Archive for October, 2010

The Last Post Ceremony underway, Menin Gate, May 2010

The regimental history of the 2nd Munsters recorded the following:

“On 14 November the enemy tried a new ruse. A number of men were sent forward as of to surrender,with their hands above their heads,rifles in hand.Our men shouted on them to drop their rifles and come in.A number did so,but a few yards from the trench,on a pre-concerted signal being given,suddenly dropped as one man,a deadly fire being opened by the second wave concealed behind. A number of our men who had incautiously exposed themselves to this treacherous attack were shot down,but the remainder simply avenged their comrades’ loss.”

The Munsters recorded no fatalities for the 13th of November despite the above and it is thought that they recorded the date as the 14th as this was when the battalion formed part of the brigade reserve at Hooge.

One of 6 Munsters with a recorded date of death as the 15th of November but believed to have been actually killed in the incident of the 14th was Thomas Dillon of Kerry who is now remembered on Panel 44 of The Menin Gate Memorial.


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Menin Gate,May 2010

The 2nd Battalion if the Highland Light Infantry had fought all the way through the 1st Battle of Ypres and had held the crucial Gheluvelt – Polygon Wood Sector despite attack after attack by the Germans.

However their losses were devastating and when they finally left Ypres on the 16th of  November there were barely 30 men left of the near 1000 who had left Aldershot three months previously.

They left behind Duncan McPhail; killed in Polygon Wood on the 13th of November 1914 and listed on Panel 38 of The Menin Gate Memorial.

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Information on The Battle of Broodseinde,May 2010

Arthur Dickings hailed from Openshaw in Manchester and was known as devout Christian who regularly attended his local Methodist Church. He was buried in a trench during a German bombardment on the Ypres Salien.His pals dug him out and had him taken to a dressing station.

However his injuries were too serious and he died without eve regaining consciousness.His Medical Officer,Capt WH Shepherd, wrote to his family and told them that he would receive “a Christian burial,as far as possible under the circumstances.” However these were extraordinary circumstances in extraordinary times and his grave was lost in later fighting.

His name is now listed on Panel 51 and 53 of The Menin Gate Memorial.

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Menin Gate,August 2010

Diversionary attacks were employed by the Allies on the Western front with the intention of confusing the Germans and tying down their resources that might be used elsewhere.

One of these took place at Petit Bois; it was conceived to support French operations ar Artois and was carried out by the 2nd Royal Scots and the 1st Gordon Highlanders. Taking place after a short barrage both battalions suffered 400 casualties in the attack and in the end no assistance of any consequence was made to their French allies.As the regimental history of the Gordon’s stated: “In retrospect,this attack may be seen as ill-conceived.”

Thomas Selby Robson-Scott,one of those killed,is listed on Panel 11 of The Menin Gate Memorial.

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James Anson Otho Brooke VC,August 2010

An extract from “The London Gazette,” dated 16th Feb., 1915, records the following:-“For conspicuous bravery and great ability near Gheluvelt on the 29th October, in leading two attacks on the German trenches under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, regaining a lost trench at a very critical moment. He was killed on that day. By his marked coolness and promptitude on this occasion Lieutenant Brooke prevented the enemy from breaking through our line, at a time when a general counter-attack could not have been organised.”

He was also awarded the Sword of Honour at Sandhurst.

Captain Brooke VC rests in Zantvoorde British Cemetery.

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Information board near Passchendaele,May 2010

Brigadier Fitzclarence had already won a Victoria Cross for his actions during the South African War of 1899-1902 and was touted for another one during the First Battle of Ypres.

Always involved where the fighting was heaviest he had arranged the famous Charge of  The Second Worcesters at Gheluvelt and was also present when the Highland Light Infantry routed the Prussian Guard.

However on the 14th of November 1914 this brave man’s life was to come to an end.He was organising defence and counter-attack at Polygon Wood and it had come to his attention that the attack had been cancelled because the enemy’s precise positions were not located. He endeavoured to find them himself and set off into the darkness and void to do so but almost immediately rifle fire rang out through the trees. Brigadier Fitzclarence was never seen alive again and his body never found.

He is listed on Panel 3 of The Menin Gate Memorial.

There now follows an excerpt of his exploits in South Africa:

An extract taken from “The London Gazette,” dated 6th July, 1900, records the following:- “On the 14th October 1899, Captain Fitzclarence went with his squadron of the Protectorate Regiment, consisting of only partially trained men, who had never been in action, to the assistance of an armoured train which had gone out from Mafeking. The enemy were in greatly superior numbers, and the squadron was for a time surrounded, and it looked as if nothing could save them from being shot down. Captain Fitzclarence, however, by his personal coolness and courage inspired the greatest confidence in his men, and, by his bold and efficient handling of them, not only succeeded in relieving the armoured train, but inflicted a heavy defeat on the Boers, who lost 50 killed and a large number wounded. The moral effect of this blow had a very important bearing on subsequent encounters with the Boers.” “On the 27th October 1899, Captain Fitzclarence led his squadron from Mafeking across the open, and made a night attack with the bayonet on one of the enemy’s trenches. A hand-to-hand fight took place in the trench, while heavy fire was concentrated on it from the rear. The enemy was driven out with heavy loss. Captain Fitzclarence was the first man into the position and accounted for four of the enemy with his sword. The British lost 6 killed and 9 wounded. Captain Fitzclarence was himself slightly wounded. With reference to these two actions, Major-General Baden-Powell states that had his Officer not shown an extraordinary spirit and fearlessness the attacks would have been failures, and we should have suffered heavy loss both in men and prestige. On the 26th December 1899, during the action at Game Tree, near Mafeking, Captain Fitzclarence again distinguished himself by his coolness and courage, and was again wounded (severely through both legs).”

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Machine Gun post near Passchendaele,May 2010

LCpl M McGillicuddy was one of 1094 Canadian casualties,including 420 dead,which were part of the toll of the final stages of the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

All in all the Allies suffered 300,000 casualties for an advance of only four and a half miles and which Winston Churchill described as “a forlorn expenditure of valour and life without equal in futility.”

LCpl McGillicuddy is commemorated on Panel 18-28-30 of The Menin Gate Memorial

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