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Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium
First Name: William John Last Name: ARNOLD
Date of Death: 10/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Crouch End
Rank: Private Unit: London1
Memorial Site: 1. Palmers Green, Broomfield Park Memorial 2. Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium

Current Information:

Born-Wood Green

Aubers Ridge

On 9 May 1915 the British attacked north at Arras as part of the British contribution to the Second Battle of Artois, a Franco-British offensive. Their objective was the capture of Aubers Ridge but it turned into an unmitigated disaster. The German defences had been much improved since the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March and the British  artillery was in a parlous condition and failed to destroy the German defences during the short and insufficient 40 minute bombardment that preceded the attack. Extra artillery had been requested but further to the north, the Second Battle of Ypres was being fought on a ferocious scale and none was forthcoming. The few initial gains could not be held and by the evening of 9 May, all the British forces were back where they started, except of course the dead who littered the battlefield. There were 11,000 casualties for the British Army.

1st London, were, at this time, part of 25 Brigade, 8th Division which attacked towards Fromelles, 6000 yards to the north of Aubers Ridge. The attack went in at 5.50am and 40 minutes later 1st London moved up in platoon rushes and across fire swept, open ground to the front line, a move that resulted in over 120 casualties just among those on the right.  Targeted by German artillery, clogged by wounded and with many of the men from the attacking battalions falling back to it, the front line was in chaos and at 9am, 1st London was withdrawn to the cross roads at Rue du Quesnes and then back to billets at Bac St Maur with casualties amounting to 200. The records show the deaths among the battalion to be on 10th May but this must have been when they were recorded rather than when they occurred which was on 9th May.

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