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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Robert Samuel Last Name: COSTER
Date of Death: 23/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Greenwich
Rank: Private Unit: Border2
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Born-Greenwich

 

First Battle of Ypres

Between 21st October and 22nd November, 1914 a desperate fight took place around the Belgium city of Ypres, the first of three major battles that were to be fought there during the course of the war. British troops entered Ypres in October. The 1st and 2nd Divisions plus the 3rd Cavalry Division had made their way up from the Aisne as part of the “Race to the Sea”, whilst the 7th Division came west to Ypres after Antwerp had fallen. The Germans knew that Ypres was the gateway to the Channel ports and that these were vital to Britain’s war effort so they poured reinforcements into the area. The fighting fell into three distinct battles; the Battle of Langemarck, 21-24 October, the Battle of Gheluvelt, 29-31 October and the Battle of Nonne Bosschen, 11 November. Ypres did not fall to the Germans but its defence during these two months resulted in the destruction of much of the old regular British Army.

By 19th October, 7th Division had reached Ypres and were advancing on Menin to confront the enemy there. But on their arrival in Menin, 20 Brigade  were subjected to heavy artillery and machine-gun fire  and fell back to more defensible positions on Kruiseck Hill. Here the 2nd Border battalion held a line over two miles long which meant that it could not be a continuous line and was in danger of being infiltrated. Over the next six days they hung grimly to these positions in the face of ever growing German aggression which at first was limited to long range rifle and shell fire and also sniper fire from enemy marksmen, who had been allowed, by the nature of the countryside to get close in places. But by 24th October the Germans had got nearer and there were some small scale infantry attacks to repel and heavier artillery fire which destroyed some of the battalion’s trenches. 2nd Border suffered a number of casualties during their time on Kruiseck Hill, one of whom was Robert Coster who was killed in action on 23rd October.

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