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First Name: Robert Last Name: BARNETT
Date of Death: 19/12/1914 Lived/Born In: Stoke Newington
Rank: Rifleman Unit: Rifle Brigade1
Memorial Site:

Current Information:


95 Belgrade Road, Stoke Newington

Rifle House Cemetery

On the 19th December 1914 a French attack at Arras was planned and in order to prevent German troops from being moved south to counter this, 11 Brigade, 4th Division were ordered to make an attack on the German line east of Ploegsteert Wood between Le Gheer and St. Yves. This attack was carefully planned and went ahead despite the fact that the French offensive at Arras was cancelled. Such are the vagaries of war. The action began at 2.30pm and  was carried out by 1st Rifle Brigade on the right and 1st Somerset Light Infantry on the left with the objective being a number of strongholds, the “German Houses”, the capture of which would remove an obvious threat and straighten the line. But luck was not on the side of the attackers . This was a time of acute shell shortages and the preliminary bombardment was weak and ineffective. To add to their woes almost straight away, the officer in charge of the action was shot dead. However the men raced forward in the centre and braving rifle and machine gun fire as well as their own artillery firing “short” they took two of the strongpoints before being held up. On the left 2Lt. Daniell and a small party with him were all killed as they tried to make contact with 1st Somerset. Realising that no further forward progress was possible the decision was made to consolidate the ground that had been captured and this was carried out before daybreak the next morning. 1st Rifle Brigade’s casualties for this small operation were 70, of whom 26 were killed. Private Barnett was one of the youngest battle casualties of the war.


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