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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Robert Cecil Last Name: BRINTON
Date of Death: 24/04/1915 Lived/Born In: Isleworth
Rank: Rifleman Unit: London9
Memorial Site: 1. Isleworth Memorial 2. Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:



The Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge (22–23 April 1915)

In the late afternoon of 22nd April the Germans used poison gas on the Western Front for the first time when 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. 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. Although this action was given the name of the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge, it was actually fought further to the west in the region of Koorslaere and to the west of St Julien.


13 Brigade of 5th Division had been fighting their own desperate battle further south in the Ypres salient at Hill 60 when, on the morning of 23rd April they were ordered to move north-east to support the hard pressed troops of 27th and 28th Divisions. The situation was confused. No one was quite sure how big the gap in the British lines was nor how far the Germans had advanced, but it was imperative that the breach was closed and that the Germans were pushed back. With this as their objective 13 Brigade, along with other units, were ordered to counter attack. That afternoon they marched under shell fire to reach their starting point near St. Jean and at 4.25pm they launched their attack with the 1st Royal West Kent and 2nd  Scottish Borderers battalions leading,  2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry in support and 9th London in reserve. The attack made very little progress but at great cost in casualties. 9th London were not directly involved in the operation on 23rd April and the casualties they sustained were most likely to have been from shell fire. But they fared badly on the next day, 24th April, when they were sent forward to Wieltje and St.Jean. They moved up under heavy shell fire with every road ranged by the German artillery and once they arrived there was no cover except the shallow trenches they could dig behind the crowded GHQ line. Needless to say their casualties mounted and among those killed was Robert Brinton.


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