1st Battle of Ypres

1st Battle of Ypres

Ypres, a medieval town in Belgium, was taken by the German Army at the beginning of the war. However, by early October, 1914, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was able to recapture the town. The first major German attempt to regain Ypres took place on 15th October. Experienced BEF riflemen held their positions but suffered heavy losses.

German attacks took place for the next four weeks but with the arrival of the French Army the line was held. With the weather deteriorating, the Germans decided to abandon the Ypres offensive on the 22nd November. It is estimated that about 135,000 Germans were killed or badly wounded during the offensive. The BEF lost around 75,000 men and was effectively destroyed as a professional army. There were two more major battles at Ypres: 2nd Battle of Ypres (April-May, 1915) and Passchendaele (July-October, 1917).


A Short History of the First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards

The life of our Regiment began in Flanders. At many times in the last three hundred years the towns and villages of the Low Countries have been familiar to men of the 1st Guards. They fought in 1658, and again in 1940, against great odds, on the road between Furnes and Dunkirk. Under the great Duke of Marlborough they bore their part in the victories of Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet. At Waterloo in 1815 they won their name, a name to which great honour was added a century later in the mud and suffering of the Western Front. In 1944 they entered Brussels at the head of a victorious British Army. They have returned gloriously many times to Flanders, and in Flanders they were first formed.

King Charles II was in exile, and England lay under the military dictatorship of Cromwell, the Lord Protector. In May of that year the King formed his Royal Regiment of Guards at Bruges, under the Colonelcy of Lord Wentworth. The Regiment was first recruited from the loyal men who had followed their King into exile rather than live under tyranny, and their reward came in 1660 when the King was restored to his throne. After the Restoration, a second Royal Regiment of Guards was formed in England under the Colonelcy of Colonel John Russell. In 1665, following Lord Wentworth's death, both Regiments were incorporated into a single Regiment with twenty-four Companies, whose royal badges or devices, given by King Charles II, are still emblazoned on its Colours.

The Regiment, later termed "The First Regiment of Foot Guards", and now called "The First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards", has fought in almost every major campaign of the British Army from that time until our own. Under the last two Stuart Kings it fought against the Moors at Tangiers, and in America, and even took part as Marines in the naval wars against the Dutch.

In the Wars of the Spanish Succession, the 1st Guards served under a commander who had joined the King's Company of the Regiment as an Ensign in 1667. His name was John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough who was Colonel of the Regiment and who, with his brilliant victories of Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709), established his reputation as one of the greatest soldiers of all time. The 1st Guards took part in his famous march from the Low Countries to the Danube in 1704, and when the British stormed the fortified heights of the Schellenberg before Blenheim, the Regiment led the assault.

In the long series of wars against France - then the chief military power of Europe - that covered fifty-six of the 126 years between 1689 and 1815, the 1st Guards played their part. They fought at Dettingen and Fontenoy, where the superb steadiness of their advance under a murderous cannonade won the admiration of both armies. Rigid attention to detail, flawless perfection of uniform and equipment and a discipline of steel were the hard school in which the tempered metal of the Regiment was made for the service of the State. Yet running through that tradition of discipline, of harsh punishments, of undeviating rule, ran a vein of poetry, of humour, of loyalty to comrade, of sense of belonging to something greater than any individual, something undying and profound. And the letters and diaries of men of the Regiment of those days bear witness to it.

During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the 1st Guards, crossing to Holland in 1793, were among the first British troops to land in Europe. Driven from the Continent two years later, they returned in 1799 when another British Army attempted, though in vain, to liberate Holland. In the autumn and winter of 1808 they took part in Sir John Moore's classic march and counter-march against Napoleon in Northern Spain and, when under the terrible hardships encountered on the retreat across the wild Galician mountains the tattered, footsore troops, tested almost beyond endurance, showed signs of collapse, the 1st Foot Guards, with their splendid marching discipline, lost fewer men by sickness and desertion than any other unit in the Army. Subsequently they took part in the battle of Corunna and when Sir John Moore fell mortally wounded in the hour of victory it was men of the 1st Foot Guards who bore him, dying, from the field. Next year, they fought again in Spain under one of the great Captains of history, an officer also destined to become Colonel of the Regiment, Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington. Under Wellesley, they took part in the desperate engagements of the Peninsular War.

When, after the victorious peace that followed, Napoleon escaped from Elba and re-entered Paris, the Regiment returned to the Low Countries. In the middle of June 1815 the Emperor struck at the British and Prussian forces north of the Meuse, seeking to separate them and destroy them severally.

After a fierce encounter at Quatre Bras on June 16th, 1815, in which the 3rd Battalion suffered heavy casualties, Wellington's Army withdrew to Waterloo, and on Sunday June 18th, was fought the battle in which the Regiment gained its present title and undying fame. During the morning the light companies of the Guards defended the farm of Hougoumont, the light companies of the 1st Guards being withdrawn later to join their battalions - the 2nd and 3rd Battalions. At evening these two battalions, together forming the 1st Brigade, were in position behind the ridge which gave shelter to the Army. At this point Napoleon directed his final assault with fresh troops - the Imperial Guard, which had hitherto been maintained in reserve. That assault was utterly defeated, and, in honour of their defeat of the Grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard, the 1st Guards were made a Regiment of Grenadiers and given the title of "First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards" which they bear to this day. The Grenade was adopted as a badge and the Bearskin Cap was worn after Waterloo.

During the Crimean War, the 3rd Battalion formed part of Lord Raglan's Army, which stormed the heights above the River Alma and besieged the Russian fortress of Sebastopol. During the early part of that grim siege was fought, in November 1854, the battle of Inkerman. The defence of the Sandbag Battery in the fog against overwhelming odds is one of the epics of British military history. On that day the Brigade of Guards, of which the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards formed part, lost half its officers and men, but not a single prisoner or an inch of ground.

The Grenadier Guards fought at Tel-el-Kebir and in the Boer War, proving the worth of discipline and esprit de corps in the era of khaki, machine guns and open order as they had done under the old dispensation of muskets and scarlet and gold.

In the first Great War of 1914-18, they fought in nearly all the principle battles of the Western front. At First Ypres all but 4 officers and 200 men of the 1st Battalion and 4 officers and 140 men of the 2nd fell in action. The regiment won the battle honour 'Ypres' twice firstly in 1914 and then again in 1917.

During this war a 4th Battalion was formed for the first time and covered itself with glory in the critical fighting in the spring of 1918. The Marne, the Aisne, Ypres, Loos, the Somme, Cambrai, Arras, Hazebrouck and the Hindenburgh Line are inscribed on the Colours of the Regiment, commemorating its part in the bloodiest war of our history. Before the final victory was won and Britain's new Armies broke the German Imperial Army, 12,000 casualties had been suffered by the Regiment.

The rank of Guardsman replaced that of Private in all Guards Regiments in 1919, an honour awarded by the King in recognition of their great effort during the War.

In 1939 the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions again returned to the Continent, forming part of the British Expeditionary Force under Lord Gort, himself a Grenadier. During the retreat of 1940, the traditional discipline of the Regiment stood the test as it had done at First Ypres, Corunna and Waterloo. Two of its Battalions fought in the Division then commanded by Major General, later Field Marshal, Montgomery and another in that commanded by Major General, later Field Marshal, Alexander. At Dunkirk, which the Regiment had garrisoned under Charles II, it took part in the defences of the perimeter, under cover of which the embarkation of the Army was made. In the course of that year the 4th Battalion was re-formed, and in 1941 two further Battalions, the 5th and 6th, were raised.

The Regiment was represented in the Eighth Army's famous advance to Tunisia, taking part in the battle of Mareth, where the 6th Battalion, the first to meet the enemy after the evacuation of Dunkirk, suffered heavy casualties but won the respect of friend and foe alike. The 3rd and 5th Battalions shared in the invasion of North Africa all three Battalions were engaged in the invasion of Italy and the Italian campaign, the 5th Battalion forming part of the force that landed at Anzio.

Meanwhile, in England, the 2nd and 4th Battalions had been converted to armour, and the 2nd Battalion, with the 1st Battalion, which had become a Motor Battalion, served in the Guards Armoured Division under the command of Major General Allan Adair, another Grenadier, and later to become Colonel of the Regiment. The 4th Battalion formed part of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade. These three Battalions fought in the battles of Normandy and across France and Germany. In September 1944 the 1st and 2nd Battalions entered Brussels. On September 20th, tanks of the 2nd Battalion and troops of the 1st Battalion crossed the Nijmegen Bridge. In 1945 the Army entered Germany.

The British public most frequently sees the Grenadier at his ceremonial duties in time of peace. But behind this ceremony lies a tradition tested on the battlefields of British history, a tradition as valid to-day as ever, a tradition of discipline, comradeship, loyalty and fidelity to one another, to the Country, and to the Crown. It was expressed by the then Colonel of the Regiment, the Prince Consort, speaking on the 200th anniversary of our formation in words that remain as true over a century later. "That same discipline which has made this Regiment ever ready and terrible in war has enabled it to pass long periods of peace in the midst of all temptations of a luxurious metropolis without the loss of vigour and energy to live in harmony and good-fellowship with its fellow citizens and to point to the remarkable fact that the Household Troops have for over 200 years formed the permanent garrison of London have always been at the command of the civil power to support law and order, but have never themselves disturbed that order, or given cause of complaint, either by insolence or licentiousness. Let us hope that for centuries to come these noble qualities may still shine forth, and that the Almighty will continue to shield and favour this little band of devoted soldiers".

Since 1945 the Regiment has served in virtually every one of the "small campaigns" and crises which have marked the last few decades, and has continued its traditional and privileged task of mounting guard over the person of the Sovereign.

In the Gulf war of 1991, the 1st Battalion went from the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) - Germany - to fight in their Warrior armoured personnel carriers. They then returned to London to Troop their Colour on the Queen's Birthday Parade in 1992, before going to South Armagh for a six-month operational tour in Northern Ireland. They then carried out operational tours in the Falkland Isles and a two-year operational tour in Northern Ireland.

