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Remembered Today:


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90 years ago today the 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th Northumberland Fusiliers left England, for their first active service overseas.

Morale seemed to be high from the evidence of postcards and later letters to the newspapers.

The crossing was calm and they expected to have a time in training when they got to France. But reinforcements were needed after heavy fighting in the Salient and the use of gas by the Germans. They set off for Ypres.

Just 6 days later, on 26th April 1915, they suffered very heavy casualties on the battlefield advancing towards St. Julien.

Almost half of the 6th battalion were casualties, K in A, Missing, Died of Wounds, Died and wounded.

Thinking of these men who set off 90 years ago, today - of the next six days and of all the men who would never return from the Second Battle of Ypres.


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Hi Kate,

I will take another look at my 6th Bn trio (which we have discussed before). He, like your grandfather, was one of the casualties on the 26th. I have built up a fair collection of groups/singles to Canadian units for 2nd Ypres, and it is nice to have the 6th Bn trio to represent to British troops who fought there.

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I think we are suffering from an epidemic of Kates on the GWF- all of them excellent and riveting, of course.

My father was not killed at St. Julien but was wounded.

I have his medals, SWB, wound stripes et al -picture attached.

It is wonderful that you have a trio to a 6th Batt. man, if you have time to let me know the name.

Kate C.


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6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers - War Diary

April 20th


'--Left at 8.30 a.m. & 8.55 a.m. by half battalions & marched to BLYTH. Entrained at 10.25 a.m. arrived FOLKSTONE at 10 p.m. & 10. 45 p.m.

Transport had left SEATON SLUICE on the 18th April and entraining at BLYTH proceeded to HAVRE via Southampton.

The Battalion embarked at once at FOLKESTONE on the S.S. 'ONWARD' which sailed at 11.30 p.m.

All ranks carried two days rations.'

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6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers - War Diary

April 21st 1915


'----Arrived at Boulogne at 12.45 a.m. after a very calm crossing.

The Battalion disembarked at once & marched at once to a rest camp about 1 1/2 miles outside town where the whole battalion was accomodated in tents.

Left at 4.30 p.m. and marched 3 miles to PONT du BRIQUET here met the transport & proceeded in one train to CASSEL which was reached about midnight.

All the men were in trucks about 45 men in each.'

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6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers - War Diary

April 22nd 1915

'----The Battalion detrained at once and left CASSEL about 2 a.m. & marched to WINNEZEELE (about 5 miles) arriving there at 4.30 a.m. & billetted in scattered farms North & South of the village, spending the rest of the day there.'

This was the first time men had been still long enough to write home.

An unknown 6th Batt. soldier writing this day mentions that the guns were audible to them and that the men were having trouble with their feet, after marching in their new boots.

Meanwhile at the front,this is the day of the first gas attack at Langemark against the French 45th Algerian division, as marked in Phil's post.

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Extract from a letter from an unknown soldier of the 6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers.


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2nd extract from letter written on April 22nd from Winnezeele.


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6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers - War Diary

April 23rd

'----St. George's Day. (Patron Saint of the Regiment)

Left billets at 9.00 a.m. & marched off at 1.30 p.m. to BRANDHOEK (11 miles) which was reached at 6 p.m.

The Battalion at once went into some trenches there, simply for shelter & not for any tactical reason & there spent the night.'

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6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers - War Diary

April 24th 1915

'--- Remained in the trenches in BRANDHOEK until 6 p.m. when we marched through YPRES to a field just south of POTIJZE (8 miles).

During the march the Brigade was halted for 3/4 hour in YPRES where 6 or 7 Casualties occurred from shellfire.

Remained from 11 p.m. till 2 a.m. when we were moved up to WIELTJE & remained in fours on the road there till 9 a.m.'

The typing of 2 a.m is overtyped so it is not clear whether they set off for Wieltje at 2 a.m. but in any case it was a long wait standing in fours on the road.

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6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers - War Diary

April 25th 1915

'----At 9 a.m. orders were received to occupy trenches just South of the village.

