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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: William John Last Name: ALDEN
Date of Death: 29/04/1915 Lived/Born In: Leytonstone
Rank: Private Unit: Hampshire1
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Age-35

21 St Anne's Road, Leytonstone

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 two weeks the fighting continued on this front. The Germans persisted with their attacks, the British fought desperate rearguard 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 Eventually, during the night of 3rd & 4th May the British forces were withdrawn from their forward positions and took up a new defensive line closer to Ypres.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. Late in the evening of 25th April, 11th Brigade was sent forward to fill the gap in the line. In pitch darkness 1st Hampshire made contact with 3rd Royal Fusiliers, the left hand battalion of 85 Brigade, 28th Division and overnight entrenched along the Gravenstafel Ridge. By the morning 1st Hampshire were well dug in which was just as well for when mist lifted there was a fierce German bombardment with shells landing at the rate of 50 a minute. During the day the Germans between Berlin Wood and the cross roads 1500 yards south-west of Gravenstafel, made repeated attempts to break through the gaps between 1st Hampshire and 3rd Royal Fusiliers but the thin and far from complete British line held.  Battalion HQ was buried when a shell hit the parapet but  they were dug out . 1st Hampshire remained in these positions until 30th April with the casualties mounting daily.

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