2nd Bn, Border Regiment, in France and Belgium 1914


From British Battalions in France and Belgium 1914 by Ray Westlake.



Pembroke Dock. Colours deposited in Carlisle Cathedral for safekeeping by Lieutenant C. Lamb and Second-Lieutenant T.J. Clancev. Entrained for Southampton (28th) and placed in 20th Brigade, 7th Division.


Marched to camp at Lyndhurst (5th).


To Southampton (4th). Sailed for Belgium in 2 ships, "A" and "B" Companies - SS Turcoman - "C" and "D" Companies - SS Minneapolis (5th). Officers - Lieutenant-Colonel L.I. Wood (Commanding Officer), Majors J.T.I. Bosanquet, W.L. Allen, DSO, Captains G.E. Warren, L.E.H. Molyneux-Seel, RN. Gordon, E.H.H. Lees, C.G.W. Andrews (Adjutant), CA.J. Cholmondelev, Lieutenants H.A. Askew, C. Lamb, P.J. Egerton, H.V. Gerrard, W. Watson, J.B.B. Warren, FW, Mitchell (Quartermaster), Second-Lieutenants H.F. Chads, T.H. Beves, G.W.H. Hodgson, C.H. Evans, H.L. Chatfield, C.G.V. Surtees, T.J. Clancey. Lieutenants H P.O. Sleigh, E.C.Clegg, A.R. Johnson. M.S.N. Kennedy. "C" and "D" Companies arrived Zeebrugge (6th). Entrained for Bruges and from there marched to billets at St. Andre, Headquarters at The Rosary. "A" and "B" Companies disembarked (7th) and then to St. André. One officer records that the people of St. André treated the men well and that cap and collar badges were given as souvenirs. Marched to Leffinghe (8th). To Ostend (9th) and entrained for Ghent. Moved to Destelbergen same afternoon. Line of outposts set up facing east by "B", "C" and "D" Companies. "A" Company in reserve at village. Relieved by French Marines and to Somergem (11th) then to Thielt (12th). Enemy aircraft brought down by fire from brigade (13th). Continued march to Roulers then to Ypres (14th), Zillebeke (15th). Enemy engaged en route by party led by Lieutenant Lamb (Scout Officer) - 8 Uhlans killed and 2 prisoners taken. After inspecting an advanced post at Zillebeke, Lieutenant Edgerton became lost in the fog and was accidentally shot by a sentry. He later died in hospital at Ypres. Moved to billets at Zandvoorde (16th) and dug trenches on north side of village in support of 2nd Scots Guards. On ridge near Kruiseecke (18th). War Diary (19th) notes Brigade advance on Menin - came under heavy shrapnel fire at America, battalion fell back at 3 pm and entrenched on Kruiseecke Hill. "D" Company left in support at America. "D" Company to Kruiseecke Hill (20th). Colonel H.C. Wylly in his war history of the Border Regiment notes 2nd Borders front as covering some 2¼ miles and impossible to connect all companies, platoons and sections by trenches. He also notes positions as being along the Zandvoorde road where it cuts the Kruiseecke-Werricq road. Second-Lieutenant Clancey killed (22nd), Captain Gordon killed (23rd). Enemy began attack (24th) - Battalion (with 20th Brigade) received order that - "trenches were to be held at all costs." Records show that brigade had no support or reserve, save two platoons of 2nd Border. Battalion's positions came under heavy bombardment - trenches being commanded on three sides by enemy artillery, particularly from guns situated on America Ridge about 1 mile to the south east. One officer calculated some 1,500 enemy shells during a 10-hour period. Colonel Wylly notes that it was impossible to leave the trenches by day, rations and supplies having to be brought up by night. There were no telephonic communications - messages being carried by runners, and enemy snipers were operating from 300 yards. Machine-gun section blown out of its position during night and one gun buried. Detachment under Lieutenant Watson forced to retire to second position. Lieutenant Watson led his party back during night (25th) and. upon seeing the enemy advancing in large numbers moved his gun to a more forward position where his section inflicted high casualties from 300 yards throughout next day. Party of some 200 Germans entered line to the left of "B" Company and indicated that they wished to surrender. However, when Major Allen and six men moved our to bring them in he was killed with one other man. Front-line trenches held by "A" and "B" Companies taken (26th) - 70 survivors driven to the rear. Captains C.G.W. Anderson, Cholmondeley, Lees and Lieutenant Warren killed. Later, with Headquarters personnel, held off further enemy advance. "C" Company under Captain Molyneux-Seel brought up in support. Battalion ordered to retire to Zandvoorde during evening. "C" Company marching on into Ypres. Concentrated at Zonnebeke (27th) - strength 12 officers and 538 other ranks. Ordered to advance in support of 2nd Gordon Highlanders (29th). Moved forward with left on Ypres-Menin road towards Kruiseecke Hill. Came under heavy shell, machine gun arid rifle fire at first ridge - Lieutenant-Colonel Wood and Captains Molyneux-Seel and Warren wounded. Command passed to Captain Askew. One officer who recorded the advance up the hill into Gheluvelt noted that positions were held for more than an hour before being reinforced. Advance continued on north slope of hill through village. German reinforcements sighted moving along Menin road in fours some 1,200 yards off. Machine-guns set up in a ploughed turnip field and opened fire. Retired after ammunition ran out. The same officer records his retirement with the machine guns into a sunken toad in the rear where he found Captain Warren and Lieutenant Hon. Simon Fraser (2nd Gordons) - "I was sitting between Fraser and a lance-corporal of ours when a shell burst killing them both instantaneously." Battalion ordered to support cavalry advance east of Hooge (30th). Positions held in woods north west of a Chateau near Zonnebeke. Returned same night to Hooge-Ypres-Menin crossroads and entrenched on west side. Heavily shelled throughout day (31st). Moved during night to positions at Klein Zillebeke.


