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Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium
First Name: Alfred John Last Name: SHEPHERD
Date of Death: 20/10/1914 Lived/Born In: City
Rank: Rifleman Unit: Rifle Brigade3
Memorial Site: Ploegsteert Memorial

Current Information:



The Race to the Sea. September-October 1914

By the middle of September 1914, the Aisne battlefield had stagnated into trench warfare and in order to break this impasse, both sides tried to outflank each other in a general movement northwards. Moving up through Picardy, Artois and Flanders the race was over by 19th October when the North Sea was reached. The Western Front, a line of trenches stretching from Belgium to Switzerland, was now a reality. Initially it was the French army that conducted this movement whilst the British Expeditionary Force remained on the Aisne but by 6 October British reinforcements were needed to help beat off German attacks around Lille. They moved north and along with reinforcements from Britain, they took up new positions in Flanders, on the left of the Allied line and much closer to the Channel ports.

The Battle of Armentières  12th October-2nd November 1914

The official History pinpoints the battle of Armentières to a series of battles that took place between the river Douve and a line between Estaires and Foumers. It was part of the Race to the Sea and it determined the line of the Western Front in that sector. It was fought by III Corps. (4th and 6th Divisions + 19Brigade)


On 20th October the Germans attacked British troops on the Lille Ridge. All three Brigades of 6th Division were attacked along the line Radinghem-Ennetières-Prèmesques-Epinette.  Between 7 and 8 am their trenches were heavily shelled followed by German infantry attack which came on in bounds, covered by machine guns. 18 Brigade took the brunt of this attack in the salient in front on Ennetières but there were also casualties among the other units of 6th Division, including 3rd Rifle Brigade, 17 Brigade when the Germans made a rush between their position and that of their neighbours, 1st Royal Fusiliers. They were then subjected to shelling and sniping for the rest of the day. Among the casualties suffered by 3rd Rifle Brigade on this day was Alfred Shepherd who was killed in action.


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