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First Name: Herbert John Last Name: HARRIS
Date of Death: 25/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Brockley
Rank: Rifleman Unit: London8
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Age-21

25, Finland Road, Brockley

Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, France

The Battle of Festubert (15–25 May 1915)

This followed quickly on the heels of  the Battle of Aubers Ridge and was an offensive operation by the British Army in the Artois region of France in conjunction with a French attack further south.  Initial success soon ground to a halt and although there had been an advance of 3 kms in some places the end result was not the hoped for breakout but merely more muddy trenches which became the front line. British casualties over the ten days amounted to nearly 17,000, three times as many as inflicted on the Germans.

The final action of this battle took place during 25th and 26th May, 1915 and involved 47th Division and the 1st Canadian Division in an attack against Chapelle St Roche and Rue d’Ouvert in the Givenchy sector of the front. 47th Division was an all London division which had begun life as the 2nd London Division and had arrived in France in March 1915. This was to be  their first taste of an offensive action and was going to be a very costly one.  

As a preliminary to this action and in an attempt to improve the positions from which the main attack would start, there was an attack in the early morning of 24th May, in which 8th London, 140 Brigade managed to take part of the German front line and the Canadians were able to advance their position some 150 yards. But this success did not come without a price and 8th London suffered many casualties in this action.

The main attack on 25th May, 1915,  was made by 142 Brigade but 8th London were also active on that day and with the help of the bombers from King Edward’s Horse they attacked again and although they captured some more German trenches they were unable to take a German strongpoint known as J3. Rifleman Harris died of wounds on 25th May, 1915, and as he is buried at St. Omer, some miles back from the front, he was probably wounded on an earlier date.

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