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Arras Memorial, France Arras Memorial, France
First Name: Harry Clement Last Name: DIPLOCK
Date of Death: 22/05/1916 Lived/Born In: West Brompton
Rank: Rifleman Unit: London18
Memorial Site: Arras Memorial, France

Current Information:

Age-17

7 Richmond Place, Fulham

On 19th May, 1916, 47th Division sidestepped to the south and took over the Berthental and Carency sector of the Vimy Ridge, just to the north of Arras. Their arrival here coincided with a German onslaught against these positions which for the first 2 days took the form of a barrage of large trench mortars or Minenwerfers, known to the British soldier as “minnies”. But the full force of the German army was not felt until the next day, 21st May, 1916. The trench mortars continued to batter the British line until midday and then, at 3pm, after a lull, there began an intense artillery bombardment of the front from Royal Avenue to Momber and Love craters, the positions held by 7th London and 8th London of 140 Brigade  This bombardment not only covered the front but all the back positions too, including billeting villages 7 to 8 miles back.  All agreed that never before had such a ferocious artillery barrage been seen.  The enemy had 80 batteries with unlimited ammunition, firing on just a 1800 yard front and the agony continued for 4 hours with 70,000 shells being fired.  The smoke and dust mixed with the tear gas shells caused so much confusion that the British artillery were unaware of the infantry assault which the Germans  launched at 7.45pm when the German artillery lifted and a mine was fired at the head of Royal Avenue.  A minute later the German infantry attacked but they were not seen until they were half way across no-man’s land, advancing in lines at 3 yard intervals with other lines behind carrying wire, timber and machine guns. The trenches held by 140 Brigade were soon in their hands. 18th London of 141 Brigade were in Brigade reserve when the attack was launched and they were moved up from Cabaret Rouge to the Bajolle trenches. At 2am on 22nd May, a much depleted ‘A’ Company took part in a counter attack to try to regain lost ground but it came to nothing, other than the deaths of a number of men from ‘A’ Company. The day was quiet and then in the evening a platoon from ‘C’ Company tried again with the same result. The casualty list for the day was not a short one and included Harry Diplock who was killed in action.

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