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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: William Frederick Last Name: KEMP
Date of Death: 25/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Walthamstow
Rank: Lance Corporal Unit: King's Royal Rifle Corps4
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Born-Mile End


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.

One of the reserve units sent forward to support the hard pressed defenders was 80 Brigade of 27th Division. On 24th May they moved to Poperinghe and then on into the salient to a line from Bellewaarde Lake to the Menin Road in support of 84 Brigade of 28th Division. Here it was decided to make a night attack and in bright moonlight, 4th Rifle Brigade, 3rd King’s Royal Rifle Corps,  4th King’s Royal Rifle Corps and 2nd Shropshire Light Infantry began their advance. On reaching a small stream, two hundred yards west of Witteport Farm, 4th King’s Royal Rifle Corps heard heavy machine-gun and rifle fire which they presumed to be the attack by 84 Brigade. The battalion formed into four lines but only the first line reached the road at Witteport Farm and when they were fifty yards beyond it they were stopped by machine-gun fire. A party of fifty charged the German trench but were practically annihilated. Another small group of twelve tried again but by the time they had got within twenty yards of the trench only one man was left standing. Around daybreak, most of 4th King’s Royal Rifle Corps retired to GHQ line, south of the Menin Road, leaving behind just a small detachment holding the line for the rest of the day. This unsuccessful attempt to wrest back some territory from the enemy cost 4th King’s Royal Rifle Corps over one hundred and fifty casualties, one of whom was William Kemp.

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