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Remembered Today:

7th Division 1914


Terry

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It is often mentioned that the 7th Division, composed of regular units from stations around the Empire, was probably one of the best trained and battle ready formations in the British Army, simply because of the level of experience of the troops in the various units.

I have two 1914 Star groups in senior NCO's with this division (one 1/S.Staffs; the other 2/Royal Warwicks. They both landed on the continent on 4 October, as did most of the division I assume. The division moved up to Bruges and Ghent, then back to Ypres.

Do any of the Pals know how much fighting the division saw between mid-October and 22 November? Both trios have very old clasps on the stars, one a slider type, but both MIC's make no mention of issue of clasps. We have been over this ground before, but I can assume that the 7th Division actually saw lots of action before 22 November, and that infantry sergeants must have been in the thick of it.

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Terry,

I'm sure you are not expecting this reply.

"On the 11th November 1914,the 8th Battalion Royal Scots joined the 22nd Infantry Brigade,in the 7th Division and was the only Territorial Battalion in the Division.The first work of the Battalion was digging communication trenches.On the night of the 20th November 1914 four Companies went into the line for the first time,relieving a Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusliers in the La Brotillirie sector,the other Companies remaining at Fleurbaix.No 42,Sgt D Grieve killed on the night of 15th November,was the first casualty".

From the History of the 8th Royal Scots in the Great War.

Whilst it does not answer your question directly it appears the Original Division needed Territorial reinforcements by mid November.

I have the trios to my Uncles who were with the 8th Royal Scots during this period.

George

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I can tell you a very great deal about the 1st South Staffs. I'll dig out my notes and post them here. There is no question that they saw a lot of action, as by 8 November there were only 43 of them left standing. Very jealous of your medals to an NCO of the battalion. Can you tellme who he is? I might be able to tell you a bit more about him.

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Paul,

Excuse the slight side-track but I seem to have spooted a minor oversight to your web-site.

L/Cpl W Angus was in the 8th HLI attached to 8th Royal Scots when he was awarded the V.C. in June 1915.(7th Division V.C's)

We have been discussing this recently under the 8th Royal Scots on the 12 June further down this thread but I cannot post links.

Do you wish to consider an amendment?

George

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Which unit did he win the VC with - 8th HLI or 1/8th RS?

I will have a look at the thread you mention.

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Thanks for your input fellows. Chris, my man is 7633 Sgt.George Lewis. I have his MIC, which lists his star,etc. (but no mention of clasp). Also, Silver War Badge list F/78; discharged 14-6-15. Rank on all three medals is sergeant. Going by his mid-1915 discharge he probably had indeed been involved in the thick of things.If you can dig up any details on him I would be very grateful.

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Paul,

Not definitive I know but from "1/8 Battalion The Royal Scots European War 1914-1918" -Reprint from the Haddingtonshire Courier printed shortly after the War

HONOURS

Victoria Cross(29/6/15)

7709 Corporal W Angus(8th H.L.I.att.)

George

p.s.Did we distrust the Press as much in 1919?

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Paul,

Excuse the slight side-track but I seem to have spooted a minor oversight to your web-site.

L/Cpl W Angus was in the 8th HLI attached to 8th Royal Scots when he was awarded the V.C. in June 1915.(7th Division V.C's)

We have been discussing this recently under the 8th Royal Scots on the 12 June further down this thread but I cannot post links.

Do you wish to consider an amendment?

George

This has been on an earlier thread. See

http://www.1914-1918.org/forum/index.php?s...t=0entry36342

The 8th HLI company was transferred to the 8th Royal Scots so technically he was 8th Royal Scots. ( but dinna say that in Bridgeton :lol: )

Aye

Malcolm

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Hi All,

Willie Angus was in the HLI and only attatched to the RS threfore it is an HLI VC. If you look at the regimental records it is shown as this. The photo that Malcolm posted clearly shows the cap badge of the HLI on Lt. Martin. Both of them were attatched from the HLI and both men joined up in the 8th HLI in Carluke. That is why there was such a big story at the time because Angus saved Martin.

