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Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regt

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Guest gen_wizard

Hi Pals,

Does anyone know or own the war diaries for the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regt for the years 1915 and 1916? Any help with this would be great as i'm trying to find out what happened to my two great great uncles during those years.

Regards

Mike

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Ted368

Mike,

I live in Lancaster and use to live very close to the old Bowerham Barracks (now a college). Try getting in touch with the Regimental museam:

King's Own (Lancaster) Regimental Museam,

Market street,

Lancaster.

Lancs.

Also try the book: 'Lions of England - A pictorial history of the King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster) 1680 - 1980'

Ted

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Guest gen_wizard

Hi Ted,

Thanks very much for the museum address, i'll get in contact with them for sure as it looks as if my family have had members of the Regt since before 1866 as my great great grandfather was in Halifax in 1866, its where he met his future wife and then in Dublin in 1868 for the birth of my great grandfather. I know 2 of their sons were killed at Ypres a year after each other, the elder one having won the D.C.M. the year before he died. Again thanks for the imformation.

Regards

Mike

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Northern Soul

What were their names and the dates they were killed? I may be able to find some details for you.

Andy.

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Guest gen_wizard

Hi Andy,

Thanks for having a look on the names.

Frederick Lelliott D.C.M. gazetted 22/6/1915 died Ypres 24/5/1916 Rank CSM 1st Battalion, commerated on Menin Gate. I have his CWGC record.

Basil Lelliott, Died at Ypres 8/5/1915 rank L/Cpl, also on Menin Gate. I also have his CWGC record. Anything that you can find out about those two would be great.

What dates can you go back to on the KRR Lancaster Regt?

Thanks again Andy

Regards

Mike

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Northern Soul

Hi Mike,

Some details on the action Basil Lelliott was killed in (the worst day in the history of the King's Own and, I believe, the most fatalities suffered by any battalion on a single day during WW1). The war diary is pretty sketchy - there was hardly anyone left to provide a comprehensive account.

Frezenberg.

Extract from the War Diary of the 2nd Battalion, King’s own Royal Lancaster Regiment.

1915.

May. HUTS W. OF YPRES.

4th. The Bn. were resting in the huts. The following reinforcements arrived on the 3rd May. Other Ranks 240.

7 p.m. Orders were received to march out to the trenches and relieve the 5th Bn. The King’s Own Regt.

8.30 p.m. The Bn. marched out and took over trenches in front of FREZENBERG. The trenches were new trenches and had not been completed. “A” ad “D” Coys. were in the first line. “B” and “C” Coys. in support. “B” Coy. acting as support to the 3rd Monmouths.

5th -7th. Bn. in the trenches. Enemy shelled trenches intermittently.

8th. 7 a.m. Enemy shelled trenches blowing them in, and rendering them untenable. The enemy advanced and captured the front line trenches, they then advanced against the support dugouts. The O.C. 3rd Monmouths called for one company to support the line and “B” Coy. under Captain Forwood at once moved across the road and occupied some old trenches east of the burial ground in the rear of the Monmouth’s trenches.

10 a.m. Enemy commenced attack in the support dugouts but were held in check when 200 yards from them. The enemy were observed moving in a westerly direction on both flanks of the position. Major Clough assumed command on the death of Colonel Martin.

11.35 a.m. Message received to retire on POTIJZE. “B” Coy. was ordered to retire first followed by the 3 platoons of “C” Coy. on the North of the YPRES - ZONNEBEKE Road. The following officers were present during the engagement.

Lt. Col. A. R. S. Martin, killed

Major H. K. Clough

Captain C. W. Grover, wounded and prisoner

Captain T. B. Forwood, killed

Lieut. H. C. E. Jebb, wounded

2/Lt. G. P. M. Scudamore, missing

2/Lt. Mesney, wounded

Lt. Seddon, wounded and prisoner

2/Lt. Muchall, killed

2/Lt. Horne, hurt by fall

2/Lt. Brown, wounded

2/Lt. Somerville, wounded

2/Lt. Windeler, missing

2/Lt. Taylor, prisoner

Lt. Rawlinson, believed killed

Captain G. E. Weatherhead, killed

After the retirement regiments got mixed up. Some of the Bn. retired through the POTIJZE line and some remained in the trenches till the 9th May.

Casualties of the Brigade. Officers 128, Other Ranks 4379.

9th. The remainder of the Battalion were withdrawn from the front line and sent back to the huts. The total casualties during this last tour in the trenches from 4th May till 9th May were:-

Officers: Killed 4, Wounded 5, Wounded and Prisoners 2, Wounded and Missing 1, Missing 4.

Other Ranks: Killed 36, Wounded 110, Wounded and Missing 31, Missing 721.

The Second Battle of Ypres.

The Ypres Salient was to be one of the most fought over areas of the whole war. The second battle is significant for a number of reasons. It was the only real German offensive on the Western Front for the whole of 1915 and it was the area where gas was first used as an affective weapon. Gas had been used on the Eastern Front at Bolimov but the weather had been so cold that it had frozen.

The reason for the Second Battle of Ypres being the only major German offensive of the year was that the new Chief of Staff, General Falkenhayn had been convinced into thinking that a breakthrough on the Eastern Front would be a much more achievable option. This was particularly so after the defeats suffered by the Russians at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes. Some have argued that the Ypres battle only went ahead so that Falkenhayn could try out the new gas weapon and at the same time ‘iron out’ the salient around Ypres for a future attack on the coast.

