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First Name: Arthur Dennis Last Name: HARDING
Date of Death: 30/10/1914 Lived/Born In: South Kensington
Rank: Lieutenant Unit: Gloucestershire1
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Age-22

1A, Moreton Terrace, South Kensington

Ypres Town Cemetery

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.

Between 29th and 31st October a massive concentration of German troops tried to break the British line around Gheluvelt at the eastern apex of the Ypres salient. 1st and 7th Divisions stood in their path. On the 29th October, after a day of intense fighting, often hand to hand, the British were pushed back to the Gheluvelt cross roads. The following day the Germans attacked Gheluvelt itself and although the village remained in British hands, German troops had some success further south at Zandvoorde and were now able to enfilade the British line. Then on 31st October came the main German attack and Gheluvelt fell. At one stage the it seemed that all was lost but a dramatic counter attack by 2nd Worcestershire, stabilised the line. However, the loss to the British army in man power had been enormous.

At 5.30 am on 29th October and concealed by fog, the expected Germans attack began. It fell on the Gheluvelt cross roads, where the Menin Road crossed between Kruiseecke and Poezelhoek. 1 Brigade, 1st Division held the line here and when these trenches were lost, 1st Gloucestershire, 3 Brigade, 1st Division were ordered to move up and retake them. At 7 am three companies of 1st Gloucestershire moved up independently.  One arrived 300 yards from the crossroads, rallied the survivors of the German attack but was then attacked itself from the north-east.  A second company joined 1st Scots Guards and the third company pushed up between the other two and got into the firing line wherever they could.  Later the fourth company moved up, found the first company in trouble and with it was forced back 300 yards after inflicting heavy casualties on the Germans.

On the following day, 30th  October,  1st Gloucestershire had a relatively quiet day compared with day before. The fighting being concentrated further south. 1st Gloucestershire stayed in their trenches at Veldhoek but even here they suffered a number of casualties from shell fire. Lieutenant Harding died of wounds on this day and he could have been wounded on an earlier date.

 

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