Passchendaele – Oct 1917

4th Battalion War Diary

APPENDIX X A
OPERATION ORDER NO. 1A.

1. The 149th Infantry Bde will attack on the morning of the 26th inst, 4th NF on the right, 5th NF in centre and 7th NF on left, - 57th Div are attacking on our right, with 4th/5th Loyal North Lancs as their left battalion.

2. The battalion will attack on a 3 company frontage each company being on a platoon frontage.

‘A’ company on right, ‘B’ company in centre and ‘D’ company on left. ‘C’ Company will be in reserve on a 2 platoon frontage.

3. (a) Platoons will leap frog and capture and consolidate the objectives already given them i.e. FIRST WAVE to HUTS, SECOND WAVE to line V.2.3.1.6V.2.c.5.1. THIRD WAVE to final objective V.2.a.3.0 to V.2.d.15.55.

(b) Reserve company will move forward with attacking waves to a point approximately 200 yards west of the HUTS.

(c) ‘A’ company will detail parties to obtain touch with battalion on their right at the following points.

(a) Concrete shelter at V.8.a.1.8.

(b) Ditto at V.2.c.4.1.

(c) ROAD BRIDGE at V.2.d.0.6.

4. Two machine guns will accompany 4th wave of ‘B’ Company.

5. Two Stokes Mortars will be attached to ‘C’ company and will be available to fire at any strong points holding up the attack.

6. Barrage will begin to creep forward at ZERO + 8 minutes and will creep at the uniform rate of 100 yards in 8 minutes throughout. Lifts will be at 50 yards at a time.

7. Taping out of the assembly trench will be carried out under an officer from Battalion HQ. One line of tape will be laid from the Railway Embankment at point V.1.d.0.2. to V.7.b.6.5. Two guides will be left at the end of the tape on Railway Embankment. A short length of tape will be laid at right angles to assembly tape to mark the left of ‘D’ company, short lengths of tape will be laid at right angles to assembly tape every 130 yards to mark company frontages. The assembly tape marks position of leading wave.

8. ‘A’,’C’ and ‘D’ companies will move forward to assembly positions at 7pm tonight each company providing its own covering party. ‘B’ company will withdraw to the assembly tape at 11pm. Completion of assembly will be notified by code word ARRAS, sent by runner to battalion HQ.

9. 1 contact aeroplane will be flying over companies front at zero + 1 hour 30 mins and at zero + 3 hours heading troops will show their position to contact aeroplane only when called for

(a) by Claxon horn

(b) by series of white Very lights dropped from the plane.

10. RAP will be at PASCHAL FARM 1.

11. PRISONERS 1 man as escort to 5 Bosches

12. Reports will be forwarded to battalion HQ at TAUBE FARM as frequently as possible and at least once in the first hour after zero.

13. Battalion HQ will open at TAUBE FARM at 7pm tonight.

14. Zero will be at the fall of the barrage. Time of this will be notified later, also synchronisation of watches.

15. General compass bearing of attack 55 degrees magnetic.

16. Acknowledge.

Issued at 1.30 pm
Copies to CO ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’.

4th Battalion War Diary

CORRIGENDA TO OPERATION ORDER NO 1A

1. Owing to the swampy state of the ground on the right of our attack, it has been decided to attack on a 2 Coy frontage instead of a 3 Coy frontage. ‘B’, ’C’ and ‘D’ companies will have dispositions exactly as laid down in O.O. no 1A.

2. ‘A’ company will NOT go to the assembly tape but will move from TRANQUILLE HOUSE to TAUBE FARM at 9pm tonight, when they will be in battalion reserve.

3. Hot tea and rum will be brought up tonight 1 guide per company to be at TAUBE FARM at 11pm to guide carrying parties.

4. Acknowledge.
Issued at 2pm
Copies to CO, ‘A’,’B’,’C’ and ‘D’

The CO reported the change to Bde HQ:

Summary of events

25th Oct 1917

Communication between Bn HQ and the front line was extremely difficult as the route was under direct observation and subject to incessant shelling by the Germans. This was especially so on the line running parallel with the road north-west and south east of Tranquille House, because it appeared to be an enemy barrage line. There was no cover except for shell holes, so it had not been possible to lay a telephone wire, or for a visual signalling system to be established.

Two runners did manage to reach the front line coy and all operation orders were delivered safely. However, it was a close call, because they had mistakenly overshot the front line by at least fifty yards and had been stopped before they stumbled on the enemy.

Front line company were constantly shelled by our own Howitzers, and some casualties resulted.

At 7pm Bn HQ moved forward to Taube Farm and the R.A.P. moved to Paschal Farm 2 from Olga Houses 3.

Between 7 and 9pm coys moved forward to their assembly positions.

The attack formation was altered twice in 12 hours. The original intention was, to attack on a 3 coy frontage, each coy being on a platoon frontage in depth, in 4 waves (1 platoon in each wave). After the relief it was realised that with the swampy ground on the Bn right flank, there would only be room for a two coy frontage. The CO reported this to Bde HQ (Appendix B).

Map 1 - 149th Brigade positions

25 Oct 1917

Summary of events

When 2nd Lt J.A. Burton actually laid the tape, he realised that there was only sufficient room for an attack frontage of one coy. Therefore, the front line platoon frontage was cut accordingly to one coy, the second coy was positioned to the rear of the right hand coy of the 5th Bn with instructions to wedge between the 4th and 5th Bn Coys at the front once the attack started. The third coy was held in reserve about one hundred yards to the rear of the front line coy (on a two platoon frontage) and the fourth coy under the Bn Cdr was positioned at Taube Farm 4 and Tranquille House 5.

The Coys assembled in shell holes and dug-in, in the formation described above. A piece of tape was laid to mark the boundary between the 4th and 5th Bn. Hot food was packed in hay and carried up to the coys at the assembly points.

A leap frog system of attack, recently practised in training, was to be employed. The lead platoon was to take the first objective, the second platoon was to pass through to take the second objective, the third platoon the final objective. The fourth under the company commander were to be used for counter attack or consolidation according to the tactical situation.

26th Oct 1917

At 3am heavy rain began to fall again and at 4.05am the 4th Bn reported it was in position for the attack.

At zero hour, 5.40am, the barrage opened up and began to creep forward at a rate of one hundred yards every eight minutes. The fusiliers of the149th Bde rose to their feet to advance behind it, with the 4th & 5th Bn Loyal North Lancashires (57th Divn) on the right flank and the 35th Divn on the left. Had the 'going' been good, the troops who lay close up under the barrage (so close indeed that several casualties were suffered) waiting for the first "lift", would not have had a problem advancing at the rate of the creeping barrage.

'The rain had, however, done its deadly work, for all the gallant fellows could do was to drag themselves along through the thick clinging mud and water at a much slower pace than the barrage, which soon got ahead'. Then form "pill box" and shell hole murderous fire was poured upon them. Many fell dead; some of the wounded fell into the gaping holes of water and were drowned; fortunate were those who escaped, but on went the survivors' (Wyrell. p.244).

