Profile Page

Bethune Town Cemetery, France Bethune Town Cemetery, France
First Name: Thomas Richard Last Name: CLARKE
Date of Death: 01/11/1914 Lived/Born In: St. Pancras
Rank: Private Unit: Bedfordshire1
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Born-St Pancras

Bethune Town Cemetery, France


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.

On 26th October the enemy attacked at the junction of 3rd Division and 5th Division and broke through the British line to capture Neuve Chapelle. Counter attacks later on that day and on the following day failed to regain the lost trenches. They tried again on 28th October but the attack failed and as the troops fell back they exposed the flank of 1st Royal West Kent which threatened to break the British line. A number of units, including the 1st Bedfordshire battalion of 15 Brigade, 5th Division moved up and prevented this from happening. On 29th October they were sent to assist 2nd Manchester retake their trenches after an enemy attack and on the following day they were sent to reinforce the Ghurkhas to the east of Festubert. Thomas Clarke died from wounds on 1st November but the exact date on which he was wounded is not known.


« Back to Search Results
If you think any of the information shown here is incorrect, Click Here to submit your amends and comments
Copyright 2024 London War Memorial