23rd (Service) (8th City Pals) Battalion
Raised at Manchester 21.11.14. by the Lord Mayor & City as a Bantam Batt. Dec 1914 to Morecambe. June 1915 to Masham, Yorkshire & 104 Bde, 35th Div. Aug 1915 taken over by the War Office, & to Salisbury Plain.
Jan 1916 landed at Boulogne. they first went into the front line near Bethune on 7th March 1916 until the 15th
The Battalion moved to Sailly on the 4th April, Neuve Chapelle late April, May 1st raided the enemy trenches (complete success) and again on the 8th but had casualties ( and medals)
22nd may moved from Fosse to Fernedu Bois, then La Touret
The battle of the Somme, they were at Bus le Artios, Lealvillers, Bazincourt, Avelny Wood, Morlancourt and Happy Valley.Billon Wood and Talus Bois. on the 20th July they were in the action at Maltz Hom Farm south of Guillemont, later Trones Wood
29th july they were lent to the 90th brigade and supported the attack on Guillemont, carrying SAA and bombs in the village, when the attacking forces fell back they manned the trenches, the took many casualties during this ( 5 kia, 30 wounded, 4 gassed and 11 missing)
30th they moved back to happy valley, then to Sailly le Sec
On the night of 20/21st august they dug a new trench (bantam trench) in advance of the line, raided the german lines and captured a machine gun. the rest of the month they were generally in support of other units, trench digging etc
On the 30th they entrained for Condas then on to Neuilette
October 1916, they moved to the Arras area, on the night of the 8/9th after an initial gas attack, the battalion raided the enemy lines. a further raid on the 20th
The battalion was moved in and out of the trenches during the next two months
During this time 171 men of average height were drafted in and 166 were combed out as unfit, the battalion was losing it's 'bantam' status
By the end of November the battalion was working on the railways at Bavincourt and Wanquetin
January 4th, 7 officers and 189 ORs proceeded to Fleury to work with the heavy branch of the Machine Gun Corps (MGC) and another draft brought in 200 new men (of average height) later more men were shipped out and others brought in. There were many moves during February , on the 16th one man killed during bombing practise (Henry Lytham 46484 ref sdgw)
Jan 19th moved into lines before Chaulves, the trenches were in terrible state, deep in water and mud, casauties were taken on the 23rd, 3 killed and 2 wounded. relieved on the 26th and proceeded to Rosieres, then to Camp du Ballons for training
March 6th the battalion moved to Chilly (left sub sector) numerous patrols were carried out successfully. On the night of the 16th the Germans retired from their lines and the battalion moved up to Mahricourt occupying the cellars, Chilly was reached on the 18th and Parvillers on the 19th where they were attached to the 32nd division for road repairs
April they were at Beauvois, later at Donilly, Vaux and Etreillers, then Villecholes and Maissemy, where 2 companys went into the front line. On the 15th 9 officers and 160 ORs raided the german lines at Pontruet finding the enemy had withdrawn.
On the 23rd April the battalion relieved the 19th DLI in the line before Bibecourt, later moving to brigade reserve at Vermand providing working parties in the trench's at Bibecourt which continued until early May. On the 5th May 6 officers and 159 ORs raided and captured Somerville copse under the cover of an artillery barrage and a diversionary machine gun and grenade attack, they cleared out the dug outs and shelters in the wood, driving the enemy out and capturing four prisoners, they later reutrned to their own lines, after being relieved by the 17th LFs. 60 dead germans were later found in the wood, battalion casualties were 9 wounded.
The battalion then spent time moving around, Vadencourt, Pempleux La Fosse, Sorrell le Grand, Hendecourt, later Gauche Wood sector. On the 27th 5 men were killed and 4 wounded by artillery. On the 30th the enemy raided the the lines under the cover of artillery barrage, however they were replused and the battalion captured a sergeant and another badly wounded german soldier.
2nd July saw them back in the reserve, training and being inspected by the Corps Commander. On the 15th they were back in the lines carrying out patrols by day and night. On the 29th another raid was conducted on Hawk trench, the raiding party was divided into 4 groups of 1 officer and 15 ORs. 2 machine guns were captured and several casualties inflicted upon the enemy.
In August the battalion was back in reserve for more training then into the lines, on the 21st they carried out a successful raid on Hawk and Canal trenchs, this time with severe casualties 5 KIA, 3 missing and 46 wounded
September was spent in training and providing work parties, October they moved to Peronne and then on to Hauteville. Then to Zeggers on the 15th, Boesinghe and took over at the line east of Langemark.
On October 22nd, at 5.35 the battalion attacked the line at Aden House to Angle Point. The first objective was reached with few casualties but from then on they met stubborn resistance and rifle and machine gun fire from both flanks. So bad that all officers in the advance were killed or wounded. The NCOs and men suffered just as badly and no further progress was possible. They withdrew (having been relieved) to Egypt House and later to Pascal Farm. Officers 8 KIA, 5 wounded, 1 missing, ORs 20 KIA, 115 wounded, 55 missing.
On the 23rd they moved to De Wippe Camp, then on 30th to Barry Camp Elverdingne where they worked on the light railway in the forward area.
In November they moved to Privett Camp Proven, late to Herzoele then to Siege Camp Elverdingne in brigade support. On the 20th the battalion was in the front line again, moving into reserve shortly after. They were then in training until the end of the month
2nd December they returned to Canal Bank and on the 4th moved into the front line, the relief cost the battalion two men KIA and 6 men wounded. Two days later they were back in camp and two further days saw them in Corps Reserve area near Houtkergue, then on to Nouveau Monde for training until Jan 7th 1918
On the 7th January they moved to Bridge Camp Elverdingne, the next day they relieved the 2/3rd London Regiment in support in the Langemark Area. They were in the front line from the 10th-12th and 14th -16th. Then 3 companies were attached to the 255th Tunneling Company of the Royal Engineers for three days. On the 24th they were in support and then on the 26th they were back in the front line.
On the 27th a battalion outpost was rushed by the Germans at around 6am in a heavy mist. One NCO and 30 men were captured but one escaped when the returning Germans were fired upon by company Lewis guns. Relieved on the 28th, the battalion was back in the line on the 30th.
On February 1st the battalion was relieved (south of the Ypres-Staden railway)and returned to support at Kempton Park
It was then that the battalion officially received notice that it was to be disbanded. The Army had to be reorganised due to manpower shortages and brigades were reduced to 3 battalions (from 4)
The men were distributed amongst the Regiment as follows
2nd Battalion 7 officers and 150 ORs (on 6th Feb)
11th Battalion 12 Officers and 250 ORs (on 11th Feb)
12th Battalion 12 Officers and 250 ORS ( on 11th Feb)
All surplus men including the HQ WOs, CQMS's and 21 battalion signallers were moved into a new unit, the 12th Entrenching Battalion.