Part One RECOGNITION The Worcestershire Regiment August 1917

Recognition

The Worcestershire Regiment

August 1917

By

Martin Newman

Printed and Published by Recognition In Music Holland 2006

Helping a fellow Soldier out the mud.

This book is dedicated to the memory of

Albert Bentley Newman and
“Jack” John Richard Dunford
who along with 21 Men from the
3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment
who gave their lives for Freedom

on

Saturday the 11th of August 1917.

“I died in hell – ( They called it Passchendaele )
My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back, and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duckboards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light. “

Siegfried Sassoon.

Acknowledgements

The author would like to record his appreciation to the
following for their help and encouragement with this
publication. Mrs D. Mountford,, M. Hoksbergen, Mr Peter
Morris, Mrs Elizabeth Millward, Mr Jon Millward, Mr
Michael Jones, Mr Louis Scully, Mr Mick Wilks, Mr Tony
Abrahams and everybody involved with the history of the
Worcestershire Regiments glorious history, who have
helped me research this period in time.
This small book would not have been possible without the
wonderful reference book “The Worcestershire Regiment
In The Great War” by Capt H. FitzM. Stacke M.C.
(Captain Henry F. Stacke 1891 – 1935 ) Kidderminster.
G.T. Cheshire & Sons Ltd Coventry Street 1928. Also
included are a small collection of photographs from the
time period Aug 1917 by Captain F. Hurley (FH)
The other photographs are from the vast collection found
from sources to numerous to mention here related to the
period of 1917.

FORWARD

This book is a tribute to all the Men who gave their lives in
the First World War. The purpose of this book is to help the
reader understand the smaller details of the history of the
Worcestershire Regiment during the month of August
1917, including where relevant the months of July, and
September 1917 during the Third Battle of Ieper, of which
the Worcestershire Regiment played a large and costly part.
I have attempted to produce as accurate an account as the
records can provide. I hope you enjoy it.

On Tuesday the 31st of July 1917, behind a creeping
barrage, the allied troops climbed out of the their trenches
and attacked along the whole front line, from Boesinghe in
the North, to Le Gheer in the South, and advanced towards
the German front lines. The enemy’s first line of defense
was quickly taken (the Germans had adapted the scheme of
defense in depth, which consisted of a thinly defended
front lines of machine gun outposts and a heavily defended
support line) and the Allies pushed forward about one mile
before meeting much stiffer resistance. Later in the
afternoon the advance was stopped and pushed back in
places by a carefully coordinated counter attack by
specially trained German troops. However a worse enemy
was the weather , the worst in August for 70 years with
heavy rainfall and storms which turned the whole
battlefield area into a quagmire.
The British and Commonwealth soldiers who gave their
lives are commemorated at the Menin Gate Memorial in
Ieper, the Tyne Cot Memorial to the missing, and at the
Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War
Graves Commission cemetery in the world with nearly
12,000 graves.
Passchendaele has come to symbolise the horrific nature of
the great battles of the First World War. The Germans lost
approximately 270,000 men, it is estimated that the British
lost about 300,000 casualties (35 men for every yard
gained) including 36,500 Australians and 16,000 Canadians
who were lost in the intense final assault between Friday 9th
the 26th of October and Saturday the 10th of November,
the French lost around 8,500.
90,000 British and Australian bodies were never identified,
and 42,000 never recovered, many of them were lost to the
mud of Flanders and have no known grave.

NOTES ON THE ORGANISATION OF THE
ARMY

A Battalion at full war strength consisted of approximately
one thousand fighting men, commanded by a Lieutenant-
Colonel, who was assisted by a Second-in-Command ( the
senior Major ), an Adjutant and a Quarter master. The
Battalion was subdivided into Battalion Headquarters
(which included the Battalion Signalers, Transport,
Machine-guns, Band and Drums ) and four Companies.
Each Company was commanded by a Captain ( or a Major)
and consisted of some 200 men of all ranks, subdivided
into four Platoons. Each Platoon was commanded by a
Subaltern ( Lieutenant or Second-Lieutenant ) assisted by a
Sergeant, and mustered about forty soldiers armed with
rifle and bayonet.
Four Battalions grouped together formed a Brigade, under a
Brigadier-General. Three Brigades, together with Artillery,
Engineers and ancillary troops made up a Division,
approximately 20,000 of all arms, commanded by a Major-
General. A group of Divisions, usually two to four, formed
a Army Corps, under a Lieutenant-General. The original
British Expeditionary Force ( BEF ) consisted of two such
Army Corps. Later in the War, as the Expeditionary Force
expanded, the several Army Corps were grouped together
into “ Armies. “ At the end of the War the British forces in
France and Flanders comprised five such “ Armies,”
including 16th Army Corps, with a total of fifty Divisions.

