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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Edward George Last Name: HIRST
Date of Death: 24/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Ilford
Rank: Private Unit: Warwickshire2
Memorial Site: 1. Ilford, Newbury Park Memorial 2. Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Age-33

7, Chapel Row, High Street, Ilford

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.

From 21st October to 24th October 7th Division, in their position east of Ypres were repeatedly attacked by the numerically superior Germans, whilst 1st and 2nd Divisions were similarly assaulted to the north-east of Ypres around Langemarck. This was the old regular British army at its fighting best and the German offensive failed to break through, but the cost was high.

During the night of 23rd-24th October 7th Division, in the line at Polygon Wood in the Ypres salient, had been kept on the alert, mainly by rifle fire as the Germans attempted, mostly unsuccessfully, to establish snipers and machine guns near the British line.  On 24th October 2nd Warwickshire, 22 Brigade and the Northumberland Hussars from Divisional reserve were sent to check any German advance through Polygon Wood.  This was carried out successfully  They cleared that part of the wood that lay south of the racecourse but 2nd Warwickshire suffered 300 casualties in the process. By noon a new line had been taken up by a considerable mixture of British units, including 2nd Warwickshire, near the eastern edge of the Wood.

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