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First Name: Frederick George Last Name: GRAY
Date of Death: 08/08/1917 Lived/Born In: Neasden
Rank: Sapper Unit: Royal Engineers 103rd Field Company
Memorial Site: 1. Neasden, St Catherine 2. Baker Street Station

Current Information:

Age-19

Born-Neasden

Aeroplane Cemetery, Belgium

 

The First World War saw an enormous growth in the size of the British army, not just in the infantry and artillery but also in all of the other branches including the Royal Engineers, without whom the war could not have been fought. The engineers were responsible for the maintenance of all the supply routes to the front line including roads, bridges, canals, railways. They looked after the telephones and the embryonic wireless system and they made sure that there was a water supply. They designed and built the fortifications both in the front line and further back, including gun emplacements and they were responsible for all tunnelling and mining work. Each division usually had three Field Companies attached to them and when an attack went in so did the engineers to help consolidate any gains made.

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.

Frederick Gray was killed in action on 8th August, 1917, while serving with the 103rd Field Company of the Royal Engineers. This unit was attached to 24th Division, which in the summer of 1917 saw action during Third Ypres.

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