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Remembered Today:

1st Bttn. Warkwickshire Regiment


theodore

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Can any member help with information on the 1st Battalion Warwickshire Regiment for 25/26 April 1915. Are there any details for these two days in the Regiments war diary or history of the Regiment?

Regards

Peter

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From my research into the Warwicks....

The Warwicks set off at midnight, after a double issue of rum, at the rear of the brigade, and without kits and using their waterproof sheets as capes. No soldier had any kind of gas protection. It was now Sunday April 25 and elsewhere the Gallipoli landings were beginning. They crossed the Yser Canal and passed through St Jean and its ruined church, then Wieltje, which was a ‘smouldering ruin’ with dead bodies in the road and ditches. They went into action against the Germans holding Kitcheners Wood at 5.30 a.m, two hours later than intended and giving the Germans the observational advantages of daylight. The rest of 10th Brigade attacked on their right towards St Julien. The Warwicks did not know but the point where they were to form up was actually already in German hands. The advancing troops soon began to take casualties from German snipers lying out in the fields in advance of their positions.

The war diary reported….

“Owing to the German trenches being insufficiently shelled & support unable to come up the line, retired at about 7 a.m. to trenches near the farm (Mousetrap) and consolidated our position”.

The casualties were listed as 17 officers and 500 other ranks killed, wounded or missing. It had been a disastrous day. According to the CWGC 216 men were killed on April 25, including 11 officers and 39 on the following day. Nearly 90% of bodies were never recovered as large numbers are commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

Amongst the fallen were Serjeant Charles Barrett, a grocer’s porter from Shipston on Stour; Lance Corporal John Collins,from Birmingham, who had only been with the battalion for ten days; Private Frederick Ingram from Warwick, a plasterer; and Private James Healey from Saltley in Birmingham, where he had worked at the Metropolitan Carriage and Wagon Works. Private John Beesley, aged 30, had suffered the loss of his wife back home in Birmingham on March 13. His four young, now orphaned children, were now to be looked after by their grandmother. Lieutenant Gilchrist Stanley MacLagan, a doctor’ son, was a famous Oxford rowing cox who had seen success at the 1908 London Olympics. He was Secretary of the Amateur Rowing Association at the outbreak of war. Born in London in 1879 he had attended Eton and then Magdalene College, Oxford. He had been a member of the Stock Exchange since 1904. This officer was gazetted into the 3rd Battalion in September 1914 and arrived with the 1/Warwicks on January 2 1915.

Three of the men who died had North American associations. Second Lieutenant Frank Ricard was in the USA studying law when war broke out. He returned immediately and was commissioned into the 4th Special Reserve Battalion of the Royal Warwicks on October 24 and arrived at Armentieres on March 16 1915 with a party of 43 reinforcements. Aged 27 he had been born in Amsterdam although his parents later lived near Hyde Park in London. After Harrow School he went to Kings College, Cambridge University, where he joined the OTC, and was called to the Bar in April 1913. He was also a fine linguist and a talented violin player. (67). Lance Serjeant Sidney Mulliss, aged 26, had been a platelayer on the railway at Tyseley, Birmingham until he emigrated to Canada in 1912 and was recalled as a reservist at the outbreak of war. He was the eldest of seven brothers, five of whom were called up at the same time. For a long time he was regarded as missing in action despite an appeal for information in the Birmingham Weekly Post from his wife, Ada, who gave a Toronto address. Second Lieutenant Ronald Francis Hunt had also emigrated to Canada where he farmed in Alberta and Vancouver, served in the militia for two years and in 1914 was a broker. Born in 1889 he had attended Warwick School from 1901-1906; his father was the vicar of nearby Budbrooke, where the Warwicks had their regimental depot, and he also acted as the chaplain at the barracks. He came to Europe in the 16th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (part of 1st Canadian Division), which left Quebec on September 30 1914, but was later commissioned into the Warwicks in February 1915.

