Tuesday, 13 May 2014

FIRST BATTLE OF THE AISNE: THE FIRST FATALITY



This battle was fought between 14th – 20th September 1914, on a 100-mile front between Compeigne and Tahure, near Reims. The German forces had fallen back from the Marne and entrenched north of the river Aisne, reinforced by considerable artillery support.   
The Allies launched a frontal attack, crossing the river with great difficulty. They were however able to gain the crest of the ridge and the Chemin des Dames which ran along it. Both sides then dug trenches and remained on this line for most of the war.
This battle was to claim one of two casualties connected with the parish and killed in action during 1914.

(1) Pte L/9479 Victor Amos LETCHFORD 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment
Victor Amos Letchford was the son of Jeremiah Letchford, a labourer, and Harriet Letchford, of 7 Victoria Terrace, Ash; husband of Lily Louise Letchford, of 26 Park Road, East Acton, London. He had three older sisters, Ruth, Annie and Amelia.
 

He was born in Ash, and enlisted at Canterbury. He received his earliest military training in the Ash Company of the Church Lads’ Brigade, of which he was one of the first members. He joined the army at an early age, seeing service in India.  Thereafter he joined the Metropolitan Police, and was stationed at Acton. 
He was killed in action on 14th September 1914 whilst serving in the British Expeditionary Force during the First Battle of the Aisne.  He died at the age of 28, leaving a widow and two small children both under four years old. 
On 13th September the 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment had crossed the Aisne via a partially demolished bridge at Bourg. The battalion became engaged in the fighting near the sugar factory at Troyon, where they sustained heavy casualties.
The Commanding Officer, Second-in-Command, Adjutant, and six other officers were killed and 300 other ranks either killed or wounded. 
Victor Letchford was the first man of the parish to be killed during the 'Great War.' He is commemorated on the memorial at La Fertec-sous-Jouarre, Seine-et-Marne, France.  



(2) Pte L/9889 Albert BROWN 1st Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
(Westmarsh War Memorial)
Albert Brown was the son of Mr and Mrs Charles Brown, of Preston, Canterbury.  He was born at Hoaden, and was a pupil at Westmarsh School.  Records show his residence as Preston at the time of his death.

He was killed in action on 20th October 1914 at the age of 19. This was during the fighting at Radinghem-en-weppes, near Armentières, France, where the battalion were committed from 18th October.
On the morning of 20th October the Germans opened fire with large calibre artillery supporting a strong infantry attack. 1st Buffs found themselves effectively surrounded. Eventually the battalion was forced to retire, company by company. In this action the Buffs lost four officers killed and four wounded, with 17 other ranks killed, 62 missing and 57 wounded.  The Regiment earned high praise for the stand they made here.
Albert Brown is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial (panel 2), North of Armentières, just over the Belgian border. 

 





1 comment:

  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

    ReplyDelete