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Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium
First Name: Charles Thomas Last Name: SPILLARD
Date of Death: 16/08/1917 Lived/Born In: Borough
Rank: Rifleman Unit: Royal irish Rifles1
Memorial Site: Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium

Current Information:

Age-35

42, Tabard Street, Borough

 

Third Battle of Ypres

This was a campaign fought between July and November 1917 and is often referred to as the Battle of Passchendaele, a village to the north-east of Ypres which was finally captured in November. It was an attempt by the British to break out of the Ypres salient and capture the higher ground to the south and the east from which the enemy had been able to dominate the salient. It began well but two important factors weighed against them. First was the weather. The summer of 1917 turned out to be one of the the wettest on record and soon the battlefield was reduced to a morass of mud which made progress very difficult, if not impossible in places. The second was the defensive arrangements of concrete blockhouses and machine gun posts providing inter-locking fire that the Germans had constructed and which were extremely difficult and costly to counter. For four months this epic struggle continued by the end of which the salient had been greatly expanded in size but the vital break out had not been achieved.

The Battle of Langemarck

This took place between 16th-18th August, 1917 and was the second general attack of 3rd Ypres. Although it did not rain during the two days of the battle itself there had been plenty of it in the preceding days and in many places the battlefield was a quagmire. On the left of the attack in the north-west of the Ypres salient there was considerable success,  especially for the French Army which attacked on the left of the British, but the attack on the Gheluvelt Plateau, due east of Ypres, met determined German resistance and the early gains were soon reversed.

At 4.45am on 16th August, 1917, 8th Division attacked with 25 and 23 Brigades. The attack by 25 Brigade had the 2nd Royal Berkshire and 1st Royal Irish Rifles battalions in front with the 2nd Rifle Brigade and 2nd Lincolnshire in support. At first the attack was very successful. They crossed the Hanebeek by portable bridges, stormed up the eastern slope of the valley and took their objectives, the Iron Cross and Zonnebeke redoubts in the German third line. Anzac Farm was also occupied. However this happy state of affairs was not to last. The divisions on either side had not made such good progress as the 8th Division and they found themselves 1000 yards in front of their neighbours and being fired on from both sides. When the enemy counter-attacked they had no option but to fall back to  the Hanebeek where they consolidated a position just a few hundred yards in front of their starting line. One of the many casualties suffered by 1st Royal Irish Rifles in this unsuccessful operation was Charles Spillard.

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