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Le Touret Memorial, France Le Touret Memorial, France
First Name: Henry Last Name: FLANAGAN
Date of Death: 24/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Hammersmith
Rank: Private Unit: South Lancashire2
Memorial Site: Le Touret Memorial, France

Current Information:

Age-22

2, Shotley Street, Hammersmith

 

The Race to the Sea. September-October 1914

By the middle of September 1914, the Aisne battlefield had stagnated into trench warfare and in order to break this impasse, both sides tried to outflank each other in a general movement northwards. Moving up through Picardy, Artois and Flanders, the race was over by 19th October when the North Sea was reached. The Western Front, a line of trenches stretching from Belgium to Switzerland, was now a reality. Initially it was the French army that conducted this movement whilst the British Expeditionary Force remained on the Aisne but by 6 October British reinforcements were needed to help beat off German attacks around Lille. They moved north and along with reinforcements from Britain, they took up new positions in Flanders, on the left of the Allied line and much closer to the Channel ports.

The battle of La Bassée,

This was fought by  II Corps (3rd and 5th Divisions) between 10th  October and 2nd November 1914 and as the name suggests it focused on an area around the town of  La Bassée in northern France. It was part of the Race to the Sea and it determined the line of the Western Front in that sector. There were some initial British successes but La Bassée remained firmly in German hands. German reinforcements arrived and  the village of Neuve Chapelle was captured by them. Towards the end of October, the fighting on this front died down as the attention of both armies switched to Ypres. On 26th October the Germans broke through the line to capture Neuve Chapelle. The counter attack drew in many troops including 2nd South Lancashire of 7 Brigade, 3rd Division.

On 17th October, 1914, 2nd South Lancashire moved up into the line in front of Illies. They remained here for four days during which time the enemy launched a number of heavy attacks on the British line. The strongest of these came at 7am on 21st October under the cover of a mist and 2nd South Lancashire, on the right of 7 Brigade, was forced back after the Germans had successfully penetrated their positions. That evening they moved back to billets in Bois de Biez The records show that a large number of men from 2nd South Lancashire, including Henry Flanagan, were killed in action on 24th October when, according to the Battalion Diary, they were in billets in Richebourge-St Vaast. It is much more likely that these men were killed on 21st October when the battalion sustained over 200 casualties, and that they were not officially recorded until three days later.

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