There was a similar event in the Norfolks. The only Norfolks VC of WW1 was won by an officer Sherwood-Kelly, I forget which rank. He was attatched to the Inniskillings at the time he won the VC and so there was always a debate over which regiment it belongs to. However, it is the original regiment that wins the VC. I think you will find that it is down to the cap badge that is worn. Thus I asked the question a week or so ago, do attatched soldiers keep ther original cap badge. The answer, according to photos I have found would appear to be, yes they do.

Hope that may clear a few things up.

All the best,

Tim

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Here are some notes, largely from the 1st South Staffords war diary:

7 October Zeebrugge

Arrived dawn, 1st South Staffords last to disembark.

2pm train left for Bruges, and marched on to Oostcamp. Special orders sent 1st South Staffords on to Lophem, where most of the men were placed on outpost (A and B Coys) and in reserve. 'This was the first attempt that the Regiment had of their abilities in trench work. How they shine in this or any other laborious work of this nature.'

8 Lophem

Stood to at 0300. Battn HQ in Chateau with Mayor of Lophem. Marched to canalside outside Ostende. C and D Coys placed on outpost. D Coy (Capt Vallentin) placed next to Belgians. This was a terrible march of 26 miles. Felt very sorry at 'pitiable state' of the Belgian retreat from Antwerp.

9 Ostende

Marched to main square in town, then entrained for Ghent. Heard artillery in the evening. Staff Officer Capt Barker brought up bread and German sausage. Raining. Orders received, to be at 0400 on the 10th, on the near side of the canal crossing at Swynaerde. Belgians to withdraw across bridge. 2nd Royal Warwicks and 2nd Queens to attack on the left. 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers in reserve, near Melle.

10 Swynaerde

2 platoons of C Coy took up position. (Lt Evans at Hutsepot, and Capt Green and Lt Burke at Maelte)

11

The Battalion, less A Coy (Major Welchman and Capt de Trafford), advanced 3 miles to just south of Haywyk. Ordered to entrench.

12

Received GOC orders to fall back, and RE to blow bridges etc. Marched to Ghent, and on through night to Hansbeke, a distance of 16 miles. 1st South Staffords rearguard to Division. Now had had no rest for 3 days, and no food for 20 hours. Halted at 0630 in thick mist at Overbroek. At 1130 orders were received to retire via Beltem, Aeltre, Ruywselede to Thielt. Arrived Thielt 2100. Had now covered 32 miles in 24 hours. Slept at a college.

13 Thielt

Stayed until 1200, had good rest, wash and meal. Marched to Bevering. 24 miles on poor road. A (Welchman) and C (Major Loder-Symonds) Coys on outpost.

14

Marched to Roulers. Half of the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and the 2nd Queens, were so exhausted they were entrained to Ypres. The 1st South Staffords and the 2nd Royal Warwickshires had to march another 17 miles. Heard heavy firing from direction of Armentieres. Got to Ypres, and good billets thanks to Capt White.

At 1600, met with French 87th Division. The HQ 7th Division was in Ypres, 20th Brigade in Zillebeke. 21st and 22nd Brigades were placed into billets in the town, moved to the Zonnebeke road until 2000, and then retired to the town for the night.

15 Ypres

2nd Royal Warwicks were placed on the Zonnebeke road one mile East of Ypres. The 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers were ordered to advance to the enemy (supposedly near Zonnebeke), with 1st South Staffords in support. The 2nd Queens were to move up on the right of the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers. They were ordered to move at 0300, but remained until 1030, and then all moved up to entrench at Zonnebeke. HQ 1st South Staffords was in a school. Rifle fire was heard all night.

17

Brigadier-General Lawford inspected the trenches.

18

Left flank of Brigade ordered to advance to Molenhoek. D Coy (Vallentin) was ordered to Strooiboomhoek.

19

Brigade ordered to attack Kleyhoek (where an aeroplane had spotted German trenches). 1st South Staffords placed into Brigade reserve. Moved off at 0400, through Strooiboomhoek, through Dadizeele, where halted for one and a half hours. Battn ordered up to reinforce Brigade. Advanced on Windmill Hill, A and B Coys on right, C and D on left. All came under heavy shrapnel fire, and were ordered to retire. All did so except 30 men of C Coy (Loder-Symonds) who did not receive the order. Lt Evans was killed while going to the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers to ascertain orders. Battn entrenched in front of Strooiboomhoek.

