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Remembered Today:

10th Bn. Queen's 124th Brigade


Bennett
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Interested in those that might have info on the actions and behavior of the 124th Brigade of the 41st Division at the opening bell of the Battle of Menin Road, September 20, 1917. The Unit Diary of the 41st Division is missing just for that day and most accounts yield only limited information.

The Diary of a Captain Yoxall (IWM) seems to indicate at least a goodly part of the 124th, which includes the 10th Bn Queen's Royal West Surrey, broke and ran and a block of officers and men from HQ company were used to stop the flight of these units. Remarks to the effect, thereafter 124th was unfit for combat? Thanks

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Bennett

I have a copy of the 41st Division General Staff Diary for 20 Sept if of interest. Message me an email address. It's mostly messages arriving from different sources. I doubt it would give you any more information than you have already.

Whether 124 Brigade was unfit for combat for morale reasons as you say for this recorded unexpected withdrawal or the fact that they lost heavy casualties (74 officers and 1130 men lost (according to Bde Diary)) and would have been very disorganized - that said I haven't read Yoxall's account.

Sadly I'm no expert on the 41st Division - one may come along.

Regards

Colin

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I've recently been looking into the 122nd Brigade's advance on the 20th September 1917. According to the battalion histories of the 11th Royal West Kent's and the 12th East Surrey's the advance faltered because of the failure of the 124th Brigade.

Lieut W.D.Mutch 12th East Surrey's Battalion Intelligence Officer wrote in the 12th's battalion history,

"As regards to the actual advance, directly our Battalion came out of the wood (Bodmin Copse), we came under machine-gun fire from a concrete pill-box direct to our front. Cross fire also came from the remains of a farm building on our right flank, which was the cause of holding up the 26th Royal Fusiliers of the 124th Brigade."

After overcoming the pill-box in front of him he goes on to say, "By this time we were also to the left rear of the remains of the farm which I mentioned was holding up the Royal Fusiliers. Our machine gunner cleared this and I can assure you he did mow them down."

The Royal Fusiliers in the Great War states that the 26th & 32nd Royal Fusiliers were both in support that day and that the 32nd who were on the right of the 26th made good progress until machine gun fire from the left checked them.Subsequently the 32nd lost more than half its strength while the 26th lost its C.O. Lt-Col G McNichol and all other officers bar one in the first 10 minutes of the attack.

Paul McCue's "Wandsworth & Battersea Battalions in the Great War has the following about the 10th Queen's on the 20th September,

"The barrage rolled on ahead of them, but in the reflected light of their supporting artillery, the 10th Queen's had only covered 50 yards when they began to attract enemy shelling and were then caught, still in close formation, by two enemy machine guns. The accurate fire proved devastating especially among the leading officers...

124 Brigade's other battalions had suffered similary and for a while it seemed as if retreat might be the most prudent step. But at a crucial moment the Brigadier came up in person from his H.Q...he rallied the mixed-up remnants of all battalions and urged them on."

Two officers and a Sgt with several men of the 10th Queen's then worked their way round the enemy machine guns eventually capturing them. The 124 Brigade subsequently managed to capture the 1st and 2nd Objectives.

I wonder if Captain Yoxall was fully aware of the losses suffered by 124th Brigade when he wrote his diary?

Colin, I've sent you a PM.

Stuart

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McCue's account seems to be based on the account given in Wylly's history of the regiment. The war diary of the 10th Queens may give more info and is available to view online for free - http://qrrarchive.websds.net/menu1.aspx?li=1, but the link does not currently work properly; I informed the Regimental Museum a couple of days ago and they are looking into it.

Andy

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