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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: George Francis Last Name: OWEN
Date of Death: 05/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Walthamstow
Rank: Private Unit: Norfolk1
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Age-19

200 Carr Road, Walthamstow

Born-Homerton

The Battle of Hill 60 (17 April – 7 May 1915)

Hill 60 was at the southern end of the Ypres Salient and was a man made mound from earth excavated from the nearby railway. It was an important vantage point for whoever controlled it which, at the beginning of 1915, were the Germans. In April  1915, 5th Division took over the line in front of it and prepared to capture it. On 17th April six mines were blown beneath it which so shocked and dazed the defending Germans that 13 Brigade was able to capture it, sustaining only 7 casualties. However, holding it was a much more difficult task. German artillery began to pound the position and that night they launched three counter attacks which were only repelled after heavy losses and only after the British had been forced back to the crest of the hill. Later that evening British counter attacks retook all of the hill The next three days saw intense German shelling of the position and numerous counter attacks until it was a mass of shell holes and mine craters. Between 1st and 5th May the Germans launched a series of attacks preceded by gas and eventually after desperate fighting, took back the hill.

On 5th May, 1915, 2nd West Riding, 13 Brigade, 5th Division were holding the trenches on Hill 60 with 1st Norfolk and 1st Bedfordshire, both of 15 Brigade, 5th Division, in close proximity. At 8.45am the Germans released gas against the British positions on the hill and in the ensuing infantry attack they captured the hill.  After repeated counter attacks by all units the Germans were forced back and some of the trenches regained but the crest of Hill 60 remained in German hands.  At 9pm, 1st Royal West Kent, 2nd Scottish Borderers and 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, all of 13 Brigade, arrived with orders to retake the  hill and at 10pm, after a 20 minute bombardment, they attacked. However, the enemy fire was very heavy, the night was dark, the ground unknown and littered with wire, old trenches and shell holes. They lost direction and the attack failed. 2nd Scottish Borderers reached the crest but were driven off at 1am on 6th May by enfilade fire from The Caterpillar and Zwarteleen.

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