10th (Prince of Wales' Own Royal) Hussars
Died Thursday 13th May 1915
Cemetery : Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial,
Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Grave Reference or Panel Number : Panel 5
Son of John Franklin and Sarah Ann Mason.
Thomas was born at Wetherby in 1888
to parents John, an Auxiliary Postman, and Sarah Ann, a Confectioner/Baker, operating her own business from the family residence
located in St. James Street.
Following the death of his wife in 1904, John remarried in 1906 to one Sarah Hannah Whitehead
of the Market Place, Wetherby. The marriage certificate records that John's occupation is now that of Verger, possibly
at St. James Parish Church, however the 1911 Census states that John was still performing the duties of an Auxiliary
Postman, one would surmise to supplement his income. At this period the family are residing at premises located at 18, West
Enlisting at Beverley in 1908 in the 10th Hussars,
Thomas was to serve five years in India and on return to England was placed on the reserve list. On the outbreak of the War
in 1914 he was recalled to the Colours.
Authors note: A newspaper article as regards length of service indicates
a period of seven years, five of those spent in India. If the date of enlistment is correct as indicated it 'suggests'
enlistment very early in the year of 1908 and being placed on the reserve list just before the commencement of hostilities.
In the year 1911 Thomas and the Regiment are recorded as being located in India at Rawalpindi.
After a period of service in South Africa the 10th Hussars were recalled to England on the outbreak
of the War. Concentrating at Ludgershall, Wiltshire, the Regiment prepared to entrain for the Western Front on the 5th October
1914 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Reginald W.R. Barnes D.S.O. Forming part of the 3rd Cavalry Division under the
command of Major-General Hon. Julian Byng, they were contained in the 6th Cavalry Brigade that comprised of the following
1st Royal Dragoons
10th Royal Hussars
"C" Battery, Royal Horse Artillery
Marching to Tidworth Railway Station on the 5th October, the Regiment
would entrain on four trains and proceed to Southampton whence they would set sail for the Western Front the same evening.
The Hussars would embark on four different ships in the following order:
"A" Squadron, under the command
of Major Hon. Clement B. Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford and comprising of 6 Officers and 150 Other Ranks, 153 Riding Horses, 14 Draft
Horses, 3 General Service Waggons and 4 Bicycles; S.S. "Belgravia."
under the command of Major Charles William Henry Crichton and comprising of 6 Officers and 150 Other Ranks, 153 Riding Horses,
14 Draft Horses, 3 General Service Waggons and 4 Bicycles; S.S. "Siptah."
under the command of Major Hon. William George Sydney Cadogan, M.V.O. and comprising of 6 Officers and 150 Other Ranks, 153
Riding Horses, 14 Draft Horses, 3 General Service Waggons and 4 Bicycles; S.S. "Bosnia."
Lieutenant-Colonel R.W.R. Barnes D.S.O. and comprising of a further 8 Officers and 73 Other Ranks, 88 Riding Horses, 12 Draft
Horses, 4 Maxim Guns with associated Limber Waggons, 1 Water Cart, 2 General Service Waggons, 1 Maltese Cart plus 9 Bicycles;
At 2 am on the morning of the 7th October 1914 the 10th Hussars departed Southampton
arriving at Ostende at 4 pm the same day. Disembarkation commenced during the hours of darkness and by 9 am on the following
morning they proceeded to the Racecourse (Wellington Hippodrome) on the western outskirts of the town. As the Regiment
assembled they then moved by route of march eastwards into billets located at the following locations. Authors note:
Where applicable, locations have been added in brackets as opposed to those recorded in the War Diary.
and "A" Squadron - Jabbeke
"B" Squadron - Beckeghem
"C" Squadron - Zeckeghem (Zerkeghem)
The March To The Front
On the 10th October the 6th Cavalry Brigade began to concentrate at Lophem (Loppem) and once this was completed they
proceeded to march southwards to Thourout (Torhout). The brigade billeted at the latter place with 1 Troop of the 10th Hussars
establishing an advanced post at Cortemarck (Kortemark) to the south.
As the brigade remained stationary in billets at
Thourout 2 Troops of "A" Squadron relieved the advanced post at Cortemarck extending to Werchen some miles to the
west of the latter place. (Authors note: Recorded in the War Diary as Werchew).
The brigade now moved further southwards
on the 12th where they proceeded to billet at Roulers (Roeselare) where they were joined "K" Battery, R.H.A.
During the following day the march continued with the men heading towards the town of Ypres where they halted. Pushing eastwards
via Gheluvelt (Geluveld), Dadizeele (Dadizele) and Ledeghem (Ledegem), "A" Squadron proceeded to Rolleghem Cappelle
(Rollegem Kapelle). As the brigade moved into billets the enormity of enemy forces facing them became apparent.
was reported that 1st Bavarian Cavalry Division were at Warneton and that 20,000 all arms were located at Tournai. In
addition to these formidable forces it was also reported that there was a presence of 20,000 all arms at Hazebrouck. Battle
raged around Lille whilst the town itself was being subjected to a heavy enemy bombardment.
The 6th Cavalry Brigade now
occupied a protective line that stretched from Ypres to Warneton in the south that encompassed Zillebeke, Comines and Beselare
to Wervicq (Sud).
Contact With The Enemy
It was whilst occupying
this defensive line that the Regiment suffered its first loss when, as the War Diary records, "1 man wounded and
captured." Authors note: Lance-Corporal William Augustus Beckwith 2956 (Commonwealth War Graves Commission
record this casualty as Arthur William Augustus Beckwith). His loss occured whilst on an officers patrol consisting
of Lieutenant Charles B. Wilson, "C" Squadron, and Second-Lieutenant David L.G.W. Ogilvy, the Earl of
Airlie of "A" Squadron near Comines, however the exact circumstances are not recorded. A native of York, Beckwith's
body was unfortunately not identified after the War and he is now commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper.
Hussars now set forth from Ledegem on the 14th towards the town of Ypres. Half a Squadron was left at the latter place
to guard the exit of the town. Whilst occupying this position an enemy aircraft of the Taube type, a monoplane and
primarily used for observation was brought down outside the town. The exact circumstances as regards the 'downing'
of this aircraft are not known however, if this event is recorded in the War Diary one must only presume this was probably due to
the actions of this Squadron.
As the main force moved southwards towards Kemmel they encountered a German patrol that
was subsequently made prisoner. Marching westwards to Wytschaete they then proceeded into billets but more contacts with the
enemy were to follow.
During the following day the force of men who had remained at Ypres rejoined the Regiment but
this was not without incident as 3 men were wounded in the process. Authors note: 'The 10th P.W.O. Royal Hussars And
The Essex Yeomanry During The European War 1914-1918' by Lieut.-Colonel F.H.D.C. Whitmore, C.M.G., D.S.O., T.D. published
in 1920 records that 2 men were wounded on the day in question. From hereon the Author will quote this History and casualties
sustained in itallics as opposed to those recorded in the War Diary.
One Troop of "C" Squadron was sent towards
Zandvoorde to provide assistance for an armoured car resulting in the death of one of the enemy. It would appear that this
action intensified as the Troop was forced to retire to Hollebeke to the south whereupon the remainder of "C" Squadron
was sent forward from Wytschaete to provide support. As the latter moved forward numerous contacts were made with the enemy
yielding 2 Officers and 3 men prisoner plus 8 men killed during the ensuing skirmishes. The troop holding the position
at Hollebeke now returned back to Wytschaete and as a consequence of this action the remainder of "C" Squadron who
had been sent forth failed to make contact.
The 6th Cavalry Brigade now adopted a defensive stance with the Hussars,
minus "A" Squadron who would remain at Wytschaete, disposed in the following locations:
of "B" Squadron - Hollebeke
Remainder of "B" Squadron - Cross-Roads, 1 mile
west of Houthem
"C" Squadron, Headquarters and Machine Gun - Cross-Roads due east of Oosttaverne
In this constant war of movement the Brigade now began to concentrate at Ypres, St. Jean and on the Poelcappelle Road.
On the 16th October they then marched north-eastwards to Poelcappelle to be placed in support of the 7th Cavalry Brigade however
by nightfall they had relocated to a position 3/4 of a mile east of Zonnebeke to the south.
On the 17th October there
began a series patrols with the objective of reconnaissance.
"A" Squadron set forth eastwards covering
the areas from Beselare to Dadizele and to a point on the Menin (Menen), Roulers (Roeselare) Road.
In turn "C"
Squadron covered the area Moorslede to the Menin/Roulers Road whilst Headquarters, Machine Gun and "B" Squadron
remained in a position east of Zonnebeke. This force would remain at the ready as and if the need to reinforce the patrolling
Squadrons became apparent.
At noon all Squadrons rejoined however "B" Squadron was sent to patrol in the areas
of Menin and Roulers where a "large body" of the enemy had been reported. This force was in fact the
advance of the German Fourth Army under the command of Albrecht. By 5 pm the Squadron had returned, presumably, and the
War Diary is not precise in the naming of locations, to the position east of Zonnebeke occupied by Headquarters etc.
contact though by "A" Squadron had resulted in the wounding of three (five) men, one seriously, so much
so that he had to be left behind in the village, presumably, Zonnebeke where the Hussars spent the night in billets.
north-eastwards towards the village of Passendale and billets on the 18th October, two Troops of "C" Squadron
were detailed to picquet the road leading from Zonnebeke - Moorslede.
Concentrating at Moorslede at 7.30 a.m. on the
morning of the 19th, the Hussars marched in a south-easterly direction towards Ledegem. The Advanced Guard consisted of "A"
Squadron with 1 Troop of "B" Squadron acting as the Baggage Guard. At St. Pieter astride the Menin - Roulers Road,
3 Troops were stationed to act as support as and when the need arose.
As the advance proceeded south and west of Ledegem,
enemy forces located in the vicinity were pushed to the outskirts of the village as "A" Squadron galloped around
to the right flank. It soon became apparent that the enemy had reinforced himself in large numbers and orders were consequently
received by the Brigade to commence a retirement during the afternoon to Moorslede. During this operation, 3 men had been
wounded (2) and two Germans were captured.
The Regiment was now disposed as follows:
"B" Squadron Spreit
Headquarters, "C" Squadron and
Machine Gun Poelcapelle
Early on the morning of the 20th October the 6th Cavalry Brigade began to concentrate
at Westrozebeke to the north-east of Poelkapelle. The objective was to form a defensive line running in a southerly direction
with the assistance of the 7th Cavalry Brigade on the right flank and French Cavalry and Territorial Divisions under
the commands of Generals De Mitry and Bidon on the left flank respectively with the 1st (Belgian) Cavalry Division attached.
This position was only maintained for a short period of time as by 12.30 p.m. a retirement was ordered south-westwards towards
Langemark. The enemy, still advancing, launched a night attack at about 11 p.m. and as a consequence a further retirement
commenced. It is apparent that even this position was untenable as a final retirement was ordered at 2.30 a.m. on the
morning of the 21st towards Ypres.
Concentrating in Brigade at the latter place by 4.30 a.m., a march commenced eastwards
towards Hooge via the Geluwe Road where the Brigade remained stationary until 2 p.m.
Moving southwards orders were then
received to proceed to a position north of Hollebeke and to hold a series of bridges over the Ypres-Comines Canal in an attempt
to stem the advance of Bavarian Cavalry Divisions of the German Sixth Army under the command of the Kronprinz Rupprecht. An
attack in conjunction with the 4th Hussars, 3rd Cavalry Brigade, was intended to be launched against Hollebeke Chateau but
due to British artillery shelling the chateau and its environs until dark it was impossible to mount any offensive operation
against the enemy. To ascertain if the enemy still held the chateau after this bombardment an officers patrol under the command
of Lieutenant Robert F. Drake, "B" Squadron was sent forth at 10 p.m. This reconnaissance yielded information of
no surprise that the position was still in occupation of the enemy.
Hussars now proceeded to Zandvoorde to the north-east. Dismounting and leaving their horses 'ringed' in the town the
men relieved the 2nd Scots Guards of the 7th Division in the defensive line at 3 a.m. on the morning of the 22nd. Therefore
for the first time the Cavalry, now dismounted, would virtually fight as an infantry battalion does, on foot and in trenches.
This would set the pattern for the role of the Cavalry for virtually the remainder of the War where men and horses together
in an offensive operation were to prove no match against a war that had now become one of artillery and machine gun.
German artillery now began to bombard the town of Zandvoorde at 8.15 a.m. necessitating the removal of the horses to the
rear. The trenches were now manned by "B" and "C" Squadrons with the regimental machine gun whilst "A"
Squadron acted as reserve. During the night the Hussars, reinforced by 1 Squadron of the Household Cavalry, 2nd Cavalry Division and
1 Company of the 1st King's Liverpool Regiment, 2nd Division, entered the trenches. The enemy made what
is recorded as small attacks during the night but these proved to be ineffectual, however 1 Other Rank of "A" Squadron,
Lance-Corporal Lewis Haigh, 6986, was wounded.
