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Remembered Today:

2 Bn KOYLI and 5 Div


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Dear All,

compliments of the season.

Grateful for advice on 2 Bn KOYLI during early 1915 - when did it arrive in France and how did it get to the Zwarteleen Salient? Trying to piece together the movements of my great uncle who joined up in Sheffield (don't know how, where or when), did his basic recruit training (again, no idea where or when) then left for France from Hull on 22 April 1915. 15 days later he was killed and posted missing on the night of 6/7 May 1915 in the Zwarteleen Salient with 2 Bn KOYLI. His name is on the Menen Gate.

Any hints on where I might try to find out more, gratefully received. I've already looked at 5 Div on this website but no mention of 2 Bn KOYLI or the Zwarteleen Salient.

Happy New Year and a Peaceful 2004 to you all.

Kerry

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Kerry

Zwartelen is just to the east of Hill 60. There is a little bit

of information in the 2nd Div history so I will give you some

information tomorrow. I also have the KOSB history and

one of their battalions was in the same brigade as 2nd KOYLI

so there may be further info there

Geoff

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Hello Kerry

2nd KOYLI is listed in the 5th Division order of battle, in 13th Brigade: here.

Elsewhere on the site is the story of Harold Clayton, who fought with the 2nd Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). They were in the same Brigade - 13th - as 2nd KOYLI.

Here is his story/the battalion diary from the time. Note that the sector is called Zillebeke, rather than Zwarteleen.

"When Harold moved to join this battalion on 20 January 1915, the battalion was still being rebuilt from the losses sustained at Ypres (in late 1914). Even though it was under strength, it had to play a part in occupying the trenches – which in this part of the front were in an appalling, flooded condition throughout the winter – as no reserves were yet available. The main movements and remarks from the diary are as follows:

January 1915

20: Battalion in trenches at Wulverghem.

21: moved to support billets at Dranouter.

23: back to trenches at Wulverghem.

24: moved out to Divisional Reserve, in billets in Bailleul.

28: A draft of 1 officer and 121 other ranks joined the Battalion. (This almost certainly included Harold).

February 1915

1: moved to trenches south of Wulverghem – Messines road.

5: moved out, to support positions at Lindenhoek.

6: back to trenches at Wulverghem.

10: moved out to Divisional Reserve, in billets in Bailleul.

19: moved to billets half a mile south of Vlamertinghe (between Ypres and Poperinghe).

20: moved to dugouts in the vicinity of Zillebeke. (30 casualties from shellfire on this tour. The activity at Zillebeke was intense, with much dangerous work at and near Hill 60, under sniper and shell fire.).

26: relieved, to billets at Vlamertinghe.

March 1915:

1: moved to dugouts in the vicinity of Zillebeke.

4: moved to Ypres.

7: moved to dugouts in the vicinity of Zillebeke.

11: relieved, and moved to huts at Ouderdom.

15: moved to trenches at Kruisstraat (south of Ypres).

16: back to Ouderdom.

19: moved to trenches at Kruisstraat.

20: moved to support positions at Lankhof Farm and Rosendael Chateau (south of Ypres).

21: very heavy shelling.

25: moved to billets at Kruisstraat.

April 1915

1: In the D Sector trenches at Zillebeke. Quiet day. About 20 shells were fired in and around Battalion Headquarters at Dormy House. Casualties two wounded.

2: In the D Sector trenches at Zillebeke. Quiet day. One man killed by a sniper (10818 Pte Fisher C Company). Relieved by Royal W. Kent Regt. completed by 11.15pm. A Company went into support at Tuileries. Battalion, less Company, marched on relief to Ypres Infantry Barracks in support to D Sector. Draft of 30 NCOs and men arrived to join Battalion.

3: In support at Infantry Barracks. Bishop of London visited Ypres and addressed troops. C Company relieved A Company as support Company to Royal W. Kent Regt. Orderly Room held.

4:Easter Day Service held in the Barracks. Church Parade at 11.30am. Battalion relieved Royal W. Kent Regt in the D Sector trenches. Relief completed by 11pm. Casualties one wounded.

