History Podcasts

The Battle for Flanders - German Defeat on the Lys 1918, Chris Baker

The Battle for Flanders - German Defeat on the Lys 1918, Chris Baker


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

The Battle for Flanders - German Defeat on the Lys 1918, Chris Baker

The Battle for Flanders - German Defeat on the Lys 1918, Chris Baker

The Battle of the Lys (April 1918) is one of the least well known British battles of the First World War, coming as it did between the first major German offensive of 1918 (on the Somme) and the Allied victories later in the year. There is thus a tendency for general histories to dismiss it in a few lines, skipping from the crisis of March 1918 to the Allied counterattacks and the final victorious 100 days.

Operation Georgette was the second major German offensive of 1918. The crisis for the Allies began with Operation Michael, the German offensive on the Somme that in two weeks came close to splitting the British and French armies. When this attack eventually stalled the Germans moved north, launching Operation Georgette, an attack on the British lines south of Ypres. The initial aim was to reach the vital railway junction of Hazebrouck, a move that would have threatened the entire British position in Flanders. As on the Somme the Germans made major advances in the first few days of the battle, combining their excellent artillery with the new stormtrooper tactics with an attack on a weak and for a long time quiet part of the front to almost achieve their main objectives. At one point the Allies were seriously considering flooding vast areas of land around Dunkirk to prevent the Germans from breaching the British and Belgian line.

This is a good clear account of the battle, supported by a good selection of eyewitness accounts, although these are overwhelmingly from the Allied point of view. Baker also examines the reasons for the initial German strengths, looking at the key strengths of the German army of 1918 and the weaknesses of the initial Allied positions, and the reasons for their eventual failure. Here he suggests that a combination of a number of key defensive successes, combined with the general lack of mobility of the German army played the main part in the eventual British victory on the Lys.

This is an excellent study of a vital but often neglected battle, and should be of great value to anyone interested in the fighting on the Western Front.

Chapters
1 - The Road to the Lus
2 - The Lys Sector and Preparations for Battle
3 - The First Day
4 - The German Attack Develops
5 - 'There is no wall'
6 - 'La bataille d'Hazebrouck est finie'
7 - 'Tannenberg'
8 - The Death of 'Georgette'
9 - Kemmelberg
10 - Retrospectives

Appendix I: Phases of the Battles of the Lys
Appendix II: Place-names

Author: Chris Baker
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 240
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011



The Battle for Flanders

The Battle of the Lys, fought in April 1918, was critical for the Allies and for Germany. The outcome of the Great War hung in the balance. After the successful German offensive on the Somme, their breakthrough on the Lys threatened Ypres and the British hold on Flanders and brought them close to victory on the Western Front. The Allied line was broken it was only saved by improvisation and great gallantry-and the German onslaught tested Allied cooperation under the newly appointed Generalissimo Ferdinand Foch to the limit. Yet, as Chris Baker shows in this compelling account, the declining force of the German attack revealed deficiencies in material, organization and morale that led to their ultimate defeat.

Chris Baker is a freelance military historian, researcher and author specialising in the British Army of the Great War of 1914-1918.


Origins

Advanced Base Force

Following the outbreak of war, a Marine Brigade of four infantry battalions was formed, from men of the Royal Marine Light Infantry and Royal Marine Artillery, as an Advanced Base Force, according to a pre-war plan to furnish the Admiralty with a means to take, fortify or defend temporary naval bases for fleet operations or the supply of army field forces. These included regular marines and those mobilised from the Fleet Reserve. Each battalion was drawn from one of the big naval depot ports—Chatham, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Deal—and named accordingly. [1] [2]

Royal Naval Division

On 16 August, Winston Churchill the First Lord of the Admiralty, decided to embody two more naval brigades with surplus men of the Naval Reserve, to join with the Marine Brigade to produce a composite Royal Naval Division. A few Petty officers and ratings were transferred from the navy to provide a cadre and some officers were provided by the army but most of the recruits were reservists or men who had volunteered on the outbreak of war. The eight battalions were named after naval commanders, Drake, Benbow, Hawke, Collingwood, Nelson, Howe, Hood and Anson, later being numbered from 1st–8th. The division was not provided with medical, artillery or engineer units, consisting solely of lightly-equipped infantry. Many of the trained men were then reclaimed for fleet service and recruits were taken over at the request of the War Office, from oversubscribed north country regiments. Training was slow, except for the Marine Brigade which had its own infrastructure, because resources were needed for the rapid expansion of the army and naval ratings were not issued with field equipment or khaki uniforms before being embarked for overseas service. [3] On 26 August, the Marine Brigade was sent to Ostend to reinforce the Belgian garrison, after German cavalry appeared in the area. The brigade returned on 1 September after the scare subsided and on 3 September, it was decided to train the two Naval Reserve brigades as infantry to form an infantry division with the Marine Brigade. [4] Rifles were drawn from Royal Navy stocks and only arrived at the end of September these were older Charger-Loading Lee–Enfields rather than the more modern Short Magazine Lee–Enfields issued to the army. [5]


Contents

17th–19th century Edit

Peyton's Regiment of Foot (1688–1740) Edit

By a commission dated 20 November 1688, the regiment was formed in Torbay, Devon under Sir Richard Peyton [1] as Peyton's Regiment of Foot. (The regiment's name changed according to the name of the colonel commanding until 1751.) The regiment served in the Glorious Revolution under King William III and at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 and the Battle of Aughrim in 1691. [2] During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), it aided in the capture of Spanish galleons at Battle of Vigo Bay in 1702. [3]

Bligh's Regiment of Foot (1740–1746) Edit

Under the command of Thomas Bligh, the regiment distinguished itself at the Battle of Dettingen in June 1743 [4] and at the Battle of Fontenoy in May 1745. [5] Under the command of Edward Cornwallis, the regiment also served at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746 during the Jacobite rising of 1745. [6] (In December 1748, Cornwallis also established a Freemason's Lodge for the regiment, on the registry of the Grand Lodge of Ireland.) [7]

20th Regiment of Foot (1751–1782) Edit

In 1751, the regiment became the 20th Regiment of Foot, often written in Roman numerals 'XX Foot', (hence the nickname The Two Tens). During the Seven Years' War the regiment earned honour at the Battle of Minden on 1 August 1759, when, as an infantry formation, they stood fast and broke a French cavalry charge. [8] During the American Revolutionary War, the regiment was sent to Quebec in April 1776 and assisted in the relief of Quebec in May 1776. Serving under General John Burgoyne for the remainder of the Canadian campaign, they later surrendered along with General Burgoyne at Saratoga. [9]

20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot (1782–1881) Edit

The 20th Regiment of Foot was designated the 20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot in 1782. [10] The regiment embarked for Holland in August 1799 to take part in the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland and fought at the Battle of Krabbendam in September 1799 [11] and the Battle of Alkmaar in October 1799. [12] It next departed for Egypt in spring 1801 and saw action at the Battle of Alexandria in March 1801 during the French Revolutionary Wars. [13] After moving to Calabria it took part in the Battle of Maida in July 1806 during the War of the Third Coalition. [14]

The regiment embarked for Portugal in 1808 for service in the Peninsular War. [15] It saw action at the Battle of Vimeiro in August 1808 [15] and the Battle of Corunna in January 1809 before being evacuated home later that month. [16] The regiment returned to the Peninsula and fought at the Battle of Vitoria in June 1813, where it formed part of the "backbone" of the Duke of Wellington's forces. [17] It then pursued the French Army into France at took part in the Battle of the Pyrenees in July 1813, [18] the Battle of Nivelle in November 1813 [19] and the Battle of Orthez in February 1814 [19] as well the Battle of Toulouse in April 1814. [20]

During the Crimean War, the regiment took part in the Battle of Alma in September 1854 and the Battle of Inkerman in November 1854. [21] The 2nd Battalion was raised in 1858. [10]

Lancashire Fusiliers (1881–1908) Edit

The regiment was not superficially affected by the Cardwell Reforms of the 1870s – as it already possessed two battalions, there was no need for it to amalgamate with another regiment. However, in setting its depot at Wellington Barracks in Bury from 1873, it lost its West Country affiliations. This was exacerbated by the Childers reforms of 1881. [22] Under the reforms the regiment became The Lancashire Fusiliers on 1 July 1881. [23] Under the new arrangements each county regiment had two Militia battalions attached to it: these were found by the 7th Royal Lancashire Militia (Rifles), raised in 1855 and recruited from Bury, Manchester and Salford. This formed the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers. In addition, Rifle Volunteer Corps were attached to their local regiments. In 1883 the 8th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (raised at Bury on 22 August 1859) became the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, and the 12th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (originally the 24th, raised at Rochdale in February 1860) became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion. In 1886 the 56th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (raised at Salford on 5 March 1860) was transferred from the Manchester Regiment to become the 3rd Volunteer Battalion. [24] [25] [26]

