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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: George Edward Last Name: SPENCER
Date of Death: 26/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Catford
Rank: Private Unit: Scots Guards1
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Born-Ashford, Middlesex



First Battle of Ypres

Between 21st October and 22nd November, 1914 a desperate fight took place around the Belgium city of Ypres, the first of three major battles that were to be fought there during the course of the war. British troops entered Ypres in October. The 1st and 2nd Divisions plus the 3rd Cavalry Division had made their way up from the Aisne as part of the “Race to the Sea”, whilst the 7th Division came west to Ypres after Antwerp had fallen. The Germans knew that Ypres was the gateway to the Channel ports and that these were vital to Britain’s war effort so they poured reinforcements into the area. The fighting fell into three distinct battles; the Battle of Langemarck, 21-24 October, the Battle of Gheluvelt, 29-31 October and the Battle of Nonne Bosschen, 11 November. Ypres did not fall to the Germans but its defence during these two months resulted in the destruction of much of the old regular British Army.

From 21st October to 24th October 7th Division, in their position east of Ypres were repeatedly attacked by the numerically superior Germans, whilst 1st and 2nd Divisions were similarly assaulted to the north-east of Ypres around Langemarck. This was the old regular British army at its fighting best and the German offensive failed to break through, but the cost was high.

At 5.30am on 26th October the 1st Scots Guards of 1 Brigade, 1st Division left their billets in Zillebeke and marched via Hooge to Gheluvelt where they reinforced the line on the left of 2nd Division. From here they made an attack across very open ground towards Pozelhoek but were held up by machine-gun and artillery fire. Brought to a halt they fell back to where they started from. One of their casualties during the course of the day was George Spencer.

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