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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Frank Last Name: GASH
Date of Death: 01/08/1917 Lived/Born In: Hanwell
Rank: Private Unit: South Wales Borderers10
Memorial Site: 1. Isleworth Memorial 2. Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Age-29

33, St Marks Road, Hanwell

 

Third Battle of Ypres

This was a campaign fought between July and November 1917 and is often referred to as the Battle of Passchendaele, a village to the north-east of Ypres which was finally captured in November. It was an attempt by the British to break out of the Ypres salient and capture the higher ground to the south and the east, from which the enemy had been able to dominate the salient. It began well but two important factors weighed against them. First was the weather. The summer of 1917 turned out to be one of the wettest on record and soon the battlefield was reduced to a morass of mud which made progress very difficult, if not impossible in places. The second was the defensive arrangements of concrete blockhouses and machine gun posts providing inter-locking fire that the Germans had constructed and which were extremely difficult and costly to counter. For four months this epic struggle continued by the end of which the salient had been greatly expanded in size but the vital break out had not been achieved.

Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31st July-2nd August)

This was the opening attack of Third Ypres and began at 3.50am on 31st July when British and French troops launched their offensive to break out of the Ypres salient. The day had mixed results. To the north the Pilckem Ridge was captured but there was less success further south along the Gheluvelt Ridge, where a combination of stiff German resistance and low cloud, which hindered observation, meant that only the first objectives were captured. Further attempts to push on were stopped in their tracks by specialist German counter attack divisions and resulted in a 70% casualty rate among the British troops. Then in the afternoon, the rain came and under the weight of shells falling on it, the battlefield soon became a quagmire. Over the next two days, suffering the most appalling conditions in the mud and the rain, the troops had to fight off numerous German counter attacks.

At 3.50am on 31st July, 1917, 38th Division attacked out of the north-east face of the salient towards the villages of Pilckem and Langemarck. 113 and 114 Brigades led the way and after heavy fighting some of them reached the third objective, the Black Line. At this stage and after the pillboxes on Iron Cross Ridge had been dealt with, 115 Brigade passed through and resumed the offensive. The 11th South Wales Borderers and 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers battalions pushed on and despite many losses managed to reach the Steenbeek, a small stream running across their line of attack. This they crossed and with the aid of two companies from 10th South Wales Borderers, they consolidated their new positions. Here they spent an awful night and next day, in the pouring rain and under constant shell-fire. Casualties were high among 115 Brigade and included Frank Gash from 10th South Wales Borderers.

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