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Le Touret Memorial, France Le Touret Memorial, France
First Name: Joseph Last Name: DAY
Date of Death: 13/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Rotherhithe
Rank: Private Unit: Royal West Kent1
Memorial Site: Le Touret Memorial, France

Current Information:


8, Maynard Road, Rotherhithe


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 La Bassée

This was fought by  II Corps (3rd and 5th Divisions) between 10th  October and 2nd November 1914 and as the name suggests it focused on an area around the town of  La Bassée in northern France. It was part of the Race to the Sea and it determined the line of the Western Front in that sector. There were some initial British successes but La Bassée remained firmly in German hands. German reinforcements arrived and  the village of Neuve Chapelle was captured by them. Towards the end of October, the fighting on this front died down as the attention of both armies switched to Ypres.

The Battle moved up a gear on 12th October, 1914, when II Corps advanced on an 8 mile front, astride the La Bassée canal. The going was tough and slow with the Germans contesting every stage of the attack. 13 Brigade of 5th Division,  which included the 1st Royal West Kent battalion, was in reserve at first but during the morning news arrived that the Germans had driven the French out of Vermelles and it was decided to send them to the assistance of the French. By 3 pm they had reached a position along a line from north-west of Vermelles, through Burbure to Pont Fixe on the canal. From here they were to launch a counter attack but the French, who were also meant to participate, did not show, so 13 Brigade attacked alone. However, as soon as they moved forward they came under heavy flank fire from Vermelles which brought the attack to a standstill. 1st Royal West Kent fell back a little and dug in along a road running north-east from Noyelles-les-Vermelles, where, in the evening, they saw off a German counter attack. On the following day, 13th October, 1st Royal West Kent were again prepared to assist the French attack but no progress was made on that front so they remained in their trenches and with the rest of the brigade, repelled an attack during the afternoon. Among there casualties on this day was Joseph Day who was killed in action.

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