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First Name: Walter Albert Last Name: BRAITHWAITE
Date of Death: 21/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Forest Gate
Rank: Private Unit: Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders2
Memorial Site:

Current Information:


27, Halley Road, Forest Gate

Laventie Military Cemetery, La Gorgue, France


The Race to the Sea. September-October 1914

By the middle of September 1914, the Aisne battlefield had stagnated into trench warfare and in order to break this impasse, both sides tried to outflank each other in a general movement northwards. Moving up through Picardy, Artois and Flanders the race was over by 19th October when the North Sea was reached. The Western Front, a line of trenches stretching from Belgium to Switzerland, was now a reality. Initially it was the French army that conducted this movement whilst the British Expeditionary Force remained on the Aisne but by 6 October British reinforcements were needed to help beat off German attacks around Lille. They moved north and along with reinforcements from Britain, they took up new positions in Flanders, on the left of the Allied line and much closer to the Channel ports.

The Battle of Armentières  12th October-2nd November 1914

The official History pinpoints the battle of Armentières to a series of battles that took place between the river Douve and a line between Estaires and Foumers. It was part of the Race to the Sea and it determined the line of the Western Front in that sector. It was fought by III Corps which at that time consisted of 4th and 6th Divisions plus 19 Brigade.

On 21st October, 19 Brigade took over the northern part of the gap between II & III Corps from Fromelles to Le Maisnil with two battalions in front and the other two in reserve at Bas Maisnil, ¾ mile north-east of Le Maisnil.  The French took over the southern part of this gap from Fromelles to Aubers where they joined 3rd Division.  At 11 am, very heavy German shelling hit the 2nd Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders battalion in Le Maisnil, and B & D Companies of the 1st Middlesex battalion were sent forward to support them. They were heavily shelled and suffered a number of casualties as they entered Le Maisnil.  There was another infantry attack in the afternoon from Radinghem and B Company moved further forward.  By nightfall, some French cyclists gave way on the left  and a gap was created making the position untenable.  2nd Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders and 1st Middlesex retired ¾ mile on to the reserve at Bas Maisnil and had to leave many of their wounded behind  This left 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers isolated near Fromelles  and a 2 mile gap in the line.  Just before midnight the situation was restored when 19 Brigade took up a new line, Rouge Banc to la Boutillerie, a mile to the rear of the one held in the morning. Among the casualties suffered by 2nd Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders on 21st October was Walter Braithwaite who was killed.

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