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Photo supplied by Frank Gent Photo supplied by Frank Gent
First Name: Alfred Sidney Borlase Last Name: SCHIFF
Date of Death: 09/04/1917 Lived/Born In: Chelsea
Rank: Second Lieutenant Unit: Rifle Brigade1
Memorial Site:

Current Information:


15, Sloane Court, Chelsea

Brown's Copse Cemetery, Rouex, France


The Battle of Arras was a series of offensives by the British Army between 9th April 1917 and 16th May 1917. It had been planned in conjunction with the French who would attack in Artois and between them the Allies would force the Germans out of the large salient they had held since the line of trenches was first established. But the Germans had spoiled this plan by falling back to the new and very strong Hindenburg Line in January 1917 and the salient no longer existed.  For the want of an alternative plan the attack went ahead anyway. It all started well for the British who made substantial gains on the first two days but then the offensive ground to a halt and by the end their losses amounted to over 150,000.

The First Battle of the Scarpe (9-14 April)

On 9th April 1917, 4th Division attacked the German line between Fampoux and Gavrelle. Other divisions had made the initial assault and it was the task of 4th Division to pass through them and attack the 4th German trench system. 1st Somerset and 1st Hampshire led 11Brigade’s advance with 1st East Lancashires in support. The role of 1st Rifle Brigade, also of 11 Brigade, was to pass through to capture and consolidate Hyderabad Redoubt. As they came over the ridge in front of this they met the German artillery barrage but it was not a heavy nor sustained  shelling and very few casualties were incurred at this stage. However the German wire, 40 feet deep in places was still intact. The British barrage had completely failed to cut it. Luckily for the advancing 1st Rifle Brigade the Germans were demoralised and were more eager to give themselves up than fight. Corporal Bancroft kicked a football forward and the Redoubt was rushed and taken. But by now German reinforcements had been brought up and those of 1st Rifle Brigade still out in the open, such as patrols, outposts and consolidating parties came under heavy fire.  All men were hurriedly withdrawn into the Redoubt where they fought off a number of German counter attacks until they were relieved the next day. Alfred Schiff was one of the many casualties sustained by 1st Rifle Brigade in this operation.

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