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Vailly British Cemetery, France Vailly British Cemetery, France
First Name: William Henry Last Name: BATES
Date of Death: 16/09/1914 Lived/Born In: Hanwell
Rank: Rifleman Unit: King' Royal Rifle Corps1
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Vailly British Cemetery, France


The Battle of the Aisne 13th September -28 September

After the Germans were defeated on the Marne they fell back to the River Aisne, closely pursued by both the British and the French. The new German line was a very formidable defensive position. To attack it meant  having to cross the Aisne and then climb up a 500 foot high ridge on top of which was the Chemin des Dames, a road that gave the Germans an easy way to move troops along the top of the hills. On 13th September the Aisne was crossed by both British and French troops but after that progress became slower, until there was no progress at all. Both sides dug in and the fighting settled down into trench warfare. The fighting on the Aisne continued for two weeks at the end of which both sides realised that frontal attacks on entrenched positions were both costly and non-productive, not that this deterred them from continuing with this tactic throughout the war.

At 5am on 14th September, 6 Brigade, 2nd Division began crossing the pontoon bridge over the River Aisne at Pont Arcy. 1st Berkshire with two troops of 15th Hussars in front pushed on towards Braye up the long valley between the Oise and Aisne canal. Units of the1st King’s Royal Rifle Corps battalion moved up the hills either side of the valley as flank guards. Further to the east two other companies of 1st King’s Royal Rifle Corps pushed into a wood where they were counter attacked and forced back to the top of the spur above Moussy. This German counter attack was eventually stopped but there was no further advance for 1st King’s Royal Rifle Corps until the following day when they once more advanced to the edge of the wood and entrenched. The battalion stayed here, under shell fire until 20th September when they were relieved and moved back to Soupir and Verneuil. One of the casualties suffered by the battalion on during this period of fighting was William Bates who was killed in action on 16th September.

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