As the morning of the 23rd dawned, the enemy once again resumed his shelling
of the town at 8 a.m. In the trenches "B" Squadron were subjected to machine gun fire from 3 Maxim guns and rifle
fire for the majority of the day. In addition to this German artillery began to bombard the positions at intervals with some
strafes consisting of a heavy concentration of shell fire. A relief commenced at dusk by the 1st Life Guards, 7th Brigade, as
the men proceeded into billets located at Klein Zillebeke. No doubt well aware of this relief, enemy artillery kept up a bombardment
throughout the night on transport and horses.
The day had proved to be costly with 3 Other Ranks Killed (3).
1 Other Rank, Private William Chadwick, 6952, recorded as Wounded and Missing was later 'Presumed Dead.' 9 Other
Ranks Wounded, 1 Other Rank, Private Owen L. Bell, 808, succumbing to his wounds on the 1/11/14. In Officers, Lieutenant-Colonel
Barnes, Major Freeman-Mitford and Captain Gerald C. Stewart had also been wounded.
The casualties to the Hussars were
Moving into billets at Klein Zillebeke located south-east of Zwarteleen the Hussars were once
again subjected to enemy artillery fire throughout the night as the village was targeted.
The respite from the trenches
was of a short duration as at 5 p.m. on the 25th the men returned to the trenches at Zandvoorde to relieve the Household Cavalry.
The following day was marked by artillery activity that commenced at 8.30 a.m. but a most prominent phenomenon was the utilisation
by the enemy of his snipers. This was no doubt causing considerable problems as it was decided to mount a patrol consisting
of 12 men to deal with this threat. There is unfortunately no record of events that transpired but during this attempt to
neutralise the sniping, 1 man was killed and 1 wounded. The afternoon was characterised by enemy artillery activity that led
to one machine gun being disabled. Authors note: Whitmore's History Of The Regiment only records casualties
for this days actions as a whole. Officers killed, Captain Sir Frank S. D. Rose of "B" Squadron and Lieutenant Christopher
R. Turnor also of "B" Squadron. In Other Ranks, 4 killed with 6 wounded and 1 Other Rank succumbing to his wounds
the following month. A search of Soldiers Died In The Great War however records 1 Other Rank dying of wounds on this
date, one Private Lawrence Wright, 4518. Of this soldier, there is no record of his death in the Regimental History.
events of the 27th October mirrored those of the day previously with the enemy artillery commencing the shelling of the town
and the trenches at 8.15 a.m. (Authors note: Typed transcript of operations for the month of October located in the pages
of the War Diary states 8.30 a.m.) As the day wore on the bombardment increased in intensity with the Reserve consisting
of 20 men located in the town of Zamvoorde receiving particular attention. Casualties sustained during the day amounted to
5 men (5) being wounded. Authors note: One of these men wounded was Private Herbert Gale, 4046, of 13, St. James
Street, Wetherby. Herbert was to continue service with the Labour Corps and survive the War.
Finally, at 6.30 p.m. a
relief took place by the 7th Cavalry Brigade as the Regiment proceeded into billets at the following locations:
Headquarters, "B," "C" and Machine Gun At Railway Crossing
1/4 mile south-east of Verbrandenmolen.
After the trying experiences of the last few days the men remained in billets
one would assume performing such duties as the cleaning and inspecting of kit and obtaining some rest if and where
possible. One again however the Hussars were called upon to provide support in a dismounted role to an attack by the 7th Division
on Kruiseecke on the 29th who were now facing the advance of XV Corps forming the right flank of Army Group Fabeck, Sixth
Army. Marching north at midday to a position north of Zandwoorde the men returned to billets at dusk having incurred
3 (3) men wounded.
Enemy activity had now intensified as the Brigade proceeded to a position 3/4 mile south-west
of Klein Zillebeke to act as a reserve to the infantry. As the men took up position near the Ypres-Comines Canal they were
joined by the 1st Royal Dragoons, also of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade on the right flank and the 2nd Dragoons (Royal
Scots Greys), 2nd Cavalry Division on the left respectively. It was now that the German infantry of the 4th Bavarian
Division launched a heavy attack from the direction of Hollebeke Chateau. After fierce fighting during the day the Regiment
was finally relieved by the 1st Irish Guards, 2nd Division as the War Diary records at "dusk."
Casualties had once again been heavy. The Regimental Medical Officer Captain Richard C.G.M. Kinkead and 4 Other
Ranks had been killed. Major Charles W.H. Crichton, Captain Edward Fielding, who had only joined the Regiment on the 20th
October, Captain Gerald C. Stewart and Captain the Hon. H. Baring with the addition of 15 Other Ranks had also
been wounded. Source: War Diary.
Authors note: Whitmore lists all four Other Rank casualties as killed on the 31st
as opposed to the 30th. A search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission 'Debt of Honour Register' however records
data that one man was killed on the 30th October. Research of the latter source would appear to conflict with an analysis
of the Medal Index Cards. These record that 3 of these casualties, one of whom died of wounds, all died on the 30th.
It may suggest an error in transcription, or, that the War Diary is incorrect as to the time of relief, i.e. dusk, and that
the latter movement continued into the night 30/31st.
Regarding wounded, the War Diary states 15 Other Ranks as does
Whitmore but once again the History is littered with anomalies. Of the 15 Other Ranks recorded as wounded on the 31st, one,
posted 'Wounded and Missing' is later confirmed by the Medal Index Card Roll as 'Presumed Dead.'This
appears to be a straightforward scenario albeit with date unknown. One casualty though, also recorded by Whitmore as
suffering the same fate, survives and is discharged from the service in late 1915. Two Other Ranks both wounded succumb to
injuries on the 30/31st October whilst one is recorded by Whitmore correctly as 'Wounded (subsequently died).'
As the tumultuous events of October 1914 drew to a close the stark realities of the first months actions dawned.
As the infantry of 1st Corps under the command of Haig continued to put up a stout resistance carrying out counter attacks
against the enemy, the Brigade concentrated on the Menin Road at Hooge and proceeded to take up positions in support to the
hard pressed infantry. As the hours of darkness fell on the 31st, the Hussars bivouacked in woods to the west of Hooge.
The Battle of First Ypres as the actions would be historically termed ground relentlessly on.
As the men of 1st Corps held on against the onslaught of the enemy the Hussars remained in the woods
located to the west of Hooge in support to units of the 7th Division. At 3 p.m. on the afternoon of the 1st the Regiment advanced
dismounted to trenches in support of the infantry, retiring at dusk with the loss of 2 Other Ranks killed (2) and
Captain William O. Gibbs, who had only joined the Regiment on the 20th October and 8 (7) Other Ranks wounded.
During the 2/3rd the situation remained the same with the Regiment in support to the 7th Division but this was not without
incident when on the 2nd November Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes was hit in the arm by shrapnel.
Relocating to Verlorenhoek,
to the west of Frezenberg on the evening of the 3rd, the Hussars, in Brigade, were placed in support to the 7th Cavalry Brigade
To replace mounting casualties that had been sustained, Captain Hon. D.R.H. Pelham and Second-Lieutenant
Sir Basil S. Brooke plus 40 Other Ranks were posted to the Regiment whilst they remained at Verlorenhoek.
the latter place in billets the Hussars now found the time to give their exhausted charges a well earned rest sending 37 horses
to a farm whilst 8 were transferred to "C" Battery Royal Horse Artillery.
At 5 p.m. on the evening of the 5th
November the men proceeded dismounted into trenches located at Herenthage Chateau located to the south of Inverness Copse.
"B" Squadron were placed in the firing line with "C" in support positions. "A" Squadron would
act as reserve respectively. On the following day German artillery began a heavy barrage on the trenches occupied by the men
resulting in the wounding of 9 (8).
Relieved at 2 a.m. on the morning of the 7th November by the 4th Battalion,
Royal Fusiliers of the 3rd Division the men returned to their billets. There was very little time for rest as at 11 a.m. the
Hussars were ordered to move to Halte in support of the 4th Guards Brigade, 2nd Division. Authors note: Halte, marked
on one insignificant map as located on a junction of the Ypres - Comines Railway to the east of Ypres. It is, probably
as the word suggests, a Halt or Stop on the railway line but the vicinity is later referred to as 'Hellire
Moving up into position at Zillebeke at 4 p.m. during the afternoon relief of the Guards was completed in
the early hours of the following day but not without incident as during this manoeuvre, Major Shearman, Headquarters Staff,
was wounded in the hand by a burst of shrapnel.
At dawn the Regiment returned to their billets located at Halte. On the
9th they remained in a state of readiness remaining 'saddled up' until 6.30 p.m. in the evening. It would appear that
the constant war of perpetual movement and the weather was now beginning to take its toll on the men as on this date
4 Other Ranks were reported as 'sick.'
Acting as 1st Corps Reserve, the men moved forward dismounted from Halte
at 1 p.m. to a position south of Hooge in support to the 4th Guards Brigade under the command of Lord Frederick R.L. Cavan.
In these positions the men awaited orders until 6 p.m. when rations and cloaks were issued and the men proceeded into trenches
located between Klein Zillebeke and Zillebeke under the command of Major Hon. Cadogan, "C" Squadron. Dispositions
were as follows:
"A," "C" & 1 Troop of "B" Squadrons, 10th Hussars, plus 1 Squadron,
1st (Royal) Dragoons Firing Line
3 Troops of "B" Squadron, 10th Hussars, plus 1 Squadron, 1st (Royal)
This force under the command of Major Shearman was subjected to heavy enemy artillery
fire throughout the following day resulting in the wounding of 4 Other Ranks. To add to the misery of the attentions of artillery
fire, on commencement of relief at 7 p.m. heavy rain started to fall. In this rotation 3 Troops of "B" Squadron
of the Hussars with 40 men from the horse lines plus 2 Squadrons of the 1st (Royal) Dragoons attached now proceeded into
the trenches whilst "A" and "C" Squadrons of the Regiment took their place in support positions.
the rain continued to fall the trenches became untenable with the position occupied by "A" Squadron being completely
"washed in." The prevailing conditions necessitated a movement towards the rear of 50 yards at dawn under
constant harassing fire by the enemy. In particular sniping from close range resulted in several casualties as the firing
line assisted in the completion of this manoevre by opening a rapid fire on the positions held by the enemy. In addition to
being subjected to rifle fire the German artillery kept up a steady bombardment throughout the day resulting in the mortal
wounding of Major Hon. W. Cadogan who was hit in the groin. During the day Regimental Sergeant Major Edward King, D.C.M.
and a veteran of the South African Campaign had been shot through the neck and killed and Captain Edward W.E. Palmes
of "A" Squadron and a further 20 (19) men wounded. One Other Rank, Private George Adams, succumbing
to his wounds on the 14th.
In losses in materiel, one of the Regiments vital machine guns had been completely
destroyed by fire from an enemy Maxim.
Relief commenced at dusk by the 3rd Dragoon Guards but this was to be only a short
respite as at 4.30 a.m. on the morning of the 13th the men were ordered move up dismounted in support of the 4th Dragoon Guards
Brigade (Written War Diary Text).
Authors note: This anomaly i.e. the recording of the latter Brigade occurs
both on this date and on the 15th November with variances in the written entry in the War Diary and the transcribed and typed
notes included in the latter. As the typed document was possibly compiled at a later date and not under adverse conditions,
the correct unit designation should therefore read 4th Guards Brigade.
The Hussars remained at the ready but as
events transpired they were not required to move forward so returned to camp, presumably, in the vicinity of Halte.
The rainfall continued and if the weather proved to be enough of hardship to be endured the enemy added to this by shelling
the camp. It was possibly a relief to be on the move once again when at 4 p.m. the men moved up into support positions for
a period of two hours returning to camp at 6 p.m.
The War Diary does not account for any casualties sustained by the
Regiment on this instant however Whitmore's History records the wounding of 2 Other Ranks.
The weather had
now taken a turn for the worse when the rain turned to snow followed by ground frosts. At 1 p.m. on the 14th November the
6th Cavalry Brigade vacated the deprivations of front line positions and their war of constant movement moving to
the west of Ypres to a farm one mile south of Vlamertinghe.
