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Alexander Pettigrew

53597 Private

14th Battalion Highland Light Infantry, 120th Infantry Brigade, 40th division


Date of Death: 9.4.18

Buried: (Royal) Berkshire Corner Memorial Panel 9 and 10

Family history: Mrs Ann Tait Martin, 5 Station Terrace, Bonnybridge.

The action leading to his death

Operation Georgette, to the Germans, or the Battle of the Lys to the British, opened on 9 April 1918. This was a large scale battle with a front line of some 37km’s that stretched from the La Bassee Canal almost to the gates of Ypres. Casualties on the British and commonwealth side totalled 82,000 dead, wounded, missing or taken prisoner. Georgette was carried out by the German 6th Army and part of the German Fourth Army and its main objective was to seize the rail head at Hazebrouck from where the British 2nd Army in Flanders was supplied. To the east, it would reach the Steenvoorde to Poperinge road which also supplied the 2nd Army in the Ypres Salient.

(Linesman Map. Modern map but still relevant)

The battalion were in billets at Noveau Monde when the Germans began an artillery bombardment. They were ordered to stand to and they moved into defensive positions with three Company’s deployed in depth from Laventie East Post to Charred Post with one Company in support. Nothing further was heard from the three Company’s deployed. At 11.40am the 10/11th HLI indicated that the line was in danger of collapse and that the Germans had pushed back the support Company. From 1pm the enemy were pressing on the Battalion HQ and the 2nd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, on the battalion left. The enemy was now pressing round the battalion front and flanks and at 3pm, after consultation with 2nd Royal Scot Fusiliers, the decision was made to withdraw across the River Lys. The battalion held a bridge head against the Germans on the other bank and at 10pm were relieved by the 50th Division.

Medals Awarded

The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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