The battle started with a preliminary bombardment on 22 April, and the attack on Ypres started soon after the bombardment died down, but not in the normal fashion. The gas was launched against some Algerian and French troops along the front to the north of the town of Ypres. It was greeted with mass panic. The German attackers were caught unawares by the impact of their new weapon and did not take full advantage of the gap in the line created by this panic. The Allies lost some high ground and a second gas attack on the Canadians pushed them further back toward Ypres. General Smith-Dorrien asked General Sir John French if he could pull back nearer the town, for which request he was replaced with General Plumer who proceeded to do just that. The fighting went on until 25 May and the Germans, lacking supplies or manpower, had to call a halt. The Allies lost 70,000 casualties and a third of the land around the salient.

The Battle of Frezenburg.

Extract from “The King’s Own, The Story of a Royal Regiment, Volume III, 1914-1950,” by Colonel J. M. Cowper.

On the night of May 7 two men, Privates F. Kelly and T. Salthouse1 of 2/King’s Own, crept out of their trench in search of a gate which they had seen in the daytime and thought would be useful in shoring up their trench. In the darkness they overshot their mark and almost reached a little wood from which came the sound of German voices. On their return they reported their adventure, but although this gave some sign of impending activity there was no indication that the Germans had massed near that point no less than three corps and their artillery, nor that the Fourth German Army was about to try and obliterate the 27th and 28th Divisions, both on the Frezenburg ridge. All the same, at 1 a.m., in view of the gathering forces of the enemy, 1/5 King’s Own and 2/East Yorks were brought up into reserve trenches opposite Potijze Château, at right angles to the road.

An hour before dawn a red rocket went up in the German lines and at 5.30 a.m. a tornado of high explosive was let loose on the British front. Shells were screaming overhead in hundreds and the men were literally drenched in shrapnel for four long hours. It was on the junction between the King’s Own and 3/Monmouths that the full fury of the bombardment fell. Battalion headquarters was about five hundred yards behind the front line in dug-outs. It consisted of the C.O.2 and Adjutant3 and the Second-in-Command, Major H. K. Clough. With them were Second Lieutenants G. Muchall4 and G. P. M. Scudamore5 with three platoons of ‘C’ Company in support. A hundred yards further back was ‘B’ Company, commanded by Captain T. B. Forward6. It was deployed on the left of the road with two platoons in front under Lieutenant A. D. Seddon, earmarked to support the Monmouths if required, and the other two a hundred yards behind them.

All communications were broken and no news of any kind came back to battalion headquarters. A messenger was sent forward, bit as he did not return he could only be presumed killed. A wounded private soldier of the Monmouths came in to ‘B’ Company headquarters at about 6.30 a.m. ; he reported that his battalion had evacuated its trenches and had been practically wiped out. Although no retirement through the support line had been notified or seen, Forward stood his company to. An hour later three more wounded soldiers of the Monmouths came in and corroborated the first report, whereupon Colonel Martin ordered the support platoons of ‘C’ Company and the whole of ‘B’ Company to occupy a defensive position athwart the road, pivoting on battalion headquarters, with ‘B’ Company on the right of the road and ‘C’ Company on the left. By eight o’clock this line was manned. It was in a ditch of interlinked derelict dug-outs which afforded no bullet-proof parapet but were behind the crest and afforded a certain amount of cover from view. By this time the front-line trenches had virtually ceased to exist ; the parapets were flat and machine guns were destroyed.

Then the Germans lifted their fire from the front line on to the support trenches and attacked. There was no one left to oppose them and soon after the support line had been established the enemy appeared over the crest. He was some two hundred yards away and his strength was estimated at about a battalion. Some of them had approached to within a hundred yards when rapid fire was opened, and the enemy got down hurriedly and began to entrench. Yellow recognition screens were hoisted all along their line and were followed almost at once by heavy shrapnel fire and intermittent high explosive. The opposing lines were so close that it was difficult for the German artillery to range their guns, but even so casualties were serious, particularly on the right, where Seddon was soon the only officer left. A lull ensued. The frontal attack was momentarily checked and the enemy was making no effort to resume it. At the same time ammunition was running short and Seddon ordered two out of every three men to take cover, leaving one to observe and fire. At about 10.50 a.m. the enemy put down a heavy barrage, under cover of which he reinforced his front line which was now almost shoulder to shoulder.

A high explosive shell scored a direct hit on battalion headquarters, killing the Colonel and severely wounding the Adjutant in the head. Muchall was killed and Scudamore dangerously wounded. By a miracle Clough escaped unhurt and assumed command. Weatherhead refused to leave him and continued to carry out the duties of Adjutant. A message was received to the effect that the support trenches were to be held at all costs and that reinforcements would be arriving shortly. Looking to the rear a line of troops could be seen advancing under heavy shell fire which appeared to halt them six hundred yards short of the battalion position. They were stopped, not by inability to go on, but by order, because the officer commanding 1/K.O.Y.L.I. had arrived wounded at brigade headquarters and reported that his trenches were untenable and that the Germans had got between him and the Monmouths. This caused the Brigadier to countermand the order to the East Yorks who were advancing on the right of the road. They were told not to go beyond G.H.Q. line, behind which 3/Monmouths and 2/King’s Own could if necessary retire. The message reached Major Clough in the form of a note from 3/Monmouths which said : “Brigade order just received in the form of a message from O.C. East Yorks to Adjutant who is now with us. Retire on Potijze and hold on at all costs.” There was no means of confirming this. All communications were broken and no runner could have got through to St. Jean, where brigade headquarters was located. Moreover heavy rifle and machine-gun fire was opened against the battalion from both flanks and there appeared to be imminent danger of being cut off. Accordingly, a message was sent to Seddon instructing him to make the best of his way back to Potijze, avoiding the main road.