In common with other regiments recruited from populous urban areas, the Lancashire Fusiliers raised two further regular battalions, the 3rd in 1898, and the 4th in March 1900. This necessitated adjustments to the numbers of the Militia battalions, which became the 5th and 6th battalions. However, the 3rd and 4th Regular battalions were disbanded in 1906. [10]

The 1st Battalion was stationed in Ireland from 1881 to September 1885, and again from April 1891 to 1897. In 1899 it was posted to Crete, and from 1901 at Malta. [27]

The 2nd Battalion was stationed in British India from 1881 to 1898, when it took part in Kitchener's campaign to reconquer the Sudan and fought at the Battle of Omdurman. [28] After a year at Malta, the battalion was posted to South Africa in December 1899, following the outbreak of the Second Boer War two months earlier. [27]

During the Second Boer War, the 2nd Battalion saw action at the Battle of Spion Kop in January 1900 and took part in the Relief of Ladysmith in February 1900. [29] The battalion served in South Africa throughout the war, which ended with the Peace of Vereeniging in June 1902. About 570 officers and men left Cape Town on the SS Britannic in October that year, and was stationed at Aldershot after their return to the United Kingdom. [30] The 5th and 6th (Militia) Battalions also served in South Africa, the 6th leaving with 650 men on 10 February 1900, [31] and later being involved in a sharp action at Luckhoff. The 5th battalion served in the last year of the war. The battalions were awarded the battle honours South Africa 1900–01 (for the 6th) and South Africa 1901–02 (for the 5th). [32] [33] All three Volunteer Battalions also found 'service companies' of volunteers who served alongside the Regulars, and gained the battle honour South Africa 1900–1902 for their battalions. [33]

Haldane Reforms Edit

Under the Haldane Reforms of 1908, the Militia were redesignated Special Reserve, with the dual wartime role of Home Defence and providing drafts for the Regular Battalions. The Lancashire Fusiliers' militia became 3rd (Reserve) Battalion and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, both based at Bury. The volunteers now became the Territorial Force (TF), with battalions numbered in sequence after the militia. Thus the 1st Volunteer Battalion at Castle Armoury in Bury became 5th Battalion, 2nd Volunteer Battalion at Baron Street in Rochdale became the 6th Battalion, and the 3rd Volunteer Battalion formed the 7th and 8th battalions both based at Cross Lane in Salford. [25] [34] [35] These four battalions formed the Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade, in the East Lancashire Division of the TF, on the eve of the First World War. [36]

First World War Edit

Regular Army Edit

The 1st Battalion, which was based in Karachi in the early months of the war, returned to the United Kingdom in January 1915. [34] [35] It was prominent at the landing at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915 during the Gallipoli Campaign as part of the 86th Brigade in the 29th Division. The shore had been silent but as the first boat landed, Ottoman small-arms fire swept the British and caused many casualties. Six Victoria Crosses were awarded to the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers – 'the six VCs before breakfast'. The landing spot (W Beach) was later known as 'Lancashire Landing'. The battalion were evacuated in January 1916 and landed at Marseille in March 1916 and saw action on the Western Front. [34] [35]

The 2nd Battalion landed at Boulogne as part of the 12th Brigade in the 4th Division in August 1914 and also saw action on the Western Front. Between November 1915 and February 1916, the brigade was part of 36th (Ulster) Division before returning to the 4th Division. [34] [35]

Special Reserve Edit

The 3rd (Reserve) and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions spent the whole war in England, the 3rd Bn in the Humber Garrison and the 4th initially at Barrow-in-Furness and later in the Severn Garrison. They fulfilled their dual role of coast defence and preparing reinforcement drafts of regular reservists, special reservists, recruits and returning wounded for the regular battalions serving overseas. Thousands of men would have passed through their ranks during the war. While at Hull the 3rd Bn probably assisted in the formation of 13th (Reserve) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, from Kitchener's Army volunteers. [34] [35]

Territorial Force Edit

Soon after the outbreak of war, the formation of Reserve or 2nd Line units for each existing TF unit was authorised. These units took the 'prefix '2/' while the parent battalions took '1/'. Eventually, both 1st and 2nd Line battalions went overseas and 3rd Line battalions were raised to supply recruits. [37] [38]

The 1/5th Battalion, 1/6th Battalion, 1/7th Battalion and 1/8th Battalion all landed at Cape Helles, as part of the 125th (Lancashire Fusiliers) Brigade, in early May 1915 and took part in the Second Battle of Krithia (6–8 May) under command of the 29th Division. The brigade later rejoined the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division for the Third Battle of Krithia and Battle of Krithia Vineyard. Evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915, these four battalions landed on Moudros and proceeded to Egypt from where they transferred to Marseille in February 1917 for service on the Western Front. [36] [34] [35] [39] [40] [41]

The 2/5th Battalion landed at Boulogne as part of the 3rd Highland Brigade in the Highland Division in May 1915 for service on the Western Front. [34] [35] [40] The 2/6th Battalion, 2/7th Battalion and 2/8th Battalion all landed at Le Havre as part of the 197th Brigade in the 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division in February 1917 also for service on the Western Front. [34] [35] [40] [42] The 3/5th Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of same brigade in March 1917 also for service on the Western Front. [34] [35] [40] After the losses incurred during the German spring offensive in March 1918, the remains of the 2/7th Bn were reduced to a cadre and used to train newly arrived US Army units for trench warfare. The cadre then returned to England and was reconstituted as 24th Battalion. This was a training unit based at Cromer until the end of the war. [34] [35] [40] [42] [43]

New Army Battalions Edit

The 9th (Service) Battalion waded ashore in deep water and darkness at Suvla Bay [44] on the night of 6/7 August 1915, as part of 34th Brigade of 11th (Northern) Division, and were pinned down on the beach losing their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel H. M. Welstead, and a number of officers. [40] [41] [45] Evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915, it moved to Egypt and was then transferred to France in July 1916 for service on the Western Front. [34] [35] [40]

The 10th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne as part of the 52nd Brigade in the 17th (Northern) Division in July 1915 for service on the Western Front. [34] [35] The 11th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne in September 1915 as part of the 74th Brigade of the 25th Division [34] [35] [40] the famous fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien served with this battalion until contracting trench fever during the Battle of the Somme in October 1916. [46]

The 12th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne as part of the 65th Brigade in the 22nd Division in September 1915 but moved with the Division to Salonika, arriving in November 1915 before moving to France for service on the Western Front in July 1918. [34] [35] [40] The 15th (Service) Battalion (1st Salford) and 16th (Service) Battalion (2nd Salford) landed at Boulogne as part of the 96th Brigade in the 32nd Division in November 1915 also for service on the Western Front. [34] [35] [40] The 17th (Service) Battalion (1st South East Lancashire) and 18th (Service) Battalion (2nd South East Lancashire) landed at Le Havre as part of the 104th Brigade in the 35th Division in January 1916 also for service on the Western Front. [34] [35] [40] The 19th (Service) Battalion (3rd Salford) (Pioneers) landed at Le Havre as part of the 96th Brigade in the 32nd Division in November 1915 also for service on the Western Front. [34] [35] [40] The 20th (Service) Battalion (4th Salford) landed at Le Havre as part of the 104th Brigade in the 35th Division in January 1916 also for service on the Western Front. [34] [35] [40]

War memorial Edit

A war memorial to the regiment, commissioned in honour of its First World War casualties, was erected outside Wellington Barracks in Bury, opposite the regimental headquarters. With the demolition of the barracks, the memorial was relocated to Gallipoli Garden in the town. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, famous for the Cenotaph in London, whose father and great uncle served in the Lancashire Fusiliers. After the amalgamation into the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the memorial was re-dedicated to all fusiliers killed in service. [47]

Second World War Edit

Regular Army battalions Edit

After recovering its numbers from the First World War, the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers spent the interwar period based in various garrisons around the British Empire. In 1939, upon the outbreak of the Second World War, the battalion was based in British India. During the Burma Campaign, the 1st Battalion fought with various units until 1943 when it became a Chindits formation with the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, which was commanded by Brigadier Orde Wingate. The battalion was involved in both major Chindit operations, suffering many casualties before the war ended. [48]

From the outbreak of war in 1939 to 1940, the 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was deployed with the 11th Infantry Brigade, alongside the 1st East Surreys and 1st Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry (later replaced by the 5th Northants). The brigade was part of the 4th Infantry Division and was sent overseas in October 1939 to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). The 2nd Battalion fought against the German Army in the battles of Belgium and France, until being forced to retreat to Dunkirk and were evacuated back to the United Kingdom, where they stayed until late 1942, anticipating a German invasion. In June 1942, the 11th Brigade, of whom the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers were a part, was transferred to the newly created 78th Infantry Division. They then served in the final stages of the North African Campaign, the Tunisian Campaign, where the 78th Battleaxe Division gained an excellent reputation, Medjez El Bab, Sicily, and the Italian Campaign (as part of the Gothic Line). During the fighting in Italy, Fusilier Frank Jefferson was awarded the Victoria Cross.

