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Le Touret Memorial, France Le Touret Memorial, France
First Name: Bernard Last Name: GAY
Date of Death: 12/03/1915 Lived/Born In: Harrow Road
Rank: Private Unit: London13
Memorial Site: Le Touret Memorial, France

Current Information:




The Battle of Neuve Chapelle

Between 10th and 13th March, 1915, the Indian Army Corps and IV Corps attacked the village of Neuve Chapelle in the Artois region of France. During the winter of 1914-1915, reinforcements had arrived from Britain and this was seen as an opportunity to use them to break through the German lines.

It started well. At 7.30am on 10th March, a 30 minute hurricane bombardment destroyed the German wire and front line trenches and at 8.05am the infantry went in. Neuve Chapelle was captured and over a mile of the German line taken. But that was the end of the success.  The British chain of command was weak and their communications poor, which was hardly surprising given that many of the troops had no previous experience of battle. The Germans re-organised and reinforced during the night and no further gains were made. British casualties mounted to 12,000 by the time the offensive petered out on 13th March.

When 25 Brigade of  8th Division attacked on 10th March, the 13th London battalion were in Brigade reserve and as the battalions in front moved off, 13th London moved up to the breastworks that they had vacated. C Company was detailed as a working party for the two leading battalions, 2nd Berkshire and 2nd Lincolnshire, and at 9am moved forward into the thick of the battle. An hour later, B Company moved up in support of 1st Royal Irish Rifles whilst D Company were attached to the Royal Engineers. By the afternoon all of 25 Brigade’s objectives had been obtained and 13th London were back in the old British line except for a platoon which remained in Neuve Chapelle in support of 2nd Lincolnshire.

On 11th March, the two platoons of B Company rejoined the Battalion, bringing back their wounded and coming under heavy shell fire. They remained in the old front line for the rest of the day but were not called on to attack again. Misfortune came their way when a platoon, working with the Royal Engineers was hit by a large shell which killed and wounded fifteen men. A draft of one hundred and thirty one joined the battalion on this day and were immediately subjected to a fearsome baptism of fire.

The 12th March was a very trying day for 13th London. Still in their trenches they were subjected to a sustained and fierce artillery bombardment that started at 5.30am and went on for 9 hours. The planned attack on the German lines was cancelled and all the men could do was crouch low in their trenches and hope they survived. Many did not. The battalion remained in these trenches, under shell fire, for the next two days. Among the battalion’s many casualties during the battle was Bernard Gay who was killed on 12th March.


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