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poppyOn this day one hundred years ago sixty-nine men of the 1st Battalion, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were killed in action (KIA) in France.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.

The fourth Despatch of Field Marshal Sir John French, Commander in Chief of the British Armies in France and Flanders. Printed in the Second Supplement to the London Gazette of 27 November 1914.

Perhaps the most important and decisive attack made against the First Corps during the whole of its arduous experiences in the neighbourhood of Ypres took place on the 31st October. General Moussy, who commanded the detachment which had been sent by the French Ninth Corps on the previous day to assist Sir Douglas Haig on the right of the First Corps, moved to the attack early in the morning, but was brought to a complete standstill, and could make no further progress. After several attacks and counter attacks during the course of the morning along the Menin-Ypres-road, south-east of Gheluvelt, an attack against that place developed in great force, and the line of the 1st Division was: broken. On the south the 7th Division and General Bulfin’s detachment were being heavily shelled. The retirement of the 1st Division exposed the left of the 7th Division, and owing to this the Royal Scots Fusiliers, who remained in their trenches, were cut off and surrounded. A strong infantry attack was developed against the right of the 7th Division at 1.30 p.m.

Shortly after this the Headquarters of the 1st and 2nd Divisions were shelled. The General Officer Commanding 1st Division was wounded, three Staff Officers of the 1st Division and three of the 2nd Division were killed. The General Officer Commanding the 2nd Division also received a severe shaking, and was unconscious for a short time. General Landon assumed command of the 1st Division. On receiving a report about 2.30 p.m. from General Lomax that the 1st Division had moved back and that the enemy was coming on in strength, the General Officer Commanding the First Corps issued orders that the line, Frezenberg-Westhoek-bend of the main road-Klein Zillebeke-bend of canal, was to be held at all costs. The 1st Division rallied on the line of the woods east of the bend of the road, the German advance by the road being checked by enfilade fire from the north. The attack against the right of the 7th Division forced the 22nd Brigade to retire, thus exposing the left of the 2nd Brigade. The General Officer Commanding the 7th Division used his reserve, already posted on his flank, to restore the line; but, in the meantime, the 2nd Brigade, finding their left flank exposed, had been forced to withdraw. The right of the 7th Division thus advanced as the left of the 2nd Brigade went back, with the result that the right of the 7th Division was exposed, but managed to hold on to its old trenches till nightfall. Meantime, on the Menin road, a counterattack delivered by the left of the 1st Division and the right of the 2nd Division against the right flank of the German line was completely successful, and by 2.30 p.m. Gheluvelt had been retaken with the bayonet, the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment being to the fore in this, admirably supported by the 41st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. The left of the 7th Division, profiting by their capture of Gheluvelt, advanced almost to its original line; and connection between the 1st and 7th Divisions was re-established. The recapture of Gheluvelt released the 6th Cavalry Brigade, till then held in support of the 1st Division. Two regiments of this brigade were sent at once to clear the woods to the south-east, and close the gap in the line between the 7th Division and 2nd Brigade. They advanced with much dash, partly mounted and partly dismounted; and, surprising the enemy in the woods, succeeded in killing large numbers and materially helped to restore the line. About 5 p.m. the French Cavalry Brigade also came up to the cross-roads just east of Hooge, and at once sent forward a dismounted detachment to support our 7th Cavalry Brigade. Throughout the day the extreme right and left of the First Corps’ line held fast, the left being only slightly engaged, while the right was heavily shelled and subjected to slight infantry attacks. In the evening the enemy were steadily driven back from the woods on the front of the 7th Division and 2nd Brigade; and by 10 p.m. the line as held in the morning had practically been reoccupied. During the night touch was restored between the right of the 7th Division and left of the 2nd Brigade, and the Cavalry were withdrawn into reserve, the services of the French Cavalry being dispensed with. As a result of the day’s fighting eight hundred and seventy wounded were evacuated. I was present with Sir Douglas Haig at Hooge between 2 and 3 o’clock on this day, when the 1st Division were retiring. I regard it as the most critical moment in the whole of this great battle. The rally of the 1st Division and the recapture of the village of Gheluvelt at such a time was fraught with momentous consequences. If any one unit can be singled out for especial praise it is the Worcesters.

