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THE 8th BORDER REGIMENT IN THE GREAT WAR

Border Regiment Cap and Badge and picture of 8th Border in early training at Kendal Castle courtesy of Paul Bramham

1914 - Formation and Training

 The 8th (Service) Battalion, Border Regiment was formed in August 1914, the first Border Battalion to be formed under the Pals Battalion banner. The men who enlisted answered Lord Kitchener's call of the 8th August for a volunteer army of 100,000 men and came under Lord Derby's suggestion that men who so enlisted together, should train and serve and fight together. Composed of men of Keswick, Kendal, Windermere and the towns and villages of Cumberland and Westmorland, groups of friends and colleagues signed up together in sufficient number to form whole platoons and companies based on the towns the men lived in.
 Someone at the Kendal recruiting office seems to have had such a sense of correctness, that he encouraged the men to line up to enlist in alphabetical order. A selection of men enlisting (by their Service Numbers) from 1914 includes
15006 Ernest WILSON - 3 Caroline St. Kendal,
15010 Richard WALLACE - 6 Gawith Place. Kendal
15011 Robert WILLOCK – Castle St. Kendal.
15016 Thomas G WILSON - enlisted Kendal.
15019 John WILKINSON - 16 Castle St.Kendal
15020 Thomas Edward WILKINSON - Sizergh Castle Gardens, Kendal

Or perhaps he took names and filled out the forms provisionally for them to return by surname for their medical,as Thomas G Wilson enlisted 5th September and did not have a medical until the 7th September 1914.


  Milnthorpe was one such place and many of the men rushed to join. Men such as Thomas Gibson Wilson who enlisted in 1914, despite the fact he was actually underage. He was on the 1911 Census as aged 13, even then, he appears to have been "beyond his years", working in a paper mill. He lived with his mother and his half brother, James Moss is head of the house, at Chapel House Milnthorpe.

 Thomas Wilson enlisted on 5th September 1914, at Kendal giving his age as "19 years 2 months". He must have looked older than his age as despite the fact he was only 5'3" and 125lbs, the couple of years or so he added to his age, was not noticed. Interestingly his occupation also, is Motor Driver, at an age he would not have been allowed to drive nowadays. It turns out indeed, he was employed as a chauffeur for Doctor Fuller of Milnthorpe. His service number was initally 14857 and later changed to 15016. His address now was Thorpe Cottage Milnthorpe, where he still lived with his family.

 He passed his medical on the 7th September 1914, here he is noted as being 5'3" and 125 lbs with blue eyes and black hair. Perhaps this gave him an air of being older than his probable real age of 16 or so. By the 15th September 1914, Thomas was posted to the 8th (Service)Battalion of the Border Regiment, along with many of his fellow Milnthorpe men who had signed up for War Service. They now underwent training in the UK for approximately a year at places Like Salisbury Plain and Aldershot. He may even feature on the picture below from Margaret Duff of the early recruits, not yet uniformed.

An early group of recruits in 1914, not yet in uniform :- Photo from : The Margaret Duff Collection

  The Officers who formed the Battalion were:-

   Colonel H.R. Brander C.B.      - Commanding Officer,
   Lt. Colonel Sir Henry Leonard - Second in Command,
   Major P. Strahan                      - Company Commander
   Captain Satow,                        - Company Commander
   Captain Miller,                          - Company Commander
   Captain Lyall,                           - Company Commander
   Major Birt,                                 - Company Commander
   Captain Wilkinson                    - Adjutant.

 Under these officers, 1000 or so men were soon assembled and designated the 8th (Service) Battalion Border Regiment and sent to Codford, Salisbury Plain for training on the 10th September 1914.
 Training proceeded here until the 10th November, then the Battalion moved to Boscombe, where the men were first kitted out in khaki and, starting to feel like real soldiers, joined the 25th Division under Major General Ventris. In the 25th Division, they were part of the 75th Brigade under Brigadier General J.A.H. Woodward, along with the 8th Battalion Lancashire Regiment and the 10th and 11th Battalions, Cheshire Regiment.


1915 - Going Overseas

  In early 1915, the 75th Brigade moved to Aldershot for Brigade Training, where the men learned the arts of soldiering in large formations.


Three men of the 8th Border Regiment featured in the Whitehaven News 1915/1916

 Thomas Wilson may have remembered his time at Aldershot better than most as his conduct sheet of 16th June 1915 reports a misconduct which Sjt Grimes spotted and he had to face a punishment on the 18th June handed out by Lieutenant Barnes, which unfortunately, history has left unknown.

A group of men were from Milnthorpe and the local paper, The Westmorland Mercury shows a set of pictures of Milnthorpe men who were due to go overseas, and most were 8th Border Men. Most The paper is dated 29th January 1915.


Picture courtesy of Paul Bramham
1. Pte E Mashiter; 2.Pte R W Thompson; 3. Pte K Dixon; 4. Pte W Knight; 5. Pte J Atkinson; 6. Pte T Wilson 7.Pye H Thompson; 8. Pte J Garth;
9. Pte T.G.Wilson; 10. Pte H Sarples; 11.Pte P M Rheam; 12. Serjt F R Wilkinson; 13. Pte T Coward; 14. Pte G Swindlehurst; 15. Pte J Sennock; 16. Pte J Parker; 17. Pte H Hyde; 18. Pte C Hyde; 19. Pte W Arkwright; 20. Pte E Ashburner; 21. Pte J Wilkinson; 22. Pte F Barnes; 23. Pte R Hudson; 24. Pte A Garth.

 Having completed this training it was time for the 8th Border to move for service overseas in the war zone, after a spell of leave at home they gathered at Codford Camp and prepared to travel to war.

The 8th Battalion at Codford St Mary Training Camp, Salisbury Plain( Picture provided by Border Regiment Wiki)

They left Aldershot on the 25th September 1915, arriving in France on the 27th, at the port of Boulogne.
 On arrival in France they travelled by train to Hazebrouck, marched to Strazeele and took lorries to Nieppe then marched on to and and were billeted at Le Bizet. They went into the line at Ploegsteert for the first three months of "acclimatisation", as they learned the 'arts and tricks' of Trench Warfare under the guidance of the 48th Canadian Highlander Battalion.
 . Now they were a line trained battalion ready for service in any part of the British Sector and would commence trench warfare's cycles of -front line, reserve line, rest and fatigues, as and when the B.E.F. needed them. Unfortunately the first casualty was suffered in late 1915, 13535 Lance Corporal Joseph Ward Donaldson,of Granby House, Whitehaven, killed returning from a listening post on the night of 1st October.
LE BIZET
1st October 1915- One platoon of A, B and C Companies, proceeded to the trenches that night at 6pm, relieving D Company.
2nd- 8am. Another platoon from A, B and C Companies, relieved those already in the trenches at 6.30pm. One Lance Corporal of B Company was shot returning from a listening post on the night of the 1st October.

( 13535 Lance Corporal Joseph Ward Donaldson, age 23. Son of Robert Henry and Jane Hewitt Donaldson, of Granby House, Whitehaven, killed returning from a listening post on the night of 1st October.Buried in Lancashire Cottage Cemetery, grave II.D.8. )

 Next the first Kendal lad, Thomas William Bailey of Far Pump Yard Kendal who was killed in action on October 4th 1915. He is buried in The London Rifle Brigade Cemetery, Belgium.

The war diary states "4th October- 8pm. A good deal of firing at night by the Germans. Casualties one man killed about 6.30AM. One slightly wounded by shellfire."
( 14275 Private Thomas William Bailey, born 1897, in Scalthwaiterigg Westmorland, aged 18 in 1915. An office worker of 6 Pump Yard Far Cross Bank, Kendal, Westmorland. Killed in action 4th October 1915,is buried in London Rifle Brigade Cemetery, grave II.A.39. )

14275 Private Thomas William Bailey k.i.a. 4th October 1915,
buried in London Rifle Brigade Cemetery, grave II.A.39.
Westmorland Mercury 15th October 1915, courtesy of Paul Bramham

  The Battalion now started a period of turn and turn about with the 10th Cheshires in line at east of Ploegsteert. The nights of 4th 9th October were full of sniping and machine gun fire from the enemy as the 8th Border tried to repair and reinforce the trenches in their sector. On the 9th they were relieved to billets at Ploeagsteert, exchanging places with the 10th Cheshires who went into line, in their place. The 10th -15th October were spent in the second line, doing Fatigues and Physical Drills, followed by bathing.
  On the 15th October they went back into the front line to relieve the Cheshires again. The front line was as active as the first tour and the following gives a flavour of the action.

16th October- 8pm. A quiet night. Some shelling in the afternoon in reply to our guns, three shells dropped close to our communication trench and some others near Lancashire Support Farm. No damage done. A clear night.

17th October- 8pm. Enemy in action at night they turned a machine gun on to our communication trench and tram line. It is evidently well marked but they just missed the ration party on the way up.

18th October -8pm. The Germans shelled a good deal today, both in the morning and afternoon and inflicted some casualties amongst working parties, especially at Le Touquet Berthe. One casualty amongst the Patrol Party in front of our lines at night Pte. Walker, shot through the arm.

(Private Willan survived this wound to be killed on the Somme in July 1916.)

19th October- 8pm. A little more firing at night, the enemy shelled the trenches a little in the morning and two casualties from shrapnel. L.Cpl. Bownes seriously wounded in the lung and L.Cpl Bell wounded, both of C Company. All work proceeding under direction of RE Officer as usual.
(Lance Corporal Bownes recovered form this serious lung wound and was promoted to Corporal and later killed on the Somme in July 1916. Lance Corporal Bell also recovered and survived the war.)

20th October -8pm. A noisy night, much more firing on the German side, apparently due to new reliefs. Capt. McCullogh severely wounded in the leg, putting up wire about 5am. Another casualty in B Company the same night. A quiet day and work provided as usual. Hop we have located a German battery which has been shelling our trenches and informed the Artillery..

21st- 8pm. A quiet night. Heard of Capt. McCullogh’s death at No.2 Clearing Station from injuries. Relief was completed by 5pm and lines and trenches handed over to Cheshires.

(Captain John Wyndham Hamilton McCulloch, son of J. E. McCulloch, Richmond House, St Mary’s Terrace, Paddington, London. is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension in grave I.C.25 .)

  The battalion were relieved on the 22nd October and a service was held in memory of Captain MCCulloch, as well as bathing and church services, plus the obligatory fatigues. A return to the front line was not far away however, and the days from the 25th October to 29th were spent in line again, with the conditions being as before, trench improvement the order of the days. On the 29th an incident did occur when the cookhouse was shelled and 5 men of D Company were wounded. They were lucky, as a man of the South Wales Borderers was killed by this shell, believed to have been fired by a captured French Gun, form a place north of Messines.
  The end of October saw the 8th(Service) Battalion, The Border Regiment in billets at Ploegsteert, resting from their previous tours, but still doing fatigues. Early December 1915 Colonel Brander (still writing the War Diary) and Lt Colonel Woodward returned to England and Lt Colonel C.E. Hope became C.O., with Major Strahan promoted to Second in Command of the battalion.

  November and December 1915 were spent in poor weather in this area, Most of the battalion activity concerned trench repairs and sniping duels. On 7th November 1915 Pte Troughton of B Company was killed whilst repairing the parados of the trench, plus the british snipers bagged a pheasant !

