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TGM

I'm about to work on some correspondence  (1914-1915) from and to an individual (anon RND) present at the  Battle of Antwerp. I would like some context and thought it would be useful to read a good account of the battle, the role of the RND and aftermath.

 

Thank you for any suggestions.

Edited by TGM

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seaJane

On four fronts with the Royal Naval Division / by Sparrow, Geoffrey & Ross, J. N. MacBean, surgeons RN.

 London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1918. 

Online here: https://archive.org/details/onfourfrontswith00sparrich

Edited by seaJane

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TGM
7 minutes ago, Chris_Baker said:

 

Thank you, General.

Someone needs to fix the Antwerp  1914-1918 link - goes to http://ww5.antwerpen1914-1918.be/ which looks in need of some TLC.

 

6 minutes ago, seaJane said:

On four fronts with the Royal Naval Division / by Sparrow, Geoffrey & Ross, J. N. MacBean, surgeons RN.

 London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1918. 

Online here: https://archive.org/details/onfourfrontswith00sparrich

 

Fab!

Edited by TGM

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Chris_Baker
41 minutes ago, TGM said:

Someone needs to fix the Antwerp  1914-1918 link - goes to http://ww5.antwerpen1914-1918.be/ which looks in need of some TLC.

 

Fixed by removing the link. I really can't be bothered maintaining links to other people's websites. Google is your friend!

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greatspywar

If you're able to read Dutch or French there is plenty of literature and archival sources... . 

 

The War Heritage Institute/Royal Military Museum in Brussels has got some nice photographs of the RND in Antwerp in 1914. Make sure to come and pay us a visit!

 

Good luck!

 

Jan

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michaeldr

The history of the RND including its action in 1914 at Antwerp are covered in the divisional history written by Douglas Jerrold: 'The Royal Naval Division'
The action is also covered in battalion histories - eg: The Hood Battalion by Len Sellers and Nelson at War by Capt Roy Swales RN rtd
Len Sellers also produced 24 issues of the magazine 'RND' which not only covers the action at Antwerp, but also the aftermath; eg the internment in Holland and the RN's court of inquiry. A disc with all 24 issues of the magazine is available from the Crystal Palace shop here http://www.crystalpalacefoundation.org.uk/shop/world-war-one-two/royal-naval-division
The part played in this action by the RM is covered in Blumberg's history 'Britain's Sea Soldiers'

 

Good luck with your project

Michael

Edited by michaeldr

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TGM
On 11/22/2017 at 18:51, greatspywar said:

If you're able to read Dutch or French there is plenty of literature and archival sources... . 

 

The War Heritage Institute/Royal Military Museum in Brussels has got some nice photographs of the RND in Antwerp in 1914. Make sure to come and pay us a visit!

 

Good luck!

 

Jan

A reason to visit Brussels.

On 11/23/2017 at 07:09, michaeldr said:

The history of the RND including its action in 1914 at Antwerp are covered in the divisional history written by Douglas Jerrold: 'The Royal Naval Division'
The action is also covered in battalion histories - eg: The Hood Battalion by Len Sellers and Nelson at War by Capt Roy Swales RN rtd
Len Sellers also produced 24 issues of the magazine 'RND' which not only covers the action at Antwerp, but also the aftermath; eg the internment in Holland and the RN's court of inquiry. A disc with all 24 issues of the magazine is available from the Crystal Palace shop here http://www.crystalpalacefoundation.org.uk/shop/world-war-one-two/royal-naval-division
The part played in this action by the RM is covered in Blumberg's history 'Britain's Sea Soldiers'

 

Good luck with your project

Michael

Super. Many thanks

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wallace2
On 22/11/2017 at 18:51, greatspywar said:

If you're able to read Dutch or French there is plenty of literature and archival sources... . 

 

The War Heritage Institute/Royal Military Museum in Brussels has got some nice photographs of the RND in Antwerp in 1914. Make sure to come and pay us a visit!

 

Good luck!

 

Jan

 Hi Jan, 

 

Thank you for your post and information.

