The battle was the initial British component of the combined Anglo-French offensive known as the Second Battle of Artois. French Commander-in-Chief Joffre had enquired of Sir John French, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force if British units could support a French offensive into the Douai Plain around late April or early May 1915. The immediate French objectives were to capture the heights at Notre Dame de Lorette and the Vimy Ridge.
The British First Army was further north, between La Bassée and Ypres (Belgium). It was decided that the British forces would attack in the southern half of their front line, near the village of Laventie. Their objective in the flat and poorly drained terrain was the "Aubers Ridge", an area of slightly higher ground 2–3 kilometres south of Allied lines marked by the villages of Aubers, Fromelles and Le Maisnil. This same area had been targeted in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle two months earlier.
The battle marked the second use of specialist Royal Engineers tunnelling companies, who deployed mines underground to disrupt enemy defence lines through use of dug tunnels, and large amounts of explosives at zero hour.
Course of the Battle
Intelligence about the newly-strengthened German positions was not available or given sufficient attention. No surprise was achieved. The duration and weight of the British bombardment was wholly insufficient to break the German wire and breastwork defences, or to destroy or suppress the front-line machine-guns. German artillery and free movement of reserves were also insufficiently suppressed. Trench layout, traffic flows and organisation behind the British front line did not allow for easy movement of reinforcements and casualties. British artillery equipment and ammunition were in poor condition: the first through over-use, the second through faulty manufacture. It soon became impossible to tell precisely where British troops were; accurate close-support artillery fire was impossible.
Three squadrons of 1st Wing Royal Flying Corps were attached to First Army to fly defensive patrols for four days before the attack, to deter enemy reconnaissance. During the attack they would switch to an observation role and to bombing enemy rear areas. This would include the area immediately behind the attack, but also important more distant railway junctions and bridges.
This battle was an unmitigated disaster for the British army. No ground was won and no tactical advantage gained. It is very doubtful if it had the slightest positive effect on assisting the main French attack fifteen miles to the south.
The battle was renewed, the epicentre shifted just a little way south, from 15 May and is known as the Battle of Festubert.
Four time Wimbledon tennis champion Tony Wilding from New Zealand was one of the fatalities of the battle.
Four Victoria Crosses were awarded for actions in the Battle of Aubers Ridge:
- David Finlay, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
- John Ripley, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
- Charles Sharpe, Lincolnshire Regiment
- James Upton, Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment)
|This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Battle of Aubers Ridge. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.|
|Father||Mother||Death date||Age at death|
|Robert Pond (1883-1915)||Philip Pond (1854-1913)||Ellen Prescott (1854-1907)||9 May 1915|