Chapter 3a – Armentieres

Historical Context - the “City of the Linen”. By the turn of the century Armentières, in the Artois region of Northern France, was an important centre of textile, printing, dyeing and brewing industries. It…

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  1. During WW1 more than 900 open-topped B-type London buses were sent to the Western Front to convey troops behind the lines
  2. Pont de Nieppe - Armentieres Map: 10-36NW2 - Ref: I.23 
  3.  General Sir Charles Carmichael Monro (1860-1929). Three months later he was dispatched to the Gallipoli peninsula to replace Sir Ian Hamilton as regional Commander-in-Chief
  4. breastworks
  5.  Epinette - Map Ref: I.5.c.8.8
  6. The Ministry of Munitions was first established in March 1915 in order to address the dire shortage of shells on the front line. The Ministry, largely staffed by businessmen, dramatically transformed Britain's munitions industries and created the largest government department the country had ever seen
  7.  Pte Robert Wilson (4/2298) ‘C’ Coy (b. Alnwick), (e. Hexham), died aged 37 and is buried in Strand Military Cemetery
  8. Pte Robert Bell (4/1578) ‘D’ Coy is buried in Strand Military Cemetery and commemorated on Mickley Memorial
  9. Willies’ were a type of German artillery shell
  10.  Farm C – Position unknown at present 
  11. Epinette - Map Ref: I.5.c.8.8
  12. Grande Porte Egal Farm - Bois Grenier Map: 10-36NW4-6: Ref: I.10.b.6.7
  13. Whiz-Bang’ was the popular slang for a high velocity German 77mm artillery shell, describing the noise through the air and on detonation
  14. Major General Sir Percival S Wilkinson KCMG, CB is described as ‘a capable energetic commander’ and ‘a sound, not brilliant’ man, completed the work of turning it into a ‘magnificent division’ (Robbins, 2005)
  15. Mountain guns or Pack Howitzers were artillery pieces designed so that they could be quickly disassembled and transported as smaller loads through mountainous territory i.e. by horse, mule etc
  16.  Pte Francis Riley (4/1874) ‘A’ Coy was a bricklayer, married with four children. He was buried in Ration Farm Military Cemetery, La Chapelle D’Armentieres and is commemorated on the Hexham Memorial
  17. Pte William Ridley (4/1363) (b. Prudhoe) (e. Prudhoe). He is buried in Ferme Buterne Military Cemetery, France
  18. A redoubt was a small, usually temporary, defensive position built out in front of the main defensive line
  19. Lt Col. Charles Harrie Innes-Hopkins  was the CO of the 20th (1st Tyneside Scottish Bn) NF. Resided at ‘The Towers’, Ryton on Tyne, Co. Durham. (R&DWMP)
  20. Lt Col. Dunbar Stuart was the CO of the 21st (2nd Tyneside Scottish Bn) NF.
  21. Situated 3 miles south west of St Omer the machine gun school at Wisques was established on 22nd November 1914 by Major Christopher Baker-Carr
  22. Sausage’ and ‘Football’ were the nicknames given to types of Trench mortar bomb, no doubt on account of their shape
  23. 2nd Lt Frank Sigurd Steinburg (Steenberg) (b.1896) was born at Low Fell, County Durham and attended the North Eastern County School for Boys, Newgate, Barnard Castle. He resided at ‘The Quarry’, Stocksfield and embarked for France on the 25 Aug 1915. He transferred to the MGC. His father was a Public warehouse keeper residing at Heatherlea, Broomley, Stocksfield 
  24. 2nd Lt William Hedley Morant (b.1890, d.25 Oct 16) was born in Chesterton, Cambridgeshire but was raised in the Truro area of Cornwall. His father was a Surveyor of Taxes serving with the 12th NF. His address was 6 West Terrace, Coniscliffe Row, Darlington
  25. The 10th Royal Hussars (6th Cavalry Bde, 3rd Cavalry Divn). One Coy served in the trenches
  26.  A staff ride was an educational tour, usually conducted on horseback
  27. L/Cpl Thomas Cowler
  28. Pte John Edward Newton (4/909) of Prior Terrace, Hexham
  29. The adjutant at this time was Captain Cecil George Arkwright 
  30. Lt Henry Bell
  31. Pte Walter Weatherly (4/1679) ‘D’ Coy (b. Mickley) (e. Prudhoe) died aged 21 and is buried in Ferme Buterne Military Cemetery, France and commemorated on Mickley Memorial, Northumberland
  32.  A Demonstration, in military terminology, is an attack or show of force on a front where a decision is not sought, but is made with the aim of deceiving the enemy 
  33. White Phosphorous was used in incendiary and/or smoke producing bombs and shells
  34. The six Divns of 1st Army under Haig were: from right to left IV Corps (Rawlinson) - 47th (London), 15th and 1st Divn. I Corps (Gough) - 7th, 9th (Scottish) and 2nd Divn
  35. Bombers appear to have been treated as a separate entity
  36. The 8th LNL (74th Bde, 25th Divn) were raised for the Third New Army (K3). The 25th Divn was assembled around Salisbury during September 1914, crossed to France between 25 and 30 September 1915 and concentrated in the area of Nieppe
  37. Pte Lancelot Swindale Lennie (4/811) (b. Benwell) (e. Newburn) is buried in Ferme Buterne Military Cemetery, France
  38. Pte Robert James Steele (4/2746) (b. Hexham) (e. Hexham) and was taken on the strength of the 3/4th NF on 11 Jun 15. He was part of a draft of men sent to Flanders by the 3/4th NF on the 3 Sep 15. Ferme Buterne Military Cemetery
  39. Not clear which one of the two Pte Leathard’s serving in the battalion was court martialled
  40. Pte Arthur McIntyre (4/1455) (b. Egremont, Cheshire) (e. Hexham) is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension
  41. German counterattack at Loos
  42. The 18-pounder Quick Firing (QF) gun was first introduced to service by the Royal Field Artillery in 1904. 18-pounder refers to the weight of the shell
  43. The 14th (Service) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry formed at Fenham Barracks, Newcastle in September 1914. It was one of Lord Kitchener's "New Armies" and part of 'K3', the third tranche of the 500,000 men Kitchener wished to recruit for the war effort. After training for a year in the South of England the battalion embarked for France on 11 September 1915 as part of the 64th Bde (21st Divn)
  44. The 12th NF formed in Newcastle during September 1914 as part of K3 and attached to 62nd Bde, (21st Divn). It landed in France in September 1915
  45. The ‘New Army’ battalions were formed from volunteers responding to Lord Kitchener’s recruiting campaign
  46. Registering guns was the process of aiming and ranging them on specific targets. When the opposing lines were close, there was always the risk from the first shots to be fired
  47. Strazeele - Map: 27.W.10 and 16.  
  48. The village of Terdeghem lies between Steenvoorde and Cassell
  49. Pte Robert Surtees Knots Renwick (4/1003)
  50. Field General Courts-Martial (FGCM) were convened when the accused was on active service or stationed overseas. It had the full powers of the General Courts-Martial, but it could sit with a minimum of only three members (two if no more officers were available). On the Western Front FGCMs were used almost universally for trials throughout the war; imposing more than 3,000 death sentences of which approx 11% were actually confirmed. (An acquittal by courts-martial on any charge is final and absolute, whereas a conviction and a sentence are not valid until they have been confirmed by a superior authority)
  51. Trench 80 - Armentieres [note] in the Armentieres sector, which until quite recently had been occupied by the 149th Bde. The 4th NF spent the 15th carrying out drills in readiness for practice attacks on the simulated 1st and 2nd line German trenches. The drills were carried out at Coy level with bombers and machine gunners co-operating. Two Coys carried out the practice attack on the 16th; a complimentary letter was received from the Brigadier on Capt. John Robb’s orders.

