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Gentleman's Military Interest Club

WW1 Military Cemetery, Niš, Serbia

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I've spent the weekend in Niš so I seized the opportunity to visit British WW1 Military Cemetery in the part of town called "Delijski Vis" (Делијски вис). It's located at the corner of the Francuska and Milunka Savić streets, surrounded by a wall and a fence and secured with a combination padlock. Unfortunately I didn't know the code at the time, even though finding it later took about 5 minutes, so I made couple of photos from the outside. 
Right next to it used to be a Serbian Military Cemetery on which some 2500 soldiers from the Wars of 1912-1918 were buried. There are some contradictory information online but I think around 1700-1800 earthly remains (including some from WW2) were exhumed in 1989 and placed into 16 collective tombs. Unfortunately vast majority of the fallen soldiers remained unknown. The lot on which these collective tombs are placed used to be German WW1 and WW2 Military Cemetery which was relocated to Belgrade in 1942 (separate topic about it can be found here).
Look from the entrance gate in Francuska Street (Француска улица).

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The old military cemetery at Delijski Vis covers the area of more than 5 hectares. It is assumed that more than 2,500 soldiers were buried there from 1912 to 1918. The first burials started during the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). The cemetery was closed for burials in 1959 and in 1989 it was protected by the Republic of Serbia.

The monument within the Military Cemetery of the British Commonwealth was dedicated to the British soldiers killed in World War One. The cemetery covers the area of approximately 300m2 and contains 41 commemorative plaques, distributed in six rows, with the names, unit and year of death of each buried soldier. The cemetery was designed by Sir Robert Lorimer.

The cemetery was opened in 1915, rearranged in 1928, while on May 12th, 1929, a cross-shaped monument was unveiled. In 1983, it was protected by the Republic of Serbia.


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Information found here (GWGC)


Historical Information
Nis, the ancient capital of Serbia, was the seat of the Serbian Government from the 25th July 1914, until November, 1915, and from November 1915, to October 1918 it was in Bulgarian hands. 

On the east side of the town, four miles from the railway station, is the Chela Kula Military Hospital (the name refers to the "tower of skulls" made by the Turks in 1809) and the great Military Cemetery which contains French, Austrian, Hungarian and Bulgarian plots, besides Serbian graves. The British plot, in the South-West part, is enclosed by a low granite wall. 

The British plot contains the graves of 26 soldiers from the United Kingdom, seven Red Cross nurses, three sailors of the Royal Navy and three unidentified Marines. Of the 26 soldiers, 25 belonged to the R.A.S.C. (M.T.) and died of influenza after the Armistice with Bulgaria. Of the nurses, five belonged to the Scottish Women's Hospital. Two special memorials record the names of a sailor and a Marine, buried at Belgrade in 1915, whose graves could not be found. 

Thirty-eight of the British graves were brought in from BELGRADE (NOVO GROBLJE) CEMETERY, NISH BRITISH CEMETERY, VRANJE BRITISH CEMETERY and other burial grounds.

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As Niš is not my hometown and I don't travel there often I also was not aware of that military cemetery. Some years back I read an article about it and decided to visit it next time I go to Southern Serbia. 
Apart from that one there's also WW2 military cemetery in Belgrade, it's larger and more people know about it. When the road takes me to that neighborhood I'll try making a few photos.

By the way, military cemetery in Niš is called Chela Kula (Skull Tower, in Serbian "Ћеле кула") on GWGC website. The Tower is very close to the cemetery hence the name. For those who plan to go to Niš in the future I strongly recommend visiting it. I think such a structure doesn't exist anywhere else in the Europe or even the world, at least I'm not aware of it. 
The tower was built in 1809 out of 952 skulls of the Serbian revolutionaries who were killed in the Battle of Čegar during First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire. I'll probably open a separate topic about it on GMIC, until then everyone interested can read more about it here (Wikipedia).

Edited by paja

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