The 13th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps
Battn moved to Halton Park Camp, Wendover Bucks on the 7th & 8th Oct in two halves. It was under canvas until the 14th November when it moved into billets for the winter at Amersham (A & B Coys) and Great Missenden ( C & D Coys)
The battalion was originally clothed in emergency blue and was equipped with 400 DP rifles and 600 wooden ones, this was later upgraded to one khaki service dress per man and 1000 DP rifles.
Training continued until the 9th April when the battalion entrained to Windmill Camp, near Ludgershall Salisbury Plain in two parties. It was then equipped with the new SMLE and was made part of the 111th infantry brigade, 37th Division
On the 29th July, an advance party with all
animals and transport (108 men) left camp, landing later at La Havre. The
battalion followed in two halves, leaving on the SS Servial,
escorted by two destroyrs30th July with a strength
of 998 men and 31 officers going to
The battalion de-trained at Watten and marched many miles to Bayenghem de Eperlecques, where they went into billets, they battn remained there for 3 nights with the other battalions of the brigade close by.
On August 4th the battn left Bayenghem and marched to Compagne via St Omer, a distance of 14 miles, where they bivouacked for the night. In the morning they marched to St Sylvestre, it was noted that ‘march discipline’ could be improved particularly with regard to straggling without permission. They were billeted in 6 farms within 1 Ľ miles of the village, where they could still see signs of a German raid at the station. They were now within the sound of the guns at the front
August 8th, the brigade was inspected by Gen Plumer and later marched to Bialleul enroute to
August 16th HQ and the half brigade marched to
Bailleul and continued the march the following day via Nieppe to Ploegsteert,
where the battn was rejoined with the men from digging party. The instruction
in trench warfare continued with the machine parties going into the trenches. A
coy trained with the 5th Royal Berks and B coy with the 9th
HQ was sited at 97 Rue de
Here the battn suffered it’s first casualties, on the 18th August, Rifleman James Crook(e)s R3543, A Coy, (of Warrington Lancs) was killed by a grenade and Y449 Pte Gatward was wounded slightly in the head. Crookes was buried the next day in a cemetery near Ploegsteert Wood.
Name: CROOKS Initials: J, Nationality:
On the 20th training continued, on the 21st A & B companies were relieved from the trenches by C & D. on the 22nd A & B coys held their church parade in a shed near the farm, ‘fortunately no aeroplanes came over during the service’
22nd the battn was continuing to work on the
trenches when news came of unsuccessful German raid near
24th August saw the finish of the trench training, the battn suffered another casualty. Rifleman R3559 Edwards A coy was wounded by a rifle grenade, his leg badly shattered. He later died from his wounds
Name: EDWARDS, HENRY ROBERT, Initials: H R ,Nationality:
United Kingdom, Rank: Rifleman, Regiment/Service: King's Royal Rifle Corps,
Unit Text: 13th Bn., Age: 31, Date of Death: 27/08/1915, Service No: R/3559,
Additional information: Son of Henry and Amy Edwards, of 36, Heygate St.,
25th August, marched to Bailleul where the battn was billeted overnight, a party went on to Godewaersvelde, and entrained to Doullens where Divisional HQ was to be. The battn spent the day (26th) at Bailleul where 3 bicycles were purchased to make up for the nine they should have had. The next day the battalion followed the advance party to Doullens, then marched to Halloy, where they were billeted. On the 28th the battn rested and bathed in the river Quilienne, 29th saw church parade for all denominations. On the 30th, the brigade was inspected by the commander of the third army at Hurtebise Farm. The month ended with the battn continuing training, route marches and drill and at last receiving their bicycles.
September saw more training and marches, with some officers visiting the trenches they intended to occupy. On the 4th the battn moved 7 miles to St Amand and were billeted there. On the 5th they marched off by platoons on two separate routes ( to avoid excessive casualties from shellfire) to Bienvillers to take up their winter quarters. The transport was moved to Souastre and parked there. From the 6th to the 9th the battn remained there doing various duties, improving trenches and facilities, bomb proof shelters, baths etc.
