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Neuve-Chapelle British Cemetery, France Neuve-Chapelle British Cemetery, France
First Name: John William Last Name: BARKER
Date of Death: 15/03/1915 Lived/Born In: Barnes
Rank: Private Unit: Royal Berkshire2
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Neuve-Chapelle British Cemetery


Battle of Neuve Chapelle  March 1915

The Indian Army Corps and IV Corps attacked the village of Neuve Chapelle in the Artois region of France between 10th and 13th March, 1915. During the winter of 1914-1915, reinforcements had arrived from Britain and this was seen as an opportunity to use them to break through the German lines.

It started well. At 7.30 am on 10th March, a 30 minute hurricane bombardment destroyed the German wire and front line trenches and at 8.05 am the infantry went in. Neuve Chapelle was captured and over a mile of the German line taken. But that was the end of the success.  The British chain of command was weak and their communications poor, which was hardly surprising given that many of the troops had no previous experience of battle. The Germans re-organised and reinforced during the night and no further gains were made. British casualties mounted to 12,000 by the time the offensive petered out on 13th March.

Leading the attack of 25th Brigade, 8th Division on 10th March were 2nd Lincolnshire and 2nd Royal Berkshire attacking on a 400 yard front. Even before they moved off 2nd Royal Berkshire suffered a number of casualties from their own shelling, a lot of which fell short. One shell alone buried over 12 men, who were only dug out after the advance started, some dead and others badly wounded. At 8.05am the British barrage lifted and they moved across No Man’s Land with little loss and took the German front trench and by  8.20am they had reached the German support line at which stage 1st Royal Irish Rifles passed through them to continue the attack. 2nd Royal Berkshire remained in these positions for the next 36 hours during which time they were subjected to continuous German shelling and the casualties mounted. On 12th March they moved forward to the eastern edge of Neuve Chapelle to support an attack by 2nd Rifle Brigade but this was cancelled so they moved back. Later they moved forward again to support other attacks which also did not happen. With all this moving back and forth they sustained a number of casualties from German artillery fire. The 13th March saw 2nd Royal Berkshire move back to their original positions and then move forward again where they remained all of the next two days.

Their casualties for the period 10th-15th March amounted to approximately 300, with about 80 officers and men killed or dying of their wounds. However it was not until they were finally relieved that these deaths were properly recorded and the date shown on these records may not necessarily be the correct one. 

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