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2nd Entreching Bn Cameron Highlanders


brownag
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The CWGC entry for Pte William Elliot 7th QOCH, Died 29.3.17 has him attached to the 2nd Entrenching Bn QOCH.

SDGW lists him as 7th QOCH.

I can't find a mention anywhere for a 2nd Entrenching Bn, Cameron Hldrs. Can anyone shed some light on this? Would this be a Labour Unit? From 9th QOCH perhaps?

The CWGC site also lists his parent's address as Assiput instead of Assynt, but I don't think the 'Entrenching Bn' bit is a scanner error.

Cheers

Adam

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Adam

This is slightly puzzling. Entrenching battalions were first formed in the summer of 1915. They acted as a `halfway house’ between the infantry base depots, which received reinforcements when they arrived in France, and the units to which they were to be posted. This was to prevent the IBDs from becoming overcrowded and to allow the drafts to be broken in gently to trench warfare. They were used to construct defences in depth and for working parties, but usually within range of German shellfire. They had nothing to do with infantry Labour battalions or, for that matter, Pioneer battalions.

To my knowledge, only one of these Entrenching Battalions had a regimental title. This was No 11 Entrenching Battalion Gordon Highlanders, sometimes known as 1st Provisional Battalion Gordon Highlanders, which was formed in May 1916 from the surplus manpower thrown up by the amalgamation of three sets of two battalions each in 15th Scottish Division. There was a 2nd Entrenching Battalion, but I have found no evidence to suggest that it had anything to do with the Camerons. Indeed, it was formed from 27 and 46 IBDs, which supported 27th and 46th Divisions, neither of which had a Scottish connection.

These Entrenching battalions had all been dissolved by the end of 1917. Another batch was formed in February 1918 from the surplus manpower thrown up by the reduction of infantry battalions in a division from 13 to 10, but they became caught up in the German March and April attacks and all had been disbanded by the end of April 1918.

As for Elliot himself, it is possible that he may have been attached to 2nd Entrenching Bn because he was sick or had injured himself in some way. `Died’ implies that his death was not through enemy action. I think that the second `QOCH’ in the CWGC entry may be a misprint. If you do find anything further which might help solve the mystery, I would welcome hearing about it.

Charles

PS If it is possible, it might be worth running through SD by putting in `entrenching battalion’ and seeing whether other similar anomalies turn up.

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My grandfather served with 1/4th Bn QOCH (TF) and a similar thing happened to them during 1916 ----- though most references to battalion histories manage to get the story entirely wrong !

At the back end of 1915 they were shunted around a bit and eventually got a nominal attachment to 154th Brigade, the apparent intention being that they would rejoin 51st Division - the old "Highland Division" that they had left in February 1915. However this changed and they entrained at Corbie 26/2/16 and went to Etaples "to be demobilised" (war diary, 154th Bde). When they arrived at Etaples they were attached 51st Div Base Depot for two weeks and then moved to independant quarters in "L" Camp - at which point most sources say they were absorbed into 1st Bn QOCH (Chris ?!) - but in fact that's not exactly what happened - some men went to other Cameron Battalions but the bulk were sent to "No1 Entrenching Battalion" in Belgium - you can confirm this with exactitude from the contemporary records held in the QOCH archives - these detail each man's service attachments till the time he died or left the 1/4th Bn.

The majority of these men stayed with No1 EB till Sept 1916 when they were sent to join 1st Bn QOCH to make up the losses suffered during the 3rd Sept attack at High Wood.

Any info on No1 Entrenching Battalion during 1916 would be most welcome - they are a very elusive unit in the WO95 records at PRO.

Regards - Tom

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Adam

As Charles said this is slightly puzzling.

SD also shows William Elliot as 7th Btn.

In addition if the QOCH had any Infantry Works or Labour Companies there does not appear to be any record of them.

However at the time of his death there was a tremendous growth in the number of men assigned to labour tasks in France so it is quite possible that he was in one of these units.

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Ivor

Angus Fairrie's book 'Queen's Own Highlanders' lists both 9th and 11th QOCH as labour battalions. 9th Bn became 7th and 8th Coys Labour Corps in 1917, and 11th Bn raised as a labour Bn in June 1918 became a Service Bn in July 1918.

I'll assume that the CWGC entry should read 7th Bn QOCH attached 2nd Entrenching Bn and try finding out about the Entrenching Bn.

He is buried in St. Omer and the family story is he died of the Flu.

