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La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France
First Name: John Last Name: BATES
Date of Death: 20/09/1914 Lived/Born In: Islington
Rank: Lance Corporal Unit: West Yorkshire1
Memorial Site: La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France

Current Information:


13, Duncan Terrace, Islington


The Battle of the Aisne  13-28 September, 1914

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 dawn on 20th September, 1914 there was a general attack by the Germans on the Aisne front which drove from their trenches the French troops immediately on the right of the British line and only after some heavy fighting, often hand to hand,  were the enemy finally pushed back to their own lines. The 1st West Yorkshire battalion of 18 Brigade, 6th Division, were on the extreme right of the British line next to the French unit that were driven out of their trenches. Unfortunately, when the French troops rallied and regained their trenches, they then fired on 1st West Yorkshire, mistaking them for Germans and inflicted 30 casualties on them in the process. Two squadrons of cavalry were sent to support and the line was stabilised. A second German attack mid-morning was repulsed but when they attacked again at 1pm, during a heavy storm, the French unit once more gave way. This time the Germans occupied the abandoned trenches and opened up a heavy enfilade fire on 1st West Yorkshire. They then charged and captured the remnants of the hard hit right hand company after which they worked their way down the line and within 30 minutes had captured all the battalion’s trenches and the two companies in them.  The remaining company tried to retrieve the situation but could not and fell back on the cavalry at Paissy. There were many casualties for the battalion during the course of the day one of who was John Bates.

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