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Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium
First Name: William J H Last Name: BALCHIN
Date of Death: 16/08/1917 Lived/Born In: Hounslow
Rank: Private Unit: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers8
Memorial Site: Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium

Current Information:


19, James Street, Hounslow


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.

The Battle of Langemarck

This took place between 16th-18th August, 1917 and was the second general attack of 3rd Ypres. Although it did not rain during the two days of the battle itself there had been plenty of it in the preceding days and in many places the battlefield was a quagmire. On the left of the attack in the north-west of the Ypres salient there was considerable success,  especially for the French Army which attacked on the left of the British, but the attack on the Gheluvelt Plateau, due east of Ypres, met determined German resistance and the early gains were soon reversed.

On 16th August, 1917, 48 and 49 Brigades of 16th Division attacked north of the Ypres-Roulers railway and had to cross a mile of open ground to their objectives, the Anzac and Zonnebeke spurs.  49 Brigade attacked with the 8th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on the right and the 7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on the left. 7/8th Royal Irish Fusiliers were in support. They kept close to the barrage, captured the Green Line  and a strongpoint called Beck House after which 7th Inniskilling advanced towards and captured Delva Farm before coming under fire from pillboxes in their rear which had not been mopped up. 8th Inniskilling moved on Borry Farm but were held up by machine-guns. However their efforts proved to be in vain when, at 3.30pm an enemy counter attack forced 16th Division back to its starting line. One of the many casualties resulting from this operation was William Balchin of  8th Inniskilling.

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