On the 10th of September the battn moved into the trenches at Hannescamps by platoon to relieve the Rifle Brigade. The night was clear and fine and there was no problem with the enemy. On the 11th work began in earnest on improving the trenches, especially the parapets, fire steps, wire, latrines etc. It was made very difficult in certain parts of the line by enemy snipers, Trench 65 being particularly bad. The 12th saw frequent sniping, some shrapnel shells in the centre of the line from the direction of Monchy and a few shells in T61 damaging a MG emplacement. Later more shells fell in trenches T61 63 64 65 68 but no casualties. The 14th and 15th were very quiet and the battn was relieved by the 10th LNL and marched back to billets at St Amand. Casualties while in the trenches was 2 slightly wounded ( one accidently self inflicted) The later days were filled by digging parties supervised by the RE and inspections.
On the 20th, the sound of heavy fighting was
heard from the direction of
On the 23rd they marched to Humbercamp and were issued with 124 tents which were pitched in a orchards, a storm that night must have tested their camping skills. The HQ was set up at Mairie. The sound of artillery in the distance could be heard day and night at this time. On the 25th orders came that the battn had to be ready to move at one hours notice to support the French attack on their left, if they succeeded in breaking the German lines. The news from the first army was good, the French not so. The 26th saw them still awaiting orders, with artillery sounds throughout the night. On the 27th orders were received to relieve the LNLs in the trenches, the 13th was in reserve so they marched to Bienvillers, where they provided the RE with working parties to the end of the month.
October 1st and 2nd saw the battn continue to provide working parties, on the 3rd they successfully relieved the 13th RB in the trenches. On the 4th heavy shelling was heard over to their left some distance away. On the 5th C Company position was shelled and Rifleman R1132 Leonard Cannell (from Shoreditch) in the right listening post was killed.
Name: CANNELL Initials: L, Nationality:
On the 6th a patrol of Captain Webster and two men went out for nine hours, and discovered old trenches running at right angles of Les Essarts road. These trenches were occupied by snipers and possibly working parties, an important bit of information. On the 7th heavy artillery fire was heard in the north and a fire was spotted behind the German lines, later reported to be La Brayelle Farm at Les Essarts. The next day the GOC brigade visited the trench and later that evening Capt Webster again went out to the old trenches he had found the night previously, a bomb was thrown into the trench but no germans were caught. A similar attempt in the next evening was stopped at the wire when an enemy patrol was found waiting for them. The battn was relived that evening and marched back to St Amand.
The next few days at St Amand were taken up with bathing, working parties and inspections. On the 13th the battn route marched to Humbercamp where they practised attacking towards St Amand-Henu, attacking imaginary rearguards. Lt Lawson-Walton was slightly injured in the hand when a jam-pot bomb dropped in the trench which he the tried to diffuse by removing the detonator (which went off). On the 14th special training was given in the importance of bombing, Machine guns and sniping much emphasis was made of it’s success at Hooge.
October 15th moved to Berles, and relieved the 13th RB in support. 16th, 17th and 18th RE fatigues parties, bathing and inspections. Later that evening warning came of 5 foot long unidentified objects in the enemy trenches at Gommecourt and gas attack precautions were made. On the next day a full practise for a gas attack was held, generally considered successful but communications and trenches needed some work. On the 21st the battalion marched to Bienvillers to relieve the 10th LNLs, the billets were found to be in better condition than the last time. Trench digging and cable laying became the norm for the next few days until the 27th when the battalion went into the trenches at Hannescamps to relieve the 13th RB., where they saw out the month, patrols were sent out but no enemy was encountered.
