8th (Service) Battalion Border Regiment

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8th Border Regiment
8th Battalion men at Codford near Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.
8th Battalion men at Codford, Wiltshire.
Formed / active September 1914 — July 1918
Type Service Battalion
Byname
Motto Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense
Evil be to Him who Evil Thinks
Anniversary
Commanders Col. H.R. Brander 1914-15[1]
Lt-Col. C.E. Bond 1915-17[2]
Lt-Col. C.W.H. Birt 1917-18[3]
Maj. H.G. Fraser 1918[4]
Lt-Col. J.M. de la Perrelle 1918[5]
Additional officers:[6]
Maj. P. Strachan 1916-17
Maj. T.S. Wilkinson 1917
Capt. A.J. Bentley 1918
Theatre honours France & Flanders 1916-1918
Battle honours Somme 1916
Albert 1916
Pozieres 1916
Ancre Heights 1916
Messines 1917
Ypres 1917
Pilckem 1917
Somme 1918
Bapaume 1918
St. Quentin 1918
Lys 1918
Messines 1918
Kemmel 1918
Bailleul 1918
Scherpemberg 1918
Aisne 1918
War diary September 1915 - June 1918
Attached On formation to the 75th Brigade of the 25th Division.
Transferred Composite Brigade in 50th (Northumbrian) Division 22 June 1918 prior to disbandment.
Disbanded 7 July 1918 at Embry, France[7]

The 8th (Service) Battalion Border Regiment was formed at Carlisle in September 1914 as part of Kitchener's K3 Army[8] and came under orders of the 75th Brigade in the 25th Division. At this time the Battalion moved to Codford, to billets in Boscombe in November 1914, to Romsey in May 1915 and eventually onto Aldershot following month. During the latter part of 1915 the 8th Border Regiment was involved in fighting in what was to become their first action in the Battle of Loos. However, their journey to this point was the accumulation of the previous twelve months from the formation of the Battalion, through to training and ultimately their arrival in France. It was the 27 September 1915 when the Battalion landed on French soil; their first stop was Boulogne.

First World War (1914-1918)[edit]

Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener called for 100,000 men on 8 August 1914 to help expand the British Armies in a fight against a formidable enemy. This enemy was greater in number and these numbers needed to be matched as closely as possible. A challenging task was set but within a short space of time scores of men enlisted to do their part and take on the might of the German Army and Central Powers, whether they were ready or not, mentally or physically. The appeal for men was answered far sooner than anticipated and the rush to clothe, arm, house and feed these numbers proved to be more of a problem than the call for recruits in the first place. Thousands of recruits made their way to the Depot at The Border Regiment in Carlisle and the process of forming Service Battalions and assigning men to them began with haste. At first this would have been chaotic but with the implementation of re-enlisted NCO's and Civil Police Instructors, and all under the watchful eye of Major Nash of The Depot Staff, the organisation of such an undertaking brought The Border Regiment Service Battalions into being. The 8th Border Regiment was one of these battalions.

Early training[edit]

The 6th and 7th Battalions were both raised and at full strength only one month after the outbreak of war. The 8th Border Regiment, made of men from Keswick, Kendal, Windermere and other towns and villages from both Cumberland and Westmorland, was different from the previous two battalions insofar as it was the first 'Pals' battalion of the Regiment. As soon as the Battalion was at strength they were sent off for training on the 10th September 1914 to Codford at Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire under the command of Colonel H.R. Brander, C.B., along with his second in command, Colonel Sir Henry Lennard. Other officers, Captain Wilkinson (who was the Battalion's Adjutant), Captains Satow, Miller and Lyell, as well as Majors Birt and Strahan also joined either from retirement or from civil life soon after the Battalion's formation. A battalion so young had a great deal of work ahead with many goals to achieve in a relatively short period of time. This work was, as with any other new military unit, met with enthusiasm by all. The men had to work long days to develop their varying skills and to keep their attention focussed on the tasks at hand. Training would have included the discharge of their weapons, bayonet fighting, entrenching, close-quarter fighting and physical exercise amongst others, and with the prospect of soon fighting an enemy far away from home, the men also had to work hard on honouring their Battalion and importantly keeping their spirits high.

The 8th Border Regiment remained at Codford until 10 November when the move to the winter quarters at Boscombe (a suburb of the nearby Bournemouth) became a necessity. Here they stayed for several weeks seeing in the New Year and becoming quite popular amongst the locals as a result of their well behaved nature. During this time the men of the Battalion, whilst training hard and in time becoming something of a fighting force, were still wearing an assortment of various uniforms combined with civilian clothing. The speed at which the 8th Border Regiment was formed, brought to strength and sent off for training meant that, along with all the countless other battalions across the country doing the same, quotas for uniforms were in high demand and were simply not available for several months after formation. It wasn't until in early 1915 that the men were issued with their new uniforms and from that point they started to feel like they were part of the British Army. It was around this time that the Battalion was assigned to the 75th Infantry Brigade[9] of the 25th Division, commanded by Brigadier-General J.A.H. Woodward and Major-General F. Ventris respectively.

