The village of Beaumont-Hamel was attacked on 1 July 1916 by the 29th Division, with the 4th on its left and the 36th (Ulster) on its right, but without success. On 3 September a further attack was delivered between Hamel and Beaumont-Hamel and on 13 and 14 November, the 51st (Highland), 63rd (Royal Naval), 39th and 19th (Western) Divisions finally succeeded in capturing Beaumont-Hamel, Beaucourt-sur-Ancre and St. Pierre-Divion.
Following the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in the spring of 1917, V Corps cleared this battlefield and created a number of cemeteries, of which Ancre British Cemetery (then called Ancre River No.1 British Cemetery, V Corps Cemetery No.26) was one. There were originally 517 burials almost all of the 63rd (Naval) and 36th Divisions, but after the Armistice the cemetery was greatly enlarged when many more graves from the same battlefields and from the following smaller burial grounds:-
ANCRE RIVER BRITISH CEMETERY No.2 (V Corps Cemetery No.27), about 400 metres East of No.1, containing the graves of 64 officers and men from the United Kingdom (mainly 1st H.A.C., 11th Royal Sussex, and Hood Battalion) who fell in September and November 1916.
BEAUCOURT STATION CEMETERY, begun after the capture of Beaucourt by the R.N.D. on the 14th November 1916, and containing the graves of 85 officers and men from the United Kingdom who fell in November 1916 - March 1917. It was close to Beaucourt-Hamel station.
GREEN DUMP CEMETERY, on the South-West side of "Station Road", between Beaumont-Hamel and the station. It was used from November 1916, to March 1917, and it contained the graves of 45 soldiers and one Marine from the United Kingdom.
R.N.D. CEMETERY (V Corps Cemetery No.21), in the open country midway between Beaumont-Hamel and Hamel. It contained the graves of 336 officers and men from the United Kingdom, mainly of the Royal Naval Division.
SHERWOOD CEMETERY (V Corps Cemetery No.20), about 700 metres North-West of the R.N.D. Cemetery. It contained the graves of 176 officers and men from the United Kingdom, belonging chiefly to the 36th and Royal Naval Divisions, the 17th Sherwood Foresters and the 17th King's Royal Rifles.
STATION ROAD CEMETERY, on the South side of "Station Road", 500 metres West of the railway. This cemetery was used, from November 1916, to March 1917, for the burial of 82 officers and men from the United Kingdom.
"Y" RAVINE CEMETERY No. 2 (V Corps Cemetery No.18), about 300 metres South-East of the present "Y" Ravine Cemetery. Here were buried 140 officers and men from the United Kingdom and two from Newfoundland, who fell in July, September and November 1916.
The majority of those buried in the cemetery died on 1 July, 3 September or 13 November 1916.
There are now 2,540 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 1,335 of the graves are unidentified, but special memorials commemorate 43 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. There are also special memorials to 16 casualties know to have been buried in other cemeteries, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire.
The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.
The ROYAL NAVAL DIVISION MEMORIAL for the capture of Beaumont-Hamel is a stone obelisk erected beside the main road from Arras to Albert, at Beaucourt-sur-Ancre.