November opened with heavy rain, making life in the trenches very difficult, the support trenches were flooded to a depth of several feet and the tranches actually fell in at several points. The battn was relieved on the 5th and marched back to billets at St Amand. After drying off the men continued with specialist training in bombing, machine guns and sniping, as well as the inevitable trench digging, until the 15th when they moved back to Bienvillers, in brigade reserve. More fatigue parties were organised under the RE supervision for trench repair, working both day and night. The battn moved back into the trenches on the 17th to find the snow and rain had left them in a very bad state. During this time the battn suffered three men wounded, Sgt Bowles 4615, and Rfn June (?) R/9467 (?) June and Rfn 4075 Rose. On the 20th they were relieved and marched back to Bienvillers. Digging continued. Allied artillery was noted to be busy. At this time mention was made of a dead German prisoner brought in the RB, who was very poorly clad for the weather.
On the 23rd they went back into the trenches, the weather was bad and apart from some active enemy machine guns, there was little to report. On the 25th a patrol of Lieut. Chidson and two men left the trenches and headed to a known German post, which was found to be occupied by five germans. They were challenged and put the post at ease by Cpl Nettleton (probably Harry Nettleton R3820 Cpl, of Batley, KIA 11/4/17) replying in german. They opened fire with their weapons and saw one man drop, apparently dead. Considering their exposed position they then withdrew.
The period in the trenches was shortened to three days at a stretch and they were sub-sequentially relieved on the 26th. The 27th was a rest day for the men which was filled by repairing their uniforms and improving the bedding. The rest of the month was taken up with training and digging!!
December continued in the same manner, Capt. Pritchard running a sniping course for 2 officers and 5 men. On the 2nd the battn route marched back to Henu and back via Souastre, it being too wet for field operations. Some got bathes, some fatigues. The battn received a visit from their old CO, who was very interested in their welfare. Lieut. Chidson received a green card in recognition of his patrol of the 25th November and the remainder of the battn got their bath.
T/ Lieut. (A/Capt.) Laurence Drury Chidson MC, KIA 24-4-17
On the 4th
more training, particularly in gas warfare, December continued with more
exercises, more digging and route marches. On the 8th they moved
back to Bienvillers and on the 19th they were back in the trenches
which again in a bad way because of the weather. The rain had destroyed all of
the communication trenches and the stay in the front line was cut short due to
the number of cases of frost-bite and trench foot. They were relieved on the 12th
and the affected men were treated by the field ambulance. On the 13th,
14th and 15th, the battn again provided working parties
for the RE and the RB. The 16th saw them back in the trenches doing
repair work at the front and on
On the 17th it was reported that around 75 shells came down on Hannescamps in reply to the allied bombardment of Gommecourt, The RB were reported to have five men killed. The battn remained at the front until the 20th , slowly improving the trenches and taking some light shelling. The 21st was a day of rest at St Amand, cleaning and drying clothes and equipment. The 22nd saw inspection and the inevitable digging parties. On the 23rd the new ‘tube’ helmets replaced the smoke hoods ( for gas) machine gun training took place for 26 men.
Christmas Day was celebrated after church parade in the divisional theatre. The men were provided with Christmas lunch by the officers comprising of Tomato Soup, Roast Goose and sausages with apple sauce, Plum Puddings. All men were in excellent spirits and free beer was supplied by Major Simmonds.
The 26th saw 100 men under Capt Webster march to Bienvillers, where they got bathed and received new underwear, the remainder trained with the new Tube Helmets. The remainder of the year was seen out with the usual training and inspections.
The rest of the battalion now marched to Bienvillers and relieved the 10th LNLs, It was now decided to do six day tours in the trenches and a new system of half company in shelter was to be introduced. This involved creating dugouts which would hold a platoon and enable it to stay six days. Work continued improving the trenches with little to report. From the 2nd to the 6th the battalion provided work parties for the RE and the RB, working in various communication trenches. On the 7th the battn was shelled by 77mm guns and 4.2 howitzers in Bienvillers, in the evening they went back into the trenches. Work carried on improving the trenches, on the 8th a patrol was sent out without incident. For the next few days the enemy was fairly quiet although the RE dump and the brigade HQ was shelled. On the 13th they marched back to the billets in St Amand, where they provided work parties for the next few days after some rest.
