Profile Page

No image available
First Name: William Alfred Last Name: DICKENS
Date of Death: 20/09/1914 Lived/Born In: Walthamstow
Rank: Lance Corporal Unit: South Lancashire2
Memorial Site: Walthamstow, St Saviour

Current Information:


31, Springfield Road, Walthamstow

Vailly British Cemetery, France


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

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 five hundred feet 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.

On 20th September there was a general attack by the German Seventh Army on the Aisne front. At dawn, French troops immediately on the right of the British line, were driven back out of their trenches which in turn put great pressure on the right of the British line. There followed a day of heavy fighting, often hand to hand, as a result of which the Germans were finally pushed back to their own lines. 7 Brigade of 3rd Division saw the brunt of the fighting. Between 8 am and 9 am, 1st Wiltshire, in the centre of the line were attacked by German infantry, some two hundred of whom managed to push their way through dense undergrowth and deploy their machine guns on both 1st Wiltshire and also 2nd South Lancashire who were moving up in support. By noon 1st Wiltshire had managed to hold the Germans at bay on their front while 2nd South Staffordshire from 6 Brigade were sent midway between Chavonne and Vailly and began to work north up the valley against the German left flank.  British artillery also came into play and by 2 pm the German advance was stopped.  They fell back a little and tried to entrench but were driven back further by British shrapnel.  At 4 pm, two hundred men of 1st Wiltshire, 3rd Worcestershire and 2nd South Lancashire,  advanced and after sharp fighting drove the Germans back to their original line. Among the casualties suffered by 2nd South Lancashire was William Dickens who was killed.

« 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