bull and his wife Caroline is surrounded by a cast-iron railing, installed on 20 August 1904 by the Military Governor Brig. J.C. Rodrigues da Costa. A small stone engraved with G.P.E. 20-8-1904 commemorates the occasion. For many years the cemetery lay within Portuguese military jurisdiction. The cemetery was rededicated in 1997 and is now maintained by the Friends of the British Cemetery, Elvas, and open to the public.
|British Cemetery Elvas|
The British Cemetery, Elvas.
Throughout the history of Portugal, Elvas has been a key to its land defence. In 1811 it was the southern gateway to Spain, faced by Badajoz. In the north, Almeida facing Ciudad Rodrigo, fulfilled the same role. The Duke of Wellington was anxious to secure both cities before advancing into Spain and chose to conduct the operations in the north himself and leave Marshal Beresford, the Commander in Chief of the Portuguese army, in command of the southern operation.
The second siege of Badajoz was interrupted by the advance at Albuera where the French Army was repulsed on 16 May 1811 in one of the bloodiest actions of the Peninsular War. Badajoz was not taken until March 1812, at great cost. In the sieges of Badajoz and the Battle of Albuera, the forces of Britain, Portugal, Spain and Germany lost some 11,000 men.
Regimental plaques were hung on the walls of the cemetery in May 2000 in the presence of the British Ambassador, Sir John Holmes and the Chief of the Portuguese Army Staff, General Martins Barento, in recognition of the British and Portuguese Regiments that fought in the Battle of Albuera and the Sieges of Badajoz. The Portuguese Army carried out the restoration and landscaping of the cemetery and the installation of the plaques. Maintenance of the cemetery remains the responsibility of The Friends of the British Cemetery.
In May 2004 General Fulgencio Coll Bucher, Commander of Mechanised Brigade XI - Extremadura and Military Governor of Badajoz, unveiled a plaque, in the presence of the British Ambassador to Portugal, to the Spanish Regiments that fought at Albuera.
On 14 May 2011 Peninsular War 200 dedicated a plaque on the Albuera Wall in remembrance of the 60,000 officers and men of the British and Portuguese armies who died alongside their Spanish allies in the cause of freedom and independence in the Peninsular War.
Known graves include:
Generals Beresford and Stewart, citing the 1654 Anglo-Luso Treaty, requested the Governor of Elvas that General Hoghton be buried in the British Cemetery, Elvas. Memorials were placed in St. Paul's Cathedral, London and St. Leonard's Church, Walton-in-the-Dale, Lancashire.
Lt.Col. Charles Bevan, who was buried on 11 July 1811 in Portalegre, is honoured with a plaque on the west wall.