16th, kit inspection. 17th bathing at Pas for 200 men, and specialist drilling in machine guns, grenades and signalling. The 18th continued in the same vein. The 19th working parties once again. 20th route marches and tube helmet drill. The 21st brought a break to the usual round of digging and drills when an alarm was received for the 2 ˝ companies of the battalion to form up and be ready to march to a certain rendezvous, 505 men plus 16 officers and equipment got ready, only to find out it was another drill.
From the 22nd to the 31st, the battalion followed the usual regime of training, digging and marching, going back into the trenches for a few days (including the Kaisers birthday) the weather causing the worst problems.
February opened with the battalion in the trenches at Hannescamps, patrols were sent out each night to scout various locations but the enemy was not seen, on the 6th they were relieved and were back at St Amand. The 7th was a rest day, the 8th onwards working parties. However the battalion had been warned of a move north and preparations were made. On the 12th the move was completed with some difficulty to Bailleulval ( via Humbercamps-La Cauchie- Baileulmont. The billets were still occupied by the French but they had moved on by the morning. The 13th and 14th were taken up with cleaning the billets which were left in a very dirty state by the previous occupiers.
On the 15th the battn moved into the trenches, relieving the 10th RFs. The trenches were in a very bad way due to recent heavy rain and high gum boots were worn by nearly every man and NCO. The new line was opposite Ransart ( see map) which was behind enemy lines
The 16th to the 18th was quiet with all available pumps and men used to clear the water in the trenches. |On the 19th approx 25 shells landed on the support lines but with no casualties. The battalion was relieved by the 10th RF, that night a zeppelin was heard to pass over Bailleulval around 11pm. At Bailleulval working parties and bathing was organised and the journey back to the trenches was made on the 23rd, a night of snow followed by a hard frost. The enemy were quiet apart from some sniping during the day and a large number of flares which were set off for no apparent reason. Patrols were sent out on the following nights, finding old trenches but no sign of the enemy. The battn was relieved on the 27th with signs of a thaw in the weather, working and parties and training continued as usual to the end of the month.
March 1st saw the battn back in the trenches, enemy quite, patrols finding no sign of them, weather very cold and unpleasant, relieved on the 4th. After a few days rest, the proceeded back to the trenches on the 7th. On the 8th a patrol headed by Lt Wiggett was sent out to reconnoitre the roads between Ransart, Berles and Alouette. Unfortunately Lt Wiggett approached too close to an enemy sap and was wounded and believed to have died almost immediately. Search parties were sent out later but were unable to locate the body.
Name: WIGGETT, ALLAN JAMES Initials: A J, Nationality:
“In 2/Lt Wiggett the battalion lost a promising officer who always showed pluck and a devotion to duty.”
On the 9th a few shells fell around Gastineaux, but otherwise the enemy was very quite, on the next day the battn left the trenches for a few days of rest but were back in again on the 14th, when the weather was reported as being fine and the condition of the trenches much improved. Patrols were sent out on the 17th but did not encounter the enemy. Relieved on the 19th by the 2/West Riding (DOWs) On the 20th the battn was preparing to move again.
On the 21st the battn marched off by platoons to Bailleulmont-Railway Track- Laherellare-Mondicourt-Pommera to Halloy, where they spent the night in huts, the next morning they marched via Dollens to Neuvillette ( about 4 miles north of Dollens) The HQ was in the Chateau and the men were in fairly good billets. A rest period of 4 weeks was expected. The rest of the month was completed with training and the highlight of being inspected by Douglas Haigh and Lord Kitchener, who remarked to the CO if his other brigades were as good as the 111th, he must have a very fine division.
April saw more specialist training and the 2nd church parade behind the chateau. The training consisted of platoon drill, bayonet exercises, route marches, bayonet fighting, musketry instruction, grenade practise, tube helmet drill, and rapid erection of wire entanglements. Simultaneously specialist instruction continued for lewis gunners, scouts, signallers, stretcher bearers and buglers. The rest of april continued with more of the same, with the break of a being inoculated against typhoid on the 17th. A battalion sports day was held on the 21st, training being held up because of inclement weather. On the 23rd the battalion marched Bavincourt and went into huts there. Church service was held despite the lack of a chaplain and the men were allowed to settle in.
