2nd Battalion War Diary, October 1914

    2nd Border Regiment War Diary Transcriptions (1915-1918)
The National Archives WO/95/1655 & WO/95/1656    
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Date Hour Summary of Events
The Battalion embarked. C & D Companies sailed on SS "Minneapolis" and A & B Companies on SS "Turcouran".
C & D Companies disembarked, entrained for BRUGES – thence by march route to ST ANDRE and billeted.
A & B Companies disembarked, entrained for BRUGES – thence by march route to ST ANDRE and joined remainder of Battalion in billets.
Battalion proceeded by march route to LEFFINGHAM and arrived about 6pm and billeted.
Battalion marched to OSTEND and entrained for GHENT. Arrived at GHENT at 11am. Left GHENT about 4pm and entrained for DESTELBERGHEN at night.
Battalion completed trenches during the day.
Battalion was relieved in trenches by French Marines. At 8pm the Battalion proceeded by forced march to SOMERGEM – The French Marines joining in the retirement at GHENT. The town was occupied by the enemy later.
Battalion arrived and billeted. At 2pm the Battalion marched to THIELT – arrived about 9pm and billeted.
At about am the Brigade opened fire on a hostile aeroplane flying over the town and succeeded [in?] bringing it down. At 12 noon the Battalion marched to ROULERS – arrived at 9pm but entrenched at DEN AAP 2 miles outside the town as outpost to the brigade.
Battalion marched to YPRES arrived at 4pm and billeted.
Battalion marched to FILLEBEKE.
On the march
The Regimental Scouts under Lieut C. Lamb[1] encountered an Uhlan patrol whilst searching a wood. Shots were exchanged at close quarters – 8 of the enemy were killed – and 1 man, 1 officer (wounded), 1 man (wounded) were taken prisoners. Our casualties were:- NIL. The German officer later succumbed to his wounds. The Battalion entrenched at night.
Lt P.J. Edgerton was severely wounded[2] accidentally by men of his platoon in trenches. As the Battn expected an attack he had warned his men to fire at anyone on their front. It appears that he himself for reasons unknown walked along the front covered by his platoon and fire was opened. The Battalion vacated the trenches in the afternoon marched to ZANVOORDE and billeted.
As hostile shellfire was expected the Battalion entrenched but billeted at night.
The Battalion marched to KRUISEIK and arrived 5pm. The outpost to the Brigade - 2nd Bn Gordon Highlanders came under shrapnel fire at about 6pm. The remainder of the day was quiet.
The Brigade advanced in Artillery formation on MENIN which was occupied by the enemy. On arrival at a village AMERICA the Brigade was subjected to heavy shrapnel fire from enemy's guns firing from direction of MENIN. 2 men of Battalion were wounded. At 3pm the Battalion fell back and entrained at KRUISEIK HILL leaving D Company at AMERICA as outpost.
D Company rejoined and the Battalion completed trenches. Owing to the large amount of frontage which the Battalion had to cover (roughly 2¼ miles) and the nature of the country; companies, platoons & sections in some cases were not connected up by trenches. When complete the Battn was entrenched thus:- B Coy (extreme left), A Coy, Coy C, 2 platoons D Company (extreme right) 2 platoons D Company in reserve – 500 yards in rear. The other Battalions of the Brigade were set out for reconnaissance but had to return owing to heavy shellfire.

By night the Brigade was entrenched on KRUISEIK HILL thus:- 1st Grenadier Guards, Scots Guards, Border Regt, Gordon Highlanders. The line resembled a half circle. Our casualties on this day were 2 killed and 2 wounded.[3]

Artillery bombardment all day and rifle fire at long range. The nature of the country enabled enemy snipers to advance to within 300 yards of out trenches at certain points completely concealed. It was thought that farm houses in the vicinity of the firing line were also used for sniping & parties were sent out at night to fire them. Our casualties were slight.[4]
Bombardment of trenches by enemy's artillery. The Battn was engaged at intervals day and night. 2 Lieut T.J. Clancey was killed[5] in a farmhouse near his trench by a shell. The house caught fire and his body could not be recovered. Our casualties were slight.[6]
Heavy bombardment of trenches by enemy's artillery. The Battn was engaged at intervals at night. Captain R.N. Gordon[7] was killed on this day. Our casualties were slight.[8]
Several small attacks were launched by the enemy but were repulsed. The bombardment by the enemy’s artillery was increased – some of the trenches being blown in by heavy artillery.
Small attacks were again made at different points but no general attack was launched by the enemy. His artillery appeared to have been increased by heavy pieces and a terrific fire was directed on our trenches during the day. The enemy on B Company’s front put up a white flag in the morning and Major W.L. Allen DSO[9] left his trench to go over to them. He was almost instantly killed by rifle fire. C Company & Regiment*[10] & took up a reserve position near Brigade Headquarters 1000 yds in rear. Lieut F.C. Clegg[11] was injured by a shell explosion. Our casualties were 3 killed 25 wounded.[12]
During the night of 25th-26th the enemy had advanced considerably & had concentrated in large numbers in woods & c on our front. They launched an attack at about 9am and succeeded in taking the front line trenches occupied by A and B companies – the few survivors (about 70 in all) retiring to the flanks and joining up in rear with the Scouts and Battalion HeadQrs. The enemy continued to advance but were held in check by the Scouts under Lieut. C. Lamb, Machine Gun under Lieut. W. Watson and Battalion HeadQrs under Lt-Col. L.I. Wood[13]. C Company under Capt L.E.H. Molyneux–Seel advanced up the hill to KRUISEIK in lines of platoons to support A & B if necessary to take trenches but orders were received from Brigade HeadQrs for them to return to ZANVOORDE for the night. In the afternoon C Company finding ZANVOORDE in ruins on arrival marched through to YPRES and billeted.

