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21st May 1915 - The Great War, Day by Day - The Wartime Memories Project

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The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day

21st May 1915

On this day:

  • 4th Scots Fusiliers embark   The 4th Scots Fusiliers sailed from Liverpool for Gallipoli, via Mudros with 155th Brigade, 52nd (Lowland) Division.

  • Battle of Festubert    6th County of London Brigade RFA report: 15th London Battery fired nineteen rounds on gaps in K.5, six rounds on J.3 and two rounds on Dogwheel House. 16th London Battery did not fire. Lieut G Lyon-Smith was wounded in the arm whilst observing from the British Front Line trenches and proceeded to England.

    War Diaries

  • 53rd RFA arrives   Lt. Macleod taken around trenches of 1/Cameronians by Lt. Robertson for instruction, also to 5/Scottish Rifles by Lt. Clark.

    53 Btn Royal Field Artillery (9 Div) arrived in 19 1B area.

    War diary RAMC 19th Field Ambulance, Erquinghem-Lys

  • 3rd Monmouths rest at Winnezeele   On the 21st May during the 3rd Monmouth battalions rest period at Winnezeele the GOC in C Sir John French, inspected the brigade and made the following speech, with which this chapter on the 3rd Monmouth's time in Ypres may fittingly close.

    “I came over to say a few words to you and to tell you how much I, as Commander-in-Chief of this Army, appreciate the splendid work that you have all done during the recent fighting. You have fought the Second Battle of Ypres , which will rank amongst the most desperate and hardest fights of the war. You may have thought because you were not attacking the enemy, that you were not helping to shorten the War. On the contrary, by your splendid endurance and bravery you have done a great deal to shorten it. In this the Second Battle of Ypres , the Germans tried by every means in their power to get possession of that unfortunate town. They concentrated large forces of troops and artillery, and further than this, they had recourse to the mean and dastardly practice, and hitherto unheard of in civilised warfare, namely the use of asphyxiating gases. You have performed the most difficult, arduous, and terrific task of withstanding a stupendous bombardment by heavy artillery, probably the fiercest artillery fire ever directed against troops, and warded off the enemy's attacks with magnificent bravery. By your steadiness and devotion both the German plans were frustrated. He was unable to get possession of Ypres-if he had done this, he would probably have succeeded in preventing neutral powers from intervening-and he was also unable to distract us from delivering our attack in conjunction with the French in the Arras-Armentieres district. Had you failed to repulse his attacks and made it necessary for more troops to be sent to your assistance, our operations in the south might not have been able to take place and would certainly not have been as successful as they have been. Your colours have many famous names emblazoned on them, but none will be more famous or more well deserved than that of the Second Battle of Ypres . I want you one and all to understand how thoroughly I realise and appreciate what you have done. I with to thank you, each officer, non-commissioned officer, and man for the services you have rendered by doing your duty so magnificently, and I am sure that your Country will thank you too”.

    To act as a counterweight to the grandeur of French's speech the content of the following letter should be Ypres on the troops concerned. Captain O.W.D. Steel, then commanding C Company, 3rd Monmouths, who had suffered so badly during the fighting on Frezenberg Ridge, wrote the letter, published on 21st May 1915. It runs: "I would be obliged if you would insert this short note in the next edition of your newspaper. It is almost impossible to write to the relative of every man of my company who have suffered, partly because the losses have been so severe, and partly because it is difficult to trace all cases, but if anyone would care to write to me, I will endeavour to supply all available information. May I express my deepest sympathy with all those who have suffered" .

    This was the human effect of the war and of the Second Battle of Ypres and it was something that was to be felt well into the summer of 1915 as casualty lists continued to be published. Second Ypres had been a costly and grim battle for all those involved.

  • 21st May 1915 9th DLI go upto the Front

  • 21st May 1915 On the Move

  • 21st May 1915 Difficult Work

  • 21st May 1915 Night Patrols

  • 21st May 1915 Into the Trenches

  • 21st May 1915 Moving Up

  • 21st May 1915 On the Move

  • 21st May 1915 Trench Work

  • 21st of May 1915 Reliefs

  • 21st of May 1915 Cavalry Corp take command

  • 21st of May 1915 Awards

  • 21st May 1915 In the Trenches

Can you add to this factual information? Do you know the whereabouts of a unit on a particular day? Do you have a copy of an official war diary entry? Details of an an incident? The loss of a ship? A letter, postcard, photo or any other interesting snipts?

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Want to know more?

There are:16 articles tagged with this date available in our Library

  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.

Remembering those who died this day.

  • Pte. Walter Burgin. 2nd Btn. Read their Story.
  • Pte David Halliday. 18th (Queen Mary's Own) Hussars Read their Story.
  • Pte. Thomas William Morris. Northumberland Fusiliers 2nd Btn. Read their Story.

    Add a name to this list.

  • Items from the Home Front Archive

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