From 1999 the 1st Battalion would see a decade of intensive action. After two Northern Ireland tours in 1999 and 2001, the Battalion deployed to Bosnia on peace-keeping operations in 2004-5. Within a short turnaround time, it then deployed to Iraq in 2006 and the following year to Afghanistan. This was to be the first of three deployments in Helmand Province during these tours, 15 Grenadiers were killed in action and a number seriously wounded. LCpl James Ashworth was posthumously awarded the Regiment's fourteenth Victoria Cross for his actions on 13 June 2012 when he was killed crawling forward to post a grenade into a Taliban bunker.

Since 2012, training deployments have included Brunei in 2014, Kenya in 2015 and 2016 and Belize in 2019. On operations the 1st Battalion formed the lead Battlegroup for the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force with Dutch, Estonian and Albanian companies under command. 2018 saw the Battalion deploy to Iraq where it trained Iraqi and Kurdish forces in their fight against ISIS a company was seconded to Kabul as part of the Kabul Security Force and another company was sent to South Sudan in support of the UN. During this time, companies were also deployed to the Falkland Islands and on counter-poaching operations in Africa. In 2015 and 2019, the Battalion Trooped their Colour on the Queen's Birthday Parade.


1st Battle of Ypres - History

The First Battle of Ypres was fought in 1914, during WWI (1914-1918). This was the last fight of a series of battles that broke out between the Germans and the British during the Race to the Sea.

Battle Background

On October 19, 1914, Germany implemented the Schlieffen Plan. The plan called for the German army to enter Belgium in order to encircle French forces along Franco-German border in order to win a swift victory. With France overpowered, forces could be moved east for the campaign against Russia. The initial stages of this plan were successful and the German cause was bolstered by a victory over the Russians in late August.
In Belgium, the German troops pushed back Belgian forces and defeated the BEF, (British Expeditionary Forces) at Mons. Retreating southwards, the BEF and the French troops ultimately succeeded in seeing the German troops advance at the First Battle of the Marne. Attacking at the Aisne, the Allies did not succeed. In the wake of the fight, both sides started the Race to the Sea as they tried to outflank each other.

Setting the Stage

Having advanced northwards, the BEF, led by General Field Marshal, and the French forces started arriving near Ypres on October 14. On the other hand, an Allied breakthrough close to the town would let them to sweep across Flanders and threaten important German supply lines. Collaborating with Ferdinand Foch, who was overseeing French troops on a BEF”s flanks, the French wanted to go on the offensive and assault east toward Menin.

Unware that a large army was approaching them from the east, the French forces moved forward. The German troops began pushing back the French. At this moment, the French was still bringing the BEF into position as its seven infantry and three cavalry divisions were accountable for 35 miles of front running from the Langemarck south around the Belgian town of Ypres to La Bassee Canal.

Racing-chien, cheval Qui est admissible a un remboursement? Les parieurs de casino qui sont admissibles seulement sont en mesure de reclamer remboursement d’impot de casino ne sont pas tous. Ypres to La Bassee Canal.

The Fighting Begins

The first battle of Ypres officially started on October 19. On this day, the Germans started attacking from the coast to the south of Ypres. Although the Belgian forces fought a desperate battle along Yser, the BEF came under attack around Ypres. Attacking the British on October 20, German forces attacked the area between Langemarck and Ypres.

The Battle of Langemarck

The second phase of the clash at Ypres is called the battle of Langemarck. The British IV corps was situated to the south, with the corps ready to come into the line. The French commander thought that only one German corps was at Ypres. As a result, he ordered his troops to launch an attack on October 21. Initially, this attack was successful, but the British forces soon ran into the much stronger German troops than expected.

On October 22, the German troops launched an attack on the British line. The next day, the French forces attempted to launch a major counterattack. While the counterattack was unsuccessful, the French took over the northern part of Ypres. From October 25th to the 26th, the focus of the German assaults came south.

Attacking between Messines and Wytschaete, German forces succeeded in capturing both towns. The attack was ultimately halted on November 1 with help from French forces. After a pause, German forces made the last push against Ypres attacking along Menin Road. While German assaults continued for a few days, they were minor. Fighting flickered for five days before quieting down for the winter.

Casualties Sustained

The fight saw the BEF sustain 7,960 killed and 29,562 wounded. The French incurred 85,000 casualties. The Belgians took about 21,562 casualties and the German losses totaled 19,530 killed and 83,520 wounded.


‘The race to the sea’ ends

The war had started with a swift and merciless German advance on Belgium and France, which was halted almost at the gates of Paris at the decisive battle of the Marne. As the Germans attempted to regroup to the north they were pursued by the French armies trying to outflank them in what is known as “the race to the sea.” Eventually both forces ran out of room in Flanders and faced up against each other.

France’s British Allies took up positions near the Belgian city of Ypres, slightly further to the north than French commander Joffre’s men. Here the Germans intended a decisive breakthrough designed to crush the small British army before steamrollering through Ypres and then south.

On 19 October 1914, their attacks began. At this early stage in the war the British were barely entrenched, and artillery ammunition was low, meaning that most of the killing was done with machine-gun and rifle fire, without the benefit of many defensive positions. As a result, these first days of the battle took on a frenetic intensity of attack and counterattack which is not usually associated with World War One.


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during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Andrews George John. Pte. (d.8th November 1914)
  • Ansell Harry. Pte. (d.9th November 1914)
  • Aspley Henry. L/Cpl. (d.8th Jan 1916)
  • Atkinson Henry Edward. L/Cpl. (d.12th June 1915)
  • Barlow Thomas. Pte. (d.5th Nov 1918)
  • Barnett Robert. Rfmn. (d.19th Dec 1914)
  • Barnfield John. Sgt.
  • Barr Joseph. Pte. (d.7th Nov 1914)
  • Battman Frederick William. Sgt. acting WO
  • Baxter Robert Samuel. L/Cpl. (d.27th Oct 1914)
  • Bedford Arthur. Pte. (d.3rd Nov 1914)
  • Bent John. CSM.
  • Biggs Edward Frank. Cpl. (d.5th May 1915)
  • Bond Frederick Alexander. Pte.
  • Bovis Daniel. Pte. (d.24th Oct 1914)
  • Brace Andrew. Pte. (d.31st Oct 1914 )
  • Bradford Percy Charles. Pte.
  • Bradshaw Robert. Pte. (d.13th Oct 1914)
  • Brennan Thomas. L/Cpl. (d.4th Nov 1914)
  • Brooke Joseph. Sgt.
  • Brown Joseph. (d.21st May 1917)
  • Bucktrout Robert. Sgt.
  • Butler Isaac Frank. Pte. (d.1st Jan 1915)
  • Bywater John William Arthur. Pte. (d.27th Oct 1914)
  • Calvert Robert William. (d.29th Oct 1914)
  • Cantell George Ernest. Pte. (d.28th Oct 1914)
  • Chadwick Percy. Pte. (d.11th Nov 1914)
  • Clark John William. Sgt.
  • Clarke James Henry Fisher. 2nd Lt.
  • Clissett William Frederick. Pte. (d.31st Oct 1914)
  • Coleman Albert John. Pte.
  • Colgrave Joseph. L/Sgt,
  • Cordwell Herbert. Pte. (d.11th Nov 1914)
  • Cousins James Richard . Pte. (d.30th May 1915)
  • Cox Percival Elliot. Capt. (d.23rd May 1917)
  • Crabb Francis Frederick. Pte. (d.19th November 1917)
  • Craven Francis. Pte.
  • Creswell Andrew. Pte.
  • Cruickshank David Waddell. Pte.
  • Daniels Daniel. Guardsman. (d.1st Sep 1914)
  • Davies Robert. Pte.
  • dePass Frank Alexander. Lt. (d.25th Nov 1914)
  • Dickens Christopher Westley. Cpl. (d.3rd May 1915)
  • Dorrell James Henry. Gnr/Bombdr
  • Douglas Robert. Pte. (d.26th October 1914)
  • Earridge Harold A.. Sgt.
  • Edwards Joseph. Pte. (d.18th Nov 1914)
  • Elsner Otto William Alexander. Lt.Col.
  • Fidgett Victor Herbert. Sgt. (d.22nd Nov 1914)
  • Flippance George Noah. Pte. (d.26th Oct 1914)
  • Franklin William. Pte.
  • French Charles Stockley. Lt. (d.25th April 1915)
  • Game David James . Sgt.
  • Gardiner William John. Sgt.
  • Golding William Taverner . Sgt. (d.21st October 1914)
  • Goodger Henry. Pte. (d.3rd Nov 1914)
  • Graveling William Charles. Pte.
  • Graves-Sawle Richard Charles. Lt. (d.2nd Nov 1914)
  • Greaves Norman. Bmbdr.
  • Greenslade Ernest. Sgt.
  • Grenfell Francis. Capt. (d.24th May 1914)
  • Grieveson Robert. Pte.
  • Griffin John William. Capt.
  • Hancock Ernest. Pte. (d.28th Nov 1914)
  • Hardy Thomas.
  • Harman Edward Stafford-King. Capt. (d.6th Nov 1914)
  • Harmer Charles. Pte.
  • Harris Edward James. Sgt. (d.22nd Sep 1918)
  • Harris James. Pte. (d.5th Nov 1914)
  • Hather Fred. L/Cpl. (d.27th November 1914)
  • Herbert-Stepney Herbert Arthur. Maj. (d.7th Nov 1914)
  • Highcock Elias. Dvr.
  • Howard James Charles. L/Cpl. (d.10th Nov 1914)
  • Hussey Joseph. Sgt. (d.24th May 1915)
  • Jackson John. Pte. (d.27th October 1914)
  • Jameson George Brumwell. Cpl.
  • Jones John Allen. Sgt.
  • Keegan James Joseph. Pte. (d.6th Nov 1914)
  • Kelly Michael. Sgt. (d.26th Apr 1915)
  • Khan Khudadad. Subedar
  • Kilpatrick Robert. Pte. (d.10th November 1914)
  • Kirkby Herbert. L/Cpl. (d.31st Mar 1918)
  • Labrom William John. Pte.
  • Lauder George Herbert. L/Cpl. (d.25th Nov 1917)
  • Liddle Samuel. Pte.
  • Limouzin George Alfred. 2nd Lt.
  • Linge Arthur James. Pte. (d.24th Nov 1914)
  • Low James. L/Sgt. (d.9th May 1915)
  • Lynch Charles. Cpl.
  • Lyons Francis. Pte. (d.31st Oct 1914)
  • Maden Harold. Cpl. (d.15th December 1914)
  • Mallins Claude O'Conor. Lt. (d.2nd Nov 1914)
  • Marker Raymond John. Lt.Col. (d.13th Nov 1914)
  • Marshall John William. Sgt.
  • Mclean Donald. Cpl. (d.21st Oct 1914)
  • McLean Donald. Cpl. (d.21st October 1914)
  • Mills William Ernest. Pte. (d.6th Nov 1914)
  • Monck Charles Henry Stanley. Capt. (d.21st Oct 1914)
  • Moore Michael. Pte.
  • Morgan Sidney Charles. Pte. (d.31st Oct 1914)
  • Moseley Charles Frances. Pte. (d.13th Oct 1914)
  • O'Neill Francis James. Spr.
  • O'Neill Patrick Joseph. Sgt
  • Over Charles Herbert. (d.20th Oct 1914)
  • Packe Edward Alexander. Capt.
  • Paget Edwin. Cpl. (d.24th October 1914)
  • Parfitt Frederick. Pte.
  • Parker Robert Thomas. Pte.
  • Payne Jack. Sgt.
  • Perris Albert Joseph. Pte. (d.3rd Nov 1914)
  • Poole Edward Earnest. Cpl. (d.20th Nov 1914)
  • Pretty Frederick Luce. Cpl.
  • Prudence William Henry. Pte. (d.31st Oct 1914)
  • Randall Charles Frank. Pte. (d.1st Nov 1914)
  • Randall Edward John. Pte. (d.30th Sep 1915)
  • Randall Henry John. L/Cpl. (d.3rd Jan 1916)
  • Ridgway Benjamin Wilfred. Pte. (d.30th July 1916)
  • Robinson David. Cpl. (d.26th Oct 1914)
  • Robinson Percy. Pte. (d.11th Mar 1915)
  • Rook Morton. Pte.
  • Ryder Leonard. Pte. (d.3rd Nov 1914)
  • Sadler Evan Robert. Pte. (d.28th Oct 1914)
  • Shave Albert Henry. Cpl.
  • Shearman Edgar. Pte. (d.6th Dec 1914)
  • Sheath J. C. W.. Pte.
  • Sheehy J.. Pte. (d.10th Nov 1914)
  • Simpson William John Sydney. Lt.
  • Smith Frederick. Pte. (d.25th Sep 1915)
  • Smith William. Pte. (d.3rd Nov 1914)
  • Stanley William Charles. Pte. (d.16th May 1915)
  • Sykes Eli. Pte. (d.31st Oct 1914)
  • Tate Lionel Percy. 2nd Lt. (d.4th Nov 1918)
  • Tench James. Pte.
  • Thoroughgood Sidney. Pte. (d.31st October 1914)
  • Turner Frank Edward. Pte. (d.26th Nov 1914)
  • Waite Cecil Henry John. Cpl.
  • Watts Henry. Pte. (d.31st October 1914)
  • Wheatley Joseph. Pte. (d.7th November 1914)
  • Wheaton Percy. Trptr. (d.10th Nov 1914)
  • Whigham James. Pte. (d.11th Nov 1914)
  • White Sidney Herbert. Cpl.
  • Wickes Albert Edward. Pte. (d.14th Mar 1915)
  • Widdowson Joseph. Sgt. (d.19th May 1915)
  • Willetts Thomas Henry. Pte. (d.7th Nov 1914)
  • Williams Ralph William. Cpl.
  • Willis Harry. L/Cpl. (d.23rd Nov 1914)
  • Wilson Joseph Harold. A/Sgt.
  • Wiltshire William E.. Cpl. (d.9th Aug 1916)
  • Witherick Percy John. Sgt. (d.24th Aug 1914)
  • Wootton Charles. Pte.
  • Wright Walter. Pte. (d.7th November 1914)
  • Wyer Herbert. L/Sgt. (d.2nd November 1914)
  • Yates William George Frederick.