A former member of the battalion, Wallace Jackson, died on Thursday, 12 November 2009 aged 89 years. [49] [50]

Territorial Army battalions Edit

The 1/5th Battalion was a 1st-Line Territorial Army (TA) unit serving in the 42nd (East Lancashire) Infantry Division with the 1/6th and 1/8th battalions in the 125th Infantry brigade. They were sent to France in April 1940 to join the rest of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and fought in the Battle of Dunkirk and were evacuated to Britain. In 1941, the battalion was converted to armour as the 108th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (Lancashire Fusiliers). Units converted in this way continued to wear their infantry cap badge on the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps. [51]

The 1/6th Battalion served alongside the 1/5th Battalion in France in April–June 1940 and were driven back to Dunkirk. In 1941, this 1st-Line TA Battalion was converted, like the 1/5th Battalion, to armour as 109th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. [51]

In 1936, the 7th Battalion was converted into 39th (The Lancashire Fusiliers) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, Royal Engineers, based in Salford. After mobilising in August 1939 to defend potential targets such as the Manchester Ship Canal and Barton Power Station during the Phoney War, it served in the Orkney Islands, guarding the Scapa Flow naval base. It returned to Lancashire in early 1941 to defend Liverpool during the May Blitz. [52] In the summer of 1940, while serving in 53 Anti-Aircraft Brigade, covering the North Midlands, it was transferred as a Searchlight Regiment to the Royal Artillery (the day of the actual transfer, 1 August (Minden Day), was considered auspicious by the battalion). [52] [53] [54] [55] [56] In May 1943, the regiment was reduced to a cadre under its old title of 7th Bn LF and took no further part in the war, but several of its batteries continued an independent existence, continuing to wear the Lancashire Fusiliers badge and to celebrate Minden Day. [52] [54] [56] 354th and 357th Searchlight Batteries (the latter converted into 414th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery) defended Southern England against V-1 flying bomb attacks in the summer of 1944 ('Operation Diver'). 356th Searchlight Battery took part in D-Day and was later converted into a 'Moonlight Battery' to provide 'movement light' or 'Monty's moonlight' to assist 21st Army Group's night operations during the campaign in North West Europe. [57]

The 1/8th Battalion began the war in 125th Brigade with the 1/5th and 1/6th Battalions, but while in France with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) it exchanged with the 1st Battalion, Border Regiment into the 4th Infantry Brigade part of the 2nd Infantry Division, as part of official BEF policy to mix the Regular and Territorial armies. [58] During the Battle of France, the 1/8th Lancashire Fusiliers, along with the 1st Battalion, Royal Scots and the 2nd Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment, were overrun on 26–27 May 1940 around the village of Locon, 2 kilometres north of Bethune, by advancing German troops. Several massacres of Allied prisoners took place shortly thereafter, such as the Le Paradis massacre, primarily by the German SS Totenkopf Division. Later, the battalion fought in the Burma Campaign and participated in many famous battles, such as the Battle of Kohima, serving in the British Fourteenth Army under Bill Slim. [59]

The 2/5th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was formed in 1939 as a duplicate of the 1/5th. It was part of the 197th Infantry Brigade, the 2nd-Line duplicate of the 1st-Line 125th Infantry Brigade. [60] It served with the 66th Infantry Division until 23 June 1940, when the division disbanded. The brigade was then transferred to the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division. They landed in Normandy as part of Operation Overlord on 29 June 1944 and first saw action in early July at Malon on the North West outskirts of Caen as part of Operation Charnwood, where they suffered 121 casualties. They also took part in Operation Pomegranate and the battles on the Orne River. Of all the companies in this battalion, B Company stood out for the highest number of officers killed (in just two months, B Company lost three commanding officers, and all officers on a company attack just outside Vendes). On 21 August 1944, the divisional commander, Major-General Lewis Lyne, late of the regiment, visited the battalion and informed them that the 59th Division was to be disbanded, due to a severe shortage of infantryman at the time, in order to provide replacements for other infantry units, and most had been battered during the recent heavy fighting. As a result, on 26 August, the battalion was officially disbanded and the companies were dispatched to different British battalions and divisions in the 21st Army Group. A Company was sent to 7th Royal Welch Fusiliers (53rd (Welsh) Division), B Company to 2nd Gordon Highlanders (15th (Scottish) Division), C Company to 2nd Glasgow Highlanders (15th (Scottish) Division) and D Company to 1st East Lancashire Regiment (53rd (Welsh) Division). [61] The 59th Division was considered by General Sir Bernard Montgomery to be one of the best and most reliable divisions in his 21st Army Group it was only chosen for disbandment because it was the youngest British division in France. The Battalion War Diary claimed it to be "A sad day. 5 years of training for 8 weeks fighting, and unfortunately the break up of the battalion leaves the Regiment without representative in this Theatre of War". [62]

The 2/6th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers came into being as a 2nd Line duplicate of the 1/6th Battalion. Like the 2/5th Battalion, the 2/6th Battalion was also part of 197th Infantry Brigade in the 66th Infantry Division and was also transferred to 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division after 66th Division disbanded. However, in October 1942, the battalion was transferred elsewhere when it was replaced in the 197th Brigade by the 1/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The 2/6th Battalion remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war, serving with many different brigades, including the 211th infantry Brigade (part of the 80th Infantry (Reserve) Division) from October 1942 to October 1943. [60] From July 1944, the battalion served with the 203rd Infantry Brigade, part of the 77th Holding Division, and acted in a training role for the rest of the war. [63]

This 2/8th Battalion was formed as a duplicate of the 1/8th Battalion and began the war in the 199th Infantry Brigade, alongside the 6th and 7th Manchester Regiment, part of the 66th Infantry Division and later was transferred to the 55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division when the 66th Division was disbanded in July 1940. It did not leave the United Kingdom and was disbanded in October 1944. [64]

Hostilities-only battalions Edit

The 9th (Service) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was a hostilities-only battalion raised in June 1940 [10] The battalion, commanded initially by Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Lyne, was very briefly assigned to the 208th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home) until December, when it was reassigned to the 125th Infantry Brigade, part of 42nd (East Lancashire) Infantry Division, alongside the 1/5th and 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers. Both the brigade and division had seen active service earlier in the year in Belgium, France and Dunkirk. In late 1941, the 9th Battalion was converted to armour as 143rd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. [51] However, the regiment was disbanded in 1943. [65]

The 10th (Service) Battalion was also raised in 1940 [10] and served for a year in 208th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home), alongside the 9th Battalion, 13th King's Regiment (Liverpool) and 22nd Royal Fusiliers. [66] In 1942, it was shipped to India and fought in the Arakan Campaign 1942-1943 as part of 7th Indian Infantry Division, with 23rd Indian Infantry Brigade. [67] The battalion was disbanded on 31 October 1945. [68]

The 11th (Service) Battalion was a hostilities-only battalion raised in 1940, originally as the 50th (Holding) Battalion, whose role was to temporarily 'hold' men who were medically unfit, awaiting orders, on courses or returning from abroad. [10] In October 1940, the battalion was redesignated the 11th Battalion. The 11th Battalion served in the garrison of Malta during the Siege with the 233rd Infantry Brigade. [69] In July 1944, it was to be disbanded but instead it was transferred to the 66th Infantry Brigade, serving alongside the 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots, a Regular unit, and 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, a Territorial. The brigade became part of 1st Infantry Division, which was serving in the Italian Campaign, where it took part in the fighting on the Gothic Line, suffering severe casualties. Early in 1945, the 11th Battalion was transferred to Palestine with the rest of the 1st Infantry Division and remained there for the rest of the war. [70]

Post-1945 Edit

Regular Battalions Edit

In 1948, all infantry regiments of the British Army were reduced to only a single regular battalion and the 2nd Battalion was disbanded and merged with the 1st Battalion. [71] In 1968, the Regiment was amalgamated with the other regiments of the Fusilier Brigade – the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers and the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) – to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. [72]

Territorial Battalions Edit

The 5th Battalion was reformed but disbanded when the TA was reduced into the TAVR in 1967. The battalion's lineage was continued by retaining a company in the 4th Battalion Queen's Lancashire Regiment and subsequently the Lancastrian and Cumbrian Volunteers on its formation in 1999. [73] The other TA battalions were all reconstituted as anti-aircraft (AA) units in Anti-Aircraft Command:

  • 633 (6th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers) Light AA Regiment, Royal Artillery [74][75] , ('mixed' indicating that members of the Women's Royal Army Corps were integrated into the unit) [53][56][76]
  • 634 (8th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers) Heavy AA Regiment, RA, later renumbered 310 HAA Rgt [77][78]

AA Command was disbanded in 1955, and a number of disbandments and mergers took place among TA air defence units: 633 LAA Regiment was disbanded, [74] [75] while four HAA regiments in the Manchester area, including 574 and 310, formed a new 314 HAA Regiment. By this merger, the 7th and 8th Bns Lancashire Fusiliers, both descended from the 56th Lancashire RVC, were brought back together. They formed Q (Salford) Battery in the new regiment. [77] [79]

On 1 May 1961, Q Battery transferred to 253 Field Regiment (The Bolton Artillery). [80] [81] Since the reduction of the TA in 1967, the Bolton Artillery has existed as a battery of 103 (Lancashire Artillery Volunteers) Regiment RA, but it no longer has a presence in Salford. [82]

A collection of military memorabilia and educational displays are in the Fusilier Museum in Bury. [83]

The regiment's battle honours were as follows: [10]

    , Minden, Egmont-op-Zee, Egypt, Maida, Vimiera, Corunna, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol, Lucknow, Khartoum, Relief of Ladysmith, South Africa 1899-1902
  • Great War (30 Battalions): Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914 '18, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1915 '17 '18, St. Julien, Bellewaarde, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916 '18, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Thiepval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916 '18, Arras 1917 '18, Scarpe 1917 '18, Arleux, Messines 1917, Pilckem, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Béthune, Scherpenberg, Amiens, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Épéhy, Canal du Nord, St. Quentin Canal, Courtrai, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914–18, Doiran 1917, Macedonia 1915–18, Helles, Landing at Helles, Krithia, Suvla, Landing at Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915, Rumani, Egypt 1915–17
  • Second World War (12 Battalions): Defence of Escaut, St. Omer-La Bassée, Caen, North-West Europe 1940 '44, Medjez el Bab, Oued Zarga, North Africa 1942–43, Adrano, Sicily 1943, Termoli, Trigno, Sangro, Cassino II, Trasimene Line, Monte Ceco, Monte Spaduro, Senio, Argenta Gap, Italy 1943–45, Malta 1941–42, Rathedaung, Htizwe, Kohima, Naga Village, Chindits 1944, Burma 1943–45

The following members of the Regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross:

  • Captain (Temporary Major) Cuthbert Bromley, Great War
  • Sergeant Frank Edward Stubbs, Great War
  • Lance-Corporal (later Lieutenant-Colonel) John Elisha Grimshaw, Great War
  • Captain (later Major) Richard Raymond Willis, Great War
  • Sergeant Alfred Joseph Richards, Great War
  • Private (later Lance-Sergeant) William Stephen Kenealy, Great War
  • Private John Lynn, Great War
  • Private (later Corporal) James Hutchinson, Great War
  • Captain (Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel) Bertram Best-Dunkley, Great War
  • Sergeant Joseph Lister, Great War
  • Second Lieutenant Bernard Matthew Cassidy, Great War
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant John Schofield, Great War
  • Lance-Corporal Joel Halliwell, Great War
  • Lance-Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Edward Benn Smith, Great War
  • Acting Sergeant Harold John Colley, Great War
  • Private Frank Lester, Great War
  • Sergeant (later Regimental Sergeant-Major) James Clarke, Great War
  • Acting Lieutenant-Colonel James Neville Marshall, Great War
  • Fusilier (later Lance-Corporal) Francis Arthur Jefferson, Second World War

Colonels of the regiment were: [10]

  • 1688–1689: Col. Sir Robert Peyton
  • 1689–1706: Maj-Gen. Gustavus Hamilton, 1st Viscount Boyne
  • 1706–1714: Maj-Gen. John Newton
  • 1714–1719: Lt-Gen. Thomas Meredyth
  • 1719–1732: Col. Hon. William Egerton
  • 1732–1737: Brig-Gen. Francis Howard, 1st Earl of Effingham
  • 1737–1740: Lt-Gen. Richard St. George
  • 1740: Col. Alexander Rose
  • 1740–1746: Lt-Gen. Thomas Bligh
  • 1746–1749: Lt-Gen. George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville
  • 1749–1755: Lt-Gen. George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albemarle, KG (Viscount Bury)

The 20th Regiment of Foot Edit

  • 1755–1756: Gen. Philip Honeywood
  • 1756–1769: Lt-Gen. William Kingsley
  • 1769–1773: Gen. Bernard Hale
  • 1773–1782: Lt-Gen. Hon. George Lane Parker

The 20th (East Devon) Regiment of Foot Edit

  • 1782–1789: Lt-Gen. William Wynyard
  • 1789–1797: Lt-Gen. West Hyde
  • 1797–1809: Gen. Charles Leigh
  • 1809–1815: Lt-Gen Sir John Stuart, Count of Maida GCB
  • 1815–1842: Gen Sir William Houston, 1st Baronet GCB GCH
  • 1842–1850: Lt-Gen. Sir James Stevenson Burns KCB
  • 1850–1853: Lt-Gen. Sir Andrew Pilkington, KCB
  • 1853: Lt-Gen. Sir William Chalmers, CB, KCH
  • 1853: Maj-Gen. Henry Godwin, CB
  • 1853–1854: Lt-Gen. Sir Nathaniel Thorn, KCB, KH
  • 1854-1858: Lt-Gen. Henry Thomas, CB
  • 1858–1876: Gen. Marcus Beresford
  • 1876–1894: Gen. Sir Frederick Horn, GCB

The Lancashire Fusiliers Edit

  • 1894–1897: Gen. Sir William Pollexfen Radcliffe, KCB
  • 1897–1909: Gen. Sir Edward Alan Holdich, GCB
  • 1909–1914: Maj-Gen. Sir William Drummond Scrase-Dickins, KCB
  • 1914–1926: Maj-Gen. Charles James Blomfield, CB, DSO
  • 1926–1945: Maj-Gen. George Henry Basil Freeth, CB, CMG, DSO
  • 1945–1955: Maj-Gen. George Surtees, CB, CBE, MC
  • 1955–1965: Brig. Percy Geoffrey Bamford, CBE, DSO
  • 1965–1968: Lt-Gen. Sir George Harris Lea, KCB, DSO, MBE
  • 1968: Regiment amalgamated with The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers, and The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), to form The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

The football team of the 1st Battalion was a member of the Irish Football League for the 1891-92 season, while deployed in Victoria Barracks, Belfast, and won the Army Cup in 1896-97 while deployed to Custume Barracks, Athlone. [84] [85] [86]


Want to know more about Battle of the Lys?