‘B’ Company was now in sore straits. Seddon had sent a message to battalion headquarters to say that he estimated he could hold on for half an hour at the most. He knew the message had been received, for Private Fegan had braved the barrage on the main road in both directions to deliver the message and return. The Germans, having enveloped his right flank, were enfilading the company and causing severe casualties. The extra expenditure of ammunition entailed in dealing with this threat to the rear made it imperative to draw on the reserve, and Privates Bates and G. H. Nelson went back to fetch some from the ruined dug-out. On the way back Nelson was wounded and had to be left, but Bates reached the position with ten bandoliers.

On the left, when the men of ‘C’ Company rose from their trenches to withdraw, concentrated fire from all arms came down on them and a good percentage was killed before they had gone more than a few yards. When at last the battalion reached Potijze it was only forty strong. The final tragedy occurred a few yards from Potijze Château near the trenches of 5/King’s Own when the Adjutant was killed by shrapnel, having carried on with great heroism after his head wound. It over a quarter of an hour for the messenger to reach ‘B’ Company, and it was after 12.15 p.m. when about thirty of them made a dash for the rear. The same fate befell them as that of ‘C’ Company, and only Seddon and ten other covered two hundred yards before they came to a rise in the ground which was raked by machine-gun fire. Here they were forced into a ditch already full of dead and dying bodies. Two men made a dash for the ridge but they were killed at once, being literally riddled with machine-gun bullets. Looking back, the Germans could be seen clearing up the position which had just been vacated. At 12.35 Seddon and his eight remaining men were preparing to make dash for it when they were surprised by enemy troops coming over the ridge from their rear. Covered by rifles at point-blank range, they had no alternative but to surrender.

There were few survivors to tell of the happenings in the front line. The medical officers and the stretcher-bearers returned again and again to try to bring in the wounded. Shells burst all over the ground across which these men were retiring. Corporal S. Hughes7 lost his life trying in vain to dig out Lieutenant L. H. Rawlinson8, who was completely buried with his machine-gun and its team. Men were continually compelled to stop and attempt to dig out their comrades from under the piles of earth thrown up by the shells. One man was unnoticed as a shell burst near him and knocked him out, though fortunately it did not bury him. When he came to his sense he found himself alone in an open space beyond which all was veiled in smoke, and he was lucky to be able to make his way back through the German line to rejoin the battalion the next day.

From early morning all ranks of 1/5 King’s Own watched a continual stream of wounded men and stragglers passing to the rear. Soon after midday Major Clough passed with his forty survivors, whom he believed to be all that remained of the 2nd Battalion. A few minutes later the Colonel of the Monmouths arrived with a similar story. Now 1/5 King’s Own was ordered to retake the 2nd Battalion trenches, while the East Yorks were allotted the task of regaining those of the Monmouths. The combined strength of the two battalions was only five hundred and fifty, but they were able to carry their advance more than a thousand yards beyond G.H.Q. line in spite of severe losses in advancing over ground already dominated by enemy artillery. Some men of 2/King’s Own and 3/Monmouths attached themselves to the battalion and re-entered the battle; the Brigadier came up to Potijze in order to have closer control ; reinforcements came from 85th Brigade, but the enemy was firmly entrenched on Verlorenhoek ridge and nothing could dislodge him. Private S. Palin during one of these attacks carried a wounded officer into cover under heavy fire and in doing so he was severely wounded. A party of the 2nd Battalion succeeded in pressing forward rather in advance of the rest of the line, and here they clung on even after the only officer and all the N.C.Os. had been killed or wounded. Private L. C. Moir took over command and by his courage and example succeeded in holding the trench until nightfall. At about 8 p.m. and unsuccessful attack was made by 1/5 King’s Own to force back the enemy at the point of the bayonet. Private Moir was then ordered to retire and only a remnant of his section was still unwounded.

The battalions of 83rd Brigade were so weak that they could hardly hold the shortened line. On a front of about half a mile between the railway and the Zonnebeke road 5/King’s Own could only muster twenty four men out of a total found by three battalions of two hundred and seventy-four. The support line was manned by a hundred and eighty-five men of two battalions ; out of the total in G.H.Q. line of three hundred and five men, 2/King’s Own found seventy-six and 1/5 King’s Own sixty-seven. That night all units of the Regiment in the line and it was at last possible to assess the damage. In the 2nd Battalion it was appalling. Eleven hundred strong at the beginning of May 8, by the end of that day it could only muster sixty-seven, and after all those had rejoined who had become detached in the fighting the casualties were eventually found to be fifteen officers and eight hundred and ninety-three other ranks on that day alone. The casualties suffered by the Regiment on that day were the worst in its history.

1 11359, Private Thomas Salthouse Tyne Cot Cemetery (III. D. 10.)

2 Lieutenant Colonel Aylmer Richard Sancton Martin (Commanding Officer) The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

3 Captain George Ernest Weatherhead (Adjutant) Ypres Town Cemetery Extension (III. H. 11.)

4 Second Lieutenant George William Stuart Muchall The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

5 Second Lieutenant George Prince Mountford Scudamore The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

6 Captain Thomas Brittain Forwood The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

7 10096, Lance Corporal Samuel Hughes The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

8 Lieutenant Leonard Hugh Rawlinson The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Ironically one of the two men who first became aware of the presence of the Germans, Private Thomas Salthouse, is one of only a handful whose graves were identified after the war. Over three hundred men of the 2/King’s Own died in the battle but only about 10 graves were identified (3%). Of the approximately one thousand King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment names on the Menin Gate one in three were from the 2nd Battalion, killed at Frezenburg on May 8th.