Just for interest William Elliot and his brother Alister (Kia 1917 with 9th HLI) are commemorated on probably one of the most remote memorials in the UK. The Duke of Westminster erected the memorial on his Achfary Estate overloking Loch Glencoul in West Sutherland to his former employees.

Many thanks to all who replied.

Cheers

Adam

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Adam

At the risk of starting what could become a matter of semantics I would disagree with Fairrie's description of the 11th QOCH being formed as a Labour Battalion.

The 11th QOCH was formed originally in France in June 1918 as the 6th Garrison Guard Bn which in turn became the 11th Garrison Guard Bn. In July 1918 the title becoming the 11th QOCH.

Whilst it is true that several of the Garrison Guard Bns formed in 1918 were made up of men who were in Labour Corps Garrison Guard Companies and others from ex-Infantry men (medical Category B1) who were in Labour Companies, Routine Orders make it quite clear that their intended role was one of holding quiet sectors of the line and not labouring tasks.

As far as I am aware the 11th QOCH never undertook labouring tasks other than those carried out by any battalion as part of their normal duties.

Is it possible that Fairrie's description of them beng formed as a Labour Battalion arises from the origins of the men who were to make up the Battalion?

Perhaps Charles Messenger would like to comment on this as he is extremely knowledgeable on the Garrison Guard Battalions and I, for one, your welcome his views.

Finally, I must admit I have not seen Fairrie's description and would welcome a copy of it.

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Adam, Ivor

First, Ivor is absolutely correct, as far as I can ascertain, that there were no Cameron Infantry Labour Companies sent to France. A listing given in PRO WO 162/7 reveals that the only Highland regiment to send such labour companies across the Channel was the Seaforths.

So, as far as William Elliot was concerned, a possible explanation is that he might have been sickening for something and was sent to a local CCS (you might well be able to work out which one it could be from Chris’s CCS listings published today on his website) to recover and then went to No 2 Entrenching Bn in preparation for him returning to 7th Camerons. Unfortunately, the flu returned.

With regard to 11th Camerons, again Ivor is entirely correct. It was formed from Garrison Guard companies sent to 40th Division, which had been reduced to virtually cadre strength as a result of the recent German attacks. It was one of five such new battalions formed within the division, with the skeletons that they replaced returning to UK. The title Garrison Guard Battalion lasted no more than a few days before they became 11th Camerons. While it was still the intention that they should be used merely in the defensive, since the men were medically Category B, the Division instilled such a spirit in them that they played their full part in the final offensive in 1918, their first attack at the end of August being crowned with much success.

Charles

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May I add the following information to the above.

I quote from the entry for 23/2/17 and 3/3/17 in the War Diary of the 1/7th. Battalion, Gordon Highlanders :-

"La Comte / 23.2.17

All available men on Roadcleaning. Training of Signallers continued. Return of detachment from Erin.

Reinforcement of 116 Other Ranks from 4th. Res. Entrenching Battalion, mostly Lovat Scouts, but transferred to Cameron Highlanders and arrived in Cameron Kilt.

Lieut. Suttie to Hospital"

"La Comte / 3.3.1

Training as yesterday in the morning. Football in the afternoon.

Reinforcement of 60 Other Ranks from 4th. Reserve Entrenching Battalion. All originally belonged to Lovat Scouts, all in Cameron Kilt."

The combination of the two drafts almost made up for the casualties sustained by the Battalion at Beaumont Hamel.

Regards

Jim Gordon

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Jim

Interesting. No 4 Entrenching Bn does have a war diary under WO95/905. I have noted that in August 1917 it was supplying drafts almost exclusively for Highland Regts. Your notes imply that it was doing so much earlier in the year as well.

Charles

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  • 1 year later...

I am researching My G Grandfather's service. He arrived France June 1917.

I have learnt that he joined an entrenching battalion(don't know which, prior to going to his own battalion (1/10 Liverpool Scottish) supposedly in August 1917.

Do you know whether the 4th entrenching battalion supplied the Liverpool Scottish at this time? If so does anyone know where they were June to September 1917?

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Looking back at my notes from the 4th Entrenching Bn War Diary, I see no evidence that it supplied any drafts to the Liverpool Scottish, who were part of 55 Div. Most of ist drafts appear to have gone to Highland bns in 9,39, and 51 Divs.

Charles M

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thanks,

anyone know which entrenching battalion supplied drafts to the Liverpool Scottish?

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