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Commemorating the Fallen of WW1

Today we remember …

Reported missing during the First Battle of Ypres. His death was confirmed by a letter from a fellow officer, then a prisoner in Germany, in 1915:

Haserden Kaserden, Crefeld, Germany, Nov. 24, 1914:

Ralph Fane-Gladwin, Lt, 2nd Bn, Scots Guards. Missing, 1st Battle of Ypres, 26 October 1914


Battles - The First Battle of Ypres, 1914

With the failure of the German offensive against France at the Battle of the Marne, and the allied counter-offensive, the so-called 'race to the sea' began, a movement towards the North Sea coast as each army attempted to out-flank the other by moving progressively north and west. As they went, each army constructed a series of trench lines, starting on 15 September, that came to characterise war on the Western Front until 1918.

Meanwhile French Commander-in-Chief Joseph Joffre undertook an intensive combined allied attack on 14 September against the German forces on the high ground just north of the Aisne river. With the German defences too strong, the attack was called off on 18 September. Stalemate had set in.

By October the Allies had reached the North Sea at Niuwpoort in Belgium. German forces forced the Belgian army out of Antwerp, ultimately ending up in Ypres. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF), under Sir John French, took over the line from Ypres south to La Bassee in France, from which point the French army continued the line down to the Swiss border.

Such was the background to the First Battle of Ypres, which commenced on 14 October when Eric von Falkenhayn, the German Chief of Staff, sent his Fourth and Sixth armies into Ypres.

The battle began with a nine-day German offensive that was only halted with the arrival of French reinforcements and the deliberate flooding of the Belgian front. Belgian troops opened the sluice gates of the dykes holding back the sea from the low countries.

The flood encompassed the final ten miles of trenches in the far north, and which later proved a hindrance to the movement of allied troops and equipment.

During the attack British riflemen held their positions, suffering heavy casualties, as did French forces guarding the north of the town.

The second phase of the battle saw a counter-offensive launched by General Foch on 20 October, ultimately without success. It was ended on 28 October.

Next, von Falkenhayn renewed his offensive on 29 October, attacking most heavily in the south and east - once again without decisive success. Duke Albrecht's German Fourth Army had taken the Messines Ridge and Wytschaete by 1 November.

It also took Gheluvelt and managed to break the British line along the Menin Road on 31 October. Defeat was imminent, and the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, was shortly to arrive to personally witness the taking of the town. However the arrival of French reinforcements saved the town, the British counter-attacking and recapturing Gheluvelt.

The author John Buchan (of The 39 Steps fame) later wrote in his history of the war:

Between two and three o'clock on Saturday, the 31st, was the most critical hour in the whole battle. The 1st Division had fallen back from Gheluvelt to a line resting on the junction of the Frezenberg road with the Ypres-Menin highway. It had suffered terribly, and its general had be en sorely wounded. On its right the 7th Division had been bent back to the Klein Zillebeke ridge, while Bulfin's two brigades were just holding on, as was Moussy on their right. Allenby's cavalry were fighting an apparently hopeless battle on a long line, and it seemed as if the slightest forward pressure would crumble the Ypres defense. The enemy was beginning to pour through the Gheluvelt gap, and at the same time pressed hard on the whole arc of the salient.

There were no reserves except an odd battalion or two and some regiments of cavalry, all of which had already been sorely tried during the past days. French sent an urgent message to Foch for re-enforcements, and was refused. At the end of the battle he learned the reason. Foch had none to send, and his own losses had been greater than ours. Between 2 and 2.30 Haig was on the Menin road, grappling with the crisis. It seemed impossible to stop the gap, though on its northern side some South Wales Borderers were gallantly holding a sunken road and galling the flank of the German advance. He gave orders to retire to a line a little west of Hooge and stand there, though he well knew that no stand, however heroic, could save the town. He foresaw a retirement west of Ypres, and French, who had joined him, agreed.

And then suddenly out of the void came a strange story. A white-faced staff officer reported that something odd was happening north of the Menin road. The enemy advance had halted! Then came the word that the 1st Division was reforming. The anxious generals could scarcely believe their ears, for it sounded a sheer miracle. But presently came the proof, though it was not for months that the full tale was known. Brigadier-General Fitz-Clarence, commanding the 1st (Guards) Brigade in the 1st Division, had sent in his last reserves and failed to stop the gap. He then rode off to the headquarters of the division to explain how desperate was the position. But on the way, at the southwest corner of the Polygon Wood, he stumbled upon a battalion waiting in support.

It was the 2nd Worcesters, who were part of the right brigade of the 2nd Division. Fitz-Clarence saw in them his last chance. They belonged to another division, but it was no time to stand on ceremony, and the officer in command at once put them at his disposal. The Worcesters, under very heavy artillery fire, advanced in a series of rushes for about a thousand yards between the right of the South Wales Borderers and the northern edge of Gheluvelt. Like Cole's fusiliers at Albuera, they came suddenly and unexpectedly upon the foe. There they dug themselves in, broke up the German advance into bunches, enfiladed it heavily, and brought it to a standstill. This allowed the 7th Division to get back to its old line, and the 6th Cavalry Brigade to fill the gap between the 7th and the 1st Divisions. Before night fell the German advance west of Gheluvelt was stayed, and the British front was out of immediate danger.

The German offensive continued for the following ten days, the fate of Ypres still in the balance. A further injection of French reinforcements arrived on 4 November. Even so, evacuation of the town seemed likely on 9 November as the German forces pressed home their attack, taking St Eloi on 10 November and pouring everything into an attempt to re-capture Gheluvelt on 11-12 November, without success.

A final major German assault was launched on 15 November still Ypres was held by the British and French. By this time the Belgian autumn had set in with the arrival of heavy rain followed by snow. Von Falkenhayn called off the attack.