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Ainsworth Harry. Pte. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Allen Albert George. Pte (d.14th January 1919)
  • Archbold James. Dvr. (d.7th Apr 1918)
  • Armitage Gilbert. Pte.
  • Atkinson John William . Sgt.
  • Baldwin Albert Ernest. L/Cpl.
  • Bannon Thomas. Pte. (d.9th Apr 1918)
  • Blacklock Thomas Edward. Sgt.
  • Bolam John. L/Cpl.
  • Bollands Walter. Pte.
  • Bonner George William. Pte. (d.26th Apr 1918)
  • Brennan Charles. Pte. (d.13th May 1918)
  • Bullus Ralph Henry Samuel. Pte.
  • Burgoine G. Lt.
  • Burnett Thomas Ballantyne . Pte. (d.24th Apr 1918)
  • Cartz Louis. Pte.
  • Cleverton Robert. Pte.
  • Cree John Wyse Scott. Sgt.
  • Cronin Samuel. Rflmn. (d.10th April 1918)
  • Darlow Arnold Harvey. Pte. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Davies Frank Vivian. Pte.
  • Dinsley James William . Pte. (d.12th Apr 1918)
  • Edwards William Henry. Pte.
  • Eldridge Albert John Walter. Cpl. (d.22nd Apr 1918)
  • Foard Sydney. Pte. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Fogg George William. Pte. (d.11th Oct 1918)
  • Fowell Edward Francis. Pte.
  • Fox John. Pte. (d.17th April 1918)
  • Geraghty Denis. L/Cpl. (d.13th Apr 1918)
  • Green Arthur. Cpl. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Greenwood James Edward. Pte.
  • Gregory John. Pte. (d.10th Apr 1918)
  • Grocock Albert Ishmael. Pte. (d.9th Apr 1918)
  • Hazeley E. Lt.
  • Hazell Oscar Reginald. Sgt. (d.19th Apr 1918)
  • Herbert Frank. Pte. (d.13th April 1918)
  • Hirst Willie. Pte. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Ibbotson William Henry. Grn.
  • Johnston Joseph. Pte.
  • Jones A M. Lt.
  • Kettlewell George. Pte. (d.15th Apr 1918)
  • Leach John Chapman. Pte. (d.11th April 1918)
  • Liddle Robert William. Pte. (d.1st June 1918)
  • MacDonald William. L/Cpl. (d.16th Apr 1918)
  • MacLeod Malcolm Murray. Cpl.
  • Mansfield Harry. Pte. (d.17th Apr 1918)
  • McElwee Ernest. Pte.
  • McKaskie Norman. Pte. (d.12th Apr 1918)
  • McMullen John. L/Cpl. (d.5th Sep 1918)
  • Menzies Charles James. Pte. (d.9th Apr 1918)
  • Moffatt Alfred. Pte. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Morgan Idris Aneurin. Capt. (d.17th April 1918)
  • Morley Henry. Pte. (d.13th April 1918)
  • Morse Daniel Albert. Gnr.
  • Moss William. Pte. (d.30th April 1918)
  • Nicholson Cyril Howard. Pte. (d.12th Oct 1918)
  • Nicholson Matthew. Pte (d.12th April 1918)
  • Nicoll David. Pte. (d.15th Apr 1918)
  • O'Boyle John. Pte. (d.11th Apr 1918)
  • Owen Levi Stanley. Pte. (d.11th Apr 1918)
  • Owen Levi Stanley. Pte. (d.11th Apr 1918)
  • Page Ernest. Pte.
  • Parr Harry William Charles. Pte.
  • Pool Henry James. Pte. (d.11th April 1918)
  • Ratcliffe Ellis. Pte. (d.12th Apr 1918)
  • Richards Alfred James. Spr.
  • Riley Thomas. Sgt. (d.24th Apr 1918)
  • Scott Frank Ashley P.. (d.14th April 1918)
  • Shackell Ralph Ronald. Pte.
  • Shall Joseph James. Rflmn. (d.8th October 1918)
  • Sibeon Richard Henry. Pte. (d.22nd May 1918)
  • Sillem Thomas George. Capt. (d.14th Apr 1918)
  • Stevens Frank. Pte. (d.13th April 1918)
  • Theobald Reginald. Lt. (d.10th Apr 1918)
  • Tulip Robert. Pte. (d.10th Apr 1918)
  • Waters ernest. Pte. (d.9th Apr 1918)
  • Watmough Walter. Gnr. (d.9th Apr 1918)
  • Weir Thomas Henderson. Mjr. (d.8th May 1918)
  • White Percy William. Cpl.
  • Wilkin George. Pte. (d.27th Sep 1918)
  • Williams Fred. Pte.
  • Worrall Thomas. L/Bdr. (d.25th April 1918)
  • Yates Richard.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

Looking for help with Family History Research?

Please see Family History FAQ's

Please note: We are unable to provide individual research free of charge.


Want to know more about Battle of the Lys?

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Ainsworth Harry. Pte. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Allen Albert George. Pte (d.14th January 1919)
  • Archbold James. Dvr. (d.7th Apr 1918)
  • Armitage Gilbert. Pte.
  • Atkinson John William . Sgt.
  • Baldwin Albert Ernest. L/Cpl.
  • Bannon Thomas. Pte. (d.9th Apr 1918)
  • Blacklock Thomas Edward. Sgt.
  • Bolam John. L/Cpl.
  • Bollands Walter. Pte.
  • Bonner George William. Pte. (d.26th Apr 1918)
  • Brennan Charles. Pte. (d.13th May 1918)
  • Bullus Ralph Henry Samuel. Pte.
  • Burgoine G. Lt.
  • Burnett Thomas Ballantyne . Pte. (d.24th Apr 1918)
  • Cartz Louis. Pte.
  • Cleverton Robert. Pte.
  • Cree John Wyse Scott. Sgt.
  • Cronin Samuel. Rflmn. (d.10th April 1918)
  • Darlow Arnold Harvey. Pte. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Davies Frank Vivian. Pte.
  • Dinsley James William . Pte. (d.12th Apr 1918)
  • Edwards William Henry. Pte.
  • Eldridge Albert John Walter. Cpl. (d.22nd Apr 1918)
  • Foard Sydney. Pte. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Fogg George William. Pte. (d.11th Oct 1918)
  • Fowell Edward Francis. Pte.
  • Fox John. Pte. (d.17th April 1918)
  • Geraghty Denis. L/Cpl. (d.13th Apr 1918)
  • Green Arthur. Cpl. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Greenwood James Edward. Pte.
  • Gregory John. Pte. (d.10th Apr 1918)
  • Grocock Albert Ishmael. Pte. (d.9th Apr 1918)
  • Hazeley E. Lt.
  • Hazell Oscar Reginald. Sgt. (d.19th Apr 1918)
  • Herbert Frank. Pte. (d.13th April 1918)
  • Hirst Willie. Pte. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Ibbotson William Henry. Grn.
  • Johnston Joseph. Pte.
  • Jones A M. Lt.
  • Kettlewell George. Pte. (d.15th Apr 1918)
  • Leach John Chapman. Pte. (d.11th April 1918)
  • Liddle Robert William. Pte. (d.1st June 1918)
  • MacDonald William. L/Cpl. (d.16th Apr 1918)
  • MacLeod Malcolm Murray. Cpl.
  • Mansfield Harry. Pte. (d.17th Apr 1918)
  • McElwee Ernest. Pte.
  • McKaskie Norman. Pte. (d.12th Apr 1918)
  • McMullen John. L/Cpl. (d.5th Sep 1918)
  • Menzies Charles James. Pte. (d.9th Apr 1918)
  • Moffatt Alfred. Pte. (d.12th April 1918)
  • Morgan Idris Aneurin. Capt. (d.17th April 1918)
  • Morley Henry. Pte. (d.13th April 1918)
  • Morse Daniel Albert. Gnr.
  • Moss William. Pte. (d.30th April 1918)
  • Nicholson Cyril Howard. Pte. (d.12th Oct 1918)
  • Nicholson Matthew. Pte (d.12th April 1918)
  • Nicoll David. Pte. (d.15th Apr 1918)
  • O'Boyle John. Pte. (d.11th Apr 1918)
  • Owen Levi Stanley. Pte. (d.11th Apr 1918)
  • Owen Levi Stanley. Pte. (d.11th Apr 1918)
  • Page Ernest. Pte.
  • Parr Harry William Charles. Pte.
  • Pool Henry James. Pte. (d.11th April 1918)
  • Ratcliffe Ellis. Pte. (d.12th Apr 1918)
  • Richards Alfred James. Spr.
  • Riley Thomas. Sgt. (d.24th Apr 1918)
  • Scott Frank Ashley P.. (d.14th April 1918)
  • Shackell Ralph Ronald. Pte.
  • Shall Joseph James. Rflmn. (d.8th October 1918)
  • Sibeon Richard Henry. Pte. (d.22nd May 1918)
  • Sillem Thomas George. Capt. (d.14th Apr 1918)
  • Stevens Frank. Pte. (d.13th April 1918)
  • Theobald Reginald. Lt. (d.10th Apr 1918)
  • Tulip Robert. Pte. (d.10th Apr 1918)
  • Waters ernest. Pte. (d.9th Apr 1918)
  • Watmough Walter. Gnr. (d.9th Apr 1918)
  • Weir Thomas Henderson. Mjr. (d.8th May 1918)
  • White Percy William. Cpl.
  • Wilkin George. Pte. (d.27th Sep 1918)
  • Williams Fred. Pte.
  • Worrall Thomas. L/Bdr. (d.25th April 1918)
  • Yates Richard.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

Looking for help with Family History Research?

Please see Family History FAQ's

Please note: We are unable to provide individual research free of charge.


WW1: The Ruff Family

The Ruff Family

Arthur and Sarah (née George) had moved from Keysoe, in Bedfordshire, to Woodford, across the Nene from Ringstead, soon after their marriage and in about 1869 moved once again, this time to Ringstead. The Roll of Honour has only one Ruff included but at least two other men from the family fought in the Great War. All three men were children of Arthur and Sarah Prudence Ruff. The couple had ten children, although the oldest child, Elizabeth died when only fourteen years old, but it was the youngest three sons who were the right age to become soldiers.

We see these moves in the birth places of the children but all the youngest eight were born in Ringstead. Of these, the last three sons, Hessel, Harvey and Reginald are the subjects of our biographies.