In the meantime the centre of my line, occupied by the Third and Cavalry Corps, was being heavily pressed by the enemy in ever increasing force.

Extract from ‘Military Operations, France and Belgium 1914‘.
Gheluvelt and the salient of the Queen’s taken, the 31 Oct.enemy turned his attention to the two companies of the 1 /Loyal North Lancashire, about two hundred and fifty strong, and the detachment of the 2 /Royal Scots Fusiliers, numbering a hundred and twenty, who were to the south. These troops were holding a little over half a mile of front in a line of small rifle pits — each holding a couple of men — some fifteen yards apart, hastily dug the previous night with entrenching implements. Their orders were not to retire, but to report if reinforcements were required.

Until noon they suffered much from fire, particularly from Zandvoorde, but no attempt was made to close with them, for they had a good field of fire and shot down any Germans who showed themselves. The disaster to the Queen’s on their left was observed, and also that a company of the Bedfordshire in a wood on their right had disappeared ; but the parties still held on and kept the enemy at bay. Reports of the situation were sent back, but none of the messengers reached brigade headquarters. Towards 1.30 p.m. the Germans were all round the small force ; it was under machine-gun fire from the rear at a hundred yards’ range, and infantry were creeping in from both flanks. Eighty of the North Lancashire, including one officer, remained alive to be captured, and half of this number were wounded. Next morning the survivors of the battalion mustered only one officer and thirty-five men.

Men of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment killed in action 31st October 1914.

8283  Private HENRY ALLEN
8110  Private CHARLES ASHTON
6180  Private JAMES ATHERTON
8465  Private JOHN BERRY
352  Private JOSEPH BOYD
2412  Private JOHN BRADLEY
2800  Private JAMES BRADY
3027  Private JOHN BREAKELL
7636  Private JOSEPH BUCKLEY
10880  Private HUGH COSTELLO
7771  Lance Corporal JOHN CRIMES
7065  Private JOHN CULLEN
6156  Serjeant ALFRED CULLIP
10401  Lance Corporal JAMES PATRICK DOOLEY
6583  Private JAMES DOYLE
10325  Private GEORGE DURHAM
5944  Lance Corporal THOMAS EGAN
8591  Private WILLIAM FODEN
10100  Lance Serjeant JOHN FOX
10439  Private WILLIAM HARDMAN
9017  Private CHARLES HOLT
10180  Corporal JOHN HOWSON
6723  Private THOMAS HOY
10236  Private ELLIS HUNTER
9249  Private WILLIAM JONES
8838  Corporal THOMAS KEARNEY
7941  Private JOHN KNIGHT
8415  Private FRANCIS LAVIN
5478  Lance Corporal WILLIAM LEVER
6763  Private FRANCIS LYONS
6219  Private JAMES MALONE
7759  Private ROBERT MORRIS
7778  Private MICHAEL MURPHY
6740  Private JAMES NELSON
1234  Private RICHARD NEWTON
7093  Private THOMAS NORTON
7711  Private WILLIAM PAYNE
6750  Lance Corporal GEORGE PEERS
10671  Private FRANCIS SMALLEY
6999  Private JOHN STANTON
2059  Lance Corporal GILBERT THOMPSON
9427  Private JAMES TIERNEY
6403  Private THOMAS TURNER
10576  Private JOSEPH TYRER
10182  Lance Corporal RICHARD WADE
6342  Private J WALSH
Honorary Lieutenant & Quartermaster EDMUND WILKINSON
6003  Lance Corporal HENRY WILSON
7702  Private HERBERT WILSON
11084  Private ROBERT WOODS
10551  Private ROBERT YATES

Paul McCormick
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