The allied barrage consisted entirely of shrapnel and was therefore quite useless against the first objective, which consisted of concrete huts. To make matters worse the rain continued to fall heavily and the condition of mud and water were perfectly appalling.

Bn HQ received a wire from the Bde Major at 8.50am stating that a wounded Forward Observation Officer had reported that the first objective had been taken and the men were advancing well to the second objective. This information proved incorrect because 2nd Lt Wood subsequently returned wounded and reported that casualties were heavy and the attack was held up in front of the Huts. The attack had actually ground to a halt about eighty yards west of the line of huts. The machine gun fire and sniping was so severe that any further advance was quite impossible and reporting the situation back to HQ extremely difficult. Two runners were sent to the front line to try and gather information but they both failed to return.

At 11am, 2nd Lt Burton was sent forward to reconnoitre and he confirmed that the attack was held up about one hundred yards short of the Huts. At 1pm Sgt Thompson returned from the front line and confirmed 2nd Lt Burtons’ report stating that casualties were very heavy. Similar news was brought down later by Capt J.V. Gregory. This information was relayed to Bde HQ by pigeon and signaled by Lucas Lamp. Several messages were sent during the afternoon. Two platoons from the Reserve Company, under the command of 2nd Lts Peddie and Scott, were sent forward at 6pm to consolidate the original line held before the attack.

The Bn was relieved about midnight by the 4th Bn East Yorks and proceeded, via the duckboard track known as Railway Street 6, to Rose Crossroads camp 7. The 6th Bn DLI organised straggler posts in likely places to round up men returning from the front line and to guide them to camp.

Roll call revealed the appalling casualties suffered by the 4th Bn. 2nd Lts D.A. Smith, and W. Ruddy had been killed in action with 2nd Lt R.A.A. Simpson later dying of wounds. 2nd Lts G.R. Charlewood, A.W.P. Leary, H.B. Bell, J.R. Ruddock and R. Wood were wounded, and 2nd Lt R.G. Rayner and H. Stobbs were missing. Thirty-six fusiliers had been killed, one hundred and fifty-six wounded and sixty four were still missing. A total of two hundred and fifty six, more than fifty percent of those that had gone into action. The 5th Bn fared even worse with a total of 12 officers and 439 men either killed, wounded or missing. 7th Bn losses amounted to 11 officers and 246 men.

Summary compiled from 149th Bde War Diary, 4th Bn War Diary & History of the 50th Division,

Casualties

Records show that at least 100 fusiliers from the 4th Bn were actually killed in action or died of wounds between the 25th and 27th of Oct 1917. For information on 4th Bn burial and memorial sites for casualties sustained in this battle, select the link.

4th Battalion War Diary

The following is a list of points noted in the attack:-

1. Two machine guns were attached to the battalion in the attack. They went forward with the support company (in rear of 5th Bn) and did excellent work.

2. Two Stokes Mortars were to be attached but did not succeed in getting ammunition forward.

3. Communication to Bde exceptionally valuable and wonderfully maintained under a heavy barrage by the Bn. Signalling Officer (2nd Lt W.C.Clemitson) and the other signallers. The wire to 5th Bn almost instantly maintained, visual to Bde also kept up although the lamp was knocked over three times, and pigeons.

4. Wounded. Appalling difficulty in getting wounded as the slightest movement in the front line was checked by Machine Guns and sniping.

5. Liaison. Lt W.B. Hicks acted as liaison officer between the 4th Bn and the Bde on the right flank. Liaison with the 4th/5th Loyal North Lancashires maintained through 5th Northd Fus, who had an officer from that battalion with them.

6. Rations Cannot be brought up by transport in these conditions. Men must carry two days rations and also two Tommy cookers.

7. Kit as laid down appear the best, though many packs will probably be thrown away.

8. Hot food should always be carried up to the troops the night before the attack - also RUM.

9. Guiding appallingly difficult owing to the scarcity of landmarks, obvious landmarks, such as the railway are dangerous as the enemy naturally concentrates his artillery on them. We suggest a double line of pickets with plain wire on them. This is not conspicuous and very helpful.-

4th Battalion War Diary

APPENDIX C

(i) MESSAGES during the action

L.T.19 timed 12.20pm. Wounded officer left company reports attack on huts in V.1.D held up by many machine guns about 150 yards west of Huts. Right company held up in same position. Right company of SEED (5th NF) held up on same line. Impossible to work round flanks owing to swamp on right and machine guns on left. AAA. I have one company still in reserve in TAUBE FARM and TRANQUILLE HOUSE area AAA I do not propose to make another frontal attack with this company, as this appears to me to be a reliable report. AAA the officer states that Huts are very little damaged and full of machine guns AAA. Unless I receive orders to the contrary I will move Reserve Company up tonight at dusk to take over and reorganise front line AAA. Am investigating this information and will report later. AAA Ground very swampy and casualties very heavy in wounded officers company.

LT.20 timed 12.40pm In continuation of my L.T.19 I am unable to reach front line companies owing to machine gun fire and sniping from Huts and concrete emplacements. South of Huts. AAA There is not the slightest doubt that the whole attack is held up 100 to 150 yards west of Huts. I am unable to ascertain definitely position of troops on my right but they do not appear to have made much progress. AAA I am unable to estimate casualties.

LT 21 timed ? A very reliable Sgt has just brought back a report from front line. He states that 50 of our men and 2 officers are lying about 100 yards west of middle of Huts. Remainder of 3 companies, he thinks, are casualties. Total about 300. BOSCH planes have been flying low over front line shooting at them. Bosches have also sniped majority of our wounded as they tried to get back. Attack started in excellent order and was clear of BOSCH barrage before it came down – a few men succeeded in reaching HUTS but have not come back. Remainder caught by machine gun fire from HUTS and both flanks. Can you please give me assistance of large party to get our wounded out tonight with stretchers. It requires about 6 men per stretcher.

LT 22 timed 3.44pm Ref B.M.871

I am sending up 2 platoons tonight at dusk. They will consolidate original front line held before the attack and remaining 3 company’s will withdraw. I should like to send them out of the line. Is this possible please, and can staff captain arrange billets for them (probably 70 or 80 men). If the other company is not to be relieved, could you send water, rum, hot food and rations up for them and battalion HQ. Guides could meet ration parties and stretcher parties at PASCHAL FARM. I should also like a large carrying party with stretchers. Guides as above. – Sent by pigeon and substance of it by visual.

149th Bde War Diary

Speaking generally, the Bde was ordered to attack in a north-eastern direction between the southern border of the Houthhulst Forest and the Broembeek on a frontage running in an irregular manner through Aden House, and the principal objectives included "Hill 23," "Colbert Crossroads" and the groups of huts about seven hundred yards south-west of Schaap Balie. Aeroplane photographs were unfortunately not very clear, but they revealed an area that was capable of an obstinate defence, and one that might be rendered impassable by heavy rain. The chief obstacles were a double row of concrete huts or "pill-boxes," and ground that was already dangerously full of water- holes.

