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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Alfred Last Name: HOVELL
Date of Death: 24/05/1915 Lived/Born In: West Hampstead
Rank: Private Unit: Royal Fusiliers3
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:


14 Messina Avenue, West Hampstead

Battle of Bellewaarde (24th-25th May, 1915)

The line held by V Corps of the BEF in May 1915, stretched 5 ½ miles around much of the Ypres salient from Hill 60 to the junction with the French at Turco Farm in the north-east and was held from right to left by 83 Brigade, 28th Division, 1st Cavalry Division (1 & 2 Cavalry Brigades astride the Menin Road), 85 Brigade, 28th Division (across the railway and the Zonnebeke road) and then 10 Brigade, 4th Division covering Wieltje and up to Mouse Trap Farm with 12 Brigade beyond.  At 2.45am on 24th May, the Germans opened up a tremendous artillery bombardment on this front followed up by the release of gas in greater quantities than had been seen before with dense gas clouds rising to 40 feet. In some places no-man’s land was very narrow and the defenders had little or no time in which to don their gas masks. The centre of the line held firm but at the two extremities, Mouse Trap farm in the north and Bellewaarde Lake in the south, the enemy broke through. Reserves were called up but despite some hard fighting the losses were not made good and the salient around Ypres was further reduced.

85 Brigade of 28th Division held the front between Bellwaarde Lake and the Ypres-Zonnebeke road on the reverse slope of Verlorenhoek ridge.  Half of 3rd Royal Fusiliers and 7 Durham Light Infantry were south of the railway whilst 2nd East Surrey and 8th Middlesex were north of it.  The trenches were knee deep in mud after recent rain and this, along with the bombardment caused them to collapse. Under this pressure, some troops fell back and this exposed the flank of 3rd Royal Fusiliers, themselves having to deal with the gas and the bombardment. The Germans tried exploiting the gap to the south and in response  3rd Royal Fusiliers sent half a company to cover its  flank but by 8am they, and 7 Durham Light Infantry, with most of their men by now casualties, were forced from their trenches. They  moved back to their third line which they continued to hold all day before being relieved. The casualties for 3rd Royal Fusiliers on this day were a staggering 550 officers and men.

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