 

I wonder if you can throw any light on an "RND at Antwerp" topic?  Preserved in Dundee is HMS Unicorn, launched in 1824 and a Naval Reserve Drill ship from about 1870 until 1968.  In 1914 many of these Naval Reservists were drafted to the RND and served in Antwerp.  Included were the Ship's Band members, civilians who joined at the outbreak of war and became the Hood Battalion Band.  Local folklore says that during the withdrawal the Band left their instruments behind hidden in a school or buried and that they were recovered after the War. 

 

The problem is that I have not found any evidence to support the story.  Have you come across anything about this in the War Heritage Institute/ Royal Military Museum in Brussels?

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greatspywar
7 hours ago, wallace2 said:

Have you come across anything about this in the War Heritage Institute/ Royal Military Museum in Brussels?

 

I'll ask around! I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

 

Cheers,

 

Jan

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greatspywar
8 hours ago, wallace2 said:

Local folklore says that during the withdrawal the Band left their instruments behind hidden in a school or buried and that they were recovered after the War. 

 

Did you already check the war diary for this unit during their stay in Antwerp? Where were they quartered exactly, any idea?

 

 

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wallace2
On 27/11/2017 at 08:57, greatspywar said:

Did you already check the war diary for this unit during their stay in Antwerp? Where were they quartered exactly, any idea?

 

 Hi Jan,

 

Thank you for replying so quickly and apologies for the length of time to respond. 

 

I do not have access to the Hood Battalion War Diary so have not been able to look at the period 6th to 10th October 1914.  From Len Sellars book "The Hood Battalion" it would appear that the 2nd Naval Brigade arrived in Antwerp's main railway station at 0730 on 6th October and marched to the village of Kiel andwhere they were instructed to find billets.

 

However, he also writes that the 2nd Naval Brigade (Howe, Hood Anson and Nelson) arrived at Wilrijk railway station and marched to their positions between Vrende and Boschhoek.  Once there orders were changed several times and they were billeted at the village of Vienne Dieu.    At 0230 on the 7th October Hood Battalion moved into trenches between Fort 5 and 6.  Here they remained until ordered to withdraw at about 1800 on 8th October.   The  first Hood and Howe men reached Wilrijk at 1900 and the last at 2030.  From there they matched to the pontoon bridge near Hoboken, crossing it and from there to Brucht and on to Zwyndrecht reaching it at 2200.  From there they marched towards St Nicholas.  After 20 miles marching from the trenches Hood and Howe reached St Gillies Waes railway station at 0700 on 9th October.  From where they entrained to Selzaete close to the Dutch frontier and on to Ostende.

 

I hope this helps!

 

Iain

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horatio2

Antwerp war diaries for the RND naval battalions have not survived.

Edited by horatio2

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wallace2

Horatio2,

 

Thanks for that, I wasn't sure if they existed!

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wallace2

Niko,  Thank you very much for posting the link.  Much appreciated.

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domwalsh
Posted (edited)

This article in the Western Times might provide some interesting first-hand detail. The source, L/Cpl Frank Radford RMLI, went on to win a DSM at Zeebrugge.

 

 

WESTERN TIMES  19 October 1914

 

GRAPHIC STORY

By Crediton Man in Antwerp Trenches

WHAT BRITISH MARINES FACED

A vivid story of the defence of Antwerp is told by L.-Corpl. Frank Radford, of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, youngest son of Mr. Walter Radford, of Crediton. L.-Cpl. Radford was one of few who, though in the thick of the terrific battle that was waged prior the fall of the city, escaped injury. Yet the terrible ordeal through which he passed was a fearful strain on the nerve and spirit of those who had to endure it, and he is glad of the week's respite from further activities which has been given to the men. L.-Corpl. Radford is a young man, well-knit and of sturdy physique, and unobtrusive in manner. He has rather over six years' service behind him, and some time ago he returned from service in China, and was at the time he was called upon to go to Belgium on the “Powerful".

