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Remembered Today:

9th Bn Rifle Brigade


lionboxer
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Lionboxer,

The 9th Battalion Rifle Brigade were in Railway Wood, left sector. On the 25th they were taking part in an attack by the 14th Division on the Bellewarde Farm position, the task allotted to the Battalion being to seize and hold the enemy trenches.

If you need the details of the attack from the Battalion War Service Record let me know.

Andy

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Andy,

Thanks for that. Can you send me the details please. My Gt uncle was killed on 25/9/15 B 903 Pte. James Rowe if you have any further details.

Lionboxer

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Lionboxer,

24th - In Railway Wood, left sector. Battalion found the wood much damaged by shells, and many of the trenches were in such a bad condition that it was hard to allot them for bombardment during the day. The enemy bombarded heavily from 3.50 to 4.30.

Orders came round to Companies at 7.30 p.m. for an attack by the 14th Division on 25th, the objective being Beelewarde Farm position, the task allotted the Battalion to seize and hold the enmy trenches, A.42, A.72, A.24 and A.84. The Oxford and Bucks L.I. and K.S.L.I. to attack on our right and the 9th Battalion K.R.R.C. to be in support in Railway Wood. The 9th Battalion K.R.R.C. moved into the wood in the evening, and Companies of the Battalion took up their positions for the attack. We finished cutting wire during the night.

25th - Our Artillery started bombardment at 3.50 a.m. and concentrated on first and second line trenches until 4.20 a.m., when they lifted to form a dense barrage. At 4.45 a.m. "A" Company and No. 2 platoon "B" Company moved out from their trenches and patrol trenches and dug in in six lines facing the German trenches, A.24 and A.42 the two remaining platoons of "B" Company moving up ready to follow on, as the seventh and eighth lines behind. No. 1 platoon of "C" Company moved out and lay facing the German trenches, A.24 and A.04. Two other platoons moved into support. The last platoon remained in reserve ready to advance.

The advance atarted at 4.20 a.m.. "A" Company and "B" Company captured German Trenches, A.64, A.72, A.42 and A.24, "C" Company the crater and trenches at A.04 and A.84, "D" Company moved up ready to support.

No. 1 platoon of "D" Company at once started a communication trench to crater.

More to follow.

Andy

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Taking the attack, Company by Company.

"C" Company had few casualties while lying out and going across the open with the exception of one platoon which suffered from high-explosive shrapnel. Owing to the fact that a part of the trench was covered over by debris, most of the company passed over it. The men in these trenches held up German counter-bombing attacks.

As many casualties occurred in holding back these German attacks, the remainder of "C" Company went to re-inforce the communication trenches.

Two platoons of 9th Battalion K.R.R.C. came up. Meanwhile "B" Company, who were being bombed from the communication trench out of A.24 retired. By this time they had run out of bombs.

The Germans having reached A.24 started bombing, so an attempt was made to charge across the open to retake point 24, but found impossible owing to machine gun fire.

It was decided to hold the crater and to pass men back until bombs came up. The lip of the crater was soon found to be quite untenable as it was swept by machine gun fire from the north, besides being heavily shelled by high explosive from the south-west; aslo we suffered heavily from trench mortars.

At 8.05 a.m. we were able, however, to stop the Germans from entering the crater by taking up a position alongside the sunken road opposite. At this time the situation seemed critical, as it was likely the Germans would try and push their counter attack to our original line of trenches.

"A" Company of the 9th Battalion K.R.R.C. then came up to the crater and extended along the edge of a dip in the ground running towards the eastern end of the trench; also the Motor machine gun battery engaged the enemy machine guns and succeeded in silencing them. The Germans now heavily bombarded the crater and ground around and obliged those holding it to retire. Meanwhile the remnants of "C" Company were still holding the line and remained doing so until 4 p.m., when they retired.

"A" Company got into its position without loss, but had a few casualties from shell fire while lying out. At 4.20 a.m. the Company advanced and took a trench, where only a few Germans were found. In spite of all attempts to get connection with the 5th Battalion Oxford and Bucks on our right we were unable to do so. The Company was then heavily attacked by enemy bombers on the right and, running out of bombs, they were obliged to retire, but checked the German's further advance by rifle fire. It was while "A" Company was in communication trench 4 that "B" Company were bombed out of A.24 and A.42 from communication trench 5.

The Companies numbers were greatly reduced when they retired back to 24 and then found that "B" Company had been driven out, and that the Germans were in trenches A.04 and A.42.

As the situation was desperate they determined to rush the Germans and succeeded in doing so, but lost heavily. They were joined here by the remainder of "C" Company, who rushed across the open. The Germans who were now strongly reinforced were still unable to clear them out.

