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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Elias Last Name: DEAR
Date of Death: 23/04/1915 Lived/Born In: Brentford
Rank: Private Unit: Middlesex8
Memorial Site: 1. Brentford Memorial 2. Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Age-35

312 High Street, Old Brentford

The Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge (22–23 April 1915)

In the late afternoon of 22nd April an unfamiliar green cloud was seen to rise from the German trenches on the northern part of the Ypres salient, held by two French divisions. The Germans had used poison gas on the Western Front for the first time. It was chlorine gas and this destroys moist tissues such as lungs and eyes. The French troops in the path of the gas cloud suffered 6,000 casualties, many of whom died within ten minutes. Many others were blinded. Not surprisingly the French line broke leaving a 4 mile gap into which the German soldiers advanced. Desperate defending by Canadian troops prevented a complete German breakthrough but nevertheless a lot of ground was lost including Langemarck and Pilckem and the Ypres salient became even smaller. Two British divisions, the 27th and the 28th  were holding the line nearby and they sent their reserves to try to stem the German tide. Although this action was given the name of the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge, it was actually fought further to the west in the region of Koorslaere and to the west of St Julien.

8th Middlesex were new to the Western Front having arrived in France in early March, 1915 to join 85 Brigade, 28th Division. After a period of training in trench warfare they moved to the front line on 12th April at Zonnebeke, relieving 3rd Middlesex and it was during this tour that they suffered their first casualties.

 When the first gas attack took place on 22nd April A and B Companies were supplying carrying parties at Zonnebeke and moved up in support of 2nd East Surrey on the Ypres-Roulers railway. D and C Companies were at Brandhoek. During the 22nd and 23rd April A and B Companies were subjected to considerable shelling as the German tried to capitalise on the gas attack and there were the inevitable casualties among their ranks. 

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