It was becoming evident that the nature of trench warfare favoured the defender rather than the attacker. In short, the technology of defensive warfare was better advanced that that of offensive warfare, the latter proving hugely costly in terms of manpower.

The BEF had held Ypres, as they continued to do until the end of the war despite repeated German assault the Allies also held a salient extending 6 miles into German lines.

The cost had been huge on both sides. British casualties were reported at 58,155, mostly pre-war professional soldiers, a loss the British could ill-afford. French casualties were set at around 50,000, and German losses at 130,000 men.

Click here to view a map of the German retreat following the Marne battle and the subsequent race to the sea.


1st Battle of Ypres - History

Shell Exploding iin Ypres

The Battle of Ypres was a month long battle in the Flanders part of Belgium that occurred at the end of the “Race to the Sea” . After the First Battle of Marne the German army and the Allies both raced toward the sea trying to turn the flank of others army. Neither side succeeded .

The Battle of Ypres is in fact a number of separate battles that took place between October 19th and November 22 1914. First there was the Battle of Langemarck. That battle last from October 21-24th and consisted of a series of attacks and retreats by both the British and French forces and by the Germans all around the town of Langemarck, and by the end of the three days little had changed. On October 29th a newly organized German reserve corp attacked at the boundary between the French 4th and6th armies. The goal was Yipres. They managed to get within 2 miles of the town before being repulsed by British and fresh French troops. Both sides once again ended the battle pretty much where they began.

The third part of the battle was the battle of Nomme Bosschen. It began on November 1 with a French attack on the German flanks. The attack was successful but casualties were high. The Germans then attacked French and British lines and managed to get within a mile of Yipres to the east. Despite the advance the German were also not able to sustain the losses and were soon forced back. Fighting continued until November 13th until the two exhausted armies could fight no longer, at least for the moment.

These series of battles were the last attempt at battle of movement on the Western Front. Both armies were unable to replace the men lost and the ammunition expanded quickly enough to keep fighting. During this battle the British were over 58,000, the French lost over 86,000 men and the Germans lost around 80,000 men. Two things were clear at the end of the battle it was going to a long war, and the level of casualties that took place during this battle were not sustainable by either side.


The Battle of Ypres: Canada's Crazy Entry Into WWI

It had been a bloody four-day baptism of fire for the Canadian 1st Division. Half its men, some 6,036, were casualties. Nevertheless, in its first battle the untested division had helped stave off a major Allied disaster.

Here's What You Need To Remember: The Canadians fought tooth-and-nail for control of the Ypres Salient, one of the most dangerous places on the entire Western Front. After four days, the held it - barely.

Despite the incessant German shelling that had been hammering away at the French lines to their immediate left near the rubble-strewn city of Ypres in northwestern Belgium, the largely untested soldiers of the Canadian 1st Division found the early spring day of April 22, 1915, surprisingly warm and pleasant. Worn out from a long night of stringing barbed wire and repairing trenches in the infamous Ypres Salient of the Allied front, the men lounged at ease in their forward positions. Behind the lines, reserve troops played casual games of soccer, while their officers enjoyed a gentlemanly round of polo. Even when the shelling shifted to the Canadian position in the late afternoon, the troops were not unduly alarmed. Eventually, the bombardment petered out and German planes that had been circling over the front lines abruptly disappeared.

Suddenly, around 5 pm, heavy rifle fire and renewed shelling broke out in the French sector of the salient. Then an ominous yellow-green cloud began to drift toward the French lines, pushed along by a warm westerly breeze. What had been a beautiful day was about to turn very ugly indeed.

The Canadians comprising the 1st Division were all starry-eyed volunteers, eager young men who had flocked to recruiting offices across the nation after word reached the various provinces on August 4, 1914, that Great Britain was at war with Germany. Although a self-governing dominion that looked after its own domestic affairs, Canada was still part of the British empire and when Great Britain was at war, Canada was at war. Plans were quickly made to raise a division of 25,000 men to rush to Britain’s aid. By September 8, almost 33,000 men had joined up to fight. Another 2,000 would arrive shortly at Quebec’s newly constructed Camp Valcartier.

Within a month, the volunteers were organized into three infantry brigades—12 battalions in all—and other troops went into cavalry, artillery, engineering, signal, and medical units. On October 3, some 31,000 Canadian troops filed onto 30 transport ships for passage to England. Eleven days later the convoy, accompanied by a Royal Navy battleship and cruiser, docked at Plymouth to a warm welcome from cheering crowds. Awaiting the 1st Division was their new commander, Lt. Gen. Edwin Alderson, a veteran of 36 years in the military. A kindly, gentle man, Alderson had commanded Canadian troops in the Boer War. He would prove popular with the men in his new command as well.

Entering the Flanders Front

The newly arrived Canadians were sent to Salisbury Plains, 100 miles northeast of Plymouth, where they began four months of intensive training near the famous Druid shrine at Stonehenge. It rained for 89 of the next 123 days, and many of the recruits came down with the flu, sore throats, and meningitis. Twenty eight men would eventually die of the latter disease. Finally, in February 1915, the much-awaited order came for the 1st Division to sail to France. Before they left, Alderson replaced the men’s uncomfortable boots and scratchy tunics with better quality British goods. Much to their chagrin, however, the men retained the widely despised .303-caliber Ross Rifle, which had an unfortunate tendency to jam when fired rapidly or loaded with British ammunition.

Once in France, the 1st Division was sent to a quiet sector of the Flanders front and paired with a veteran British unit for advanced training. Officers and men rotated into the front-line British trenches for 48 hours at a time to gain a little first-hand experience. The division then moved on to Fleurbaix, where it enjoyed a front-row seat at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle on March 10-13. There, the British 1st Army under General Douglas Haig nearly achieved a startling breakthrough of the German lines, only to falter from faulty communications and lack of support. The Canadians’ sole contribution to the fighting was to provide some diversionary fire while British and Indian troops unavailingly attacked the enemy trenches.

Despite their comparative uninvolvement at Neuve Chapelle, the Canadians found their first taste of trench warfare a good learning experience. They were praised by their superiors for being “magnificent men … very quick to pick up new conditions and to learn the tricks of the trade.” It was good that the Canadians were quick learners, for they were soon transferred to General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien’s 2nd Army, stationed in the center of the 17-mile-deep Ypres Salient held by Allied troops in northwest Belgium. In mid-April the Canadians moved into line to take over from the French 11th Division. The position they were entrusted with holding was 4,250 yards wide. The 2nd Brigade held the right half of the sector, the 3rd Brigade the left, and the 1st Brigade was held in reserve.

The Dreaded Ypres Salient

To their dismay, the Canadians found the French trenches an absolute mess. Not only were they widely scattered and unconnected, but they had little in the way of barbed-wire defenses, and the existing parapets were not thick enough to stop an enemy bullet. The newly arrived defenders did not see how the sector could possibly be held if a determined effort was made to take it by a strong force. The trenches also stank since the French had been using them as latrines. Adding to the overall foulness were hundreds of dead German bodies lying between the lines in no-man’s-land. More rotting corpses were discovered when the Canadians began improving their own positions. In one part of their trench the men in the 10th Battalion found a human hand sticking out of the mud. The men took to shaking it wryly as they passed.

By the spring of 1915, the Ypres Salient was considered one of the most dangerous places on the Western Front. It had already seen more than its share of fighting and death. In October and November 1914, a thin line of British regulars repeatedly beat back massive German assaults. By the time the fighting stopped for the winter, almost a quarter of a million men had been killed or wounded. Tactically speaking, the Ypres Salient held no particular military significance for the Allies. The ground, located on the Flanders flood plain, was low and flat, broken here and there by a handful of long, shallow ridges. What terrain advantage there was around Ypres was held by the Germans, who manned the higher ridges overlooking the salient. With excellent observation posts and clear lines of sight, German artillerists were able to rain down torrents of accurately placed shells on the exposed Allied position. The real reason for holding the salient was symbolic, as it was the last remaining piece of contested Belgian real estate still lying in Allied hands. As such it represented their unyielding determination to win the war.

Although the Germans had been stopped in 1914 from taking the salient, they had by no means given up on closing the bulge. General Erich von Falkenhayn, chief of the German General Staff, planned another limited offensive against Ypres in April 1915. Falkenhayn believed the coming attack would act as a diversion from the Germans’ main push against the Russians on the eastern front. It would also give them a better strategic position along the English Channel. Last but not least, it would provide them with a golden opportunity to try out a new and terrible offensive weapon: lung-destroying chlorine gas.

The Debut of Chlorine Gas

The Germans had already experimented with less deadly forms of gas warfare at the first battle of Neuve Chapelle in October 1914, and at Bolymov on the Eastern Front in January 1915. Those attempts, sneezing powder at Neuve Chapelle and tear gas at Bolymov, had been ludicrous failures. In both cases, the chemical agents had failed to disperse, and the Allied troops had not even noticed they were under attack. Later that winter, Nobel Prize-winning German chemist Fritz Haber, then serving in the army reserve, suggested that the German high command consider using chlorine gas, which Haber said could be delivered through a relatively simple system of compressed-air cylinders discharged through exhaust pipes dug into the ground. Such a delivery system, besides being more efficient than gas pellets packed into traditional artillery shells, had the added advantage of not expressly violating the Hague Convention prohibiting the use of gas-loaded projectiles.

With typical Teutonic industry, the Germans began installing Haber’s chlorine-gas cylinders in their trenches along the south side of the Ypres Salient in early March. The cylinders, each five feet tall and weighing 190 pounds, were grouped in banks of 10. They were joined through a manifold to a single discharge pipe controlled by a chemically trained pioneer. By March 10, some 6,000 cylinders were in place. Interestingly enough, the first casualties were three German soldiers who were killed when Allied shells struck some of the cylinders, releasing the gas behind German lines. After two frustrating weeks of waiting for the weather to cooperate and the wind to blow in the right direction, Duke Albrecht of Wurttemberg, commander of the German 4th Army at Ypres, changed the battle plan.


