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First Name: David Sewell Last Name: HARDWICK
Date of Death: 31/10/1914 Lived/Born In: West Ham
Rank: Corporal Unit: Middlesex1
Memorial Site: Ploegsteert Memorial

Current Information:


34 Stephen's Road, West Ham

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 22nd October, 1st Middlesex, 19 Brigade took up a defensive between La Boutillerie and Rouge Bancs. Here they remained for the next six days, subjected to continuous sniping and shelling. Inevitably there were many casualties. In the early hours of 30th October the Germans attacked this position. 1st Middlesex waited until they were at the wire 40 yards in front, then opened rapid fire.  Despite this some German soldiers penetrated between C & D Companies.  B Company tried but failed to evict them as did a platoon from Battalion HQ.  A 3rd attack in which all HQ staff and some of 2nd Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders were used ,managed to retake the lost trenches. On 31st October, 1st Middlesex had been relieved and this could well be when the battalion records were written up fully. it is quite likely that Corporal Hardwick was killed earlier during the six days that they were in these trenches. 

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