The town was in British occupation during practically the whole of the War. It was important as being, though sometimes bombed or bombarded at long range, the nearest place to Ypres which was both considerable in size and reasonably safe. It was at first a Casualty Clearing Station centre, but in 1916 these units were moved further back and Field Ambulances took their place. Poperinge Old Military Cemetey was begun in October, 1914, and closed to British burials in May, 1915, but one man of the Chinese Labour Corps was buried in Plot II, Row O, in May, 1919. The graves of about 800 French and Belgian soldiers and nearly 500 civilians were removed after the Armistice; the civilians died, for the most part, in an epidemic of typhoid at the end of 1914, and were buried from an emergency hospital in the neighbouring Chateau (now destroyed).
There are now over 400, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, over 20 are unidentified and special memorials are erected to five soldiers from the United Kingdom and two from Canada, known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery covers an area of 1,851 square metres and is enclosed by a red brick wall.
Burials (Commonwealth War Graves Commission):
- United Kingdom: 403
- Canada: 48
- Total Commonwealth: 451
- Other Nationalities: 2