Once again the Regiment were called to move forward in support
of the 3rd Division at 4 a.m. on the morning of the 15th. So fluid was the tentative hold that the Allies maintained in the
defense of the town of Ypres that the Hussars now found themselves at a farm to the north of Hooge waiting in the snow. One
can only imagine the tiredness and no doubt the flagging spirits of the men as once again they remained in this support position
until 10 a.m. when it was finally deemed that they were to stand down and return to billets. Remaining mounted and ready to
be moved into the trenches at a moments notice the Hussars then rode to Ypres, dismounted their charges and proceeded by route
of march to positions held by the 4th Guards Brigade (Transcribed War Diary Entry) between Hooge and Zillebeke.
Dispositions of the Regiment were as follows:
"A" and "C" Squadrons Firing Line
"B" Squadron, Machine Gun and "C" Squadron, 1/1st North Somerset Yeomanry in Support
Note: In point of fact the 10th Hussars had split into two parties. 200 of their number along with 300 men of the 1st (Royal)
Dragoons, this force under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel George F. Steele, were ordered to relieve the 2nd Cavalry
Brigade on the left flank of the line held by the 4th Guards Division located to the east of Zillebeke. The second party,
consisting of 100 Hussars and 100 men of the 1/1st North Somerset Yeomanry, under the command of Major Shearman were disposed
as of the above. This force occupying dug-outs to the rear of Lord Cavan's 4th Guard's Brigade Headquarters. A further
force comprising of 300 men of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and 200 of the North Somerset Yeomanry, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Oswald B.B. Smith-Bingham were to relieve units of the 7th Cavalry Brigade in trenches located on the Zillebeke-Klein Zillebeke
Road. The Author is indebted to Mr. Steven Broomfield for extracts from the 'History Of The 6th Cavalry Brigade,
1914-1919, by Lieutenant J.B. Bickersteth.'
Remaining in position in no doubt adverse and trying weather
conditions the units in support began the construction of new dug-outs. In the front line the men were subjected to the ever
present threat of the activities of enemy snipers. During the afternoon one of this band of alert marksmen raised his
rifle and took aim killing Captain The Hon. Arthur Annesley of "B" Squadron.
The Germans opposite the
British positions however intended to break the stalemate when, on the 17th November, they launched an attack.
overview of the enemy attacks during the day the Author will provided a summary of events recorded in Bickersteth's History.
At about 9 a.m. the units under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Smith-Bingham came under concentrated enemy artillery
fire as a prelude to an infantry assault by units of the elite Prussian Guard. By 1 p.m. these attacks had developed against
the right and centre of the British positions. As the Germans pressed home their attack to within twenty yards of the line
they not only came under concentrated rifle fire resulting in serious losses but also the guns of "C"
Battery, Royal Horse Artillery as they attempted to retire. Despite these heavy casualties, the Prussians attempted to storm
the line once again proceeded by a further bombardment. At 3.45 p.m. the enemy assault commenced against the left flank of
Lieutenant-Colonel Smith-Bingham's positions but was met by "C" Squadron, 3rd Dragoon Guards and "B"
Squadron of the North Somerset Yeomanry who suffered heavy casualties in all ranks as they gallantly tried to stem the onslaught
and prevent a breakthrough. The battle remained in the balance in this sector until the front line was reinforced by "B"
Squadron of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and "A" Squadron of the North Somerset Yeomanry, two companies of the Coldstream
Guards moving up into support as the Dragoon's and Somerset's vacated their positions.
At about 12 noon the enemy
massed for attack under the cover of a farm against the sector held by Lieutenant-Colonel Steele's force. As to the situation
unfolding before them Lieutenant Hon. Julian Grenfell of the 1st (Royal) Dragoons commenced a reconnaissance of the ground
in front of the enemy trenches providing vital information at a most critical period.
In the front line "A"
and "C" Squadrons maintained their positions as the advance reached to within a few yards of their trenches. The
rapidly advancing Germans were then subjected to what the War Diary terms as a "severe grazing fire"
that mowed them down and accounted as the latter states for nearly 200. The Hussars however had lost Captain Clement
Peto who was unfortunately shot through the head and killed as the attack progressed.
Orders were received at 2 p.m.
that "B" Squadron, part of Major Shearman's force, were to move up into support but as they hurried forward
they were subjected to heavy German artillery fire without sustaining any casualties. On arriving at their alloted positions
it was found that the front line had stabilised one would assume due to the heavy losses sustained by the enemy and that
subsequently the attack had petered out. Not required, the men of "B" Squadron set about returning to their dug
outs in the support positions but it was now that again the German artillery commenced to shell the retiring men resulting
in numerous casualties and the death of Second-Lieutenant Robert Drake
The lessons of the fire power of the Short Magazine
Lee Enfield learnt in the early days of the War had once again come to fruition but at a price.
In the course of two
days fighting and in a serious attempt by the ever pressing enemy to break the line, the Regiment had suffered 3 (3) Officers
and 10 (10) Other Ranks killed. One of this number being Serjeant Harry Strudwick, a native of Feltham, Middlesex.
In addition to this loss of experienced men, 9 (9) Other Ranks had been wounded.
Later the same day the
composite forces of Colonel's Smith-Bingham and Steele were relieved by the 7th Cavalry Brigade and by the 1/1st Battalion,
Hertfordshire Regiment (under the command of the 4th (Guards) Brigade, 2nd Division).
It is now for the first time
that we turn our attention to the War experienced by Thomas Mason in the first of a number of letters published in the local
press. The following albeit short article dated December 1914 records the events of the 16th November but it is possible that
Thomas was actually referring to the German attack that occured on the following day:
his father Mr. J.F. Mason, of Wetherby, Corporal T.F. Mason, of the 10th Hussars, says:- "On November 16th we had the
Germans within 20 yards of us, so you can guess we gave them something to go on with."
For this stoic
and resolute defence of the line the 6th Cavalry Brigade received the following telegram to be read out to all ranks from
General Sir Douglas Haig, G.O.C. 1st Army Corps:
"Please congratulate 6th Cavalry Brigade from me upon
the excellent fight they put up. I regret to hear your losses were so heavy but it is very satisfactory to know that the enemy's
casualties were so much heavier."
On the following day the men rested in billets however the location
is not recorded in the War Diary. Authors note: The diary does however mention that the Regiment saddled up at 4.30 p.m. as
they were appointed Duty Regiment for the night 18th November. Bickersteth's History is clearer in point and states that
during the night the 6th Cavalry Brigade returned to their horses which were brought up into town square at Ypres. The men
then proceeding to bivouac at a location south of Vlamertinghe.
As snow continued to fall the men remained at rest but
the weather and constant movement had taken its toll on the horses that necessitated the evacuation of 15 of their number
to a farm for recuperation. To replace the sick 14 Draught horses were drawn as the men once again saddled up at 4.30 p.m.
should they be required to move at a moments notice.
were now received for a move southwards away from Ypres and the solidifying salient. As the weather deteriorated further all
combatants settled into what would become a familiar routine of trench warfare.
At 7 a.m. on the morning of the 20th
November and in freezing conditions the 6th Cavalry Brigade set forth for Vieux Berquin to the west of Hazebrouck, Regimental
Transport not commencing the march until 3.30 p.m.
Marching via Ouderdom, Reningelst and Westouter, the Brigade crossed
the frontier into France south of the latter place and journeyed via La Marche (Located between Mont Noir and St. Jans Cappel.
Possibly an old French term for Borderland) to Meteren. The final destination, Vieux Berquin, east of the Foret
de Nieppe was reached at about 10.30 p.m. after a most trying journey due to the ice covered roads that necessitated the men
having to lead their horses for most of the march. The Regimental Transport did not arrive until the small hours of the morning
of the 21st whereupon the men linked horses in the street and finally retired to billets located in cottages in the village.
The comfort of a residence with an open hearth was to be short
lived when on the 21st the men relocated to billets in farms to the west along the Rue-du-Bois. Accommodation in whatever
form was found for the men but only half the horses were managed to be placed under cover leaving those presumably without
suitable protection exposed to the elements. This situation however was rectified on the 22nd as Squadrons began to disperse
more widely in the area providing sufficient cover.
During the 20/21st November the 3rd Cavalry Division had also
undergone a restructure with the 10th Hussars and the Royal Horse Guards forming the nucleus of the 8th Cavalry Brigade
that would eventually constitute the following units under the command of Brigadier-General Charles B. Bulkeley-Johnson A.D.C.
Royal Horse Guards
1/1st Essex Yeomanry (Arrived in France, 30th November 1914 and joined Brigade 11th December)
"G" Battery, Royal Horse Artillery (Joined 25th November, 1914)
The Regiment was now visited by the
first of many distinguished visitors. During the afternoon H.R.H. Prince Of Wales in the company of Colonel Stanley L. Barry,
A.D.C., D.S.O. expressed his admiration of the actions undertook by the Hussars during recent operations and also enquired
about the comfort of the men.
Now followed a long period of rest and refitting and possibly a period of quiet reflection
of the losses to the Regiment during operations. As the month drew to a close, a reconnaissance of the Merville-La Bassee
districts was carried out on the 26th by Second-Lieutenant Sir Basil S. Brooke accompanied by Serjeant Samuel Haddington
and Corporal Samuel Wheatcroft whilst a draft of 23 men and 1 officer, Lieutenant R.G. Godson arrived on the 29th.
The 1st of the month began with an insight into the future conduct of
Cavalry operations for the majority of the War when an exercise in trench digging was conducted under the watchful gaze of
the Royal Engineers.
At 9 a.m. on the following day the Brigade received another distinguished visitor in the form of
His Majesty The King. The men paraded mounted along the length of the Hazebrouck- la Motte Road as the King walked between
the ranks of the Cavalry Corps however no remarks are recorded in the War Diary as to any impressions or comments.
As the majority of the actions of First Ypres had been fought dismounted by the Cavalry it was no surprise that "B"
Squadron were chosen to demonstrate a dismounted attack on the 3rd December to the Brigadier-General. It was also on this
date that the Regiment was bolstered by the arrival of three officers; Major William R. Campbell, Captain Leigh Hunter-Jones
and Lieutenant Robert H.C. Thomas.
The weather had turned to rain curtailing some inspections however a regular routine
was maintained that even extended to a troop football tournament. Pending the arrival of the Essex Yeomanry, 40 Officers
and 4 Serjeants of the latter regiment were attached to the Hussars on the 6th as an advance party to arrange billets
and to familiarise themselves with the daily general routine.
At 9.30 a.m. on the morning of the 8th December,
the 8th Cavalry Brigade paraded for route march but the transport sections were spared this duty. At 11 a.m. the familiar
round of notable visitors took place when General Edmund H.H. Allenby, Commander Cavalry Corps inspected the ranks of
the Royal Horse Guards and the 10th Hussars.
On this date also a further 22 Other Ranks joined the Regiment with the
addition of 1 Officer, Second-Lieutenant Samuel B.C. Ferris.
Training continued as the men continued to practice attacks
dismounted and honed their skills at constructing fire and support trenches. Late on the evening of the 13th December movement
orders were received to proceed on the following day to the French-Belgium border north-east of Bailleul. The 3rd Cavalry
Division were now ordered to concentrate in this area to act as a mobile reserve as it was reported that the infantry had
advanced unopposed. Moving into billets located in the north-west outskirts of Bailleul the 8th Cavalry Brigade remained saddled
up until 8 p.m. on the following day ready to move as and when the need arose.
Billets were now occupied at Hazebrouck
on the 16th with notice that on receipt of orders they were to turn out at two hours notice. To assist rapid movement a reinforcement
of 33 Riding Horses and 14 Draught Horses were received by the Regiment.
The rebuilding, organisation and construction
of horse shelters, plus, the improvement of billets occupied the activities of the men during the following days with these
tasks being inspected by the Commanding Officer. A more welcome visit no doubt was the Prince Of Wale's on the 19th December
whilst on the 21st, Brigadier-General Bulkeley- Johnson came to observe an exercise by the Hussars as they attacked dismounted
through a wood. Whilst the men were showing their worth at strategy and tactics, Brigadier-General Charles T. McM. Kavanagh
C.B., C.V.O. D.S.O., as if on an English country estate, wandered the countryside shooting pheasants.
Training once again
continued with a particular emphasis being placed on march discipline and protection in enclosed countries. This possibly
alludes to the exercise carried out previously as regards fighting in woodland surroundings.
As officers rejoined the
Hussars, Captain Gerald C. Stewart on the 22nd, drafts also continued with 19 Other Ranks and 1 Officer, Second-Lieutenant
Edmund R. Bennett, arriving during the following day. Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes D.S.O. and Captain Hon. H. Baring rejoined
the Regiment on Christmas Eve in addition to the draft of one O/R.
