Friday 9 October 2020

The Great War Group

The Great War Group: a vibrant new community, bringing you education, research and commemoration of the First World War

The Great War Group was founded in 2020 as a non-profit, Foundation CIO to promote education on, and commemoration of the First World War. Their approach is wide-ranging, considering all fronts, and all nations involved in the conflict.

For a good introductory note on the aspirations and plans of the Group see the following news item on the their web site: A New Group For Everyone To Enjoy

At the Great War Group they are committed to providing a quarterly magazine with diverse and engaging content that explores all facets of the conflict. The first of these is devoted to remembrance and will be over 100 pages long. See: Salient Points for plans for the coming year, and Remembrance for information on the November 2020 edition of Salient Points.

For full information and membership details see The Great War Group website.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Alfred Redfern Adams

photo courtesy Mike McQuaid
Alfred Redfern Adams was born in 1898, the son of Alfred and Eleanor (nee Ledsham) Adams of Willaston. Educated at Willaston Council School, Alfred enlisted with Cheshire Yeomanry (No. 1297) in October 1914, aged 16.

Through 1914-1916 Cheshire Yeomanry were on home defence duties on the Norfolk and Suffolk Coast. Alfred had two older brothers, Joseph and Frederick, both of whom served with the 1/7th Bn. Cheshire Regiment and were posted overseas in 1915. During leave in November 1915 had Alfred told his father that he did not want to be left in England with his two brothers serving abroad.

On 26 November Alfred returned to his regiment via train from Crewe, bound for Suffolk and his lodging at Lowestoft. He subsequently wrote to his father. On the evening of 4 December, he returned to his lodgings at 7.25pm. About 20 minutes later his landlady, Mrs. Caroline Gardiner, heard a gunshot from Alfred’s room.

Alone in the house at the time, Mrs. Gardiner ran across the road to seek assistance. Trooper William Frederick Scott (No. 1565, Cheshire Yeomanry) entered Alfred’s room and found him lying across his bed with his rifle and bayonet at his side and a wound by his heart.

The Coroner at his inquest in Lowestoft during December returned a verdict of accidental death.

Alfred Redfern Adams was the earliest casualty of Cheshire Yeomanry in the First World War. He is buried at the church of St Mary the Virgin in the village of Wistaston, Cheshire.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Tournai, November 1918

The city of Tournai in western Belgium was occupied by German forces in August 1914. It remained under German occupation for the rest of the war.

With the British advance in October 1918, the Germans lines had fallen back to Tournai. By mid-October the 15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Bn. Suffolk Regiment were in the line to the east of Orcq, on the outskirts of Tournai, the village being strongly held by machine guns. The British dug their own line of resistance, and the Battalion spent a few days in the trenches followed by similar period in billets. In the latter part of October these were at Marquain, just 2000 yards from the front line. When billeted the Battalion carried on with a certain amount of training with Lewis guns and in gas drill.

A British soldier
demonstrates a
small box respirator
In the early hours of October 29th about 600 gas and high explosive shells fell in Marquain, and the men were required to wear small box respirators. The chief target had been artillery batteries there. Intermittent gas shelling on the front and support lines continued through the day.

On the evening of October 30th the 15th Suffolks were relieved by the 10th Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, and they moved to billets in Haudion, south west of Marquain. 2nd Lieutenant T.B. Minshall 15th Bn. Suffolk Regiment may have come across some old pals at this time, having served with 10th Bn. KSLI in Egypt and Palestine, prior to his Commission and transfer to the Suffolks in December 1917.

The first few days of November were spent in training and working on the line of resistance – at this time Private Charles Sydney Stevens (No. 51856) 15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Bn. Suffolk Regiment was killed from artillery fire. The Battalion was also sent to the baths at Baisieux on 3/4 November.

Friday 5 October 2018

Outpost Encounters

Early in October 1918 the 74th Division took over from the 19th Division a sector of the front line in northern France nearly three miles in length with Neuve Chapelle, in the centre. By then the Germans were in retreat towards Lille, about 15 miles away to the north-east. On the evening of 3 October the 15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Bn. Suffolk Regiment moved up on to the Aubers Ridge line, as the main line of resistance.

230th Infantry Brigade Order No. 72, dated 2 October 1918, required after arrival on the Aubers Line that patrols should be pushed out. It further required that “Patrol Leaders must show more enterprise. Once the objective is given cumbersome orders only complicate the task and delay operations.”

At 0500 on 4 October the Battalion moved out passing through the positions held by the 10th Buffs and 16th Sussex; two companies were in the front line and two in support, with the 10th Kings Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) on their left and Liverpool Scottish the right. The first objective was met by 0915. The advance continued, but was halted at 1030 due to shelling, which wounded six men. The lines were consolidated taking up a defensive position covering the villages of Lattre and Wavrin, with B, C and D Companies in the line and A Company in support. Through the afternoon the Battalion experienced heavy shelling, and patrols sent out encountered enemy machine gun posts about 400 yards ahead. Night patrols also met with considerable opposition from enemy machine guns.