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First Name: Sidney Harcourt Last Name: COLES
Date of Death: 12/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Brixton
Rank: Lieutenant Unit: Middlesex4
Memorial Site: Forest Hill, Christ Church

Current Information:

Age-24

Grove Park, Denmark Hill

Vieille-Chapelle New Military Cemetery, Lacouture

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 La Bassée,

This was fought by  II Corps (3rd and 5th Divisions) between 10th  October and 2nd November 1914 and as the name suggests it focused on an area around the town of  La Bassée in northern France. It was part of the Race to the Sea and it determined the line of the Western Front in that sector. There were some initial British successes but La Bassée remained firmly in German hands. German reinforcements arrived and  the village of Neuve Chapelle was captured by them. Towards the end of October, the fighting on this front died down as the attention of both armies switched to Ypres.

The Battle moved up a gear on 12th October when II Corps advanced on an 8 mile front, astride the La Bassée canal. The going was tough and slow. The Germans contested every stage of a general attack that started at 3pm.

On the morning of 12th October, 4th Middlesex, 8 Brigade, 3rd Division moved towards Vieille Chapelle to take up an outpost line east of the village.  At  11am they went into action and suffered seven casualties.

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