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Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery, Belgium Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery, Belgium
First Name: John Last Name: KELLY
Date of Death: 06/11/1914 Lived/Born In: St. Pancras
Rank: Corporal Unit: Irish Guards1
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Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery, Belgium


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.

After the desperate defence of Gheluvelt many British battalions were not only extremely under strength but also disorganised and out of touch with their brigade HQs. But the enemy kept pressing and there was still a lot of fighting to do. For the first week of November the 1st Irish Guards of 4 Brigade, 2nd Division were holding trenches near Klein Zillebeke with the 2nd Grenadier Guards on their left and French troops on their right. On 6th November these troops were heavily shelled and at 2.30pm there was strong attack by the Germans against the French. They pierced their line in three places and drove the French back to the outskirts of Zillebeke.  As the enemy poured into the gap that this had created, they forced back first the flank company and then the rest of 1st Irish Guards to the support trenches and beyond.  The right company of 2nd Grenadier Guards, next in line, had almost every man killed or wounded by shellfire as the day wore on but that evening reinforcements arrived and the line was stabilised. John Kelly of 1st Irish Guards died fdrom wounds on 6th November and he might have been wounded on an earlier date..

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