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Neuve-Chapelle Memorial, France Neuve-Chapelle Memorial, France
First Name: Herbert Cleland Last Name: NICOLAY
Date of Death: 10/03/1915 Lived/Born In: Westbourne Park
Rank: Major Unit: Indian Sirmoor Rifles
Memorial Site: 1. Westbourne Park, St Stephen 2. Neuve-Chapelle Memorial, France

Current Information:



The Battle of Neuve Chapelle

Between 10th and 13th March, 1915, the Indian Army Corps and IV Corps attacked the village of Neuve Chapelle in the Artois region of France. During the winter of 1914-1915, reinforcements had arrived from Britain and this was seen as an opportunity to use them to break through the German lines.

It started well. At 7.30am on 10th March, a 30 minute hurricane bombardment destroyed the German wire and front line trenches and at 8.05am the infantry went in. Neuve Chapelle was captured and over a mile of the German line taken. But that was the end of the success.  The British chain of command was weak and their communications poor, which was hardly surprising given that many of the troops had no previous experience of battle. The Germans re-organised and reinforced during the night and no further gains were made. British casualties mounted to 12,000 by the time the offensive petered out on 13th March.

It was not until 3.30pm  on 10th March that orders reached Dehra Dun Brigade, Meerut Division to advance.  At 4pm the 2nd Gurkhas (Sirmoor Rifles), 1/9th Gurkhas  and 4th Seaforth Highlanders in support, moved forward from their positions behind the original front breastworks along the La Bassee-Estaires road, north of Port Arthur.  They moved in succession towards Neuve Chapelle along and astride the Edgware road, south-west of Neuve Chapelle.  Brigade HQ was established in houses on the southern edge of the village and the troops deployed along the Port Arthur-Neuve Chapelle road with 2nd Gurkhas (Sirmoor Rifles) on the right. At  5pm the advance began and the Layes Brook, 300 yards away was reached without opposition.  Ten feet wide, near vertical banks and four feet deep, it was crossed on eight light bridges carried by the leading battalions and the advance then continued on a 600 yard front to the Bois du Biez, 400 yards away.  A road and a ditch bordered the southern edge of the wood and there was a group of cottages, Les Brulots at the south-west corner.  It was now dark but a burning cottage gave the direction.  At 6.30pm 2nd Gurkhas (Sirmoor Rifles), reached the road, occupied the Les Brulots cottages and consolidated.  The left of 1/9th Gurkha was held up by enfilade fire from the Layes Bridge redoubt but their right reached the wood.  German reinforcements arrived and entered the wood from the other side and at 8pm Brigade HQ decided that with both flanks in the air that the Dehra Dun Brigade should withdraw to the line of the Layes Brook.  By 9pm the Dehra Dun Brigade were in position along the west bank of the Layes Brook where they remained. At some stage of the day Herbert Nicolay was killed.


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