Heavily shelled during day (1st). Parties led by Lieutenants Lamb and Watson engaged enemy with great effect. Battalion on extreme right of 20th Brigade (2nd). Shell fire put last machine-gun out of action - Lieutenant Watson wounded. Enemy attacked - fire held until last moment - Germans driven back with great casualties. Further attack also saw great loss among the enemy who entered line on Battalion's right. Sergeant Booth left his position under heavy fire and with men brought up from reserve managed to keep line intact. Lieutenant Gerrard killed, Second-Lieutenant Hodgson mortallv wounded, 14 other ranks killed, 35 wounded. Relieved at night and moved back to woods near Ypres in Brigade Reserve. Message to Commanding Officer from GOC 7th Division (Major-General T. Capper) - "Stout action of The Border Regiment in maintaining its trenches throughout the day, although unsupported on its right, is much commended. Congratulate Border Regiment from me and tell them [am making a special report on their conduct through Corps Headquarters." Also received from GOC via Brigade Commander - "2nd Battalion Border Regiment. This Battalion held a portion of the Kruiseecke position in front of Ypres during which it was exposed to particularly heavy shell fire for 3 days and nights. Many of the trenches were blown in, but no trench was given up by any portion of this battalion. On 2nd November this Battalion formed the right of the Brigade at Veldhoek. Owing to troops on the right giving way the enemy was able to occupy some woods and so surround the right of The Border Regiment. Nevertheless the Battalion held its line for some hours until the enemy could be driven from these woods by relieving troops. During the fighting this Battalion lost very heavily. The devoted and firm conduct of this Battalion repeatedly called forth the admiration of the Brigadier and of officers in other battalions in the same brigades and I, myself, can testify to its fortitude and determination to maintain its position at all costs; a spirit which saved a difficult and critical situation. It is impossible to praise this Battalion too highly for its firmness and battle discipline." Received first reinforcement of 98 men, under Captain N.F. Jenkins. Moved via Ypres (then under heavy bombardment) to Locre (5th.). To Meteren (6th). Casualties figures for period 18th October-7th November - 9 officers and 79 other ranks killed, 6 officers and 259 other ranks wounded, 5 officers and 253 other ranks missing. One officer - Second-Lieutenant Evans was, according to Colonel WyIIy's history, wounded and captured on 26th October and was shot by the Germans after attempting to defend a man who was being ill- treated. To Bac St. Muir (14th) and to trenches at "La Boutillerie." Relieved by 2nd Bedfordshire (17th) and to Sailly. Further drafts received at Sailly. Moved into trenches at Rouge Bancs near La Cordonnière Farm (2lst). Relieved (24th) and to billets in Saillv. To trenches (26th). Relieved (28th).


HM The King decorated Lieutenant (now Captain) Lamb (1st) with the Distinguish Service Order for gallantry while leading scouting parties at Kruiseecke. To trenches same night. Draft of 4 officers and 570 other ranks arrived from England. Relieved (4th), to trenches (6th). Battalion now maintaining 2 companies in trenches, 2 at Sailly. Attack on German lines by "A" and "C" Companies 6.15 pm (18th) - left of advance on road running south east of La Cordonnière Farm, right on Sailly-Fromelles road. Heavy casualties from German fire and own barrage. Enemy trenches reached but forced to retire. Survivors collected by Captain Warren and with two platoons of "B" Company resumed attack. Checked by un-cut wire and again forced to withdraw. Captain Askew kiled in enemy's line. His cap returned by the Germans with note informing the battalion that they had buried the body and put up a cross to the memory of— "a very brave British officer." Captain Lamb fatally wounded. Other casualties - Lieutenant Kennedy and Second-Lieutenant N. Castle wounded, 110 other ranks killed, wounded or missing. "A" and "C" Companies retired to Saillv. Lance-Corporal Brewer and Private Clare awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal for bringing Captain Lamb in under heavy fire. Two Victoria Crosses awarded - Privates Abraham Acton and James Smith - "For conspicuous bravery on 21st December, at Rouges Bancs, in voluntarily going from their trench and rescuing a wounded man who had been lying exposed against the enemy's trenches for 75 hours, and on the same day again leaving their trench voluntarily, under heavy fire, to bring into cover another wounded man. They were under fire for 60 minutes whilst conveying the wounded man into safety." (London Gazette, 18th February 1915). Captain S.H. Worrall arrived (24th) and took over command (25th). Enemy requested (and were granted) an armistice for the purpose of burying the dead.