The Ruff Family outside Ringstead Church (c1912)

With thanks to Martyn J. Wheeldon & Jon Abbott

Hessel Ruff (1880-1939)

Hessel, the seventh child was the oldest of the three men who fought. He was born in Ringstead on 22 nd May 1880 and in the 1881 Census was living with his family in Sievers Buildings. His father, Arthur, aged 36, was an army boot maker. The family were still there, at No. 7, in 1901 when Hessel was 21 and a boot finisher, Harvey (15) was a boot laster and Reginald (12) was probably still at school.

A descendant believes that at least one member of the family, possibly Arthur Ruff, was involved in the setting up of the Unity Boot and Shoe Co-operative Society. It is a little confusing for both Arthur, and eldest son, also Arthur, were of an age to be involved. The only reference in a newspaper I have found was that the secretary of the Unity was Mr. L. Ruff, who could have been another son, Lewis, born in 1878. Certainly, Arthur senior is seen in 1901 as working at home.

On 22 nd October 1907, Hessel married Eva Louise Weekley in Ringstead and they set up home in Denford Road. Eva had been born on 6 th July 1880, so was just a few months younger than her husband. She was the daughter of William Bradley Weekley, a shoemaker and his wife, Elizabeth, and in 1901 they were living at No. 1 Church Street. By the 1911 Census the couple were living in the High Street in a five-room house and had a son, Edward Stanley born on 30 th January 1909. While living there, they had a further child, Lily Ellen, born on 25 th October 1912.

With thanks to Martyn J. Wheeldon

Hessel&rsquos military records still exist and we see that he was 5ft 9¾inches tall with a 37inch chest and weighed 149 pounds (67.6 kilos). He had dark hair with hazel eyes and was above average height and build for a working man of the time. He did have some physical problems, however, for he was assessed as 6/12 for both eyes and had varicose veins in his left leg. His Attestation Form also shows that he was a Baptist and was 35 years 9 months old when he first enlisted on 7 th December 1915.

He was not finally mobilised until 3 rd September 1918 and was posted to the Tank Corps at Wareham on 8 th September and immediately transferred to the Tank Corps Reserve Unit for two weeks before being transferred again to the 22 nd Light Tank Corps. He had been given Regimental Number 312427. I do not think that Hessel served in a warzone. One unit of the 22 nd took one of their light tanks, a &ldquoWhippet&rdquo, nicknamed Julian&rsquos Baby, (a larger tank named Julian had toured successfully before this), raising money for the War Savings Campaign by the sale of War Bonds. We do not know if Hessel toured with it.

The tanks were based at Bovington, near Wareham, and at the end of the war they were parked up there. We cannot be sure what exactly Hessel&rsquos role was during this time. All we know is that he was demobilised on 17 th January 1919 as, the Dispersal Certificate states, because he had &ldquoan offer of Employment&rdquo

Hessel and Eva settled in Denford Road and he worked in a local boot and shoe factory. The Mercury and Herald reported, on 4 th January 1935, a case in Thrapston Police Court. The case related to an accident on December 7 th . Hessel and two other men were walking in Ringstead. A lorry approached so they moved to the left but Hessel was hit by the mudguard of a motorcycle sidecar travelling the other way. It was said in court that Hessel was only brushed by the mudguard but he was knocked unconscious and sustained a fractured ankle and other injuries. Stanley Knight, the motorcycle rider was fined £5 with £1 2s 9d costs.

It was at about this time that the family moved to 1 Lancaster Street in Higham Ferrers. In the 1939 Register of England and Wales, Hessel is shown there and working as a shoe finisher. Eva has no paid work but daughter Lily (25) was working as an uncertified teacher. Their son Reginald,, born on 5 th March 1921, was a milk roundsman.

Hessel had little time to live, for he died on Thursday 9 th November 1939. There was an account of his funeral in the Evening Telegraph on November 16 th . This shows us that the official records only give a small part of anyone&rsquos life. Hessel was part of a working-class community that, denied by lack of other opportunity, continued to educate themselves and take pleasure in the world. The report states:

A native of Ringstead, Mr. Ruff resided there for 55 years before coming to Higham Ferrers, where he was employed by Messrs. John White (Impregnable Boots) Ltd. He was a member of the Rushden Adult School Choir and a past member of the Thrapston Band Club and leaves a widow, two sons and a daughter, Mr. Edward Ruff, Coventry, Mr. Reg. Ruff, Higham Ferrers, and Miss Lily Ruff, Higham Ferrers. Four brothers and three sisters are also bereaved.

The report also shows that the service was held at Hessel&rsquos house and was conducted by a Minister of the Methodist Church. He was 59 years old. Eva died in the summer of 1954, aged 74.

Harvey William Ruff (1885-1962)

Harvey Ruff was the ninth child of Arthur and Sarah, born on 6 th September 1885. By the 1901 Census he was fifteen years old and working at home with his father and siblings, as a boot laster. By 1911 Arthur was unemployed and Harvey, now 25, was the oldest child still at home, and was an army boot maker working in a local factory. The time of the handsewn men, working at home, was drawing to a close.

In 1914, Harvey married Grace Evelyn (sometimes Evaline) Burton from Raunds. She was the daughter of William and Annie, born on 2 nd April 1887 and by 1911 was living with her family in Wellington Street in Raunds.

Of course, war was imminent but we do not know exactly when Harvey first attested for the army. We do know from his Demobilisation Certificate the he served in the 67 th Divisional Cyclist Company. This was a Second Line Territorial Force Division and served on home defence throughout the war but also recruited and trained men to provide drafts for overseas units. It is likely that the photograph of Harvey shown below, with other men from the 67 th was taken somewhere in Eastern England.

Recruiting Poster for another area ©IWM PST4893

Bad teeth were a huge problem with more sugar used and no National Health Service

The idea of a cycling unit may now seem odd but as Chris Baker, in an article in The Gazette has written:

As early as the 1880s, the army began to include the bicycle in its armoury. Prior to this the army relied on men or horse transport to cover the ground. Each had limits to speed and range, and the horse needed much by way of logistical support for its feeding and care.

With a bicycle, an armed man could move relatively quickly across even poor ground and with a longer range than his marching capability. In other words, the bike brought new possibilities for the army to project its forces to where they were needed.

Early in the war, each Division of the army had a cyclist company added. The main roles of the cyclists, rather like the more glamorous Yeomanry, were reconnaissance and communications but, like the Yeomanry, they would have to turn their hand to trench digging or as mobile infantrymen if required.

Harvey Ruff (back row extreme right)

With thanks to Martyn J. Wheeldon

Based on the research of Steve and Charlie on the Great War Forum website, on Harvey&rsquos Regimental Number (21934) it seems likely that he was not transferred to the XV (15 th ) Cyclist Battalion of the reorganised Army Cyclists Corps until September 1917 at the earliest and possibly not until April 1918.

In September 1917 the 15 th were at Fort Mardyck, some four miles west of Dunkirk centre, undergoing training with numerous parades. They were still in a warzone, however, and were at times under fire, so that one man was killed and six wounded during the month. In the middle of October the Battalion moved to Coxyde de Ville, (15miles east of Dunkirk along the coast) carrying out fatigues, mainly digging trenches under the supervision of the Royal Engineers. This continued through November with the men carrying out &ldquosalvage fatigues&rdquo before moving back to Fort Mardyck where the work continued.

On December 3 rd 1917 the Battalion moved to Wormhoudt and then, via Morbecque, to Estaires, where the working parties continued into the new year. At this time, they were mainly digging trenches for communication cables, to keep them, as far as possible, out of danger from enemy bombing. Lack of reliable communications was a constant problem, and as a result, some attacks started with confusion destroying the planned strategy. Although not under intense fire the men did suffer occasional casualties from gas shell attacks.

The tedious, but essential work, continued through March with many days, the War Diary recording similar entries, such as:

1 Officer and all available OR [Other Ranks] on working parties under A.D. A.S. XV Corps.

So it continued, but on April 9 th there was a change and the Diary records that the Battalion came under &ldquoheavy bombardment&rdquo and sent out patrols to see what was happening with the enemy. They were now under sustained shell fire as part of the German&rsquos great Michael Offensive which had begun on March 21 st 1918. The second phase of this offensive, known as the Lys Offensive was designed to capture the important rail centre of Hazebrouck and push on to the Channel coast so cutting off the British holding the Ypres Salient. The 15 th were caught in the first attack in the Battle of Lys, known as the Battle of Estaires.

The Diary records the cyclists on patrol encountering and engaging the Germans and one patrol took part in fighting through the streets of Estaires. It was a frightening, chaotic time for all the soldiers, with the Allies in almost constant retreat. In the onslaught, one officer and two Other Ranks were killed and four officers and thirty-eight men wounded with twelve men missing (two believed prisoners) and eight OR wounded but remaining on duty.

