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La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France
First Name: Herbert Edward Last Name: DAWSON
Date of Death: 14/09/1914 Lived/Born In: South Kensington
Rank: Captain Unit: Lincolnshire1
Memorial Site: La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France

Current Information:


13A Sussex Place, South Kensington

The Battle of the Aisne 13th September -28 September 1914

After the Germans were defeated on the Marne they fell back to the River Aisne, closely pursued by both the British and the French. The new German line was a very formidable defensive position. To attack it  meant  having to cross the Aisne and then climb up a 500 foot high ridge on top of which was the Chemin des Dames, a road that gave the Germans an easy way to move troops along the top of the hills. On 13th September the Aisne was crossed by both British and French troops but after that progress became slower, until there was no progress at all. Both sides dug in and the fighting settled down into trench warfare. The fighting on the Aisne continued for two weeks at the end of which both sides realised that frontal attacks on entrenched positions were both costly and non-productive, not that this deterred them from continuing with this tactic throughout the war.

On 13th September 9th Brigade, 3rd Division crossed the River Aisne and took up positions just beyond Vailly. At dawn on the following morning, 14th September,  the German guns opened up.  The ground in front of 1st Lincolnshire was fairly flat for 300 yards, then it dipped.  Here a road ran parallel to their position and its telegraph posts provided excellent range markers for the Germans who held an outpost line at this point.  4th Royal Fusiliers on their left were then attacked, an offensive  that spread along the line bringing 1st Lincolnshire into the thick of it.  The conditions meant that many of their rifles were clogged and rapid fire was difficult. Patrols could not find 2nd Division, who should have been on their right and the intervening wood was full of Germans.  There was in fact a 5 mile gap between the 1st Lincolnshire and 2nd Division.  The Germans attacked all morning but they were all repelled despite the fact that there was little support from the British artillery which was still south of the Aisne.  D & B Companies responded to a call for help from 4th Royal Fusiliers and helped drive the enemy back to their starting point but suffered heavy casualties in the process.  Now the Germans began threatening on the right.  They brought their machine guns up to Rouge Maison Farm and opened up on A and C Companies.  German infantry then launched an assault from the woods on the right of 1st Lincolnshire and more heavy losses were incurred. In support, two companies of 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers were pushed up on right but they were enfiladed and repulsed. 1st Lincolnshire were then ordered to retire by platoons but the Germans rushed a machine gun into a wheat stack 50 yards away and their infantry swarmed on to the ridge.  Destructive fire was opened up on 1st Lincolnshire as they fell back across a greasy beet field.  They were rallied at the bottom of the ravine and as Vailly offered no defensive position they moved back across the river using the newly repaired railway bridge. There were more casualties here from German shell fire.  Three hours later they moved back across the river to the cover of a wood where they sheltered behind a bank and at dark moved into Vailly to get what sleep they could.

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