More to come.

Andy

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"A" Company stayed with "C" Company and came back with them.

"B" Company suffered severly both in getting out and while lying in, and had most of their bombers and machine gunners put out of action. They, however, succeeded in capturing a trench, but as the attack on their right had failed and they had lost all their bombers they were unable to hold the captured trenches and had to return.

"D" Company who were waiting to reinforce were called upon to advance at 4.45 a.m. to "A" and "B" Companies. They lost many men in doing so and the remainder were absorbed into the two Companies.

It will be seen from this account that the Battalion succeeded in it's objective, i.e., to take the German trenches, but failed to hold them. This was due to the fact that:-

1. All the officers became casualties early in the fight.

2. We suffered very heavy losses from shell fire.

3. The Germans were in very great force and had an endless supply of bombs.

4. The attack on our right had failed

5. The extreme difficulty in gettinng messages through quickly and finding out what was happening in other parts of the line.

Railway Wood was heavily shelled throughout the day. After collecting dead and wounded the Battalion, having been relieved by the 10th Battalion Durham L.I. returned to Rest Area L 3c. They left the trenches with four officers and 140 other ranks.

Our casualties were: Killed: Captain D. Carmichael, Lieutenants C.H.N. Scholey and J.R. Purvis, 2nd Lieutenants E.H.L. Henn and H.N Butterworth.

Wounded: Lieutenant D.G. Lansdale.

I hope that this helps you to realise what your relation went through, it was quite a fight with frightening losses.

Andy

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Lieutenant Hugh Montague Butterworth in a letter to his family just before the attack says the following.

(I am posting this just before leaving. Perhaps I shan't be killed)

I am leaving this in the hands of the transport officer, and if I get knocked out, he will send it to you. We are going into a big thing. It will be my pleasant duty to leap lightly over the parapet and lead "D" Company over the delectable confusion of old trenches, crump holes, barbed wire, that lies between us and the Bosche, and take a portion of his front line. Qou facto I shall then proceed down various communication trenches and take his second line. In the very unlikely event of my being alive by then I shall dig in like blazes and if God is good, stop the Bosche counter attack, which will come in an hour or two. If we stop that I shall then in broad daylight have to get out wire in front under machine gun fire and probably stop at least one more counter attack and a bomb attack from the flank. If all that happens successfully, and I'm still alive, I shall hang on till relief. Well, when one is faced with a programme like that, one touches up one's will, thank heaven one has led a fairly amusing like, thaks God one is not married, and trusts in providence. Unless we get more officers before the show, I am practically bound to be outed as I shall have to lead all these things myself. Anyway if I do go out I shall do so amidst such a scene of blood and iron as even this war has rarely witnessed.

One does see life doesn't one?. Of course there is always a chance of only being wounded and the off chance of pulling through. Of course one has been facing death pretty intimately for months now, but with this ahead, one must realize, that in the vernacular of New Zealand, one's numbers are probably up. We are not a sentimental crowd at the Collegite School, Wanganui, but I think in a letter of this sort, one can say how frightfully attached one is to the old brigade. Also, I am very, very much attached to the school, and to Selwyn in particular. There are two thousand things I should like to say about what I feel, but they can't be put down, I find.

Live long and prosper, all of you. Curiously enough, I don't doubt my power to stick it out, and I think my men will follow me.

A very very sad and poignant letter.

Andy

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Andy,

Many thanks indeed. Pushing my luck a bit further - I don't suppose you have any maps to go with the text or know where I might find some? It would make the course of the action easier to follow. It seems it was a hectic time to say the least. I found the officer's letter very interesting and was amazed at how matter of fact he was about his fate.

Lionboxer

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Hi,

I have some maps that might be of any help to you. Maps of the action itself don't exist, but I tried to map it all out on a 1915 trench map. It was a hectic day indeed. The 3th division attacked as well just south of the 14th. They attacked Hooge and sanctuary wood, blowing three mines in the Southeastern corner of the wood leaving large craters that can still be seen there today. It was an utter disaster and I estimate that this action on the front between the Ypres-Roulers railway and the Southern corner of sanctuary wood costed the lives (killed and d.o.w.) of at least 1000 soldiers.

regards,

Bert.

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Hello Bert,

Thanks for your offer. I'm sure the maps will be most helpful.

Lionboxer

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Lionboxer,

Sorry there are no maps etc in the war diaries, regimental accounts. I hope that Berts kind offer suffices.

Andy

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Lionboxer, stiletto,

If you want the map I can scan it and send it to a private e-mail adress that can handle large attachments. Send me your e-mail in a pm and I will try.

Bert

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Bert,

Many thanks for the kind offer, PM sent with my e mail address on.