I did once take a photo of the area where they were - but can't find it !! :angry: I'll see if I can find a scan of a trench map though so you can locate it. From memory the area is not yet totally built-up - I identified it from the 5th K.O. diary (who were in support).

I mainly have 4th Bn. W.D. entries but I have a copy of Cowper's History which covers all Bns. during the war. I'll root it out next week and look up what the 1st Bn. were doing on the other date. If it is a significant "action" I'll go and see Peter Connelly at Lancaster and get a copy of the W.D for that date - but it may be a couple of weeks before I can do so. I also have access (at the local Record Office) to Volumes I and II of the King's Own history so if there are any pre-WW1 dates you are interseted in then I should be able to find something - Boer War is v. well covered.

Regards.

Andy.

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Northern Soul

Mike,

Hi again !

Judging by Fred Lelliott's Service Number (8000 series) he was with the 1st Bn at the outbreak of the war and so would have fought at Le Cateau as part of 12th Bde. in 4th Div. (you can confirm from the date on his MIC). Battle summary as follows -another bad day for the K.O. with 400 casualtuies;

The Battle of Le Cateau.

Extract from “The King’s Own, The Story of a Royal Regiment, Volume III, 1914-1950,” by Colonel J. M. Cowper.

The battalion was in column of route with the Colonel and Adjutant at its head as it left Haucourt that morning. The rain of the previous night had cleared; bright sunlight, a pale blue sky and the thin mists rising from wet fields gave promise of a sultry day. The men marched along the Cattenières road, past the little church which looked cool and inviting, down the gentle slope to the Warnelle brook, then up the steep hill to the plateau beyond, which had been selected as the position they were to defend. After crossing the brook they passed some French cavalry resting by the roadside, with their horsehair plumes and shining breastplates, and felt greatly reassured for these were the men who were protecting their flank. When the top of the hill was reached the battalion wheeled left into a field and formed up in mass, facing right. In front of them the railway ran about six hundred yards away, disappearing on the left into a cutting. Part of ‘A’ Company had left the main road just short of Haucourt and had moved to the right up a winding lane which struck the main route of the battalion in a deep cutting a little in advance of a quarry. The lane went on parallel to the battalion position and behind it, sloping gradually up to ground level, so that although ‘A’ Company on the right had sunken roads on its right and rear and ‘B’ Company next to it had a sunken road behind, neither ‘C’ nor ‘D’ Company had adequate cover nearer than the Warnelle ravine.

The men were told that after breakfast they would dig in. The enemy was supposed to be some distance away; in the circumstances arms were piled, equipment was taken off; all the men and most of the officers lay down, making themselves comfortable in the stooks of corn. Most of the transport remained on the road behind ‘A’ Company in column of route, while battalion headquarters was on the other flank in the two to three hundred yard gap between ‘C’ Company and the Lancashire Fusiliers. The Brigade Commander and his Brigade Major rode up to speak to the Colonel, who was talking to ‘D’ Company officers in the left centre of the battalion. 2/Essex Regiment was on the left of the Lancashire Fusiliers and the remaining unit of the brigade, 2/Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was detached to 4th Division headquarters. This was the extreme left of the British position; 11th Brigade was on the right of the 12th, but there was a gap between the King’s Own and the left unit of that brigade; 10th Brigade was in reserve with one of its battalions, 2/Warwicks, in the village of Haucourt. Beyond 11th Brigade was 3rd Division in the vicinity of Caudry, and the 5th was on its right.

As the men waited for their breakfasts they watched some French dragoons moving on their left front about nine hundred yards away. Captains J. A. Nixon and Higgins were uneasily watching some movement which seemed to the suspicious. Then the dragoons’ scouts were seen to turn round and gallop towards the rear with the troop after them, the whole field riding a desperate finish to cover, in the ravine of the Warnelle. Colonel Dykes called for double-company-commanders, but none of them had time to move more than a few yards before a tremendous burst of machine gun fire opened on them. The whole battalion fell prone to the ground. The Colonel himself was killed; his groom made a valiant attempt to hold his master’s horse until it also was killed.

After a few minutes the German machine gunners seemed to run short of ammunition and their fire slackened sufficiently to allow ‘A’ and ‘C’ Companies to extend their flanks. Second-Lieutenant J. H. Hardy, later Colonel of the Regiment, took his platoon of ‘A’ Company on to the high ground on the right, while Lieutenant C. G. S. Irvine of ‘C’ Company moved to the left towards the Lancashire Fusiliers, who had started to entrench. Almost immediately a German battery opened fire from about fifteen hundred yards or less, from the left front, the same direction as the original machine-gunning. At first their fire was short, but they soon found the range and the shells started to burst about thirty feet up thirty to fifty yards in front of the leading company.

The first burst of fire did not touch the transport and some of the drivers tried to turn their horses round and get them to cover, but the machine guns then appeared to lengthen the range and bullets began to drop amongst them. Then came the shells, and chaos ensued. The first shell hit the cooker; the mess cart was immobilised with the horses dead between the shafts; the remaining horses bolted and some of the vehicles got locked together; others, both horse and vehicles, galloped off in all directions; the jackets of the machine guns were reported to have been holed and therefore useless. The small dog, for which the men had made a coat out of a Union Jack, was killed as he stood next to the driver of a G.S. wagon.

One by one company commanders tried to get their men to cover, but ‘C’ Company was almost entirely wiped out. Nixon, himself wounded, and only two of his men reached Haucourt, where the Medical Officer had located his regimental aid post in the church and a neighbouring estaminet. The survivors of ‘D’ Company got back into the ravine of the Warnelle; the other two companies found shelter in the sunken road. Major Parker had been on his way back from visiting brigade headquarters when the Germans opened fire. On his return he immediately assumed command of the battalion and with complete calm established himself in the quarry behind it, whence he could control the situation.