Troops moving through Ieper 1917

The Way To The Front

JULY 1917

The 3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment arrived in the
Salient early in July. Four days of marching had taken the
3rd Worc`s via Swartenbrouck, St Venant and Westrehem
to Coyecque.
There the Battalion settled down to a short period of
training, which was usual when not in the front line. There
the Worcestershire’s were visited by the 2nd Corps
Commander, Lieut General Sir Claud Jacob, who
welcomed them back into his Corps.
The 8th Division were already in the 2nd Corps. That
Division and the 25th Division were now to be worked and
rested alternately.
The 1st and 3rd Battalions would be seeing a lot of each
other during the coming few weeks.

British troops on the Market at Poperinghe.

On Friday the 6th of July training came to an end, and the
3rd Battalion Worc’s moved by bus ( the London busses
converted and re-painted in olive drab for troop transport )
to Steebecque and then the following day, to Poperinghe,
from where the Battalion marched to Halifax Camp.
12
The 8th and 25th Divisions were now exchanging roles. The
busses carried the 1st Battalion Worc’s westwards to billets
in the training area at Cuhem, while the 3rd Battalion
Worc’s marched eastwards towards Ieper and on Sunday
the 8th of July they took over billets by the Lille Gate.

The next evening Monday the 9th of July the 3rd Battalion
Worc’s moved forward along the Menin Road and took
over the trenches from the 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire
Regiment at Hooge, alongside the road, which the 1st
Battalion Worc’s had occupied and held three weeks
before.

The 3rd Battalion Worc’s halted near Vlamertinghe, 8th July 1917.
(Stackes)

These trenches where being prepared for the forthcoming
attack, and assembly trenches dug. These tasks were given
to the companies of the 3rd Battalion Worc’s and they
labored under constant enemy shell fire. In four days the
Battalion lost 1 killed and 23 wounded.
The 3rd Battalion Worc’s held the line alternately with the
8th Loyal North Lancashire until Monday the 23rd of July.
The 3rd Battalion Worc’s were in billets at the Lille Gate
from Sunday the 15th of July until Thursday the 19th of
July.
On Monday the 23rd of July the 8th and 25th Divisions
changed over, the 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire took over
the trenches on the Menin Road, and the 3rd Battalion
Worc’s marched back through Ieper and thence by busses
to Halifax Camp, which had been vacated that very
morning by the 1st Battalion Worc’s.

The 1st Battalion Worc’s, after ten days of training at
Cuhem, had been brought back by busses to Reninghelst.
On Monday the 23rd of July the 1st Battalion Worc’s moved
up with the rest of the 24th Brigade and took over the billets
at the Lille Gate.
There for two days the 1st Battalion Worc’s where
subjected to intermittent bombardment by the enemies gas
shells, and on Tuesday the 24th of July they lost one man
killed and one wounded.

The 3rd Battalions billets at Halifax Camp (bottom left).

During this period the Salient was crowded with troops and
guns. The secrecy maintained by the censorship prevented
and detailed knowledge of dispositions reaching the troops,
but the proximity of the five Worcestershire Battalions was
soon discovered, and they saw a great deal of each other.
The 1st/8th Battalion played the 4th Battalion at football.
Around this time the 1st/7th Battalion Worc’’ won the 48th
Division Football Cup. The final was played at Poperinghe
on Wednesday the 25th of July. During the match several
long range enemy shells passed over the ground and burst
among the adjoining houses. The sergeants of the 1st and 3rd
Battalions arranged a meeting, and officers from all five
Battalions met for a memorable dinner in Poperinghe.

The final dispositions for the great battle where completed.
Along the front of the Ieper salient the British Fifth Army
would deliver the main attack. On the right flank the British
Second Army, and on the left flank the French XXth Corps,
would prolong the front of the attack.
The Fifth Army comprised four Army Corps. On the
northern flank, the XIVth Corps containing the 29th
Division, including the 4th Battalion Worcestershire. Next
were the XVIIIth Corps with the 48th (South Midland)
Division including the Worcestershire Territorial
Battalions.

Then came the XIXth Corps, and on their right Sir Claud
Jacob`s
II`nd Corps, in which were included both the 8th and 25th
Divisions, the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the Worcestershire
Regiment.
On the right the IX`th Corps of the Second Army included
the 10th Battalion Worcestershire in the 19th Division.
Of these Worcestershire Battalions only the 1st Battalion
Worc’s in the 8th Division, was to be in the front line of
attack. The other Divisions that contained Battalions of the
Regiment, the 29th, 48th, 25th, and 19th were to be held back
in reserve.

