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First Name: Frederick Last Name: HOOK
Date of Death: 13/09/1914 Lived/Born In: Pimlico
Rank: Rifleman Unit: Rifle Brigade1
Memorial Site: Pimlico, St Gabriel Memorial

Current Information:

Born-St Pancras

Vauxbuin French National Cemetery

13 September 1914

1st Rifle Brigade 11Brigade, 4th Division

The great retreat was over. The British and French armies had fallen back, re-grouped and then stopped the German advance at the Battle of the Marne, arguably the most decisive battle of the war. Now it was the Germans turn to retreat and they fell back to the natural defences provided by the River Aisne.

The 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade had arrived in France on 23rd August, the day that the Battle of Mons was being fought. They had been hurried across northern France and were in position to take part in the Battle of Le Cateau on the 26th August and the subsequent retreat south.

On the night of the 12th and 13th September the 4th Division reached the Aisne at Venizel and 11Brigade was ordered across. They were the first British troops across this river and although the Germans had destroyed most of the bridges, the one at Venizel remained standing. Well at least the central girder did and it was along this that the troops crossed. All the munitions and stores had to be unloaded from carts and taken across manually. Luckily the Germans had abandoned their trenches on the northern bank in favour of better defences further up the steep valley.

By dawn the 1st Rifle Brigade had crossed, made their way up the valley and taken possession of the high ground between Bucy-le-Long and Ste Marguerite. From there they moved through the woods at the top of the ridge and established outposts. From this position on the west side of the Chivres valley they were able to fire on the German troops dug in on the east side. Here they stayed for most of the day but by late afternoon the German artillery had got their range and their heavy fire forced them back down towards the river, suffering many casualties on the way.


But the British were not forced back across the Aisne and it was here that the stalemate of trench warfare was first seen. By the end of the year the trenches had spread north to the English channel and south to the Swiss border. The war had become bogged down and was to remain like that for most of the next 4 years.

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