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Remembered Today:

First Ypres, 31 October 1914


sassenach

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In Lyn MacDonald's excellent book "1914" she writes that on 31 October there were "five battalions in the line astride the Menin Road at Gheluvelt, numbering barely a thousand men."

Obviously "astride the Menin Road" is not entirely precise, but I assume that the 2nd Worcesters, who made the famous counter-attack, would be one of the five. Could anyone suggest who the others might have been, please?

 

Many thanks 

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The 2nd Worcesters were in reserve west of Polygon Wood. According to the map in Stacke's "Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War", about 1,500 yards of the front line, centered roughly north to south on the Menin road, indicates: 1st Scots Guards, 1st South Wales Borderers, 2nd Welch, 1st Queen's, and 2nd K.R.R.C. (dawn of 31 October). As far as numbers go, you would probably have to check the war diaries.

 

Dave

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There's a lot of narratives, letters and plans showing the layout of events 31/10/1914 in 2/Worcs diary. One plan shows four units from 1st Division, 2 on the north side of the road and 2 on the south.

 

The 2/Worcs are shown on the plan as being 2-3 miles behind the 1st Division trenches (the ones that required the counter attack).

 

The narrative says that it was the (2nd) Welsh regt. The Surreys, and Scots that took a hammering but held the line across the road, notably the Welsh Regiment. The 2/Worcs diary also mentions taking over trenches from the South Wales Borderers & Welsh regt. before the counter attack.

 

So you have 2/Welsh, 1/South Wales Borderers, 1/Queens (East Surreys). One would think the Scots would be 1/Scots Guards but the narrative refers to Royal Scots.

 

2/Worcs started with 600 men

 

TEW

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Beaten to it by Dave, didn't see anything on 2/KRRC in the narratives.

 

Incidentally, some of the letters and narratives date from 1920s based on recollections and personal diaries, one writer says the 5th Brigade diary is 'extremely inaccurate and was probably made up afterwards'.

 

Narrative starts here, ancestry.

 

TEW

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You're welcome. Map shows 1st Scots Guards, but I'll check the Official History and see what it shows.

 

Dave

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Two companies of 2 KRRC along with two of 1st Queen's held the the salient which embraced a farm and orchard. The orchard is gone , but the farm, or perhaps  its successor, is still there. That whole position can be seen from the eastern outskirts of the village.

 

TR

Edited by Terry_Reeves
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Sketch 11 in the OH definitely shows 1st Scots Guards. 102 years ago today.

 

Dave

Edited by lostinspace
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Seems to be Stacke's letters in the diary, not dated but he was on 6 month's special leave to 'get on with my Regimental history'. Stack refers to Maj. Hankey & Maj. Clarke as being the ones he got the information from. A report dated 1924 on A Coy 2/Worcs (G.A. ShEppard) accompanies these docs and the end product was 'How the Worcesters saved the day' published 28/6/1915 on instructions from Haig.

 

TEW

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As you say, Dave, 102 years today; that was what got me re-reading the story. One of the iconic dates of the War, I think; certainly of the fighting around Ypres.

We have six battalions mentioned so far, so I suspect MacDonald may have been excluding the Worcesters, given that they were in reserve in Polygon Wood, which she may not have counted as "astride the Menin Road." And if they started with 600 men that probably doesn't fit the "barely 1,000 men in five battalions" figure.

Thanks all for your comments. 

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