Heavy rain began to fall again at 3am and the "very few firm pieces of ground" became less in number; the water, trickling at first down the muddy sides of shell holes, soon became small streams, filling the occupants of the shell holes with gloomy prospects of success in the attack; pools of water widened almost to small lakes. Even in the darkness it was possible to discern stretches of water out in No Man's Land across which the attackers would have to pass.

2nd Passchendaele - Locations

1st Objective - Line of huts - approximately 300 to 400 yards distant.

2nd Objective - Approximately 500 yards distant.

3rd (Final) Objective - Colbert Crossroads and Hill 23.

Turenne Crossing - Road junction at railway crossing situated in 5th Bn front line prior to attack (Map1)

Ypres - Medieval Flemish town around which the salient formed in 1914. Known as Ieper in the Flemish language.

Bibliography

Chapter 2a – St Julien

Lt Col Alfred James Foster Context Within six weeks of the British mobilisation, the German Army had fought their way to within thirty miles of Paris before being checked at the Battle of…

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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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Passchendaele

24th Oct 1917

On the night of 24th the 149th Bde relieved units of the 34th Division south of the Houthulst Forest and astride the Ypres to Staden Railway line. The 4th Bn moved into trenches in the right sub sector and the 7th Bn the left sub sector.

25th Oct 1917

At 8.31am Operation Orders for an attack were received from Brigade HQ.

4th Battalion War Diary

APPENDIX X A
OPERATION ORDER NO. 1A.

1. The 149th Infantry Bde will attack on the morning of the 26th inst, 4th NF on the right, 5th NF in centre and 7th NF on left, - 57th Div are attacking on our right, with 4th/5th Loyal North Lancs as their left battalion.

2. The battalion will attack on a 3 company frontage each company being on a platoon frontage.

‘A’ company on right, ‘B’ company in centre and ‘D’ company on left. ‘C’ Company will be in reserve on a 2 platoon frontage.

3. (a) Platoons will leap frog and capture and consolidate the objectives already given them i.e. FIRST WAVE to HUTS, SECOND WAVE to line V.2.3.1.6 – V.2.c.5.1. THIRD WAVE to final objective V.2.a.3.0 to V.2.d.15.55.

(b) Reserve company will move forward with attacking waves to a point approximately 200 yards west of the HUTS.

(c) ‘A’ company will detail parties to obtain touch with battalion on their right at the following points.

(a) Concrete shelter at V.8.a.1.8.

(b) Ditto at V.2.c.4.1.

(c) ROAD BRIDGE at V.2.d.0.6.

4. Two machine guns will accompany 4th wave of ‘B’ Company.

5. Two Stokes Mortars1 will be attached to ‘C’ company and will be available to fire at any strong points holding up the attack.

6. Barrage will begin to creep forward at ZERO + 8 minutes and will creep at the uniform rate of 100 yards in 8 minutes throughout. Lifts will be at 50 yards at a time.

7. Taping out of the assembly trench will be carried out under an officer from Battalion HQ. One line of tape will be laid from the Railway Embankment at point V.1.d.0.2. to V.7.b.6.5. Two guides will be left at the end of the tape on Railway Embankment. A short length of tape will be laid at right angles to assembly tape to mark the left of ‘D’ company, short lengths of tape will be laid at right angles to assembly tape every 130 yards to mark company frontages. The assembly tape marks position of leading wave.

8. ‘A’,’C’ and ‘D’ companies will move forward to assembly positions at 7pm tonight each company providing its own covering party. ‘B’ company will withdraw to the assembly tape at 11pm. Completion of assembly will be notified by code word ARRAS, sent by runner to battalion HQ.

9. 1 contact aeroplane will be flying over companies front at zero + 1 hour 30 mins and at zero + 3 hours heading troops will show their position to contact aeroplane only when called for

(a) by Claxon horn

(b) by series of white Very lights dropped from the plane.

10. RAP will be at PASCHAL FARM 2.

11. PRISONERS 1 man as escort to 5 Bosches

12. Reports will be forwarded to battalion HQ at TAUBE FARM 3 as frequently as possible and at least once in the first hour after zero.

13. Battalion HQ will open at TAUBE FARM at 7pm tonight.

14. Zero will be at the fall of the barrage. Time of this will be notified later, also synchronisation of watches.

15. General compass bearing of attack 55 degrees magnetic.

16. Acknowledge.

Issued at 1.30 pm
Copies to CO ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’.

4th Battalion War Diary

CORRIGENDA TO OPERATION ORDER NO 1A

1. Owing to the swampy state of the ground on the right of our attack, it has been decided to attack on a 2 Coy frontage instead of a 3 Coy frontage. ‘B’,’C’ and ‘D’ companies will have dispositions exactly as laid down in O.O. no 1A.

2. ‘A’ company will NOT go to the assembly tape but will move from TRANQUILLE HOUSE 4 to TAUBE FARM at 9pm tonight, when they will be in battalion reserve.

3. Hot tea and rum will be brought up tonight 1 guide per company to be at TAUBE FARM at 11pm to guide carrying parties.

4. Acknowledge.
Issued at 2pm
Copies to CO, ‘A’,’B’,’C’ and ‘D’

The CO reported the change to Bde HQ:

25th Oct 1917

Communication between Bn HQ and the front line was extremely difficult as the route was under direct observation and subject to incessant shelling by the Germans. This was especially so on the line running parallel with the road north-west and south east of Tranquille House, because it appeared to be an enemy barrage line. There was no cover except for shell holes, so it had not been possible to lay a telephone wire, or for a visual signalling system to be established.

Two runners did manage to reach the front line coy and all operation orders were delivered safely. However, it was a close call, because they had mistakenly overshot the front line by at least fifty yards and had been stopped before they stumbled on the enemy.

Front line company were constantly shelled by our own Howitzers, and some casualties resulted.

At 7pm Bn HQ moved forward to Taube Farm and the R.A.P 5 moved to Paschal Farm from Olga Houses 6.

Between 7 and 9pm coys moved forward to their assembly positions.

The attack formation was altered twice in 12 hours. The original intention was, to attack on a 3 coy frontage, each coy being on a platoon frontage in depth, in 4 waves (1 platoon in each wave). After the relief it was realised that with the swampy ground on the Bn right flank, there would only be room for a two coy frontage. The CO reported this to Bde HQ (Appendix B).

Battlefield looking north from Poperingstraat
Battlefield looking north from Poperingstraat (Image courtesy of Mr A McCaffrey)

4th Battalion War Diary

APPENDIX B

L.T.3. CO’s report. “From reports received from the 11th SUFFOLKS," the right of my Battalion front is a swamp. Even if it is possible to assemble the right company, I do not consider they would be able to advance, but would have to be dug out. I propose with your permission to attack with two companies.only in the front line, one in support, and to keep the fourth company in reserve in TRANQUILLE HOUSE area. Conditions on rest of the front are such that if a man steps off a firm piece of ground into the slightest hollow he has to be dug out. There are very few firm pieces of ground away from the Railway and Roads.

