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Remembered Today:

"11 Cyclist Battalion" - Lacouture 9-10 April 1918


Guest Filipe Décio
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Guest Filipe Décio

Hello

While researching Portuguese sources for details on the 9 April 1918 debacle, I found a reference to a British "11th Cyclist Battalion" that was sent from the British reserves, alongside the 1/King Edward's Horse, to help the last remaining Portuguese reserves in the defence of the village of Lacouture, which only fell on the following day.

Could anyone help me further identifying this unit?

I thank you in advance.

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Hi Felipe

The 11th Cyclists were part of 11th Corps mounted troops, as were 1/KEH. They were ordered out to help close the gap caused by the German 'Georgette' assault. Commanded by Major D. P. Davies, they mustered 17 Officers and 499 other ranks. As the 51st Division came up to join them, they were placed under 51st Div's command.

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Guest Filipe Décio

Thank you.

My main doubt was to know to which formation the battalion was assigned, since I had found no mention of it on the OOB of the British divisions in the area at the time (40, 50, 51, 55).

I suppose the battalion was an ad hoc unit, given the same number as the XI Corps under whose command it was, and that it did not belong to any established regiment?

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Guest Filipe Décio

Thanks again.

It must be the 11th (Hampshire and Berkshire Yeomanry) Cyclist Battalion, formed by the conversion of two (?) Yeomanry rgts. Maybe the 2/1 Berkshire Yeomanry - http://www.1914-1918.net/CAVALRY/berkshire.htm - and the the 2/1 Hampshire Yeomanry - http://www.1914-1918.net/CAVALRY/hampshire.htm (although it is stated about the latter that it never left the British Isles), both converted to cyclist units in July 1916?

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Hi Felipe

11th (Hants & Berks Yeo) did stay in Britain, venturing only as far as Ireland.

Each infantry division started out with a mounted squadron and a cyclist company as mounted troops - in the case on New Army divisions, they just seemed to have been formed at wherever the division first concentrated. In May 1916 the Cyclist companies were transferred from division to Corps level. Not sure now many companies were transferred, but they were then formed into a Corps Cyclist Battalion and obviously given a similar number to their Corps.

I've had a quick look at Becke, but so far have not discovered which divisions sent their cyclist companies to XI Corps. But the Official History just refers to this battalion as 11th Cyclist Battalion, although it makes it clear that they are Lt-Gen Haking's (cdr of XI Corps) mounted troops.

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The 11th Cyclist Battalion was commanded by major D.P Davis composed by 17 officiers and 499 sous officiers and soldiers. They were in defense to La Couture (april 9th 1918) with the King Edward's Horse (Lt Colonel Lionel James): 14 officiers, 260 sous officiers and soldiers.

A book about The battle of the Lys is still available at this address: http://monsite.wanadoo.fr/arham/page2.html i talk about The 11th Cyclist Battalion in fight april 9th 1918.

post-2-1091101874.jpg

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Guest Filipe Décio
Each infantry division started out with a mounted squadron and a cyclist company as mounted troops - in the case on New Army divisions, they just seemed to have been formed at wherever the division first concentrated. In May 1916 the Cyclist companies were transferred from division to Corps level. Not sure now many companies were transferred, but they were then formed into a Corps Cyclist Battalion and obviously given a similar number to their Corps.

So my first guess (that this was an ad hoc battalion given the number of the Corps to which it was attached) was right after all.

Thank you all for your help in this.

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Felipe

I can add a little more. The 11th Corps Cyclist Battalion appears to have formed on 10th May 1916 from the Divisional Cyclist companies of the 33rd, 35th (Bantam) and 38th (Welsh) Divisions. 33rd Div Cy Coy was probably formed at Clipstone Camp, 35th Div Cy Coy on Salisbury Plain and 38th Div Cy Coy at Conway, all during the divisional assembly periods in 1915

11th Corps went to Italy in November 1917, returning to the Western Front in March 1918. I do not know whether the Corps troops went with them, and returned with them, or whether there were "issued" with a new set of Corps troops on arrival back at the Western Front. It may well be that they did not stay with the division as the 1st KEH squadrons (A - 12th Div, B - 48th Div & C - 47th Div) were all transferred to 4th Corps in May/June 1916, yet in 1918 they were with 11th Corps.

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