1 July

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Lonsdale Battalion events that took place on 1 July.

Lt-Col. P.W. Machell, Commanding Officer 1914-1916, at Blackhall Racecourse

1916[edit]

  • At 8am the Lonsdales are in relatively good spirits and begin to advance (30 minutes after Zero hour) from their assembly trenches in Authuille Wood.[1]
  • At 8:30am (60 minutes after Zero hour) Lt-Col. Machell gives the final order to advance towards the British front line.[1]
  • The adjoining 8th Division to the south opposite Ovillers fails to take the German strong-point known as the 'Nord-Werk'.[2] This proves fatal to the Battalion.
  • Moving out in formation, German enfilade fire from the Nord-Werk hits the Battalion with a devastating force, killing and wounding hundreds of men before they reach their own front line.
  • Lt-Col. Machell survives the first lethal machine-gun fire, then is killed as he climbs the parapet to advance his remaining men.
"Col. Machell, gallantly leading his men, was shot dead almost immediately after leaving the forward trench.; his adjutant, Lieutenant Gordon, was severely wounded, as he stooped over his body; Major Diggle, the second in command, was already wounded." [3]
  • The Lonsdales advance across No Man's Land without a higher ranking officer to lead them.
"On leaving their trenches in the wood, even before arriving at the front British trench, the battalion came under terrific machine-gun fire—the shell fire was practically negligible while such musketry as came in it’s direction was too high. There was no question of flinching; the companies, men dropping every moment, moved steadily on, and, on leaving the advanced British trench, pushed on straight to their front for a time and then, as had been ordered, wheeled eastward. The attacking line, supported by the Lonsdales, was having a hard fight to try and reach the German trenches, but few were able to go so far since the enemy machine guns were taking a terrible toll, moving down the men in scores and causing very heavy losses." [3]
  • The Battalion suffers 24 officers and 490 other ranks either killed, missing or wounded.
  • An Appreciation of Lt-Col. Colonel Machell:
The writer (who served under him in that unit of the new army which he so emphatically made a battalion, and one so fine and competent as any that we have) seeks a passing thought from newspaper readers for the life an work and most gallant death on the morning of Saturday, July 1st, of Lt-Col. P.W. Machell, D,S,O, C.M.G.
The words have already been recorded of at least one wounded soldier who saw Colonel Machell fall shot through the head whilst springing forward with a company of his battalion into one of the most murderous concentrations of crossfire ever seen in this war. He went forward at ????? another stage than he might otherwise have done, because, he, with one of his companies, saw how the triple barrage of machine gun fire was mowing down the lines of their comrades in front. To all present his gallant death was precisely what each day of his life as a commanding officer had been to them, precisely what all of his life had been to everyone who was privileged to know this unfailing strong man – a vividly compelling inspiration to duty, an undeniable stimulus to effort.
His distinguished and honourable record of service in Egypt and England may be traced in the usual works of reference. But over and above all these official facts he was a man who from his youth to his last brave breath never ceased to serve. He knew no other way of life, and no man ever found him idle. Travelling in Canada, working in London or on his family estate in Westmorland, this man served England, and the Empire, all the time just as surely as when at the head of his own Soudanese battalion, in the Government offices of Egypt, or in the training of his splendid “Lonsdales.”
It was the Machell stamp which he placed on every member of that brave band of Border men that has won them honours wherever they have been in England or in France. He asked no more of any man than he himself gave, always every particle of energy and devotion of which he possessed. Vital, real, devoted, tireless, a mortal hater of any kind of sham, a martinet by logical conviction and principle, an aristocratic democrat and an English gentleman without reproach, Colonel Machell was possessed of very exceptional creative and constructive abilities and quite extraordinary character and will. These things he gave utterly and always to his country. He lived and died in the most vigorous service of his country, and it is to be sincerely hoped that no losses or any other causes whatever ill be allowed to lead to the disintegration of the battalion which he raised to such a magnificent standard of efficiency. He gave a tradition, along with their fine training to the Border Battalion that bears the name of Lonsdale, and that, together with the brave spirit of their dead colonel, should be preserved to them for ever. [4]

The following Lonsdale men died this day in 1916[edit]

1917[edit]

  • Battalion in occupation of the 'C' Sub-sector of Nieuport-Lombardzyde Sector. Two companies hold the 1st, 2nd and 3rd lines. 2 Companies in support.[5]
  • Day is moderately quiet. Pont Pastre and Nose Lane are shelled and damaged during morning. Enemy is inactive except for shelling.[5]

1918[edit]

  • Battalion training continues with 1st Battalion 130th Infantry Regiment (USA) at Ailly-le-Haut-Clocher.[6]

References / notes[edit]

Material from Timeline/Chronology of the Lonsdale Battalion (September 1914 - May 1915) are sourced from the DLONS/L/13/13 Lowther Estate Archives. Entries from this timeline are reproduced here with kind permission of Jim Lowther and are not available under the license of this site. Please do not publish these extracts on other publicly visible media without prior permission from the copyright holder.

  1. 1.0 1.1 11th Battalion War Diary, July 1916
  2. From this position, and although relatively distant from their mark, the German soldier’s line of sight from the Nord-Werk was clear across the Lonsdales path.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Colonel H.C. Wylly, C.B. (1925). The Border Regiment in the Great War. Gale & Polden Ltd. ISBN 1847342728. p.84.
  4. An Appreciation of Lt-Col. Colonel MachellWorkington Star and Harrington Guardian. Published 14 July 1916.
  5. 5.0 5.1 11th Battalion War Diary, July 1917
  6. 11th Battalion War Diary, July 1918