In the sunken road behind Hardy’s platoon a number of officers and men of all companies had collected. Soon after the shelling started Higgins was painfully wounded in the head, and on reaching this lane to get first aid he found one of his subalterns, D. C. Robinson, already there, so he posted Robinson and some thirty men on the right of the lane to form a defensive flank. From here Captain L. I. Cowper went back to the ridge behind the ravine in search of men; he collected number, but they were mostly Lancashire Fusiliers who returned to their own unit. The King’s Own tried to reform in the lane. Most of the men had recovered their arms and about half had their equipment. Those who had none were given ammunition and carried it slung over them in cotton bandoliers. The whole battalion was now behind the crest of the hill; in front lay only the dead, dying and wounded, still aligned in their ranks.

2/Warwicks were ordered up from Haucourt at about 6.30 a.m., but when they reached the lip of the plateau they were greeted by such withering fire that they were forced to withdraw. The position on the crest was untenable, and at 8.45 a withdrawal was ordered to the main Ligny-Haucourt-Esnes road. Covered by the fire of 14th Brigade, R.F.A., the King’s Own was withdrawn first and entrenched behind the road, the battalion front extending three hundred yards on either side of the village of Haucourt. 11th Brigade held the line to Ligny on the right while the rest of 12th Brigade continued it to the left as far as Esnes. The King’s Own casualties already amounted to some four hundred.

The only transport saved was a water-cart and a machine-gun limber, both of which were drawn by horse trained by the battalion in peace time, and the Medical Officer’s Maltese cart which never crossed the stream. The machine-gun was found to be serviceable and was brought into action by Lieutenant L. S. Woodgate, nephew of the General. Another machine-gun belonging to the Lancashire Fusiliers was posted near the cottage where Major Parker had established his headquarters, and yet another belonging to the Rifle Brigade came up on the right.

The battalion continued to be heavily shelled in its hastily dug trenches, scratched out as they were with any available tool and largely with bayonets. About 10 a.m. the firing died down and the Adjutant, Lieutenant W. A. T. B. Somerville, went forward again to see if he could bring in any men who had been left behind. On the way back he met a party advancing in a an attempt to recover the high ground on the right which the Germans appeared to have abandoned. Captain C. W. Grover was wounded almost immediately after the two parties joined up, and Hardy took charge, continuing as far as the quarry. But as the rest of the battalion did not come up on his left he was forced to withdraw to his original position on the road on the extreme right. By noon the enemy pressure had so far slackened as to allow of a strong party drawn from several units, including the King’s Own, to be made up for the purpose of recovering wounded. This party crossed the Warnelle and succeeded, before it was compelled by enemy fire to withdraw, in collecting a considerable number. Many of them, including Lieutenants Irvine and A. S. D. Baird-Douglas, were taken to the regimental aid post at Haucourt. The old parish curé was there, giving absolution and blessing and doing his job calmly and well. Farm carts and other civilian vehicles were impressed and in this way Nixon and many others were sent back. Higgins recovered sufficiently at about noon from the shot of morphia he had been given to collect up some eight to ten others and persuade a British civilian car driver to evacuate them. Not long afterwards the wounded collected from the battlefield arrived. Some of these also managed to get away, but a large number, including Irvine and Baird-Douglas, were too badly hit to be moved.

In the afternoon another advance was made by all three units involved, the Warwicks, King’s Own and Lancashire Fusiliers. On the right machine guns of 11th Brigade had been posted on the high ground and were constantly in action, engaging and stopping the enemy. But even under cover of these guns no progress was possible. On the extreme left, on the other hand, where Second Lieutenant R. C. Matthews was in command of a mixed collection of Essex Regiment, Lancashire Fusiliers and some of 10th Brigade in addition to his own platoon, there were no signs of the enemy. Matthews was out of touch with battalion headquarters and received his orders direct from brigade; just before he reached the place where the battalion had been in the morning he was ordered to withdraw to his former position, which he reached at about 4.30 p.m. His party picked up no British wounded, only a Uhlan whom they found at the top of the hill.

Shortly after that the withdrawal began and the main body of the King’s Own moved off towards Selvigny, but the message to do so did not reach either of the extreme flanks. It was not until 8 p.m. that Matthews was told to fall back. He joined brigade headquarters just before dark, where he found the Essex Regiment and the Lancashire Fusiliers, neither of which had been heavily engaged and were consequently more or less intact. Then the party went on for another couple of hours before going into billets. No message reached Hardy and Woodgate on the extreme right until about 8.30, when they were told to go to Haucourt where Major Parker was waiting for them. Woodgate’s machine-gun had been knocked out by a shell, so as he had no transport he dumped it into a well in a garden and led the way back to Haucourt. As they approached the village Hardy received a message from Clutterbuck, who wanted him, as he could speak French, to come and tell him what was going on. To his dismay it was German and not French that he heard. At that moment the church door opened and light streamed out to reveal on the other side of the street C.Q.M.S. J. Linton, Sergeant H. Sinker and other men of ‘A’ Company in the hands of the Germans. Sergeant called out to stop the King’s Own party from shooting. A man who was about to fire through the spokes of the wheels of a G.S. wagon near the church door lowered his rifle. The Germans called on Clutterbuck to surrender. He shouted “No” as the whole party jumped for a wall. Clutterbuck and two men were killed, but the rest, who now included Lieutenant R. A. C. Aitcheson, found themselves in a garden. The Germans fired over the wall but with no success and in the darkness they soon moved off. The King’s Own men found another way out, collected a few more wounded and put them in the church, where the old curé was still doing all he could for them. Then they went on to join Major Parker and Woodgate. It was now approaching 11 p.m. Major Parker had collected about fifty King’s Own men and was in danger of being cut off. The senior officers of other regiments in the vicinity were in the same predicament and they decided there was nothing for it but to leave the wounded in the church and hope that any unwounded stragglers would rejoin. Most of the troops moved off in a body, but Major Parker and his party proceeded independently at about midnight. Following a country track they slipped past one village in which there were Germans, skirted round several others, and halted at a farm where the farmer showed them much kindness and gave them food.

