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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Alfred Henry Last Name: WHITE
Date of Death: 28/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Richmond-on-Thames
Rank: Private Unit: Life Guards2
Memorial Site: 1. Richmond-on-Thames Memorial 2. Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:


15, Albert Road, Richmond-upon-Thames


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.

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.

The 2nd Lifeguards, of 7th Cavalry Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Division made their way north from the Aisne and by mid-October were operating near the village of Osstnieuwkerke, a few miles north-east of Ypres. On 19th October they advanced towards the Staden-Roulers railway line near Hooglede. For the rest of the month as trench warfare developed and the cavalry found themselves without their traditional role, they were used as foot soldiers and took to the trenches. On the morning of 27th October they left their billets in Zillebeke and took over trenches just to the south-east of Zandvoorde. On 28th October, the day on which Alfred White lost his life, these positions were heavily shelled.

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