3rd Battalion  Worc’s Wytschaete. (Stackes)

The attack was first due to be launched on Wednesday the
25th of July, but was postponed until Friday the 27th of July,
and then it was postponed again until Tuesday the 31st of
July.
It could not be foreseen how unfortunate those
postponements would prove, for the forthcoming change in
weather could not have been anticipated. It was to be the
worst August weather for seventy years, with heavy, and
constant rainfall and storms, that would turn the landscape
into a quagmire, that would prove very difficult to
transgress.

On Thursday the 26th of July the 1st Battalion Worc’s
moved from their billets in Ieper to the dugouts at Halfway
House, then the following evening Friday the 27th the 1st
Battalion Worc’s moved up along the Menin Road to the
front line, and took over the trenches immediately south of
the road at Hooge.

The British Artillery had steadily increased their fire during
the weeks preceding the attack, and the German front line
trenches had almost been evacuated. Patrols sent out by the
1st Battalion Worc’s on the next two nights Saturday and
Sunday 28th and 29th reported that very few of the enemy
were occupying their own front line trenches.

Captured German Blockhouse 1917.

During the night of Monday and Tuesday the 30th and 31st
of July the whole Ieper Salient was crowded with troops
moving forward to their assembly areas and positions. The
companies of the 1st Battalion Worc’s got out of their
trenches and formed up behind the attack formations. The
During the night of Monday and Tuesday the 30th and 31st
of July the whole Ieper Salient was crowded with troops
moving forward to their assembly areas and positions. The
companies of the 1st Battalion Worc’s got out of their
trenches and formed up behind the attack formations. The
2nd Northamptonshire’s came up from support and took
over the left hand sector of the Brigade front, alongside the
Menin Road. The attack was to be made north eastwards,
slanting across the road towards Westhoek.
The 3rd Battalion Worc’s marched forward that night
Tuesday the 31st of July from their camp near Hoograaf
Cabaret where they had moved to from Halifax Camp on
December the 24th , to bivouac in reserve near the Belgium
Chateau west of Ieper.

At this point its interesting to note that specialists where
used within Companies of a Battalion. The Germans had
about ten snipers to one in their favour, the British and
allies used the principle that if you were a good shot you
were used in a sniper role. The same rule applied to
Bayonet men, Bombers ( hand grenades ), Mining, Wire
Cutting, Mopping up etc. The troops were trained in these
roles to be used when the appropriate moment arose in
battle.

3rd Battalion Worc’s cleaning up near Wulverghem June 12th 1917
(Stackes)

During the night Tuesday the 30th July the British guns
redoubled their fire, and when it was first light around 4.00
am the guns opened up with an intensity and along the
whole front of the Salient.
The British infantry “fixed bayonets” and went “over the
top” the Third Battle of Ieper had begun.

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18 Responses to Part One RECOGNITION The Worcestershire Regiment August 1917

  1. Gary Robinson says:

    Superb telling of a tragic tale. My Great Uncle was with the 3rd Battalion Worcesters from 1915 until he was killed on 5th August 1917 (the Battalion was due to be relieved that night) in this battle leaving a wife and three children behind. His name is on the Menin Gate memorial as his body was never recovered. Keep the information coming it reads much better than the dry war diaries. Thanks for all the effort you have put into this.

    • ww1ieper1917 says:

      Thanks Gary. So sad, my Great Uncle was with the 3rd and died on the 11th Aug 1917 aged 19….Did you read the part about Sgt Wall, shot at dawn?

      • Gary Robinson says:

        Yes I did read about Sgt Wall, seems so unfair given his service record and that they’d been through some of the worst of the fighting in previous battles. He was clearly a courageous and efficient NCO. Are you planning to publish a book ? I worked in Belgium for a couple of years recently and so managed to find out more about my Great Uncle and visited the Menin gate and the field where I think he was killed and also found out more about my Great Grandfather (an Old Contemptible) and their three brothers who all fought in the Great War. All I have is a photo of my Great Grandfather and lots of downloaded war diaries and other data from the National Archives. Putting more information into the history is really helpful as I want to pass on the records to my children and they have grown up outside the UK and so have less of an idea of where to look for information.

      • ww1ieper1917 says:

        Dear Gary.

        I have published my book The 3rd Worcs Aug 1917 a few years ago. I have it also here on WordPress free to read. Im happy that there is interest in what those poor fellows went through in the War. All I know about my Great Uncle is that he was a sniper and was killed on the 11th aged 19. sadly no photos or any other info about him. I had contact in 2007 with two living family members, one of the machine gunner in the 3rd and a Lt in the German army who attacked the British position at westhoek on the 11th, who was the only survivor of his 10 man assault team…the rest killed one by one by a sniper…makes you think. Im always searching for any new info.

        Kindest Regards

        Martin Newman

  2. Marie Bailey nee Rickard says:

    Hi not sure if this will get picked up as the post above is from last year, my great grandfather was killed on the 11th August 1917 and was in the 3rd Worcestershire regiment. His name was John Henry Rickard I believe he was killed along with you great uncle Martin Newman.