7th November 1915- Again a quiet day on account of the fog. Good progress was made in repairing parapet and communication trenches. Unfortunately Pte Troughton of B company was killed when repairing parados. Towards evening the enemy machine gun was active in front of A Company holding the centre section of our line. Our sniping bag during the day was one pheasant.
( Pte James William Troughton 15852, born 1897 at Underbarrow. Farm servant for Thomas & Mary Martindale, Crake Trees, Whinfell, Kendal. Son of Mrs M.A. Troughton, “Sunny Bank” Underbarrow, Kendal is buried in Lancashire Cottage Cemetery in grave II.C.8. )

15852 Private James William Troughton, B Company,
k.i.a. 7th November 1915,whilst repairing trench parados
buried in Lancashire Cottage Cemetery in grave II.C.8.,
Picture courtesy of David Shackleton

  An artillery duel the next night, plus retaliatory machine gun fire, caused another death, that of 14421 Private William Denvir, of A Company, killed by shell fire in the early hours of the 9th November 1915.
9th November 1915 - A distinct improvement in the weather, many of the trenches have been almost emptied of water. The enemys artillery was particularly active around 11.35 am, their attentions were particularly directed to D Company, holding the right of our line. Unfortunately two of our men were hit but neither dangerously. Around 4.30 pm our artillery returned the compliment also our machine guns were active. At 3.30 pm Pte. Denvir of A Company was killed as he worked in the Support Trench.
(14421 Private William Denvir, of A Company, killed by shell fire in the 3.30a.m. 9th November 1915. He is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, grave I.C.41.)

  The next 4 days were spent out of line and showing even this could not be safe, the brigade HQ was shelled on the 13th. The men had the luxury of baths on the 11th November, but it was back to fatigues the next day.The 8th Border also lost another man to sniping as the men were detailed as working parties between the 12th and the 15th November. Private Burney was hit in the head by a sniper and later died in hospital at Boulogne.
15th- A quiet day. Sniping at the working parties was indulged in by the enemy and we had one casualty Pte. Burney of A Company who was rather seriously wounded by a bullet in the face.
(14412 Private William Burney, Age 22. Son of Samuel and Elizabeth Burney, of 9, Countess Terrace, Bransty, Whitehaven died on the 19th November 1915 and is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, in grave VIII.C.57. )

  The rest of November and December 1915 was spent in this area in poor weather, fighting mainly the water levels. The main danger to the men was sniping and artillery duels, even British artillery could be quite a danger.
19th November 1915- A hard frost during the night and early hours of the morning. This caused considerable damage to our parapets. B Company had difficulty in ridding section 112 of the water. Artillery positions fairly active on both sides. Unfortunately C Company had two men hit one our shells fired from B Battery.
21st- Little to report. The enemy was particularly quiet. The work of repairing the trenches is steadily carried on. A Pte. of A Company was wounded slightly this afternoon. Palk trench reported our own machine guns were firing into their trench.
22nd- Our relief was carried out by the 2nd Batt S. Lancashire Regt in cold and misty weather without any casualties. The relief was completed before dark. During the morning A Company unfortunately had 3 men hit Pte. Gilpin was killed bullet wound in head. Pte. Irwin was wounded in the hand and Pte. Ratcliffe in the neck, the last one was of a serious nature. The usual work of repairs and drainage carried out during the morning.
(14443 Private Robert Gilpin killed by a shot to the head. Age 21. Son of Robert & Elizabeth Gilpin. 19 Shaws Brow, Kendal. Buried Lancashire Cottage Cemetery, grave II.C.9. Private Ratcliffe survived this serious neck wound only to fall at the Somme in July 1916.)

14443 Private Robert Gilpin killed by a shot to the head. Age 21.
A Company, k.i.a. 22nd November 1915,
buried in Lancashire Cottage Cemetery in grave II.C.9.
Picture courtesy of David Shackleton

  Spells in and out of line in the conditions described were a hazardous venture, and trench attrition was a constant factor for the 8th Border. Sometimes this was enlivened by the addition of extra dangers such a enemy mining or shelling of back areas -

2nd December 1915 - The morning was quiet, sniping continued all day. Pte. Edwards of B Company, badly wounded about 2pm. Great difficulty being experience with water in the trenches, the left of B Company being particularly bad. About 7pm the enemy exploded a mine in trench 99 belonging to the 9th L.N. Lancs. Heavy firing on both sides was the result of this. Lt Gray took a party of 12 men to No 99 trench to help to repair parapet and search for missing men.
PLOEGSTEERT
5th-The usual fatigues were told off. These were withdrawn at 1 O’clock. Divine service was held at the billets during the afternoon. About 12.30 two HE shells burst upon Soyer Farm where A Company is billeted. There were two casualties Pte. Robinson being wounded, also Pte. Walksworth slightly wounded otherwise a quiet day.

(14541 Private Samuel Robinson, died of wounds, Age 25. Son of Samuel B. Robinson, of 12, Sea View, Parton, Whitehaven, Cumberland, and the late Ellen Robinson. 6th December 1915 and was buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension grave I.F.14.)


12th December 1915 -The 8th Loyal N Lancs took over FAT [Forward Assembly Trench] Paul & FAT [Forward Assembly Trench] Dudley. OC C Company extended his line northwards to the R.Warnave. OC A Company on account of flooded dug out had to send 1 platoon to billet with B Company at Lancashire Support Farm and 1 platoon from B Company came to Mountain Gun Farm for billets. During the afternoon considerable shelling took place. In the morning Pte Carruthers C Company was seriously wounded in the head. The water in 105 & 106 subsided a little during the day.
(15102 Private Robert Carruthers died of his wounds the next day 13th December 1915 and is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension grave I.D.129.)

  Colonel Brander left to take command of 7th Infantry Brigade on the 18th December 1915 and Lt Colonel C.E. Bond took over command of the 8th Border Regiment with Major P. Strahan as his second in command. In the line sniping was till a problem and a further two men were killed by this in December 1915, whilst repairing communication trenches.
20th December 1915 - Each company employed in repairing their parapet and freeing trenches from water. L. Corp. Smith of D Company was killed whilst working in CT [Communication Trench]103.
(15065 Lance Corporal Robert Smith, age 23. Son of John Smith, of 8, New St., Cockermouth, Cumberland. Killed whilst working on CT103 on 20th December 1915, buried in Lancashire Cottage Cemetery grave II.C.10.)

  Christmas this year was most definitley not a time for fraternisation and although the 8th Border were out of line and had Christmas Eve bath and a service on Christmas Day the " daily hate" did not cease on both sides, apart from Christmas day itself....
PLOEGSTEERT
24th December 1915- The Battn rested in billets and had baths in Nieppe. During the evening a night fatigue party was supplied both by B & D Companies.
25th December 1915- Service was held at Soyer Farm, nearly 200 men were present. There were fewer fatigues. A Company supplied 30 men during the afternoon. Quiet Day.
26th December 1915 Ploegsteert was shelled during the morning and evening. All the companies were on fatigue duty during the morning. In the evening A B & C companies supplied fatigue parties for the RE.

  The return to the front line was on 27th December 1915 and again the problems with sniping and trench repairs raised it's head, metaphoricallyif not literally....

30th December 1915- A enemy’s snipers were most active than usual Pte. Ellis Jones B Company being killed in C T 109. The Battn occupied in repairing the parapet & draining trenches.

(14316 Private William Ellis Jones, age 22. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Jones, of 9, Ferney Green, Kendal, Westmorland. Killed whilst working on CT109 on 30th December 1915, buried in London Rifle Brigade Cemetery, grave II.C.10.)

14316 Private William Ellis Jones, age 22
B Company, killed 30th December 1915,
buried London Rifle Brigade Cemetery, grave II.C.10.
Picture courtesy of David Shackleton

  Thus did 1915 sign itself off for the 8th Border Regiment at war in the trenches in the Ploegsteert Sector- with "10 rounds rapid".

31st December 1915- A quiet day. At midnight 10 rounds rapid were fired in reply to German fusillade. There were no casualties

1916- On the Front Foot

8th Border Regiment picture - captioned "8th Bn France WW1".
Picture courtesy of Paul Bramham

 During the early part of 1916 the 8th Border were in training for the upcoming Offensive of the summer months, with which the British and French planned to break the German lines and win the war. Periods of training were alternated with periods in line and a gradual progression to be in the area of attack in time for the 'Big Push'.
  The early part of January 1916 was spent under increasing shell and sniper fire at Ploegsteert, causing casualties, such as the unlucky Pte. Fitzwilliam, wounded twice:
10th January 1916- Lawrence Farm considerably shelled during the morning. 18 HE falling within a few yards of the far. The tram line torn up in places but repaired by the RE. One man Pte. Fitzwilliam of A Company slightly wounded in the back No damage done.

19th January 1916- Lt Gray [ From Army List 1915: Lt Gray is A.E. Wingate-Gray ] was slightly wounded in the eye. The Germans put a few shells near Lancashire Support Farm about 10.30pm and also shelled the main communication trench. At 12.30pm a minor operation started on our right this was carried out by the 74th Bde. The Battn supported their attack by rifle fire, machine guns, and grenades. The Germans replied by shelling our line. We had 6 casualties all of A Company. Pte. Fitzwilliams & 2 Lt. Tyson both seriously wounded, L/C. Williamson & L/C. J Thornton slightly wounded. Pte. Coates and Woodhead slightly wounded & Pte. McGarr B Company was slightly wounded.


(18825 Private John William Coates, age 24 A Company , wounded 19th January 1916, recovered and killed in action, 10th August 1918 Age 24. Commemorated on Ploegsteert Memorial. Son of John and Isabella Coates husband of Sarah Ann Woodburn (formerly Coates), of 188, Main St., Holborn Hill, Millom, Cumberland

(12708 Private Thomas McGarr of B Company, recovered from his wound also, but was also killed 5th July 1916 on the Somme. He also is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 6A and 7C.)


  On the 20th January the battalion in the trenches had a visit from the CO of a battalion due to relieve the 8th Border in line, one Lt. Colonel Winston Churchill, of the 2nd S. Lancs. He was commanding a battalion at the time as the fall out from his ill fated Gallipoli campaign, meant he was best out of the public eye for a spell. His presence may have cast an unlucky shadow upon the battalion, as that night:-
20th January 1916- A quiet day. Col. Winston Churchill inspected our lines with a view to taking them over during the night. Lt Warren and Corpl Hodgson were on patrol they did not return, no evidence is forthcoming what happened to them.

(Lt Archibald Alexander Warren, age 19.Twice Mentioned in Son of Timothy and Mary Don Warren, of 10, Westbourne Terrace, Kelvinside, Glasgow. Born at Hamilton, Lanarkshire. Died 20th January 1916 -did not return from a patrol - buried in Cabaret Rouge Cemetery Souchez, grave XXI.C.21. )

(14467 Corporal Thomas Allan Hodgson. Son of Timothy and Mary Ann Hodgson, of 39, Blencathra St., Keswick, Cumberland. He enlisted 7th Sept 1914 and was sent to France 26th Sept 1915. Reported missing on patrol on the night of 20th Jan 1916. Buried Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery Souchez, grave XXI.C.20. )

14467 Corporal Thomas Allan Hodgson. Son of Timothy and Mary Ann Hodgson, of
39, Blencathra St., Keswick, Cumberland. He enlisted 7th Sept 1914 and was
sent to France 26th Sept 1915. Reported missing on patrol on the night of 20th Jan 1916.
Buried Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery Souchez, grave XXI.C.20.