Map 1 - 149th Brigade positions

25 Oct 1917

Summary of events

When 2nd Lt J.A. Burton actually laid the tape, he realised that there was only sufficient room for an attack frontage of one coy. Therefore, the front line platoon frontage was cut accordingly to one coy, the second coy was positioned to the rear of the right hand coy of the 5th Bn with instructions to wedge between the 4th and 5th Bn Coys at the front once the attack started. The third coy was held in reserve about one hundred yards to the rear of the front line coy (on a two platoon frontage) and the fourth coy under the Bn Cdr was positioned at Taube Farm and Tranquille House.

The Coys assembled in shell holes and dug-in, in the formation described above. A piece of tape was laid to mark the boundary between the 4th and 5th Bn. Hot food was packed in hay and carried up to the coys at the assembly points.

A leap frog system of attack, recently practised in training, was to be employed. The lead platoon was to take the first objective, the second platoon was to pass through to take the second objective, the third platoon the final objective. The fourth under the company commander were to be used for counter attack or consolidation according to the tactical situation.

26th Oct 1917

At 3am heavy rain began to fall again and at 4.05am the 4th Bn reported it was in position for the attack.

At zero hour, 5.40am, the barrage opened up and began to creep forward at a rate of one hundred yards every eight minutes. The fusiliers of the149th Bde rose to their feet to advance behind it, with the 4th & 5th Bn Loyal North Lancashires (57th Divn) on the right flank and the 35th Divn on the left. Had the 'going' been good, the troops who lay close up under the barrage (so close indeed that several casualties were suffered) waiting for the first "lift", would not have had a problem advancing at the rate of the creeping barrage.

'The rain had, however, done its deadly work, for all the gallant fellows could do was to drag themselves along through the thick clinging mud and water at a much slower pace than the barrage, which soon got ahead'. Then form "pill box" and shell hole murderous fire was poured upon them. Many fell dead; some of the wounded fell into the gaping holes of water and were drowned; fortunate were those who escaped, but on went the survivors' 

The allied barrage consisted entirely of shrapnel and was therefore quite useless against the first objective, which consisted of concrete huts. To make matters worse the rain continued to fall heavily and the condition of mud and water were perfectly appalling.

Bn HQ received a wire from the Bde Major at 8.50am stating that a wounded Forward Observation Officer had reported that the first objective had been taken and the men were advancing well to the second objective. This information proved incorrect because 2nd Lt Wood subsequently returned wounded and reported that casualties were heavy and the attack was held up in front of the Huts. The attack had actually ground to a halt about eighty yards west of the line of huts. The machine gun fire and sniping was so severe that any further advance was quite impossible and reporting the situation back to HQ extremely difficult. Two runners were sent to the front line to try and gather information but they both failed to return.

Captain J.C Gregory
Captain J.C Gregory

At 11am, 2nd Lt Burton was sent forward to reconnoitre and he confirmed that the attack was held up about one hundred yards short of the Huts. At 1pm Sgt Thompson returned from the front line and confirmed 2nd Lt Burtons’ report stating that casualties were very heavy. Similar news was brought down later by Capt J.V. Gregory. This information was relayed to Bde HQ by pigeon and signaled by Lucas Lamp. Several messages were sent during the afternoon. Ttwo platoons from the Reserve Company, under the command of 2nd Lts Peddie and Scott, were sent forward at 6pm to consolidate the original line held before the attack.

2nd Lt F.G. Peddie
2nd Lt F.G. Peddie

The Bn was relieved about midnight by the 4th Bn East Yorks and proceeded, via the duckboard track known as Railway Street 7, to Rose Crossroads camp 8. The 6th Bn DLI organised straggler posts in likely places to round up men returning from the front line and to guide them to camp.

Roll call revealed the appalling casualties suffered by the 4th Bn. 2nd Lts D.A.Smith, and W.Ruddy had been killed in action with 2nd Lt R.A.A Simpson later dying of wounds. 2nd Lts G.R.Charlewood, A.W.P.Leary, H.B.Bell, J.R.Ruddock and R.Wood were wounded, and 2nd Lt R.G.Rayner and H Stobbs were missing. Thirty-six fusiliers had been killed, one hundred and fifty-six wounded and sixty four were still missing. A total of two hundred and fifty six, more than fifty percent of those that had gone into action. The 5th Bn fared even worse with a total of 12 officers and 439 men either killed, wounded or missing. 7th Bn losses amounted to 11 officers and 246 men.

Summary compiled from:

Casualties

Records show that at least 100 fusiliers from the 4th Bn were actually killed in action or died of wounds between the 25th and 27th of Oct 1917. For information on 4th Bn burial and memorial sites for casualties sustained in this battle, select the link.

4th Battalion War Diary

The following is a list of points noted in the attack:-

1. Two machine guns were attached to the battalion in the attack. They went forward with the support company (in rear of 5th Bn) and did excellent work.

2. Two Stokes Mortars were to be attached but did not succeed in getting ammunition forward.

3. Communication to Bde exceptionally valuable and wonderfully maintained under a heavy barrage by the Bn. Signalling Officer (2nd Lt W.C.Clemitson) and the other signallers. The wire to 5th Bn almost instantly maintained, visual to Bde also kept up although the lamp was knocked over three times, and pigeons.

4. Wounded. Appalling difficulty in getting wounded as the slightest movement in the front line was checked by Machine Guns and sniping.

5. Liaison. Lt W.B. Hicks acted as liaison officer between the 4th Bn and the Bde on the right flank. Liaison with the 4th/5th Loyal North Lancashires maintained through 5th Northd Fus, who had an officer from that battalion with them.

6. Rations Cannot be brought up by transport in these conditions. Men must carry two days rations and also two Tommy cookers.

7. Kit as laid down appear the best, though many packs will probably be thrown away.

8. Hot food should always be carried up to the troops the night before the attack - also RUM.

9. Guiding appallingly difficult owing to the scarcity of landmarks, obvious landmarks, such as the railway are dangerous as the enemy naturally concentrates his artillery on them. We suggest a double line of pickets with plain wire on them. This is not conspicuous and very helpful.-

4th Battalion War Diary

APPENDIX C

(i) MESSAGES during the action

L.T.19 timed 12.20pm. Wounded officer left company reports attack on huts in V.1.D held up by many machine guns about 150 yards west of Huts. Right company held up in same position. Right company of SEED (5th NF) held up on same line. Impossible to work round flanks owing to swamp on right and machine guns on left. AAA. I have one company still in reserve in TAUBE FARM and TRANQUILLE HOUSE area AAA I do not propose to make another frontal attack with this company, as this appears to me to be a reliable report. AAA the officer states that Huts are very little damaged and full of machine guns AAA. Unless I receive orders to the contrary I will move Reserve Company up tonight at dusk to take over and reorganise front line AAA. Am investigating this information and will report later. AAA Ground very swampy and casualties very heavy in wounded officers company.

