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Jimmy Taylor

1st and 2nd Royal Irish Rifles

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Jimmy Taylor

I have both of these diaries.

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Glosters

Jimmy,

Do you know anything about 1406 WOI J. Byrne, Royal Irish Rifles?

He had the 1914/15 star, war & victory (MiD) medals to add to an IGS95 (2 clasps), QSA (3 clasps) and KSA (2 clasps) & LSGC. All to same regiment.

Steve

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Desmond7

This personal account may be of interest to researchers of early war Royal mirish Rifles actions.

At Neuve Chapelle with the R.I. R.

Lucky getting off with wounds

PRIVATE David Larkin of the 1st Royal Irish Rifles writes as follows to a friend in Ballymena:-

I am in a hospital wounded. I got it on the 11th March at Neuve Chapelle, a bullet through my left forearm and piece of shrapnel shell in the upper part of my right leg.

It was something dreadful to see how some of the men were suffering. I had to crawl on my hands and knees to the dressing station. I shall never forget that battle. My company suffered most; there are only four of us left out of one hundred and I consider myself lucky getting off with the wounds.

The Germans were cut to pieces and lost thousands. They deserved all they got.

From Ballymena Observer April 2, 1915.

I don't know enough about the rules followed by censors. Larkin gives quite a horrifying casualty rate for his company. Was that sort of thing allowed? At a time when recruits were being sought, surely the publication of such details in the local press would have given potential volunteers plenty to think about? Perhaps it may have created a desire for 'revenge' and thus prompted more to join up?

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GJB
I have both of these diaries.

Hi Jimmy,

I don't know if you still have this info but my great uncle was listed as serving with the Royal Irish Rifles at sometime, but I don't know when.

Private Elias Palmer 52271.

He also served with the Royal Warwickshire and the Royal Garrison Artillery so I haven't got a clue how long, and when he was in the rifles.

Any info you have is much needed.

Gary

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richy1968

Hi - I would be interested in any mention of Captain John percy Whelan kia 11/12/1914 2nd Battalion

Many Thanks

Richard

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Jimmy Taylor

Hi Richard,

Here are the details I have for Whelan, sorry for the delay.

Jimmy.

Capt. John Percy Whelan . Born in May 1879, the elder son of Joseph Whelan, Barna, Osbourne Park, Belfast. Educated at Loretto College, near Edinburgh (1891–8). Joined 3rd RIF Militia and, from them, was gazetted a 2/Lt. in 4th Royal Garrison Regt 12.8.1902. Promoted Lt. 21.3.1903. When the regiment was disbanded, July 1905, he was transferred to the RIR. Promoted Capt. 8.3.1910. Bond of Sacrifice: ‘For over two years, from March, 1910, to November 1912, he was Adjutant of the 10th Bn London Regiment. Subsequently he was posted to the 1st Battalion of his regiment at Aden, whence he was invalided home shortly before the declaration of war with Germany … Captain Whelan married Gladys Lily, youngest daughter of the late Captain John Wray Mitchell, of Aroughty Grange, County Roscommon, and left one daughter, Sheila Maureen, born July 1907.’ Joined 2nd RIR 2.11.1914. Commanded 2nd South Lancs 17–24 November. Killed in action 11.12.1914. Burgoyne: ‘Captain Whelan was hit in the chest yesterday and died in about two hours. He was out scouting round with a dog and a rifle. I hear he walked right in rear of the German trenches, and returned safely, and he was hit whilst walking about behind his trench, and in full view of the Germans.’

Irish Times 18.12.1914: ‘ … grandson of the late John Whelan of Rath, Co. Wicklow, and nephew of the late Mr Thomas Whelan, Assistant Inspector-General, Royal Irish Constabulary. The Whelans of Rath are an old Irish family, who held estates in the counties of Carlow and Wicklow, and is two miles from Tullow, in Carlow, with which county the Whelans were always closely associated ... Although on the sick list when hostilities were opened, he at once endeavoured to get to the front, but the doctors would not allow him to proceed on active service until about six weeks ago … His father is well known in Belfast as the agent of the Bank of Ireland in the Donegall Place branch up till he retired last year. Deep sympathy will be extended to Captain Whelan’s parents, his brother, Lieutenant C.B. Whelan of the [7th] King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and his sister in their bereavement.’ Menin Gate Memorial.

