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Le Touret Memorial, France Le Touret Memorial, France
First Name: Henry Benjamin Last Name: BURNESS
Date of Death: 13/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Poplar
Rank: Private Unit: Dorset1
Memorial Site: Le Touret Memorial

Current Information:

Born-Poplar

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.

The 13th  October, 1914 was a day of heavy fighting . 1st Dorsets, 15 Brigade, 5th Division, advanced for 2000 yards along the north bank of the La Bassée canal as far as the Guinchy brickstacks. On their left, 1st Bedfordshires were forced out of the village of Givenchy and  this exposed the flank of 1st Dorset. Isolated, they now faced a Gerrman attack and at the same time were  enfiladed by machine guns on the railway embankment south of the canal where they thought 13Brigade were. 1st Dorset withdrew with 400 casualties, 130 of them killed.  They fell back 500yds to Pont Fixe.

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