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First Name: Donald Last Name: MARVIN
Date of Death: 09/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Crouch End
Rank: Second Lieutenant Unit: Seaforth Highlanders1
Memorial Site: Crouch End, Christ Church

Current Information:


Woburn Abbey Cemetery, Cuinchy, France

Battle of Aubers Ridge

On 9th  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, 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 4th Seaforth Highlanders had attracted a large number of recruits from London, especially those men who were unable to join the London Scottish battalion. They had arrived in France in November, 1914 and had joined the Dehra Dun Brigade of the Meerut Division of the Indian Corps. On 9th May, 1915 1st 4th Seaforth Highlanders led the attack by the Meerut Division along with 1st Seaforth Highlanders and 2/2nd Gurkhas. Those in charge presumed that under the cover of the intense shelling the infantry would reach the German line unmolested and therefore  did not arrange for any covering fire. But the Germans had been observing above the parapet actually during the bombardment and heavy fire from 22 machine guns hit these leading units. This had severe consequences for the Seaforths and the Gurkhas. When the main attack went in at 5.40am, as the barrage lifted the troops met this fusillade as well as cross fire from from screened machine gun emplacements in front of the  wire into which some Germans had crawled.  They were forced to seek cover and the trenches became blocked with dead and wounded.

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