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eltoro1960

Captain John Percy Whelan, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, was born in May 1879 and was at Loretto 1891-1898. He played in the XV and the XI. After leaving School he joined the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, and from them was gazetted, in 1902, to the 4th Battalion Royal Garrison Regiment. On the disbandment of the Garrison Regiment he was transferred to the 2nd Royal Irish (now Royal Ulster) Rifles. In 1914 his Battalion was at Aden, and he was at home on sick leave. As soon as he was fit he joined the 2nd Battalion of his Regiment in Flanders, and was killed in the Ypres Salient on December 11th 1914

Will try and get the school photograph for you.

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eltoro1960

Photograph of Capt John Percy Whelan

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John Butt

Hope you can help.

Have you any information on Victor Sandwell who was originall in the Royal West Kents and ended up in the Royal Irish Rifles - this is what we have so far:

Type: Indiv Note 1630 Buffs (East Kent Regiment) - Pte, regt no. 13535 - then 12th Royal Irish Rifles: rose to rank of Serjeant (sic). Birth record either p 951 OR 931 (both in BMD). 40163, 12th Bn, Royal Irish Rifles

Was in India in 1915 with the Buffs

Rank of Serjeant not on service record: presumably a field promotion.

Enlisted at Margate

Dies at Ypres 2 Sep 1918 from CWGC; ('Soldiers and Officers killed in First World War' has 3rd.) Buried at Nieuwkirk Churchyard

Thanks

John

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Desmond7

I am away from home at the mo .. however, if you click on my ´battle´website below you can find out a great deal more about the 12th rifiles, how they were formed etc.

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Michael

John

I think you have your East and West Kents mixed up. Sandwell was with the Buffs (East Kent Regiment), unless you mean he was with the West Kents before he was with the Buffs.

Unfortunately I cannot tell you which Battalion he was with because he doesn't appear on the medal rolls, but if you say he was in India then he would have been 4th Battalion.

Mick

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John Butt
John

I think you have your East and West Kents mixed up. Sandwell was with the Buffs (East Kent Regiment), unless you mean he was with the West Kents before he was with the Buffs.

Unfortunately I cannot tell you which Battalion he was with because he doesn't appear on the medal rolls, but if you say he was in India then he would have been 4th Battalion.

Mick

Hi Mick,

I have his medal roll from TNA and it does say E Kent R - Pte, 13535 so the mistake was mine, probably the lateness of the hour! I need to translate the record at some stage.

The 4th Bttn sounds right as I believe it is on the photos and postcards that we have of his time in India. We also have a phot of his grave in the churchyard prior to the CWGC.

Thanks

John

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AndyJohnson

Can I trouble you to see if there's any information on Captain Charles McMaster MC 7th Bn RIR attd Trench Mortar Battery died 16 August 1917. Son of John and Mary McMaster, of Rose Lodge, Bloomfield, Belfast; husband of Maude Evelyn McMasters, of Mount Royal, Banbridge, Co. Down. Commemorated on Tyne Cott memorial.

Believed to be a relative of a friend of mine.

Thanks

EDIT

Apologies I just noticed that you have the 1st & 2nd RIR diaries not the 7th! I'll leave the post as there's such a depth of knowledge in this august forum, I'll bet someone knows something!

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Michael

John

I've seen the MIC on the other thread and the Buffs number is confusing. Soldiers died says he was formerly 1630 which is a territorial number and fits in nicely with India. The number on his MIC is too high for a TF, too low for a regular and would fit nicely into the New Army category. This would normally have a G prefix but the prefix is quite often left out. BUT a New Army man with a number this high wouldn't have been overseas in 1915.

