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Le Touret Memorial, France Le Touret Memorial, France
First Name: Alexander Last Name: McKENZIE
Date of Death: 20/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Hoxton
Rank: Private Unit: Manchester2
Memorial Site: 1. Leyton Library 2. Le Touret Memorial, France

Current Information:

Born-Islington

 

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 18th October, the 2nd Manchester battalion of 14 Brigade, 5th Division moved forward to Lorges and relieved  1st East Surrey. On the following day they continued the advance in the direction of La Bassée and advanced as far as Les Trois Maisons where they dug in. On the morning of 20th October the enemy attacked their left flank and there followed a day of heavy fighting and shelling in which some platoons of ‘A’ Company launched a gallant but costly bayonet charge. In the face of unrelenting pressure, 2nd Manchester withdrew that evening to support trenches covering Lorges. The battalion had sustained nearly two hundred casualties during the course of the day, one of whom was Alexander McKenzie who was killed in action.

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