  The relief took place two nights later and the battalion was now on the move.
  On 26th January 1916 the 8th Border, part of the 75th Brigade, 25th Division moved via La Creche, to Strazeele, where the men had Company Training. The Officers also had lectures at Bailleul at this time. February 1916 was a series of training, lectures route marches and sports as the brigade prepared to be deployed in another even hotter part of the British Line. General Plumer and Lord Kitchener inspected the Brigade during route marches and some men attended a demo of the new German weapon, the Flammenwerfer. Lt Colonel Bond signed off the February War Diaries, whilst the 75th Brigade practised night marching.
 On the 10th March 1916 they left Strazeele and moved to Nedon and Bryas for more training,all in preparation for the upcoming summer offensive. Sir Julian Byng inspected the men on 20th March 1916 and Sir Douglas Haig on the 31st, all while the men were on route marches. Things were begnning to ramp up now, as Wood Fighting in defence and attack,night fighting,bombing, training against the German Flammenwerfer and musketry and Lewis Gun firing were practised. . In early April they continued training and were preparing to go in line north of Neuville St Vaast on the 21st April 1916. Whilst in line early in their stint,in the pouring rain, struggling to maintain the trenches, the Germans decided to test the 'new boys'. on 25th and 26th April 1916 the front line was subjected to a set of bombing raids which cost the lives of two men.

22nd April 1916- The relief completed at 4.30am. Repair of trenches much hindered by continuous rain.
23rd April 1916- The Battalion engaged in repairing and improving trenches.
24th April 1916- The Batt was engaged in draining trenches of water and taking p boards and relaying, also repairing trenches. 25th & 26th April 1916 - As on 23 & 24. On the 25th at 11.15pm our advanced posts were bombed & again at 8am on the 26th. Unfortunately we had casualties. One Serjeant killed and five men wounded, two missing.


(13525 Lance Serjeant Thomas Henry ANDERSON, Age:21. Son of Daniel and Mary Ann Anderson, of 3, Bransty Villas, Whitehaven, Cumberland. Killed in a bombing raid 27th April 1916, in the trenches north of Neuville Vitasse. Buried in LA CHAUDIERE MILITARY CEMETERY, VIMY , grave VII.D.9.)

15140 Private James Garth. Age:21. Son of John and Emma Garth,
of Field Cottage, Milnthorpe, Westmorland.
Killed in a bombing raid 25th April 1916, in the trenches north of Neuville Vitasse.
Buried in LA CHAUDIERE MILITARY CEMETERY, VIMY , grave VII.D.10.


  Even when relieved the danger of being just behind the line lurked for the men of the 8th Border. On the 28th April the diary reports -

28th- The Battalion rested in Neuville St Vaast and were engaged in cleaning up equipment clothing etc. During the afternoon C & D Companies furnished working parties in the support lines. At 7.30 pm while D Company were working a shell burst in the middle killing 1 Serjeant, 2 men and injuring 6 others. Later one of the wounded men died. Stand to alarm from 9pm – 11pm.

(12384 Private John Butler- killed by a shell bursting in the middle of a working party in the support lines on 28th April 1916. Buried in LA CHAUDIERE MILITARY CEMETERY, VIMY , grave VII.D.8.)

(12227 Lance Corporal John Tweddle.Age: 28.Son of T. Tweddle, of Coatham Mundeville, Darlington. - killed by a shell bursting in the middle of a working party in the support lines on 28th April 1916. Buried in LA CHAUDIERE MILITARY CEMETERY, VIMY , grave VII.D.7.)




Left- 19330 Private Robert Kendall Whittam .Age: 32 "D" Company. 8th Bn.
Son of Robert and Jane Whittam, of Church View, Staveley, Kendal, Westmorland
. - killed by a shell bursting in the middle of a working party in the support lines.
28th April 1916. Buried in LA CHAUDIERE MILITARY CEMETERY, VIMY , grave VII.D.9.


Right- 12923 Serjeant Alfred Marsden formerly of the Rothay Garth Hotel, Grasmere- killed by a shell bursting in the middle of a working party in the support lines - 28th April 1916.
Buried in LA CHAUDIERE MILITARY CEMETERY, VIMY , grave VII.D.6.









  On that rather sour note, the acting CO, Major P Strahan, signs of March and April 1916's war diaries. colonel Bond was attending a course at Divisional School dring this time and Major Strahan appears to have taken over diary duties, as well as commanding the 8th Border Regiment.
  May 1916 was spent in and out of line in the Neuville area and it was here the 8th Border got it's first real taste of two notorious facets of Western Front warfare- Mining and Gas.

5th May 1916- 3am Enemy put up 3 mines simultaneously, 1 opposite right of 064 & 2 in front of 063. They had the effect of extending the old craters (063.1 & 064.1) & much of our lip subsided. No enemy attack was made, nor were any of our works damaged. We suffered no casualties. There was no Artillery fire – Rifles & machine guns together with bombs being employed where necessary. During the day the Battalion was employed on general repair work & in strengthening & consolidation our listening posts. The new Doublement line was progressed with during the night.

  The battalion also suffered losses in what was know as trench wastage or tit for tat warfare:-

9th May 1916- The day passed quietly except towards evening, when there was considerable Artillery activity. For blowing in his post yesterday the enemy retaliated by bombing our Y Post. We had one casualty. The Battalion was relieved by the XI Cheshire Regt at night & reached the huts at ECOIVRES without incident.

(15756 Private Robert McLaughlin, age 20. Killed in action by enemy retaliatory bombing attack 8th May 1916. Buried ECOIVRES MILITARY CEMETERY, MONT ST ELOI, grave I.J.7. Son of Catherine McLaughlin, of 38, Strand St., Whitehaven, Cumberland.)
  From 10th-15th May 1916, the men were out of of line in billets at Neuville St Vaast, but on their return to the front line

18th- Considerable shelling by the enemy also they were throwing over more bombs & grenades than usual. We had 2 killed & 12 wounded.


Left- 15130 Private Walter Elson
- killed by enemy bombing raid.
Buried in ECOIVRES MILITARY CEMETERY ,
MONT ST ELOI, grave I.N.8.









Right- 14345 Private Francis William Snaith
- killed by enemy bombing raid.
Buried in ECOIVRES MILITARY CEMETERY ,
MONT ST ELOI, grave I.N.10.
Age 25. Son of Mrs. and the late Mr. Snaith, of 3, Dockray Hall Cottages, Kendal; husband of Nellie Snaith, of Mill Fold, Crook, nr. Kendal, Westmorland. Born 1892. Mother Mary A. ran a bakery and sweetshop at their home , 3 Dockray Hall Cottages, Kendal. Other children Ann and Violet.Born 1892. Plumber/ painter apprentice (1911).


  The 8th Border went out of line on the 20th May 1916, but were harrassed in Neuville by Tear Gas shells and heavy caliber shelling during the time in billets. The return to the front line in late may saw a spate of casualties,due to mining bombing and shelling as the enemy sought to make the area as uncomfortable for the troops as they could. Rumours of the build up to the Big Push must have been rife on both sides of the line.
NEUVILLE ST VAAST
21st May 1916- The enemy shelled the village intermittently throughout the day and dropped “Tear Shells”
those being the first the battalion had experienced. No casualties. The usual fatigues were furnished.
22nd May 1916- The enemy again shelled the village with Tear Shells otherwise the day was quiet.
23rd May 1916- About 20 large shells were fired into the village. No damage was done & no casualties.
TRENCHES
24th May 1916- The Battalion relieved the XI Cheshires in the front line trenches. 2nd Batt S. Lancs on our right 1st Batt Wiltshires on our left
28th May 1916- Our front line & support line trenches were subjected to Artillery fire and mortars for the greater part of the day our casualties 1 man of A Company wounded, 6 wounded & 2 killed in B Company and 1 wounded in D Company.

(21345 Private Herbert Howard, age 31.Killed by shelling and trench mortar attack. 28th May 1916. Buried in ECOIVRES MILITARY CEMETERY, MONT-ST. ELOI, grave Son of the late William and Sarah Maria Howard. Born at Barmer, Fakenham, Norfolk.)
( 14662 Private Robert Skinner.Killed in bombing raid and died of wounds sustained. 28th May 1916 Buried in ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY, grave V. D. 12A.)


29th May 1916- A fairly quiet day. The Battalion was employed in opening up & strengthening new trenches especially on our let. We had two men of B Company wounded by a bomb.
30th May 1916- The enemy blew a mine in front of our centre Company (B) a platoon was sent forward and immediately occupied & consolidated the rear lip of the crater. The only casualty was one man of A who died later. No damage was done.

14519 Private John Henry Lickbarrow. A Company 8th Border Regiment Age: 25.
Wounded occupying a mine crater the enemy had blown on 30th May 1916,
in the trenches north of Neuville Vitasse. Died of wounds sustained 31st May 1916.
Buried in AUBIGNY COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION , grave I. C. 48.
Son of Henry and Margaret Lickbarrow. A farm servant.
Born Rowrah, Cumberland in 1891.
Parents Henry and Mary. Brother of Mary and Jane.


31st May 1916 - A quiet day on the whole. We had one man L. Corp. Wright of B Company slightly wounded. We were relieved during the night by 1/5th Seaforth Highlanders. The Battn matched to A.C.Q. where they went into billets till the following day
"P. Strahan Major 8th Battalion Border Regt."


  The 8th Border spent June 1916 moving towards the Somme Area, training and exercising as they went. The training was aimed at getting the men into a peak of battle readiness for the battalions part in the Somme Offensive, set for the end of June/ early July. During this period the battalion marched to and trained in the following places:-
- Savy 2nd June-Physical Drill and Bayonet Fighting
- Monchy Breton and Chelers 5-7th June Brigade Training
- Buneville 14th June- Route March
- Vacquerie Le Bouc 15th June-Physical Drill and Bayonet Fighting
- Prouville 17th June- visit to trenches North of Albert
- Domart 18-24th June Company Training and sports
- Talmas 24th-25th June Regimental Training and bathing
- Herrisart 26th- 29th June Company Training
- 30th June 1916 the Battalion moved to Forceville

  In late June, the 25th Division tranferrred to the Fourth Army and became part of the Fourth Army Reserve, soon to become the Reserve Army and eventually, the Fifth Army.
 When the Battle of the Somme commenced, the Fourth Army Reserve was stationed at Warly, some four miles behind the front lines, but ordered to be ready to move up at short notice, if events required. The 8th Border were at Forceville. On the 2nd July 1916, they were marched to Martinsart Wood and the front lines south of Thiepval, to take part in an attack at 6 a.m. on July 3rd, in an area which had resisted attackers the previous day. With no attack taking place either side and severe enfilade fire from these flanks, the attack was costly to the 8th Border- 430 OR Casualties, 4 Officers killed and 10 wounded. The German trench was only captured for 200 yards in the centre of the attack and this was too badly damaged by shellfire to hold against counter attack. The men had to hold the line for another night as the battered 32nd Division who had attacked on the 1st July in this area, were in greater need of relief due to their higher casualties. The 8th Border were relieved on the night of the 4th July and bivouaced in Aveluy Wood as they and other Division battalions recovered from the failed attack.


21746 Private John Moffat Bragg. Died 7th July 1916
of wounds (arm, side and shoulder) received on 2nd July 1916.
Probably in the shelling of the trench described below....
Picture Courtesy of Steve Scott




Extracts from the War Diaries for June/July 1916

JULY 1st 1916
FORCEVILLE :
The Battalion halted here for the day, but had sudden orders at 11 pm to be ready to move. However the order to move did not come till the next day.

