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Le Touret Memorial, France Le Touret Memorial, France
First Name: Percy Robert Last Name: RICE
Date of Death: 11/03/1915 Lived/Born In: Marylebone
Rank: Private Unit: Northamptonshire2
Memorial Site: Le Touret Memorial

Current Information:

Age-29

52, Balcombe Street, Marylebone

Neuve-Chapelle 10-12th March 1915

The Indian Army Corps and IV Corps attacked the village of Neuve Chapelle in the Artois region of France between 10th and 13th March, 1915. During the winter of 1914-1915, reinforcements had arrived from Britain and this was seen as an opportunity to use them to break through the German lines.

It started well. At 7.30 am on 10th March, a 30 minute hurricane bombardment destroyed the German wire and front line trenches and at 8.05 am the infantry went in. Neuve Chapelle was captured and over a mile of the German line taken. But that was the end of the success.  The British chain of command was weak and their communications poor, which was hardly surprising given that many of the troops had no previous experience of battle. The Germans re-organised and reinforced during the night and no further gains were made. British casualties mounted to 12,000 by the time the offensive petered out on 13th March.

On 10th March, 8th Division attacked with 23 and 25 Brigades. 24 Brigade was in reserve with orders to to carry on the attack once the first objectives had been taken. Unfortunately, 23 Brigade was held up and failed to take all of their objectives and in response to this 2nd East Lancashire, from 24 Brigade was sent up in support. This in turn delayed the attack of 1st Sherwood Foresters and 2nd Northamptonshire but at 5.30pm they were able to resume the advance. However they became hopelessly intermingled crossing the many dykes whilst under fire from the Layes bridge redoubt and the nameless cottages.  They advanced 500 yards but in the confusion it was thought best not to press the attack so they halted and reorganised.  1st Sherwood Foresters had their right on the Layes bridge-La Russie road near the Mauquissart road junction and their left on the Sunken road.  2nd Northamptonshire were within 200 yards of the nameless cottages. At this stage 2 companies of 1st Worcestershire were sent up to fill the 200 yard gap between them.

The following day, 11th March, it was the turn of 24 Brigade to attack and this they did with the same disastrous consequences. In the early morning 2nd Northamptonshire and 1st Sherwood Foresters attacked but were stopped in the first 10 yards by fierce enfilade machine gun fire. The heavy casualties inflicted on 2nd Northamptonshire in this attack meant that they were unable to join in another attempt by 24 Brigade that afternoon. 

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