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Le Touret Memorial, France Le Touret Memorial, France
First Name: John Ernest Last Name: BAKER
Date of Death: 24/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Woolwich
Rank: Private Unit: Royal West Kent1
Memorial Site: Le Touret Memorial, France

Current Information:

Age-27

Enlisted-Maidstone

 

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.

After their involvement in the opening phase of this battle, the 1st Royal West Kent battalion of 13 Brigade, 5th Division moved back to billets in Beuvry on 14th October and remained in reserve for the next three days. They returned to the front line on 18th October in a sector opposite the village of Illies. By now the Germans had considerably strengthened their positions and there was little chance of being able to push them back. In fact the pressure on the British line here grew so much that on 23rd October it was withdrawn to new position running north from the canal at Givenchy along the Rue du Bois to a position east of Neuve Chapelle. 1st Royal West Kent were positioned just to the south of Neuve Chapelle at the Port Arthur road junction down to the small village of Ligny-le-Petit. By that afternoon the enemy had advanced to within reach of this new line and both sides opened up with rifles and machine-guns. On the following day, 24th October, the Germans had moved their artillery forward, including some heavy howitzers, six inches in calibre, that caused immense damage when they hit the trenches and breastworks that the battalion was desperately constructing. The casualty list grew and included John Baker who was killed on 24th October.

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