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Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France
First Name: Harry Last Name: ROBERTS
Date of Death: 30/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Blackheath
Rank: Private Unit: Devonshire1
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Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez

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 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.

In the evening of 28th October 1st Devonshire, 8 Brigade, 3rd Division moved into trenches about one mile east of Festubert with their left on the Festubert-La Quinque Rue road. Here they came under very heavy German pressure. The Germans were trying to prevent units moving north to reinforce the critical position around Ypres.

The next day, 29th October, there was a determined German attack against 1st Devonshire and  3rd Worcestershire near La Quinque Rue, north-east of Festubert. 1st Devonshire stood firm even though the Germans got to within bombing. By midday 1st Devonshire had beaten off every attack and the Germans were now digging in. 1st Devonshire were still in these positions the following morning, 30th October, when fresh  attacks were made against them and 2/8th Gurkhas. All morning they held off these attacks but in the afternoon with ammunition running short and most of their officers lost, the Gurkhas were driven back exposing the flank of 1st Devonshire. A platoon was rushed up from reserve and saved the day. In the evening 1st Devonshire were relieved and moved back to Gorre. Nearly all of 1st Devonshire deaths for the end of October are recorded as being on 30th October, but many of them could have been as a result of the action on the 29th. 

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