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Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium
First Name: Maurice Arthur Pritchard Last Name: SHAWYER
Date of Death: 12/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Wanstead
Rank: Second Lieutenant Unit: Middlesex1
Memorial Site: 1. East Ham, Central Park Memorial 2. Ploegsteert Memorial

Current Information:


25 St Margarets Road, South Wanstead


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 6th 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 Armentières  12th October-2nd November 1914

The official History pinpoints the battle of Armentières to a series of battles that took place between the river Douve and a line between Estaires and Foumers. It was part of the Race to the Sea and it determined the line of the Western Front in that sector. It was fought by III Corps which at that time consisted of 4th and 6th Divisions plus 19 Brigade.

19 Brigade were the advance guard of 6th Division and at dawn on 12th October, the 1st Middlesex battalion set off to occupy part of the line from Strazeele to Caestre-St Sylvestre. By 3pm they had reached Pradelles where they took up defensive positions around Rouge Croix and Strazeele. Here they suffered casualties, one of whom was Maurice Shawyer, from German shelling.

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