JULY 2nd 1916
MARTINSAART WOOD :
The Battalion moved to MARTINSAART WOOD at 11 am. A team composed of Reserve Officers and NCO’s moved to VANDENCOURT. The Battn moved to its appointed place in the front line trench south of THIEPVAL preparatory to the attack. The XI Cheshires on our left and the 2nd S. Lancs Regt on our right. The trenches were heavily shelled by the Germans.
The trenches were heavily shelled by the Germans

JULY 3rd 1916
MARTINSAART WOOD :
The Reg’t was supposed to attack the German front line at 3 am but this was postponed till 6 am. The Batt'n advanced in 4 waves. D & A Companies from our front line B & C Companies from our support line. Each company had two platoons in line crossing on a front of some 150 or 200 yards followed by the other two platoons. As the leading companies left the front trench their place was taken by the two leading Platoons of each supporting Company. Touch was kept with the Cheshires by means of runners. This means of communication was also adopted to keep touch with the 2nd S. Lancs. Regt. The leading companies understood their objectives and had sufficient time to explain their orders to their men according to the operation orders issued in MARTINSAART WOOD. The Companies in support had not sufficient time to explain these orders thoroughly to their men owing to the distance from the front line and the enemy’s shell fire. The 1st two waves went out punctually at the appointed hour, the other two Companies were held in the front line till it was seen how things were going and till reinforcements were requested. A message was sent back asking for reinforcements and bombs and these were sent up immediately. 2 Platoons as at this time were sent up no reinforcements had arrived from the reserve to take our place. Eventually all reinforcements were sent except a platoon with 2 Lewis guns. The last reserve of 2 Platoons did not reach the enemy line but returned with the Battalion when it retired. The frontage occupied In the German line was about 180 yards which had been much damaged by our shell fire and there was very little cover. The right flank giving way was the cause of the Battn falling back and also the unfortunate word “retire” undoubtedly passed along from the right. Major Birt ordered the left to conform. Orders and messages referring to the operations took a very long time to reach Battn H.Q. owing to the dark and the orderlies being near to the trenches. There was no telephone to Battn H.Q. and all messages were by runners. This delayed instructions to O.C. Companies and did not give them time to arrange bombing parties, etc for clearing the German communication trenches. The German rifle & machine gun fire was not particularly severe and had communication with the right and left been kept up throughout the attack would have been successful. During the operation we suffered the following casualties: 4 officers killed and 10 wounded 430 casualties other ranks.

JULY 4th 1916
MARTINSAART WOOD :
The Reg’t left the front line trenches being relieved by the 1st Wiltshire Regt & marched to the south side of Aveluy Wood .

JULY 5th 1916
AVELUY WOOD :
The Regiment remained in bivouac at Aveluy Wood.

JULY 6th 1916
AVELUY WOOD :
The Regiment remained in bivouac at Aveluy Wood.

JULY 7th 1916
AVELUY WOOD :
At 2 pm the Regiment marched to ALBERT and remained there for 6 hours and then marched to USNA REDOUBT these being a reserve line of trenches


Serjeant Walter Dixon from Kendal was one of the men killed on July 3rd 1916.The full life & history of Sjt. Walter Dixon of Kendal which has been compiled, written, and sent to me by his great nephew Peter Shand of Canada. The Dixon family lived on Highfield (now Windermere Rd) ran a bakers and tea room in Kendal Market Place (later Riggs, Birketts, & now Subway sandwich bar). Walter attended Kendal Grammar School, played for Kendal RUFC 1907-14, and was an apprentice engineering draughtsman at Gilkes 1908-1914.

Serjeant Walter Dixon Document by Peter Shand

The above word document is the result, by Peter Shand. His plaque has been mounted on a wooden stand and is a family treasure still today...

  

The memorial Plaque of Serjeant Walter Dixon Age 26. Son of John and Mary Ann Dixon, of "Brookside", Highfield, Kendal Westmorland. Also known as "Togo", pictured wearing a Kendal rugby club shirt, he was a key player in the club's early years between 1907-1914.
Killed in action 3rd July 1916. Commemorated on Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 6A and 7C


A picture of Walter Dixons medals on display at the WW1 exhibition at The Lakeland Museum of Life and Industry Abbot Hall, Kendal. Picture courtesy of Paul Bramham

Private F.E.Wills

The above men were wounded in July 1916 and appeared in the Westmorland Gazette of late July 1916
Left to Right :Corporal A. Atkinson, Private S. Hutchinson, Private G. Pennington, Private F.E. Wills


1916- Stalemate

 The 25th Division and with it the 8th Border Regiment were next posted in reserve trenches near Albert, on July 9th 1916, going into the front line for attack towards Ovillers on July 13th 1916. The German Front line was gained at a cost, but the attack stalled on stout defence by the Prussian Guard Fusilers holding the area. They remained in line until the 17th July and then marched to bivouacs at Senlis, followed by a rest period at Beauval. From 23rd July- 10th August the 8th Border were in the front line north of the River Ancre where they dug trenches for an upcoming planned attack on Beaumont Hamel.

Well known Picture of 8th Border copyright I.W.M

Extracts from the War Diaries for June/July 1916

JULY 8th 1916
USNA REDOUBT :
The Battalion remained at USNA REDOUBT.

JULY 9th 1916
USNA REDOUBT :
The Battalion remained at USNA REDOUBT.

JULY 10th 1916
USNA REDOUBT :
A & B Companies proceeded to the front line trenches. The Commanding Officer accompanied these two Companies.

JULY 11th 1916
USNA REDOUBT :
C & D Companies remained at USNA REDOUBT. A & B in the front line.

JULY 12th 1916
USNA REDOUBT :
C & D Companies marched at 6pm and joined A & B Companies in the Front Line German trenches.

JULY 13th 1916
OVILLERS :
The Battn. was ordered to attack & take two lines of trenches on the southern side of OVILLERS. A & B Companies on the right and C & D on the left. All Companies gained their objectives with little resistance. Unfortunately during the operation Capt. Connelly A Company was killed and 2nd Lt. Rhodes wounded. He eventually died from his wounds.



Second Lieutenant John Kenneth Rhodes , 10th Bn. attd. 8th Bn. Border Regiment. Age 25.
Son of Agnes and the late Samuel Rhodes, of Hill Park, Greenodd, Ulverston.
Wounded attacking enemy trenches 13th July 1916. Died of his wounds 16th July 1916
and buried in WARLOY-BAILLON COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, grave I.D.6.



Left- 12934 Lance Corporal John Brownrigg Rose. Killed in action 15th July 1916. Age 25.
Son of Brownrigg and Jane Rose, of 62, Blencathra Street, Keswick.
Enlisted 5th September 1914, entered France 26th September 1915.
Buried in POZIERES BRITISH CEMETERY, OVILLERS-LA BOISSELLE, grave I.F.26.

Picture Courtesy of Steve Scott




Right-15853 Serjeant Harry Taylor shot by a sniper- 15th July 1916. Son of Mr and Mrs W Taylor of Kikrbythore.
Commemorated Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 6A and 7C.







JULY 14th 1916
OVILLERS :
The attack on Ovillers was continued. The trench occupied by C & D Companies was retaken and a block established under Lt. Stewart at the Northern end . The trench was then consolidated and held. In the meantime we had pushed forward and taken and held the church and the trench North of it.

JULY 15th 1916
OVILLERS :

The Cheshire Regt. relieved us in the captured trenches. A & B Companies were held in readiness to advance and occupy the trench held & the 2nd Lancs Regt if they advanced.

JULY 16th 1916
OVILLERS :
The Battalion rested in the afternoon in the German Front Line trench which was at the time our support trench to Ovillers.

JULY 17th 1916
SENLIS :

During the night the Battn. left the trench and marched to SENLIS and bivouacked.

JULY 18th 1916
SENLIS :
The Regt. remained halted. Left 5pm when we marched to HEDAUVILLE and bivouacked there for the night.

JULY 19th 1916
HEDAUVILLE:
Left Hedauville and marched to AMPLIER, billeted in huts.

JULY 20th 1916
AMPLIER:
The Brigade was inspected by the Divisional General during the afternoon.

JULY 21st 1916
AMPLIER:
Baths were allotted to the Battn. Company parade.

JULY 22nd 1916
VAUCHELLES:
The Battn moved to VAUCHELLES at 10am and were accommodated in huts.

JULY 23rd 1916
ACHEUX:
Church parade in morning. The Regt moved to ACHEUX at 4pm.

July 24th 1916
ACHEUX:
Regiment remained in billets in ACHEUX

July 25th 1916
ACHEUX:
The Regiment moved from ACHEUX to Marley Wood

MARLEY WOOD
July 26th 1916
MARLEY WOOD
The Regiment remained in Marley Wood. Draft of 1 Company x 91 men arrived.

July 27th 1916
MARLEY WOOD
The Regiment remained in Marley Wood. Draft of 1 Company x 59 men arrived.

July 28th 1916
MARLEY WOOD
The Regiment remained in Marley Wood.

July 29th 1916
MARLEY WOOD
The Regiment remained in Marley Wood. Draft of 1 Company x 82 arrived.

July 30th 1916
FRONT LINE BEAUMONT HAMEL
The Battalion moved to the front line trenches opposite BEAUMONT HAMEL. Draft of 31 men arrived.

July 31st 1916
FRONT LINE BEAUMONT HAMEL
Front line trenches. A Company x 37 men arrived.

"P. Strachan Major for Lieut. Col Commanding 8th Border Regiment."



13181 Sergeant James W. Downie Military Medal winner, wounded in action,
compound fracture of the arm from the Penrith Herald, September 9th 1916
.
Picture Courtesy of Steve Scott








Second Lieutenant Malcolm Keys also had nine relatives who served, including :-
a brother -2nd Lt. C.Geoffrey Keys (regiment not indicated)
His uncle was Harry Keys, manager of West Bromwich Albion and president of the Staffordshire Football league.
Two of Harry Keys sons served :- Captain Harry Wilson Keys MC, of RFA, was promoted from the ranks in 1916.
Signaller Frederick RNVR, who went down with his ship HMS Marmion and the captain while the rest of the crew
took to rafts following a collision in the North Sea on 21st October 1917.(Trafalgar Day)
Fred is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial
.
Pictures from Word Documents, courtesy of Paul Bramham


The 8th Border in August 1916 was in this area at first digging trenches and training. Over the course of the month they moved south into the sector around the Leipzig Salient in which local assaults were made on enemy lines during late August / early September. Mainly they had to sit and suffer bombardments whilst holding the front line. During this time the following casualties can be identified :-

( Lieutenant James Ernest Kirkham Bell killed in a trench mortar and rifle grenade attack whilst working on new trenches opposite Beaumont Hamel - 5th August 1916. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ernest Bell, of 139, Culverley Rd., Catford, London. Age20. Commemortated Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 6A and 7C.)

(21863 Private GeorgeTaylor C Company 8th Border Regiment. Killed whilst on a working party in the Aveluy Wood area front line trenches 22nd August 1916. 1 man killed and 4 wounded. Buried in LONSDALE CEMETERY, AUTHUILLE, grave VII. B. 3. )

( Lieutenant John Martindale Hall -3rd Border attached 8th Border,- killed in the shelling of trenches held by the battalion in the Quarry Post area in front of Aveluy Wood 28th August 1916. Age 19. Son of James T. and Elizabeth A. Hall; of 7, Inkerman Terrace, Whitehaven, Cumberland. Buried in BLIGHTY VALLEY CEMETERY, AUTHUILLE, commemorated on Special Memorial 4-"known to be buried in this cemetery")

( 2nd Lieutenant Francis Wallace Home Renton - killed in the shelling of trenches held by the battalion in the Quarry Post area in front of Aveluy Wood 30th August 1916. Age 29. Son of the late Brig. Surgeon Lt. Col. David Renton, M.D. (15th Hussars). Native of Edinburgh. Got his 1st XV. Rugby Football Cap at Sedbergh School,. Buried in BLIGHTY VALLEY CEMETERY, AUTHUILLE, grave I.D.19.)