[The remarks column contains further information.][14]

The Battalion (led C Coy) marched to ZONNEBEKE at about 8am and rested in the grounds of a chateau. C Company under Capt. L.M. Seel [Capt. LEH Molyneux–Seel] rejoined the Battalion at 3pm. A muster roll showed 12 officers and 538 other ranks in the Battalion. The day was considered a day of rest & the men were re-eqipped & companies reformed. Casualties – nil.
The Battalion remained at ZONNEBEKE but was ordered to take up a reserve position. The Battalion marched from Chateau grounds at 8pm & occupied trenches in reserve. Casualties - Nil.
At 7am orders were received to reinforce the Gordon Highlanders who were being heavily pressed. The Battalion deployed to its right using the YPRES-MENIN Road as the left and advanced on KRUISEIK HILL. On reaching the first ridge the Battalion came under terrific direct shell–machine gun and rifle fire. After an hours wait the Battn advanced under Lieut-Col L.I. Wood who was almost immediately hit. Capt. L.E.H. Molyneux-Seel was also hit twice from a machine gun in a house which became our object of attack. Captain H.A. Askew then assumed command as Captain G.E. Warren had been slightly wounded - he continued the advance and was able to direct operations from a large shell hole. Eventually the Queens Regt came up and supported us. At night orders were received for the Battn to return to reserve dugouts.

Our casualties were about 25 killed 30 wounded. Lt A.B. Johnson & G.W.H. Hodgson[15] were wounded. This day is known in the Battalion as "WINDMILL DAY".

The Battalion under Capt G.E. Warren who had returned from Field Hospital received orders to move to the East of Hooge to support a Cavalry Advance. The Battn proceeded & halted for the day in wood 1½ miles NW of chateau near ZONNEBEKE. This was practically a day of rest only an occasional shell coming into wood. At 11pm order were received to return to crossroads HOOGE and YPRES-MENIN Roads and entrench on W side of road facing West. A continuous line of trenches with communications was dug before daybreak. Casualties – 1 man wounded.
All day the Battn was very heavily shelled. At 7pm orders to move were received – but were cancelled shortly afterwards. Eventually at 8pm the battn marched back along the YPRES road. At 11pm the Battn moved off in a SW direction and came under ZANVOORDE – orders were given for the men to dig themselves in lining the hedges, and to be concealed by daylight.