At that time the main body of the Regiment, under the command of Major J. H. Morrah, had found shelter in Gouy, in the neighbourhood of which the division was concentrating. Neither officers nor men knew anything of the fate of Major Parker, nor of those who had been on the extreme wings of the battalion. They could not make any estimate of their losses, nor did they realise that their effort had been part of a vast engagement in which the B.E.F. had achieved the seemingly impossible. With little reliable intelligence, both flanks in the air and few machine guns, it had beaten off more than double its number of cavalry and infantry, supported by an even greater superiority of artillery. It had inflicted such loss on the enemy that he hesitated to follow up; in fact so excellent was the British rifle fire that he greatly overestimated its strength. The casualties in 4th Division, except in the King’s Own were not as high as in the 3rd and 5th, on which the weight of the enemy attack had fallen, but when it was later possible to discover the losses in the battalion they were found to be five officers killed, six wounded, of whom two were taken prisoner, and one missing; no less than four hundred and thirty-one other ranks were killed, wounded and missing, a total which, even in the bloody battles of Ypres and the Somme, was never reached again in a single day by the 1st Battalion. This introduction to war was a rude shock to the majority who had never previously a shot fired in anger. Even those who had served in South Africa were unprepared for anything of the sort, and Grover declared that Spion Kop was “child’s play” in comparison.

It was a long time before the fate was known of the wounded in Haucourt church. They were there for five days. The men who could walk went back to the battlefield for emergency rations, and when these came to an end they asked the Germans where they could get more food. They were told that the villagers would provide it. The curé, who had extended his help from wounded to unwounded men, had been discovered by the Germans and arrested and was later condemned and shot. A memorial to him stands in the village to this day.

Hope this is of some use. :)

Andy.

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John_Hartley

Andy

Just wondered if the museum offers "ready access" to the war diaries for private research. I've some to research in a little while and lancaster would be so much easier than Kew.

John

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Northern Soul

Yes - although phone up and arrange to see them rather than just turning up. Peter is very helpful and will let you take photocopies.

(vitrually anywhere is easier than Kew when you live in the North !! :) )

Andy.

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Guest gen_wizard

Hi Andy,

Wow so much imformation. It is awesome of you to of found out all this and put it on here for me. Thankyou so much for all your help so far. Since finding out that my great great grandfather was with the KOR Lancaster Regt i would like to find out everything i can on this Regiment. I'm looking for anything that mentions the surname Lelliott. My great great grandfather would possibly of joined the Regiment as a boy soldier around about 1857 and i know he was in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1866 with the 2nd Battalion as he married his wife Lydia Morrison there before 1868 when my Great grandfather was born in Dublin, which is where the 2nd Battalion was on those dates. My great grandfather also joined the same Regiment as did his two younger brothers. They are the ones that died, Frederick and Basil.

Are there any publications that i could get hold of on the History of the Regiment? I am interested in any battles that the Regiment took part in from 1857-1918. When you go to the museum could you see if there is any mention of Frederick's D.C.M. please. Any mention of the name Lelliott in their history would certainly be of interest to me, even if it is before 1857, as i'm not yet sure if any other ancestors had joined the Regiment. I think that it is possible that my great grandfather, George Arthur Lelliott took part in the battle of Lancaster Hill during the Boer War. I know his brother was with the 2nd Battalion during that time and i think that they were in S. Africa. George's brother's name believe it or not was Lancaster Lelliott.

Again i'd like to thankyou for all your help so far, if there is anything that i can help you with here in Oxfordshire i'll only be too glad to help.

Regards

Mike

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Northern Soul

Mike,

The books you want are:

Cowper, L.I. The King's Own : the Story of a Royal Regiment. Vol. 2, 1814-1914. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1939.

Cowper, J.M. The King's Own : the Story of a Royal Regiment. Vol. 3, 1914-1950. Aldershot : Gale & Polden, 1957.

I own Volume 3 and I think I paid about £60 for it. As I said in one of the other posts I have access to Vol. 2 at the local Record Office. However, you should be able to easily get both of them on an inter-library loan. They really are very comprehensive and, in the case of the WW1 actions, are often far more informative than the War Diary, although in the case of Fred Lelliott (who was a senior N.C.O) I would have thought that his death would have merited a mention (but don't count on it).

I have two of the 2nd K.O. Boer War actions typed out - Onderbrook Spruit and Spion Kop - so I'll post those for you as well.

Andy.

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Ted368

I recently went to the Rgimental museum and noticed a tunic with the Light Infantry Bugle Badge on the colars, was the KORR originally a L.I.unit?

Ted

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Guest gen_wizard

Andy,

Again many thanks for the imformation on the books. I would of thought also that the Fred's D.C.M. would be mentioned somewhere in either the book that you have or in the unit war diary. I will try to get hold of the books through the library and i'll check out Oxford University Press as they have a warehouse and office not far from me. I would love to read about the two actions that you have typed out. You can email me at gen_wizard@hotmail.com for my home address as i'm not sure that it will be alright for it to be posted here as its Boer war.

Whenever you do go to the museum and you do have the time to look i would be grateful for anything that you can find on any Lelliott's in the Regiment. Many thanks again for the help that you have already given me.

