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Arras Memorial, France Arras Memorial, France
First Name: Albert Alexander Last Name: SPENCER
Date of Death: 11/04/1917 Lived/Born In: Maida Vale
Rank: Corporal Unit: Royal Fusiliers10
Memorial Site: Arras Memorial, France

Current Information:

Born-Cornwall

Enlisted-London

 

The Battle of Arras was a series of offensives by the British Army between 9th April 1917 and 16th May 1917. It had been planned in conjunction with the French who would attack in Artois and between them the Allies would force the Germans out of the large salient they had held since the line of trenches was first established. But the Germans had spoiled this plan by falling back to the new and very strong Hindenburg Line in January 1917 and the salient no longer existed.  For the want of an alternative plan the attack went ahead anyway. It all started well for the British who made substantial gains on the first two days but then the offensive ground to a halt and by the end their losses amounted to over 150,000.

At the start of the battle on 9th April, 37th Division was in VI Corps reserve. The plan was that after the three leading divisions had taken the 3rd objective, 37th Division would pass through and take the final objective, a line 1000 yards east of Monchy-le-Preux. On 10th April, 111 Brigade moved into the old German front line and then attacked Monchy-le-Preux from the northern slopes of Orange Hill, with the 10th Royal Fusiliers and 13th Royal Fusiliers battalions. 13th King’s Royal Rifle Corps followed close behind in support. At first they made rapid progress but then German batteries on Greenland Hill, north of the Scarpe, opened up on them as did machine-gun fire from Monchy and the attack was halted 500 yards west of the village.

At 5am the next day, 11th April, the attack was resumed this time with 13th King’s Royal Rifle Corps and 13th Rifle Brigade leading and 10th Royal Fusiliers and 13th Royal Fusiliers in support. They advanced slowly and were checked more than once but with the intervention of four tanks they eventually forced their way into Monchy aided by 15th Division troops who had swung right from their own area. According to the official history the capture of Monchy was an outstanding feat of the battle but it came at cost for all the attacking battalions. 10th Royal Fusiliers found themselves in the thick of the battle as the day progressed and suffered many casualties particularly when the enemy pounded the village of Monchy-le-Preux with their artillery after they had been driven out of it. Among their casualties was Albert Spencer who was killed in action.

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