The moved to Le Grand Hasard and were on digging duties, still in the Hazebrouck area, one of the prime targets for the Germans because of its rail links. The War Diary entry at the end of April shows the terrible times that Harvey and the other had endured:

Owing to the destruction, in action, of the Bttn documents and records the strength of the Bttn at the beginning of the month cannot be given. The Bttn are now 2 officers and 63 OR under strength.

Although much ground was lost along the Western Front the line finally held and the German Offensive, men exhausted and supply lines overstretched, began to falter. Through May 1918 the Diary tells, beside the working parties, of the training of guides as well as Lewis Gun and musketry training. They were based at le Grand Hasard but now through to July, there were few casualties. On 7 th July the 15 th moved into billets at Blaringhem where Platoon Training continued.

The pendulum was now swinging back at increasing speed and on 1 st September the Battalion were instructed to pursue the enemy as part of a concerted Allied attack. The War Diary reports that they were now at De Seule-Sternwerck and that:

The cyclists were detailed to form a screen in front area of the infantry and to locate hostile snipers and the M.G.s [machine guns] when located, word was to be sent back to the infantry who would deal with the hostile opposition. If, however, the cyclists were strong enough to tackle the opposition themselves they must do so.

On 17 th October they were once more in the firing line with orders to reconnoitre the enemy positions. By the 18 th the outskirts of the village of Petit Audenarde had been reached and there was now continual forward movement, although sometimes met by heavy rearguard shelling by the Germans. Through early November the Battalion was at Mouveaux undergoing training and they were there on the 11 th when they received news of the Armistice and were ordered to &ldquostand to&rdquo.

From then on the Diary lists parades, educational lectures and classes, rifle drill and generally anything to keep the men occupied. This continued into December but now with medical inspections and baths to try to clean the men up ready for a return to civilian life. On Christmas Day there was Divine Service, followed by dinner and a concert.

Still into January 1919 the military and educational training continued but also men were being sent back to the UK for demobilisation, or to other units as part of the Rhine Army of Occupation. By the end of March only three officers and 32 men remained. The entries in the War Diary for these last few days have faded away like the men although the numbers now stay constant until the end of May 1919 when the Diary ends.

Harvey was demobilised on 19 th May 1919 and returned to Northamptonshire but he was not in the 1918 or 1919 Ringstead Absent Voters&rsquo Lists because he had already moved to Raunds where his service is remembered in the town&rsquos Memorial Project.

Harvey and Grace only had one child, a daughter Phyllis Marie, who had been born on 10 th October 1916. In the 1939 Register of England and Wales, the family were living at 26 Park Avenue in Raunds and Harvey was a stainer in the leather trade. Grace had the usual Unpaid Domestic Duties. Phyllis, who was a clothing finisher, married soon after the Register was taken, to Ernest Arthur Wheeldon and it is their son Martyn who we have to thank for the family photographs.

Harvey died on 20 th May 1962 and Grace followed him, aged 85, in 1972.

Reginald Frank Ruff (1888-1956)

Reginald, the youngest child of Arthur and Sarah was born some twenty-two years after the firstborn, on 12 th August 1888. In 1901 he was twelve years old living in the Sievers Buildings in Ringstead with his family. By 1911 he was 22, and clerk for a &ldquoPork Pie Maker&rdquo

In the same 1911 Census we see that living in The Manse was Baptist Minister, John Bates, aged 55, and his wife Jennie (sometimes called Rebecca) who was 57. They had been married 29 years and have had five children, all surviving. Still at home are their two daughters, Beatrice (26), and Ethel (25), both schoolteachers in a County Council school and Stuart (19), who is a butcher and who we have encountered in these stories before.

John Bates had been a Baptist Pastor at Bugbrooke, where Beatrice and been born, and then at Kislingbury, the village of his birth. In 1893 he had been appointed by the Ringstead Particular Baptist Church. He had been very active in fundraising in order to carry out extensive renovations to the Baptist Chapel. The family continued to live in The Manse until John&rsquos death in 1930.

On 12 th October 1912, Reginald Frank Ruff married Beatrice Elizabeth Bates at Thrapston. Their only child, Kathleen Mary was born on 14 th November 1915 and, less than a month later, on 9 th December, Reginald attested and was placed in the Army Reserve. He was mobilised on 22 nd May 1916 and posted to the Royal Garrison Artillery and given Regimental Number 86198. We see in the Descriptive Report on Enlistment that Reginald was 27 years old and was 5ft 8½inches tall. We see that he was still a clerk. What is new is that his home address is shown as Shaftesbury Avenue in St. Neots in Huntingdonshire.

With thanks to Martyn J. Wheeldon

We do not know if it was pork pies that had taken Reginald to St Neots but it seems likely that when he was mobilised Beatrice and Kathleen moved back to live with her parents in The Manse in Ringstead. His military records, like many, are difficult to decipher, but it looks as if first posted to Harwich and on 27 th October 1916 he qualified as a &ldquoFirst Class Signaller&rdquo. On 9 th November he was posted to &ldquoA&rdquo Siege Depot at Catterick as part of the Royal Garrison Artillery. This was to become a Signalling Training Centre in December 1916 so perhaps Reginald was sent to improve his skills.

He remained in the UK for 276 days but, as some point he joined the 266 th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. It had been formed on 30 th September 1916 and moved to Horsham and on to Lydd and Codford. Reginald joined them and embarked at Portsmouth (although the War Diary says Southampton) on 16 th February 1917. He disembarked at Le Havre the following day. On the 19 th February they entrained and during the next week in a series of daily moves they arrived at Dainville on 9 th March and took up their first position at the railway station there. Nine days later they had to dismantle the battery and move it to Agny.

It would have been heavy work and we get a hint of the frustration that the men must have sometimes felt from the War Diary:

19 th March. Arrived Agny and started to get into action. When nearly ready were ordered to move to another position to make room for the 9.2inch Battery.

By 21 st March they were in a new position and in action. Most of the Diary is made up by details of house much ammunition has been fired, the time, and a map reference and type of target, such as trenches. They were positioned in the Agny area until the 11 th April when they moved to Neuville Vitesse. Of course, they were also a prime target for the enemy and at St Martin Sur Coseul seven men were killed and five wounded. Still the entries are mainly lists of map references and targets.

In May the Battery were on the move through La Herliere, Framecourt, St Venant, Morbecque and Fletre to Kemmel, some 85 miles north, arriving there at 1 am on 21 st May. Immediately, they went into position. On 24 th , however, they left the section and moved into billets, but by the 29 th they returned to Kemmel. Once again the lists continue.

In June the 266 th moved to Vlamertinge and the bombardments continued through July. On August 2 nd they moved once again. We see now in the Diary the continual daily casualties and the lists of targets which include harassing fire on road, barrage fire, house, dugouts, trench, wire and neutralising fire on hostile battery.

In October 1917 the 266th were stationed at Crucifix Road at St Martin-sur-Coseul and the litany of the bombardments continue, even on Christmas Day. Men only appear anonymously as wounded or killed.

The Diary does not even record the places they were at but merely states &ldquoIn the Field&rdquo. The lists continue into 1918 as before but at this point the Diary finishes, the rest, presumably, lost. We do get some idea of the daily slog amidst the mud and the fear but much of it lost in the ballistics.

We do know that at some point in 1917 he was appointed as an Acting Bombadier and this was confirmed on 18 th July 1917. Also, on 13 th April 1918, he was appointed Acting Corporal to stand in for a wounded man and this promotion was confirmed when this man was invalided out of the army. At some point after this he was, for a time, sick and in hospital. Martyn Wheeldon has confirmed that he was badly gassed and this caused chest problems for the rest of his life. There is also an entry to show that he was granted leave to the UK from 27 th December 1918 to 10 th January 1919, probably because of his exposure in a gas attack. Whilst on leave he was sent to Purfleet for discharge.

He returned to civilian life and it seems, from one undated note on his file, it that at the end of the war, or just after it, he was living at 37 Symington Street in the St James area of Northampton, with its rows of neat terraced houses. By 1926, however the family were living at &ldquoThe Stores&rdquo in Grantchester near Cambridge and we see in the 1939 Register of England and Wales that they were still there, next to the Rose and Crown Yard, and Reginald described himself as a Grocer and Confectioner. Beatrice had no paid work but daughter Kathleen, who married the following year, was a Municipal Clerk.

We know from the Electoral Roll that they were still there at least up to 1945 and Martyn has confirmed that in 1947 Reginald and Beatrice with Kathleen and her husband, moved back to Northamptonshire. They lived together in Raunds at 65 Midland Road. Reginald became Secretary at Nene Plastics in Grove Road in Raunds, a post he held for seven years until his retirement at the age of sixty-five. Reginald died on 15 th September 1956 at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. I think that Beatrice may have moved back to the Cambridge area after his death, living in Girton, but she died in Woodlands Nursing Home in Earith in Huntingdonshire on the 10 th September 1961.

