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Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France
First Name: Percy Thomas Last Name: NAISMITH
Date of Death: 11/11/1914 Lived/Born In: Limehouse
Rank: Private Unit: London14
Memorial Site: Limehouse, St Anne

Current Information:

Age-19

Born-Stepney 

Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France

 

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.

After having been heavily involved in the fighting at Messines at the beginning of the month, 14th London (London Scottish),  arrived at Hooge in the Ypres salient on 7th November to join 1 Brigade, 1st Division.  On 8th November they moved to Zillebeke and into trenches in the wood 1 ½ miles, south-east of the village. Here they stayed until 13th November, heavily shelled day and night and in a position of constant anxiety. Their right flank was very vulnerable and a farmhouse on the left flank was occupied by the enemy and remained a constant source of worry. Several small attacks were made on their trenches during the first night there and on 10th November there was a fierce artillery bombardment that blew the HQ dug-outs to bits. Some of the trenches were so badly damaged that new ones had to be dug. The next day, 11th November, at 6.30am, the whole of the British line here was heavily shelled accompanied by a constant rain of rifle bullets. Then, from the German trenches, only 100 yards away, came the enemy infantry, advancing in large numbers from the woods behind them. By this time 14th London were fighting in two separate groups, having men from 2nd Welsh and 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers between them, and a very strong force of Germans were heading towards the right group Their right flank was enveloped and things looked serious until a counter attack against the exposed left flank of the enemy was made  by some of 2nd King’s Royal Rifle Corps which restored the situation.  Later the left half of 14th London also came under serious attack and this time the situation was saved by bringing up what remained of Battalion HQ into the line. By the end of the day the Germans had made no gains in this sector. During the night of 13-14th November, 14th London were withdrawn form the line and moved back to a wood near Hooge before going into Corps reserve the next day.  Percy Naismith died of wounds on 11th November after having been evacuated back to Boulogne, but there is no record as to when he was wounded.

 

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