The Battle of Neuve Chapelle
The Great War 1914-18
One of the first casualties of the First World, in terms of towns, was Neuve Chapelle lying north of La Bassee, which was captured by the Germans on 27th October 1914. It was later retaken by the Indian Corps, which then withdrew and the town was once more in German hands. The Germans established their front line which formed a bulge protruding westwards creating a feature known as a salient. For several months they occupied the area and strengthened their positions.
The British Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Sir John French ordered an attack to be launched in this vicinity in order to demonstrate to his French Allies that the British were playing their part. On 10th March 1915 the British attacked, achieving complete surprise and advancing 1,200 yards.
On the right flank was the Indian 7th (Meerut Division) along with the Garhwal and Bareilly Brigades of the Indian Corps. The advance broke the Germans and the town of Neuve Chapelle was open, however although they entered Neuve Chapelle, General Haig did not exploit the gap created. The Indian Garhwal Brigade advanced to the Bois du Biez, but withdrew. General Sir Henry Rawlinson commanding IV Corps also hesitated and did not order the 7th Division forward. The Germans, commanded by General von Falkenhayn, did not delay and moved his reserves forward to consolidate his defences. Three days later, 10th March, the British attack ground to a halt. They had lost approx. 13,000 killed and wounded while the Germans suffered around 14,000 casualties.
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