8th Battalion's first action[edit]

After the passing of several months the 8th Border Regiment was destined to arrive on the shores of France, and this it did after leaving Aldershot on 26 September 1915. Making their way to the coast to make the relatively short journey across the English Channel, they arrived at Boulogne on the 27th where they were, without loss of time, entrained for Hazebrouck, no more than 45-50 miles away, due east. Only a couple of days later they found themselves just over the Belgian border at Le Bizet where they billeted and visited the trenches there, then soon after orders were given to move the Battalion to Ploegsteert, which is roughly about one mile just north of Le Bizet. It was here that the men were involved in their first major action; fighting that was taking the lives of these fine Cumberland and Westmorland men. The German artillery was particularly heavy at sporadic intervals and general sniper fire was also active, more so than usual. Men were lost not only because of the fighting but also because of the continual work that was needed to maintain the dire state of the trenches in this area. The parapets needed constant attention and the draining of the trenches seemed to be an ongoing problem, which did not make life any easier especially with sniper fire so active. Whilst the Battalion's commanding officer was on leave to England, Lieutenant-Colonel Bond assumed command with Major Strahan second in command.

For the next three months the 8th Border Regiment remained in and around the area of Ploegsteert until moving to Strazeele on 26 January 1916. The men continued to engage themselves in their training and many officers attended lectures on various subjects, also to refresh or improve upon aspects of their duties. Amongst the seriousness of their work at this time, they also found time to engage in sporting activities, Corporal Close of 'A' Company taking the Gold Medal for the Brigade cross-country race. It was important to keep morale high.

By the second week of March the Battalion was on the move again to Bryas[10] via Hazebrouck, Boesighem[11] and Nédon, the journey taking them about six days. Shortly after 16 March, the Battalion was inspected by General Sir Julian Byng. Training continued in much the same vein as it had before and attacks were practised with assiduous forethought and effort. The front line trenches the 8th Border Regiment took over was their home for the next couple of weeks. After their stint at Bryas they moved to Monchy Breton and then later in April the men found themselves occupying the front line trenches yet again and providing working parties at Neuville St. Vaast, a town roughly 4 miles north of Arras. In the run up to the Battle of the Somme, which commenced on 1 July 1916, the 25th Division, of which the 8th Border Regiment belonged, had been in serious training for some time and by the third week of June 1916, it moved south to Warly[12] and in a addition to the 12th Division, both made the Fourth Army Reserve about 4 miles behind the front line. Along with 8th Border Regiment, four other Battalions of the Regiment also fought in the Battle, the 1st, 2nd, 7th and 11th Battalions.

Further action of the Battalion (1916-1918)[edit]

The actions of the 8th Border Regiment during the war continues across France and Belgium.

Battalion war diary[edit]

Main project page: Border Regiment War Diaries

The aim of transcribing the war diary is to include as much of the original character as possible. This does include some incorrect spelling and infrequent punctuation to remain in keeping with our aims of the project. Each transcript includes a place, date, hour and summary column in a basic table format indicating the battalion, month and year in the title. Please note that the National Archives hold the copyright of the scanned images. However, transcripts of unpublished Crown Copyright war diaries from the First World War can be used in any type of media such as websites and books providing they conform to certain conditions. The National Archives state: "You are free to transcribe, translate, index and quote from published or unpublished Crown copyright material among the records as extensively as you wish and you may publish the results in any format and any medium: in accordance with the terms of the Open Government Licence." With this in mind each transcript will state: "The transcription above is available under the National Archives Open Government Licence for public sector information." For more information see the main war diary project page.

  8th Border Regiment War Diary Transcriptions (1915-1918)
The National Archives WO/95/2251   
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Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
  This war diary page forms part of the Border Regiment Portal  

War Diary trench raid documents (6th-12th Nov 1917)[edit]

Roll of Honour[edit]

The 8th Battalion World War One casualty list has been compiled using the publication Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-19, Volume 39, The Border Regiment and cross-referenced with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database. The number of casualties compiled to date does not necessarily reflect the total number of casualties for this battalion due to the possibility of missed names and the (current) exclusion of officers and other ranks that were attached to the Border Regiment. This listing is a work-in-progress.

For the 8th Battalion roll of honour, see 8th Battalion Border Regiment Casualty List.

References / notes[edit]

The writing of this history would not have been possible without reference to: The Border Regiment in the Great War (book) by Colonel H.C. Wylly, C.B., Gale & Polden Ltd, 1925. ISBN 1847342728

  1. Col. Herbert Ralph Brander, Commanding Officer of the 8th Border Regiment from 1 October 1914 to 20 December 1915 (replaced).
  2. Lt-Col. Charles Earbery Bond, Commanding Officer of the 8th Border Regiment from 21 December 1915 to 1 June 1917 (promoted).
  3. Lt-Col. Charles William Howard Birt, Commanding Officer of the 8th Border Regiment from 1 June 1917 to 29 April 1918 (replaced).
  4. Major Harold Gordon Fraser, Commanding Officer of the 8th Border Regiment from 30 April 1918 to 8 May 1918 (replaced).
  5. Lt-Col. John Nathaniel de la Perrelle, Commanding Officer of the 8th Border Regiment from 9 May 1918 to 7 July 1918 (transferred to another active battalion).
  6. Additional officers temporarily commanding the Battalion in the absence of a Lt-Colonel.
  7. On account of the 25th Division being broken up.
  8. A call for a further 100,000 men (after K1 and K2) to volunteer for service, due in part to news from the front regarding the British regulars and their subsequent retreat.
  9. The 75th Infantry Brigade was made up of the 8th Battalion Border Regiment, 8th Battalion Lancashire Regiment and the 10th and 11th Battalions of the Cheshire Regiment.
  10. Also spelt Brias.
  11. Also spelt Boëseghem.
  12. Possibly Warloy-Baillon, located roughly 4 miles west of Albert. The Fourth Army at this time was located a couple of miles north of Albert in between Bouzincourt and Aveluy.