Company Serjeant Major
East Lancashire Regiment
26th February 1915
Killed in Action
History of the Battle for Souchez
German forces seized the village of Souchez and the surrounding countryside as they advanced through Northern France in 1914. German artillery units were able to control this sector of the front from two ridges which flanked the village - Vimy Ridge to the east, and Notre Dame de Lorette to the west. After 12 months of bitter fighting, the French forces captured the high ground at Lorette in the autumn of 1915. When the French handed this part of the line to the Commonwealth forces in March 1916, Vimy Ridge was still in German hands.
Vimy Ridge was the key to the German defensive system in this sector. It protected an area of occupied France in which coal mines and factories were in full production for the German war effort and the fortified vantage points on the ridge dominated the surrounding battlefields.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge formed part of the opening phase of the British-led Battle of Arras which began on 9th April 1917. The Canadian forces managed to capture most of the German positions on the ridge on the first day of the attack and by 12th April they had occupied the village of Thelus and pushed the Germans back to the Oppy-Mericourt line. By taking the ridge the Canadians achieved a major tactical success, but in just four days of fighting they suffered over 10,000 casualties, 3,500 of whom were killed. The battle was the first action in which all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together and had a major impact on Canadian national identity.
XXVI. A. 9
CABARET-ROUGE BRITISH CEMETERY, SOUCHEZ
Caberet Rouge was a small, red-bricked, red-tiled cafe that stood close to this site in the early days of the First World War. The cafe was destroyed by shellfire in March 1915 but it gave its unusual name to this sector and to a communication trench that led troops up the front-line. Souchez is a village 3.5 kilometres north of Arras on the main road to Bethune. The cemetery is about 1.5 kilometres south of the village on the west side of the D937 Arras-Bethune Road.