At 10 a.m. the battalion, (less 2 platoons under Major Hedley which remained where they were) moved to trenches just north of Wieltje & remained there all day.

About 9.30 p.m. the battalion returned to the trenches just south of the village & remained there for the night.

During the day these reserve trenches were shelled. '

Pte. Richard Ralphs 3381 was Killed in Action on 25/04/1915 and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

He may have been in the reserve trenches, which are mentioned as being shelled during the day.

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6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers - War Diary

April 26th 1915

'---Remained in the trenches until 1.50 p.m. when orders were received to attack the village of ST. JULIEN through the lines of trenches held by the 4th Div.

At 2 p.m. the attack was launched, the battalion being on the left of the WIELTJE-ST. JULIEN road with its right on the road. attacking in two lines of platoons in fours, A & B coys in the front line & C & D in the 2nd line at 50 yds interval & 200 yds distance.

Heavy casualties occurred in moving from the trenches South of the village into the attack formation.

The battalion advanced about a mile in this formation suffering heavy losses from machine gun, shrapnel and heavy howitzer fire until about 500 yds from the village where the attack was held up.

No reinforcements were available so the line remained there until dusk when it was withdrawn to the trenches held by the 4th Div.

About 2 a.m. the battalion was withdrawn to the trenches occupied earlier in the day just South of Wieltje village.

Capt. & Adj. F.R.I. Athill was wounded.

For casualties see Appendix 1 '

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This 1 hour 45 minute advance of possibly three quarters of a mile, constitituted a baptism of fire for men who only 7 days ago had been still on their home ground.

The 50th Divisional Diary gives:

26th April Casualties (undifferentiated)

Officers 42 Other Ranks 1,912

A. & Q Northumberland Division

26th April Casualties to midday

Officers wounded 5.

O. R. Killed 1 O.R. wounded 103

27th April Casualties to midday (which includes the 26th April advance)

Officers killed 26 Officers wounded 45 Officers Missing 14

O.R. killed 332 O.R. wounded 1,143 O.R. missing 1,160

Total Casualties April 26th - 30th

Officers Killed 26 Officers wounded 57 Officers Missing 14

O.R. killed 342 O.R. wounded 1,313 O.R. Missing 1258

A first action for these Pals battalions, with a large number of casualties for very little, if any, advance.

Detail from the 6th Batt to follow.

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Among the casualties of the advance were:

1577 Pte. Bartley Evans - Missing.

Not commemorated anywhere, but submitted with the help of Terry Denham to the CWGC for commemoration, with evidence of War Diary, SDGW entry, death certificate and medal index card.


Captain H. T. Hunter & Captain G. E. Hunter. K in A commemorated on Menin Gate.

Brigadier Riddell - Killed near to Vanheule Farm and buried Tyne Cot.


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It is impossible to be categorical about 6th Battalion casualties because there are different listings in C.W.G.C., S.D.G.W. War Diary and anyway, somebody, somewhere will dispute these figures.

Also, some men were wounded on 26th & died the same day, the next day, at casualty clearing stations and even back in England.

By listing all the named and numbered cross checked entries from the above sources I have arrived at the following:

6th Battalion N. F. - Casualties

25 /04/1915

K in A. - 1 Wounded - 4


K in A - 32 Missing & then K in A - 5 Wounded & Died - 6 Wounded - 388


Missing & K in A - 2 Missing & Died - 19 Died of Wounds - 3


Missing & Died - 1 Died of Wounds - 7

29/04/1914 (Boulogne, Hazebrook, Bailleul)

Died of Wounds - 4

30/04/15 (Bailleul)

Died of Wounds - 2

Fatal casualties - 82 (57 of these, commemorated on the Menin Gate)

Wounded - 392

Total 474 from 1,000 men, or out of 800 approximately in the 4 coy. advance.

A further 9 soldiers, died of wounds in the U.K. up to 1/06/1915.

Accounts and maps show that the most damage came from the direction of Kitcheners Wood & Oblong Farm and occurred when the Brigade reached the wire of the G.H.Q. line where they were held up because gaps had to be cut.

The battalion received reinforcements but was never again a 'Pals' battalion after those 6 days.

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