20 Strooiboomhoek

Under vigorous bombardment. Enemy attacked all day. 3 men of B Coy KIA scouting in a wood in front of the German trenches. The enemy got to within 500 yards.

21

Furious German attack all day. Dmr Wheeler and Arnold KIA by snipers, Lt Evans wounded. At 1600 2nd Queens and 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers withdrew, leaving the left flank exposed. Battn lost stores and transport, and all the officers kit. From left to right in the line, half of C Coy,then A,B,and D. The other half of C in reserve. The Battn HQ in St Josephs school was shelled. "Good shooting today". Lt Holmes was killed while in command of half of B Coy. He was superintending a machine gun. L/Cpl Protherick of the band wounded while carrying a wounded man. On the right, Capt Ransford was wounded in the hand while using binoculars. The machine guns, placed on the road between A/B and C/D Coys, did "good execution". Sgt Bytheway was in charge.

22

At 0400, the Battn were ordered to retire, the three other Battalions in the Brigade having left the 1st South Staffords on their own. There were by now no ammunition carts or pack animals, all officers horses having been killed at Zonnebeke. This was a very fearful time, with nothing to eat and no sleep for three days.

[Official History of the Great War, 1914 Volume 2

Page 178

Attacks on 7th Division near Zandvoorde-Becelaere fail.

22/10. At 0700 on, heavy bombardment, particularly on the sector at the junction of the 21st and 22nd Brigades in front of Polygon Wood, where the troops had not yet settled down. At daylight it was found that the 22nd Brigade on the left near Zonnebeke had withdrawn too far in the darkness, and they had to move up. The gap was temporarily filled by the 20th Brigade reserve Battn, the 2nd Scots Guards. One Coy of 2/SG remained. There was frequent infantry fire, and small parties of Germans were seen, but there was no infantry attack. At 1500, an attack threatened the centre-left of 7th Division, again at the junction of the two Brigades near Reutel, already bombarded heavily for eight hours. The Germans advanced in columns of four over the Zonnebeke-Becelaere ridge. The attacks were not pressed against the 22nd Brigade, but were heavy against the 21st. The 1st South Staffords were on the right of 22nd, next to 21st. The British took a very heavy toll of the Germans. The 54th Reserve Division were 'literally piled up in heaps'.]

23

Capt Dunlop and part of B Coy (including 2/Lts Archer-Shee and Bartlett) were ordered up to reinforce the Wiltshires, but retired after dark.

24

B Coy (Dunlop, Bartlett, Hume) were sent up to reinforce the Northumberland Hussars. Dunlop was KIA while charging a house, by MG fire. Sgt Mason was badly wounded. Bartlett was KIA by a Johnson and was buried in the trench. Relieved by Liverpools at 1400.

24 (continued)

Were delighted to meet 2nd Battalion. And received first issue of rum.

25

In wood near Brigade HQ off Ypres road. At 0400, ordered to Kruiseik, attached to 20th Brigade. At 1900, D Coy reinforced the line and captured 19 Germans. Capt Ransford was further wounded, Lt Twiss also. The detachment was wiped out, to a man.

There is no war diary 26-31 October.

Entries for the period 1-7th November are from the War Diary of the 2nd Queen's

1 November

The Brigade was formed into two composite battalions:

- the first, under Capt Alleyne, of the remnants of 2 Queen's and 1st RWF

-the second, under Capt Vallentin, of 1st South Staffords and 2nd RW, with Capt Fuller, Lieuts White, Ross and Smith of the 2nd Queens attached.

3

The 'second' Battalion was sent up to occupy a trench which had been abandoned. Two platoons under Lieuts Smith and White were sent forward and got into the trench, during which Lieut White was hit.

