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Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France
First Name: Arthur Thomas Last Name: BAKER
Date of Death: 22/05/1916 Lived/Born In: Silvertown
Rank: Rifleman Unit: London17
Memorial Site: Silvertown, Brick Lane Music Hall Memorial

Current Information:


Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France

On 19th May, 1916, 47th Division sidestepped to the south and took over the Berthental and Carency sector of the Vimy Ridge, just to the north of Arras. Their arrival here coincided with a German onslaught against these positions which for the first 2 days took the form of a barrage of large trench mortars or Minenwerfers, known to the British soldier as “minnies”. But the full force of the German army was not felt until the next day, 21st May, 1916. The trench mortars continued to batter the British line until midday and then, at 3pm, after a lull, there began an intense artillery bombardment of the front from Royal Avenue to Momber and Love craters, the positions held by 7th London and 8th London of 140 Brigade  This bombardment not only covered the front but all the back positions too, including billeting villages 7 to 8 miles back.  All agreed that never before had such a ferocious artillery barrage been seen.  The enemy had 80 batteries with unlimited ammunition, firing on just a 1800 yard front and the agony continued for 4 hours with 70,000 shells being fired.  The smoke and dust mixed with the tear gas shells caused so much confusion that the British artillery were unaware of the infantry assault which the Germans  launched at 7.45pm when the German artillery lifted and a mine was fired at the head of Royal Avenue.  A minute later the German infantry attacked but they were not seen until they were half way across no-man’s land, advancing in lines at 3 yard intervals with other lines behind carrying wire, timber and machine guns. The trenches held by 140 Brigade were soon in their hands.

On the night of 20th-21st May, 17th London of 141 Brigade took over the front line trenches in the Carency central sector and on the following day, 21st May, 1916,  they were subjected to the bombardment that the enemy launched against the positions held by 47th Division. The German breakthrough came to the south against the trenches of 140 Brigade but 17th London had their front, support and reserve lines all heavily shelled. Early in the morning of 22nd May there was a counter attack by elements of 140 Brigade on their right but this did little other than to increase the hostile artillery bombardment, much of which fell on the trenches occupied by 17th London. The battalion suffered 40 casualties during the day, including Arthur Baker, who was killed in action.

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