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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Owen Last Name: ROSE
Date of Death: 30/04/1915 Lived/Born In: Hanwell
Rank: Private Unit: Middlesex8
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:


4, Du Burstow Terrace, Hanwell


Battle of St Julien, 24 April – 4 May 1915

In the late afternoon of 22nd April an unfamiliar green cloud was seen to rise from the German trenches on the northern part of the Ypres salient, held by two French divisions. The Germans had used poison gas on the Western Front for the first time. It was chlorine gas and this destroys moist tissues such as lungs and eyes. The French troops in the path of the gas cloud suffered 6,000 casualties, many of whom died within ten minutes. Many others were blinded. Not surprisingly the French line broke leaving a four mile gap into which the German soldiers advanced. Desperate defending by Canadian troops prevented a complete German breakthrough but nevertheless a lot of ground was lost including Langemarck and Pilckem and the Ypres salient became even smaller. Two British divisions, the 27th and the 28th were holding the line nearby and they sent their reserves to try to stem the German tide.

Spurred on by the success of their gas attack on 22nd April, the Germans struck again two days later on the northern sector of the Ypres salient at St. Julien.  Once more chlorine gas was used and despite a resolute defence the British and Canadians were pushed back and St Julien was lost. For nearly two weeks the fighting continued on this front. The Germans persisted with their attacks, the British fought desperate rear guard actions and launched many counter attacks but gradually they were pushed further and further back. Eventually, during the night of 3rd & 4th May the British forces were withdrawn from their forward positions and took up a new defensive line closer to Ypres.

On 24th April, the 8th Middlesex battalion of 85 Brigade, 28th Division marched to Verlorenhoek in the northern part of the Ypres salient. On 25th April the main German attack fell on the spur between the main Ypres ridge and a stream called the Strombeek, where the 2nd East Surrey and 3rd Royal Fusiliers battalions were in the line starting at 5am with a heavy artillery bombardment. Shrapnel swept the bare slopes for four hours after which came gas and high explosive. ‘B’ Company of 8th Middlesex were in a close support trench when at 11.30am a shell fell right into the trench wiping out No.6 platoon and half an hour later, after the enemy had penetrated the front line trenches held by 2nd East Surrey, they were ordered up along communication trenches to assist in the defence.  German troops advanced in the open attempting to surround ‘B’ Company who were saved by the prompt arrival of ‘A’ Company, advancing in the open and reinforcing on the right. They then counter-attacked with a charge into the face of enemy fire during which many men fell.  There then followed fierce hand to hand fighting during which the enemy were driven back 150 yards but not all of the lost trench was recovered. That night there was a withdrawal to the line of the Haanebeek where the battalion came together as a unit. Just before dawn on 26th April, the enemy renewed their advance and ‘D’ Company were sent to a gap between the 1st Hampshire and 3rd Royal Fuisiliers battalions. Here they managed to hold up the German advance but were then outflanked and forced to retire to a position 500 yards further back. This was followed by another retirement during which a party lost touch in the early morning mist and were then surrounded and captured or killed. The remainder made it back to battalion HQ at Verlorenhoek. They remained here, enfiladed by snipers and bombers on both flanks and without any trench mortars with which to reply, until they were finally relieved on 3rd May and moved back to Poperinghe. One of the many casualties suffered by 8th Middlesex during this battle was Owen Rose who was killed on 30th April.

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