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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: George Last Name: STURDEY
Date of Death: 02/08/1917 Lived/Born In: New Barnet
Rank: Corporal Unit: Bedfordshire2
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:




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 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 four 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, 1917, 30th Division attacked across the Gheluvelt plateau with 21 and 90 Brigades leading. They were initially held up by shell-fire when still in their assembly trenches but when they got going they cleared Sanctuary Wood before being held up by heavy machine-gun fire coming from Stirling Castle. This obstacle was finally overcome when 89 Brigade moved up in support but this marked the limit of the division’s advance. The 2nd Bedfordshire battalion were in support of the attack made by 89 Brigade and were not involved in any of the heavy fighting but that evening they moved forward to Jackdaw Reserve Trench, near Stirling Castle, relieving some of 90 Brigade. They remained in these forward positions in the pouring rain and under constant shell-fire until they were relieved on 2nd August, the same day on which George Sturdey was killed, most likely as a result of shell-fire.

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