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Remembered Today:

1/4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders


Andrew Marshall
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Hi All

Does anyone have any information about this unit immediately prior to and including the attack on Aubers Ridge 9th May 1915. I am researching two men from Gravesend; one who survived the attack and one who died.

Pte 2567 (Arthur William) Donald Gibson - KIA 09.05.15

Pte 2568 Christopher Vincent Nithsdale Vine - later commissioned into the D.C.L.I. and subsequently KIA 18.08.16

I know that they went to France on 13th March 1915 after enlisting at Bedford on the 8th January 1915. I have a couple of pages of the Ross-Shire Roll of Honour and this lists them under the heading 'second draft' and shows them in "B" Company.

Does anyone know if they went straight to the Battalion on arrival in France?

Regards

Andrew

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Andrew

Have you read the page in the Long Long Trail about the 7th Meerut Division of which the 1/4 Seaforths were a member of the Dehra Dun Brigade ? There is a grim passage about the loss of 1/4s troops in the Aubers attack if you click on that battle on the Division's page.

Meerut, and the 1/4th, were in theatre from Dec 1914. Your men didn't seem to have much time for training from enlistment to battle,perhaps they did training at home and then a further period in France,say,somewhere like Etaples where there was a very large training area,and then prior to the known commitment to fighting Aubers they were drafted in to their Bn. These two men could have been reservists called up for the hostilities,hence the short training spell.

You can pick up C V N Vine's Officer service record at Kew in the WO339 series,or in the WO374 series for deceased Officer's estate matters.

Sotonmate

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Andrew,

Cannot add much more to Sotonmate's post.

1/4 (Ross-Highland) Bn Seaforths - mobilised 4/8/14 at Dingwall - first set on preparing defenses at Nigg for the naval base at Cromarty. Moved to Bedford and brought upto strength with new recruits.

One of the first territorial battalions to go to France - arriving 6/11/14. Bn kept to rear areas due to outbreak of Scarlet Fever. 20/12/14 joined 1st Seaforth in 19 Indian (Dehra Dun) Brigade, 7th Indian (Meerut) Div.

First major action - Neuve Chapelle 10/3/15 - lost 168 casualties but acquited itself well beside regulars.

Suffered over 200 casualties at Aubers Ridge alongside 1st Seaforth in May 1915.

++

So, needs a look at the Bn war diary! Guess they were out of the line recuperating after Neuve Chapelle and before Aubers Ridge.

Sorry it is not more helpful.

Ian

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Hi Andrew,

The following is taken from Westlake's 'Battalions on the Western Front 1915'. Hope it may be of some use,

cheers, Jon

March

...moved to billets near Locon on the 13th, Bout de la Ville 24th, then camp on the Estaires-La Basee road. Took over trenches in Duck's Bill sector 28th. Relieved on 31st and moved back to camp.

April

Marched via Vielle Chpelle and Port Levis to La Croix-Marmuse on 1st. Took over trenches in Front of Neuve Chapelle 11th. Positions recorded as near Brewery Road and in Hill's Redoubt. Lt MA Fitzroy killed by sniper on 16th. Relieved on 27th and to billets between the crossroads at Les Huit Maisons and Vielle Chapelle.

May

Moved up into Rue du Bois trenches between the 5th and 8th. Took part in attack on Aubers Ridge on 9th. WD records leading company going over the top wearing gas masks at 5.30 am. A letter from one member of the battalion that was published in 'The Morning Post' noted how 'C' Coy got up, scrambled, with the aid of many hands, from the trenches and flung themselves over the parapet. Immediately an absolute hail of bullets met them - '...down, backwards and forwards'. Moving slowly forward foot by foot the attackers trod - 'through grass in many places even then soaking with blood'. Battalion relieved and withdrew to billest near Riez Bailleul. Total casualties - 216 including Lt's CG Tennant, AT Railton and 2nd Lt S Bastin killed. Moved to Vielle Chapelle on 11th...