Christmas Day was spent at Hazebrouck but unfortunately
there are no details recorded as to how the men celebrated the day other than Church Service and a visit to the Squadrons
by the Lieutenant-Colonel. More formal inspections were carried out in the days that followed with the Commanding Officer
inspecting "B" Squadron on the 26th, "C" Squadron on the 28th in the company of Brigadier-General Bulkely-Johnson
and finally "A" Squadron by the C.O. on the 30th December respectively. Also on this date the Regiment was joined
by Captain Aidrian L. Cave and Second-Lieutenant Anthony L. Maynard in addition to 6 Other Ranks and 7 Horses.
the first winter of the War drew to a close the men received instruction from the Royal Engineers on the making of fascines
and hurdles as well as improving their billets by adding stabling facilities.
The New Year would once again witness the
clash of both armies and the first use of poison gas in the history of warfare. Thomas and the men of the 3rd Cavalry Division
would once again be thrown into the thick of the fighting.
month was primarily spent in a programme of training that incorporated exercises in tactics, trench construction and fire
discipline. Personnel that joined the Regiment during the month consisted of Captain Hon. Frederick W. Stanley and 2
Other Ranks on the 3rd, 4 Other Ranks on the 11th and 3 men attached from the Royal Army Medical Corps on the 29th respectively.
As well as those that joined the ranks, there were those that departed, Captain Hon. H. Baring taking up an appointment with
the General Headquarters Staff on the 9th January.
The only notable events during the month were the Kaisers Birthday
on the 27th January when the Regiment saddled their horses and Stood To with carts packed. During the afternoon, the Commander-in-Chief
(Authors note: Whitmore records in the company of the Prince Of Wales) inspected the men dismounted during the afternoon.
On the 28th January the Regiment relocated to Sercus to the west of Hazebrouck whilst the Officers held a Regimental Dinner
at the Hotel du Nord, Place de la Gare, Hazebrouck.
Letters from home to Thomas during this period would have no
doubt informed him of the enlistment of his brother, George Percy Mason, into the Royal Naval Air Service on the 28th December. George
had found employment pre-war as a Chauffeur to the late Lady Carbutt of 19, Hyde Park Gardens, London. It is of interest to
note that Lady Carbutt was a founding member of the Ladies Automobile Club. No doubt spurred on by his late employers
passion for automobiles, George chose to enlist in the Armoured Cars Branch of the R.N.A.S.
Another brother, William
Goodyear Mason, now resident of Fawe Park Road, Wandsworth and occupation 'Carman,' had also enlisted in about September
1914. Serving with the 7th Battalion, East Surrey's, he was now undergoing training on the south-east coast at Sandgate,
near Folkestone. The War had now truly 'embraced' the children of the Mason family with welcoming arms.
Back To 'Wipers'
Orders were received in early February for the 3rd Cavalry Division to move
back to the Ypres Sector to take over a section of the line held by the French. The move northwards would be carried out in
two echelons; the first, under the command of Brigadier-General Kavanagh, the second, under the command of Brigadier-General
David G.M. Campbell C.B.
Royal Horse Guards
"A" Squadron, 1/1st Essex Yeomanry
7th Cavalry Brigade
10th Royal Hussars (Strength: 27 Officers & 290 Other Ranks)
Essex Yeomanry (Less 1 Squadron)
6th Cavalry Brigade
On the 3rd February this second group left Sercus at
3.45 p.m. and proceeded by motor bus to Ypres travelling via Hazebrouck, Steenvorde, Poperinghe and Vlamertinge. The men then
proceeded into billets located at the Reformatory School located one mile east of Ypres just south of the Ypres-Menin Road.
There was to be no rest after the long journey however for "A" Squadron of the Essex Yeomanry who proceeded straight
into the trenches at Zillebeke under the command of Major Eustace Hill.
Weather conditions had by now improved but
as a consequence the enemy recommenced aerial reconnaissance sorties over the Ypres Sector necessitating the men to remain
under cover when not on exercise. This 'cat and mouse' scenario continued until the 8th February when the Hussars
and detachments of the Essex Yeomanry set forth for the trenches under the cover of darkness at 11.30 p.m. Marching to Zillebeke,
the men removed their kit from the Regimental Transport and proceeded into positions as follows:
Squadron 10th Hussars Left Sector, Right Of The French Line
1 Squadron Essex
Yeomanry Centre Sector, plus Machine-Gun Detachment
"B" Squadron 10th Hussars
"C" Squadron 10th Hussars Support Positions (dug-outs 100 yards to the
Occupation of the line was completed by 4 a.m. on the morning of the 9th, however the trenches, recorded
as well constructed, were far from satisfactory depending on which flank one was lucky or unlucky to find oneself. The improvement
in weather conditions had proved to have a negative impact on the condition of the terrain as a thaw had commenced.
It was found that positions on the left flank remained comparatively dry whilst those on the right had turned into a veritable
quagmire with water accumulating in the bottom of the trenches from a depth of 18 inches to two feet.
In addition to
the appalling condition of the trenches the enemy was close at hand. On the left flank the German trenches were a mere
12 to 15 yards away whilst on the right this distance varied to about 80 yards. Sniping both during daylight hours and the
night proved to be a dominant feature of this part of the line but there was also a more silent and deadly phenomenon being
undertaken; enemy mining activities.
On the 9th February, "A" Squadron in the left of the line reported that
mining could be heard but it was determined that this was being carried out at some distance away. Authors note: The War Diary
states that "this portion was subsequently blown up on 23rd February."It is possible that this date may
be in error and may refer to a 'blow' by the Germans at Shrewsbury Forest on the 21st February that resulted
in numerous casualties to the 16th Lancers, 2nd Cavalry Division. In the right of the line and no doubt hastened by the waterlogged
state of the position "C" Squadron moved up from support to relieve "B" Squadron, the latter moving back
at about 7 p.m.
The need to remain vigilant against enemy sniping became all the more evident when on the morning of
the 10th, Private William Wallis, 4898, a native of Howden, East Yorkshire, was shot through the stomach whilst cutting wood
to the rear of the dug-outs. Unfortunately Private Wallis succumbed to his injuries on the following day.
in the line were carried out during the day whilst sapping was observed from the enemy line in the right sector. At about
5.30 p.m. during the early evening of the 11th, "B" Squadron relieved "C" Squadron in the line as the
ever present sniping continued in addition to sporadic bombing. The weather had now turned for the worse becomming wet and
cold. At night it was observed that the Germans fired large quantities of rockets that would herald a discharge of rifle fire
no doubt to discourage active patrolling. By day, one had to remain vigilant as across No Man's Land watchful eyes scanned
the British lines should some unwary soul reveal themselves.
The rear of the support positions with its numerous
dug-outs was beginning to earn an unsavoury reputation when on the morning of the 12th yet another man, Private Rowland Tattersall,
28313, and a native of Preston, was shot and killed by an alert sniper.
Finally on the night of the 13/14th February
the Hussars were to be relieved in the line by 1 Squadron of the 5th Lancers and the 4th Hussars, 2nd Cavalry Division. The
relief commenced at midnight and was accomplished by 3.30 a.m. the Regiment then proceeding by route of march to Ypres. Once
again there was to be a move to the south when at 5.30 a.m. the men boarded motor buses, destination, Sercus to the west of
Hazebrouck which was reached at 11 a.m.
The War Diary unfortunately does not record how the days were passed at
Sercus until the 22nd but one can assume that the men rested and refitted after yet another gruelling tour in the line. On
this latter date 3 Officers and 128 Other Ranks proceeded to the Mont des Cats south-east of Steenvoorde where they were
tasked with the looking after of the horses of the 5th Dragoon Guards, 1st Cavalry Division whilst they were performing trench
As the month closed it must have been with some sadness that Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes D.S.O. was ordered to return
to England to take up a position on the Staff. His replacement was to be Major Eustace R.A. Shearman who was duly appointed
Lieutenant-Colonel of the Regiment with effect from the 4th February 1915.
Wetherby Corporal's Trophy
Corporal T. Mason, son of Mr. J.F. Mason, of Wetherby, has sent home a pennant from the
lance of a German in an Uhlan regiment, and, describing how he secured it, he says:- "My troop was on patrol duty - that
was when we sorted them out.
I was advance point, and was looking round a farm, when I saw a German about 200 yards
away. Of course, I was mounted, so I thought I had better make one less. I fired a shot at him and missed, but it must have
been near because he turned round and galloped away. Before he had gone far, his number was up. I took steady aim and dropped
him. I went out to fetch his horse and arms and got them alright and I can tell you he was well equipped. When I got back
what I have sent you was all that was left for me."
The above local newspaper article dated late March
1915 probably refers to an earlier incident whilst carrying out numerous patrols during 1914. It is unfortunate that
the precise events are not recorded in the War Diary however the letter provides a fascinating 'snap shot' of events
during the First Battle Of Ypres.
Remaining in billets in the now familiar environs of Sercus, Lieutenant-Colonel
Barnes finally departed for England on the 3rd of the month.
Further to the south preparations were being made for the
first major offensive of 1915 at Neuve Chapelle by First Army under the command of General Sir Douglas Haig. This attack,
in conjunction with the French Army who would attack from Arras, Vimy and Lens, if successful, would sever German supply lines.
More importantly a well planned and executed offensive would break the stalemate of trench warfare and prove to both the French
and British governments that indeed the breaking of the German line was feasible. The attack would commence on the morning
of the 10th March under one of the greatest concentrations of artillery fire yet seen during the War.
As the attack commenced
to the south the 3rd Cavalry Division were "Stood To" at 5 a.m. should they be called upon. At 3 p.m. the 8th Cavalry
Brigade turned out but returned to billets at 5 p.m. no doubt to news that the British had indeed broken the German line albeit
suffering heavy casualties.
At 4.30 a.m. on the morning of the 11th the Hussars paraded as the 3rd Cavalry Division proceeded
to the south-west reaching la Motte to the north of the Foret de Nieppe where the Division began to concentrate. Here the
Regiment remained until 4 p.m. until orders were received to occupy billets along the Rue du Bois to the west of Vieux Berquin.
During the following day the Regiment once again "Stood To" as the offensive to the south ground on into its second
day as the Germans commenced a counter-attack to retake positions lost.
On this date Officers who had previously been
wounded started to return to the Regiment from England. Major Crichton (wounded, 30th October), Captain Gibbs (wounded,
1st November) and Captain Palmes (wounded, 12th November). In addition to those returning, one new Officer, Second-Lieutenant
William H.E. Viscount Ednam joined the Regiment for duty.
During March 13th, the final day of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle,
the Hussars returned to billets located at Sercus at 6.30 p.m. after being "Stood To" for a period of about
five hours during the morning.
As well as those rejoining the Regiment, the Hussars bade farewell to four Officers on
the 14th; Lieutenant H. Godson (Authors note: Possibly Herbert George Godson, attached 4th Hussars however Whitmore's
History records this officer as R.G. Godson) and Second-Lieutenants Anthony L. Maynard, Edmund R. Bennett and Samuel
B.C. Ferris. These Officers proceeding to Base respectively. There was however one replacement, Second-Lieutenant Harry
L. Fraser, commissioned from the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch).
The remainder of the month consisted of the familiar
pattern of 'Standing To' during the early hours of the morning however there were to be changes to the Officer cardre
of the Regiment. On the 22nd March, Second-Lieutenant Edward W. Bovill plus 7 Other Ranks and 3 Horses arrived from the
Supply Depot located at Rouen. Bovill's introduction was to be short as during the following day he and Second-Lieutenant
Osmond Mowatt were ordered to proceed to Base whilst Captain Leigh Hunter-Jones and Captain Aidrian L. Cave proceeded to England.
For those Officers who were sick due, Army authority was received on the 26th March for the following to be struck off the
strength of the Regiment. Dates stated in brackets: Lieutenant Herbert P. Chaplin (26.11.14), Lieutenant Charles
B. Wilson (14.12.14), Temporary Lieutenant Baron Francis C.O. de Tuyll (23.12.14), Lieutenant Vaughan A.P. Stokes
(1.3.15) and Second-Lieutenant Ralph H. Peto (1.3.15).
On the 28th March, Major Hon. Clement B.O. Freeman-Mitford
with 1 Other Rank rejoined the Regiment. It was also on this date that Lance-Corporal George Harold Hearn, 5380, and Private
Arthur Futcher, 128, were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for actions at Ypres. Hearn's citation, published in
the London Gazette on the 1st June 1915 records;
"For gallant conduct and coolness on 15th February, 1915, when
in charge of stretcher bearers."
Futcher's citation, as equally brave and also published in the same
edition of the Gazette reads;
"For gallant conduct on many occasions in conveying messages under heavy fire,
and for the zeal and coolness displayed in the performance of his duties."
Futcher was to survive the War,
but, like many heroes, George Hearn was not to. Commissioned into the 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment on the 14th April
1917 he was to die of wounds in enemy hands on the 12th, May, 1917 after serving less than one month with the battalion.