There followed 3 weeks in rest and training with the division and by the 25th September, a move to the trenches around Ovillers to relieve the Canadians, moving up towards Pozieres.
 The Battalion attacked Stuff and Regina Redoubts at 6.am. on the 19th October taking their objectives capturing 731 of the enemy including 5 enemy officers, at a cost of 162 casualties, including Capt Miller and Capt Watson-Thomas and 18 O.R. killed and 30 men missing.


15016 Private Thomas G Wilson, 8th Border Regiment Casualty Form.
Picture Courtesy of Michael Deacon


 15016 Private Thomas G. Wilson, took part in this attack and was severely wounded, possibly on the night of 21st October 1916. He was officially recorded as wounded on 25th October, being evacuated with a Gunshot Wound GSW -Back, to the 6th C.C.S. and via the 77th Field Ambulance to No.5 General Hospital, Rouen. His wound was serious and he lay with a damaged spine, clinging to life until 4th November 1916, when he succumbed to his wounds.
15016 Private Thomas G. Wilson, is buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, in Grave O. I. F. 9.




15016 Private Thomas G. Wilson, is buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, in Grave O. I. F. 9.
Pictures Courtesy of Paul Bramham and Jim Corkery


 15016 Private Thomas G. Wilson. After the war his medals were sent to his half brother James Moss, now landlord of the Coach and Horses Pub, Milnthorpe, along with his effects listed here



The returned effect list for 15016 Pte T.G Wilson and his War Medals sent to his half brother, James Moss.
Pictures Courtesy of Paul Bramham



The night of the 22nd-23rd saw the Division relieved and marched to Doullens. There the 25th Division now left the 5th Army (which the Reserve Army had newly been christened) and joined the 2nd Army at Bailleul, based in the Ploegsteert Sector at the beginning of November 1916. The Divisional sector ran from the River Lys to Hill 63.


21746 Private Joseph R. Blamire. Died of wounds received in action 22nd October 1916.
Picture Courtesy of Steve Scott



The Other Milnthorpe Men of 1915, who were killed in action.
Top Row Left to Right : George Swindlehurst, Edward Mashiter ,Edward Ashburner, Ralph Thompson, John Wilkinson
Lower Row Left to Right : William Knight, Charles Hyde M.M., Robert Hudson, James Garth and Fred Barnes.
Finally, FR Wilkinson who was commisioned in the 23rd Sihks and died in Turkey, falling from his horse.

Pictures Courtesy of Paul Bramham

 Of the other Milnthorpe men, there was a high price to pay also. The men whose pictures appear above , did not make it back home and lay buried or commemorated in the fields of France and Flanders. Some of them,like Thomas Wilson were also listed as Machine Gun Corps, his M.I.C, bears this out. The decision was taken to start to form a Machine Gun Corps in 1916 and initially the men who volunteered became part of the Brigade structure, but still affiliated with their parent regiment. Sometimes we see the phrase Border Machine Gun Corps, which I believe, is a loose way to describe these men. Some would go on to form the Machine Gun Corps, in it's 1917 guise and others would become Battalion Lewis Gunners.


15016 Private Thomas G Wilson, 8th Border Regiment Medal Index Card.
Picture Courtesy of Michael Deacon






15016 Private Thomas G Wilson, 8th Border Regiment - British War Medal
Pictures Courtesy of Paul Bramham



Article on T.G Wilson, by Paul Bramham in Medal Collector magazine(click on picture for larger version)

8th Battalion , Border Regiment War Diary October 1916

OVILLERS

Oct:

1st In dugouts in old farm on front line and North side of road. Working parties supplied for carrying rations stored up to Mouquet Farm.

2nd --- do. --- (ditto)

3rd --- do ---

4th ---do--- Lt Parkinson hit in leg”

5th ---do--- Ordered to relieve Canadians on right of Pozieres. In relief 2 Lieut Turner was wounded.

TRENCHES

6th Trenches were shelled intermittently shelled throughout the day. CSM of D Company killed, 2nd Lt. Lewis wounded & 2nd Lt. Wilson. Relieved by the 9th Loyal North Lancashires. 74th Brigade. Proceeded to Crucifix Corner.

CRUCIFIX CORNER

7th Men cleaning up after the trenches

8th Companies under Company arrangement. Bayonet fighting bomb throwing etc.

9th --do ---

10th --do--- NCOs proceeded in afternoon to look at ground over which an attack was to be practised on next day

11th Attack practised 1st by Company & then by Battalion, Major Strachan in Command.

12th Company & Battalion training.

13th Battalion training

14th The OC and Company officers inspected the line of trenches to be taken up by the Battn..

15th The Battn. Relieved the 1st Wiltshire Regt. In the front line. We were the left Battn in the division, the 39th being on our left. The 2nd South Lancashires on our right. During the evening the headquarters were heavily bombarded.

16th The Battn. moved to the right, taking the line occupied by the 2nd S.Lancs Regt. HQ moved to Quarry Pit.

17th & 18th Battn engaged in repairing & strengthening their line.

19th The contemplated attack on Regina Trench postponed 48 hours on account of rain. Lt. Passmente wounded.

20th Repairing of trenches after the rain continued

STUFF REDOUBT

21st Attack on REGINA TRENCH by the Battn and 1 Company of 11th Cheshire Regt. The Battn and 1 Company XI Cheshires took over the line in Hessian Trench at 6am. The relief being completed by 8am. Borders on right & Cheshire on left of line. The objective in Regina Trench assigned to the Battn was roughly 350 yards. The 13th Cheshires, 74th Bde being on our right & invisible in the Sunken Road, the 8th Lancs were on our left. The attack was advanced in four waves, Borders being in half Company columns. A Company XI Cheshires in column of platoons 30 paces distance. Our artillery barrage opened at 12.6 pm which was the signal to get out of the trench. The waves were not very good but there was no confusion, direction was well kept by the Borders, this was caused by the communication trench on the right running obliquely across our front, a change of direction had also to be made.

The whole advanced too quickly, sufficient attention was not paid to the barrage orders, officers were few, but watches could not have been properly used. The ground was not cut up by shell holes as much as was expected and was easy to advance over, the leading wave reaching the objective before the barrage lifted and suffered some casualties in consequence. The wire was well cut and presented no obstacle. The barrage was excellent, a few shells were short, but I think this must be expected. The attack was sudden and swift, had there been a slight check to allow the barrage to lift the Battn would have got out almost without a casualty. When the trench was reached on the left, the men got in so easily that they did not realise they had gained their objective, a gap was also left on the right owing to opposition from a large dugout on the right where a machine gun fired a few rounds.

Some dugouts & emplacements showed up unexpectedly on the left of STUMP ROAD, and Germans were seen coming out of there. Within a minute of reaching REGINA TRENCH some officers and about 80 men of whom 40 were Borders left the trench and made straight across for them. Amongst these men were about 20 of the 13th Cheshires who had come across our front, some went through the barrage and occupied a trench some 600 yards in front of the line, they were withdrawn after dark.

Capt Stewart realized what was happening and stopped a good many from going forward and got them to work at once in the trench. He found he was in touch with the 8th S.Lancs on the left but the right was held up. He ordered a block to be made up till he could collect some men as the line was thin & sent back a written report of the situation which was most useful as it arrived soon after a report came from Lt. Willard as to the situation on the right. He said the trench had now been cleared but was now full of Borders & Cheshires. This turned out to be the bombers originally told off to clear the right & two details of Lewis Guns & about 30 men of the Cheshire Regt. who were unable to go on. Lt. Birnie was the sent up with the last remaining squad of Battn. bombers at Batt. HQ to try and get in touch with Capt Stewart by bombing up the CT.

On arriving at the dugout he found that the one just beyond the block was ablaze and he could not get in that way, but under cover of the smoke caused by it he managed to get his squad & 10 others from the CT over man by man to Regina Trench where Capt Stewart was, only one man being hit on the way. He got to work at once in a very gallant manner, himself getting onto the parapet and sniping while his men worked up the trench. He accounted for at least 8 Germans killed, and within 20 minutes the remainder about 60 surrendered. The trench was cleared and touch gained with the 13th -Cheshires.

Consolidation proceeded without opposition and several patrols were captured during the night. 3 machine guns were captured, 1 by the Borders, 1 by XI Cheshires, & 1 by the 8 Lancs. 251 Germans were captured and 50 killed were counted. The Company of the XI Cheshire Regt & the officers attached from that Battn rendered very useful assistance. Also the platoon of carriers who did excellent work carrying bombs and ammunition.

A Company of the XI Cheshires was ordered to reinforce the front line, their place in Hessian Trench being taken by a Company Xth Cheshires. FIELD TRENCH was dug during the night by the R.E.s also the CT on the right was improved and made passable throughout. This trench was heavily shelled after the attack commenced, this was kept up intermittently for 24 hours until the Battn was relieved. The front line was thinned out on the morning of the 22nd, the Company of the Xth Cheshires being sent back to their HQ, the XIth Cheshires from front line taking their place. The bombers of the XIst Cheshires were kept in reserve and were not required. Casualties Capt Miller & Capt Watson-Thomas] killed. Lt Le May wounded, 18th other ranks killed, 111 wounded, 80 missing.


Captain Tom Drysdale Miller M.C. Age 28, killed in the attack on Regina Trench 21st October 1916. Commemorated Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 6A and 7C. Son of the Rev. Andrew Miller& Isabella Elspeth Smith Miller, of 29, Annfield Rd., Partickhill, Glasgow. Holder of the Military Cross.

Captain Walter Patrick Watson Thomas. Age 32, killed in the attack on Regina Trench 21st October 1916. Commemorated Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 6A and 7C. Born 1884 at Landsdowne Road, Notting Hill. Address: 80 Brondesbury Villas, Kilburn. Antique dealer, auctioneer, estate agent and valuer. Mother Margaret, a widow of independent means.


22nd Battn. relieved by the 10th Lancasters & marched to camp between Albert & Bouzincourt.

23rd Battn. left camp and went to Warloy in Motor Buses.

GEZAINCOURT

24th Battn. left Warloy & marched to Gezaincourt some went by road and some in buses

25th The Corps commander inspected the Brigade. The Borders & 2nd S . Lancs. paraded at 2pm in the chateau grounds.

27th The Battn was unable to carry out field training on account of the bad weather. Sir Douglas Haig inspected the Battn. In billets during the afternoon

28th Training was carried on under company arrangements.

29th Church Parade at 9.30. At 7pm the Battn left Gezaincourt for Doullens to entrain for Meteren. Train left 10.50pm

METEREN

30th The Battn arrived by rain at Bailleul at 5 am and detrained and marched to Meteren.

31st Company training carried out at. OC Battn proceeded to Romarin to inspect part of new line being taken up by this Brigade.

Signed P. Strahan Major




8th Battalion Border Regiment November 1916 War Diary

November 1916

PONT de NIEPPE

1st -The Regiment moved to Pont de Nieppe. B and A Companies billeted at the Divisional Baths and C & D Companies in Nieppe.

2nd - Moved at midday to huts in Romarin.

ROMARIN

3rd & 4th -Company training. Draft of 42 men arrived and two officers.

5th - Church parade in the morning.

6th & 7th - Company training. Draft of 22 men arrived and one officer.

TRENCHES

8th –The battalion relieved XI Cheshires in front line trenches. The 12th R.Irish Rifles on our left and the 8th South Lancs on our right. Our line extending from Le Douve Farm to Seaforth Farm. HQ of Battn at Red Lodge. D Company in front line. C Company in subsidiary line. A Company in support & B Company in reserve.

9th - Quiet day. Companies engaged in repairing & improving trenches. Patrols had nothing special to report.

