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Arras Memorial, France Arras Memorial, France
First Name: Frederick Francis Last Name: WOOD
Date of Death: 12/05/1917 Lived/Born In: Harringay
Rank: Private Unit: Middlesex11
Memorial Site: Arras Memorial, France

Current Information:

Born-Hoxton

 

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.

After their involvement at the beginning of the Battle of Arras, 11th Middlesex of 36 Brigade, 12th Division, did not return to the front line until May, 1917. On the night of 10th-11th May, 36 Brigade relieved 35 Brigade on the right of 12th Division’s front which ran from Rifle Farm, along Rifle and Scabbard trenches to the River Scarpe.  On their right 3rd Division held Monchy while on their left, across the Scarpe, 4th Division were just west of the Chemical Works and Rouex Cemetery. It was an irregular front line with opposing trenches often close to each other.  In front of 36 Brigade  the enemy were strong in Devil’s Trench and behind that was the equally strong Gun Trench. On the evening of 12th May Devil’s Trench was attacked by 76 Brigade, 3rd Division, east of the Monchy-Pelves road and by 11th Middlesex and 6th Royal West Surrey (Queens) of 37 Brigade, 12th Division, between the Monchy-Pelves and the Monchy-Pelves Mill roads. It was not a successful attack. At 6pm there was a three minute heavy artillery bombardment of Devil’s Trench after which 11th Middlesex began their move across No-Man’s-Land only to be met by heavy machine-gun fire and although they were able to capture a small portion of Arrow Trench on the right, Devil’s Trench remained beyond their reach. News arrived that on their right 13th Liverpool of 3rd Division had gained their objective so at 9.45pm a second attack was launched after another short bombardment. Again they failed. Some managed to get to within forty yards of Devil’s Trench but could go no further. With over one hundred casualties, 11th Middlesex returned to their own lines leaving only a small party in Arrow Trench who also fell back the following day. Frederick Wood was one of those who lost their lives in this operation.

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