5 Ypres

The Brigade left the woods and billeted in the Hotel de Ville in Ypres. Lieuts Thomas and Furze were doing duty as Brigade Major and Staff Captain to General Lawford, and were billeted in a house in the square. Shelling started, and a Johnson pitched in the Generals house, wounding both officers, and killing 4 and wounding 20 other ranks.

6 Ypres

Brigade moved to Dickebusch, into Corps reserve. During the evening, a a messgae arrived from Lord Cavan (commanding 4th (Guards) Brigade, in need of assistance. The Brigade marched to Zillebeke, arriving at 2200, and lay in a field around Cavan's HQ.

7

About 0500, the Brigade left the field, and went down the path through the woods. Overnight, a gun had been positioned to enfilade the German trench. However, the assistance it gave was slight. The Brigade was deployed, screened from the Germans by a slight rise in the ground. The attack was timed for 0615. There was a heavy mist,and it was only just becoming daylight.

The 2nd Queens advanced over the rise. German machine guns opened. The second wave came up, and advanced with the first. It was completely successful, and the enemy ran away. There was much shelling, but the Brigade line held on.

The Brigade withdrew that night to the level crossing, where it bivouaced. The Battalion had been in Belgium just one month.

[Official History of the Great War, 1914 volume 2

Page 399, 7th November 1914

Lawford's counter-attack

Lord Cavan had realised that the situation could not wait, and at 0400 he despatched 22nd Brigade (14 officers and 1100 men) towards the junction of 3rd Brigade and his own group, about 500 yds NE of Zwarteleen. At 0615 Lawford sent the Brigade forward in heavy mist against the German trenches, which were partly in the open, partly in projecting salients of woods, only 150 yards away. The 2nd Queens lead, in two lines (including the only survivors of the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers, no officers and 86 men). The firing of a gun was the signal, but it was indistinguishable in the noise of battle. Only the 1/Gloucesters joined in. It was too foggy to support with covering fire, but the attack was successful: the first enemy trench was occupied, and three MG's captured. All further efforts faltered. At dusk, 1600, the French had not co-operated, the Brigades flanks were in the air, and the Brigade was withdrawn. The losses were 10 of the 14 officers, and 304 of 1100 men. ]

8 Zillebeke

Withdrew to Dickebusch, via Locre.

9 Dickebusch

Message received from GOC 7th Division (Capper). "Well done, the 22nd Brigade. Congratulations on a gallant attack, and the capture of machine guns".

Back to me now: By this date, every battalion officer had become a casualty. Captain John Vallentin had been awarded a posthumous VC for his part leading the attack on 7 November, and precisely 43 men were at roll call, out of this magnificent battalion.

I have not found George Lewis among the partial casualty lists that I have, but his number is very typical of men the battalion who landed at Zeebrugge.

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Thanks Chris... obviously this unit saw lots of action. Too bad (but good for him) that Sgt Lewis' name doesn't show up. I have an opportunity to possibly acquire another trio - to 8310 Pte.C.Woolett. Have you spotted his name?

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Attached from "The Seventh Division 1914 -1918" by C.T. Atkinson:

1.) Map 2 - Operations October 15th - 18th, 1914

2.) Map 8 - Operations October 31st - November 6th, 1914

3.) 7th Division - Ypres Casualties - October, November, 1914

On 5th August 1914, my maternal grandfather was mobilised from the Reserve into 3rd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 22nd Brigade, 7th Division, B.E.F. on 1st November 1914.

His MIC states "Clasp 26996 - Qualifying Date 1 / 11 / 14".

Regards

Richard

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AndrewThornton

7th Division were most certainly in the thick of it during the First Battle of Ypres. Here is an obituary for one of the early fatalities suffered by the Division. 8119 Drummer George Wheeler was one of the first members of the 1st Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment to be killed in action during the Great War. He is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery(Plot XXX1, Row F, Grave 20).

A DRUMMER OF THE 1st BATT. SOUTH STAFFS. REGIMENT

BRAVERY & COOL MARKSMANSHIP

““Please accept my sympathies, which are the most heartfelt, for the loss of a really brave and true man and a fine soldier, who died doing his duty as a man should. I am proud to have known him.”

