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Le Touret Memorial, France Le Touret Memorial, France
First Name: George Alfred Last Name: ELMS
Date of Death: 21/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Bow
Rank: Private Unit: Royal Fusiliers4
Memorial Site: Le Touret Memorial

Current Information:


26, Eyleton Road, Bromley-by-Bow

7, Perring Street, Bromley-by-Bow



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, consisting of 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.

On 19th October, the 4th Royal Fusiliers battalion of 9 Brigade, 3rd Division supported by fire an attack on Le Pilly by 2nd Irish who captured the station there but received heavy losses in doing so. The following night a platoon was moved up to Le Pilly to give further support while the rest of 4th Royal Fusiliers held the west side of Herlies from the Le Pilly road. At 7 am on 20th October, there was a violent German bombardment of Pilly which reduced the village to ruins. This was followed by repeated infantry attacks. A company of 4th Royal Fusiliers were sent to support 1st Northumberland Fusiliers on the south side of the village and lost heavily as they advanced across the open shell torn land. In the afternoon the struggle grew more bitter and some men were sent back to prepare a second position. By late afternoon Le Pilly had been captured by the Germans and 4th Royal Fusiliers withdrew from Herlies and took up a position between Haut Pommereau and Le Plouich. Their casualties for the day amounted to over 150. A number of men from 4th Royal Fusiliers have a date of death recorded as 21st October or 22nd October, but as there is little mentioned about this day in the battalion diary or elsewhere, it is more likely that they were killed in action on 20th October and their deaths not recorded until the following days The diary records that on 22nd October, 4th Royal Fusiliers spent the day organising new position until ordered to withdraw some four miles. One of their casualties was George Elms.



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