LT.20 timed 12.40pm In continuation of my L.T.19 I am unable to reach front line companies owing to machine gun fire and sniping from Huts and concrete emplacements. South of Huts. AAA There is not the slightest doubt that the whole attack is held up 100 to 150 yards west of Huts. I am unable to ascertain definitely position of troops on my right but they do not appear to have made much progress. AAA I am unable to estimate casualties.

LT 21 timed ? A very reliable Sgt has just brought back a report from front line. He states that 50 of our men and 2 officers are lying about 100 yards west of middle of Huts. Remainder of 3 companies, he thinks, are casualties. Total about 300. BOSCH planes have been flying low over front line shooting at them. Bosches have also sniped majority of our wounded as they tried to get back. Attack started in excellent order and was clear of BOSCH barrage before it came down – a few men succeeded in reaching HUTS but have not come back. Remainder caught by machine gun fire from HUTS and both flanks. Can you please give me assistance of large party to get our wounded out tonight with stretchers. It requires about 6 men per stretcher.

LT 22 timed 3.44pm Ref B.M.871

I am sending up 2 platoons tonight at dusk. They will consolidate original front line held before the attack and remaining 3 company’s will withdraw. I should like to send them out of the line. Is this possible please, and can staff captain arrange billets for them (probably 70 or 80 men). If the other company is not to be relieved, could you send water, rum, hot food and rations up for them and battalion HQ. Guides could meet ration parties and stretcher parties at PASCHAL FARM. I should also like a large carrying party with stretchers. Guides as above. – Sent by pigeon and substance of it by visual.

149th Bde War Diary

Speaking generally, the Bde was ordered to attack in a north-eastern direction between the southern border of the Houthhulst Forest 9 and the Broembeek 10 on a frontage running in an irregular manner through Aden House 11, and the principal objectives included "Hill 23 12," "Colbert Crossroads 13" and the groups of huts about seven hundred yards south-west of Schaap Balie 14. Aeroplane photographs were unfortunately not very clear, but they revealed an area that was capable of an obstinate defence, and one that might be rendered impassable by heavy rain. The chief obstacles were a double row of concrete huts or "pill-boxes," and ground that was already dangerously full of water- holes.

Heavy rain began to fall again at 3am and the "very few firm pieces of ground" became less in number; the water, trickling at first down the muddy sides of shell holes, soon became small streams, filling the occupants of the shell holes with gloomy prospects of success in the attack; pools of water widened almost to small lakes. Even in the darkness it was possible to discern stretches of water out in No Man's Land across which the attackers would have to pass.

2nd Passchendaele - Military Units

34th Division Comprised of the 101st, 102nd and 103rd Infantry Brigades

The 101st Bde - Comprised of the 15th and 16th Bn - Royal Scots, 10th Bn - Lincolnshire Regt and 11th Bn - Suffolk Regt.

The 102nd Bde - Comprised of the 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Bn - Northumberland Fusiliers.

The 103rd Bde - Comprised of the 24/27th, 25th and 26th Bn - Northumberland Fusiliers.

35th Division - - Comprised of the 104th, 105th and 106th Infantry Brigades

The 104th Bde - Comprised of the 17th, 18th, 20th & 23rd Bns - The Lancashire Fusiliers.

The 105th Bde - Comprised of the 15th & 16th Bns - The Cheshire Regiment, 14th Bn - The Gloucestershire Regiment and the 15th Bn - The Sherwood Foresters.

The 106th Bde - Comprised of the 17th Bn - The Royal Scots, 17th Bn - The Prince of Wales' Own, 19th Bn - The Durham Light Infantry and the 18th Bn - The Highland Light Infantry.

50th (Northumbrian) Division Comprised of the 149th (Northumberland) Bde, 150th (York & Durham) Bde and 151st (Durham Light Infantry (DLI)) Bde.

The 149th Bde comprised of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers.

The 150th Bde comprised 4th Bn East Yorkshires, 4th Bn Green Howards, 5th Bn Green Howards and 5th Bn Durham Light Infantry

The 151st Bde comprised the 6th, 8th, 9th Bn - DLI and 1/5th (Cumberland) Bn - Border Regt

The 149th MGC -

57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division -

The 170th (2nd North Lancashire) Bde - Comprised of the 2/5th Bn - King’s Own, 2/4th, 2/5th & 4/5th Bn - Loyal North Lancashire Regt.

The 171st (2nd Liverpool) Bde - Comprised of the 2/5th, 2/6th, 2/7th & 2/8th Bn - King’s.

The 172nd (2nd South Lancashire) Bde - Comprised of the 2/9th & 2/10th Bn - King’s, 2/4th & 2/5th Bn - South Lancashire Regt.

Tyne Cot Cemetery
Tyne Cot Cemetery (Image courtesy of Mr A McCaffrey)

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Transloy Ridges

Although the 50th Division (including the 149th Brigade) was heavily involved in this action, it was the turn of the 4th Battalion to spend time out of the line. With the exception of four days in the support lines (1st - 4th), the Bn was held in Reserve at the little village of Millencourt 1.

1st October 1916

The Battalion moved up from the OC Line at Bazentin to Prue Trench 2 and Starfish 3 with headquarters in the latter. The 7th NF were also in these trenches, lying to the left. The 5th and 6th Bn NF were attached to the 151st Bde, who were to attack. Zero time was set for 3.20pm. An intense artillery bombardment hit the German front line and then lifted. The German artillery was late responding, so the fusiliers got through with little loss. All took their objectives and pushed forward patrols. The 47th Divn, on the right flank, entered Eaucourt L'Abbaye 4, but were held up and failed to reach all their objectives.

That night the 4th Bn provided carrying parties for the 8th and 9th Bn DLI who were occupying the front line.

2nd October 1916

The two coys in Starfish Trench went forward and occupied positions in Prue Trench vacated by the 7th Bn, who had gone further forward. Later in the day these Coys were recalled as the 7th Bn were returning there. The Bn expected to be relieved that night, but at 3pm orders were received that stating the the 4th and 7th Bn should relieve the Durhams in the front line. The 4th Bn relieved the 8th Bn DLI and 5th Bn Borders. The weather and the mud was appalling and a large number of bombs had to be carried forward, so the men were absolutely exhausted. The relief was not completed until about 9am on the morning of the 3rd.

Transloy Ridges - Military Units

47th (London) Territorial Division - Comprised of the 140th, 141st and 142nd Infantry Brigades.

The 140th Bde - Comprised of the 1/6th & 1/7th Bns- City of London, 1/8th Bn - Post Office Rifles and 1/15th Bn CS Rifles.

The 141st Bde - Comprised of the 1/17th Bn - Popular & Stepney Rifles, 1/18th Bn - London Irish Rifles, 1/19th Bn - St Pancras and 1/20th Bn - Blackheath & Woolwich.