    Wednesday the 17th was a wretched day. The CO inspected platoons as part of an inter-Coy competition encompassing turn out, arms handling and drill. The competition was won by ‘A’ Coy, 'C' were second and 'B' third. The Adjutant had nothing worthy to record in the diary on the 18th, but the next day the battalion participated in a Bde route march and was inspected by Gen. Plumer enroute. Coy training took place on the 20th and the usual church parades were held on the 21st.

    On Monday the 22nd the remaining Coys carried out a practice attack on the skeleton trenches. An order was received on this day stating that the Bde would go back to Calais, but the following morning the order was cancelled. Coy parades were held on the 23rd and the Bde Major delivered a lecture to all officers of the Bde. Two hundred fusiliers from the battalion participated in a successful respirator/smoke helmet test on the 24th; the men trooping through trenches filled with gas released from cylinders. Coy training was carried out on Thursday the 25th. A battalion concentration march was carried out on Friday the 26th in a heavy snowstorm.

     Battalion route march

     Battalion drill and attack formation carried out on Thu 2nd Dec

    The Bde concentration route march planned for Friday was cancelled due to the rain. The rain continued on Saturday, so the outdoor training programme was replaced by medical inspections and lectures. The usual church parades were held on Sunday.

    A battalion route march took place on Monday 6th Dec, but the start was postponed owing to the wet weather.

    On Tuesday the 7th Gen. Wilkinson was informed by II Corps HQ that the 50th Divn was to re-join V Corps and complete the relief of the 9th Divn in the front line by the 22nd of December. Meanwhile the battalion carried out a practice attack on a position on the Rouge Choux [note] Rouge Choix road