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Le Touret Memorial, France Le Touret Memorial, France
First Name: George Frederick Last Name: DONKIN
Date of Death: 15/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Blackfriars
Rank: Rifleman Unit: King's Royal Rifle Corps1
Memorial Site: Le Touret Memorial, France

Current Information:


52, Surrey Row, Blackfriars


The Battle of Festubert (15–25 May 1915)

This followed quickly on the heels of  the Battle of Aubers Ridge and was an offensive operation by the British Army in the Artois region of France in conjunction with a French attack further south.  Initial success soon ground to a halt and although there had been an advance of two miles in some places the end result was not the hoped for breakout but merely more muddy trenches which became the front line. British casualties over the ten days amounted to nearly 17,000, three times as many as inflicted on the Germans.

The Battle of Festubert was preceded by a three day bombardment of the enemy positions and  at 11.30pm on 15th May 2nd Division and the Meerut Division from the Indian Army  attacked with mixed results. They gained some of their objectives but had met such strong German resistance, that they were unable to participate in the attack by 7th Division  at 3.15am on 16th May.

In the early morning of 15th May, when it was still dark, 5 and 6 Brigades of  2nd Division attacked on a 1300 yard frontage. On the right 6 Brigade used 1/7th Liverpool (Kings), 1st Royal Berkshire and 1st King’s Royal Rifle Corps in one of the more successful actions of this day. Advancing in silence at walking pace they reached the German breastwork before a shot was fired.  This they secured while the enemy defenders retreated down communication trenches past Ferme du Bois.  Supporting companies passed through and reached the German support trench where they halted and consolidated ready to continue at daybreak.  Up until now they had had few losses but with the arrival of daylight the situation changed for the worse when a combined attack with 7th Division proved impossible to carry out. By now German shelling of 6 Brigade’s original front line had become so intense and with no-man’s land swept by a vicious crossfire from the flanks, they were unable to bring up enough men and ammunition to participate in this second assault and as a result,  7th Division attacked alone with disastrous consequences. 1st King’s Royal Rifle Corps held the captured enemy trenches throughout that and the following day and in the early hours of 17th May they were relieved and moved back into reserve trenches. However, they were still not safe from  German shelling and the casualty list continued to grow. One of the many casualties sustained by 1st King’s Royal Rifle Corps during the course of this operation was George Donkin who lost his life on 15th May.

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