In these simple yet consoling words, eloquent of the comradeship among all ranks of the British Expeditionary Force, Lieut. C. Wilmot Evans, of the 1st South Staffordshires, concludes a letter addressed from the trenches to L-Corp. Harry Wheeler, describing how his brother, Drmr. George Wheeler, of 4 Peel Terrace, Wynn Street, Birmingham, was killed by a sniper’s bullet during a hot encounter at Zonnebeke on or about Oct. 20.

“I am pleased to say he was a credit to the flag”, writes the officer. “Mothers should be proud to give their sons for their country if they be as the whole regiment knew Drmr. Wheeler to be. We were all very fond of him and offer to you our condolences. I never knew such a splendid fellow as he was. I was awfully fond of him, as he was always cheerful and willing to help anyone during those trying hours we had then. He was brave, and did awfully well. He was shot through the temple by a sniper while we were holding trenches just in front of a forest. I was standing by him at the time, and he himself was firing at the Germans as they came out of the wood. Of course, we did our best for him, but he died almost immediately. We could not take his body out of the trench until dark, as the Germans were attacking the whole of the time. We moved it after dark and covered it up. The next day we were driven out of the trenches, as we were the only regiment left in that line and were practically surrounded. So I am sorry to day the body fell in German hands. He is deeply mourned by officers and men of the battalion, as he was very deservedly a general favourite. He was in our platoon and I have never had a nicer man under me, Please tell his family how well he died and what excellent work he did before his death. The regiment was so badly cut up that all records of casualties were lost. I am the only officer left of 30 which came out with the battalion”

Drmr. Wheeler was only at the front about a fortnight before he met his fate.

His brother, L-Corp. Harry Wheeler, is in the 1st Warwickshires, and is now in Birmingham rapidly recovering from the effects of being wounded in the leg by shrapnel at Ypres on Oct. 26. A married man, with a home at 310 Park Road, Hockley, he is a Birchfield Harrier who has won numerous prizes at athletics meetings.”

Report taken from “The Staffordshire Advertiser” – 17th January 1915

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More Maps from "The Seventh Division - 1914 - 1918" by C.T. Atkinson:

Map 3 - The Advance on Menin, October 19th, 1914

Map 4 - Position held October 21st (am) - 24th (am) 1914

Map 5 - Positions held pm October 24th 1914

Map 6 - Kruiseik Position

Map 7 - Operations October 29th - 30th 1914

Regards

Richard

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Map 1 - Antwerp Operations

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I have been unable to find the link for the following article, so I post what I saved at the time, below:

"31 October - 17 November 1914

The First Battle of Ypres

By John Buchan

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 been 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.

On Sunday, 1st November, the wearied British line received re-enforcements. Divisions from the French 16th and 20th Corps arrived to take over part of the line held by Allenby's cavalry. With them came Conneau's 2nd Cavalry Corps, transferred from its place between the 2nd and 3rd British Corps. That day was remarkable for the hard shelling of our front and two isolated attacks, one against Bulfin's 2nd and 4th Brigades at Klein Zillebeke, and the other against Allenby on the Messines Ridge. The first was beaten back with the assistance of Byng's cavalry, who continued for the next few days to act as a general reserve and support to the Gheluvelt salient. But the assault on Allenby was a serious matter. During the night the Germans, breaking through on the left flank of the 1st Cavalry Division, reached the edge of Wytschaete, on the Ypres-Armentieres road. In spite of a most gallant defense by the French the Bavarians carried the village before the evening. Messines, too, had been since early morning in German hands, making an ugly dent in our line, which now ran from Le Gheir to the west of Messines, west of Wytschaete, by St. Eloi and Klein Zillebeke to west of Gheluvelt.