As the month of March drew to a close H.R.H. The Prince Of Wales and Lieutenant-Colonel Stanley L. Barry, A.D.C., D.S.O.
were attached to the Regiment on the 29th March. During the following day visitors of a more equestrian nature were received
when 10 Riding horses and 1 Light Draught horse joined from the Supply Depot at Rouen.
If March had proved to be a static
month with no movement, April would see once more the rapid deployment of the Regiment to various locations in the Ypres Sector.
The enemy was once more on the move and this time the now developing Western Front would witness the first use of poison
April: Second Battle Of Ypres
During the early weeks of April the
weather had improved. This provided the enemy with an opportunity of unhindered aerial reconnaissance and observation over
the Ypres Sector. Once this intelligence was gathered and collated, the enemy would attack under a concentrated artillery
barrage that would clear a path for the infantry as they advanced. In addition to this mass of artillery fire the Germans
would release 5700 cylinders of chlorine gas and defy the Hague Convention.
In early April the British, complying
with the wishes of General Joffre, had taken over the positions occupied by the French. These front line trenches, in
a poor state but construction dictated by a high water table, stretched from St. Eloi northwards to a point south-west of
Encompassed behind this frontage was, what the British referred to, as the 'G.H.Q. Line.' Constructed
by the French and sited as a reserve line, the position extended northwards from Zillebeke Lake to the east of Wieltje and
varied in distance from the front from roughly 1.5 kilometres in the south to 5 kilometres in the north. The line then
extended to the north-west whereupon it connected with positions covering the approaches to Boesinghe and the Yser Canal to
the north of Ypres. Utilising the topography of the landscape and thus well sited, this "strength in depth" position
was more akin to defensive tactics adopted in 1918. Consisting of a number of redoubts spaced about 450 metres apart,
these in turn were connected to each other by trenches thus assisting mutual support. If the position itself seemed formidable,
this defensive line was also protected by barbed wire defences over 5.5 metres in width.
Herbert Plumer, Officer Commanding V Corps, had three divisions in the line by the the opening of the battle on the 22nd April.
In the context of the inclusion of the 3rd Cavalry Division on the 23rd of the month the Author will now include the dispositions
of the Allied forces from north to south respectively.
North of the Poelcapelle Road the line was held by the French
consisting of the 87th Territorial Division located to the north of Pilckem and the 45th Algerian Division located near Langemarck.
On the French right flank the 1st Canadian Division under the command of Lieutenant-General Edwin A.H. Alderson, a distinguished British
Army officer, held the line after only arriving in the Ypres Sector five days previously.
To the right flank of
the Canadians that rested on Berlin Wood, the line in this sector as far as Polygon Wood, was held by the 28th Division under
the command of Major-General Edward S. Bulfin. Although his career had primarily consisted of Staff appointments pre-war,
Bulfin was appointed command of the division after an impressive counter-attack by the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Division,
of which he was in command, on the 23rd October 1914 near Pilckem.
From the environs of Polygon Wood to the south
near Hill 60 the line was held by the 27th Division commanded by Major-General Thomas D'Oyly Snow. On this divisions right
flank, Hill 60, had been successfully captured after mining operations on the 17th April. Assaulted by units of the 5th Division
the enemy counter-attacked during the following day gaining positions right of the Hill but were forced to abandon these at
Facing the Allies were the German Fourth Army under the command of General Duke Albrecht von Wurttemberg.
At his disposal were Four Corps ordered from north to south as follows:
XXIII Reserve Corps, General Hugo von
XXVI Reserve Corps, General Eugen Otto Freiherr von Hugel.
XXVII Reserve Corps, General Adolph von
XV Corps, General Berthold Karl Adolf von Deimling.
The above, comprising in total of 10 Divisions
plus XXII Reserve Corps, less one division, under the command of General Erich von Falkenhayn located along the
Yser Canal were ready to prosecute the offensive. In addition, 2 Marine Brigades located on the Belgian coast were,
if needed, placed at the disposal of 4th Army Commander.
The Allied line was to be pounded into submission as a precursor
to the assault by the infantry by divisional artillery and a vast array of heavy artillery pieces and howitzers.
The German bombardment commenced on the 19th April with "Zero" Hour initially timed for early on the morning of
the 22nd. Shortly before the gas attack was scheduled to take place, the weather conditions were deemed unsuitable due to
the lack of a favourable wind. The enemy barrage continued however to its own timetable with fire being intensified on the
forward trenches, supply routes and a concentrated bombardment of Ypres town itself and environs. The bombardment seemed to
ease somewhat as the day progressed but once again heavy and sustained fire opened up at around 5 p.m. It was now, with a
suitable breeze that would aid distribution, that the chlorine gas cylinders were opened for a period of five minutes.
There was now a slight pause in the bombardment by German field guns to avoid dissipating the embryonic gas clouds as they
drifted towards the left of the line and the positions held by the French. The clouds, drifting along at ground level and
of greenish-yellow in colour, began to sink into the trenches occupied by the Zouaves and Tirailleurs of the 45th Algerian
Division under the command of General Quinquandon. Without any form of protection against inhalation, the men began to cough
and choke as the gas dissolved in the mucous of their lungs. As this process continued, hydrochloric acid was formed in the
respiratory system that in significant quantities would prove to be fatal. As men literally choked to death, those that
could still breath though affected, fled from the trenches in a blind panic. Ten minutes after the release of the gas German
artillery began a bombardment of the French trenches with shrapnel no doubt a tactic to catch men out in the open then at
5.20 p.m. the infantry commenced their advance.
This terrifying spectacle was witnessed by the men of the 1st Canadian
Division occupying trenches on the left of the British line. It is a testament to both artilleries of the French and the Canadians
that they even continued to maintain fire on the advancing enemy. It soon became apparent however that the German infantry
were making steady progress on the left flank as the French gunners were eventually forced to retire. At around 7 p.m. as
the situation became critical the Canadians were in serious danger of being outflanked. The 10th Battery Royal Canadian Field
Artillery, 3rd Canadian Artillery Brigade located to the north-east St. Julien, under the command of Major W.B.M.
King, manoevered around to the left and began to open fire at close range into the ranks of the advancing infantry.
Dealing the enemy a temporary stopping blow the latter began to dig in as a small force of Canadian infantry from the 3rd
Canadian Brigade, 1st Canadian Division were sent forward from St. Julien under the command of Lieutenant George W. Stairs
of the 14th Battalion. Surmising that the French had completely capitulated and that this in turn had left the flank of the
Canadian position exposed, Lieutenant-General Alderson, Officer Commanding 1st Canadian Division, ordered forward two reserve
battalions of the 2nd Canadian Brigade.
Interpretation of the exact events that had transpired led General Sir Horace
Smith-Dorrien G.O.C. Second Army to believe that a possible enemy breakthrough would occur either north of Boesinghe or to
the south of the latter place due to the retirement of the French. As a consequence V Corps was to be reinforced by the 1st
Canadian Brigade whilst the 2nd Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment of the 28th Division, under the command of Major John
L.J. Clarke were to be placed at the disposal of the O.C. 1st Canadian Division located at Brielen should the enemy force
a crossing of the Yser Canal. The positions held by the 3rd Canadian Brigade were further augmented by the reinforcement of
two battalions of the 1st Canadian Brigade, namely the 2nd and 3rd Battalions under the commands of Lieutenant-Colonels David
Watson and Robert Rennie respectively who were immediately sent forward from Vlamertinghe by G.O.C. V Corps.
the shock and panic induced by the gas attack some French units had remained virtually in situ. The 1st Tirailleurs of Quinquandon's
45th Division still maintained a foothold in a portion of their original front line near the Poelcappelle Road. Quinquandon,
on receiving additional artillery and an infantry battalion from General Henri Putz and his reserve force of the Detachment
Army of Belgium (Detachment d'Armee de Belgique), intended to launch a counter-attack in the early morning
of the 23rd to regain the trenches lost. This was a promise that Foch himself reiterated to Sir John French on the morning
of the 23rd instant providing that the British could maintain their present line until the French re-established their original
positions which he assured would be in a matter of a few days. To this, Sir John French concurred that it was sound military
wisdom to re-occupy the original front line positions that were held prior to the attack and that he would co-operate and
conduct operations accordingly. However, if this was not completed in a particular time frame, he would not allow the British
to remain in this exposed position.
Exploiting the weakness of this flank the enemy launched an attack between
the positions held by the 1st Tirailleurs and the Canadians at about 9 p.m. Initially the German attack gained ground forcing
the retirement of the French but with the assistance of men of the 13th Canadian Battalion the impetus of the advance was
halted with the men now establishing a defensive position along the Poelcappelle Road.
To assist in the defense of this
position, a party of the 2nd Battalion, East Kent Regiment, 28th Division, were sent forward at the request of the O.C. Canadian
The tactical situation still remained critical
with the Germans having forced a crossing of the Yser Canal north of Boesinghe at Het Sas. Langemarck and Pilckem had fallen
with the enemy now occupying high ground to the south of the latter with the line extending eastwards, through Kitchener's
Wood and to the north-east of St. Julien.
To co-operate with an attack to be launched by the French against Pilckem,
orders were issued to Brigadier-General Turner from the 1st Canadian Division to perform a counter-attack against Kitchener's
Wood and to proceed onwards in a north-westerly direction. This attack would be performed by the 10th and 16th Battalions
under the commands of Lieutenant-Colonel Russell L. Boyle and Lieutenant-Colonel Robert G.E. Leckie respectively.
11.10 p.m. the 10th Battalion who were already in position about 500 yards from the wood awaited the arrival of the 16th Battalion.
There was still sufficient light to make out the outline of the wood and it was observed, as the War Diary records, that a
house was visible (Oblong Farm). It was of considered opinion that the 'house' possibly contained machine-guns but,
after consideration, it was surmised that this objective would be dealt with by another unit and therefore did not fall into
the remit of their orders.
Reporting that the 16th Battalion were now in position at 11.45 p.m. the order to advance
was issued 3 minutes later. With the 10th Battalion, leading the attack, it was remarked how quietly the advance commenced
apart from the noise of footsteps and, as the War Diary records, "the knock of bayonet scabbards against thighs."
If this minor indiscretion of successfully maintaining noise discipline was overlooked, worse was to follow as the
men approached an innocuous looking hedge. As the men proceeded to try to pass through this obstacle they were met with heavy
machine-gun and rifle fire. Two supporting field guns had by now ceased fire and the shock of this intense fire no doubt caused
the advance to falter at this natural barrier. Those that were not killed or wounded however quickly seized the initiative
and at a fast running pace they stormed the German trench. It is fair to say that no quarter was given as the Canadians performed
good execution with the bayonet and rifle butt and the enemy position fell in less than a minute. With this trench cleared
the advance continued but met with stubborn enemy resistance. By midnight the 10th Battalion proceeded to clear the wood and
occupied forward positions awaiting the arrival of the lead companies of the 16th.
The 16th Battalion had commenced
their advance at a position close to the St. Julien Road at a distance of about 1000 yards from the German positions.
Rising to the attack and on reaching a position about 300 yards from the enemy the latter opened up with rifle and machine-gun
fire. Doubling the advance as the sky began to be illuminated by signal flares that necessitated the advancing men to
lay down, a charge then commenced resulting in the penetration of the enemy line. Men were simply bayoneted or those
that chose not to fight surrendered resulting in numerous prisoners who, due to the thinned ranks of the Canadians, could
not be escorted to the rear. Orders were issued however that as regards captives, they were not to be treated unfairly or
harshly, a difficult decision no doubt in the heat of battle to men who had seen their comrades fall and a testament to the
On entering the wood and navigating northwards utilising the North Star large calibre artillery
pieces were observed in situ that the War Diary records were possibly of French in origin that had been abandoned. Authors
note: It may be possible that these could also be guns of the 2nd (London) Heavy Battery and of 4.7 inch calibre.
the men a line was now established on the far side of the wood as Lieutenant-Colonel Leckie proceeded to the rear to acquire
reinforcements leaving Captain William Rae in command.
In a request by message to 3rd Canadian Brigade that reinforcements
were needed at this critical juncture Leckie also requested that horses be also sent forward to extricate the abandoned guns.
Gathering together stragglers as he returned through the wood and directing them forward to assist Captain Rae, Leckie assessed
the tactical situation of both flanks from a position in the enemy front line to ascertain which portions of the system still
remained in the hands of the enemy.
It soon became apparent that fire was being directed from the rear and it was identified
that the enemy held a redoubt or defensive position located in the south-west of the wood and positions to the north-west.
