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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Frank William Last Name: BERRY
Date of Death: 11/11/1914 Lived/Born In: West Ham
Rank: Private Unit: Royal Scots Fusiliers1
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:


Born-West Ham


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.

The battle of Nonne Bosschen 

The battle of Nonne Bosschen  on 11th November, 1914 was the final German attempt to break through the British lines around Ypres. They threw twelve and a half divisions into an attack against a nine mile front, stretching from Messines to Reutel (close to Polygon Wood). The main thrust of their attack was either side of the Menin Road where two fresh divisions, numbering around 10,000 men were thrown against eleven tired and depleted British divisions of around 4000 men. The attack was launched at 9 am after the heaviest artillery barrage yet seen and was protected by early morning mist. Astride the Menin Road the defenders were forced to give ground but more critical was the attack that penetrated the Guards Brigade line just to the north and allowed the Germans to get into Nonne Bosschen woods and threaten the artillery line. This threat was averted in the afternoon when a counter attack cleared the Germans from the wood. There was now no chance of a breakthrough and although the Germans made a few minor attacks over the next few days the First Battle of Ypres was finished.

On 11th November the Prussian Guards attacked along the Menin Road and forced a gap between 4th Royal Fusiliers and French troops at Veldhoek. 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers of 9 Brigade, 3rd Division were in reserve and they were immediately sent up to close this breach. They moved up from their dug-outs at Hooge and along with some of 2nd Sussex they launched a counter attack that caught the Germans in the  flank as they turned south into Herenthage Wood in an attempt to roll up the line.  The enemy were driven out of the wood with very heavy losses and 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers regained the support line of 4th Royal Fusiliers, 200 yards back from the front line.  At 4pm there was an attempt to regain the lost trenches of 4th Royal Fusiliers by a frontal attack  made by 4th Royal Fusiliers themselves and 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers co-ordinated with a flank attack by 1st Northumberland Fusiliers. This attack failed to achieve its objective only resulting in many casualties from the close fighting in Herenthage Wood. Among those killed was Frank Berry of 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers.

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