My thanks to Martyn J. Wheeldon for the photographs and family information (including Harvey's Demobilisation Certificate) and also to Jon Abbott for his generous help and information.

I also, once again, thank the members of the Great War Forum, especially Charlie962 and Stebie9173 for their help and advice. www.greatwarforum.org.

Ringstead Absent Voters&rsquo Lists 1918 and 1919. (Northamptonshire Record Office).

Censuses for Ringstead, Raunds : 1939 Register of England & Wales England & Wales Civil Registration Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes UK, England & Wales National Probate CalendarWW1 Medal & Award Rolls Web:UK, Burial and Cremation Index, 1576-2014. www.ancestry.co.uk.

War Diaries 139 Brigade (includes 266 Siege Battery) WO-95-391-3 XV Corps Cyclist Battalion. W0-95-930-2. www.discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk.

England & Wales, Electoral Registers 19220-1932. www.findmypast.co.uk.

Mercury & Herald 4 th January 1935 Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph 16 th November 1939. www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.

Medium Mark &ldquoA&rdquo Whippet. David Fletcher. Bloomsbury 2014.

Ringstead Baptist Church A Brief History. Evelyn M. Bull. Updated Agnes Burton. Ringstead Baptist Church 2014.

67 th (2 nd Home Counties) Division XV Corps (United Kingdom) www.wikipedia.com.

67 th (2 nd Home Counties) Division. www.longlongtrail.co.uk.

War on Two Wheels British army cyclists 1914-1918. Chris Baker. www.thegazette.co.uk.


The Battle for Flanders - German Defeat on the Lys 1918, Chris Baker - History

The sector north of Ypres is best known for the inundation of much of the ground to the east of the Yser that acted as a block to the German advance in the autumn of 1914. From that time on military activities were extremely limited. Much of this line was manned by Belgian troops, with some assistance from the French army at its southern end and of the British army on the Channel coast.

The role of the Belgian army in the Great War is little known, apart from the opening months, when 'brave little Belgium' held on to its important fortified cities, notably Liege and Antwerp, for longer than German planning had anticipated. It was not until mid October 1914 that the Belgian army was forced back to the area of the Yser, when its defences were bolstered by French troops whilst Haig's I Corps came up on its southern flank.

At this crucial phase of the campaign, the harsh decision was taken to open the dykes at the end of October 1914 and thereby flooding much of the low lying ground east of the Yser and so effectively halting major German offensive operations.

For almost four years the Belgian army rested reasonably secure behind this sodden landscape, although certain key points were the scene of frequent, if limited, tussles. 'Free' Belgium was reduced to two significant towns that could be regarded as secure and out of the range of most German artillery - the coastal resort of La Panne (De Panne) and the much bigger settlement of Furnes (Veurne),

Over these years the Belgian army was rebuilt under the dynamic leadership of the king, Albert I, and by the time of the general allied advance in September 1918, the Belgian army was able to take its place in the Advance to Victory, in an allied Army that was commanded by King Albert. Although this phase of the war is outside the scope of the book, it is important to realise that the Belgian army was a very active player in these last few months. Amongst the achievements of Belgian troops at this stage of the war was the final capture of Passchendaele.

This book concerns itself with the years of defence and the reconstruction of the army behind the Yser. Relatively little of Belgium's efforts in the Great War remained, but recent years have seen action to preserve what does. Most significant of these, perhaps, is the so called Trench of Death near Diksmuide. Although always preserved, it has recently been very successfully refurbished and is now most effectively and informatively presented. Other remains from the war have also been developed so as to be more informative and the result is that touring this area provides a fascinating insight into one of the most unusual sectors of the Western Front and which is conveniently close to the much visited Ypres Salient.

In this book Chris Baker brings his extensive knowledge of the Belgian army (helped by his ability to read French and Dutch) and of the Flanders region to produce a much needed insight into Belgium's army role for most of the war as the protector of the northern flank of the whole of the Allied line.

About The Author

Chris is a former Chartered Engineer and manufacturing consultant whose deep interest in the Great War led him to becoming a professional military historian. He is behind a research business, fourteeneighteen, and is the author of the well-known and invaluable website ‘The Long, Long Trail’.

Chris was the Chairman of the Western Front Association for a number of years and was the founder of the very successful internet Great War Forum. Chris’s book ‘The Battle for Flanders: German defeat on the Lys, 1918’ was published by Pen & Sword Military in 2011. In 2014 ‘The truce: the day the war stopped’ was published by Amberley in 2014.

Chris is an honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, where he gained a Masters in British First World War History in 2007.


Battles

  • German invasion of Belgium
    • Siege of Antwerp
    • Landing at Anzac Cove (4 battalions)
    • Landing at Cape Helles (2 battalions)
    • Second Battle of Krithia
    • Third Battle of Krithia
    • Action of Achi Baba Nullah
    • Battle of the Ancre
    • Actions of Miraumont
    • Battle of Arras
      • Second Battle of the Scarpe
      • Battle of Arleu
      • Battle of Albert (1918)
      • Battle of Drocourt-Queant
      • Battle of the Canal du Nord
      • Battle of Cambrai (1918)
      • Passage of the Grand Honelle

      Kolonels van het regiment

      Kolonels van het regiment waren:

      • 1688-1689: Kolonel Sir Robert Peyton
      • 1689-1706: Generaal-majoor. Gustaaf Hamilton, 1st Burggraaf Boyne
      • 1706-1714: Generaal-majoor. John Newton
      • 1714-1719: luitenant-generaal. Thomas Meredyth
      • 1719-1732: Kolonel Hon. William Egerton
      • 1732-1737: Brig.Gen. Francis Howard, 1st Graaf van Effingham
      • 1737-1740: luitenant-generaal. Richard St. George
      • 1740: Kolonel Alexander Rose
      • 1740-1746: luitenant-generaal. Thomas Bligh
      • 1746-1749: luitenant-generaal. George Germain, 1st Burggraaf Sackville
      • 1749-1755: luitenant-generaal. George Keppel, 3de Graaf van Albemarle, KG (burggraaf Bury)

      Het 20e regiment te voet

      • 1755-1756: Gen. Philip Honeywood
      • 1756-1769: luitenant-generaal. William Kingsley
      • 1769-1773: Gen. Bernard Hale
      • 1773-1782: luitenant-generaal. Hon. George Lane Parker

      Het 20e (Oost-Devon) Regiment van Voet

      • 1782-1789: luitenant-generaal. William Wynyard
      • 1789-1797: luitenant-generaal. West Hyde
      • 1797-1809: Gen. Charles Leigh
      • 1809-1815: luitenant-generaal Sir John Stuart, graaf van Maida GCB
      • 1815-1842: Gen Sir William Houston, 1st Baronet GCB GCH
      • 1842-1850: luitenant-generaal. Sir James Stevenson Burns KCB
      • 1850-1853: luitenant-generaal. Sir Andrew Pilkington, KCB
      • 1853: Luitenant-Gen. Sir William Chalmers, CB, KCH
      • 1853: Generaal-majoor. Henry Godwin , CB
      • 1853-1854: luitenant-generaal. Sir Nathaniel Thorn, KCB, KH
      • 1854-1858: luitenant-generaal. Henry Thomas, CB
      • 1858-1876: Gen. Marcus Beresford
      • 1876-1894: Gen. Sir Frederick Horn , GCB

      De Lancashire Fusiliers

      • 1894-1897: Gen. Sir William Pollexfen Radcliffe , KCB
      • 1897-1909: Gen. Sir Edward Alan Holdich , GCB
      • 1909-1914: Generaal-majoor. Sir William Drummond Scrase-Dickins, KCB
      • 1914-1926: Generaal-majoor. Charles James Blomfield, CB, DSO
      • 1926-1945: generaal-majoor. George Henry Basil Freeth, CB, CMG, DSO
      • 1945-1955: generaal-majoor. George Surtees, CB, CBE, MC
      • 1955-1965: Brig. Percy Geoffrey Bamford, CBE, DSO
      • 1965-1968: luitenant-generaal. Sir George Harris Lea, KCB, DSO, MBE
      • 1968: Regiment samengevoegd met The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers , The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers en The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) , om The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers te vormen



Comments:

  1. Awarnach

    This is the precious phrase

  2. Dru

    I think I make mistakes. Write to me in PM, discuss it.

  3. Ganris

    I consider, that you are not right. Let's discuss. Write to me in PM, we will communicate.

  4. Vudosida

    Absolutely, the answer is excellent



Write a message