You mention that you have his service record. Can you give us a precis of his movements

Mick

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John Butt
John

I've seen the MIC on the other thread and the Buffs number is confusing. Soldiers died says he was formerly 1630 which is a territorial number and fits in nicely with India. The number on his MIC is too high for a TF, too low for a regular and would fit nicely into the New Army category. This would normally have a G prefix but the prefix is quite often left out. BUT a New Army man with a number this high wouldn't have been overseas in 1915.

You mention that you have his service record. Can you give us a precis of his movements

Mick

Hi Mick

His movements are confusing as you will see from the list of photos and postcards and info below.

1915

Postcard of No 7. Platoon B Coy: 6th Btn “The Buffs”. Aldershot 1915

Postcard produced by A. H. Styles of Canterbury of The Buffs Colours and Battle Honours with inset of Victor Sandwell.

(Reverse of card says: For India October 29th from Broadstairs)

Postcard of Victor probably produced in India of Victor with cane and pith helmet (no indication of rank)

(Reverse of card says: To May from Vic. With Greetings for Easter. (May, my grandmother has dated it 1915.)

Postcard from Mhow India, 1915.

(Reverse of card says “ Here is a photo our company. Received your letter of the 28th Dec, Vic)

1916

Series of photographs

The Jolly Boys and their Jester. Cpls of the 1-4th Buffs, Bareilly India, April 1916

Main Post Office Bareilly

St Stephen Church, Cantonment, Bareilly

Dhobes Ghat, Natives washing our clothes, Bareilly

Town Hall (City) Bareilly

Wild monkeys in a jungle near Bareilly City. You will notice that I got two natives to entice the monkeys towards the camera with food.

City Street Scene, Bareilly

Anglo Indian Hospital, City, Bareilly

Standing camp, Dulikhat Barracks, Ranikhat, 4th Buffs Station

Bhanson Rest Camp en route to Ranikhet. Photo taken main road up.

The 1-4 Buffs shaving saloon at Ranikhet, India, July 1916

Suddar Bazar, Street Scene, Ranikhet. Note the steep hill.

Postcard (Lankester, Ronmey Studio, Tunbridge Wells)

Dated May 16th Crowborough. (looks like Crowborough Camp) Vic seated on bench furthest right.

1917

Postcard (? Tower Studios, 1 Marine Terrace, Margate)

Victor Sandwell January 12th 1917

Undated postcard (Foster and Harwood, 3a Clarence Street, Brighton) No 145, Soldiers and Bell Tents Victor Sandwell, Back Row, second from right.

On War Memorial, Westgate on Sea

Undated postcard of Church Army Graves Pilgrims Hospital

Photograph of Ypres – Town Extension Cemetery (Photo Antony 290824-1) handwritten date on back (May’s handwriting) Wednesday 7th May.

Death: Ypres 2 Sep from CWGC; 'Soldiers and Officers killed in First World War' has 3rd.

Burial: Nieuwkerke Graveyard

Victor had two brothers who survived the war. Lionel and Leonard (Len). They too may have been in the Buffs as I have photo's of them in uniform. There was also a cousin Alf (again photos in uniform) it's possible he was in the Buffs too but there is no way to identify the unit.

John

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Michael

It looks like there are some red herrings in there. There is a Stephen Sandwell who was killed with the 8th Bn at Loos in 1915. Is he any relation to Victor?

I would very much like to see the images. Is there any chance you could email me some scans

Mick

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John Butt
It looks like there are some red herrings in there. There is a Stephen Sandwell who was killed with the 8th Bn at Loos in 1915. Is he any relation to Victor?

I would very much like to see the images. Is there any chance you could email me some scans

Mick

No problems sending pics - just need to work out how to do it through the forum!

There are a lot of Sandwells in Thanet - we've not been able to prove a link with Stephen's branch.

I'll also add in Alf, Len and Lionel's photos.