For five days the battle slackened into an artillery duel, and our weary men had a breathing space. On 5th November the line was readjusted, and some relief was given to the 7th Division, which was now reduced from 12,000 men and 400 officers to a little over 3,000. Fourteen battalions from the 2nd Corps, two Territorial battalions, and two regiments of Yeomanry now took their share of the line. The enemy also rearranged his plans. The Fabeck group had failed in its main purpose, and must be strengthened both with guns and troops. The two minor groups under Gerok and Urach on the Messines Ridge had also exhausted their impetus. Accordingly a new group was formed under Linsingen, consisting of the 15th Corps and a corps under Baron von Plattenberg, which included a composite division of the Prussian Guard. This group was to attack on the 11th north of the Ypres-Comines canal. Meantime, on Friday the 6th, a sudden assault was made on the Klein Zillebeke position, held by Bulfin's 2nd and 4th Brigades and Moussy's French division. In the afternoon the French on the right towards the canal were driven in, and Cavan's 4th Brigade was left in the air. The only reserve available was Byng's cavalry north of the Zillebeke-Klein Zillebeke road. Kavanagh deployed the 1st and 2nd Life Guards, with the Blues in reserve behind the center, and his advance assisted the French to resume their trenches.

But the German attack was being pressed in force, and the French came back again upon the Household Cavalry, a couple of whose squadrons were doubled across the road to stem the rush. For a moment there was wild confusion -- French, British and the oncoming Germans being mingled together in the village street. Major the Hon. Hugh Dawnay, who had come from the Headquarters Staff to command the 2nd Life Guards, led his men to the charge, and inflicted heavy losses upon the foe. Two hundred years before, the French Maison du Roi had charged desperately in Flemish fields, the splendid Gants glaces with their lace and steel, their plumed hats and mettled horses. Very different was the attack of the British Household Cavalry -- mud-splashed men in drab charging on foot with the bayonet. In this section Hugh Dawnay fell, but not before his advance had saved the position. In him Britain lost one of the most brilliant of her younger soldiers, most masterful both in character and in brain, who, had he lived, would without doubt have risen to the highest place. He would wish no better epitaph than Napier's words: "No man died that night with more glory -- yet many died, and there was much glory."

Once more came a period of ominous quietness. It lasted through the 8th, 9th, and 10th, when nothing happened but a little shelling. Then on Wednesday, the 11th, came the supreme effort. As Napoleon had used his Guards for the final attack at Waterloo, so the Emperor used his for the culminating stroke at Ypres. The 1st and 4th Brigades of the Prussian Guard were launched on both sides of the Menin road. At first they used their parade march, and our men, rubbing their eyes in the darkness of the small hours, could scarcely credit the portent. Long before they reached the shock our fire had taken toll of them, but so mighty is discipline that their impact told. The 1st Brigade and the left brigade of the 3rd Division bore the brunt of the charge, and at several points the enemy pierced our front and won the woods to the west. Thence he was presently driven out with heavy losses, and his 1st Regiment, which had got beyond the Nonne Bosch Wood, was checked and routed by the 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. A line of strong-points prepared by Haig's engineers was the high-water mark of the attack. On that day fell Brigadier-General Charles Fitz-Clarence, V.C., commanding the 1st Brigade, the hero of October 31st, a soldier whose military skill was not less conspicuous than his courage.

With the failure of the Prussian Guard the enemy seemed to have exhausted his vitality. His tide of men had failed to swamp the thin Allied lines, and, wearied out, and with terrible losses, he slackened his efforts and fell back upon the routine of trench warfare. To complete the tale we must glance at what had been happening on the extreme left of the Ypres salient, where the bulk of Dubois' 9th Corps held the line from Zonnebeke to Bixschoote, and linked up with the battle on the Yser. He had with him to complete his front Bidon's Territorial divisions and most of Mitry's 1st Cavalry Corps, and against him came, as we have seen, the bulk of the new German formations. The enemy tried to press beyond the ruins of Bixschoote to the canal, the winning of which would have turned the Ypres position on the north -- and objective much the same as the corner of the Ypres-Comines canal at Klein Zillebeke. In spite of desperate efforts he failed to advance at that critical point, and Langemarck remained untaken. By 15th November the vigor of the assault was ebbing, as it had ebbed four days before at the point of the Ypres bastion.