The 142nd Bde - Comprised of the 1/21st Bn - 1st Surrey Rifles, 1/22nd, 1/23rd & 1/24th Bns - The Queens.

50th (Northumbrian) Division - Consisted of the 149th (Northumberland) Bde, 150th (York & Durham) Bde and 151st (Durham Light Infantry (DLI)) Bde.

The 149th Bde was comprised of the 1/4th, 1/5th, 1/6th and 1/7th Bns - Northumberland Fusiliers.

The 150th Bde was comprised 1/4th Bn - East Yorkshires, 1/4th & 1/5th Bn - Green Howards and 1/5th Bn - Durham Light Infantry.

The 151st Bde was comprised the 1/6th, 1/8th, 1/9th Bn DLI and 1/5th (Cumberland) Bn - Border Regt.

Bibliography

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Chapter 2d – Wulverghem

Wulverghem The following morning the officers reconnoitred the front line east of Wulverghem village in readiness for the Bn moving up to the trenches later that day. Foster: “All CO’s and Captains of Companies…

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Commanding Officers

1 Nov 1860 - 10 Jul 1874 - Lt Col. The Earl of Tankerville

Charles Augustus Bennet (1810-1899) styled Lord Ossulston between 1822 and 1859, was a British peer and Conservative politician. He served as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms between 1866 and 1867 and as Lord Steward of the Household between 1867 and 1868.The family seat was Chillingham Castle

11 Jul 1874 - Dec 1879 - Col. The Earl of Durham

George Frederick D’Arcy Lambton (2nd Earl of Durham)

1828-1879

21 Feb 1880 - 6 Sep 1881 - Lt Col. J Nicholson

7 Sep 1881 - 20 May 1887 - Lt Col. The Right Honourable Frederick William Lambton (4th Earl of Durham) (1855-1929)

(19 June 1855 – 31 January 1929) was a British peer, a Liberal (and later Liberal Unionist) politician, and the son of George Lambton, 2nd Earl of Durham. He inherited the Earldom from his twin brother, John Lambton, 3rd Earl of Durham, when the latter died with no legitimate children.

21 May 1887 - 7 May 1892 - Col. William Lisle Blenkinsopp Coulson(1840-1911)

The Coulson family owned property on and around the line of Hadrian’s Wall. William had restored and extended Blenkinsopp Castle, one of the family’s medieval homes, in 1877 (it was destroyed by fire in the 1950s).

He was a prominent figure in the area, known for his 'untiring efforts for the kindly treatment of animals' and for the unusual plaid that he habitually dressed in. Born in Haltwhistle, he served in the army from 1860 to 1892, retiring as a colonel. Subsequently he served as a magistrate and on the boards of many charities concerning themselves with child and animal welfare. He toured schools and borstals throughout the country giving lectures on morality, and published essays on the welfare of children and women, and 'Musings on Moor and Fell'. He died in Newbrough, Northumberland, leaving a wife and daughter.

Tyneside Dail Photo

17 Sep 1892 - 1 Jan 1900 - Col. Robert Weddell VD

Robert was a member of the original volunteer force and died in Berwick in February 1909. He entered as a bugler boy and served for mora than forty years, never missing a camp. He was a solicitor, and sometimes town clerk for Berwick and election agent to Sir Edward Orey.

2 Jan 1901 - 1 Feb 1907 - Col. Wilfrid Gibson VD

The Hexham firm of Gibson & Co was founded in 1815 by Jasper Gibson and in 2011 it was England's oldest family-run solicitors' practice; with offices in Hexham, Bellingham and Newcastle.

Wilfrid Gibson (b.1850), the great great grandson of Jasper, was born in Salford and educated at Ushaw. He married (m.1874) Ann Margaret Dees and their first child Bertrand Dees Gibson was born in 1876. In 1881 the family was residing at Acomb House, Acomb and Wilfrid was a practising solicitor and a Captain in the 1st VB NF. During his career Wilfrid was Treasurer of St Cuthbert's Society; Member of Catholic Education Council; Vice- President of the Hexham and Newcastle Voluntary Schools Association. Wilfrid attained the rank of Lt Col and commanded the 1st VB from 1901.

Col. Lewis Chalmers Lockhart VD
Col. Lewis Chalmers Lockhart VD
1907 - 14 Apr 1910 - Col. Lewis Chalmers Lockhart VD

In 1914 Lewis Chalmers Lockhart, (Lockhart LC & HK) was a dynamic solicitor, who in addition to holding a commission in the Fusiliers was leading figure in Hexham society. Throughout his life he was activily involved in a number of the town’s affairs; commissioner toadminister oaths in the Supreme Court of Judicature, registrar of the county court, clerk to the managers of Hexham Council Schools and treasurer to the Hexham Union Workhouse and Rural District Council. Lewis owned several Hexham properties including the Old Gaol, the Manor Office and the Moot Hall. He cared deeply about education and was a prime mover of the scheme to shift the old Hexham Grammar School to a larger site in Fellside. Lewis was also renowned for falling out with Canon Sidney Savage over the plans to rebuild Hexham Abbey chancel. Along with his brother he was responsible for the construction of the Alemouth Road almshouses to commemorate his uncle, Henry King. (Kelly's Directory, p. 166) (Hexham Courant, 2009)

His son Henry followed into the same profession. (Kelly's Directory, p. 166). (Hexham Courant, 2009).

Col. John McClare Clark VD
Col. John McClare Clark VD
14 Apr 1910 - 13 Feb 1912 - Col. John McClare Clark VD

Unlike many of his contemporaries John McClare Clark (b.1854) was Haltwhistle born and bred. He followed in his father’s footsteps as a land agent, but he was also the manager of the Haltwhistle branch of the London Joint Stock Bank Ltd.

In his time he was also treasurer to Haltwhistle Rural District Council, treasurer of the Haltwhistle Union Workhouse, Justice of the Peace (JP) and magistrate for the Haltwhistle Petty Session (Kelly's Directory)

John married Marion, one of Hexham doctor Daniel Jackson’s ten daughters. Daniel was a highly regarded Hexham general practitioner, a district health officer and the owner of Bellister Castle. Daniel completed the restoration and enlargement of the castle before his death in 1911 and John and Marion McClare resided there. Daniel’s son Scott was a GP with a practice in Alnwick and held a commission in the 7th NF. John was listed in the London Gazette of 30 Dec 1902:

War Office, 30th December, 1902.

The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Volunteer Officers' Decoration upon the undermentioned Officers of the Volunteer Force, who have been duly recommended for the same under the terms of the Royal Warrant dated 25th July, 1892 :— NORTH-EASTERN DISTRICT.

RIFLE. 1st Volunteer Battalion, The Northumberland Fusiliers.
Major George Hogarth Bell.
Major John McClare Clark.