Andy

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lionboxer,

Whilst going through the War Diary again I came across this map. If it is of any use PM me your e mail address and I will send a full size one to you.

Andy

post-1871-1147862612.jpg

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Lionboxer,

Also have the War Diary for the period, an awful lot of orders in there for this action which indicate what battalion had to be where and at what time, what clothes to wear etc etc so you should be able to plot your relatives approximate movements.

Let me know if it of use to you and I will e mail it to you.

Andy

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Lionboxer,

On the CWGC site, they have your Great Uncle listed as a Serjeant:

Name: ROWE, JAMES

Initials: J

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Serjeant

Regiment/Service: Rifle Brigade

Unit Text: 9th Bn.

Date of Death: 25/09/1915

Service No: B/903

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 46 - 48 and 50.

Memorial: YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL

Hope this helps

Tom McC

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Chris,

War Diary all sent to you, I am still tryting to sort out the mess that someone left the Diary in at Kew as regards Battalion orders etc etc, it was a real mess.

Andy

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Thanks Andy, got them okay. Trying to decifer them now, but there again I expect my handwriting would have been illegible too under the circumstances!!

Lionboxer

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Glad they came through OK, as soon as I sort this mess out re the orders, that some kind soul left them in at Kew, I will get them off to you.

Andy

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  • 1 year later...
Lieutenant Hugh Montague Butterworth in a letter to his family just before the attack says the following.

(I am posting this just before leaving. Perhaps I shan't be killed)

I am leaving this in the hands of the transport officer, and if I get knocked out, he will send it to you. We are going into a big thing. It will be my pleasant duty to leap lightly over the parapet and lead "D" Company over the delectable confusion of old trenches, crump holes, barbed wire, that lies between us and the Bosche, and take a portion of his front line. Qou facto I shall then proceed down various communication trenches and take his second line. In the very unlikely event of my being alive by then I shall dig in like blazes and if God is good, stop the Bosche counter attack, which will come in an hour or two. If we stop that I shall then in broad daylight have to get out wire in front under machine gun fire and probably stop at least one more counter attack and a bomb attack from the flank. If all that happens successfully, and I'm still alive, I shall hang on till relief. Well, when one is faced with a programme like that, one touches up one's will, thank heaven one has led a fairly amusing like, thaks God one is not married, and trusts in providence. Unless we get more officers before the show, I am practically bound to be outed as I shall have to lead all these things myself. Anyway if I do go out I shall do so amidst such a scene of blood and iron as even this war has rarely witnessed.

One does see life doesn't one?. Of course there is always a chance of only being wounded and the off chance of pulling through. Of course one has been facing death pretty intimately for months now, but with this ahead, one must realize, that in the vernacular of New Zealand, one's numbers are probably up. We are not a sentimental crowd at the Collegite School, Wanganui, but I think in a letter of this sort, one can say how frightfully attached one is to the old brigade. Also, I am very, very much attached to the school, and to Selwyn in particular. There are two thousand things I should like to say about what I feel, but they can't be put down, I find.

Live long and prosper, all of you. Curiously enough, I don't doubt my power to stick it out, and I think my men will follow me.

A very very sad and poignant letter.

Andy

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  • 4 years later...

I know this is an old thread but I have to post as I have for the first time been able to read the war diary for the desperate day of 25th September 1915. Thank you for putting it up Andy. The Lieutenant JR Purvis noted as killed at the end of the day's report was my first cousin twice removed and I have been trying to find out how he died. He must have been promoted posthumously as he is recorded as a captain on the various monuments and medal cards. They never found his body and he was said to have been a casualty of shell fire which correlates with the summary at the end of the diary. We did find his watch in a small museum in the area in the 1980s which was quite poignant. Thank you for making this information available - it means alot.

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  • 5 months later...

Hi,

Looking for some info on

Sgt.B/3320 Frederick Plumpton of the 9th Battallion The Rifle Brigade. Killed in action 02 Jan 1916

Wonder if anyone could help with details as to where (Bn were at the time, what they were doing etc.

Kindest Regards

Mark.

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Hi Mark,

Long time!!

The battalion were in Elverdinghe Chateau (A Huts), on the 4th they relieved the 5th K.S.L.I. in trenches in the Canal area. If however he was in a machine gun team they were all placed on Brigade Roster for duty in the trenches and were relieved every 48 hours. The 9th RB Machine gunners went up to the trenches on the Canal Bank on the night of the 2/3rd, position of MG guns attached.

Andy

post-1871-0-11878800-1354260447_thumb.jp

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This should help a little, cropped map of 42nd Brigade area

post-1871-0-45315500-1354261106_thumb.jp

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