Regards

Mike

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Northern Soul

Mike,

Some info on the action fought by the 1st K.O.R.L. on May 24th, 1915 - the date of Fred Lelliott's death north of Wieltje;

The Battle Of Bellewaarde

Extract from “The King’s Own, The Story of a Royal Regiment, Volume III, 1914-1950,” by Colonel J. M. Cowper.

At 2.30 a.m. on May 24 the enemy bombarded the British line and discharged gas. The operation was remarkable for the length of the front attacked, for the weight of the bombardment and for the scale on which gas was used. The southern fringe of the gas cloud was about Hooge and it just missed 2/ and 5/King’s Own. Then some of the enemy who had broken through between the Menin Road and the Roulers railway penetrated south of the road and a few of them reached the left rear of the King’s Own. The troops in support quickly dealt with this infiltration and no further activity was shown on the 83rd Brigade front.

At the other end of the threatened line 1/King’s Own was in the centre of 12th Brigade, with the Royal Irish Regiment on the right and 2/Essex on the left. Beyond the Royal Irish were the Dublin Fusiliers, their left company garrisoning Mouse Trap Farm. Here the enemy bombardment continued for four and a half hours, and in spite of the clear summer weather little news was available. Telephone communications were cut; observation was out of the question as the enemy had the advantage of the higher ground and the front line was shrouded in a black pall of smoke and dust formed by the continuous shelling with heavy howitzers. Information could only be gather and communications forwarded by patrols and runners, who all too frequently became casualties. In some places the enemy trenches were so close that the hissing of the gas could be plainly heard as it came out of the cylinders. The wind was light and the gas clouds consequently moved very slowly. They rose to a height of forty feet and were so dense as entirely to obscure vision. But even so there was little time to adjust the respirators and many men were overcome before they could protect themselves. Some four divisions of German infantry assaulted trenches held by only four British brigades immediately after the gas was released. But no sensational results were achieved and the first onslaught was driven back by rifle and machine-gun fire. Only in two places was any impression made on the British line.

One of these was Mouse Trap Farm. By the time it grew light at about 3.30 a.m., although the company of the Royal Irish next to the King’s Own had stood firm, the rest of the battalion had retired from their trenches, as did the Dublin Fusiliers in Mouse Trap Farm. Most of 9/Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders left the support line. The company of the Royal Irish Regiment immediately on the right of the King’s Own side-stepped into the trenches vacated on its right, while Colonel Jackson brought in two reserve platoons of the King’s Own to take their place. Between 3.30 and 4 a.m. the enemy advanced from Mouse Trap Farm and occupied the Royal Irish trenches. This threat was met by a bombing party under Captain A. B. Woodgate and Second Lieutenant R. C. Leach. It was entirely due to the efforts of this party that the enemy was prevented from working along the trench and so making the retention of the rest of the sector impossible. The position was a difficult one; the enemy was I force and appeared to have an unlimited supply of hand grenades, and this part of the trench was also being heavily shelled; the parapet was breached in several places, exposing anyone passing to hostile fire from the Germans in front. In spite of this and the inevitable delay in collecting sufficient hand grenades, the party not only succeed in stopping the Germans but in recapturing two traverses and taking a German flag which had been put up to mark their position.

Leach, supported by Corporal J. Poye, fought on until he was wounded in the leg at midday, when the corporal continued to hold the block and enabled the battalion to retain the position. Now another danger developed when the enemy succeeded at about 1 p.m. in occupying a communication trench in their rear, and at this moment the battalion was being fired on from its front, its right and its rear. To meet this new threat Colonel Jackson posted a party in another communication trench, parallel to that which the Germans held, and thus protected the battalion continued to hold its ground from 2 to 6 p.m., during which time it was heavily shelled with gas shells and heavy howitzers. At about six o’clock the shelling stopped and some ten Germans got out of their trench and advanced against the battalion wire. They were all killed. After dark a message was received to say that a counter-attack was to be made to recover the trenches lost by the Royal Irish and the Dublin Fusiliers, but it proved to be impracticable and the King’s Own and the Essex were ordered to fall back through the divisional support line. The wounded were sent back and at 10.30 the battalion retired by companies, leaving a covering party behind to keep up sniping. Everything was quiet and the retirement was carried out successfully. The casualties during the day were twenty-five men killed, Lieutenants R. C. Leach and T. E. Blackater and fort-four men wounded, forty-five men missing.

The battalion earned the admiration of the Brigadier, who next day circularised all units of the brigade: “…….the King’s Own had the Germans occupying the same trench as themselves. Although attacked throughout the day up their trench and also in front the King’s Own held their position with slight casualties, and at night when ordered to fall back were able to do so without difficulty, bringing away their own wounded. Had the battalion retired during the day from its trenches it would have suffered heavy casualties and would have left its wounded to the cruelty of the enemy. The fact that hanging on to one’s trenches lessens casualties must be impressed on all ranks. This is specially the fact with gas, as by retiring one remains longer in the gas zone.” The Official History records that the battalion and 2/Essex beat off all infantry attacks and adds: “This is one of those fine feats in defence about which, because it was so entirely successful, there is little to be said except that the accuracy of the British musketry told.”

Sorry for the delay - I've been working away. Hope this is of some use.

Regards.

Andy.

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Guest gen_wizard

Andy,

Many thanks for the imformation on the battle that Fred Lelliott died in. It was an awesome defence by the Kings Own. If you happen to go to the museum at any time or you have the resource needed would you find out how Fred won his D.C.M. please.

