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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: John William Last Name: COLLINS
Date of Death: 29/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Roehampton
Rank: Private Unit: Scots Guards1
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:


Manresa Farm, Roehampton


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.

At 5.30am on 26th October the 1st Scots Guards of 1 Brigade, 1st Division left their billets in Zillebeke and marched via Hooge to Gheluvelt where they reinforced the line on the left of 2nd Division. From here they made an attack across very open ground towards Pozelhoek but were held up by machine-gun and artillery fire. Brought to a halt they fell back to where they started from. At 5.30 am on 29th October and concealed by fog, the expected Germans attack began. It fell on the Gheluvelt cross roads, where the Menin Road crossed between Kruiseecke and Poezelhoek. The 1st Scots Guards were one of the battalions in the line here and although they generally managed to hold their ground some of them on the right were isolated and overwhelmed. The fighting was fierce throughout the day but by the end of it, those of the enemy who had penetrated the British line were expelled and the line restored. But there had been many casualties among the British units there including 350 for the 1st Scots Guards one of whom was John Collins.

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