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Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium
First Name: W Last Name: BOND
Date of Death: 20/10/1914 Lived/Born In: London
Rank: Corporal Unit: Sherwood Foresters2
Memorial Site: Ploegsteert Memorial

Current Information:

Born-Norfolk

Enlisted-Southall

 

The Race to the Sea - September-October 1914

By the middle of September 1914, the Aisne battlefield had stagnated into trench warfare and in order to break this impasse, both sides tried to outflank each other in a general movement northwards. Moving up through Picardy, Artois and Flanders the race was over by 19th October when the North Sea was reached. The Western Front, a line of trenches stretching from Belgium to Switzerland, was now a reality. Initially it was the French army that conducted this movement whilst the British Expeditionary Force remained on the Aisne but by 6 October British reinforcements were needed to help beat off German attacks around Lille. They moved north and along with reinforcements from Britain, they took up new positions in Flanders, on the left of the Allied line and much closer to the Channel ports.

The Battle of Armentières  12th October-2nd November 1914

The official History pinpoints the battle of Armentières to a series of battles that took place between the river Douve and a line between Estaires and Foumers. It was part of the Race to the Sea and it determined the line of the Western Front in that sector. It was fought by III Corps which consisted of 4th and 6th Divisions as well as 19 Brigade.

On 20th October the Germans attacked all three Brigades of 6th Division on the Lille Ridge along a line running from Radinghem through Ennetières and Prèmesques to Epinette.  Between 7 and 8 am their trenches were heavily shelled followed by German infantry attack which came on in bounds covered by machine guns.  18 Brigade took the brunt of this attack in the salient in front on Ennetières where 2nd Sherwood Foresters, 1st West Yorkshire and 1st East Yorkshire were holding  a three mile line, largely isolated from each other and very vulnerable.  The main German attack came on the right where La Vallée and Ennetières form one long village which was held as a salient by 2nd Sherwood Foresters. At first the enemy infantry came across open country and were easily repelled as were their other attacks that morning. However at 1 pm there was a much stronger assault against 2nd Sherwood Foresters which further weakened their right flank.  At 3 pm, in drizzling rain, the Germans attacked this weak spot but with the help of 2nd Durham Light Infantry this was repelled but this right flank was now subjected to severe enfilade fire, from the north-east. After dark, three battalions of Germans in lines advanced quickly and took Ennetières from the west and south-west. The platoons on the right were attacked from the rear and mostly captured. Survivors rallied on the Artillery Brigade near the windmill at the north-west end of La Vallée.  At the same time the Germans made a frontal attack on the two companies of 2nd Sherwood Foresters in trenches east of Ennetière and they fell back to the other side of the village.  Whilst reforming at the crossroads between La Vallée & Ennetière they were surprised, surrounded and captured though some held out in houses to the following morning.  It was not surprising that 2nd Sherwood Foresters had broken.  They had been fighting continuously for 48 hours with three quarters of a German Corps ranged against them. W Bond was one of the battalion’s many casualties on 20th October.

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