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First Name: John George Henry Last Name: ANGEL
Date of Death: 20/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Bethnal Green
Rank: Private Unit: East Kent (Buffs)1
Memorial Site: 1. Bethnal Green Library 2. Ploegsteert Memorial

Current Information:


41 Baxendale Street, Bethnal Green


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 Armentières  12th October-2nd November 1914

The official History pinpoints the battle of Armentières to a series of battles that took place between the river Douve and a line between Estaires and Foumers. It was part of the Race to the Sea and it determined the line of the Western Front in that sector. It was fought by III Corps. (4th & 6th Divisions + 19Brigade)

On 20th October the Germans attacked British troops on the Lille Ridge. All three Brigades of 6th Division were attacked along the line Radinghem-Ennetières-Prèmesques-Epinette.  Between 7 and 8 am their trenches were heavily shelled followed by German infantry attack which came on in bounds and covered by machine guns.  1st East Kents (Buffs), 16 Brigade, held the front east of Radinghem whilst the remainder of 16 Brigade prepared a second line half way between the front and Bois-Grenier.  At 1 pm there was concentrated German shelling and assault against Radinghem but 1st East Kents (Buffs)  held on. At  3 pm, artillery observers reported the Germans to be advancing on Radinghem from Le Maisnil.  By this time 1st East Kents (Buffs) they had lost touch with the flanking troops, 18 Brigade and some French cavalry, both of whom had been driven back and they were in serious danger of being surrounded. The battalion machine guns had been knocked out and the trench on their left had been captured.  At 4.50 pm a message from Brigade HQ ordered them to hold on at all costs and that reinforcements were being sent to assist and at 7 pm this help arrived.  Half an hour later the Brigadier arrived at the barricade in the village held by the HQ party.  Unaware that both flanks were exposed he ordered the village to be held.  A Staff officer put him right and the retirement of the 1st Buffs was ordered back to the second line.

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