Albert John Fakeley
Albert John Fakeley
  born: 1890, Herne Hill, London

enlisted: Howe Battalion, Royal Naval Division, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

rank: Able Seaman R/2306

died: 26th October 1917

buried: no known grave

commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Flanders, Belgium


Albert was the son of John and Elizabeth Fakeley.

Passchendaele - 3rd Battle of Ypres Summer - Autumn 1917

In the summer of 1917 the Allied powers realised that in order to break the deadlock in the war, the German Army must be removed from the Messines Ridge (with its height advantage) to enable the Allies to break out of the Ypres Salient.  The third battle commenced on 7th June 1917, and initially was a great success, but the wettest summer in memory conspired against the generals' plans and by the end of July the offensive had become a desperate struggle against dreadful weather and a determined enemy.

By September the battlefields were mud and water, so when the Royal Naval Division arrived for the planned offensive in October, " Tommies shouted out as they passed 'Blimey that's torn it, we knew they'd have to send the Navy in!'.  The Navy clinging to their rain capes and dignity gave a certain familiar signal in reply." (from Lyn Macdonald, They called it Passchendaele, pp201)

On the night of October 25th, Canadian troops, along with the Naval Brigade, London Territorials, and other Allied troops assembled for an attack at dawn.  But an overnight downpour washed rain into the swamps and put another thick layer of mud on the slopes of the ridge around Passchendaele village.  In the dark the troops had to traverse a mile of knee deep mud and slippery duckboards, hoping that the enemy had not detected them.

The Naval Brigade attacked on the left of the Allied offensive towards Goudberg.  The Navy and the Canadians had to go down the Bellevue Spur, cross the Ravebeek marsh and climb the Crest Spur, whilst being raked by snipers, machine gun and artillery fire.

Eventually, the Naval Brigade were halted by the Paddebeck swamp and the barbed wire about it.  The Paddebeck had widened into a flood that seemed impassable. Before and beyond it were lines of wire, and behind that a trench system bristling with machine guns, which fired on the Navy troops as they waded across the swollen stream in water up to their waists.

After heavy losses they broke into the trench system and took several vital strong holds.  Their costly action, by diverting the enemy, allowed the Canadians to achieve their objective.

Albert's third cousin, Wilfred Fakeley from Canada was also killed at Passchendaele

Last update ; 24th October 2002