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Arras Memorial, France Arras Memorial, France
First Name: Albert Edward Last Name: WALTON
Date of Death: 29/04/1917 Lived/Born In: West Kensington
Rank: Lance Corporal Unit: Royal Fusiliers22
Memorial Site: Arras Memorial, France

Current Information:

Age-21

43, Bramber Road, West Kensington

 

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.

On 28th April, 1917, the offensive was once again renewed when British and Canadian troops launched an attack on an eight mile front north of Monchy-le-Preux. The Battle of Arleux, so named because the Canadians captured the village of Arleux-en-Gohelle, lasted for two days with the British attacks being met with fierce and determined German counter-attacks. On the opening day of this battle, 5 Brigade and 6 Brigade of 2nd Division attacked towards the village of Oppy with with partial success and by the end of the day Oppy was still in enemy hands. On 29th April, 99 Brigade had taken over from 6 Brigade and the attack was renewed at 4am by 22nd Royal Fusiliers who were at half strength and 1st Royal Berkshire who could muster only 265 men. 22nd Royal Fusiliers advanced behind an artillery barrage but were unable to penetrate the second belt of wire which had been left unscathed by the guns. Whilst trying to cut their way through this in the dark they lost the barrage and when they did move forward again they were hit by rifle and machine-gun fire. Only in two places were two, platoon sized parties able to force their way into the enemy line. They tried to extend their hold by bombing to the right and left but in the end they ran out of grenades and other ammunition. The fighting was fierce and desperate and 22nd Royal Fusiliers were unable to reach their objective. Many of them had become casualties, including Albert Walton, and they fell back and consolidated what gains they could. 

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