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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Henry Arthur Last Name: TAPPING
Date of Death: 24/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Plumstead
Rank: Private Unit: East Kent (Buffs)2
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Age-39

70, Pattison Road, Plumstead

Battle of Bellewaarde (24th-25th May, 1915)

The line held by V Corps of the BEF in May 1915, stretched 5 ½ miles around much of the Ypres salient from Hill 60 to the junction with the French at Turco Farm in the north-east and was held from right to left by 83 Brigade, 28th Division, 1st Cavalry Division (1 & 2 Cavalry Brigades astride the Menin Road), 85 Brigade, 28th Division (across the railway and the Zonnebeke road) and then 10 Brigade, 4th Division covering Wieltje and up to Mouse Trap Farm with 12 Brigade beyond.  At 2.45am on 24th May, the Germans opened up a tremendous artillery bombardment on this front followed up by the release of gas in greater quantities than had been seen before with dense gas clouds rising to 40 feet. In some places no-man’s land was very narrow and the defenders had little or no time in which to don their gas masks. The centre of the line held firm but at the two extremities, Mouse Trap farm in the north and Bellewaarde Lake in the south, the enemy broke through. Reserves were called up but despite some hard fighting the losses were not made good and the salient around Ypres was further reduced.  

2nd East Kent (Buffs) were on the right of 85 Brigade, 28th Division and at 4.30am A Company and half of C Company were sent to assist the cavalry and reinforced the trenches of 9th Lancers astride the Menin Road. At 6.30am, B Company and the other half of C Company were sent from the reserve line to reinforce 3rd Royal Fusiliers as they tried, unsuccessfully, to retake lost trenches.  As they moved up they were met by heavy shell fire and very few of them made it across. With the enemy in great strength the remainder of 2nd East Kent were ordered to  support 3rd Royal Fusiliers in the trenches close to the Menin Road to which they had withdrawn and which German shell fire had made into a death trap.  In the early afternoon, D Company moved up from GHQ line to assist but met such terrific fire that only 30 of them made it up.  With the enemy working round their right the situation was critical. Some relief came at 5pm with a counter attack by 84 Brigade but this attack which was continued that evening was ultimately unsuccessful and many from the attacking battalions were forced back into the positions held by 2nd East Kent and 3rd Royal Fusiliers.  A Company stayed here for three days under German artillery and mortar fire and sniper activity.  They were often knee deep in water and were continually digging.  To make matters worse, little or no rations were received.

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