Appeared in the London Gazette again on 29 September 1908

4th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers; the undermentioned officers, from the 1st Volunteer Battalion, The Northumberland Fusiliers, to be Lieutenant-Colonels with the honorary rank of Colonel, with precedence as in the Volunteer Force. Dated 1st April. 1908 : —
Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant and Honorary Colonel Lewis Chalmers Lockhart.
Lieutenant-Colonel and Honorary Colonel John McClare Clark.

Lt Col Alfred James Foster
Lt Col Alfred James Foster
19 Jul 1913 - 17 Aug 1915 - Lt Col. Alfred James Foster

It is not clear how he first became involved in the lead manufacturing business; however Alfred’s grandfather James (b.1819) was the joint managing partner in the Tyneside firm of Locke & Blackett until 1856. The family then moved to Sussex, but returned to Tyneside in 1862 whereupon James set up the rival lead manufacturing plant of Foster, Blackett & Wilson at Hebburn in partnership with Robert Blackett and John Wilson . The company specialised in the production of white, red and orange lead as well as chemical sheet lead and lead pipes .

In 1871 seven year old Alfred (b.1864) was boarding at ‘The Mount School’ in Northallerton. His father James was listed in the census as a ‘Lead Refiner and Manufacturer’ employing 198 men and 102 women.

In 1874 James purchased the Hindley Hall estate near Stocksfield and relocated his family from Newcastle. On his death, five years later, the family moved into Hindley House, a smaller property on the estate, and rented the Hall out to colliery owner Matthew Liddell and family. 

The 1891 Census lists Alfred as a Lead Manufacturer and Magistrate. He was now married to Mabel and along with his two children, was living in Hindley House along with five servants and a nurse. The Hall itself was still occupied by Matthew Liddell, his wife Hannah, one daughter and seven servants including a governess. The Liddells were colliery owners and philantropists in nearby Prudhoe. Matthew Liddell's father had bought three hundred acres in Prudhoe upon which he built Prudhoe Hall (more recently Prudhoe Hospital).

Alfred continued with the lead manufacturing business, but in another house move, probably linked to the general downturn in the fortunes of the lead manufacturing industry towards the end of the 19th Century, the family took up residence in Anick Cottage, a more modest property on the North bank of the Tyne, purchased from Mrs Isabel Clayton of ‘The Chesters’.

By 1903 the Liddells had relocated to Cheeseburn Grange, Stamfordham and the Richardsons had taken up residence in the Hall. John Wigham Richardson’s (1837-1908) father owned and ran a leather tanning business, but John was to make his fortune in the shipbuilding industry and founded the Neptune Works at Walker-on-Tyne. John’s first move up the property ladder occurred in 1866, when he moved his family from Elswick to Wingrove House, Fenham. The subsequent move to Hindley Hall coincided with a merger between the Neptune works and the Swan Hunter yard. The new company, Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, became the most technically advanced ship building firm in the world and one of it most famous products, was the Cunard line’s RMS Mauretania, launched in 1906 (Wikipedia). The Richardson’s occupation of Hindley Hall was shortlived, the Fosters finally selling the Hindley estate to the Pumphrey family in 1907 (Baker A. P.).

Led the battalion into battle at Ypres during April 1915. However, he fell ill during July 1915 and returned to England to convalesce.

Appointed Deputy Assistant Director at the Ministry of Munitions 16th Sep 1915.

Major Bertrand Dees Gibson
Major Bertrand Dees Gibson
18 Aug 1915 - 1917 - Maj. (Temporary Lt Col.) Bernard Dees Gibson

Bertrand was admitted to the Bar in October 1899 and joined his father in practice as W. & B. D. Gibson, Hexham. Bertrand was also commissioned into the 1st VB and married in 1907 at Kingston, Middlesex. .

Gibson joined the old 1st Volunteer Battalion in 1900, and after passing through the Musketry Course at Hythe, was appointed Musketry Instructor to the Battalion. In 1906, he became Hon. Secretary to the Northumberland Rifle Association. He was mobilised in August 1914, embarked for France with his Battalion in April 1915, and promoted Lt Col in August 1915 to command the 4th NF. Promoted substantive Lt Col in March 1918. Bertrand was ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ four times in all, awarded the D.S.O. and the Croix de Guerre with Palms (French)

1917 - 1917 - Capt. (Temporary Maj.) James Allan Herriott

Lt (Temporary Capt) Cecil George Arkwright
Lt (Temporary Capt) Cecil George Arkwright
1917 - 1917 - Lt (Temporary Capt) Cecil George Arkwright

Cecil’s father was a mechanical engineer originating from Barthomley in Cheshire. Cecil was born in Newcastle. At the time of the 1901 Census the family was living at 68 Park Road, Elswick, but Cecil was boarding at Sea Bank School in Alnmouth. Cecil was the Great Great Great Grandson of Sir Richard Arkwright the inventor of the Spinning Jenny.

Born 1890 and married Mary Adeline, 4th daughter of the late Col.W.H.S. Heron-Maxwell of Teviot Bank, Roxburgh. Went to reach rank of Lt Col. and was awarded the MC.

Captain Frank Robinson
Captain Frank Robinson
1917 - 1917 - Capt. (Temporary Lt Col.) Francis Robinson

Frank (b.1885) was the eldest son of John William and Elizabeth Anne Robinson. The Robinson’s drapery business was on Fore Street in Hexham. His father and grandfather had been drapers. Francis was at Cambridge University in 1901 (1901 Census)

Lt. Col. Frank Robinson succeeded Colonel M.C. Lake as the commander of the Aden Protectorate Levies (APL) in 1929; a post he was to occupy until 1939. In 1928, when he first arrived, the APL comprised two British officers and six platoons of Arabs (each one officer and thirty four men) recruited from tribes in the Western Protectorate states, they had 48 camels and 8 mules. The APL recruited from various tribes living in the foothills and the higher mountainous regions of the protectorate. (Pickering) Aden Airways

Captain William Robb
Captain William Robb
1917 - 22 Mar 1918 - Capt. (Temporary Lt Col.) William Robb

The Robb brothers were born in Hexham and educated at George Watson’s Boy’s College in Edinburgh, where all three served in the school Officer Training Corps. In 1907 William was gazetted as a 2nd Lt in the 1st Volunteer Battalion, NF and John Ridley joined the 4th NF in March 1909. Both were promoted to full lieutenant in June 1910, then captain in Dec 1912. They were mobilised in August 1914 and served to the end of the war.

William made a career out of the army, taking a regular commission in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He later served as the Commanding Officer of the North Staffordshire Regiment and was the Brigadier commanding the 9th Infantry Brigade in the British Expeditionary Force during WW2.