1st Battle of Ypres

The Menin Gate Memorial commemorates 54,326 British and Commonwealth soldiers (except New Zealand) who fell in the fighting in the Ypres salient from November 1914 and who have no known grave.

The Menin Gate Memorial lists the names of 4 Officers and 66 NCOs and men of the 1st Battalion who were “Old Contemptibles“, plus 5 men of the 1/6th Bn.

Of the 74 Cheshires’ men (i.e. 69 from 1st Battalion and 5 from 1st/6th) that are commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, FIFTEEN were of the original 1st Battalion who sailed for France in August. TEN of these were killed in action during the First Battle of Ypres in November 1915.

The remaining FIVE from the original 1st Battalion who were killed in action in February – May 1915

CLICK the names below to read more about these 10 men from the original 1st Battalion Old Contemptibles who were killed in action during the First Battle of Ypres:

        – 13 November 1914 – 15 November 1914 – 17 November 1914 ( MiD ) – 13 November 1914 – 13 November 1914 – 14 November 1914 – 17 November 1914 – 17 November 1914 – 17 November 1914 – 7 November 1914

      Private 7307 Benjamin ARNOLD (A.R.) – ‘C’ Company

      Memorial: Panel 19 Killed in Action: 13 November 1914 Age: 33

      Personal: Benjamin (Ben) was born in the September quarter 1881, probably at 38 Brunswick Street, Macclesfield, Cheshire (1881 Census 11/3491). He was the son of Thomas (Pavier) and Jane (née Handcock) Arnold. He had an older brother, Peter, and two younger siblings, Thomas and Jane. [See Footnotes below]

      In 1891 (Census RG 12/2813) the family had moved to 14 Princess Street, Macclesfield, and 10 years later (1901 Census RG 13/3314) to 8 Pool Street, Macclesfield, when Ben was working as a “ Builder’s Labourer “. In 1911 (Census RG 14/21481) Ben was living with his widowed father at 9 Turnock Street, Macclesfield.

      A few months later, in the June quarter 1911 Ben married Elizabeth Billington, in Macclesfield. According to the Pension Records they had no children.

      The ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ show that in April 1915, Ben’s total effects were returned to his widow, Elizabeth. The total amounted to £5 16s 3d (£5.81 – equivalent to about £470 today – 2020). In June 1919 she also received a War Gratuity of £5 (worth about £225 today).

      With effect from 21st June 1915 Elizabeth also received a Pension of 12/6d per week (£0.62 = about £50 per week today).CWGC Records show that after the War Elizabeth lived at 25 Allen Sreet, Macclesfield, Cheshire.

      Pt. Arnold’s name on the Menin Gate Memorial

      Military Service: Ben’s Army Service Papers are no longer available, but the SDGW database shows that he enlisted in Hyde, Cheshire.

      A comparison of his Service Number (730 7 ) with other known dates suggests he enlisted about 3rd November 1903, on a 7+5 period of service (i.e. 7 years on ‘Active’ Service followed by 5 years Reserve. (e.g. Pt. 7308 Harry Houghton, killed in action 24th August 1903)

      Like Harry, Ben was no doubt posted to the 2nd Battalion in Madras, India, on 19th December 1906 and was returned to Section ‘B’ Reserve on his return about 27th January 1911.

      As a Reservist Ben rejoined the 1st Battalion at the outbreak of War and sailed from Belfast with the Battalion, entering France on 16th August, confirmed by his Medal Index Card. As a member of ‘C’ Company, Ben saw action at Audregnies on the 24th August, on the right of the line under Captain W.E.L.R. Dugmore. He was one of the 6 Officers, a Warrant Officer and 199 men to answer roll call in Bivouac at Les Bavay that night.

      Ben also survived the Battalion’s action at Violaines on 22nd October 1914, the last day of the Battalion’s action to take La Bassée, and the action 6 days later at Neuve Chapelle on 28th October 1914.

      Having come out of the line at the end of October, the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, spent the first 4 days of November in reserve 1½ miles South of Dranoutre. During November the 1st Battalion was involved in what became officially known as the First Battle of Ypres, which by the start of November was in its third stage, The Battle of Nonne Bosschen which began on 11th November 1914.

      Ben was killed in action 2 days later, the 13th. The War Diary for that day reads: “ Battalion in trenches. Heavy shell fire on our trenches and also on supports in dugouts. Small infantry attack easily repulsed. ” No casualties were recorded but Ben was one of 4 members of the Battalion killed that day, probably killed in the shell fire.

      Ben’s younger brother, Pt. 357 Thomas Arnold , served with the 5th and 7th Battalions, Cheshire Regiment, serving in France from 14th Feb. to 22nd April 1915. He left the Army after 8 years, on 31st March 1916.

      Ben’s older brother, Pt. 15113 Peter Arnold , also served with the Cheshire Regiment.

      Ben’s younger sister, Jane, married John Allen Turner, on 14th April 1911 and they had one daughter Sarah Ellen, born 11th April 1915.

      Pt. 26293 John Allen Turner enlisted in the Manchester Regiment in May 1915 but was discharged a month later, as not fit for Military Service.

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      Private 7548 John CHARLESWORTH (A.R.) – ‘D’ Company

      Memorial: Panel 19 Killed in Action: 15 November 1914 Age: 28

      Personal: John was born on 28th October 1886 at Shavington, Cheshire, the s on of James (Green Grocer) and Elizabeth (née Wright) Charlesworth. He had 6 older brothers and sisters, James, Elizabeth, William, George A., Mary Jane and Emily, and 6 younger siblings, Annie, Albert, Harriett, Alice, Ernest and Edwin. (Two more children died in childhood.)

      In 1891 (Census 12/2849) the family was living at Newcastle Road, Hough, Wydenbury, Cheshire, and were at the same address 10 years later (1901 Census RG 13/3354). John was working in his father’s “ Market Garden ” business. The family were showing the same business address in 1911 (Census RG 14/) and John, plus siblings Edwin and Harriett were living at home. John, however, was designated “ Pt. Soldier, Home from India ” (see below).

      When he enlisted in May 1906 John stood 5 ft. 3½ ins. [1.61 m.] tall, weighed 8 st. 4 lbs. [52.6 kgs.], had a ‘fresh‘ complexion, blue eyes and light-brown. His stated Religion was ‘ C. of E. ‘. (“ After 6 months and gymnastics course ” he had gained 1″ [2.5 cms.] in height and 16 lbs. [7.25 kgs.] in weight.)

      Ten days after returning from his Army Service in India John married Rose Maley, on 14th November 1911, at The Register Office, Warrington. John’s Service Papers show one child, Cyril (Maley) born 8th June 1908 in Earlestown, Lancashire. The 1911 Census (RG 14/23112) shows him living with his mother and other members of her family, at 2 Foundry Street, Earlestown, Lancashire.

      The ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ show that in March 1915, Ben’s total effects were returned to his widow, Rose. The total amounted to £1 6s 1d (£1.30 – equivalent to about £105 today – 2020). In June 1919 she also received a War Gratuity of £5 (worth about £225 today).

      With effect from 24th June 1915 Rose received a Pension of 10/- per week, for herself only (i.e. 50p equates to about £40 per week today). On 1st July 1915 the War Office wrote to Earlestown Police Office enquiring if John was Cyril’s father. The reply, from Inspector Duncan Clarke, named “ Robert Laird ” as the father and that he was “… alive but in considerable arrears with his payments “. The Inspector also enclosed the relevant “Bastardy Order“, showing what payments had been ordered by the Courts.

      Pt. Charlesworth’s name on the Menin Gate Memorial

      Military Service: When John attested into the Cheshire Regiment in Chester, Cheshire, on 26th May 1904 he was already serving in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion. He stated his age as 18 years 8 months, and he was on a 3+9 period of service (i.e. 3 years on ‘Active’ Service followed by 9 years Reserve).

      John extended this Service to 7 years ‘Active’ plus 5 years on Reserve. He qualified as a ‘ Drummer ‘. After initial training John was posted to the 2nd Battalion in Madras, India, on 24th December 1905.

      From there John was posted to Secunderabad, arriving 4th November 108.

      On 4th November 1911 John was transferred to “ Section A Reserve “, relegated to “ Section B ” on 26th November 1912.

      As a Reservist John rejoined the 1st Battalion at the outbreak of War and sailed from Belfast with the Battalion, entering France on 16th August, confirmed by his Medal Index Card. As a member of ‘D’ Company, John saw action at Audregnies on the 24th August, on the right of the line under Captain E.R Jones. He was one of the 6 Officers, a Warrant Officer and 199 men to answer roll call in Bivouac at Les Bavay that night.

      John also survived the Battalion’s action at Violaines on 22nd October 1914, the last day of the Battalion’s action to take La Bassée, and the action 6 days later at Neuve Chapelle on 28th October 1914.

      Having come out of the line at the end of October, the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, spent the first 4 days of November in reserve 1½ miles South of Dranoutre. During November the 1st Battalion was involved in what became officially known as the First Battle of Ypres, which by the start of November was in its third stage, The Battle of Nonne Bosschen which began on 11th November 1914.

      John was killed in action 4 days later, on the 15th. The War Diary for that day reads: “ Battalion in trenches. A quiet day. Some shelling & sniping . Enemy digging into new position. ” i.e. No casualties recorded.

      The previous day, however: “ 2/Lieut H R Stables, 5/Royal Fusiliers, killed. 2/Lieut E G Carr wounded & 30 N.C.O.s and men killed, wounded & missing. Two German patrols of 15 & 7 men were shot down just outside our trenches. ” ( N.B. Lt. Harold Rolleston Stables was attached to the 1st Battalion from 5th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. He was 28 years old, the son of Henry and Mary Stables.)

      Two other men were killed in action on the same day as John, and like him have no known grave, and are commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. These are Pt. 8948 William Houghton and Pt. 9910 George Wright. In total John had served 10 years 175 days with the Colours.

