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Photograph source-Imperial War Museum Photograph source-Imperial War Museum
First Name: Thomas Rupert Last Name: BOWLBY
Date of Death: 17/09/1914 Lived/Born In: South Hampstead
Rank: Captain Unit: Norfolk1
Memorial Site: La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, France

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The Battle of the Aisne 13th September -28 September, 1914

After the Germans were defeated on the Marne they fell back to the River Aisne, closely pursued by both the British and the French. The new German line was a very formidable defensive position. To attack it meant having to cross the Aisne and then climb up a 500 foot high ridge on top of which was the Chemin des Dames, a road that gave the Germans an easy way to move troops along the top of the hills. On 13th September the Aisne was crossed by both British and French troops but after that progress became slower, until there was no progress at all. Both sides dug in and the fighting settled down into trench warfare. The fighting on the Aisne continued for two weeks at the end of which both sides realised that frontal attacks on entrenched positions were both costly and non-productive, not that this deterred them from continuing with this tactic throughout the war.

At 8am on 15th September, 1914, the 1st Norfolk battalion with 1st Bedfordshire in support, began the advance of 15 Brigade, 5th Division against the enemy defences in the woods above the River Aisne. The advance went over unfavourable, open country leading up to a wooded re-entrant and a six feet high wire netting fence and it was here that the attack came to a standstill. 1st Norfolk, along with the rest of the BEF, found themselves unable to progress much further against an enemy in entrenched positions and they too had no option but to dig in themselves in the face of rifle, machine-gun and artillery fire. Casualties began to mount up and included Thomas Bowlby on 17th September.

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