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Remembered Today:

Battle near Orchard 22nd Dec 1914 - Neuve Eglise


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Hi there,

I have been researching my Great Grandfathers military career and found he served in the 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment during the Great War. I have read the war diaries for the battalion and cross referenced them with my G-Grandfathers military records. I have a sketch map of a battle he took part in on the night of 22nd Dec 1914 near La Quinque Rue, South East of Le Touret. The sketch map is from the war diary and shows the battalions route from Le Touret to the FUP before the attack on the German position, adjacent to an orchard. Incidentally he was captured and sent to a POW camp (Klien Wittenberg). I have cross referenced the sketch map with 'Google earth' and intend to visit this year to walk the route.

Last night by absolute fluke, I started to read a book called 'From Mons to the first battle of Ypre' (The war diary of a young British officer). I found the book was written by an officer from the 1st LNL Regt and has a chapter dedicated to this battle. However, he keeps refering to 'Neuve Eglise'? His account can be easily cross referenced to the war diary, so is the same battle. However, before I go...can anyone suggest why the book keeps referring to Neuve Eglise and the war diary doesn't? (I can only find two places of this name and they are nowhere near...)>


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A typewritten version of Hyndson's original diary is embedded with the battalion War Diary for 1914 (WO 95/1270) When one compares this diary with the published version there are lots of discrepancies. For example the original on the Aug says he was posted to B Coy, yet the published version records C Coy. The published version was clearly written after the war (1932) and expanded on the original. It is unsurprising that additional info appears and some alterations or errors also creep in. It is notable that the version with the war diary ends in Nov 1914. Hyndson wrote most of the war diary as he was one of the few Officers to get through 1914 unscathed. It is worth comparing the unit war diary entries with his later published account - there are notable differences.


By way of reference here are the other diary entries for 22nd Dec 1914 for the other battalions in the same Brigade: None make reference to Neuve Eglise.

2nd Bn Royal Sussex Regt 22nd Dec 1914. We relieved the SEAFORTH HLDRS commencing at 7:30 am but did not actually finish the relief until 3:20 pm. The chief cause of today was the appalling state of the communication trench. During the time we were relieving, the enemy collected in large numbers behind the houses in the orchard, and attacked the LOYAL NORTH LANCASHIRE REGT right, succeeding in bombing them out of their trenches.

Meanwhile the 1st Bn NORTHAMPTONSHIRE REGT had been relieved in the trenches they had retaken the previous night by an INDIAN Battalion and had gone into Reserve with 2 Companies of the KINGS ROYAL RIFLE REGT. Two Coys of the KINGS ROYAL RIFLES and the 1st Bn NORTHAMPTONSHIRE REGT were sent to take up position on the North side of the BREWERY ROAD and link up with the INDIANS on their left.

This line had to be dug during the night of 22nd/23rd December. After the 1st Bn LOYAL NORTH LANCASHIRE REGT had been driven back, some of the Germans got into the left of our fire trench and the left of our support trench. We constructed barriers and bombed each other vigorously. The fire trench on the right of our line was exceedingly wet, one half of the Coy occupying it having to stand waist deep in water until we were relieved on night of 23rd December by the GRENADIER GUARDS. 2 Lt G WARD to hospital.

2nd Bn Rifle Brigade 22nd Dec 1914. Early in the morning received orders to send two Companies (C & D Coys) to relieve two Companies of the SEAFORTH HLDRS. There two Companies were put under the OC 2nd Bn ROYAL SUSSEX REGT in reserve during the morning. About midday the Germans attacked the 1st Bn LOYAL NORTH LANCASHIRE REGT with bombs, trench mortars & hand grenades, blew them out of their trenches with very severe losses. The 1st Bn NORTHAMPTONSHIRE REGT were then ordered to fill up the gap in rear & our two Companies after night fall helped to prolong the line.

A & B Coys & HQ after dark moved to new billets on the RUE DE L'EPINETTE nearer to the firing line. During the day HENRY & Lt D C L SPEED were both sent back to hospital sick. Casualties two men wounded.
1st Bn Northamtonshire Regt. 22nd Dec 1914. Received news about 9:00 am that the enemy had attacked and broken through. Our three Companies (B, C, A) were at once ordered up to support - it was found that the enemy driven back the line some 300 yards. It was found however that the forward line held the previous night was untenable so a line was taken up about 300 yards in rear - our D Coy was very highly congratulated on its fine resistance by the Brigadier General Commanding 2nd INF BDE. This line was held during the day with no difficulty.
[Margin note] Maj W O CAUTLEY received the DSO for the great work he did this day and 2 Lt T C FULTON the Military Cross. Two DCMs were also given to men.
1st Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regt 22nd Dec 1914. The line was held throughout the night, we suffered some casualties from bombs which were thrown from a German trench running obliquely to our right flank.
At 3:00 am the 1st Bn NORTHAMPTONSHIRE REGT less one Company were withdrawn owing to the trenches being over crowded. Shortly after daybreak a very strong GERMAN attack developed from the direction of LA QUINQUE RUE and by 10:00 am the line became untenable chiefly owing to the enfilade fire from our right flank which was very exposed. After suffering very heavy loses and putting up a very stubborn defence the retirement commenced from the left and about 300 men succeeded in reaching the RUE DE BOIS.
The Battalion was collected and reformed on the RUE DE L'EPINETTE, the MG detachment CO operating units the NORTHAMPTONS went up in support and a line was held by them roughly on the line when the attack had started on the night before. At about 3:00 pm the Battalion was withdrawn and went into billets at LACOUTURE.
Our losses were Capt G H SMART, Capt GRAHAM killed. Capt H J T De CARTERET, Lt S H BATTY SMITH, 2nd Lt H G GILLILAND missing. Capt G W HAY slightly wounded and 408 other ranks killed, wounded and missing.
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