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Remembered Today:

Centenary of the unveiling of the Memorial to the 55th (West Lancashire) Division at Givenchy


A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy
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100 years ago today my grandad, Captain Norman Hall, represented the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers at the unveiling of the Memorial to the 55th (West Lancashire) Division at Givenchy in France, primarily commemorating that Division’s stand against the German Spring Offensive.

The other men who represented the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers at the unveiling were Captain J.C. Latter MC, Acting Company Sergeant Major J. Hutchinson VC, Sergeant W. Cadden DCM, and Sergeant A. Wroe. All five men had proceeded to France with the unit on 3 May 1915.

Brief details of the other four men are as follows:

1.      Captain John Cecil Latter was in “Z” Company, the same Company as my grandfather. His nickname was “Ludwig”, and my grandad describes him as “quite a musician”, and also mentions that he was a “crack-shot” when shooting rats in the trenches. He won his Military Cross in an action on 20 September 1917 at St Julien, during the Third Battle of Ypres. Later, as Major General J.C. Latter, he wrote the official WW1 History of the Regiment, The History of the Lancashire Fusiliers 1914-1918.

2.      A/CSM James Hutchinson of “Y” Company won the Victoria Cross in a raid across No Man’s Land on 28 June 1916. The citation was “For most conspicuous bravery. During an attack on the enemy's position this soldier was the leading man, and, entering their trench, shot two sentries and cleared two of the traverses. After our object had been gained and retirement ordered, Private Hutchinson, on his own initiative, undertook the dangerous task of covering the retirement, and he did this with such gallantry and determination that the wounded were removed into safety. During all this time this gallant soldier was exposed to fierce fire from machine-guns and rifles at close quarters.” He was subsequently wounded in the Somme area in about the third week of July 1916, losing an eye. He never went back to France, but became a bombing instructor in Britain.

3.      Sergeant William Cadden, also of “Y” Company, won his Distinguished Conduct Medal in a raid across No Man’s Land on 31 December 1915.

4.      Sergeant Albert Wroe was in “X” Company. He subsequently transferred to the Royal Engineers, and stayed on in the army after the war, gaining the Territorial Efficiency Medal for 12 continuous years’ service (service during war years counting as double)..

 

The base of the Memorial includes the following inscription:

 

Units of the West Lancashire Territorial Force, which was formed in 1908, fought in France and Belgium from 1914. On 3rd January 1916 it was re-assembled as the 55th (West-Lancashire) Division and served under that title throughout the remainder of the campaign. Around this site from the 9th to the 16th April 1918 the Division, continuously attacked from the Canal to Festubert by three German Divisions and with its left flank turned, held its ground, and inflicted severe loss upon the enemy.

… “this most gallant Defence, the importance of which it would be hard to overestimate”…

Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatch dated 20-7-18

My grandfather pasted into his diary a series of 12 commemorative postcards marking the occasion, and I have uploaded photographs of extracts from two of them:

1.      The moment of the unveiling of the monument with my grandfather and Latter indicated in the foreground

2.      Four NCOs photographed in the area, with the three from the 2/5th LF indicated.

 I also attach a photograph of the Memorial taken in 2019.

1544293055_163Z5.288289a.JPG.dc862757774153818c01f3a9d5f85293.JPG 474426351_164IMG_1589-Copy.JPG.a5317442cb5bccd76396b4a5b7b2960b.JPG   5.290291.JPG.f30b50333237e87e16a1b1eeaf490cc2.JPG

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Excellent post LF; I know the memorial well but that is all new to me. Interesting to see what at first I thought was a sculpture in front of the memorial, but which on closer inspection looks like someone standing on it.

 

Pete.

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14 minutes ago, Fattyowls said:

Interesting to see what at first I thought was a sculpture in front of the memorial, but which on closer inspection looks like someone standing on it.

Yes, it is actually the man who is doing the unveiling! I don't know whether you can see that below him are the swathes of white material in which the Memorial had previously been veiled.

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  • 1 year later...

A copy of this can be found on page 161. Of the story of the 55th division

It was also the day lord Derby and the belgian king visited the division.

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On 18/05/2022 at 11:23, Lammy said:

Thought you would like this "special order of the day" 3rd Jan. 1919

To see the original of this special order is indeed interesting. I had come across the text in my copy of the Divisional History, with whose author, the Reverend J.O. Coop, my grandfather travelled to the unveiling of the memorial to the Division in May 1921,. He has pasted a photograph of the Reverend into his diary, also one of the commemmorative postcards mentioned above shows him offering prayers at the new Memorial.

My grandfather was no longer in the 2/5th LF by the time this special order was issued, having been transferred to the 1/5th, but I know that he had read the Divisional History, probably quite soon after its publication in 1919, as he has copied its dedication, a piece by Lt.Col. E.G. Hoare, into the second volume of his own diary (copy of the original diaries attached); the first volume was begun in early 1919, before even the Peace was signed, and I get the impression that the first three volumes, at least, were all written quite quickly, as the narrative hangs together pretty well - hence my decision to focus on these three volumes in the published version of the diary, with the contents of the other two volumes summarised in an Afterword.

1981521878_013aWarDiaries.JPG.f2d3aa5316d9384e9044acef0c2eef43.JPG

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During an all-too-brief tour of selected Western Front sites last September, I took a significant detour to visit the memorial.  A number of relatives served in the Division during the Great War so it seemed an obvious place to visit.

 

 

PXL_20210925_100246970.jpg

Edited by Buffnut453
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4 hours ago, Buffnut453 said:

I took a significant detour to visit the memorial

A very nice photograph if I may say so.

Pete.

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7 hours ago, Fattyowls said:

A very nice photograph if I may say so.

Pete.

Many thanks, Pete.  It's a shame "white van man" decided to park right next to the memorial but beggars can't be choosers.

An unexpected surprise was the presence of the Tunnellers Memorial right next to the 55th Division cross.  It's a much smaller affair but was placed there to commemorate William Hackett, the only WW1 tunneller to be awarded the VC.  The bodies of both William and the man he stayed with when he could have escaped still lie some 40 feet under the field next to the memorial:

PXL_20210925_095832823.jpg

 

Here's a close-up of the tunnellers' memorial:

PXL_20210925_095606003.jpg

 

I particularly like the reverse of the memorial with the moles along the bottom edge:

PXL_20210925_095638375.jpg

 

Apologies for the thread drift....

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1 hour ago, Buffnut453 said:

An unexpected surprise was the presence of the Tunnellers Memorial

I know it well and I think the veiw is better than when I was last there. Givenchy was adopted by the city of Liverpool after the war and the village hall was a gift if I remember correctly. There are also a group of 1940 graves in the communal cemetery from the retreat to Dunkirk including the Earl of Coventry. It's an interesting place.

Pete.

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