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Remembered Today:

1st Battn., Worcestershire Regiment


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Does anyone have a copy of the war diary for the 1st Battn., Worcesters, covering the period 6th to 19th November 1914? Alternatively, does anyone have a record of any kind showing their movements during this period?

Many thanks


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From Worcs Regt Great War by Stacke - nb he's involved in this action himself!!

Hope this helps - excuse formatting.


The 8th Division had landed in France on November Sth/6th. Among the units of the Division was t n e l s t Battalion of the Regiment.

The formation of the 8th Division had been commenced in September 1914. The Division

was made up of Regular units brought home from every part of the Empire. The battalions were

brigaded as they arrived without reference to their previous stations ; for example the 24th Brigade

was made up by one battalion from India, the 2nd Sherwood Foresters, one from South Africa, the

2nd East Lancashire, and two from Egypt, the 2nd Northamptonshire and the 1st Worcestershire.

The 1st Worcestershire had sailed from Alexandria on board the troopship •" Deseado "

on 30th September. The voyage home had not been without incident, for the French battleships

escorting that convoy had insisted on talcing their proteges to Marseilles instead of allowing them

to go home via Gibraltar. But the mistake was.rectified and, after a short delay at Gibraltar (e),

(a) The 106th and 134th Regiments, together with two Jaeger companies. Very brave work was done during the

counter-attack by Pte. W. Mansell, who fought single-handed against the advancing enemy, shootingdown

several and checking their advance. He was awarded the D.C.M.

(6) By the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. The Battalion moved back into reserve near " Butlers House,"

south of " Hyde Park Corner."

© Killed 4 officers (Captain A. S. JMesbitt, Lieut. J. B. Vandeleur (Leicestershire Regt.), 2/Lieuts. S. A, Goldsmid and

J. M. Atkin [Foresters) and 42 other ranks. Wounded 2 officers (Major H. D. Milward and 2/Lieut. H.

Stocldey (Leicestershire Regt.) and 121 other ranks. Missing 39. This fight may be regarded as a closing

operation of the Battle of Armentieres 1914, although it took place after the final date officially laid down for

that battle. The Regiment has been awarded the Battle Honour for that battle, in virtue of the presence of

the 3rd Battalion in the authorized battle area within the prescribed dates.

(d) Casualties November 10th 2 wounded, November 12th 1 wounded.

(<?) At Gibraltar was found the " Carmania " refitting after her fight with the " Cap Trafalgar."


the convoy from Egypt passed'unmolested up the coast of Portugal (a) and across the Bay. South- «

ampton had been the original destination, but a scare of German submarines caused the route IST

to be changed, and it was at Liverpool that the Battalion arrived at 9.15 p.m. on October 16th.

The night was spent in disembarking the troops and stores, and at dawn next morning (October 17th)

the Battalion entrained for Winchester.

Then followed an uncomfortable fortnight of training at Hursley Park near Winchester,

where the 8th Division was in process of formation. At noon on November 5th the Division marched

out of Hursley Park to Southampton. Through the streets of that town the march of the long

column was watched and cheered by large crowds. The Battalion marched down to the docks

and went straight on board the transport " Maidan " (B). Just before midnight the ship sailed.

At dawn next morning the troopships carrying the 8th Division reached Havre. There

the Battalion remained on board the transport for two days, first in the open roadstead and then

alongside the docks. The delay was due to lack of facilities for landing the horses and heavy

vehicles of the Division.

On the morning of November 8th the 1st Worcestershire disembarked and were accommodated

in a huge shed at the dock side. Not till 5 p.m. next day (November 9th) did the Battalion

entrain for the front. The train slowly journeyed through Abbeville to Berguette, which was

reached after dark on the 10th. The Battalion detrained and found billets close to the railway


Next day the Battalion marched twelve miles through Merville to Neuf Berquin. There for

three days the Battalion lay in billets while the other units of the Division assembled.

It had been decided that the 8th Division should come into the front line on the left of the

Indian Corps. On November 14th the 24th and 25th Brigades of the 8th Division marched forward

to the front line and relieved the 8th and 14th Brigades. The 1st Worcestershire left their billets

at Neuf Berquin and marched through Estaires, Rouge Croix, Croix Barbe"e and St. Vaast to the

trenches facing Neuve Chapelle. There after dark the Battalion relieved the 1st Royal Scots of

the 8th Brigade. The relief was made difficult by heavy enemy fire, and not until the dawn was it

possible adequately to take stock of the position.

