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Meikle Brothers: Durham Light Infantry


BobKat
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I have just joined the forum having found the heading "9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry" on a Google search. This included two posts by David T attaching a two-part history of 9/DLI. However it seems to be no longer accessible on the forum.

For some while I have been researching Lieutenants Robert Jardine Meikle and William Ewart Meikle, both serving with the DLI in WW1. There is brief mention of Robert elsewhere on this forum. I have examined the service records available at the National Archives and also the War Diaries. My information on Robert is reasonably complete. However, William Ewart (Billy)'s service file relates only to his medical history - the service history appears to have been lost. Billy was wounded at the Butte de Warlencourt in 1916, and was eventually pronounced fit for duty once more in June 1917.

I have not been able to trace when he returned to 9/DLI, although I am aware that he wrote a personal note the family of a soldier killed at Bucquoy and that he participated in the assault on Bouilly Ridge and Marfaux/Cuitron near Reims in 1918 after which he was awarded a Military Cross (now in the DLI Museum).

I am therefore looking for details of the 9/DLI actions from mid-1917 to the end of the War to the extent that anything may exist outside the War Diaries and which might refer to him. I have the 5 Duke of Wellington report on the battle at Bucquoy from its War Diaries.

Would it be possible for a kind administrator to unblock the original Topic (if this is what has happened), or provide me with a link so that I could see the attachments to the original posting referred to above? Alternatively, would it be possible for David T to respond to this message with further copies?

Many thanks.

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Hello and welcome,

I have just checked the links and they work for me so I'm suggesting this is because you are a new member. Some facilities don't click in until you have made 5 posts.

Best regards

CGM

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Many thanks - it seems I shall have to keep posting!

Hello and welcome,

I have just checked the links and they work for me so I'm suggesting this is because you are a new member. Some facilities don't click in until you have made 5 posts.

Best regards

CGM

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Welcome to the Forum Bob.

As a Meikle myself, I hope you get the info you need.

Sixty Meikles were killed in WW1.

I'd be interested to know if your Meikles came from Scotland?

My GU also fought at the Butte with 12/HLI after serious forays at Martinpuich.

Meikle is Scots for large and at 19 stone I think I qualify LOL

all the best

David

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Durham records office holds photographs and some papers of both brothers. Just use the search for the name Meikle.

http://nd.durham.gov.uk/recordoffice/usp.nsf/pws/durham+record+office+-+durham+record+office+homepage

Second Lieutenant William Ewart Meikle

9th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry

Ref No. D/DLI 7/467/1

Commission of W.E. Meikle as a second lieutenant in the Territorial Force, 13 July 1915

(1 paper)

Regards

Phil

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David T is David Thompson, if you look him up on the Forum you'll be able to find him and he's very helpful to all requests for information.

My good friend Harry Moses wrote a book about 10 years ago on 9 DLI called 'The Gateshead Gurkhas', W E Meikle gets a small mention in it for winning his MC.

You can pick up the book for about £10 on somewhere like Amazon.

Regards

Sean

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Many thanks to all - a marvellous response on Day One!

First, I have now got the link to work on the DLI History posted by David T - as was said, perhaps something to do with being a new member. Thanks SMG65.

Thanks also to Milner - I have been researching the wartime history of the Meikles (great-uncles on my mother's side of the family) for some while and I have located the information from Durham Records Office. Robert and Billy's father, John Cunningham Meikle, was a "Scotch Draper", and curiously one of his business record books also survives!

unitedsound - good to locate another Meikle. My grandmother was sister of the brothers (Meikle is therefore not my own family name). There was another brother, John (known as Jack), who was in Saskatchewan when the war broke out and who served with the Royal Canadian Dragoons. Robert was killed bombing the Straight Trench with 2/DLI at Ginchy during the attack on the Quadrilateral (1916) and Jack, sabre in hand, was killed by a machine gun bullet at Beaucourt-en-Santerre (near Amiens) in 1918.

The family came from Maybole in Ayrshire in the 1850s and moved to North Shields in Northumberland in the 1870s. I haven't found any other 'unknown' relatives via the Census records, and as far as I am aware, there are no more Meikles from this branch of the family. If you have a connection, I would be glad to hear more.

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Continuing with my quest for more information about Lieutenant W E Meikle, with acknowledgements to www.pathsofglory.co.uk and my thanks to CROONAERT who has, I believe, already posted this map in this forum, I attach an extract of squares K and L from the June 1918 Trench Map of the Bucquoy area with the positions of 186 Brigade superimposed (as described with the map references in the 5/D. of W War Diary). This accords with the 'Official History' version posted in the Topic "Photo and trench map request - Bucquoy March 1918".