References / notes

  • National Archives Catalogue Reference: WO/95/1655
  • The transcription above is available under the National Archives Open Government Licence for public sector information.
  • War diary transcribed by P. Bramham.
  1. Capt. Cameron Lamb, DSO. Died 29/12/1914 age 35. Buried at Wimereux Communal Cemetery. Son of the late Sir John Cameron Lamb, C.B., C.M.G. and Lady Lamb.
  2. There is no CWGC entry; must have survived the war.
  3. The CWGC list four deaths on the 20th:-
    • R. Rogers (7623 Pte.) Buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery.
    • John Percy Knight (10625 L/Cpl.) Age:28. Buried at HarleBeke New British Cemetery.Son of the late Ernest A. and Jane E. Knight.
    • William Midwinter (8045 Pte.) Age: 28. "B" Coy., 2nd Border Regiment. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of William Midwinter of 8, South St., Walworth; husband of Ellen Ovens (formerly Midwinter) of 25, Nursery Row, Walworth, London.
    • Archibald Douglas Hamilton (6775 Sgt.) Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
  4. Casualties for this day:-
    • Thomas Edward Levitt (8732 Pte.) Age: 27. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Brother of Mrs Alice Wood of 2, Primrose Avenue, Upton St., Hull.
    • Henry George Thumwood (10613 Pte.) Age: 19. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of Henry and Annie Eliza Thumwood of 157, Rusken Avenue, High St. North, Manor Park, Essex.
  5. 2nd Lieut. Trevor John Clancey. Age: 21. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of John Charles and Maud Alice Clancey of Auckland Villa 11, Darjeeling, India.
  6. One CWGC entry mentions David Phillips (10234 Pte.) Age: 20. Buried at Zantvoorde British Cemetery. Son of Philip and Toba Birnbaum of 66, Ernest St., Whitehorse Lane, Stepney, London.
  7. Capt. Robert Norman Gordon. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
  8. This appears to be an unusual remark for the diary as CWGC lists a total of 14 deaths for the 23rd, these being:-
    • Percy Lewis (7345 Pte.) Age: 29. Buried at Ypres Town Cemetery. Husband of E.A. James (formerly Lewis) of 75, Fern St., Devons Rd., Bow, London.
    • Archibald Dobson Hammond (10211 Pte.) Age: 22. "B" Coy., 2nd Border Regiment. Buried at Harlebeke New British Cemetery. Brother of Hugh D. Hammond of 48, Maudland Bank, Preston, Lancs.
    • Harry Verrill (10430 Pte.) Buried at Harlebeke New British Cemetery.
    • Charles Harris (10308 Cpl.) Age: 22. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of Thomas and Caroline Harris of 430,London Rd., Isleworth. Middlesex.
    • Alfred William Spicksley (6312 Sgt.) Age: 31. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of James Spicksley of New Barnet, Hertfordshire. Husband of Jeanie Hall Spicksley, of Braeport, Dunblane, Perthshire.
    • Harry Taylor (8258 L/Cpl.) Age: 27. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of John and Ann S.M.P. Taylor of 20, Compton St., Banbury, Oxon.
    • Thomas Streater (10173 Cpl.) Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of the late Thomas and Sarah Streater.
    • Herbert William Barnes (8900 Pte.) Age: 26. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of Mr. and Mrs. A.G. Barnes of 54, Hotblack Rd., Norwich, Norfolk.
    • William Cook (8970 Pte.) Age: 28. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of Cuthbert and Annie Cook of 29, Grey St., Southwick, Sunderland.
    • Robert Samuel Coster (10662 Pte.) Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
    • Henry Thomas Imbert (6998 Pte.) Age: 29. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Imbert, of Walthamstow; husband of Rose E. Imbert of 48, Lynmouth Rd., St.James's St., Walthamstow, London.
    • George Alfred Cavalier (10000 Sgt.) Age: 21. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of George and Ada Cavalier of 9, Eleanor Rd., Bowes Park, New Southgate, London.
    • Frederick Dutton (10692 Pte.) Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
    • William Holmes (8605 Pte.) Age:25. Husband of Sarah E. Johnson (formerly Holmes) of Pickworth, Folkingham, Lincolshire.
  9. Major William Lynn Allen, DSO. Age: 43. Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of the late Bulkeley Allen; husband of Adeline Miriam Allen.
  10. In the remarks column of the war diary it states the following: "2 companies only. 2 coys S. Staff took up reserve trenches previously occupied by 2 platoons D Coy".
  11. Capt. Frank Cecil Clegg. Died 22/08/1915. Age: 27. 6th Border Regiment. Commemorated on the Helles Memorial. Son of Calder Hurst Clegg of Hawesmead, Kendal, Westmorland. Pre-war a solicitor’s articled clerk.
  12. The CWGC list 7 deaths:-
    • Simon Fenwick (9382 Pte.) Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
    • Edwin Thomas Brown (10512 Cpl.) Age: 18. Buried at Ypres Town Cemetery. Son of William and Annie Brown of 41, Nine Elms Lane, Battersea, London.
    • C.E.R. Seager (7891 Pte.) Age:28. Buried at Zantvoorde British Cemetery. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Seager of 4, Honiton Rd., Southend-on-Sea; husband of Ethel E. Seager of 44, Oban Rd., Southchurch, Southend-on-Sea.
    • William Mitchell Parker (9993 Pte.) Age: 25. Buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. Son of Mathew W. and Mary E. Parker of 112, Adelaide St., South Shields.
    • James William Swallow (8921 Pte.) Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
    • Joshua Bell (8643 Pte.) Age: 27. Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Son of Agnes Jane Bell of 170, Conyers Rd., Byker, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and the late William J. Bell.
    • Alexander Francis Alcock (6869 Sgt.) Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
  13. Lieut-Col. Lewis Ironside Wood, CMG, died 16/05/1915 age 48. Buried at Le Touret Military Cemetery. Son of John Richard and Frances Isabella Wood of Melton Hall, Melton, Suffolk.
  14. Casualties for this day are written in the remarks column:-
    Casualties on this day were heavy:
    Officers Killed:- Captains CGW Andrews, CAJ Cholmondeley, EHH Lees, Lieut GBB Warren.
    Officers Wounded:- Major JTI Bosanquet, 2 Lieut TH Beves.
    Officers Wounded & Missing:- Lieut HPO Sleigh, 2 Lt CGV Surtees, 2 Lieut CH Evans.
    Other Ranks:- Killed 25, Wounded 65. Missing 174.
  15. Lieut. George William Houghton Hodgson. Mentioned in Despatches. Died 06/11/1914. Age: 26. Buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. Son of William George Courtenay Hodgson and Catharine Mary Hodgson of Ellerslea, Dalston, Cumberland. Native of Penrith, Cumberland.
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