To a representative of the Western Times who saw him at Crediton on Saturday, he stated that just a fortnight ago he arrived at Antwerp; but what an experience had been crowded into those two short weeks. He was in the first line of trenches at Lierre, a village ten miles beyond Antwerp, which was reached on the Saturday evening. The Marines proceeded at once to relieve the Belgians in the trenches, which they found to have been excellently prepared. They were just deep enough for an ordinary man to stand upright in without exposure to the enemy's rifle fire.

On Sunday shell fare became pretty general, though it was not until a little later that the heavy artillery of the Germans was brought into operation. The shells from these were mostly directed upon Antwerp, which was behind the Marines, who, however, were harassed by the continuous bursting of the shells from the smaller guns. These did great havoc, but, luckily, the fronts of the trenches were not often hit, or the slaughter must have been far greater than it was.

"It was terrible, all the same," the lance-corporal said, "and on each side of me fellows were being blown to atoms. How I escaped is a marvel." Altogether, he says, the British were firing 48 hours at the Germans without ceasing, and hundreds must have been killed, but the odds were heavy, there being 150,000 Germans opposed to only 2.400 Marines. "It was my first experience of war, and I shall never forget it. I saw one whole section on my right completely destroyed, while one piece of a burst shrapnel killed three men quite near me. The exasperating part was that we could not retaliate. All we could do was to use our rifles upon the entrenched German infantry, which was not far away. But the Germans kept very close. We saw only one frontal attack, and that we repulsed with our maxim and rifle fire. There was no need for the enemy's infantry to attack; their big guns were doing the work for them, and in a deadly fashion. Of course, our artillery were doing splendidly, but the German heavy guns were quite ten miles away."

"And then at last, the Wednesday, when the order came retire, the scene and the dangers became even worse. The casualties had been heavy, and the remainder the gallant force had to effect their retirement with every care and caution. Of course, it was every man for himself.

"I don't know how I got back. We had run the gauntlet of the shells that were being directed against Antwerp, and these were dropping all around us. I left my kit behind, as many others did, and brought only my rifle and overcoat. Towards Antwerp the scene was horrible. The shells bursting in the darkness, the oil tanks one after another sending up their huge sheets of flame as one after another they caught fire, the river aflame with the burning oil, it was as though the heavens had burst. What a different picture from that which few days before I had looked upon as we passed through the city. Then Antwerp had been as tranquil as Crediton is today! Now it was a seething furnace.

"Thousands of refugees, men, women and children, were fleeing in all directions, and hundreds were lying dead as we passed along, many of them with arms, legs, or head blown off."

“Lance-Corporal Radford told of his trying march back to Ostend, when they took boat for Dover. What had happened to many of his friends he could not say, but they had got separated; neither was he able guess at the extent of the casualties.

The buildings which seemed to have escaped damage were those belonging to Germans, which rather bears out the statement that German spies were in Belgium directing the fire. As to this, a hundred and one incidents, he says, came under his notice which pointed to the presence of spies, and he believed the country was full of them. Lce.-Cpl. Radford was himself an eye-witness of the case of the white goat being staked in the middle of the lawn of a fine residence which a German family had evacuated. Soon after the arrival of a party of Marines at the spot an aeroplane w seen hovering above, and presently shells began to drop on the lawn, killing and injuring many of the British.

Asked as to the equipment of the Brigade, he stated that he saw nothing to complain of. It appeared to be fully and properly equipped. Speaking of the power and effect of the German big guns, he said that the force of the explosion is tremendous, and when shells drop on the ground holes are made which to anyone who had not witnessed it would be incredible. He did not mind rifle fire or a fight in which you could get a chance to reply, but to have to quietly submit to the devastating fire from such guns as these was not a pleasant experience.

Lance-Corporal Radford is the proud possessor of a small Union Jack with the flags of all the Allies in the corner, which was a gift from the Burgomaster at Ostend as a memento, and he also has many grim relics of his short, but unforgettable visit to Antwerp.

 

Edited by domwalsh

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