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Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France
First Name: John Thomas Last Name: CORDIER
Date of Death: 02/11/1914 Lived/Born In: Westminster
Rank: Private Unit: Hampshire1
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Boulogne Eastern 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 Messines was fought between 12th October and 2nd November 1914 and was part of the Race to the Sea. It took place between the Comines-Ypres canal and the River Douve and involved the 1st and 2nd Cavalry Divisions and elements of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Divisions as well part of the Indian Division.

The 1st Hampshire battalion of 11 Brigade, 4th Division moved to Ploegsteert Wood on 22nd October and on 28th October they relieved 1st Somerset Light Infantry from a point east of Ploegsteert Wood, past St Yves, and Le Gheer to the River Douve, a front line of some 2000 yards. From 28th October to 2nd November they came under heavy attack as the enemy tried to break the line around Ypres and when on 31st October the Germans captured Messines, just to the north, 4th Division had pull their line back across the northern edge of Ploegsteert Wood to conform with this. On 2nd November, the enemy broke into the trenches of 1st Hampshire but were unable to hold on to them. The line was not yet continuous and isolated detachments suffered badly, but in the end the Germans were repelled everywhere. John Cordier died from wounds on 2nd November after having been sent to a base hospital on the coast, and it is likely that he was wounded during this time in Ploegsteert Wood.

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