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Thanks to all of you for replying to my enquiry.

I have read the passage in the Long Long Trail and I have the service records, MIC, medal roll, newspaper cuttings and original letter by Pte Vine written after the battle.

I also have the MIC death certificate and entries in the Ross-Shire nominal roll for Gibson including a newspaper cutting.

I will post what I have when I have written it up a bit more, I was really looking for details of the battle at Aubers Ridge and as Ian has said a visit to Kew and the war diaries is in order I feel!

Thanks for your help everyone.

Regards

Andrew

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Hi,

It looks as if they spent about 10 days moving towards the front line.

At 4.45pm on 13th March the 1/4 Seaforths marched to billets in the vicinity of Locon where it reorganised and refitted. On 23rd March a draft of 128 men arrived from Bedford.

On April 11th the Batallion moved into the right of Brewery Road in front of Neuve Chapelle, and in Hills Redoubt. They remained here until the 27th April when they were relieved by the Garhwal Rifles to billets around Les Huit Maisons and Vieille Chapelle.

On the 5th May one and a half companies moved up to a position on the Rue du Bois, on the left of the 6th Jats who were in the orchard. On 7th May orders were explained relating to the attack in which the 1/4 were to co-operate. From right to left the 2/2 Gurkhas, 1/4 Seaforths and 1 Seaforths, with the 6th Jats and 1/9 Gurkhas in support (Read Operation Order No 21, dated 6th May 1915 & map pgs 46-47 in "Aubers Ridge" in the Battleground Europe series)

The objective of the Dehra Dun Brigade was to carry the enemy lines to the farther side of the Bois du Biez and link up with IV Corps.

The attack was a dreadful failure, the Battalion only getting about half way across in short rushes, the few who got further were held up by the still intact wire. Casualties would have been heavier if Major Cuthbert had not refused to allow his left half Battalion (No 3 & 4 Companies) to leave the trenches. At roll call on the 10th May only 5 men of No.1 Company answered their names and a similar number from No.2.

The final count given in the history was 3 Officers and 62 OR's killed; 5 Officers and 127 OR's wounded; 19 OR's missing, all believed killed.

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Thank you very much Martin

So the draft on the 23rd of March is probably the one containing my two men (well four actually as they met two other chaps at the training camp in Bedford and made four chums). So for 10 days they did something else? Considering that they only enlisted on the 8th January that is not much training but then again it's probably not much more now.

The Ross-Shire roll states that they were part of the second draft and that they were assigned to No.2 company - I take it that the companies were numbered rather than lettered A,B,C ect - did this continue throughout the war or did they change to the lettering system I wonder?

Of the four chums who went from the Bedford camp only Pte Vine came out of it unscathed; two were killed and the other wounded.

I'll post a scan of Pte Vine's letter later

Regards

Andrew

post-385-1212354986.jpg

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Hi

Thank you for scan. The Companies did retain their numbers right throughout the war. I suspect that very little training took place in the 10 days it took the draft to reach the Battalion. I should imagine that they were ushered from pillar to post, no doubt "getting in the way" as they made their way towards the front.

Martin

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  • 4 years later...

Sergeant James Mitchell, DCM 4th Seaforth Highlanders

Does anyone have any additional information on Sgt Mitchell , especially when / where he won his DCM . Since it was gazetted in October 1918

I am assuming he earned the award during the Summer / Autumn 1918 , the last 100 days

Sergeant Mitchell’s DCM was announced in the 30 October

1918 London Gazette: “For conspicuous gallantry and

devotion to duty. At a critical moment in an attack, when

two platoons were held up by machine-gun fire, he led

forward his Lewis gun section and by silencing the

machine guns enabled the advance to continue. Again, by

skillful deployment of his platoon he destroyed parties of

the enemy as they left a wood, and under very heavy fire he

pushed resolutely forward. Throughout, his great gallantry

and capable leadership inspired all ranks with confidence

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