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Remembered Today:

2nd Bttn. Warwicks


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Can any member help with information on the 2nd Battalion Warwickshire Regiment for November 3rd 1914. Are there any details for this day in the Regiments war diary or a history of the Regiment? Trying to get details for Private 1542 Zachariah Trueman who was killed in action (Soldiers Died in the Great War) on this day serving with the 2nd Warwicks. In Du Ruvigny's Roll of Honour however it states he died from wounds. Any details would be much appreciated.



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From the CWGC site, showing him in Plot II of the cemetery, I'd be inclined to agree with "Died of Wounds" , but don't really see the importance of the distinction, as he got his wounds "in action".

Name: TRUMAN, ZACHARIAH. Rank: Private

Regiment/Service: Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Unit Text: 2ndBn.

Age: 25. Date of Death 03/11/1914. Service No: 1542

Additional information: Son of Eliza Truman, of 1 Court, 8House, High St., Deritend, Birmingham.

Grave/Memorial Reference: II. A. 30. Cemetery: YPRES TOWNCEMETERY EXTENSION

At least his body was not only properly buried but his grave is still extant.

Not many families have that much.

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From my history of this period for 2nd Bn

There was no respite for soon after daybreak on October 30 the Germans heavily shelled the whole line, with special attention to Zandvoorde and the ridge upon which it stands. Zandvoorde fell which exposed the Welch Fusiliers’ position. The Warwicks and the South Staffs were sent forward from reserve from their bivouac position about three-quarters of a mile behind the Fusiliers. The Official History reported a Warwicks strength of

only 7 officers and 150 other ranks commanded by Captain E.G Sydenham (87). They came forward to a position east of the Basseville brook which now became the front line; they were effectively holding the woods facing Zandvoorde. They began to dig in. Other units were sent in to limit the danger. The Welsh Fusiliers were no longer effective as a battalion (only 86 men answered roll call on the next day) and a new brigade line was established behind the lost ground. The Divisional History described the 2/Warwicks at this time as a ’handful doing duty as a battalion'. On the morning of October 31 the 2/Warwicks only mustered 10 officers and 160 men.

At 7 a.m. the German attacks resumed following a ‘tremendous bombardment’ which lasted until 2 p.m. Many trenches were blown in and men buried. At 12.30 p.m. Captain R.V Barker, Staff Captain of the Brigade, went to see Major P.J.Foster, then commanding the Warwicks, now reinforced to 200, and warned him that the Bedfords (21st Brigade), north of him, were being blown out of their trenches , and that if they went back he was to swing his left to cover that flank, occupy a line of shallow holes that had been dug and hold on to it at all costs. It was occupied but soon the whole front line of the Brigade, now exposed to enfilade fire, began to give ground as the Germans pushed forward from Zandvoorde. C.T Atkinson explains what happened…..

“The Warwickshires, finding their left flank and rear exposed by the falling back of the 21st Brigade, tried to cover that flank by occupying some trenches facing about east; their new trenches were shallow and bad and their field of fire was poor, but they held on long enough to allow a field battery just behind them to be successfully got away. Then, their ammunition being exhausted and the enemy already well behind them, the

survivors tried to cut their way through, but came under a terrific fire and were either shot down or intercepted and taken”

The 22nd Brigade did not retreat far, rallied and, although very depleted, came forward again. As their flank was now exposed they were unable to maintain the ground it had retained and fell back once more. Thirty-two Warwicks died on this crucial day in the whole battle. According to Kingsford “a small party under Major Foster, with five other officers, did not receive the necessary orders and, remaining in their advanced position, were finally surrounded and taken prisoner”.(91)

October 31st was the most critical day in the whole battle to stop a German breakthrough at Ypres. The most celebrated incidents of the day took place north of the Menin Road e.g. the famous counter-attack by the Worcesters, but they needed the stubborn resistance of all those units, including the 2/Warwicks, south of the same road.

For nine consecutive days and nights the battalion had hung on under heavy shell fire and often in trenches only hastily dug the night before. Kingsford again…

“At one critical time Lieutenant and Quartermaster Hyde collected all the servants and cooks, the Serjeant-Drummer, the Serjeant Master-shoemaker, the Armourer-Serjeant and the Orderly Room Corporal and hurried them forward to help restore the fight”.(The shoemaker was wounded and the three others killed)

Fortunately the Germans did not press further in the first few days of November and the 7th Division hung on. In brigade reserve on November 1st 22nd Brigade was reorganised as two composite battalions. One included the 1/South Staffs and the Warwicks with four officers attached from the 2/Queen’s under Captain Vallentin of the Staffs. Captain John Vallentin was to be killed at Zillebeke on November 7 and was awarded a posthumous VC. On November 2 half of these remnants helped 21st Brigade to maintain its position. On November 3 and 4 the Division resisted German pressure as infantry reinforcements began to arrive.

On the night of November 5/6 the 20th and 21st Brigades were relieved from the battle and went to rest at Meteren and Bailleul in general reserve.

The Official History summarised the difficult four weeks with little rest which 7th Division had endured from October 12th when it left Ghent after covering the retreat of the Belgian army from Antwerp. This was followed by the forced march from Ghent to Ypres. The men were already tired when they began digging themselves in on the Ypres front on October 16 to bear the brunt of the first German attacks. On October 19 there had been the abortive advance to Menin. From October 20 the division faced an increasing volume of shell fire as the casualties mounted. Until October 24 the 7th had held an extended line of seven miles which permitted no rest in reserve. On the 27th the line had been reduced to three miles but with there were now fewer troops. It had faced desperate attacks from fresh German troops.

The 22nd Brigade, ‘now increased by drafts to nearly 1200 strong’ (94) was less fortunate than the other two and bivouacked at a cross-roads, 1 ½ miles south-east of Dickebusch, south-west of Ypres, as Corps reserve to the First Corps.

(PS for nearly all 1st Ypres no war diary was kept because of the fighting conditions and loss of officers and men (144 deaths but a very high wounding rate)

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