On the Monday working parties were organised, mainly converting an old trench into a defence line, this work continued for the next days while more specialist training continued. On the night of the 30th the battalion moved back to Bienvillers.
and back in Bienvillers, some changes were noted, a light railway now ran from
the church to HQ in Shell Street but was only used at night for RE stores,
water was now pumped from Bienvillers and conveyed by pipes to behind the
trenches HQ. The battn relieved the 1st Royal
The 2nd is recorded as a quiet day with only occasional shelling, causing two casualties, one wounded and one killed. This would be Cecil Wooding Rfn R/4283 (Northants)
Name: WOODING, CECIL HENRY, Initials: C H, Nationality:
was also quiet, but no casualties recorded. The battn was relieved by the 6th
On the 4th
at 2.30am a violent bombardment of the trenches held by the 10 RF was heard lasting
about 45 minutes, the battn was stood to in bomb proof shelters but about 3.30
a message was received that line was quiet again and the battn turned in. The RFs suffered about 70 casualties ( 7
kia), They had been attacked with shells of many
calibres and it was expected that the enemy would then raid the trench, however
they did not seem to have left their positions. On the 5th it was
heard that a similar bombardment had taken place south of the position causing
On the 7th they returned to the trenches (sector B trenches 93-112) which were generally quiet for the next few days. A few shells fell on the left of their sector and a suspected enemy trench mortar was targeted but results were unknown. On the 11th a patrol went out to the enemy wire but was unable to locate the germans. The 12th was a another quiet day, on the 13th the battn was relieved and on the 14th, they were back in billets at Berles. The next few days were filled with working parties and training and they were back in trenches on the 19th, for a uneventful few days. Relieved on the 19th, more working parties and training. On the 24th a draft of 149 men and NCOs were received from No 5 entrenching battalion.
On the 28th a party of 500 men and 11 officers were detailed to work on an advanced trench line of the 13th RF during the night. Soon after commencing work, the party, which was scattered over a considerable area were shelled by the enemy, Lt Chinnery was killed along with seven other ranks including Sgt Sweeting and Cpl Sleath. 24 Ors were wounded. Rfn Taylor died of wounds the next day
Harry Broderick Chinnery T/Lt
James Coleman (Middlesborough) Rfn Y/1282
George Dolphin (Ealing) Rfn R/5038
Albert Etherington (Wilsden) Rfn R/9114
William Sainsbury (Hanworth) Rfn Y/983
Thomas Sleath (Eastwood) Cpl R/3828
Harold Sweeting (Barry) Sgt R/3884
John Taylor (
On the 29th, after a church service the bodies of the men were laid to rest. (BERLES-AU-BOIS CHURCHYARD EXTENSION )
On the 31st the battalion was back in the trenches.
June 1st and 2nd were quiet in the front lines. On the 3rd a british shrapnel shell fell behind HQ, apparently while registering. A raid on the german lines by the 10th RFs was arranged for midnight on the 3/4th June. At midnight artillery and trench mortars commenced slow fire for five minutes then gun fire for a further five. At 12.10 the raiding party of two officers and 29 men left the british trenches and entered the german trenches. The worked left and right bombing the enemy dugouts ( very few germans had come out of them) they returned after ten minutes with seven casualties, three serious. The enemy retaliatory artillery fire was considered feeble and at 12.50 the british guns opened up again on their trenches in an attempt to catch the germans inspecting and repairing damage. Enemy SOS signals of two rose colour star rockets were observed. The war diary for the 4th reports nothing of interest however SDGW/CWGC report that Rfn Frank Swainston (Kilburn) was killed in action on the 4th
Name: SWAINSTON, FRANK, Initials: F, Nationality:
On the 6th the battn was relieved and went back to Berles.