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Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France
First Name: Frank Joseph Last Name: NUGENT
Date of Death: 02/12/1917 Lived/Born In: Aldgate
Rank: Corporal Unit: London7
Memorial Site: Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France

Current Information:

Age-29

Enlisted-Sun Street, EC2

 

The Battle of Cambrai

This was a major British offensive on the Western Front that was launched on 20th November, 1917 and lasted through to the beginning of December. As the name suggests it was an attack towards the city of Cambrai and the important German railhead there, which it was hoped would be captured. The battle was notable for two things: the massed use of tanks for the first time and the success of the first day’s fighting when the formidable Hindenburg Line was breached and gains of five miles were made in places. In celebration the church bells throughout Britain were rung. However this success was short lived. The tanks were not reliable and the German defence stiffened as the fighting progressed and when they counter attacked in force on 30th November, the British came under so much pressure that they were forced to withdraw from many of the positions they had captured earlier on. Both sides suffered around 45,000 casualties during the course of the fighting.

The initial success at Cambrai was short-lived. German resistance stiffened as fresh troops were rushed to the battlefield to help stem the allied advance, the threat from the tanks diminished as many of them broke down and on 30th November came a major offensive by the enemy. 47th Division had moved into the front line in and around Bourlon Wood in the northern part of the battlefield during the night of 28th-29th November with 141 Brigade on the right and 140 Brigade on the left. When the attack was launched on 30th November, 7th London of 140 Brigade were in reserve and not directly involved but that evening they moved forward to a sunken road closer to Bourlon Wood and dug in there before daylight. 1st December was spent in these slit trenches coming under sporadic artillery fire and then, on the evening of 2nd December, when they were hoping to be relieved, they were ordered, along with 8th London, to recapture the position on the ridge west of Bourlon Wood which had been lost on 30th November. Two companies from both battalions attacked at 8.10pm and, taking the enemy by surprise, succeeded in their mission. However 7th London suffered rather heavily when machine-guns opened up on them. One of those killed was Frank Nugent.

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