Reinforcements had by now arrived in the form of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 1st Canadian Brigade. The 2nd Battalion,
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel David Watson, were therefore on arrival at Mouse Trap Farm to the south of the wood sent
forward to deal with this obstacle. The War Diary of the 16th Battalion records that an insufficient number of men were sent
forward to deal with this strong point and that the attack was repulsed. It is impossible to reach a conclusion as to why
Colonel Watson did not commit a large number of men to complete this task but one can surmise that his actual intention was
to ensure that casualties sustained were kept to a minimum. As daylight began to approach Captain Rae withdrew his men from
forward positions and retired to the line of captured enemy trenches where the men began to consolidate the positions and
prepare for defence. The artillery pieces that had been recaptured were placed under guard as Colonel Leckie discussed the
tactical situation with Major John Leckie (Authors note: Second-in-Command).
Casualties sustained by both battalions
had been heavy. The 10th Battalion had gone into action with 816 all ranks and at dawn all that remained were 5 Officers and 188
men. Lieutenant-Colonel Boyle had been mortally wounded and Major Joseph McLaren, second-in-command had been wounded but was
unfortunately killed whilst being transported to the rear.
During the night yet more battalions had been rushed
forward and the brief description above of the first day of the Second Battle of Ypres warrants more in-depth study and contemplation
of events as they unfolded. The Author would therefore recommend the following excellent publications that cover both the
actions of the infantry and the artillery:
History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Western Front 1914-18 by General
Sir Martin Farndale, KCB.
St Julien, Ypres, by Graham Keech. Battleground Europe Series. Pen & Sword Books Ltd.
10th Hussars: "Turn Out At Once!"
To the south at Sercus the 10th Hussars
received orders at 10.30 a.m. on the morning of the 23rd April to "turn out at once." The Regiment
were ordered to proceed to the Brigade rendezvous at Sercus as soon as possible.
Concentration complete, the 8th Cavalry
Brigade set forth for the Ypres Sector (minus "B" Echelon who were to remain in billets at Sercus) at 1 p.m. Marching
northwards via Hazebrouck and Caestre the Brigade arrived at Abeele Station to the south-west of Poperinge at 5.30 p.m. Massing
near the station, they remained in this position until 10 p.m. and then proceeded to bivouack, as Whitmore's History records,
"in the open."
During the night units of General Bulfin's 28th Division had been sent forward.
These units were placed under the overall command of Colonel Augustus D. Geddes of the 2nd East Kent's (Buffs) and
placed at the disposal of Alderson's 1st Canadian Division. Referred to as Geddes's Detachment the objectives
of this force were to link up with the 3rd Canadian Brigade at Kitchener's Wood and to push out the flank in a westerly
direction. This task was to be performed by the 2nd Buffs. To the left of this line an advance was to be made to
establish contact with the French by the 3rd Middlesex who would then extend their right flank to gain touch with the 2nd
Buffs. To the rear of these forward battalions an advance was to be made by the 1/5th King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment),
followed by the 1st Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, in Reserve, that would ultimately plug the gap.
early morning the attack to stabilise the line had succeeded despite the lack of sufficient artillery. Yet more Allied
infantry were sent forward with the French proposing to counter-attack during the afternoon however, the tactical situation
still remained critical due to the overwhelming superiority of enemy infantry poised to strike at any moment.
As a consequence
of the developing situation, Sir John French bolstered Smith-Dorrien's Second Army committing the 50th (Northumbrian)
Division under the command of Major-General Sir Walter F.L. Lindsay to the front. The 150th Brigade (York and Durham
Brigade) and the 151st Brigade (Durham Light Infantry Brigade) respectively were posted to the 28th Division whilst the 149th
Brigade ( Northumberland Infantry Brigade) were sent to occupy the third line of defence astride the Poperinghe-Ypres Road
at Brandhoek. Furthermore, orders were issued by Sir John French to commit units of the 4th Division under the command of
Major Henry F.M. Wilson as well as the Lahore Division under the command of Major-General Henry D'U Keary. In addition
to these units, 1st Cavalry Division would take up position to the north-west of Elverdinghe in support of the French 186th
Brigade, 87th Division. The 5th Division would also commit the 13th Infantry Brigade under the command of Brigadier-General
Robert Wanless O'Gowan who would take up position on the left flank of Geddes's Detachment.
Under the overall
command of Brigadier-General O'Gowan, the men prepared for the attack in a northerly direction towards Pilckem. A critical
delay occurred as the men formed up prior to the proposed launch resulting in a wasteful expenditure by what little artillery
could be mustered to support the advance. Nevertheless the attack commenced at 4.15 p.m. With very little fire support and
facing a determined enemy the 13th Infantry Brigade were literally cut to pieces; Geddes's Detachment, advancing on the
right met a similar fate. Little ground had been gained and an advance made by the French 45th Division to the east of the
Canal had proved to be ineffectual.
During the night 23rd/24th April,
Lizerne had fallen to the German XXIII Reserve Corps under von Rathen but any further advances were halted by combined units
of the French and Belgian Armies.
On the front held by units of the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Brigades to the north-east of
St. Julien the night had consisted of consolidating their positions. This area or sector of the front being referred to as
At about 4 a.m. gas was detected moving towards the positions held by the 8th and 15th Battalions,
2nd and 3rd Brigades, right and left of the line respectively. Proceeded by a heavy artillery barrage the 2nd Ersatz
Brigade, attached to XXVI Reserve Corps, assaulted positions held by the 15th Battalion, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
William R. Marshall, who began to suffer the full effects of the chlorine gas discharge. Forced to temporarily retire,
the line was penetrated by the enemy but two companies on the left flank adjoining the the 2nd East Kents of 28th Division
remained in position.
On the right of the position, the 8th Battalion, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Louis
J. Lipsett, although subjected to the effects of the gas, stood fast. As German units of XXVII Reserve Corps attempted
to break through their line they were met with intense rifle and machine-gun fire resulting in heavy losses.
On the left
flank of the companies of the 2nd East Kents, the 13th Canadian Battalion were also coming under increased pressure from the
enemy. In turn the units holding the remainder of the line as it stretched westwards towards St. Julien were being dealt a
hammer blow as the German XXVI Reserve Corps attempted to advance southwards. This front was reinforced by further Canadian
battalions and as dawn began to break the extent of the German advance became apparent. If the enemy succeeded in breaking
the line, it was all to clear to O.C. 1st Canadian Division that St. Julien would fall unless his men and reinforcements thrown
into the battle could stem the tide.
The Battle Continues
At Abeele, Thomas
and the men of the 10th Hussars received orders to "Saddle Up" at 6.30 a.m. The Regiment only remained in this state
of readiness for a period of half an hour as at 7 a.m. the horses were "Off Saddled."
Once again the men were
ordered to "Saddle Up" and at 10 a.m. they marched off via Boeschepe to a position south of Vlamertinghe where
they arrived at noon and remained in a state of readiness. The Regiment then "Off Saddled" whereupon each man was
issued with 100 rounds of ammunition. The question remained as to if and when the Hussars would be committed to the battle.
By mid morning a retirement by Canadian units still holding the line to the west and east of St. Julien was ordered
supported by two battalions of the 150th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division. After a further tactical withdrawal, at
about 3 p.m., St. Julien was entered by the enemy who then attempted to continue the advance southwards. This movement was
checked by the advance of the 1/4th Yorkshire Regiment supported by the 1/4th East Yorkshire Regiment, 150th Brigade. Although
under heavy artillery fire both battalions, assisted by the arrival of the 1st Royal Irish Rifles, 27th Division, and
supported by field batteries of the Canadian and 28th Division's artillery, managed to hold on to a position
about 700 yards south of St. Julien until being ordered to withdraw at nightfall.
No further advance was to be made by
the enemy in this sector of the line however orders were now issued for a counter-attack. This was to be scheduled for 3.30
a.m. on the morning of the 25th.
Of the Hussars located at Vlamertinghe, no orders were issued committing them to the
battle. At 10 p.m. the men proceeded into billets located 3 miles south-west of the latter place.
In the early
hours of the morning of the 25th the bombardment commenced at 3.30 a.m. Due to some confusion as to the forming up positions
of the infantry, one factor being the rescheduling of the hour of attack, Brigadier-General Charles P.A. Hull, O.C. 10th
Brigade, 4th Division who was to command the counter-attack, postponed the assault until 5.30 a.m. It was a sad reflection
that this order had not been communicated to the guns who, by the time of the attack, had either fired all their rounds allocated
or those that still had rounds to fire were engaging targets at too far a distance. Of the original fifteen battalions that
were due to commence the attack only the 10th Brigade finally made the assault. The five battalions that constituted the brigade
were basically cut to pieces on the edge of the village of St.Julien as machine-gun fire from houses and positions in Kitchener's
Wood and farms to the south mowed down their ranks. A gallant advance that sadly lacked the neccessary artillery support.
It may now be worthwhile to look at the positions occupied by the various Cavalry Divisions. Source is the Official
History Of The War and relates to positions at night on the 24th April.
1st Cavalry Division, located north of
Elverdinghe and to the south of Woesten
2nd Cavalry Division, north-east of Vlamertinghe
3rd Cavalry Division, 8th
Brigade, south of Vlamertinghe
6th Brigade, Boeshepe
7th Brigade, Westouter
The Lahore Division, concentrated at Godewaersvelde, south of Steenvoorde. Arrived in the Ypres
Sector at noon on the 25th April.
As the assault progressed the 10th Hussars "Saddled Up" at 6 a.m. and
then "Stood Too."
Orders were then received for the Brigade to rendezvous at Point 35 located to the south-west
of Vlamertinghe where on arrival they then proceeded to "Off Saddle." (Authors note: Point 35, on
examination of various maps of the Ypres Salient, equates to the location of Linde Goed Farm, north-east of Busseboom).
Further orders were then issued for the Brigade to "Saddle Up" whereupon they proceeded to Peselhoek to the north-east
of Poperinghe. Here they remained for the duration of an hour as the men watched the latter place being shelled by enemy artillery.
The Regiment now commenced to move southwards marching to a position to the north, north-east of Steenvoorde where they
occupied billets at 6.30 p.m.
In the Battle Zone the French in conjunction with a miriad of units that had now assembled
east of the Yser Canal prepared to launch a new counter-attack. This time the attack would be supported by a large concentration
of artillery of both field and heavy calibre who would commence a barrage at 1.20 p.m. that would then lift 200 yards as the
infantry assault commenced. The French would attack towards Pilckem whilst the Lahore Division, on their right flank,
would advance in the direction of Langemarck from a position north of Wieltje and St. Jean. The 149th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian)
Division on the latters right flank respectively, would advance towards St. Julien from positions on the Wieltje - St.
Julien Road. In addition to the above, 10th Brigade, 4th Division, would advance with the Lahore Division between Kitchener's
Wood and the Wieltje - St. Julien Road.
As the morning of the 26th April dawned the Hussars "Saddled Up" at
6 a.m. with orders to move to the north of Droogland (War Diary states "Cross Roads N.E. of 'T' in Droglandt"
original spelling) where they would rendezvous with the remainder of the brigade. Proceeding to "Off Saddle"
here they remained until 11.15 a.m. whereupon they "Saddled Up" and marched northwards once again to Abeele. Arriving
at the latter place at 12.15 p.m. and "Off Saddled."
To the east the counter-attack had begun under heavy enemy
artillery fire. The terrain to be crossed by the men of the Lahore Division and that of 149th Brigade was swept by murderous
machine-gun and shell-fire fire. Casualties were heavy, in particular to the men of the Lahore Division as they advanced
towards the high ground of Mauser Ridge. The gallant advance of the units of the 149th Brigade penetrated the southern
environs of the village of St. Julien but as the day wore on this position became untenable and the men were driven back
to a line to the south-west of the village.
Of the French advance, this was proposed to be carried out in two manoeuvres.
The right flank attack commanded by General Joppe, Officer Commanding the 152nd Division on the left flank
of the Lahore Division respectively, would advance towards Pilckem. Should this succeed in gaining ground, General
Quiquandon, commanding the 87th and 45th Divisions on the left flank, would advance through Boesinghe and across the Yser
Canal to exploit any advantage.
As Joppe's right attack on the left flank of the Lahore Division advanced from a
position to the west of Turco Farm initial progress was made until the assaulting troops were subjected to a release of chlorine gas
by the enemy. The attack subsequently stalled on the French right forcing the attackers to retire, furthermore, the gas discharge
also enveloped the Lahore Division as they advanced forward causing numerous casualties and an eventual retirement.
only significant gain during the day had been the partial capture of Lizerne by a combined attack of the 18th French Division
under the command of General Cure and the Belgian 6th Division under the command of General De Ceuninck.
remained at Abeele until 8.30 p.m. whereupon they once again "Saddled Up" on receipt of orders to move to a Brigade
rendezvous point located 2 miles south of Poperinghe where they picketed their charges.