5: In the D Sector trenches at Zillebeke. Quiet day. Battalion Headquarters was shelled for a few minutes, no damage. Lt Col. P.A. Turner arrived in Ypres to take over command of Battalion. Casualties one killed (9569 Pte Kennedy A Company). Three wounded.

6: In the D Sector trenches at Zillebeke. Quiet day. Casualties one killed, three wounded. 2/Lt Cunningham, 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, joined. Battalion relieved by Royal W. Kent Regt. Relief completed by 10.30pm. Three Companies moved into support in Ypres Barracks. One (D) Company remained in support at Tuileries and railway embankment.

7: In support at Infantry Barracks. Heavy shelling of the town about 8am. Casualty one killed. B relieved D Company in support dugouts.

8: In support at Infantry Barracks. Quiet day. Battalion relieved Royal W. Kent Regt in the D Sector trenches. Casualties two killed, two wounded.

9: In the D Sector trenches at Zillebeke. Fairly quiet day. Battalion Headquarters shelled by light field gun for a few minutes. Little harm done. Our artillery opened, with effect. Trench 50 shelled. Enemy’s gun silenced after a few minutes. Casualties one wounded.

10: In the D Sector trenches at Zillebeke. Quiet day. Battalion relieved at 8pm and 10pm by the Bedfords and Cheshires. Reliefs all completed by 12.30am. Battalion moved to billets in Ypres, in reserve to 5th Division. Casualties 1 killed, 5 wounded.

11: In Divisional Reserve. Battalion in billets – general cleaning up. Orderly Room held. Enemy’s aeroplanes active during evening. Casualty (by shell falling in town) one slightly wounded.

12: In Divisional Reserve. Quiet day. Lt. F.R. Thackeray and 48 other ranks joined Battalion from Base.

13: In Divisional Reserve. Voluntary Church of England service at 11.30am. Battalion in billets.

14: In Divisional Reserve. Battalion in billets. Battalion found working parties for 15th Brigade in trenches.

15: In Divisional Reserve. Battalion in billets. Working parties night and day for 15th Brigade.

16: In Divisional Reserve. Battalion in billets. Working parties night and day for 15th Brigade. Battalion digging dugouts near Zillebeke -----?

17: In Divisional Reserve. Battalion in billets. Working parties digging dugouts for Battalion. Battalion moved into dugouts on railway embankment near Zillebeke.

18: At 6am on the 18 April 1915, the Battalion were called out of their dugouts near Ypres to relieve the Royal West Kents and King’s Own Scottish Borderers who had attacked and captured Hill 60 the previous night but had been bombed out of the advanced trench and were holding three craters caused by the explosion of our mines, on the near side of the hill. About 9am, A Company under Captain Milbank took over the craters from the West Kents and KOSBs. They were bombed with hand grenades etc and lost heavily. Their losses including Capt Milbank, 2?lts Cunningham and Edwards all wounded. During the day they were reinforced by B Company under Captain Ellis who was killed shortly afterwards, and a platoon each from C and D Companies. About 4.30pm orders were received that the hill was to be attacked at 6pm by the Battalion, supported by the KOYLI. The remainder of the Battalion then moved up into the craters and at 6pm, under supporting artillery fire, charged with fixed bayonets. The Right Section was assigned to B Company (Capt Hanson), the centre to C Company (Capt Barlow) and the left to D Company (Capt Taylor). B Company, who had a certain amount of cover, reached the German trenches with comparatively few casualties, which however included Lt Owen killed. C Company charged over about 50 yards of open ground and suffered heavily, Captain Barton and about 11 men reaching the German trench. Hey, however, were sufficient to kill, capture and put to flight the German garrison of it. Pte Beham and Dryden reached the right extension of the trench, killed three Germans, captured two and drove away the remainder. Pte Beham recommended for VC, Pte Dryden for DCM. Captain Barton and the remainder occupied the German trench. D Company had to charge over open ground and at the start lost all their officers (Captain Taylor, Lt Thackeray and 2/Lt Croft killed, and 2/Lts Crisp and Cheetham wounded). Supported by the KOYLI however they captured the German trenches, having suffered very heavily. The trenches were then strengthened, the German communication trenches blocked and communication trenches to our own reserves made. Meanwhile Lt Col Turner, who with the Adjutant was with the second line on the top of Hill 60, in front of the crater, was wounded twice and Major Tyndall DSO was severely wounded while directing the charge. A Company, who had suffered heavily during the day, were relieved just before the charge and acted as reserves. Beyond some unsuccessful grenade throwing, sniping and some heavy shelling on the trenches, no counter attacks on the captured trenches were made while they were held by the Battalion.