Amongst the wounded that day was Harry Morgan who took cover under dead bodies and then crawled into a ditch to shelter from the withering German fire. He then went forward for the second time and was hit in the leg with a bullet when near the German wire. He could not get back when the retirement order came. He remained still for a long time and then rolled towards his own line. Later he was brought back by two stretcher-bearers who bravely helped him back to the back of an old barn. It was now 10 p.m. At 4 a.m. he was placed in a field ambulance and taken to a CCS where his wound was dressed for the first time. Within days he was en route to Southampton via a base hospital at Rouen. Whilst at Rouen he had a conversation with Lieutenant Bairnsfather, also bound for England.

Bairnsfather was suffering from shell shock. Later he recorded his detailed impression of the heat of battle for the Warwicks from his perspective as the machine gun officer…

“We topped the rise, and rushed on down the road as fast as was possible under the circumstances. Now we were in it! Bullets were flying through the air in all directions. Ahead, in the semi-darkness, I could just see the forms of men running out into the fields on either side of the road in extended order, and beyond them a continuous heavy crackling of rifle-fire showed me the main direction of the attack. A few men had gone down already, and no wonder - the air was thick with bullets……. Through a cloud of bullets, flying like rice at a wedding, we reached the other side of the field. Only one casualty - one man with a shot in the knee. Couldn't get a good view of the enemy from the hedge, so I decided to creep along further to the left, to a spot I saw on the left front of a large farm which stood about two hundred yards behind us. We slowly worked our way across……past an old, wide ditch full of stagnant water, and into a shallow gully beyond. Dawn had come now, and in the cold grey light I saw our men out in front of me advancing in short rushes towards a large wood in front. I ordered the section out of the gully, and ran across the open to a bit of old trench I saw in the field. This was the only suitable spot I could see for bringing our guns to bear on the enemy, and assist in the attack. We fixed up a couple of machine guns, and awaited a favourable opportunity. I could see a lot of Germans running along in front of the wood towards one end of it. We laid our aim on the wood, which seemed to me the chief spot to go for….…now the German gunners started shelling the farm behind us. Shell after shell burst beyond, in front of, and on either side of the farm. Having got up the ammunition, I ran back towards the guns past the farm. In front of me an officer was hurrying along with a message towards a trench which was on the left of our new-found gun position. He ran across the open towards it. When about forty yards from me I saw him throw up his hands and collapse on the ground……He couldn't speak and was rapidly turning a deathly pallor. I undid his equipment and the buttons of his tunic as fast as I could, to find out where he had been shot. Right through the chest....A captain in the Canadians, I noticed. The message he had been carrying lay near him.

……..All movement in the attack had now ceased, but the rifle and shell fire was on as strong as ever. My corporal was with the two guns, and had orders to fire as soon as an opportunity arose, so I thought my best plan was to see to getting this officer in while there was a chance…..We got him in and put him down in an outbuilding which had been turned into a temporary dressing station. Shells were crashing into the roof of the farm and exploding round it in great profusion….I went along the edge of the dried-up moat at the back, towards my guns. I couldn't stand up any longer. I lay down on the side of the moat for five minutes. Twenty yards away the shells burst round and in the farm, but I didn't care, rest was all I wanted….I rose, and cut across the open space again to the two guns.….went across towards the farm….Then four mighty reverberating explosions that rent the air. A row of four "Jack

Johnsons" had landed not a hundred yards away, right amongst the lines of men, lying out firing in extended order. I went on, and had nearly reached the farm when another four came over and landed fifty yards further up the field towards us.

…The shelling of the farm continued; I ran past it between two explosions and raced along the old gully we had first come up…. As I was on the sloping bank of the gully I heard a colossal rushing swish in the air, and then didn't hear the resultant crash....All seemed dull and foggy; a sort of silence, worse than all the shelling, surrounded me. I lay in a filthy stagnant ditch covered with mud and slime from head to foot. I suddenly started to tremble all over. I couldn't grasp where I was. I lay and trembled ... I had been blown up by a shell. I lay there some little time, I imagine, with a most peculiar sensation. I tried to get up, and then I knew. The spell was broken. I shook all over, and had to lie still, with tears pouring down my face. I could see my part in this battle was over”.