22 Mar 1918 - 27 Mar 1918 - Capt. Thomas Alexander Lacy-Thompson

Thomas was the great grandson of James Thompson. The Thompson family lived at Farlam Hall on Lord Carlisle’s estate. James Thompson’s keen activity and interest in the progressive development in the Naworth coalfield and waggonway was to stand him in good stead for in 1819 he was to succeed Thomas Lawson and become Lord Carlisle’s colliery agent. (Gordon, p. 6). In 1838 James became the lessee of the waggonways and the coalfield. On his death in 1851 his wife Maria took control of the business, assisted by two of her sons, George Africanus and Thomas Charles. Maria passed away in 1891 and the lease was seen out by Charles Lacy Thompson (b.1857) and James Thomas Thompson, the sons of Thomas Charles Thompson who had married Gertrude Lacy Thompson. By the end of the 19th century the Thompson’s had financial worries, coal workings were close to exhaustion, Midgeholme colliery closing in 1893. James was to give up the lease in 1908. (Whittle, p. 161)

Lt Thompson was transferred from the 15th to the 4th NF on the 23rd of August 1915. He was appointed Acting Adjutant on the 16th of December 1916 and continued these duties until the 22nd of March 1918. He was awarded the MC in 1917. Promoted …… Assumed command of the battalion on 22nd of March 1918 when the CO (Lt Col Robb) was wounded. He himself was wounded in action on the 27th of March and this appears to have brought to an end his active service. Padre Wilfrid Callin said “In whose courage and judgement we had the completest confidence. ''Tock,'' as we call him, was perhaps our most popular officer, as he was also one of our best soldiers”. (Callin)

Thomas married Vera Dixon in 1917 and daughter Audrey was born in 1920, followed by Robert in 1922. Thomas and Vera were both keen tennis and golf players and it is believed they won some tennis tournaments at county level. Thomas apparently was also "a good shot". (a brace of pheasants were sent every year to his son’s family. The family seat at Farlam, which was sold on the death of Vera in 1963 and is now a hotel.

At some point Tom and Vera moved to Newcastle and settled at 28 Osborne Avenue, opposite Jesmond cricket ground. Tom was a chartered accountant, secretary and director for Scott and Turner, the manufacturers of Andrews Liver Salts, who were subsequently bought by Winthrop, then Sterling Drugs. In later years they moved south to live with Audrey in Hindhead. Thomas contracted Parkinson's Disease and his health gradually deteriorated over 15 years; he died in 1984.

27 Mar 1918 - 30 Mar 1918 - Lt (Temporary Capt) E.L Dobson

Lt (Temporary Capt) John Vessey Gregory
Lt (Temporary Capt) John Vessey Gregory
30 Mar 1918 - 12 Apr 1918 - Lt (Temporary Capt) John Vessey Gregory

Awarded MC for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Trou Bayard, Pont Levis, Pont Le Meuse, Neuf Berquin, and Vieux Berquin in the Estaires district. During the period 9th to 12th, he commanded his Battalion, and through his coolness and clever leadership his men were able to put up a very spirited resistance against repeated enemy attacks.

Lt Col. B.D. Gibson
Lt Col. B.D. Gibson
- . - . 1915 to 27 May 1918 - Lt Colonel Bertrand Dees Gibson

Lt Col Gibson joined the old 1st Volunteer Battalion in 1900, and after passing through the Musketry Course at Hythe, was appointed Musketry Instructor to the Battalion. In 1906, he became Hon. Secretary to the Northumberland Rifle Association. He obtained his majority in 1914, and went to the front with his Battalion in 1915, where he speedily rose to the command of the Battalion as Lieut Col., a position he held for nearly three years. He was invalided home last winter suffering from neuritis but returned to the front last April, and was killed leading his men on the 27th May last. His Brigadier General writes; -

" He was the bravest of the brave and a soldier in whom I had complete confidence, and I have seldom met a man with more commanding power, greater determination or self confidence."

To his widow and children we beg to tender our sincerest sympathy. (St Georges Gazette - 31st May 1918).

Captain John Ridley Robb
Captain John Ridley Robb
27 May 1918 - 10 Nov 1918 - Lt Col. John Ridley Robb

7 Feb 1920 - 26 May 1922 The Robb brothers were born in Hexham and educated at George Watson’s Boy’s College in Edinburgh, where all three served in the school Officer Training Corps. In 1907 William was gazetted as a 2nd Lt in the 1st Volunteer Battalion, NF and John Ridley joined the 4th NF in March 1909. Both were promoted to full lieutenant in June 1910, then captain in Dec 1912. They were mobilised in August 1914 and served to the end of the war.

John took charge of the battalion when Colonel Gibson was killed on the 27th of May and was the Commanding Officer for the next four years. At the end of the war he returned home to run the family business.

Lt Col Charles Osborne Provis Gibson
Lt Col Charles Osborne Provis Gibson
May 1922 - 26 May 1927 - Bt Col. Charles Osborne Provis Gibson

Charles Gibson was born in Newcastle on October 1876 and educated at Uppingham School and Oxford University. He played rugby as a forward for school and university, then for Northern, the Barbarians and Northumberland teams. On one occasion in 1901 he played for England in a test match against Wales. His brothers, George Ralph Gibson and Thomas Alexander Gibson were both Barbarians and international rugby players. Gibson was a solicitor admitted to the bar in October 1904 and practised with the firm of Clayton & Gibson, No7 Grey Street, Newcastle. His professional colleagues were William Waymouth Gibson, and John Ernest Gibson. Charles was commissioned in the 4th NF on 16th September 1914, having trained with the Uppingham School Contingent (Junior Division) of the Officers Training Corps (OTC). He was a staff Capt with the 62nd Infantry Bde in November 1915. He was awarded the Military Cross on the 3rd of June 1916, ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ in 1915 and 1918 and wounded in France on the 27th of May 1918. Staff Capt with the Cromarty Garrison in January 1919. (Solicitors War Memorial Fund, 1920)

Charles died aged 55 on the 9th of November 1931 in Stocksfield, Northumberland (Tilley, 2007) . His grave is located in the grounds of Bywell Castle

Captain Bernard Cruddas
Captain Bernard Cruddas
27 May 1927 - 26 May 1932 - Bt Colonel Bernard Cruddas

Bernard was born on the 1st of January 1882 in Stoke Bishop/Barton Regis near Bristol, Gloucestershire and educated at Winchester College. His father was from North Shields, but his mother was a local from Bristol. He was commissioned into a volunteer battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment in 1899, but the following year transferred to the Regular Army and the Northumberland Fusiliers. The 1901 Census shows him at Strensall barracks near York. Bernard was transferred from the 1st NF to the 4th NF on …….. and served as the adjutant until …., whereupon he was transferred to …… In 1914 Bernard was living at The Lea, Riding Mill. (Kelly's, p. 97). Bernard was awarded the Distinguished Service Order during WW1.

His daughter Evelyn Margaret Cruddas was born in 1919

He was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Wansbeck at the 1931 general election, and returned at the 1935 election. He stood down in 1940. Bernard was High Sherrif of Northumberland in 1942 and living at Middleton Hall, Morpeth. Bernard died on the 23rd of December 1959. His wife, Dorothy Wilkinson died in 1964 and daughter in 2001 at Hexham.