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      Drummer 9268 William HAMMOND – ‘B’ Company Awards: Mentioned in Despatches

      Memorial: Panel 19 Killed in Action: 17 November 1914 Age: 23

      Personal: William was born in the June quarter 1891 probably at 4 Marl Street, Middlesborough, Yorkshire, the s on of William (Boiler Maker) and Fanny Ada (née Chapman) Hammond. He had an older sister, Ada Alice, six younger brothers, Albert, Arthur George Frederick, Henry, Rodney, Charles and John, and four younger sisters, Rhoda May, Louisa Mary, Gertrude and Racheal.

      In 1901 (Census RG 13/3690) the family was living at 7 Middlewood Street, Gorton, Manchester. The 1911 Census (RG 14/23809) shows 10 of the 11 children of the family still living in the parental home at 14 Alexandra Road, Gorton, Manchester (see postcard left). William had left in 1909 and in 1911 was enumerated with the 1st Battalion in Belfast.

      When he enlisted in 1909 William stood 5 ft. 7¼ ins. [1.70 m.] tall, weighed 9 st. 4 lbs. [58.9 kgs.], had a ‘fresh‘ complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He gave his occupation as “ Turner “.

      The ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ show that in March 1915, William’s total effects were returned to his father, William Snr. The total amounted to £12 18s 5d (£12.92 – equivalent to about £1100 today – 2020). In June 1919 he also received a War Gratuity of £5 (worth about £225 today).

      Dr. Hammond’s name on the Menin Gate Memorial

      Military Service: When William attested into the Cheshire Regiment in Stockport, Cheshire, on 14th July 1909 he was already serving in the 3rd Battalion, The Border Regiment. He stated his age as 19 years 5 months, and he was on a 7+5 period of service (i.e. 7 years on ‘Active’ Service followed by 5 years Reserve).

      On 22nd October 1909 he was posted to the 1st Battalion in Ireland. William was appointed a “ Drummer ” on 6th August 1914.

      The photo left shows the 1st Battalion ‘Drummers‘ on a visit to Chester from Londonderry during the visit of King George V in March 1914. Drummer Hammond is 3rd from right. On his right (4th from right) is Dr. 9696 Edward Hogan, killed in action 24th August 1914.

      Source: ‘ The 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment at Mons ‘ – Frank Simpson

      [N.B.Buglers ‘ in the Cheshire Regiment were designated ‘ Drummers ‘.]

      William sailed from Belfast with the Battalion, entering France on 16th August, confirmed by his Medal Index Card. As a member of ‘B’ Company he saw action at Audregnies on the 24th August, in the centre of the action under Captain J.L. Shore. He was one of only 199 Officers and men to answer roll call at the end of that day.

      For this action William was Mentioned in Field Marshall French’s Despatch of 15th January 1915. His Service Papers state that he was “ Brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War for Gallant and Distinguished Service in the Field .” He was Gazetted again 15th February 1915, confirming the earlier entry.

      William’s Service Papers were endorsed: “ Brought to Notice of Secretary of State for War for Gallant and Distinguished Service in the Field. vide London Gazette, 2nd Supplement “.

      William also survived the Battalion’s action at Violaines on 19th October 1914, the second day of the Battalion’s action to take La Bassée and the action 6 days later at Neuve Chapelle on 28th October 1914.

      Having come out of the line at the end of October, the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, spent the first 4 days of November in reserve 1½ miles South of Dranoutre. During November the 1st Battalion was involved in what became officially known as the First Battle of Ypres, which by the start of November was in its third stage, The Battle of Nonne Bosschen which began on 11th November 1914.

      William was killed in action 6 days later, on the 17th. The War Diary for that day reads: “ Battalion in trenches, started with exceptionally heavy shell fire followed by an infantry attack which however was easily repulsed .” No casualties were mentioned in the Diary, but CWGC Records show 8 other men of the 1st Battalion died alongside William.

      In total William served a total of 5 years 127 days with the Colours, the last 94 days with the 1st Battalion in France.

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      Corporal 8778 (John) Harold HOOD – ‘A’ Company

      Memorial: Panel 22 Killed in Action: 13 November 1914 Age: 24

      Personal: According to his Service Papers Harold was born on 16th March 1890 (i.e. 17 years 9 months in December 1907) probably at 8 Parsonage Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport, Cheshire – the home of his grandmother, Grace Cope, with whom the family were living. (1891 Census RG 12/2794)

      He was the son of John (Strap Maker) and Ann Eliza (née Cope) and had an older sister, Miriam Grace (who died age 10 in 1897), and three younger siblings, James Goldie [see Footnote below], William Ernest and Annie Doris. In 1901 (Census RG 13/3287) the family had moved to 66 Oxford Street, Stockport. After his mother died in the March quarter 1905, Harold’s father remarried, Grace Emma Hodkinson (September quarter 1905), and the following year he had a half-sister, Alice Grace.

      When he enlisted in 1907 Harold stood 5 ft. 3 ins. [1.60 m.] tall, weighed 7 st. 10 lbs. [49.0 kgs.], had a ‘sallow‘ complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He gave his occupation as “ Turner “. In 1911 (Census RG 14/21409) Harold’s family were living at 22 Christ Church Terrace, Heaton Norris, Stockport, but he enumerated with the 1st Battalion in Belfast.

      On 25th January 1913 Harold married Sarah (Sally) Creighton at St Anne’s Church, Belfast. They had no children.

      The ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ show that in January 1915, Harold’s total effects were returned to his widow, Sarah. The total amounted to £8 1s 3d (£8.06 – equivalent to about £650 today – 2020). In September 1919 she also received a War Gratuity of £6 (worth about £275 today).

      With effect from 10th March 1916 Sarah also received a Pension of 10/- per week (i.e. 50p – about £35 today). On 24th December 1916 she remarried Arnold James Lewis, 1544, Royal Naval Reserve, at St Anne’s Church, Belfast. She received the Remarriage Gratuity of £51 15s 9d (£51.78 – equivalent to about £3500 in 2020). In 1917 Sarah was living at 20 Spencer Street, Belfast.

      [ N.B. War widows in receipt of a pension would receive a gratuity of one year’s pension if they remarried – the remarriage gratuity. At the same time their widow’s pension ceased.]

      Pt Hood’s name on the Menin Gate Memorial

      Military Service: When Harold attested into the Cheshire Regiment in Chester, Cheshi re, on 17th December 1907 he was already serving in the 4th (Territorial) Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment.

      He stated his age as 17 years 9 months, and he was on a 7+5 period of service (i.e. 7 years on ‘Active’ Service followed by 5 years Reserve).

      He was posted to the 1st Battalion (as a ‘ Boy ‘) on 4th February 1908. On 31st January 1910 Harold passed the “ Mounted Infantry ” course.

      Harold was promoted to Lance Corporal on 21st April 1911 (paid from 9th June 1911). However, he lost his “stripe” for ‘ misconduct ‘ on 15th April 1912. He sailed from Belfast with the Battalion, arriving at Le Havre on 16th August 1914, confirmed by his Medal Index Card. As a member of ‘A’ Company he saw action at Audregnies on the 24th August, on the left flank under Captain A.J.L. Dyer. He was one of the 6 Officers, a Warrant Officer and 199 men to answer roll call in Bivouac at Les Bavay that night.

      Harold also survived the Battalion’s action at Violaines on 22nd October 1914, the last day of the Battalion’s action to take La Bassée, and the action 6 days later at Neuve Chapelle on 28th October 1914. On 5th September 1914 he was “Appt. acting Lance Corporal in the Field”, followed the same day by “Promoted acting Corporal in the Field”

      Having come out of the line at the end of October, the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, spent the first 4 days of November in reserve 1½ miles South of Dranoutre. During November the 1st Battalion was involved in what became officially known as the First Battle of Ypres, which by the start of November was in its third stage, The Battle of Nonne Bosschen which began on 11th November 1914.

      Harold was killed in action 2 days later, the 13th. The War Diary for that day reads: “ Battalion in trenches. Heavy shell fire on our trenches and also on supports in dugouts. Small infantry attack easily repulsed. ” No casualties were recorded but Harold was one of 4 members of the Battalion killed that day, probably killed in the shell fire. In total he served 6 years 333 days with the Colours, the last 90 days with the 1st Battalion in France.

      Strangely, Harold’s Service Record states he was admitted to “ Adv. 3rd Field Ambulance, Ypres ” on 13th November 1914, suffering from “ synovitis ” – this is the day he was killed. (Maybe the Field Ambulance was hit!) Sadly his Service Papers initially recorded that Harold had “ Deserted Act. Cpl. – 13-11-14 “. On 13th September 1916 it was later amended to read “ Died on or since 13/11/14 “.

      Harold’s younger brother, Gnr. 157580 James Goldie Hood , enlisted 20th August 1916 and served with the Royal Field Artillery.

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      Corporal 8753 Herbert William HOWELLS – ‘C’ Company

      Memorial: Panel 19 Killed in Action: 13 November 1914 Age: 23

      Personal: According to the SDGW database Herbert was born at Angle, Pembrokeshire. Birth records show this was in the September quarter 1890, probably July. Herbert was enumerated, aged 9 months, on the 1891 Census (RG 12/664) under the name “Bert” with his father, William (Leading Stoker, Royal Navy) and mother, Beatrice (née Bamkin), lodging with the Wanstall family (Beer Retailers) at 6 Luton Road, Chatham Kent, no doubt related to William’s employment.

      Beatrice died in 1895 and in the December quarter 1901 Bert’s father, William, re-married Flora Alfrida Edwards in Haverfordwest, Wales. They subsequently had 5 children.

      The 1901 Census (RG 13/984) shows that Herbert was living at 7 Shakespeare Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, with his uncle and aunt, John (Mechanical Fitter) and Alice Mary (née Stripe) Bamkin. [see Footnote below]

      When Herbert enlisted in 1907 he stood 5 ft. 3½ ins. [1.61 m.] tall, weighed 8 st. 3 lbs. [52.2 kgs.], his stated occupation was ‘ Joiner ‘ and was recorded as having a ‘ very good ‘ physical development. In 1911 he was enumerated with his Battalion at Ebrington Barracks, Londonderry.

