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Etaples Military Cemetery, France Etaples Military Cemetery, France
First Name: Edward John Last Name: CROSS
Date of Death: 25/11/1917 Lived/Born In: St John's Wood
Rank: Rifleman Unit: London16
Memorial Site:

Current Information:


26, Loudon Road, St John's Wood

Etaples Military Cemetery, France


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.

56th Division had not been involved in the first two days of fighting but by 22nd November they had moved into the line in the northern part of the battlefield which was completely dominated by the Bourbon Ridge. This they were ordered to capture and the first steps towards achieving this took place on the morning of 22nd November, when 169 Brigade attacked Tadpole Copse. At 11am the 16th London battalion, followed by 5th London, entered the enemy trenches behind a protective artillery barrage and after 6 hours of fighting they had secured their objective and Tadpole Copse was in British hands. On the following day, 23rd November, the 14th London battalion moved up and continued the attack. 16th London remained where they were and assisted by taking supplies, especially grenades, forward during which they sustained another ten casualties. Edward Cross died from wounds on 25th January, after having been sent to a base hospital on the coast, and it is likely that he was one of those wounded during this operation.

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