At 12.15 a.m. a detachment
consisting of the Commanding Officer, Adjutant and the Medical Officer plus 10 Squadron Officers, 304 N.C.O's and men
and the Machine-Gun Detachment supported by "A" Echelon Waggons proceeded to hutted accomodation located at Vlamertinghe
arriving at the latter place at 4.15 a.m. Whitmore's History adds further that he himself proceeded by motor-car to arrange
billets for the Essex Yeomanry.
The Doubts Of Smith-Dorrien
were commenced by the French during the afternoon of the 27th April that, due to a 'misunderstanding,' committed fully the
Lahore Division into the battle with disastrous consequences. French forces had however completed the capture of Lizerne
and further advances were made towards Steenstraat and Het Sas but Smith-Dorrien was beginning to doubt the commitment and
extent of the French forces employed and the the ability to hold on to the line as it stood at present, the latter
coming under increasing enemy artillery activity.
Smith-Dorrien took matters into his own hands writing a letter to Lieutenant-General
Sir William Robertson, Chief of the General Staff, British Expeditionary Force. In this he expressed his doubts as to
the conduct of future operations and amongst other matters reccomended a tactical withdrawal to prepared positions in the
form of the G.H.Q. Line. The rebuke was not long to follow when during the afternoon of the same day Robertson telephoned
Smith-Dorrien and made the situation all to clear. Sir John French insisted that co-operation was to be maintained with the
French, reserves were available and that any perceived concerns as regards to his left flank were unfounded due to the
occupation of Lizerne with future operations pending.
The inevitable was to follow in a few hours in the form of a telegram.
This stated that he was to hand over control of all operations immediately to General Plumer who would report directly
to G.H.Q. Furthermore, Smith-Dorrien was also ordered to assist him in his duties by providing such officers of his General
Staff that Plumer would require to perform the command.
The moral courage of Great War General's is often questioned
and there is no doubt that Smith-Dorrien knew the possible consequences of his actions. Of his 'concerns' to Sir John
French, one primary factor, the retirement to a position better suited for defence, exemplifies a sound knowledge of strategy
and tactical awareness. It is therefore rather ironic that within a few hours of being removed from command some of the first
orders received by General Plumer from the Commander-in-Chief were to consolidate positions presently held with a view to
a retirement to prepared positions to the east of the town of Ypres.
Preparation For Retirement
As the events of the 27th April unfolded and with the Hussars now occupying billets at Vlamertinghe, as if to underline
Smith-Dorrien's concerns about enemy artillery, the town and the huts occupied by the Regiment were heavily bombarded
with shrapnel shell between 5 and 6 p.m. Casualties however were light with two men slightly wounded, Sergeant Henry Paskell,
4802, and Private Charles Cavanagh, 963. The horses picketed in the open unfortunately caught the full force of the barrage
with one killed and 4 wounded, Whitmore's History recording that due to the severity of this shell-fire they had to be
During the day Second-Lieutenant Charles Humbert and 9 Other Ranks had joined the Regiment, a baptism of fire
in the true sense of the word.
At 9.15 a.m. on the morning of the 28th April enemy shelling of the Camp with shrapnel
shell resumed with two men being wounded (names not recorded in the War Diary or by Whitmore) but did not report sick. Trenches
were now dug about 200 yards from the Camp to provide shelter against enemy artillery but during this activity the men were
ordered to turn out and proceeded to march back to their horses which were met at 4 p.m.
As the French had resumed attacks
east of the Canal during the day with little progress, General Plumer, now in command of what was referred to as 'Plumer's
Force' began to make preparations for the retirement to new defensive positions.
Authors note: 'Plumer's
Force,' V Corps, that had come into effect at 7.50 a.m. on the morning of the 28th (Source; Official History) and
consisting of the following units:
1st Canadian Division (Alderson) with attached Infantry Brigades, 10th,
13th & 149th (4th, 5th and 50th Divisions respectively)
27th Division (Snow)
28th Division (Bulfin) with attached
Infantry Brigades, 11th, 150th & 151st (4th and 50th Divisions respectively)
Lahore Division (D'U Keary)
Cavalry Division (Kavanagh)
2 Field Companies, Royal Engineers (attached from 7th Division)
The new defensive
line to be prepared and then occupied would incorporate Hill 60 to the south then run northwards to the Menin Road to
a position east of Hooge. Continuing northwards across the high ground of the Frezenberg Ridge, the line then turned
in a westerly direction towards Mouse Trap Farm also strategically located on rising ground and on towards the Canal.
As Plumer prepared his plans for the retirement, Sir John French met General Foch once again on the 29th April. Foch assured
French that more reinforcements were arriving to support the attacks made by General Putz. With a further attack planned to
commence in the early morning hours of the 30th, Foch persuaded the Commander-in-Chief to delay any retirement until
the outcome of the attack was evident. To this Sir John agreed and Plumer was issued with orders to maintain contact with
the French advance on their right flank. If this attack failed by the French, the withdrawal would be imminent.
advance achieved very little gains to the east of the Canal with no advance at all being conducted on their right flank
and as a consequence no flanking operations were commenced by the British. After yet further consultation with Foch, Sir John
French agreed to a postponement in the retirement of 24 hours. Time was running out unless General Putz could force a breakthrough
and advance on his objective and capture Pilckem.
May: The Salient Evolves
last three days of the month of April were spent by the 10th Hussars at Abeele. Nothing of any importance occurred until the
30th when, rather prophetically, the war Diary states that; "Owing to the probability of the Regiment being required
for duty in the trenches, strips of flannel were issued to each man as a preventative against asphyxiating gases."
During the 1st May, the French attempted to launch another attempt to recover lost ground and continue the advance.
With no substantial advance materialising, both Generals Foch and Sir John French concurred that due to forthcoming operations
to be conducted further south in the Artois region, the British were to continue with the retirement whilst the French were
to remain in situ covering the left flank of the now developing salient. Consequently orders were issued to General Plumer
to commence the withdrawal during the night from positions in the eastern sector of the line. The History Of The Fiftieth
Division by Everard Wyrall records this hour of withdrawal as commencing at 8 p.m. on the evening of the 1st May.
The first units began to withdraw under the cover of darkness but as dawn broke on the morning of the 2nd it appeared that
the enemy remained ignorant of any retirement in progress. Soon after midday however the German artillery began to put
down a heavy bombardment on the line occupied by 12th, 11th and 10th Brigades of the 4th Division stretching from Berlin Wood
to Turco Farm and on the French right flank.
At 4 p.m. the enemy artillery began to fire gas shells onto the line followed
at 4.30 p.m. by the discharge of chlorine gas from cylinders located in his front line positions. The 12th Brigade located
near Mouse Trap Farm were particularly affected as no orders had reached them in time to take precautions utilizing whatever
improvised equipment they had been issued with against asphyxiation by poison gas. The 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers
due to the effects of the gas were temporarily forced to abandon their positions as two enemy divisions of the German XXVI
and XXVII Reserve Corps respectively, advanced behind the gas cloud as it moved towards the British lines. Alert to the advancing
enemy infantry two artillery batteries attached to the 27th Division began to commence fire behind this curtain of gas as
the enemy attack developed causing many casualties. Under machine-gun and rifle fire the attack was halted whilst reserve
units of the 4th Division were hurried forward to occupy the endangered position.
Apart from desultory shell-fire
throughout the night the enemy remained inactive and it was under cover of darkness that further orders were issued to recommence
In the days previous the Hussars had remained in billets at Abeele. As dawn broke on the morning of the
3rd May enemy artillery and trench mortars began a steady bombardment of the sector of the line held by the 11th Brigade,
4th Division, and the 85th Brigade, 28th Division near to Berlin Wood. Between 2 and 3 p.m. the enemy launched yet another
attack but despite gaining a tentative footing in the Wood the following infantry assault was broken up by artillery.
During the day the 8th Cavalry Brigade had remained in billets at Abeele until orders were issued at 4 p.m. for billeting
parties to proceed to Watou to the north. The order was cancelled whereupon the Regiment, in Brigade, "Saddled Up"
leaving the Brigade Rendezvous Point at Abeele and once again proceeded to Point 35 located to the south-west of Vlamertinghe.
On arrival at the latter place the horses were "Pegged Down" and a dismounted party was formed from the Regiments
of the Brigade which consisted of 15 Officers and 300 Other Ranks. At 10 p.m. this party set forth by route of march to a
field located one and a half miles east of Vlamertinghe on the Poperinghe - Ypres Road. Arriving at this location at
1.15 a.m. here this composite force remained in the rain until 4.45 a.m. when they then returned to their horses at Point
35 which was reached at 6.15 a.m.
Authors note: The reason or nature of this operation is not recorded in the War Diary.
Whitmore's History however states that this was conducted in conjunction with the final withdrawal of infantry units.
This new line, an arc of over 3 miles at its most distant from Ypres formed a protective perimeter and was now held by
the following units. The 27th Division in the south from Hill 60 to a point near the Roulers railway. The 28th Division
from the latter position to Mouse Trap Farm, and finally to the north where the 4th Division occupied the line from
the Farm to Turco Farm.
Should the enemy be alerted to this retirement this composite brigade of the 3rd Cavalry Division
were strategically placed to respond should the situation arise.
At 7.30 a.m. on the morning of the 4th May the
Hussars, in Brigade, "Saddled Up" and proceeded by way of march at 8 a.m. to Houtkerque located to the north-west
of Watou. On arrival at 12.15 p.m. the men proceeded to billet in the locality. The War Diary also records that on this date
the now promoted Temporary Major Hon. Frederick W. Stanley rejoined the Regiment from England for which he had departed
on the 28th March.
So ended the Battle Of St. Julien as it was distinguished after the Great War by the British
As one phase of the Battle Of Second Ypres closed, yet another was to follow. This
time Thomas and the men of the 10th Hussars were to be thrown into a desperate action.
8th - 13th May,
The Battle Of Frezenberg Ridge
The following day the men remained in billets until 4 p.m. when 17
Officers and 340 Non Commissioned Officers and men paraded mounted and proceeded to the Brigade Rendezvous Point. Riding
to Brielen which was reached at 7.30 p.m. to the west of Ypres, 10 Officers and 170 N.C.O.'s were selected from each Regiment
of the brigade and were furnished with picks and shovels for fatigues on the banks of the Yser Canal to the
north of Ypres. Having dismounted and with one man left in charge per two horses in case of shelling by the enemy, the
men then proceeded by march and commenced digging trenches for V Corps at 9.45 p.m. under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Edmund Deacon, Essex Yeomanry. As the men dug, Ypres was heavily shelled by enemy artillery. On completion of duties
at 1.30 a.m., the men returned to their mounts at 1.45 a.m. and marched back to billets at Houtkerque which were reached
at 5.30 a.m.
After the nights physical exertions the men remained in billets throughout the following day.
movement was planned however when on the 7th May the Regiment set forth at 3.45 p.m. to rendezvous with the remainder of the 8th
Cavalry Brigade at Droglandt (Droogland). The brigade then proceeded to the familiar surroundings of Sercus to the south-west
of Hazebrouck with the Hussars occupying billets in the latter place whilst the Essex Yeomanry proceeded to le Croquet to
In the Salient the Ad hoc units that comprised Plumer's Force now reverted to the designation
V Corps, Second Army, at 6 a.m. The battalions therefore returning to their parent divisions.
Hussars remained in billets throughout the 8th May, to the north in the Ypres Sector the enemy once again unleashed an unparalleled
onslaught as he once again attempted a breakthrough.
To the east the key topographical features of the Gravenstafel and
Zonnebeke ridges provided the enemy artillery with an unobstructed panorama of the whole sector.
At 5.30 a.m. (Authors
note: Sources vary for the exact time but I will quote Wyrall's History Of The Fiftieth Division) the enemy artillery
began a concentrated bombardment of the positions held by V Corps. This maelstrom of artillery shell fell particularly heavily
on the exposed line of trenches located on the forward slopes of the Frezenberg Ridge held by the 83rd Infantry Brigade,
Officer Commanding Temporary Brigadier-General Roger C. Boyle, occupying the right flank of the 28th Division. High explosive
shell smashed the line into oblivion as three German Army Corps were poised to strike; XXVI Reserve Corps, XXVII Reserve Corps
and XV Corps, north to south respectively.
At 8.30 a.m. (Wyrall) the 83rd Brigade, or what remained of
them, were subjected to assault by enemy infantry. Despite the heavy casualties that had been sustained during the bombardment
the survivors somehow managed to repel this initial advance.