      His Service Papers simply say that both parents were “ Deceased ” and Herbert named as his next-of-kin his grandmother, “ Mrs Bamkin “, of 67 Belle View Terrace, Haverfordwest, Wales.

      On 12th December 1913 Herbert married Mary Eliza Nugent whilst serving with the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, in Belfast, Ireland. They had one child, Herbert William Jnr., born 9th September 1914, meaning, of course, Herbert would never have seen his son as he was killed in action 2 months later.

      The ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ show that in March 1916, Herbert’s total effects amounted to £11 4s 2d (£11.21 – equivalent to about £765 today – 2020). This sum was divided ⅓ to his widow, Mary, and ⅔, held in trust for his infant son. In September 1919 the same apportionment was put in place for a War Gratuity of £5 (worth about £225 today).

      With effect from 2nd August 1915 Mary received a Pension of 15/- per week for herself and her son (i.e £0.75 = about £60 per week today). At that time they were living at 18 Ohio Street, Belfast. In the September quarter 1920 Mary re-married David Beattie, in Belfast.

      Cpl. Howell’s name on the Menin Gate Memorial

      Military Service: When Herbert attested into the Cheshire Regiment, on 28th November 1907, at Portsmouth, Hampshire, he gave his age as 18 years 2 months though probably a year younger . He was on a 7+5 period of service (i.e. 7 years on ‘Active’ Service followed by 5 years Reserve).

      He was posted to the 1st Battalion in Ireland and his Service Papers (in preparation for his posting to the Reserve in November 1914) recorded Herbert had been “ An Officer’s Servant for one year ” and also a “ Postman in Belfast “.

      He sailed from Belfast with the Battalion, arriving at Le Havre on 16th August 1914, confirmed by his Medal Index Card. As a member of ‘A’ Company he saw action at Audregnies on the 24th August, on the left flank under Captain A.J.L. Dyer. He was one of the 6 Officers, a Warrant Officer and 199 men to answer roll call in Bivouac at Les Bavay that night.

      Herbert also survived the Battalion’s action at Violaines on 22nd October 1914, the last day of the Battalion’s action to take La Bassée, and the action 6 days later at Neuve Chapelle on 28th October 1914.

      Having come out of the line at the end of October, the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, spent the first 4 days of November in reserve 1½ miles South of Dranoutre. During November the 1st Battalion was involved in what became officially known as the First Battle of Ypres, which by the start of November was in its third stage, The Battle of Nonne Bosschen which began on 11th November 1914.

      Herbert was killed in action 2 days later, the 13th. The War Diary for that day reads: “ Battalion in trenches. Heavy shell fire on our trenches and also on supports in dugouts. Small infantry attack easily repulsed. ” No casualties were recorded but Herbert was one of 4 members of the Battalion killed that day, probably in the shell fire. In total he had served 6 year 341 days with the Colours.

      Herbert’s uncle, John Bamkin, died from a fractured skull on 7th December 1916 at His Majesty’s Dockyard, Portsmouth, when “ an air vessel fell on him “.

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      Private 9799 William JONES – ‘C’ Company Formerly: Private 4307 Royal Welch Fusiliers

      Memorial: Panel 19 Killed in Action: 14 November 1914 Age: 22

      Personal: According to the SDGW da tabase William was born in St Werburgh’s Parish, Chester, and the CWGC site gives his age as 22, meaning he would have been born (probably) in 1892. He was the s on of William Jones, after the War of 21 Hunter Street, Bryom Street, Liverpool. With such common names, however, it has not been possible to trace William, neither father nor son, beyond this basic information.

      The ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ show that in November 1919, William’s total effects were returned to his father, William, Snr. The total amounted to £15 19s 6d (£15.98 – equivalent to about £750 today – 2020). This included a War Gratuity of £5.

      Pt. Jones’ name on the Menin Gate Memorial

      Military Service: When William attested into the Cheshire Regiment at Birkenhead, Cheshire, he had previously served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers .

      His Service Papers are not available, but a comparison of his Service Number (9799) would suggest an enlistment date around late 1913/early 1914. He was posted to the 1st Battalion in Ireland, on a 7+5 period of service (i.e. 7 years on ‘Active’ Service followed by 5 years Reserve).

      William sailed from Belfast with the Battalion, arriving at Le Havre on 16th August 1914, confirmed by his Medal Index Card. As a member of ‘C’ Company, William saw action at Audregnies on the 24th August, on the right of the line under Captain W.E.L.R. Dugmore. He was one of the 6 Officers, a Warrant Officer and 199 men to answer roll call in Bivouac at Les Bavay that night.

      William also survived the Battalion’s action at Violaines on 22nd October 1914, the last day of the Battalion’s action to take La Bassée, and the action 6 days later at Neuve Chapelle on 28th October 1914.

      Having come out of the line at the end of October, the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, spent the first 4 days of November in reserve 1½ miles South of Dranoutre. During November the 1st Battalion was involved in what became officially known as the First Battle of Ypres, which by the start of November was in its third stage, The Battle of Nonne Bosschen which began on 11th November 1914.

      William was killed in action 3 days later, the 14th. The War Diary for that day reads: “ Battalion in trenches. To conform with the Division on our right, an order was given to retire from the advance line of trenches & take up another line about 150 yds. [137 m.] in rear, this was commenced at midday and completed by 4 p.m. when the final line was held. The enemy were pressing on all the time & consequently our casualties were rather heavy.

      2/Lieut H R Stables, 5/Royal Fusiliers, killed. 2/Lieut E G Carr wounded & 30 N.C.O.s and men killed, wounded & missing. Two German patrols of 15 & 7 men were shot down just outside our trenches. ” ( N.B. Lt. Harold Rolleston Stables was attached to the 1st Battalion from 5th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. He was 28 years old, the son of Henry and Mary Stables.)

      In addition to Lt. Stables, ten other men were killed in action on the same day as William, and like him have no known grave. They are also commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

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      Private 8806 John LEARY – ‘A’ Company

      Memorial: Panel 22 Killed in Action: 17 November 1914 Age: 24

      Personal: John was born (probably) at 19 Willow Street, Bermondsey, London, in November 1890 (i.e. 5 months old when 1891 Census – RG 12/372 – was taken on 3rd April 1891). He was the son of William (Railway Carman) and Emily (née Mancell) Leary and had an older brother, William.

      By 1901 (Census RG 13/380) the family had moved to 39 Reckway Street, Bermondsey, and by 1911 John had joined the Cheshire Regiment and was enumerated with the 1st Battalion at Victoria Barracks, Belfast.

      When he enlisted in December 1907 John gave his age as 18 years 2 months (‘exaggerated‘ by one year). He stood 5 ft. 6 ins. [1.67 m.] tall, weighed 8 st. 11 lbs [55.8 kgs.]. had a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

      On 28th July 1912 John married Catherine (Cassie) Bowman of 26 Hopewell Street, Belfast, at St. Anne’s Church, Shankill, Belfast. They had one child, Sarah, born in Belfast on 12th June 1913.

      The ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ show that in April 1915, Harold’s total effects were returned to his widow, Catherine, for herself and Sarah. The total amounted to £7 14s 0d (£7.70 – equivalent to about £625 today – 2020). In June 1919 she also received a War Gratuity of £5 (worth about £225 today).

      With effect from 15th June 1915 Catherine received a Pension of 15/- per week for herself and her daughter (i.e £0.75 = about £60 per week today).

      Cassie was only 34 years old when she died on 11th January 1926 at 13 Duffy Street, Belfast. She is buried in Grave 1:153, Belfast City Cemetery.

      Pt. Leary’s name on the Menin Gate Memorial

      Military Service: When John attested into the Cheshire Regiment at Stratford, Essex, on 31st December 1907, he was already serving with the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment.

      John’s Service Papers show that he enlisted on a 7+5 period of service (i.e. 7 years on ‘Active’ Service followed by 5 years Reserve).

      John was posted to the 1st Battalion in Ireland and sailed from Belfast with the Battalion, arriving at Le Havre on 16th August 1914, confirmed by his Medal Index Card.

      He fought under Captain A.J.L. Dyer on the left flank of the Battalion’s action at Audregnies on 24th August and also survived the actions at La Bassée and Nonne Boschon (First Ypres). John also survived the Battalion’s action at Violaines on 19th October 1914, the second day of the Battalion’s action to take La Bassée and the action 6 days later at Neuve Chapelle on 28th October 1914.

      Having come out of the line at the end of October, the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, spent the first 4 days of November in reserve 1½ miles South of Dranoutre. During November the 1st Battalion was involved in what became officially known as the the First Battle of Ypres, which by the start of November was in its third stage, The Battle of Nonne Bosschen which began on 11th November 1914.

      John was killed in action 6 days later, on the 17th. The War Diary for that day reads: “ Battalion in trenches, started with exceptionally heavy shell fire followed by an infantry attack which however was easily repulsed .” No casualties were mentioned in the Diary, but CWGC Records show 8 other men of the 1st Battalion died alongside John.

      In total John served 6 years 322 days with the Colours, the final 94 days with the BEF in France.

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      Private 8444 Arthur MABEY – ‘B’ Company

      Memorial: Panel 19 Killed in Action: 17 November 1914 Age: 23

      Personal: Arthur was born (probably) at Elm Lodge, Burleigh Road, Camberwell, London, probably in March 1891 (i.e. 1 month old in April 1891 – Census RG 12/417).

      He was the son of Henry (Harry) (Builder’s Labourer) and Harriett Elizabeth (née Sherwin) Mabey. He had 5 older brothers and sisters, Ethel Grace, Albert Edward, Harry, Fanny Georgina and Ernest John.

      By 1901 (Census RG 13/437) the family had moved to Glen Lodge, Buccleuch Road, Lambeth, London. By 1911, however, Arthur was serving with the Cheshire Regiment and was enumerated with his Battalion in Ireland.

      The ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ show that Arthur left a Will in favour of his mother and father and in April 1915 his total effects were returned to them. The total amounted to £9 3s 3d (£9.16 – equivalent to about £740 today – 2020). Arthur’s mother died in 1918 so in June 1919 a War Gratuity of £5 (worth about £225 today) was paid to his father only.

