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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Walter Edwin Last Name: BALDWIN
Date of Death: 16/06/1915 Lived/Born In: Abbey Wood
Rank: Lance Corporal Unit: Lincolnshire1
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Age-22

4, Grove Road, Abbey Wood/Born-Woolwich

Attack at Bellewaarde  16th June, 1915

This attack was carried out with the objective of capturing the Bellewaarde Ridge, thereby depriving the enemy of a valuable vantage point and to straighten out the line between Hooge and Railway Wood. The width of no-man’s-land varied from 50 yards in the centre to 200 yards on the flanks. It was a very well prepared action. Telephone lines were laid in triplicate and in case they failed the pigeon service was brought into action. The German wire was dealt with by high explosive shells and proved not to be a hindrance. Jumping off trenches were dug and there was no real attempt to conceal the place of the attack. The element of surprise would be in the timing. 

The attack was to be made by 9 Brigade and 7 Brigade, both of 3rd Division, in three waves, each successive one pushing further into German territory until Bellewaarde Ridge itself was taken. 9 Brigade provided the first wave of the attack with 4th Royal Fusiliers, 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers and 1st Northumberland Fusiliers the attacking battalions. 1st Wiltshire from 7 Brigade covered their right flank The bombardment of the German positions began at 2.30am and at 4.15am the first infantry wave went in. The element of surprise worked and the German front line was taken with little resistance.

The second wave, 1st Lincolnshire, 7 Brigade and 10th Liverpool (Kings), 9 Brigade, now joined the attack. Ist Lincolnshire rushed forward in support of 4th Royal Fusiliers and bombing their way up communication trenches they took the second German line by 4.30am. But then things started to go wrong. When the second wave rose to attack, so did the third and in the confusion and crowded trenches that ensued the whole advance went too quickly and they ran into their own barrage before it lifted, mist and smoke preventing the gunners from observing what was happening. This disorganised the attack, which was swept by accurate hostile fire from three sides, and it degenerated into confused fighting with bombs and bayonets. Nevertheless the second German line was attacked and taken and some even made it to the third enemy line. A German counter attack at 7.30am was repelled but two hours later ammunition and bombs were running out, the shells were falling thick and fast so there was a general withdrawal back to the first line captured with a few units hanging on in more forward positions until later in the day. Another attack was ordered for 3.30pm and 42 Brigade of 14th Division began moving up to support this. But they arrived too late and only two battalions managed to attack and neither achieved anything except more death and injury. At 6pm the decision was taken to consolidate the initial gains that had been made, namely  the German front line for half a mile between the Menin road and Railway Wood, and the area of No Man’s Land behind but the enemy remained in possession of Bellewaarde ridge and the observation posts on it. 8 Brigade took over the line and 7,9 and 42 Brigades were withdrawn to rest.  3rd Division casualties amounted to over 3,500 almost all of which were the result of artillery fire, including ‘friendly fire’.  German losses were less than 500.

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