During the 2nd world war his nephew, Donald Lelliott who was my grandfather won the B.E.M. which i think was for pulling out a aircrew from a burning bomber when it crash landed after a bombing raid. Its a pity that his father was'nt the same as his son. He left the Lancaster's at the begining of 1914 as i think he may of retired. In 1915 he went to Canada and joined the C.E.F. and after being posted back here was kicked out for lying about his age and being addicted to drink. Then sometime between then and 1917 he joined the Labour Corps as he was promoted to Temp LT in Oct 1917 and then court marshalled in Feb 1918 and kicked out the army. If you do happen to go to the museum and can find anything on any Lelliott i would be pleased to hear about it.

Again many thanks for all the help that you have given me so far, i really do appreciate everything that you have got for me so far.

Regards and best wishes

Mike

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Ted368

Did you know..................?

when I went to the King's Own Regimental Museam recently, there was mention of the film: Escape to Victory, yes, we've watched it many times over the years; but did you know that Michael Cain was wearing the Badge of the: King's Own? I didn't notice until I went to the museam!

Ted

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Guest gen_wizard

Hi Ted,

I didn't realise that Mr Caine was wearing the The Kings Own badge. I'm going to have to get a copy of the film now just to have a look. It must of been an honour for him to wear the badge of a great Regiment.

Regards

Mike

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Northern Soul

Mike,

I forgot to add in my last post that the details I have given you for Fred Lelliott are for May 24th, 1915 and not May 24th, 1916. I think the date in the CWGC report is a scanning error as 1st K.O. were down on the Somme at the end of May, 1916 - ready for the attack on Beaumont-Hamel on 1st July. I think they actually moved down there around April, 1916 .................... so I can't see why one of their casualties should appear on the Menin Gate during this time ! This could be worth checking out; suggest you post a request for someone with the SDGW CD to list all casualties to 1 K.O.R.L.R for a week previous and cross-check where they are buried.

Fred Lelliott does get a fleeting mention in the K.O. History - and it hints at what he got his DCM for;

Extract from “The King’s Own, The Story of a Royal Regiment, Volume III, 1914-1950,” by Colonel J. M. Cowper.

1915.

In the sector held by the 1/King's Own from the end of the battle of Armentieres until the following summer the exposed trench of the railway barricade was often shrouded in snow, fog and mist. Owing to its proximity to the enemy trenches it was here that most of the decorations were earned. Corporal E. Mann was specifically commended for the frequency with which he volunteered to carry out repair work there. C.S.M. F. Lelliott was another who always showed himself ready to lay out wire or undertake repair work; Private J. Rawlinson mended a telephone wire under fire; etc.

I'll still see what I can find out, but it may be that this is as close as you'll get to a "citation." i.e. the DCM may have been for persistent bravery rather than a single selfless act.

Regards.

Andy.

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Guest gen_wizard

Andy,

Again i owe you my thanks for the imformation. i'll see if any of the pals will do me this favour and see if they can give me the Kings Own deaths for the dates that you mentioned. Thanks again Andy, if we ever get to meet up i'll buy you a few pints thats for sure.

Regards

Mike

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Guest gen_wizard

Andy,

It appears that you are right about the date. SDGW have his death down as 1915. I'll see what Terry says about getting his date of death changed on CWGC. Again thanks for all your help in this.

Regards

Mike

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Northern Soul

Mike,

Looks like you got a "result" through Terry Denham's efforts with the CWGC.

Glad to have been of assistance.

Andy.

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Guest gen_wizard

Andy,

Yes Terry did do the business, but then i never doubted he would'nt. Again thanks for the imfo you have given me. I'm now wondering if Frederick got his D.C.M. during the battle that he died in. If i contacted the museum what sort of imformation would they be able to give me on this. Well i'm hoping to get up there sometime this year.

Regards

Mike

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roytoner

hi, thought this thread - though old - was probably the best to affix this particular query to. I'm currently researching Private Ernest Coles (201597) who was killed in action with the 1st/4th KORL at the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge on September 20th 1917. I can find another 61 from the battalion dying that day, nearly all without a known grave.

Can anyone tell me what the war diary holds for that day?

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GraemeClarke

Hi

I have this snippet from somewhere

Cowpers history states that on that day the 1/4 Battalion's objective was the German strong point of Guillemont Farm.
The Kings Own had three companies in line, each with a platoon of "D" Company attached, and while the right company almost reached the objective, the centre and left companies became progressively less successful.

The fighting was fiercest in the centre where the enemy appeared to have an unlimited supply of bombs and rifle grenades. Lance Corporal G. Johnson led a bombing party down an enemy trench, cleared it and made it possible for the rest to reorganise. He captured two mortars and killed both the teams. But as the units on either side had failed to reach their objectives, their flanks were in the air, the position was enfiladed and also heavily attacked in front where the enemy tried to drive a wedge between "A" and "B" Companies. Lance Corporal Johnson turned one of his captured mortars against the enemy, working it himself until all the ammunition was expended, when he destroyed them both.

Ammunition was also running out on the left and the front line was so hard pressed that orders for withdrawal were issued. They were almost immediately cancelled as the Corps Commander considered that the object of pinning down the enemy would be best achieved by hanging on at least for the day.

Owing to lack of support the battalion was gradually forced back until it reached the original German front line trenches where, with two platoons of the Kings , an attempt was made to consolidate the position.
At 1pm the enemy counter attacked, and drove the centre and left companies back to their original line. The right company was forced to fall back also to avoid being surrounded and cut off. Back in the old front line the afternoon was spent in reorganisation and clearing up.

Casualties for the day were 3 officers killed and 6 wounded, 9 other ranks killed, 113 wounded and 80 missing. The battalion was relieved that night.

Regards,

Graeme

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