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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Charles Last Name: BAIRD
Date of Death: 27/04/1915 Lived/Born In: Herne Hill
Rank: Rifleman Unit: Rifle Brigade1
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Age-20

 

199, Mayall Road, Herne Hill

 

Battle of St Julien, 24 April – 4 May 1915

Spurred on by the success of their gas attack on 22nd April, the Germans struck again two days later on the northern sector of the Ypres salient at St. Julien.  Once more chlorine gas was used and despite a resolute defence the British and Canadians were pushed back and St Julien was lost. For nearly 2 weeks the fighting continued on this front. The Germans persisted with their attacks, the British fought desperate rear guard actions and launched many counter attacks but gradually they were pushed further and further back. Eventually, during the night of 3rd & 4th May the British forces were withdrawn from their forward positions and took up a new defensive line closer to Ypres.

4th Division had spent the winter holding the line at Ploegsteert, but on 24th April 1915, they were rushed north to Ypres at short notice, to reinforce the hard pressed defenders facing the German gas attacks there.

On the evening of 25th  April, 11 Brigade reached St. Jean where a shell landing right in the middle of the leading company of 1st Rifle Brigade resulting in an awful carnage. Moving on after a lengthy stop they marched through Wieltje and along the Gravenstafel road where they were met by Canadians at Spree Farm cross roads near Fortuin, just behind the Steenbeck and were taken to Hill 37. 1st Rifle Brigade spent the night in French dug-outs. Early next morning, 26th April dim figures approaching were found to be Durham territorials rather than Germans and it was discovered that there were other British troops some distance in front of 1st Rifle Brigade’s position. A platoon was sent forward to investigate and the enemy were seen trickling down the Gravenstafel Ridge into the Hanebeek Valley but no attack came. Heavy shelling all day caused 103 casualties. Over the next two days the heavy shelling continued and further attempts to move the line forward were thwarted by the Germans who had strengthened their positions and occupied more buildings. During the night 28th-29th April 1st Rifle Brigade entrenched and occupied a line from the cross roads immediately south-east of Kansas Cross to the bridge over the Hanebeek on the Gravenstafel road. They were now in line with the rest of 11 Brigade.

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