10th - The subsidiary line had a few hostile shells. The usual work was carried on. 20 men from XI Cheshire Regt were sent to help to repair front line.

11th - D Company in front line was relieved by B Company. The remaining two Companies were not moved.

12th Quiet day. The front line received about 6 shells (small) on the front line. Fatigue patrols carried up material during the night.

13th -The enemy again shelled front line also subsidiary line. Repair work was carried on without trouble & the usual fatigue parties carried up material.

14th - The Battalion was relieved in the front line trenches by the XI Cheshires.

15th - The new draft of 125 men were drilled and instructed during the morning. Field mortars and (B???) were taken out and repairs started. Each post held by 1 NCO and 7 men.

16th - All available men were practised in the use of the new box gas respirators. 30 men in the morning & 31 in the afternoon were sent up to front line on working parties & 30 men on carrying party and 20 as working party at night in the trench.

17th -The battalion furnished the same parties as on the 16th also 21 men to work on F.A.T.S arshall & Brandon

18th & 19th – Same as 17th

20th –The Battalion relieved the XI Cheshires in the trenches A Company front line. B Company subsidiary line. C Company in support. D Company in subsidiary & Locality 3.

21st & 22nd - Nothing of importance to relate. The usual working parties carried out repairs in the front line and CT (communication trench)

23rd - C Company relieved A Company in the front line. About 12 shells were fired into the front line held by the Germans/ No damage.

24th & 25th - Repairs were carried out in the front line & subsidiary lines.

26th - The Battn. were relieved by the XI Cheshires. F.A.T.'s Marshall and Brandon occupied by detachments from A Company

RED LODGE

27th & 28th -The Battn were exercised under Company arrangements in drill, bayonet fighting physical exercises. 40 men each day were sent up to the firing line to help the XIth Cheshires repair parapets.

29th The two detachments in Fort’s Brandon and Marshall were relieved by two more detachments of A Company. The usual fatigue parties were furnished.

30th - The usual working parties were furnished to assist in repairing the front line trench. The remainder of the Battn has exercised in drill, bayonet fighting, & physical exercise

Signed C. E. Bond Lt. Col.


  December was spent in line at Ploegsteert and the notable events were, wiring practice and an inspection by the Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig on 19th-20th December.

TRENCHES
23rd December 1916
- A Company was again subject to considerable shellfire, also heavy trench mortar & aerial torpedoes. 1 man was killed and one wounded. A great deal of damage was inflicted on our parapets.


25797 Private Angus McLaren, killed in the trenches in a Shelling, Trench M ortar and aerial torpedo attack, 23rd December 1916. Commemorated Ploegsteeert Memorial Panel 6

 A Christmas Day Raid was organised on the enemy trenches, as far a cry from the 1914 Christamas truce as there can be :

25th December 1916
- A Company again took its place on the right of the line. A successful raid was carried out by the XI Cheshire Regt on the German line opposite the front held by A Company. The artillery barrage opened at 8.30am and almost immediately the party of XI Cheshires entered the German trenches. They came back with the loss of only one man killed. They killed a considerable number of the enemy and brought back one prisoner. Our casualties were 8 men wounded 5 seriously.

  Even on a quiet day the 27th December according to the diary- one man gave his life and the 8th Border finished 1916 out of line and with a new draft of 270 men to replace those lost since July. What would 1917 bring??

14488 Corporal William Garroway - seriously wounded in the trenches and later died 27th December 1916. Buried BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, NORD grave III.A.150.

Diary transcripts courtesy of Paul Bramham and Mike Deacon




Embrodery done by Signaller H Heywood 8th Border Regiment,
(possibly 16192 Pte Harry Heywood - Border Regiment discharged 15/10/17)
Whilst convalescing in the British Red Cross Hospital at Netley, Hampshire in November 1916.
The convalescing men were raising money for the hospital by selling these items.
Villages and areas sponsored huts at Netley and often menfrom a village or
area were placed were possible in the hut named after their home village
Picture courtesy of Victoria Porsche



Westmoreland Hut Netley from the Netley Military Cemetery Website

1917 - Messines

The close of 1916 and early 1917 was served in the Ploegsteert area, a quiet area by Western Front Standards. However, the 25th Division and with it the 8th Border were withdrawn from the line for training at St Omer for the planned assaults of 1917, a year that was to go down in infamy in the war as the 'hardest slog' of the whole conflict.
  On 21st March 1917 the 8th Border and the 25th Division were attached to 2nd Anzac Corps, as Corps Reserve around Merris and Caestre. By the 28th March they relieved the New Zealand Division in the Wulverghem Sector. The section of line they held was that from which they would attack in the forthcoming Battle Of Messines, so the work done on the trenches etc. was of benefit to them when the attack was finally pressed home. Mid May found them at La Creche, but on the 29th May they marched to Revelburg and onwards to Neuve Eglise on the 30th May 1917. During this march a shell burst directly over C Company and killed 4 and wounded 6 men. Lt. Colonel Birt now left the battalion to take over 51st Brigade and Major Birt took over command of the 8th Border Regiment the date 1st June 1917.
 The Second Army attacked Messines Ridge on June 7th 1917 with the attack front of the 25th Division laying between the Wulverghem and Wytschaete roads. The Divisions objectives lay in front of Wulverghem and consisted of 9 lines of trenches and numerous strongpoints requiring subdual, ranged along the ridge sides. The 8th Border assembled on the night of the 6th June 1917, in Newcastle Trench and were in battle order by 1.30 a.m. on the 7th June, with the attack beginning at 3.10 a.m. and the 8th Border in reserve, to advance at 7.00 a.m. The battalion advanced C Company on the left, D Company on the right with A and B Companys in support. Their task was to consolodate the 'Black Line' east of the Messines Wytschaete road and to clear any pockets of enemy soldiers by-passed by the 3.10 a.m. advance.
 By 8.30 a.m. the Black Line was reached and consolidation began, digging two communication trenches left and right of October Trench. The 8th Border Men did good work capturing a by-passed strongpoint and with the aid of two tanks captured a gun and crew. Consolidation was successful and the attack on a set of positions held by the Germans for the previous 3 years was considered a success. Relief came on the night of 7th-8th June and the battalion went back onto brigade reserve at Neuve Eglise. In this action 14 were killed and 15 wounded and two men showed particular bravery and were mentioned in the diary, Corporal H. Carter and Private F. Brown.
The 8th were taking part in an attack at the Battle of Messines, consolidating the Black Line just east of the Messines Wytschaete road on the 7th June 1917. They were tasked with consolidating the Black Line and clearing up any pockets of resistance left behind by the advanced troops.


From The Illustration of War Volume 7- thanks to Michael Deacon

To quote from the book The Border Regiment in the Great War regarding Cpl Herbert Carter and Pte F. Brown :-

" Two men of the battalion especially distinguished themselves in the action of the 7th - 16232 Corporal H Carter and 12893 Private F Brown. These men had reached their objective and were hard at work consolidating when they noted an enemy Battery in action, and, seeing one of our tanks going across the front in an E. direction, they ran across and called the Tank Officers attention to the German guns, and on the tank moving off to attack them these two men followed close in rear. On getting up to the position the tank fired a broadside and Corporal Carter and Private Brown then charged the guns by themselves. By this time the German gunners had retired to their dugout, but on Private Brown firing two rounds into it, the gun team - 7 in number, 2 of them wounded - came out and surrendered to the the two men of the 8th Battalion ; these then took possession of the gun and of a helio, marking the former with their names. This done the two men went to another gun pit immediately N. of the first. Here the the Corporal was knocked senseless by a stick bomb and Private Brown then went on alone and took the 6 men of the second gun team prisoners. Thinking he might do more good work in this direction, Private Brown endeavoured to mount a stray Anzac Cavalry horse, but the animal being wounded, he was unable to manage it and returned to his company. Corporal Carter soon recovered and also returned."


Two very brave men and I suspect an example of their "blood being up" in the exhilaration of battle. I have no record of their dying during the war, but I have it from the grandson of Corporal Herbert Carter, Stephen Carter, that he had to sell his medals, when he fell on hard times in later years. A terrible shame and not the "Land Fit For Heroes", he hoped for or deserved.
To quote from information supplied by Stephen Carter regarding his Grandfather after the war :-

"He married a Welsh lass and they had twins in 1930, only one survived... Just!
And he was my dad Peter. They settled in central London, Waterloo to be exact.
My Dad was evacuated to Dorset in WW2 leaving his parents behind to tough it out."

"They moved to Vauxhall after the War and fell foul off some very mixed housing arrangements.
It was some time here money became in short supply and the medals were sold."

               

               Picture of Corporal Herbert Carter 16232 and notification of the award of his Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Picture Courtesy of Stephen Carter, Grandson of Herbert Carter.
 

A further attack was planned for the 14th June 1917, the 8th Border relieving Australian Infantry in line on the 12/13th June. Patrols sent out prepared the assault from Switch Trench on the 14th June altough at a cost of Lt Anderson, the patrol leader's, life. The assault began with an accurate creeping barrrage which allowed the companies to gain their objectives in under 30 minutes and consolidation began throughout the rest of 14th June. Major Birt, Captain Dawson and Captain Stewart were wounded in the attack and Lt. Bell was killed. On the evening of the 15th June 1917, the 8th Border were relieved and moved back in support, leaving the sector altogether on the 22nd June to go into rest at Bomy, near St. Omer.

This photo is of a memorial plaque at Gilbert Gilkes and Gordon engineering works in Kendal.
(It still exists as a large international turbine manufacturer).
The plaque names two 8th Btn. men, 15122 WALTER DIXON and 15177 OSWALD STEELE DIXON
both killed in 1916 and commemorated on Thiepval Memorial.( Picture provided by Paul Bramham)


1917 - Third Ypres

 The 8th Border Regiment rested at Bomy, but in July 1917 they were bussed then marched to Ypres for duty in the line, in II Corps Forward Area. The assembled at Belgian Chateau at 08.30am on July 31st 1917. They were in reserve for the 8th Division at the opening of the Third Battle of Ypres. On 1st August 1917, the 25th Division held Westhoek Ridge and Bellewarde Ridge in deteriorating weather and subject to much shelling, this onerous spell lasting over two weeks and relief did not come until 17th August 1917, when they moved back to the Steenwoorde and Eecke area. The 8th Border then took over the front line at Glencourse Wood and Stirling Castle for a period of about a week and finally moved away from the blighted battlefield on 9th September 1917.  The 25th Division now moved to the First Army area, near Bethune and the next three weeks were spent re-organising and training before the Division took over the Givenchy Sector, either side of the La Bassee Canal. The 8th Border Regiment were based at La Preol on the 10th November 1917, the day the Third Battle of Ypres officially ended....

25618 Lance Corporal Joseph Tattersall, 8th Border Regiment, of Burnley Lane, winner of the Military Medal .
(Picture courtesy of Denis Otter)


1918 - On the Backfoot- the "Kaisers Attack"

Captain Edward D'Arcy Birnie, 8th Border Regiment, killed in action 22nd March 1918.


 At the end of November, the 25th Division left the Bethune Sector and moved to the Somme area, part of IV Corps in the Queant area South of Bullecourt, by early 1918. In appalling conditions of freezing cold followed by thaw, they were assigned to dig trenches, whenever the weather permitted, it either being too hard underfoot or too soft depending on the freeze or thaw being experienced.  The 25th Division found itself, like others in the British Army, weakened by the reorganisation, each brigade losing a Battalion. Now unfortunately came the German Offensive, the enemy's last throw of the dice to try and end the war in Germany's favour. The 8th Border Regiment was relieved to Savoy Camp, NW of Bapaume on 13th February 1918 and was still there on the eve of the German Attack, 21st March 1918. The 75th Brigade had marched forward to Bienvillers as the attack seemed to be looming, ready to deliver any counter blows that might be required. This was not possible due to the ferocity fo the attack and the new stormtroop tactics employed by the Germans, so they the moved to Favreuil at the disposal of the GOC 16th Brigade and counter attacked north of Vaulx Wood. The objectives were reached, but a further advance stalled on the masses of barbed wire confronting the brigade's battalions. The positions reached were secured and D Company formed a defensive flank.

