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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Archer Albert Last Name: MAKEPEACE
Date of Death: 31/07/1917 Lived/Born In: Richmond-upon-Thames
Rank: Private Unit: Royal West Kent10
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Born-Twickenham

 

Third Battle of Ypres

This was a campaign fought between July and November 1917 and is often referred to as the Battle of Passchendaele, a village to the north-east of Ypres which was finally captured in November. It was an attempt by the British to break out of the Ypres salient and capture the higher ground to the south and the east from which the enemy had been able to dominate the salient. It began well but two important factors weighed against them. First was the weather. The summer of 1917 turned out to be one of the the wettest on record and soon the battlefield was reduced to a morass of mud which made progress very difficult, if not impossible in places. The second was the defensive arrangements of concrete blockhouses and machine gun posts providing inter-locking fire that the Germans had constructed and which were extremely difficult and costly to counter. For 4 months this epic struggle continued by the end of which the salient had been greatly expanded in size but the vital break out had not been achieved.

Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31st July-2nd August)

This was the opening attack of Third Ypres and began at 3.50am on 31st July when British and French troops launched their offensive to break out of the Ypres salient. The day had mixed results. To the north the Pilckem Ridge was captured but there was less success further south along the Gheluvelt Ridge, where a combination of stiff German resistance and low cloud which hindered observation meant that only the first objectives were captured. Further attempts to push on were stopped in their tracks by specialist German counter attack divisions and resulted in a 70% casualty rate among the British troops. Then in the afternoon, the rain came and under the weight of shells falling on it, the battlefield soon became a quagmire. Over the next two days, suffering the most appalling conditions in the mud and the rain, the troops had to fight off numerous German counter attacks.

On 31st July, 41st Division attacked astride the the Yser-Comines canal with 122 Brigade to the south of it and 123 Brigade to the north,and advanced 500-1000 yards east of Battle Wood. The 23rd Middlesex, 11th Royal West Surrey (Queens) and 10th Royal West Kent battalions were all used by 123 Brigade. Progress was slow due to ground conditions but, by 8 am, parties from both 11th Queens and 10th Royal West Kent had reached the Blue Line, where they regrouped. At this point they were confronted by a line of undamaged, concrete pill-boxes with interlocking fields of machine-gun fire which caused many casualties and prevented any further movement forward to the next objective despite valiant efforts. 10th Royal West Kent remained in these forward positions under constant fire and having to deal with atrocious weather conditions until the night of 1st/2nd August when they were relieved and pulled back to the old British front line. Their casualties over these two days amounted to two hundred, one of whom was Archer Makepeace who was killed in action on 31st July.

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