Once again the enemy opened up another artillery barrage
at 9 a.m. quickly followed by another attempt to breakthrough the line but this also failed after another brave and heroic
stand. Finally, at 10 a.m. the inevitable happened as the enemy launched a two pronged attack both north of the village
of Frezenberg and south of it forcing a retirement by the 83rd Brigade to trenches in the rear.
In this northern
area the left flank of the 28th Divisional front was held by the 84th Infantry Brigade under the command of Temporary
Brigadier-General Louis J. Bols. Their fate was not disimilar to that of its sister brigade.
Sir Herbert Plumer describes
the events in the Despatch issued by Sir John French dated 15th June 1915. Published in the London Gazette dated Friday 9th
The Author will therefore extract events from this Despatch for the days that proceed the 13th May 1915.
"At 12.25 the centre of a Brigade further to the left also broke; its right battalion,
however, the 1st Suffolks, which had been refused to cover a gap, still held on and were apparently surrounded and overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, three more battalions had been moved up to reinforce, two other battalions were moved up in support to General
Headquarters line, and an Infantry Brigade came up to the grounds of Vlamertinghe Chateau in Corps Reserve."
On the extreme left flank of the 4th Division near Turco Farm, the boundary of the French and British Armies, a detachment
of the enemy attempted to make an incursion into positions held by the 2nd, Essex Regiment, 12th Brigade. This advance was
repulsed with heavy loss to the attackers.
During mid afternoon a counter-attack was launched comprising of units of
the 85th Brigade, under the command of Temporary Brigadier-General Archibald J. Chapman, 28th Division, and the 10th
Brigade, under the command of Temporary Brigadier-General Charles P.A. Hull, of the 4th Division. Although the attack
made initial progress towards Frezenberg the advance was eventually driven back under increasing pressure by the enemy whereupon
a line was established and consolidated to the west of Verlorenhoek.
To the north-east of Wieltje an advance was made
by the 1st East Lancs., 11th Brigade, 4th Division, supported by the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, attached
from the 10th Brigade, also of the 4th Division. The advance of these two battalions successfully connected the originally
held trench line near Mouse Trap Farm with that of the ground gained to the south.
The line held by 80th Brigade, under
the command of Temporary Brigadier-General Wilfred E.B. Smith, 27th Division to the east of Bellewaarde Lake, right
flank of the 83rd Brigade, remained virtually un-broken after a resolute defence by the Princess Patricia's
Canadian Light Infantry who were reinforced by further units of the brigade as the action continued.
The day had been
one of bravery beyond the call of duty. Casualties had been heavy both to the British and Germans and in some instances some
battalions had ceased to exist. As for the artillery who had provided a constant barrage throughout the day, the expenditure
of ammunition had reduced stocks to the minimum. Further to the south as the French and British Armies were on the eve of
their respective offensives in the Artois region, Vimy and Aubers Ridge, this was to have an even greater impact
on the conduct of the War by the British.
On the 9th May the 3rd Cavalry Division were ordered to move to Brielen.
Whitmore's History records that the strength of the Hussars constituted of 80 men per Squadron, the War Diary recording
that in total this amounted to 275 men. Proceeding by motor-bus to Brielen, here the Division concentrated under the command
of Major-General Charles James Briggs (C.O. 7/5/15).
Two Cavalry Divisions, the 1st, who had also arrived in the Salient
during the early hours, and the 2nd respectively, were now placed at the disposal of V Corps.
During the day
German artillery once again pounded the sector. In the line, the positions held by the 81st Infantry Brigade, 27th Division,
were subjected to a heavy bombardment for the duration of two hours as a precursor to an infantry assault by the enemy. The
attack was broken but after a further bombardment another attempt was launched, this time succeeding in the capture of 150
yards of the line. Counter-attacked by the 2nd Gloucester's, the attack failed to retake the lost trenches with the battalion
suffering significant losses in the process.
Throughout the afternoon the whole of the 28th Division frontage, the centre
division, was heavily shelled. The right flank in particular, even though subjected to a ferocious bombardment, managed to
stand fast under the most trying of experiences. On the left, in addition to the heavy bombardment, the line was assaulted
on two occasions. The line, and the men, held.
On the morning of the 10th May the German artillery once again opened
up a concentrated bombardment on positions astride the Ypres-Menin Road held by the 27th Division. Both the 80th and 81st
Brigades of the division, proceeded by a gas barrage, were then subjected to an assault by the German infantry which was successfully
repelled at a heavy cost to the enemy. As the trenches were smashed into oblivion by further shell-fire units of the 80th
Brigade retired to positions west of Bellewarde Wood. There had, as Sir John French's Despatch states, been every intention
of the digging of a switch trench between the Wood linking it to the line. This proved to be an impossible task due
to the barrier created by trees felled in the bombardment.
By now the infantry were becoming exhausted but tenaciously
they still held on with the prospect of relief no doubt becoming a distant dream.
As the town of Ypres continued to burn
under the impact of artillery the Hussars proceeded from Brielen to the town to dig trenches on the Ramparts. Authors note:
Though the War Diary does not record the exact location, this refers to the area either side of the Lille Gate to the south
of the town and the fortifications created by Vauban in the late 1600's.
Enemy artillery once again commenced a heavy
bombardment of the positions held by the 81st Brigade, 27th Division, on the 11th May. A large force of enemy infantry then
advanced and managed to penetrate the line but were driven out by the 9th Royal Scots. The bombardment recommenced in the
late afternoon followed by a further infantry assault but this attempt was broken by machine-gun and rifle fire. Eventually
after another bombardment the enemy made a small gain in the line and despite a counter-attack failing to eject them from
the position the latter fell under the cover of darkness. The position however could not be consolidated as it existed as
a trench in name only after the effects of constant shell-fire. Consequently, this exposed position was abandoned and the
penetration in the line 'cut-off' by the construction of a retrenchment.
The 8th Cavalry Brigade had sent
dismounted parties forward from Brielen at 7 p.m. with a view to taking over trenches located near Hooge Chateau.
note: The War Diary states that the units occupying the trenches to be relieved were "from the 8th Brigade (60th
Regt and Rifle Brigade)." Whitmore's History records these units as 8th Infantry Brigade but 60th Rifles and
Rifle Brigade. Both sources contain anomalies and should be corrected as the 80th Infantry Brigade, 27th Division. Therefore
the correct designation of units occupying the line were the 4th Rifle Brigade and either the 3rd or 4th Battalions of the
King's Royal Rifle Corps, nicknamed the 60th Rifles, a title that had originated in the Americas in the 18th Century.
As regards the 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division, they were temporarily attached to the 5th Division on the night
of the 12th/13th May who were occupying the line to the south of Zillebeke during this period.
As the dismounted cavalry
party advanced towards the trenches at Hooge, the orders were rescinded, War Diary records telephonically, and the men proceeded
back to billets at Brielen arriving at 7.30 a.m. on the morning of the 12th.
During the day the line remained relatively
quiet apart from German artillery fire that maintained a heavy bombardment on positions held by the 27th Division.
During the night the 1st and 3rd Cavalry Divisions relieved the 28th Division in the line, the latter, after suffering
severe casualties in nearly 3 weeks of fighting, finally being withdrawn into Reserve and rest near Poperinghe.
cavalry divisions took up positions in the trenches, they were designated as the 'Cavalry Force' with attached
artillery and engineering units of the 28th Division and placed under the command of Temporary Major-General
Henry De B. De Lisle C.B., D.S.O.
During the night 11th/12th May, the 8th Cavalry Brigade, minus the Essex Yeomanry
who had been tasked with digging a communication trench, moved up in reserve to its sister brigades of the 3rd Cavalry Division.
Occupying support trenches in the 'G.H.Q. Line' to the east of Potijze the brigade now formed
the reserve to the 7th Cavalry Brigade in trenches to the left of the line whilst the 6th Cavalry Brigade occupied trenches
to the right.
Of the Essex Yeomanry, Whitmore records the following. To the south-east of Potijze, the Essex Yeomanry
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Edmund Deacon had feverishly toiled to complete the construction of a substantial
length of communication trench. Constantly subjected to harassment by enemy machine-gun and rifle fire and with
time the essence as dawn approached, the task was not surprisingly completed. Withdrawing two squadrons Lieutenant-Colonel
Deacon instructed Major Francis H.D.C. Whitmore to complete orders and placed "B" Squadron under the command
of Captain Edward A. Ruggles-Brise at his disposal. As the sun rose above the horizon illuminating the landscape exposing
the men to even greater danger, the decision was taken to abandon further activities. The Regiment then proceeded northwards
to rejoin the brigade.
As the cavalry remained in their positions, little did they know that the enemy was about to strike
once again. As dawn broke, all hell was about to break loose.
Thursday 13th May, 1915: The death of
Lance Corporal Thomas Franklin Mason
At 4 a.m. German artillery opened up with a heavy and concentrated
bombardment. The barrage fell over a distance of about 1 mile on the positions occupied by the 6th and 7th Cavalry Divisions
and the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bay's), 1st Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
The War Diary describes
the scene as this storm of artillery shell pounded the area into submission; "A dense pall of smoke hung over everything,
houses collapsed and trenches subsided."
After enduring this maelstrom for over two hours the bombardment began
to move and grow in intensity as it now started to fall on positions to the rear held by the 8th Cavalry Brigade.
the left flank of the front held by the 7th Cavalry Brigade so severe was the bombardment that it forced the 1st and 2nd Life
Guards to commence a retirement, the latter passing through the ranks of the Hussars. No doubt to maintain order, Lieutenant-Colonel
Eustace R.A. Shearman, Major Charles W.H. Crichton and Captain Gerald C. Stewart did good service in helping to rally the
men as the volume of shell-fire continued to increase even more.
At 8 a.m. orders were issued to the 10th Hussars to
leave all kit behind in their trenches. Each man was ordered to carry rifle, bayonet, bandoliers for ammunition and a
spade and prepare to advance to the trenches occupied by the 2nd Dragoon Guards. On arrival at this position they were then
to wheel to the right and dig themselves in. Prior to the advance the Regiment concentrated behind Potijze Chateau and it
was whilst this manoeuvre was being carried out that a shell burst killing Captain Maurice Arthur De Tuyll, Serjeant Arthur
Keeley, 4524, "B" Squadron, and several Other Ranks.
As the men advanced along side the Potijze-Verlorenhoek
Road, "A" Squadron at the head immediately came under heavy artillery and rifle fire as they moved into the open.
As a gap in the line had developed between the 2nd Dragoon Guards and the 5th Dragoon Guards, the latter also of the 1st Cavalry
Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, half a squadron under the command of Temporary Captain Robert C. Gordon-Canning was detached
to resolve the situation. Later in the day Canning's party would provide vital fire support for the counter-attack.
The remaining 2 and a half squadrons now attempted to dig in at the side of the Potijze-Verlorenhoek Road in a ditch
that ran the length of the latter. Heavy artillery fire forced the men to cease the operation whereupon they crossed the open,
Lieutenant John S.M. Wardell being wounded in the process, to the south side of the road to take cover in dug-outs where
they remained in this position until 2 p.m.
It is now that we will turn our attentions to that of the Essex Yeomanry.
For their experiences throughout the morning and into the early afternoon the Author will base their account on Whitmore's
As the Essex Yeomanry rejoined the 8th Cavalry Brigade after digging operations to the south, Major Francis
H.D.C. Whitmore was wounded before reaching the 'G.H.Q. Line' near Potijze. As the barrage had intensified
resulting in the retirement of the 7th Cavalry Brigade, the Yeomanry were located in support positions to the north-east
of Potijze Chateau Garden. At 9 a.m. a telephonic communication was received by Lieutenant-Colonel Deacon informing him, that
despite the retirement that he had witnessed, the front line remained intact. As there is no specific time as to the advance
of the 10th Hussars, this message could possibly allude to the arrival of the latter accompanied by the Royal Horse Guards.
At noon Deacon was informed of the advance of the above units of the 8th Cavalry Brigade. On receipt of this information
orders were then issued for the Yeomanry to occupy the trenches vacated by the latter to the east of the Potijze-Verlorenhoek
Road. Authors note: This once again begs to question either Whitmore's interpretation of events surrounding the Essex
Yeomanry during the morning or the perception that Deacon had as regards the advance of his own brigade. As the latter on
moving forward assembled in the vicinity of Potijze Chateau, close to where Deacon and his men were occupying trenches, surely
he would have witnessed their arrival or subsequent departure or at the very least informed as such as a matter of course
either by subordinate or higher authority.
Summoned to 8th Cavalry Brigade Headquarters located in the grounds of Potijze
Chateau by the Brigadier-General Bulkeley Johnson at 1.30 p.m., the Lieutenant-Colonel was now issued with orders to prepare
for a counter-attack to regain positions lost during the morning. Gathering together his squadron commanders, orders were
given for the attack to commence at 2.15 p.m.