The 5th Bn. Duke of Wellington War Diary provides a four-page detailed description of the battle insofar as it affected them (and 9/DLI) and I know that 2/4/KOYLI from 187 Brigade were immediately to the right of 186 Brigade in Rossignol Wood (on the left looking at the Trench Map). What I would be interested to know is who might earlier have been defending the trenches in front of Companies A, C and 9/DLI before they became the front line. Does anybody have any information? Company D looks so exposed on both flanks - who was originally to their left (on the right when looking at the Trench Map) in front of the rest of 186 Brigade?

post-63472-068626900 1296120802.jpg

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I think I have resolved the question about who had been occupying the trenches in from of 186th Brigade. Croonaert (my acknowledgements and thanks again) has published two overlapping trench maps of the area and I have been able to merge the two to produce another picture where the Bucquoy - Puisieux Road comes into view along with Fork Wood (square L8 at the bottom right). All is now revealed!

Reading both the DLI and 5th Duke of Wellington War Diaries once more, it appears that 5 D. of W were at one time 300 yards to the east of the road, while 9/DLI were in support in trenches 300 yards to the west of the road. The line was first withdrawn to the trenches to the west of the road which 9/DLI had been occupying (presumably the unnamed ones next to Fork Wood in square L 8 c), and then, secondly, to the line occupied by 2/4th D. of W. in square L7. This then became the front line. The trench lines of 5 D. of W are confirmed by grid references in the War Diary. The position of the 2/4th is assumed, although the War Diary says it joined up with where Company C's ended. It presumably extended to the left (to the right in the picture) along what appears to be some shell holes by the railway line.

Billy Meikle's letter to the family of a soldier killed in the battle says that he had taken charge of the platoon previously commanded by Lieut Fisher who had been wounded (as stated in the War Diary). Captain Jamieson was his Company Commander.

Does anyone have any details of the command structure at this time so that I could establish with which platoon Billy was serving? The War Diary does not help. Perhaps I should try to get the book ' The Gateshead Gurkhas' recommended by SMG65, where W E Meikle gets a small mention for his MC. However, if this is the only mention of him, it seems unlikely to help with my particular question.

I shall shortly be away for a few days, so my apologies in advance for any delay in acknowledging any replies.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Bucquoy and Rossignol Wood

I have now acquired a copy of The Gateshead Gurkhas as suggested by SMG65. When read in conjunction with the 9/DLI and 5/DoW War Diaries, it provides a reasonably complete picture of the activities of the day.

Focussing on the movements of 186 Brigade, it confirms that 9/DLI were in support in old (1916) trenches running from Fork Wood to Box Wood while 186 Brigade was to the east near Achiet-Le-Petit. A further extension of the trench map (attached with thanks again to CROONAERT) revealed Box Wood at grid reference L13d. Fork Wood is at L8d. The trenches originally occupied by the Durhams are therefore the double line of trenches shown in red on the trench map. These were apparently found to be too deep and therefore too difficult to from which to fight, and there was no time to improve them.

At some point it seems that the line must have contained the arm of the trench that looped around towards Rossignol Wood and facing south in the direction of Puisieux (the outskirts of which are just visible in L14c). This would explain why D Company 5th DoW was partly left in its exposed position on the right flank as the rest of the Brigade fell back and consolidated into what became the front line along Railway Trench and eastwards towards Bucquoy.

There are some photographs by egbert of the area including a panoramic shot of the ground from Rossignol Wood towards Bucquoy on the Topic "Somme - Rossignol Wood/Hebuterne" in this forum. The panoramic view seems to have been taken from what had been the road damaged by shell fire on the trench map (L7c / L7d). For ease of reference, I wonder whether it would be possible for an administrator to provide a link to this topic from here?

The aerial view of square L7 attached with these comments shows the nature of the open ground. The 'Notes of Operations' mentioned in The Gateshead Gurkhas say that the line was on a crest and "lay completely in the open with a trench behind it and had a good field of fire. West Ridings and Durhams were now hopelessly mixed up.....". Looking at the photographs of the open fields with scattered woods, it is necessary to visualise the whole area pock-marked with shell holes. It is not surprising that a number of medals, including a Victoria Cross, were awarded as a consequence of actions carried out in the course of this battle which held the line in March 1918.

As anticipated, there is little in The Gateshead Gurkhas which provides specific information about Billy Meikle, but the Chapter 'Pioneer Battalion 1918' gives a very helpful and detailed account of the activities and movements of 9/DLI and the conditions they faced in the lead up to conclusion of hostilities. My thanks again to SMG65 for pointing me in this direction.

Having visited the Western Front last year (sadly before I knew that Billy had by this time rejoined the Battalion and had been at Bucquoy having recovered from the wounds which he suffered at the Butte de Warlencourt in 1916 - we were only a few miles away at the time), I have some photographs of the battlefields around Bouilly Ridge. If anyone reading this is interested, please let me know and I can post a few, subject to the limitations in size. I am therefore grateful to egbert and others for photographs they have posted on the forum which have enabled me to obtain an understanding of the ground on which 9/DLI fought at Bucquoy.

post-63472-078125900 1297589783.jpg

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