In 1973 The Victor, a weekly comic, depicted those times in a story in the edition 665
17th November 1973, about a piccolo playing Sergeant saving the day during the attack.
The comics of the seventies loved this type of story, but it is unlikely it was true.
The 8th Border Regiment were at Vaulx though and fought hard to stall the german advance.
Pictures courtesy of Paul Bramham

 At 07.30 the next morning the Germans penetrated Vaulx Wood and managed to surround the 8th Borders on three sides. The battalion held out for 4 hours, during which they withdrew under fire and reached the Vaulx-Fremicourt road where the remnants were re-organised in the Army Line. Many men were killed or missing and many soldiers and NCO's did excellent work during this period when they were left without officers by the assault. The 8th Border Regiment were relieved to Savoy Camp on the 23rd March 1918 and moved to a ridge east of Behagnies-Sapignies and started to dig defences.
  The 25th Division now moved to the Ploegsteert area, mainly to help recover from the loses of 21st/22nd March and refit/reinforce the battalions worst hit in those difficult days.

39294 Private Thomas Brennand, 8th Border Regiment, of Hinton Lane, Burnley. P.O.W. .
(Picture courtesy of Denis Otter)


1918 - On the Backfoot- the Battle of the Lys

 It so happened, the next series of German attacks fell on this area, know as a quiet area, but the Germans were trying to split apart the British from the French and this area was chosen as a point where the British were likely to try and fall back on the channel ports, if the weakly held sector fell.
 The 8th Border were in line between the rivers Douve and Lys on April 9th 1918. The attack penetrated the flanks of the Battalion and cut off A Company, B,C and D Companies managed to retire along the lines Lebizet-Clef de la Belgique-Ooosthove -Doudou.

One incident from that period involved Second Lieutenant William Carter Preston, an ex ranker with the Loyal North Lancashires (13991) who was commissioned into the 8th Border Regiment and fought during these tough days. The story is from David Preston:-

"William and Pte John Sheehen were manning a trench when they came under attack, William sent Pt John Sheehen back to HQ for more men and and supplies, Late William retreated to another line trench and continued his attack when John Sheehen arrived and found William had killed 2 Germans, William and was informed that he have to retreat back to HQ and regroup, at HQ William was put in-charge of a unit of men and went back to his last position while he was instructing the men he was shot by a sniper, most of William's men were overrun and captured at this point William was dead in or around a trench, later that day John Sheehen was captured and as luck would have it met the lads who had been with William, they said that William had been killed by a sniper."

"William Lived at Fold Farm Far Sawrey in the lake district his cousin Hilda stills lives there I am trying to find the photo for Hilda, she is very old and frail and keeps asking to see a photo of William, Hilda did have a photo but when her bedroom was decorated it went missing. Can you please Help and point me to the right department or person who may help."
David Preston.

Second Lieutenant William Carter Preston pictured at Fold Farm Far Sawrey in 1913.
(Picture courtesy of David Preston - unfortunately Hilda passed away in September 2014)

On the 11th April 1918, a further attack caused a withdrawal via Le Rossignol-Connaught Road-Korte Pyp. In a fierce rearguard action a number of medals were won by the Battalion. On the 13th April 1918 another assault saw a determined stand which cost the 8th Border Regiment dearly and still the retirement continued, holding a position on the Army Line in front of Dranoutre. Relief on the 15th April 1918 where the Battalion were marched to Boeshepe with the 75th Brigade and the remnants were so few in number a composite battalion had to be formed under Lt Colonel J.B. Allsopp.
At Boeshepe they were in huts but still not safe and a shell hit a hut killing 5 and wounding 26 men of C Company.
  This composite battalion was marched to the Renninghelst area on 25th April to couner attack Kemmel Hill, lost by the French and they did break into the old lines but the salient created had to be given up and they dug in at Kemmel Beek. Holding this line until the 29th/ 30th April they then moved to a position 800 yards west of La Clytte, where Major H.G. Frazer joined to take command of the much changed Battalion. By now the 8th Border Regiment had lost many officers and men and the replacements were in the main young men under 19 and men "combed out" from home. The new look battalion were based in the Poperinghe area.

27434 Private Hartley Singleton, 8th Border Regiment, of Coal Clough Lane, Burnley. P.O.W. .
(Picture courtesy of Denis Otter)



The Grip of War
The Story of Private Wilmot Hermon Fearn.

Wilmot Hermon Fearn, of 2 Chapel Lane, Kirkby Lonsdale was 34 years and 10 months old when he enlisted in The Border Regiment on 14th December 1915.
His Widowed Mother lived at Chapel Lane with 3 of his six siblings, sisters Clara, Ellen and Annie. His elder brother George was living at Burton In Lonsdale and elder sister Elizabeth in Sedbergh.

His papers giving his height as 5ft 3 1/2 inches and development as normal, occupation Bootmaker. According to the Military History section of his Service Papers he served in France from 1st Dec 1916 to 20th Dec 1916, 15th July 1917 to 12th October 1917 and 31st March 1918 to his death on or around 17th April 1918.
During this time he served in a number of Border Regiment Battalions, suffered a hernia, was wounded and returned to England for treatment and finally was posted to the 8th Battalion, where he was posted missing in the Neuve Eglise area in April 1918.
A German document shows he was buried in Schelde Farm Neuve Eglise, by them, but his grave was subsequently lost. His only possesion to be recovered, his Identity Disc, was returned from a POW camp in Germany.


It appears he may have been in German Custody, probably wounded, but never made it out of Belgium, whereas his disc travelled with the surviving POW's and was returned by a Camp Commandant of Dulmen POW camp, near Munster in Germany along with a list of Prisoners.

After a years training, he joined the 3rd Border for service in the UK which included a stay in Bangor Hospital, Wales for a hernia (an operation not performed as his Battalion were moving to Barrow). Eventually in July 1917 he was sent to France with the 2nd Border going to the front in August 1917.
He was wounded in action 4th Oct 1917, GSW to L & R shoulders and L Forearm and sent to No.11 C.C.S at Doullens.
From there he was sent back to England to Hospital at Bagthorpe, Nottinghamshire. The removal of the Bullets and recovery took until March 1918.


At the end of that month W.H. Fearn was posted to Etaples Base Camp with the 1st Border, but then there was sent to the 8th Border on 31st March 1918, joining the Battalion in the field on 2nd April 1918 to try and repel the German attacks of their latest offensive, that had begun on March 21st 1918.
WH Fearn was reported missing on 12th April 1918, a day on which a local withrawal had caused the line to fall back under German pressure. He appears to have been taken captive, possibly wounded, as a report from a German Official list of dead, says he was buried on 17th April 1918 at Schelde Farm, 1500m south of Neuve Eglise.
His Identity Disc was returned by the Commandant of Dulmen POW Camp, near Munster, Germany at the end of May 1918, which suggests he may have been in the custody of people from the Camp when he died.

His grave being subsequently lost in the fighting, he now is commemorated among the missing on the Tyne Cot Memorial, date of death between 12-17th April 1918.


Information from W.H. Fearn's Service Record,courtesy of Mike Deacon.


1918 - On the Backfoot- the Second Battle of the Aisne

  On 9th May 1918, the 25th Division entrained for Fismes, 20 miles SE of Soissons to join IX Corps. The 8th Borders were billeted in Courville, where Lt Colonel J.N. de la Perelle took command. The depleted 25th Division were now in the French sector, at the disposal of Marshal Foch. This was and arrangement in return for the French Divisions concentrated behind Amiens. The battalions thus spared by Field Marshal Haig were in effect, worn out by recent heavy fighting, and they had come to a quiet sector where they would merely hold the line and recover.
 Unfortunately, it was there that the Germans decided to strike next, hoping to threaten Paris as they had in 1914. In late May 1918, the attack commenced with a hurricane bombardment followed by the now familiar pattern of deep penetration by stormtroops and follow up attacks on surrounded strongpoints by infantry. The 8th Border Regiment were in line at Ventelay and after a 3 hour gas and HE bombardment, were soon in the thick of the fighting in small groups-at Pontavert, Butte de Marchanne and Bouffingereux, as the Germans pressed on with extensive attacks. Gradually the units were surrounded and forced to withdraw from Ventelay joining forces with the French 21st Regiment at Romain. The battalion by now consisted of 1 company of 8th Border men and a composite company of other 'stragglers' from various battalions. They were pressed back for days and eventually the line held on June 1st 1918 when the German attack started to run out of steam. In line until mid-June, the Border Company were relieved by American and French troops and proceeded via Fere Champenoise to St Loup to join other remnants of the 8th Border Regiment.

25420 Corporal John O' Connell, 8th Border Regiment, of Waterloo Road, Burnley.
Croix de Guerre and Military Medal winner. .
(Picture courtesy of Denis Otter)



The 8th Border War Diaries for May and June 1918 are shown below, courtesy of Jarrod Bell.
Click on the thumbnails below to see the full size pictures:-



May 1918


1918 -Surrounded at Soissons

At the start of May 1918 the 8th Battalion were in the La Clytte area around Ypres and moved back out of line,
where a draft including Officers were taken on the Battalion muster.

Lt A.L.N. Sheehan - B Company
Lt W. Beckett, D.C.M.- D Company
Lt G.E.N. Slater - A Company
2nd Lt H.A. Jackson - B Company
2nd Lt H.R. Shawe - B Company
2nd Lt H.G. Machell - A Company
2nd Lt G.A. Sutcliffe - C Company
2nd Lt A.S. Pearson - D Company

They then marched away from the front lines and back to billets in Wylder, marching via Wattou-Houthkerque- Herzeele.
There they returned to the out of line routines of parades and inspections and training and with Lt V Bloomfield being appointed Lewis Gun Officer.

More reinforcements followed on the 8th May, including the following Officers.
2nd Lt R.Scott - D Company
2nd Lt J.K. McKenzie - C Company
2nd Lt A. Hepburn - B Company
2nd Lt W.T. Thornton - C Company
2nd Lt A.A.K. Dallas - A Company
2nd Lt D. Philip - D Company
2nd Lt J Brown - A Company
2nd Lt J.D. Deas - B Company
2nd Lt L. Ritchie - C Company
2nd Lt J. Gordon -A Company

The Battalion now marched to Heidebeke on the 9th May, where they entrained for Fismes, arriving on the 10th May, and marching to Billets in Courville. The next few days were spent in training, inspections and Lt Turnbull was appointed Signalling Officer and the Brigade Commander inspected them on the 12th May. Training stepped up including Musketry, gas drill and P.T. as the 8th Border must have known they were in a for a spot of combat in the near future.

A new C.O. arrived, Lt. Colonel J.N. de la Perelle D.S.O., M.C. and Captain J Dawson M.C.took over command of A Company, on the 15th May 1918.On the 16th May Lt Sheehan took over as Signalling Officer and Lt M. Turnbull became acting Adjutant, with 2nd Lt F.W. Darvell being appointed Intelligence Officer on the 17th - all signs of an upcoming peroid of hard fighting.