On 12th November and the following days a spasmodic assault was made on the Klein Zillebeke positions, and along the whole line towards Messines. On the 16th an attempt was made on the southern re-entrant, which failed, and the shelling of Ypres continued, till its Cloth Hall and its great Church of St. Martin were in ruins. On the 17th the German 15th Corps made a desperate effort at the same point, but was repulsed. Presently further French re-enforcements came up, and the sorely tried British troops were relieved from the trenches which they had held for four stubborn weeks. The weather had changed to high winds and snow blizzards, and in a tempest the First Battle of Ypres died away."

Regards

Richard

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  • 2 years later...

Dr Wheeler is one of the few ORs actually mentioned in the War Diary, 21/10/14 " Dr. Wheeler and Arnold were killed by snipers and Lieut. Evans was wounded"

Regards,

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It is often mentioned that the 7th Division, composed of regular units from stations around the Empire, was probably one of the best trained and battle ready formations in the British Army, simply because of the level of experience of the troops in the various units.

I have two 1914 Star groups in senior NCO's with this division (one 1/S.Staffs; the other 2/Royal Warwicks. They both landed on the continent on 4 October, as did most of the division I assume. The division moved up to Bruges and Ghent, then back to Ypres.

Do any of the Pals know how much fighting the division saw between mid-October and 22 November? Both trios have very old clasps on the stars, one a slider type, but both MIC's make no mention of issue of clasps. We have been over this ground before, but I can assume that the 7th Division actually saw lots of action before 22 November, and that infantry sergeants must have been in the thick of it.

Hello Terry

This immortal 7th Div stuff is great, i would like to add...

The 1/Artists Rifles landed in France late in Oct 1914 they were actually stopped on the march to Ypres by a senior Staff officer who instructed the O.C he had an argent message from the C in C, B.E.F, a short time later as a consequence of a meeting between the two 50 o/r's were given some hours instruction and advice, promoted to 2/Lt and despatched together with officers pips to the 7th Div. They went into action the next day in there privates uniforms commanding regular army troops from eleven separate infantry battalions including the 1/G.G. many were killed or wounded by mid 1915,(The Artists first fifty, 40 pte's, 8 Cpl's & 2 Sgt's) The 20th ,21st 22nd infantry brigades had very very few officers left standing by the Nov 1914.....

Best

Tom......

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9 Ostende

Marched to main square in town, then entrained for Ghent. Heard artillery in the evening. Staff Officer Capt Barker brought up bread and German sausage. Raining. Orders received, to be at 0400 on the 10th, on the near side of the canal crossing at Zwijnaarde. Belgians to withdraw across bridge. 2nd Royal Warwicks and 2nd Queens to attack on the left. 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers in reserve, near Melle

Evening Chaps

The 7th divison upon reaching on the 9th October ( heat of the battle at gontrode) Gent to relieve the French fusiliers marins of admiral Ronarc’h ,

who made a gallant stand at Melle – Kwatrecht – Gontrode (10km east of gent)

to help the Belgian army to escape from Antwerp. Lots is known about this little battle but nothingon the Britsch releave ,

Battalions who took the french rear position and covered the retreat and the withdrawal

of the French fusiliers marins out of their positions on the 11 october 1914

Admiral Ronarc’h received from the British general Cappers 7th division 2 battalions ,

of whom he deployed one at the right of gontrode and kept one in reserve so from above topic information it must be

2nd Royal Warwicks and 2nd Queens to attack on the left. 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers in reserve

any info if there were British casualties there in these regiments on the 11th and 12th October 1914 ?

@+

patrick

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Just to add to the War Diary entry concerning the attack on the 7th of November 1914.

The single gun mentioned to start the attack, was from the 106th Battery XXIInd Brigade R.F.A., commanded by Lt. V. Taylor.

The attack began by firing on a house held by the enemy and then by enfilading the road.

A message received later the same morning stated, that the gun rendered valuable assistance and was got out safely.

Sandcroft

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By November 22 1914 the 2nd Bn Royal Warwicks had 189 killed in the Salient. Most of them are on the Menin Gate. They had moved to France from Malta.

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Thanks for the additions ,

But any information on eventual casualties that would have fell covering the retreat of the French Fusiliers Marins at Melle

(near Town of Ghent) on the 11th October 1914 .

Not sure of the battalion involved there .

@+

Patrick

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