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Spoilbank Cemetery, Belgium Spoilbank Cemetery, Belgium
First Name: Frederick William Last Name: JOHNSON
Date of Death: 07/11/1914 Lived/Born In: Kentish Town
Rank: Private Unit: Bedfordshire1
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Spoilbank Cemetery, Belgium



First Battle of Ypres

Between 21st October and 22nd November, 1914 a desperate fight took place around the Belgium city of Ypres, the first of three major battles that were to be fought there during the course of the war. British troops entered Ypres in October. The 1st and 2nd Divisions plus the 3rd Cavalry Division had made their way up from the Aisne as part of the “Race to the Sea”, whilst the 7th Division came west to Ypres after Antwerp had fallen. The Germans knew that Ypres was the gateway to the Channel ports and that these were vital to Britain’s war effort so they poured reinforcements into the area. The fighting fell into three distinct battles; the Battle of Langemarck, 21-24 October, the Battle of Gheluvelt, 29-31 October and the Battle of Nonne Bosschen, 11 November. Ypres did not fall to the Germans but its defence during these two months resulted in the destruction of much of the old regular British Army.

Although the Battle of Gheluvelt ended on the 31st October, there was still some bitter fighting over the next few days for those British soldiers who held the line in the Ypres salient as the Germans continued to attack. On 7th November at 2.30 pm, the enemy made a strong infantry attack south of the Menin road This attack was repulsed everywhere except at that part of the line, south of Herenthage Chateau held by the1st Bedfordshire battalion of 15 Brigade, 5th Division and 1st Northumberland Fusiliers of 9 Brigade, 3rd Division.  The enemy broke in between the two battalions at which stage an unauthorised order sent 1st Bedfordshire back to the support line. They were quickly sent forward again, supported by a company of 1st Cheshire on their right, but they failed to regain all their trenches and sustained casualties of over 80.  1st Northumberland Fusiliers with 1st Lincolnshire in support, came forward again but they too failed to regain all the lost ground.  At night a new line 100 yards further back was established and manned by 1st Bedfordshire and 1st Northumberland Fusiliers. At some stage during the action on this day Frederick Johnson was killed.


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