19: The Battalion was relieved at 5am. The total casualties during this battle were: Officers killed 6 wounded 11. Other ranks killed 29 wounded 334, missing 40.

Harold was among the 334 men wounded in the craters and trenches of Hill 60".

I know it's not the same battalion but the stories will be very similar. Hope that helps.

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Hello Kerry

I have the KOYLI history so I can scan and mail you the relevant bits and pieces if you wish.

Andy

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Kerry

Here's the information on the 2nd KOYLI and 5th Div. that I gleaned from

three different sources.

2nd Bn KOYLI had been in France with 13th Bde, 5th Division, since August 1914,

participating in Mons and the subsequent retreat, Battle of the Marne, Battle of the

Aisne, the La Basee front,. moving north to participate in the First Battle of Ypres.

At the beginning of April 1915, the Division moved from Wulverghem to the

southern part of the Ypres salient, taking over the line from the east of the mound

at St. Eloi by the Bluff, Hill 60, and Zwartelen to the western edge of Armagh

Wood. On 22nd April 1915 the Germans launched their gas attack on the northern

part of the salient. 13th Brigade were ordered to the north to assist in relieving the

pressure and recapturing the lost ground.

The Brigade participated in fighting there until 27th April when it was relieved but remained

in the northern part of the salient until finally rejoining 5th Division on 4th May.

The following day the Germans released a gas attack at Hill 60 and despite a strong

defence they captured the British positions from Hill 60 to Zwartelen which now formed

a salient into the British positions. At 9pm on 5th May, 13th Brigade moved from

Ouderdom with orders to counter-attack and re-take Hill 60. The troops had only

had only just returned from the north the previous day and their losses had not been

made good.

The plan of attack was for 2nd Bn KOSB to assault on the right and attack Hill 60,

1st West Kents on the left were ordered to attack the trenches to the north of Hill 60.

2nd KOYLI were in reserve. The attack failed and both battalions retired to their

original start line. A renewed attacked was to be made on the 7th May. On 6th May

13th Brigade consolidated their positions. There was much enemy shelling and sniping in

and around the old front line. Preparations were made for a second counter-attack to take

place at 2.30am the following morning. Only 2nd KOYLI was to participate in this second

attack.

The 1st Cheshire held trenches in front of Hill 60, Trench 38, immediately against the

railway line, Trench 39 which extended in a sweeping curve northwards in front of

the hill and part of Trench 40, the Germans occupying the remainder of the trench. Each

separated by a trench block. There would be no artillery support for the attack and the

signal to attack was when the Cheshire's blew their trench block. The 2nd KOYLI would

launch their attack from Trench 41 straight towards the German line and the salient

beyond. Two companies would make the attack, A and B. The planned blowing of the

trench block did not happen but the two companies attacked anyway and they met

withering machine gun and rifle fire. Although reduced in numbers a few men from

both companies managed to get into the German trenches. But many were

trapped by enemy fire in front of the enemy's trenches. The attack was a failure and cost

2nd KOYLI, 11 officer and 177 OR casualties.

If your great uncle did not leave UK until 22/4/15, the date of the German offensive,

I would assume he arrived just prior to the Battalions attack at Hill 60 and fell during this

attack on 6/7th May. Unless he was a regular returning after being wounded in 1914,

it must have been a bewildering experience for him, to no sooner arrive and be thrown into an

attack in the middle of the night.

Geoff

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