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1st Battalion Queens Own Royal West Kent in Belgium


Cliff Rumsey
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Hi All

I remain a wee baby at this Great War stuff having visited my first Western Front Cemetery on the Somme in 2006. Nearly 3 years later I have now had about a dozen trips to the Western Front and have visited nearly 100 cemeteries and memorials including the 40 where headstones or memorials of my family name (Rumsey) are remembered.

Anyway my next little project in March this year is to follow in the footsteps (not literally) of my local regiment in Belgium (with a planned later visit to the Somme/France). I have with the assistance of a download from the CWGC the names and cemeteries of the 638 members of this battalion who are remembered in Belgium at 34 different sites. I also have extracted data from my copy of 'Invicta' by Major CV Molony.

My plan is to visit the sites in the order in which men were first buried at that Cemetery/Memorial and to lay a remembrance cross at one of the fallen. The first being Lieut Anderson (23/08/1914) Hautrage,then Mons and St Symphorien and the last Private Austin in Charleroi (8/2/1919). I think I can do it all in about 3 days.

I quite enjoy this sort of scurrying about/sat nav stuff but the bits I am not good at (being lazy) is

1)individual/personal stories

2) Specific places of interest (billets/bunkers/trench positions etc)

So if you can help embellish my tour in any way with more information I would be most grateful.

Thanks

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As you will know from your Molony extracts - one of the most important places to visit in Belgium that is associated with 1st Bn is Hill 60.

Of the officers killed in the early part of the war, Bond of Sacrifice, has photos and obituaries. Anderson, a good cricketer (a fast bowler) and one of three Special Reserve officers serving with 1st Bn, was shot through the head very early on, in the 23rd August action. In commemoration of his son, Anderson's father donated a large sum of money towards the building of St Augustine's in Gillingham - the foundation stone details the memorial to Lt Anderson.

Regards,

Jonathan S

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Same cemtery as Anderson (Hautrage Mil Cem) are two other QORWK officers (both Old Boys of Wellington College):

Maximilian Francis Broadwood - who was a member of the Aeronautical Club, so I assume he could either fly or was in the process of learning when war broke out. He was a nephew to Colonel Dallison, an retired QORWK officer, who, from memory, commanded at the Depot during the Great War.

The other was William Charles Owen Phillips. He had Captained the Depot Football Team that won the Maidstone & District League Cup - I think I must have read he played centre-forward because I always associate his name in my memory recall with Alan Shearer!!

I found this interesting account, which written about his body shortly after the war:

"A few weeks ago the relatives of Captain WCO Phillips, 1st Bttn, who was killed near Landrecies on August 24th 1914, received a letter from a Private in the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment, enclosing this officer's diary, which he had had in his possession from that date until his release from Germany after the Armistice. He gives the following account of how it came into his possession:

I was taken prisoner, with two others of my battalion, on August 24th 1914. The Germans tied our hands behind our backs and we were taken behind their lines, and a guard placed over us. We had not been there long before a German officer came up and ordered his men to unbind us. He then, speaking very good English, endeavoured to pump some information out of us, but he did not get anything. He then turned suddenly to me, and said "I have got here a small diary from which I gather the owner wishes it to be sent to his relatives, so if you will accept it and take care of it until such time as you are again in England you could forward it as desired". I readily took the book and placed it in my pocket. "Now" said he, "would you like to see the officer from whom I have taken it?" I answered yes. He then took me about 50 paces away, and amongst a number of dead pointed out the officer. I stooped down to see how he had been killed, and found the wound behind the ear, but whether bullet or shrapnel I cannot say. The German officer then took me by the arm and led me back to the guard, and mentioned on the way that he had taken the officer's sword as a souvenir. On my arrival in Germany, although I was many times searched, I managed to retain the book hidden, and am glad to be able to send it to those for whom it was intended."

Regards,

Jonathan S

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Sorry for there being a series of message - just going through my notes as I come across them.

At Hainaut Calvaire Military Cemetery is the grave of Robert Pillman, 10th Bn. He was a Blackheath rugby player and represented England against France in the Rugby International of 1914.

Regards,

Jonathan S

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Thanks Jonathan

I had a feeling you would be able to assist me given that you appear to be all things QORWK.

I was aware of the Hill 60 significance and have visited it already albeit fleeting.

I have to admit not being familiar with Bond of Sacrifice. Can you enlighten me further.

My feeling is that billets were in Dranoutre, Wulverghem and other places South West of Ypres. Are there any buildings that remain of interest to the battalion in that area.

Appreciate your assistance. If equally you can direct me as to where I can further my research I would be grateful. I have visited the museum at Maidstone but not sure what archives are held there or if any are available to members of the public.

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I am afraid I dont know about original buildings - mapping out the areas for teh different battalions is actually something on my list of "to do's". Also I think the 1st Bn found themselves out of the Line at Vlamertinghe.

I take it you have the St Ghislain map for 23rd Aug action. There is now a roundabout in the middle of where A Company were deployed and the map is still quite effective.

Bond of Sacrifice was an Officers Roll of Honour published in 1915 in two volumes. There is a reprint avaiable at N&M Press for anout £20 per volume - quality of the photos is indifferent.

Im not sure there will be anything in the museum archives that would specifically help you on the Belgium tour, although I would be happy to meet you in the actual museum some day and explain the story behind some of the exhibits or medals (to the best of my knowledge anyway).

Regards,

Jonathan S

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