22932, Lance Corporal, Bruce CLARK
2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards
Born in Newmarket in Q1-1897 [Newmarket 3b:538], to Albert and Caroline CLARK (née GODFREY) of 10 Plympton Cottages, Exeter Road,
1901 census...Bruce CLARK  was at 10 Plympton Cottages, Newmarket with his father Albert , turf commission agent, born Brighton; his mother Caroline , born Dalham, and his brothers Felix; Meave  and Leslie  all born in Newmarket. Also there was Richard GODFREY  presumably his Uncle.
1911 census...Bruce  was a scholar, living with his parents at 'Rushden', Crockfords Road, Newmarket with his parents; brother Felix, now like his father, a commission agent; Neive and Leslie. It appears that two other children had been born, but since died.
The photo above was cropped from this group photograph which had the names pencilled on the back. Sadly at least 7 of them died in the war. Thanks to Dr Simon Fielding for the images.
"The Germans were keen to attack before the American soldiers strengthened the Allied armies. The massive surprise attack (named Blücher-Yorck after two Prussian generals of the Napoleonic Wars) lasted from 27 May until 6 June 1918 and was the first full-scale German offensive following the Lys Offensive in Flanders in April. The Germans had held the Chemin des Dames Ridge from the First Battle of the Aisne in September 1914 to 1917, when General Mangin captured it during the Second Battle of the Aisne (in the Nivelle Offensive)
. Operation Blücher-Yorck was planned primarily by Erich Ludendorff, who was certain that success at the Aisne would lead the German armies to within striking distance of Paris. Ludendorff, who saw the BEF as the main threat, believed that this, in turn, would cause the Allies to move forces from Flanders to help defend the French capital, allowing the Germans to continue their Flanders offensive with greater ease. Thus, the Aisne drive was to be essentially a large diversionary attack. The defense of the Aisne area was in the hands of General Denis Auguste Duchêne, commander of the French Sixth Army; in addition, four divisions of the British IX Corps, led by Lieutenant-General Sir Alexander Hamilton-Gordon, held the Chemin des Dames Ridge; they had been posted there to rest and refit after surviving the "Michael" battle.
On the morning of 27 May 1918, the Germans began a bombardment (Feuerwalze) of the Allied front lines with over 4,000 artillery pieces. The British suffered heavy losses, because Duchene (reluctant to abandon the Chemin des Dames Ridge after it had been captured at such cost the previous year ) had ordered them to mass together in the front trenches, in defiance of instructions from the French Commander-in-Chief Henri-Philippe Petain. Huddled together, they made easy artillery targets. The bombardment was followed by a poison gas drop. Once the gas had lifted the main infantry assault by 17 German Sturmtruppen divisions commenced, part of an Army Group nominally commanded by Crown Prince Wilhelm, the eldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Taken completely by surprise and with their defences spread thin, the Allies were unable to stop the attack and the German army advanced through a 40 km gap in the Allied lines. Reaching the Aisne in under six hours, the Germans smashed through eight Allied divisions on a line between Reims and Soissons, pushing the Allies back to the river Vesle and gaining an extra 15 km of territory by nightfall. Victory seemed near for the Germans, who had captured just over 50,000 Allied soldiers and well over 800 guns by 30 May 1918. But after having advanced within 56 km of Paris on 3 June, the German armies were beset by numerous problems, including supply shortages, fatigue, lack of reserves and many casualties along with counter-attacks by and stiff resistance from newly arrived American divisions, who engaged them in the Battles of Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood."
12 of the 2nd Battalion lost their lives that day, buried in 5 different cemeteries in the area
photo: Michael J. Pettitt
photo: Michael J. Pettitt
click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details