I'll put them in a zip file

John

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joseshackleton

Hi, My Grandfather was assigned to 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles as Rifleman Private John Espey 4/22752 after his own battalion, the 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was disbanded in February 1918. I was wondering if there is mention of this re-orgainisation in the war diaries. Also, my Grandfather was wounded by machine gun fire and I'm assuming this must have happened at some time after this transfer. I don't expect for a second that there is any reference to him but I would like to know what the diary says from this point to the end of the war if possible. Thanks.

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djcrtoye

Hi, have you any information on Private John Wilson 2179 kia 10-10-1916, the reason I ask he is included on my database to the war dead of my home town. I am trying to gather some informatiion behind the names of the men. Thanks.

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paul searing
I have both of these diaries.

Hi Jimmy

Hope Im note to late

could you please see if Lance Corparal Royal Irish Regiment is listed anywere on your war diaries he kikked 3/9/1916

I have a friend who we are helping to research.

many thanks

Paul

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ypres

I have both of these diaries.

Hi, Jimmy. Are you still open to the offer of look ups. I am researching this man. 2nd Lieut James Furniss, K.I.A. 31/7/1917, 1st bn R.I.R. Any information prior to, and up to that date would be of great help. P.M. or email if you wish. Thanking you in advance, Regards. JIM

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Desmond7

Full context for operations .. see casualty list

III - THE BATTLE OF PILCKEM RIDGE.

During the latter part of the month of June, all three battalions - 1st, 2nd, and 7th - were, therefore, training for the great attack at Ypres. The 1st Battalion, which had been in the Strazeele area from the 4th, had ten days' more training, from the 19th, at Steenvoorde. Almost all the training consisted of practice for attack on trenches, and it was obvious that the Battalion was to be highly tested within the next few weeks. There were changes in command during June. Lieut.-Colonel E. C. Lloyd was succeeded by Lieut.-Colonel R. Daunt, but the latter returned to England at the end of the month, and was succeeded by Lieut.-Colonel A. D. Reid, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

On June 29th the Battalion moved to Dominion Camp, west of Ypres. The Salient, which had been comparatively quiet during the height of the Somme battle, had now flared up again, and its back areas were certainly more dangerous and unpleasant than at any time since the beginning of the war. The cause of this was the great increase in long-range shelling, with high-velocity guns, and in the number and size of bombs dropped by aeroplanes.

There was, therefore, little rest in the camps, which were generally bombed at night and shelled during the daytime. It is scarcely necessary to add that as one moved east of Ypres the shelling increased in at least arithmetical progression, though in the actual front line it was lighter than upon its approaches. And yet the supreme memory left by the Salient during the summer months of 1917 is one rather of disgust than fear. Rather even than the shelling and the bombing one recalls the all-pervading stench of dead horses, mingled with whiffs of gas, that lay upon it like a pall in those days.

The Battalion did not have a long spell in the line under these conditions. On the night of July 6th it relieved the 1st Sherwood Foresters of the 24th Brigade in the trenches about the Ypres - Roulers railway. It was a wild night, and the shelling of the Ramparts by big howitzers as the Battalion moved up was a sight of mingled terror and magnificence. By luck and good judgement companies * were got through between the storms, and the relief accomplished almost without loss. Headquarters, in a good dug-out in Railway Wood, had a narrow escape of being completely destroyed within a few hours of its arrival. At 5 a.m. next morning there was suddenly a fearful flash and explosion, and the electric lights went out. On candles being lit, two dead bodies were found at the foot of the stairs, the wood ceiling had been rent in pieces, even the papers on the table were torn and scattered all over the place. Apparently a large trench-mortar bomb had burst in the very mouth of the dug-out and blown it in. The dead bodies were those of two orderlies who had been sitting on the stairs, probably asleep.

In the circumstances the escape of the rest of the headquarters was little short of marvellous. The orderly-room sergeant is described as having been "blown through the table," and yet was not seriously hurt.

On July 9th the Battalion was relieved by the 10th Cheshire, and moved to Dominion Camp. Two days later it was entrained at Ouderdom to the Tournehem training area. The officers knew that the attack would be made from the trenches they had been holding, and had studied the ground carefully from observation posts and the front line. Then Colonel Reid set himself to train his men to the utmost. Everything was worked out in smallest detail. Lectures were given daily to the men and photographs circulated giving views of the enemy's position taken from aeroplanes. Mingled with hard training, as much amusement as possible was provided for the men in the training area, and after a fortnight spent in the open air in fine weather, the Battalion was thoroughly fit and in good spirits.