      Pt. Mabey’s name on the Menin Gate Memorial

      Military Service: Arthur attested into the Cheshire Regiment in London. His Service Papers are not available, but a comparison of his Service Number (8444) would suggest an enlistment date around March 1907. (e.g. Pt. 8455 W. Jones enlisted at Liverpool on 4th April 1907.)

      Arthur was posted to the 1st Battalion in Ireland, on a 7+5 period of service (i.e. 7 years on ‘Active’ Service followed by 5 years Reserve).

      When War was declared he sailed from Belfast with the Battalion, arriving at Le Havre on 16th August 1914, confirmed by his Medal Index Card. He fought under Captain A.J.L. Dyer on the left flank of the Battalion’s action at Audregnies on 24th August and also survived the actions at La Bassée and Nonne Boschon (First Ypres).

      Arthur also survived the Battalion’s action at Violaines on 19th October 1914, the second day of the Battalion’s action to take La Bassée and the action 6 days later at Neuve Chapelle on 28th October 1914.

      Having come out of the line at the end of October, the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, spent the first 4 days of November in reserve 1½ miles South of Dranoutre. During November the 1st Battalion was involved in what became officially known as the First Battle of Ypres, which by the start of November was in its third stage, The Battle of Nonne Bosschen which began on 11th November 1914.

      Arthur was killed in action 6 days later, on the 17th. The War Diary for that day reads: “ Battalion in trenches, started with exceptionally heavy shell fire followed by an infantry attack which however was easily repulsed .” No casualties were mentioned in the Diary, but CWGC Records show 8 other men of the 1st Battalion died alongside Arthur.

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      Private 9672 Patrick MURRAY – ‘A’ Company

      Memorial: Panel 19 Killed in Action: 17 November 1914 Age: 21

      Personal: Patrick was born on 17th March 1893 at St Mary’s, Liverpool. probably in March 1891 (i.e. 1 month old in April 1891 – Census RG 12/417). He was the son of Patrick (Dock Labourer) and Rose (née Lynch) Murray and had an older brother and sister, James and Mary, and a younger brother, Benedict.

      In 1901 (Census RG 13/3425) the family was living at 46 Banastre Court, Liverpool. The 1911 Census (RG 14/24178) shows that 18 year old Patrick and his 15 year old brother, Ben(edict), had moved to live together at 24 Carter Street, Manchester. Patrick was working as a “ Coal Mine Pony Driver “, probably at Hyde Lane Colliery.

      The ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ show that in June 1915 Patrick’s total effects amounted to £6 2s 3d (£6.11 – equivalent to about £495 today – 2020). This sum was divided ¼ to his mother, Rose, and ¼ each to his siblings, Benedict, James and Mary. In October 1919 the War Gratuity of £5 (worth about £225 today) was divided ⅓ to his sister, Mary, and ⅔ to his mother, Rose.

      Pt. Murray’s name on the Menin Gate Memorial

      Military Service: Patrick attested into the Cheshire Regiment in Chester. His Service Papers are not available, but a comparison of his Service Number (9672) would suggest an enlistment date around September 1913 (e.g. Pt. 9680 H. Davies enlisted at Birkenhead on 20th September 1913).

      Patrick was posted to the 1st Battalion in Ireland, on a 7+5 period of service (i.e. 7 years on ‘Active’ Service followed by 5 years Reserve).

      He sailed from Belfast with the Battalion, arriving at Le Havre on 16th August 1914, confirmed by his Medal Index Card. Patrick fought under Captain A.J.L. Dyer on the left flank of the Battalion’s action at Audregnies on 24th August and also survived the actions at La Bassée and Nonne Boschon (First Ypres).

      Patrick also survived the Battalion’s action at Violaines on 19th October 1914, the second day of the Battalion’s action to take La Bassée and the action 6 days later at Neuve Chapelle on 28th October 1914.

      Having come out of the line at the end of October, the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, spent the first 4 days of November in reserve 1½ miles South of Dranoutre. During November the 1st Battalion was involved in what became officially known as the First Battle of Ypres, which by the start of November was in its third stage, The Battle of Nonne Bosschen which began on 11th November 1914.

      Patrick was killed in action 6 days later, on the 17th. The War Diary for that day reads: “ Battalion in trenches, started with exceptionally heavy shell fire followed by an infantry attack which however was easily repulsed .” No casualties were mentioned in the Diary, but CWGC Records show 8 other men of the 1st Battalion died alongside Arthur.

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      L/Corporal 8814 John THOMPSON – ‘C’ Company

      Memorial: Panel 19 Killed in Action: 7 November 1914 Age: 25

      Personal: According to his Service Papers John was born at Disley, Stockport, Cheshire, about September 1888 (i.e. 18 year 3 months in January 1907). He was the on of John (General Labourer) and Bridget (née Hessian) Thompson, and had a younger brother, Thomas.

      In 1891 (Census RG 12/2800) the family was living at 26 West Street, Cheadle, Cheshire. Ten years later (1901 Census 13/3298) they had moved to 14 Pool Lane, Portwood, Stockport, and John, Snr. was employed as a “ Coal Miner “. By 1911 John was enumerated with the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, at their barracks in Belfast.

      When he enlisted in January 1907 John gave his age as 18 years 3 months. He stood 5 ft. 3½ ins. [1.67 m.] tall, weighed 8 st. 0 lbs [55.8 kgs.]. had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. At the time he was employed as a “ Factory Labourer “.

      John’s father died in the March quarter 1909 and his mother, Bridget, died in the March quarter 1912. Following the death of their parents, John’s next of kin became his brother, Thomas, living at 2 Scholes Square, Northgate, Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

      John’s ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ show a very confusing apportionment of his assets, which amounted to £19 16s 5d, including a £5 War Gratuity (£19.82 – equivalent to about £1350 today – 2020). This sum was divided in a formula that is very difficult to comprehend at this distance in time. £4 18s 10s (£4.94) to his mother, Bridget, even though John’s Service Papers stated she was deceased a similar amount, £4 19s 1s (£4.95) was paid to his “ Sis-in-law, Mrs. Nora Thompson “ £3 7s 0d (£3.35) to his brother, Thomas but not until July 1933 was the balance of £6 11s 6d (£6.57) paid to his “ Half-sister, Bertha “. The genealogy of the two women named has not been determined.

      L/Cpl. Thompson’s name on the Menin Gate Memorial

      Military Service: When John attested into the Cheshire Regiment in Hyde, Cheshire, on 2nd January 1908 on a 7+5 period of service (i.e. 7 years on ‘Active’ Service followed by 5 years Reserve), he was already serving with the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, having enlisted on 11th September 1907 (Pte. 6198).

      On 9th March 1908 John was posted to the 1st Battalion, serving in Belfast, Ireland. Between the 9th January and 10th October 1913 he moved with the Battalion to Londondery.

      After being posted back to the 3rd Battalion, in Chester, on 11th October 1913, John was promoted to Lance Corporal on 1st May 1914. Probably in preparation for the War John was posted back to the 1st Battalion in Ireland in 8th August 1914.

      John sailed from Belfast with the Battalion, arriving at Le Havre on 16th August 1914, confirmed by his Medal Index Card. As a member of ‘C’ Company, John saw action at Audregnies on the 24th August, on the right of the line under Captain W.E.L.R. Dugmore.

      He might have been one of the 6 Officers, a Warrant Officer and 199 men to answer roll call in Bivouac at Les Bavay that night – although from his Service Papers it seems it took some time and no doubt some difficulty for him to get back.

      John also survived the Battalion’s action at Violaines on 22nd October 1914, the last day of the Battalion’s action to take La Bassée, and the action 6 days later at Neuve Chapelle on 28th October 1914.

      Having come out of the line at the end of October, the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, spent the first 4 days of November in reserve 1½ miles South of Dranoutre. Three days later, the day John was killed in action, the War Diary reads: “ Battalion in trenches. Very heavy shell fire in the morning, enemy’s infantry attacked at 2.30 p.m. ‘C’ Company went to reinforce regiment on our left. Enemy repulsed, 25 captured. Captain Pollock-Hodsoll & 2/Lieut. G R L Anderson killed. N.CO.s & men 4 killed, 22 wounded, 8 missing .”

      [ N.B. Capt. George Bertram POLLOCK-HODSOLL was attached to the 1st Battalion on 4th November 1914, from the 3rd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. He and 2/Lt. Gerard Rupert Laurie ANDERSON, were both Killed in Action on the 9th November. Lt. Anderson was one of the contingent of 5 Officers and 248 other ranks who joined the 1st Battalion on 16th October, the day before the action at Festubert.]

      However, the CWGC Records show that John was the only member of the Regiment to die on the 7th November. This section of the War Diary appears 2 days out of sequence, as the entry for the 9th November reads: “ Battalion in trenches – shelling light. Night attack expected so a good deal of rifle fire at night. ” As well as the 2 Officer named above there were 9 other deaths, including Captain William Suttor Rich.

      a more detailed account of the actions of 5 – 7 November, transcribed from “ The Doings of the 15th Infantry Brigade ” – Lord Gleichens

      John was reported “ Missing from Bn. 24-8-14 “, after the Battle at Audregnies, then “ Killed in Action 24/8/14 “. This part of his Record was crossed through, endorsed: “ Error “, before: “ Missing from Battalion 7/11/14 ” and finally: “ Died on or since 7/11/14 “. In total John served a total 6 years 310 days, the final 84 with the BEF in France.

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      Soldiers “Known Unto God”

      Opening of the Menin Gate in 1928 (Source: Daily Mail)

      In addition to the soldiers named above, during 1914 and early 1915 many reinforcements of Officers and men joined the Battalion to replace those lost (killed, wounded or captured) during the major engagements at Audregnies, La Bassée and The Battle of Nonne Bosschen .

      Fifty-seven of those replacements were killed in action or died of wounds and are now also commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.

      They are named below and by clicking the name link you can view their details of when they died.


      Watch the video: First Battle of Ypres 1914 World War I