Since the fierce fighting around Neuve Chapelle at the end of October the line there had

not greatly altered; but fighting had been continuous and had precluded any real consolidation

of the position. As a result the position held by the Battalion was both uncomfortable and dangerous:

it was one side of a sharp salient of which the apex formed the right of the Battalion's line. The

apex of that little salient was at the cross-roads south of Neuve Chapelle which the Royal West

Kent had held two weeks before ©, and there a semi-circular tangle of battered trenches had become

known as " Port Arthur." The name was not inapt, for at that point the enemy trenches were '•

within fifty yards, the exchange of fire was constant, and casualties were numerous. Thence to

the left the Battalion lined the western side of the main road from La Basse"e to Estaires as far as

the cross-roads at Pont Logy. The position was peculiar, for on the left half of the line there were

no real trenches but only the sloping side of the road embankment, some ten feet high. On the

top of that embankment the men lay down to fire. At the foot of the embankment there were

already some improvised shelters, but the troops were exposed to enfilade fire from the enemy

trenches facing the other arm of the salient, where the trenches of the Indian Corps ran south westward

from " Port Arthur " parallel with the Rue du Bois. On the left of the Battalion a wide

gap separated their position from that of the next battalion in the line, whose trenches ran from

near Pont Logy north-eastward, facing the German trenches around the village of Neuve Chapelle.

At dawn, that morning (November 15th) the enemy's heavy howitzers bombarded the

Battalion's line. The bombardment proved trying to the troops new to war; for the straight line

of the main road was a target difficult to miss, and the 'sloping embankment provided no cover from

the great shells. Before nightfall the Battalion had suffered some thirty casualties (d).

Thenceforward for the next few days the Battalion was shelled continuously, and there

were several sharp little fights with the enemy's patrols (e).

(a) From Gibralter onwards the convoy was escorted by H.M.S. " King Alfred."

(6) The following officers embarked with the Battalion:—Lieut.-Colonel A. E. Lascelles (commanding), Major

E. C. F. Wodehouse D.S.O. (2nd-in-commaad), Major G. C. Lambton D.S.O., Major B. K. W. Bacon, Captain

T. Fitzjohn, Captain C. Richardson, Captain J. H. M. Arden, Captain F. St. J. Tyrwhitt, Captain J. F. S.

Winnington (Adjutant), Captain C. S. Linton, Lieuts. C. F. G. Crawford, J. F. Leman, J. S. Veasey, K. W.

Wilkins, L. H. Ruck, J. M. Monk, H. Fitz M. Stacke and E. L. G. Lawrence, 2/Lieuts. F. C. Roberts, R. M.

Slater, E. B. Conybeare, L. G. Phillips, M. A. Hamilton Cox, J. H. Tristram, H. P. Hartnoll, F. Darby, F. W.

Young and D. King, Captain and Quartermaster C. Henson.

© See pages 27-28. (d) 7 killed. 1 officer (Lieut. J. F. Leman) and 24 other ranks wounded.

(e) Casualties 1st Worcestershire, November 16th—19th:—13 killed, 1 officer and 26 other ranks wounded. The

officer, 2nd Lieut. R. M. Slater, a very gallant young subaltern, was mortally wounded and died on November



That frost chilled the 2nd Battalion in their shelters under the trees by Bellewaerde ; it

forced the men of the 3rd Battalion to huddle close in their billets at Neuve Eglise; but most

bitterly of all did it strike the 1st Battalion in the trenches facing Neuve Chapelle.

_ Through four days and nights of constant wakefulness the 1st Worcestershire had held their

line, under intermittent shell-fire and continuous rain. The cold drizzle had told bitterly on the

troops, fresh as they were from the dry heat of Egypt. The frost on the fifth night found officers

and men alike wearied out © and soaked to the skin. After dark on November 19th the Battalion

was relieved by the 2nd Sherwood Foresters. The exhausted troops climbed out of their trenches,

waited numb and frozen in a snow-covered field while the Battalion assembled and then, in their

heavy coats and equipment, staggered back with such pain as may be imagined through a world

sheeted white with snow, six long miles to billets at La Gorgue. That march was long remembered

in the Battalion (d), and to many it was the extreme limit of endurance. Not until 2.30 a.m. did

the last stragglers crawl in along the slippery roads to their billets. Next day one man in every

four was helpless with frost-bitten hands or feet and nearly 150 serious cases were perforce sent

down to the base (e). Of one platoon, only thirteen men were able to stand.

(a) Of the French 139th Regiment. (6) Afterwards called " Railway Wood."

© It must be remembered that this was not the normal " trench-warfare " of the later periods of the war. There

were as yet no deep trenches, no dugouts, no shelter from, rain or shell-fire, very little barbed wire to prevent

surprise attacks, very little ammunition and no reserves.

(d) That march was afterwards dubbed " The Retreat from Moscow." (Battalion Diary).

(e) In many cases feet or toes had to be amputated. This was the first appearance of " trench-foot," afterwards

a recognised ailment. (/) Save for some long-range shell-fire.

(g) Casualties 2/Worcestershire, November 19th—21st:—2 irilled, 6 wounded.


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