On the 24th it entrained at Audricq for Hopoutre, expressively known to the troops as "Hop-out," since it was the chief detraining station for the Salient for troops returning from their training. On the 30th came the approach march for the great battle. The description of the movement may be given in the vivid words of Captain G. Whitfeld, the Adjutant

"All companies having reported present, we proceeded on our way, going by a cross-country route. Our route led us fight through the heavy batteries just north of the Kruisstraathoek - Ypres road. We reached this place at twelve midnight, and were floundering along in the dark in single file, the Commanding Officer and myself leading, while there were blinding flashes all around us. The great counter-battery bombardment had opened.

"The 'going' was frightfully slow owing to the weights the men were carrying and the fact that we had the whole of the 2nd Lincolns in single file in front of us. However, we pushed on and crossed the canal at 12.30, having taken three and a half hours to do four miles - we still had four to go. Soon after crossing the canal a message came back to say that the Germans were shelling Shrapnel Corner. I knew this corner of old. It was one of the most terrible places in the Ypres Salient. It was on the main route and situated about a quarter of a mile from Lille Gate on the Ypres - Messines road. On arrival at this dreaded spot we were fortunate, for, owing to a lull, the whole Battalion got past with only one casualty.

Then commenced one of the most terrible marches I ever experienced. Try to imagine for yourself a dark night, a shell-swept track, the stench of dead horses (for no man dared wait in that region), and the sickly smell of asphyxiating gas; then, perhaps you can realize more or less what that night was like. It is a horrible sensation to be floundering along in the dark with a gas helmet over one's head, and falling into shell-holes. I got so 'fed up' that I removed the helmet from my eyes, keeping, however, the tube in my mouth. At last we reached our destination, Halfway House, where it had previously been arranged that all men should be under cover. This, however, was not the case, and the men just flopped down and fell asleep, regardless of gas and high explosive shells that came over at frequent intervals. The Colonel, Browne, and myself then went down into the dug-out, which was half under water, and full of troops, and got into a small recess which had been reserved for us. All three sat on a bed and in five minutes were asleep, but only for one hour - I never remembered an hour passing quicker."

In these Ypres battles it often appears as though the extraordinary difficulties of assembly and the fact that after accomplishing it troops had, through fatigue, frequently lost three-fourths of their fighting value, were not fully realized by the higher command. Let it be remembered that in this case the Battalion was not even moving to the trenches. It was to take part in the second phase of the attack, and its destination, Halfway House, was at least a mile from the British front line.

The 25th Brigade was to pass through the 23rd and 24th Brigades on the Westhoek Ridge, along which ran the Frezenberg - Westhoek road. Its own objective was the "Green" Line, an imaginary line running west of Zonnebeke village and through the western edge of Polygon Wood. This second phase of the attack was to be carried out by three battalions in line - the 2nd Lincolnshire on the right, 1st Royal Irish Rifles in the centre, and 2nd Rifle Brigade on the left.

At 6.50 a.m. it was reported that the attack of the 23rd and 24th Brigades had been a complete success, and the Battalion was ordered to move forward to the Westhoek Ridge in artillery formation. There was a certain amount of shell-fire, but by careful "dodging" the old German front line was safely reached. Here wire and shell-holes slowed down the advance. But on approaching the ridge it was soon discovered that the position was not exactly what had been anticipated. The leading brigades had, in fact, carried out a very fine attack, but were not, unfortunately in possession of the " Black " Line on the Westhoek Ridge as their commanders believed. General Coffin, who did not like the look of the situation, was informed that there were only a few snipers and one or two machine guns still holding out. It was accordingly decided to carry out the attack as originally planned. When the new barrage for the attack on the "Green" Line fell, at "Zero+6 hours 20 minutes," the Battalion went forward in perfect order.