  3. Martin Curley says:

    My cousin’s uncle Andrew Tighe was killed 17 Aug 1917 serving with the Worcestershire Regiment 1st 7th Battalion – regimental number 41451

    We are having a conference in his home place, Skehana, Co Galway in a few weeks time and I was researching his story

    Would he have died in the 3rd Ypres Offensive

    I cannot obtain any other records aside from his name on the Tyne Cot Memorial http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=13774712&ref=acom and would appreciate any help and advise in order to give an insight into his final journey

    Thanks

    Martin

    • ww1ieper1917 says:

      Dear Martin,

      Yes the 1st / 7th were involved in the 3rd Battle of Ieper…..Heres the info I have that might be of some help to you.,

      Kindest Regards

      Martin Newman.

      At 2.30 a.m. August 17th the British guns opened fire, and “B” Company attacked. Aided by “the shell-fire, they actually reached the buildings and fought their way in (The attack -was most gallantly led by 2/Lieut. H. B. Bate, who was severely wounded. He was awarded the M.C.); but at once the enemy brought up fresh men. A fierce fight with bombs in the darkness went on round the fort,; a but eventually after Captain Brown and many of his men had been hit (Losses of “B” Company were 3 killed and 12 missing, besides 2 officers ?. W. N. S. Brown and 2/Lt. H. B. ? and 28 men wounded) the survivors were compelled to fall back (Captain A. O. Lloyd showed great bravery during this operation in reconnoitring the enemy’s positions under heavy fire. He was awarded a bar to his M.C. Other awards included a bar to the M.M. of L/Cpl. A. Breeze, and the M.M. to Pte. G. T. Bell, Pte. E. G. Kelly and Pte. T. Smith.).

      By that time it was clear that the Maison du Hibou was a formidable defensive work and that the enemy were determined to hold i t; but it was equally clear that the fort must be taken. Until it was captured the position of our foremost troops, cramped into some three hundred yards of low ground with the stream at their back, would be very dangerous. Preparations were made for a renewed attack.

      No action was taken during daylight of August 17th: both sides remained motionless throughout the day amid continuous gun-fire. After dark the 1/8th Worcestershire were brought up from reserve to relieve the sister Battalion. The relief was practically complete by midnight, “an extraordinarily good relief,” recorded the 1/7th Worcestershire, “taking into consideration the amount of hostile shelling.” No words could have borne better testimony to the good feeling between the two Battalions (Total casualties 1/7th Worcestershire 16th/17th August—Killed 2 officers and 21 men. Wounded 6 officers and 118 men. Missing 12).

      • Martin Curley says:

        Martin

        Thanks for that very prompt and detailed reply

        Would I be right in presuming that Andrew would have been a casualty in that early morning offensive against German positions based in the Maison du Hibou ?

        Unfortunately his service record does not seem to exist and all that was known was that he signed up in Widnes and was killed a scant time later

        Your help is very much appreciated and your reply has given a great insight into what happened him

        Martin

      • ww1ieper1917 says:

        I think he was killed at night – early morning.
        I know its very frustrating when we dont have any details, my Great Uncle was killed on the 11th at westhoek, he was a sniper in the 3rd Worc….thats all i know about him…and that his ghost came to my Grandfathers ( his older brother ) bedside one night, presumably when he died……sad no other info.

        Glad I could be of some help.

        Martin

      • ww1ieper1917 says:

        PS.
        A lot of records were sadly destroyed in the London blitz in WW2

      • Martin Curley says:

        Thanks Martin

        That’s quite detailed and I can enlarge on that through general background on that battle as well as now having those specific locations

        Really Appreciate that

        Take care

        Martin

    • ww1ieper1917 says:

      No action was taken during daylight of August 17th: both sides remained motionless throughout the day amid continuous gun-fire. After dark the 1/8th Worcestershire were brought up from reserve to relieve the sister Battalion. The relief was practically complete by midnight, “an extraordinarily good relief,” recorded the 1/7th Worcestershire, “taking into consideration the amount of hostile shelling.” No words could have borne better testimony to the good feeling between the two Battalions (Total casualties 1/7th Worcestershire 16th/17th August—Killed 2 officers and 21 men. Wounded 6 officers and 118 men. Missing 12). Regards Martin Newman

      • Susan Gardener says:

        Where can I get further info on Aug and Sept 1917 for the 1/7th Worc? My great Uncle died on Sept 6th but I think he was wounded prior to that date as he was buried in Wimereux. Thank you. sgardener6@gmail.com

  4. Susan Gardener says:

    His name was Charles Thomas Porter, Linridge, Worc. Thank you. Susan.

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