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Cartoon in Fifth Gloucester Gazette July 1918

Guest AnnaH

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I’m trying to decipher a cartoon from the July 1918 edition of the Fifth Gloucester Gazette (published by the 1/5 Battalion). It depicts a soldier in a gas mask, surrounded by mountains, pulling himself up a cliff with a stick to which is attached barbed wire and a shell. Above him is an arrow with the sign (“10, 000 feet, to Top 600 feet”. The headings read “’I.E.F.’” and “’On- the Six Hundred’” below them “PTE S.B. Respirator ‘Ope the ‘ell they don’t expect me to ‘volley and thunder’ when I gets there!’”

I know the 1/5 Glosters were in Italy at the time, so I’m presuming he’s in the Alps and that I.E.F. refers to Italian Expeditionary Force? The six hundred and volley and thunder appear in Charge of the Light Brigade, but why would they be significant to the regiment at the time? Were there only 600 of them?

Any help would be very welcome, thank you.

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Well you are correct in guessing the meaning of IEF. They were part of 48th Division, 145th (South Midland) Brigade until September 1918 [http://www.1914-1918.net/48div.htm]. The date of the cartoon places the Division on Asiago Plateau having beaten off a determined Austrian attack on 15/16 June. The Austrian attack forestalled a planned allied offensive to take the mountains in the north, at the back of the Asiago plateau, so perhaps the cartoon refers to this because it remained an option. The Division was quite badly affected by influenza around this period so there would have been manpower shortages: they were seriously undermanned on 15 June.The Division took part in the northwards push through the mountains from Asiago during the battle of Vittorio Veneto at the end of October 1918 and were reputed to be the first allied (British?) troops to enter enemy territory. I am afraid that is as much as I know. Whether 1/5 took part in that battle is a bit unlikely. They are shown as leaving the Division in September 1918 at a time when all three IEF Divs were thinned out from 13 Battalions to 10. These 9 battalions returned to France on 13/14 September 1918 and perhaps 1/5 was one of them. My web site has a google earth file which shows the British disposition on 15/16 June. http://www.bertspires.co.uk/ You can really appreciate the task facing any troops attacking north and why it may have warranted a cartoon in their Gazette.


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