Training continued apace until 23rd May, when the Battalion marched to Romain Camp East, near Soissons, where more intense "training in the attack" was undertaken. They were warned to move at an hours notice on 26th May and moved into position south of the Ventelay-Bouvancourt road, east of Ventelay. The enemy attacked on the night of 27th May, with H.E. and gas shells, to the right of the 8th Border positions and they battalion was tasked to scout the area and roads around Concevreux, Roucy and Geyencourt, for signs of enemy incursion. The 8th Border then received orders to take up a line astride the Ventelay Roucy road at La Peite Farm and from there C and D Companies advance to defend the bridge over the Aisne Canal at Pontavert. A and B Company moved forward also and each company were told to hold two bridges.

By 9.30 am, the Germans had crossed the Canal already and the companies now were sent singularly to reinforce units under attack ahead of them around the village of Roucy.A and C Companies with the 2nd S. Lancs, north of Roucy.They took up a position near a railway line and by 12.30 the message arrived that A Company were now placed under the 2nd S Lancs on the northern slope of the Butte de Marchanne.

B Company reinforced the 11th Cheshires west of Roucy, with D Company in support, but were soon in the thick of the action, west of Bouffignereux, D Company trying to advance, but being driven back by machine gun fire. The companies now were formed up in desperate defence on the Ventelay-Roucy road, near the Bois de Rouvroy, along with men of the 11th Cheshire and remnants of the 8th and 50th Divisions. Attacks were repulsed at 4.30pm, but by 5.30 pm the position was gradually being encircled and pounded. Desperate does not begin to describe this defence, short of ammo, with no support and no contact with either flank, and promised assistance not materialising. Finally they had to fall back to La Paite Farm by 10.30 pm.

Now it became apparent the position was surrounded and the C.O. made the decision that a break out attempt must be made to rejoin the British Lines.

At 1.30 am on the 28th May the men formed up and marched south west towards Breuil. The left flank was attacked outside Ventelay and the remainder of the battalion got through to Romain,which was held by the French 21st Inf. Regiment under Lt Col.Weiller.They learned that 75th Inf. Bde H.Q. was at Montigny and moved towards there to Les Venteaux. Runners were unable to locate Brigade H.Q. and so the battalion placed itself under the command of the French 21st I.R.

The 8th Border remnants formed one of two companies, the other being 8th and 50th Division men that had joined them in retreat. They were placed between 2 French Battalions at Courville Aerodrome, under the 3rd Bn 21st I.R. based at Bonne Maison Farm, N.E. of Courville.

An attack at 2pm on the 28th May broke the position and by 3pm the companies were retreating to north of Crugny then further south of Crugny as german attacks were coming from Courville by now.

The French informed the companies that they could not supply ammunition or rations, and now ordered them to the rear to find the British Lines at 5pm. Under heavy shelling they moved to Brouillet and on to Lagery, where they got rations, but no ammunition.

At 9pm on the 28th May they moved to Aougny, resting for the remainder of the night. The next day they rose early at 4am to report to 8th Division H.Q. at Romigny. They were ordered to take up a position on the Lhery Romigny road 1/4 mile NW of Romigny, under orders of the 74th Infantry Brigade in a reserve position. They had to patrol all night as the French up ahead fell back and left a gap in their position from 10pm.

The next day an early advance by the Germans bore down on them from the Romigny area and they were pushed back westerly towards Ville en Tardenois- Romigny road and took cover in a wood, facing north. They gave covering fire for an advance by the N.Fus., but this drew heavy shelling on the wood and a withdrawal again placed them between the French and a unit of SW Borderers out of touch with Brigade HQ once more.The French did relieve them a nd they spent the night south of the wood in relative calm.

The 31st May saw the battalion in contact with the 74th Brigade again and moved to Nappes and rested. At 6pm they took up a position near Boujacourt. The enemy now ere sending out patrols fron Ville en Tardenois, but the night was spent in relative quiet.

For the month of May 1918 casualties were recorded as;-
Killed
Officers
- 2nd Lt J. Bell
- 2nd Lt J.E.McKenzie

Wounded
- 2nd Lt H.W.S. Young
- 2nd Lt E.W. Jackson (wounded and missing)

Missing
- Capt A. Misscampbell
- Lt H. Langley
- 2nd Lt W.T. Thornton
- 2nd Lt J Brown
- 2nd Lt D Philip
- 2nd Lt C. Spence
- 2nd Lt F.W. Darvell
- 2nd Lt G.A. Sutcliffe

Other Ranks

Killed - 9
Wounded - 60
Missing - 293

Honours during May 1918

-14455 Sgt N.F. Graham - M.M.
-28895 Pte W Hewitt - M.M.
-203133 LCpl F.W. Bray - M.M.
-15047 Pte J. George - M.M.
-26595 Pte W. Jones - M.M.
-14659 Pte W.J. Stafford - M.M.
-15754 Pte T McGuiness - M.M.
-15091 Sgt N Grayson - Bar to M.M.
-15153 Pte J.R. Jones - Bar to M.M.
-203060 Pte H. Todhill - Bar to M.M.



June 1918


June 1918- The End is Nigh


 At the end of May 1918, the 8th Border, much depleted, had suffered a month of intense fighting and early June 1918 continued in the same vein, in the Soissons area of NW France. At 4.30 am on June 1st, they moved to the SW corner of the Bois De Eclisse, the 25th Division now forming the 19th Divisional Reserve, awaiting further orders.

 4pm - They were to form a Composite Battalion, the 1/25th Divisional Composite Battalion, commamnded by Major Trail of the 1st Worcesters. The 8th Border that formed this battalion, were 4 Officers and 104 O.R.(all O.R. available), who formed No2 Company (Border Company) of the Composite Bn.

 The Officers were :-
- Lt C.A. Scott
- Lt V Bloomfield
- 2nd Lt J.D. Deas
- 2nd Lt R. Scott

 6pm - This No.2 Company. marched to the Bois de Courton where it came under very hostile fire inflicting 5 casualties upon it by 9pm. They then moved back to the Bois de Eclisse in reserve.

 The next day, the company took up a position holding 250 yards of line just south of Chantereine Farm, where things were quiet, apart from some slight shelling on the 3rd June. 2nd Lt Deas left under orders of the 74th Bde to join the 2/25th Composite Battalion. The next six days were spent in this area, holding the line and patrolling, although on the 6th June a heavy H.E and Gas barrage was followed by an attack that was repelled with 5 wounded from the Border Company. The battalion went into reserve at Bois de Courton, on June 9th at 10.30 pm in need of rest. By the 12/13th June they were in reserve, but finding working parties of 1 N.C.O. and 20 men each day, having had a couple of days rest.

 14th June 9.30 pm - The battalion relieved the 2/25th Comp Bn in line at Chantereine Farm and held the line in relative quiet, until the 18th June when the Italian 52nd Bn Alpe Regiment, took over the front at 1.30 am., leaving the 1/25th Comp Bn with a long march to Germaine to entrain for Fere Champenoise at 3 pm. On arrival they travelled by lorry to St Loup and joined up with the rest of the 8th Border Regiment, such as was....and a day was spent bathing and cleaning up.

 On the 20th June 1918, the 8th Border supplied 12 Officer and 306 O.R, who formed two Companies of the No2 Battalion, 50th Divisional Composite Brigade, plus the transport section who were attached also to the new battalion, alongside the remainder of the 9th Loyal North Lancashires. The C.O. of this unit was the O.C. 9th Loyal North Lancs.

 The remaining 16 Officers and 86 O.R. marched to Connantray, 23rd June, then Haussimont, 24th June and on to Sommesous 25th June, to entrain for the British sector further north west at 11pm, actually leaving Sommesous station at 3.30 am. 26th June, halting at Montereux ontheir way to Hesdin. They arrived at Hesdin at 1pm on the 27th and marched to Embry into billets that night. The 25th Division staff left for England and the battalion awaited disposal instructions from GHQ as the month of June 1918 ended.
Casualties during June 1918

Officers
- 2nd Lt H.G. Machell (died)

Other Ranks
15 Wounded

Honours
- Lt R. Strong - 2nd Bar to M.C.
- Capt A.J. Hentley - M.C.
- Lt J.F. Duggan (D.C.M.) - M.C.
- Lt F.L. Williams - M.C.
- 2nd Lt F.W. Darvell - M.C.
- Capt M. Turnbull - M.C.

- C.S.M. J.M.J. Gent - D.C.M.

- 10085 Pte E. Roberts - Bar to M.M.
- 13513 Pte J. Bell - M.M.
- 260155 Pte W Gelling - M.M.
- 13548 Pte J. Herd - M.M.
- 25420 Cpl J. O'Connell - M.M.
- 33468 LCpl R.Wilkie - M.M.
- 25618 LCpl J. Tattersall - M.M.
- 9100 Pte R. Dixon - M.M.
- 33265 Pte H. Vaughan - M.M.
- 27963 Pte T. Bell (D.C.M.) - M.M.
- 23913 Cpl W. Robinson (D.C.M.) - M.M.

- 5793 R.Q.M.S. J. Knight - M.S.M.
- 5526 Sgt J. Walker - M.S.M.

- 14869 Sgt J. Berry - Mentioned in Despatches

With this the C.O. of the 8th Border Regiment Lt Colonel J.N. de la Perelle signs off the June War Diaries and the battalion into history.

  Many thanks to Mike Deacon for obtaining the 8th(Service) Battalion Border Regiment War Diaries and Paul Bramham for transcribing them (240 pages) from the feathery light copperplate writing the diaries are written in.


Sixteen Officers and 86 Other Ranks had proceeded to Embry in late June 1918 and in mid July 1918, the 8th( Service) Battalion, The Border Regiment was finally disbanded.


1918 - The End......

 This was the last action the 8th Battalion Border Regiment were involved in as a unit. The 25th Division was disbanded, according to the will of the men in charge of the British Army. The 17th and 18th June saw the composite battalions withdrawn from the fighting line to serve with the 50th Division temporarily. Disbandment would occur a few weeks later.
Sixteen Officers and 86 Other Ranks proceeded to Embry in mid July 1918, where the 8th( Service) Battalion, The Border Regiment was Finally disbanded.

8th Border Regiment - Battle Honours
Theatre of War/ Year Operations Battles
France and Flanders 1916
" Operations on the Somme 1916
" " Somme 1916
" " Albert 1916
" " Pozieres 1916
" " Ancre Heights 1916
France and Flanders 1917
" Flanders Offensive 1917
" " Messines
" " Third Ypres
France and Flanders 1918
" German Offensive in Picardy 1918
" " Somme 1918
" " St Quentin 1918
" " Bapaume 1918
" German Offensive in Flanders 1918
" " Lys 1918
" " Messines 1918
" " Bailleul 1918
" " Kemmel 1918
" " Scherpenberg 1918
" German Offensive in Champagne 1918
" " Aisne 1918

8th BATTALION BORDER REGIMENT DISBANDED MID-JULY 1918 AT EMBRY, THE 25th DIVISION BEING BROKEN UP.



Picture of St Thomas Church Memorial, Windermere Road, Kendal which includes many 8th Border Regiment casualties.
Picture courtesy of Paul Bramham

The Border Regiment Roll of Honour for Kendal, courtesy of Paul Bramham. This is a list of the Kendal men who were killed serving with the battalions of the Border Regiment. Men of Kendal served with many battalions of the Border Regiment and fell in many theatres of war. Click on the logo to view the word file......


Kendal Border Regiment Roll of Honour


Inauguration of the Kendal war Memorial in 1920, picture courtesy of Paul Bramham


THE OLD COMRADES OF THE 25th DIVISION led by their chairman Billy Ellwood at Kendal War Memorial
circa 1950. Photo-The Margaret Duff Collection