Unfortunately, General Coffin's apprehensions had been only too well-founded. The left company found itself pinned to the ground by the fire of machine guns beyond which our barrage had fallen. The company commander ordered I section rushes, but casualties in the first minute were so heavy, and obviously so fruitless, that he was forced to desist, and withdraw to his original line to consolidate it. The right company was held up for similar reasons, and owing to the fact that the division on the right was held up. The centre company got to the Hannebeke Brook, a truly magnificent feat in the circumstances. But it was found impossible to maintain this isolated position, and the company had to be withdrawn likewise.

Colonel Reid, who had been in command but a short time, but had already won the affection and confidence of all ranks, was killed shortly after the opening of the action.

Some local counter-attacks were beaten off. But at 3 p.m. there was one much more serious, delivered by fresh troops in marching order, who had, according to the subsequent reports of observers, been brought into Zonnebeke in lorries.

Its full weight fell upon the Lincolnshire and Irish Rifles, and in places it reached our front line. Then the men who had fallen back were rallied by the few officers remaining, and led back to the attack. The Germans were driven out, leaving many dead; A machine gun which the attacking wave had brought forward was captured. The counter attack was definitely broken, and the ground won by the 23rd and 24th Brigades, which represented a substantial success, held. The Battalion was relieved at ii p.m. that night, and as the word is suggestive of an orderly exchange, the words of Captain Whitfeld, who now found himself in command of his battalion, may again be quoted

"It was impossible to send the message round to the company commanders, because there was no definite line, and the orderlies would in all probability walk into ' No Man's Land' and be captured. How that relief was completed I do not know to this day.

CASUALTIES OF 1ST BATTALION

The order was that on relief the Battalion was to take up its position in the old German front line. This I was unable to communicate to the non-commissioned officers, but I fancied I should find them it Halfway House next day, and I was right."

These are the words of an experienced campaigner. One with less knowledge of human nature would have pictured the remnants of the Battalion wandering about Flanders in the dark. But the soldier, after an attack, with no orders and almost too tired to think coherently, trudges with a dog-like instinct straight to the point where he slept or lay an hour or two for rest before he moved to his position of assembly.

The Battalion moved back to the Steenvoorde area on August 5th, where it received orders that all deficiencies were to be made up forthwith, and was set to carry out training and reorganization. Its losses had been heavy enough, but were on the whole less than might have been expected from the nature of the fighting. It had left considerable reinforcements out of action, going in at a strength of only 20 officers and 620 other ranks. Of the officers 6 were killed, including the colonel, and 7 wounded. *

* Killed : Lieut.-ColoneI Reid, 2nd-Lieutenants L. C. Byrne, R. K. Pollen, T. Furness, H. Brown, P. Doherty. Wounded Captain G. Meckett, 2nd-Lieutenants C. Reid (Leinsters), P. Breen, E. L. Burke-Murphy, R. A. Veitch, E. Daniel, M. H. Jeffares.

 

Of other ranks 30 were killed, 145 wounded, and i8 missing. The Battalion had gone into the battle at a very high pitch of efficiency, trained to the hour and full of goodwill. General Coffin, whose splendid courage and leadership in the reorganization of his troops won for him the supreme award of the Victoria Cross, spoke in highest terms of the work that had been done. Major-General Heneker, commanding the 8th Division, after speaking of the victory, won by the 23rd and 24th Brigades, added "The 25th Infantry Brigade's attack went well until held up by cross-fire from the high ground. The Army Commander recognizes this."

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ypres

HI, Desmond7. Thankyou for a most detailed account, just what i was looking for. owe you a pint!. JIM

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GrahamC

I'll just tack this request on the end .....

One of my Buxton lads was k.i.a. on 9 May 1915, serving with 1st Bn. R.I.R. and I was hoping someone could let me have a copy of the Diary for that day.

He is :poppy: Sgt. 7137 Arthur BURGESS - according to SDGW one of 9 Officers and 179 men killed that day.

Many thanks for looking

Graham

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