The Official History covers the 10th Brigade attack in some detail. The context for the attack was the need to hold on to the position as long as possible in order to give the French Army time to restore the perilous situation created by the gas attack. The Ypres Salient was in jeopardy. On April 24 Sir John French had ordered the immediate restoration of the line, which still had ‘terrible gaps’, near St Julien via the strongest counter-attack possible. Brigadier-General Hull of 10th Brigade was selected to command all forces, including Canadian, for the attack on the objectives of Kitchener’s Wood and St Julien; potentially 15 battalions were at his disposal if they could all be assembled in time. They could not be and the task fell only to the five battalions of 10th Brigade (7/A&SH, a Territorial battalion, were attached at this time). Hull set up his HQ at Mouse Trap Farm. Hull’s task was almost impossible…

“Without adequate artillery preparation and support, on ground unknown and unreconnoitred, they were sent to turn an enemy well provided with machine guns out of a position which had ready-made cover in houses and a wood and splendid artillery observation from higher ground behind it”.

“The battalions of the 10th Brigade were able to pass the wire of GHQ Line under cover of the mist but, before they could open out, they came under rifle and machine-gun fire….and it was at once obvious that snipers were out in the rye grass and other crops that gave cover from view, and that some of the farms between Wieltje and St Julien were in the hands of the enemy. The brigade, therefore, shook out into fighting formation somewhat earlier

than intended. Its advance, visible from many points, was carried out in faultless order….The fire now came mainly from machine guns hidden in the houses of St Julien and the upper stories of farm buildings, with cross fire from Kitchener’s Wood, and particularly from two farms south of it (Oblong and Juliet)…..By rushes the leading lines advanced more than quarter of a mile till they were within one hundred yards of the outlying houses of St Julien. Then…the lines paused and became stationary and for twenty minutes the Germans deluged them with machine-gun fire, very effective and very heavy. A few men tried to crawl back into cover,but the majority of those in the leading lines never returned; mown down, like corn, by machine guns in enfilade, they remained lying dead in rows where they had fallen. The following lines were pinned to the ground by fire and, after several efforts to advance…rose and surged back to cover in the folds of the ground and hedges behind them….A new line was quickly organised….The losses of the 10th Brigade in its magnificent but hopeless attempt had been heavy….mostly irreplaceable, well trained men…..In compensation for the disaster that had overtaken them, the battalions had the satisfaction of knowing later that they had stopped any possible enemy advance in the St Julien quarter”.

It was the ‘annihilation of the 10th Brigade front lines’.

Despite such losses the general situation was so urgent that it remained in the line when other units, including the Lahore Division, resumed the attack on April 26 and 27. On April 26 the battalion gave supporting fire to the 149th Northumberland Brigade attack on St Julien. On the following two days they did the same for French attacks. Smith-Dorrien was now replaced as commander of Second Army, which included 10th Brigade, by General Plumer who was soon to withdraw to a more defensible Salient line including the St Julien area. By April 30 the remaining brigades of 4th Division had arrived to reinforce the 10th Brigade sector. The war diary of the Warwicks noted on the same day “Position now well consolidated & wire put up…The Regiment was now somewhat shaken after the week’s work”. As it was the end of month Colonel Poole could not resist his personal judgement…

“Inadvisable to attack an enemy’s position unless properly supported by Artillery fire and a thorough reconnaissance made beforehand”.

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Hi Chris and Alan,

Thank you both for the information you have supplied, its very much appreciated.

If its of interest my request for the information is with regards to my wifes grandfather Sgt. 5057 Charles Stroud who received GSW to the abdomen serving with the 1st Battalion Warwickshire Regiment on 25/26 April 1915. He was a regular soldier who had enlisted in 1897 and had served in Malta and India (India General Service medal 1908, clasp North West Frontier 1908). He served for over 21 years with the colours.

Regards

Peter

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i speak to a man whose father was killed on this day, he's in he's ninties obviously.

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