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Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium
First Name: Henry Last Name: BURGESS
Date of Death: 13/11/1914 Lived/Born In: St. Giles
Rank: Private Unit: East Lancashire1
Memorial Site: Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium

Current Information:

Born-St Giles



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.


On 7th November, 1914, a strong attack was made against the line held by 4th Division, running 2 ½ miles from Le Touquet to St Yves.  1st Rifle Brigade and 1st Hampshire of 11 Brigade held that stretch of the line between the River Lys and Le Gheer with the 1st East Lancashire battalion in reserve. At 7.30 am, in thick mist a large group of Germans broke through the centre and right of 3rd Worcestershire and then spread out into the Wood.  Two hours later when the mist had thinned a counter attack stopped any further forward movement by the Germans but they were unable to recover any lost ground.  The wood was cleared by a further counter attack by two companies of 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and a company of 1st East Lancashire expelled the Germans from their other gains except for a group of houses round the White Estaminet north of Le Gheer. The 1st East Lancashire remained in these forward positions until relieved on 17th November. On 13th November, the day when Henry Burgess was killed, the battalion suffered over 17 casualties when a light gun enfiladed their trenches most of the day.

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