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First Name: James Henry Last Name: AYRES
Date of Death: 27/08/1914 Lived/Born In: Hackney
Rank: Private Unit: Royal West Surrey (Queens)1
Memorial Site:

Current Information:



St Souplet British Cemetery, France


After the opening battles of the war at Mons on 23rd August, 1914 and Le Cateau on 26th August, the British Army (BEF), in conjunction with the French Army, began a retreat that took them all the way back to the River Marne, 200 miles to the south. With the Germans in hot pursuit they were forced to fight a series of rear guard actions as they fell back in extremely hot weather. The Great Retreat, as it became known, came to an end on 5th September, 1914 when the allied forces attacked along the River Marne and drove the Germans back to the River Aisne.

1st Division, which included the 1st Royal West Surrey (Queens) battalion of 3 Brigade were part of I Corps which was not involved in the opening clashes of the war at Mons and Le Cateau but which nevertheless began their retreat south at the same time. On 26th August, while the Battle of Le Cateau was being fought to their west, they marched to the village of Oisy, sometimes under fire from the enemy artillery which followed close behind. Starting at 5am the next day, 27th August, they marched 27 miles to Bernot. The battalion diary makes no mention of any casualties on this day but the records show that James Ayres was killed. Shell-fire would be a likely cause and he may well have been killed on the previous day but his death not recorded straight away.

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