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1/6th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment

Late 3rd Volunteer Battalion.
Awarded 11 battle honours:
France & Flanders 1915-17. Ypres 1917. Langemarck 1917. Somme 1916. Albert 1916. Pozieres. Broodseinde. Poelcapelle. Italy 1917-18. Piave. Vittorio-Veneto.
Died: 40 officers and 469 men.



1914

24th July 1900 the War Office announced that Queen Victoria "was pleased to accept the services of a new battalion of Bristol Riflemen" to be known as the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment. The battalion uniform was unusual, khaki with scarlet facings and slouch hats with plumes of feathers. In the Haldane Reforms of 1908, the battalion became the 6th Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment (Territorial Force).

South Midland Division Territorial Force (48th Division)

The Gloucester and Worcester Infantry Brigade (144th Brigade)
1/4th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment
1/6th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment
7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment
8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

The battalion started annual training on the last Sunday in July 1914, at Minehead. The next day they moved to Bristol and all ranks were dismissed to await mobilization. The order came 4th August and the Division assembled at Swindon. Mid-August the 1/6th moved to villages around Chelmsford.

1915

In March 1915 the 48th Division was inspected by King George V and at the end of the month it moved by train to Folkestone and then crossed to France. The Bn strength was 29 officers and 975 men, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson.

The 1/6th Bn landed at Boulougne on 31st March 1915. They moved by train to Cassel, then marched to the Oudezeele area. 3rd April the Division was reviewed by General Smith-Dorrien. 5th April 144th Brigade marched to billets at Bailleul. On the 10th April the Brigade moved to Armentieres. 17th April 1/6th moved into trenches near Le Gheer. 30th May 1915 Lieut. W.H. Young was killed. In June they moved to trenches opposite Messines, then to Les Brebis, near Loos. In July they went to Lillers and moved by train to Mondicourt. From there they marched to Louvencourt. Then moved into trenches at Hebuterne 20th July. The 1/6th spent months moving between the front line at Gommecourt and Hebuterne, and billets in Couin. In November 1915 the 6th Battalion made their first raid on enemy trenches.


C Company Raid - The Plan

On night of 25/26th November, 'C' Company 1/6th Bn. was to mount a raid on enemy trenches near the corner of Gommecourt wood. The plan of the raid was recorded in 144th Brigade Headquarters Diary -

"Strength of party 5 officers, 100 other ranks; of these two parties of 25 each under an officer told off to enter trenches at X and Y on attached plan. Remaining 3 officers and 50 other ranks to be in support in Z hedge at W on plan. As soon as the two parties are in position 70 yards from German trenches, "ready" to be signalled back to artillery who commence first barrage as shown on plan. The object of this barrage is to make the German sentries take cover, drown the noise of our party approaching and cutting wire, and subsequently to prevent German reinforcements coming up from second line. The first gun to be the signal for the assaulting parties to rush. Bombing parties to be left ay each communication trench, the remainder of the two assaulting parties to work to the central part and then retire on to the support. The whole party then to retire to our trenches and second barrage to open to cover retirement."

Each assaulting column was led by an officer with 4 men with rifles and fixed bayonets, 4 men each carrying 12 bombs, bludgeon and bayonet (used as a dagger), 4 men each with bludgeon and bayonet, 4 men with revolvers and bayonets (for escort to prisoners), 4 men with rifles and fixed bayonets, 4 men each carrying 12 bombs, bludgeon and bayonet (these last 2 sections of 4 men were to block the communication trench and hold the point of entry), following these were 2 telephone men who would remain at the point of entry.

The support party at Z was of 3 officers, 6 grenadiers with rifle grenades, 50 men with rifles, bayonets and reserve of bombs, 1 officer (Royal Field Artillery) with telephone and operator, and 3 telephone men for the infantry.

The raid was commanded by Captain V.L. Young, with 2nd Lt. T.T. Pryce (commanding right party) and 2nd Lt. J.M.C. Badgeley (left party).

The Raid

At 2.40 pm on the afternoon of the 25th, a preliminary bombardment took place, to cut the enemy's wire. As darkness fell, Lt. H.P. Nott and 20 men crept out to Z hedge to watch for German patrols.

11.45 pm - 90 men of 'C' Company (including the 2 raiding parties) moved out to Z hedge. Under bright moonlight the 2 raiding parties advanced to positions 70 yards from the German trenches, both parties were in position by 12.45 am.

12.48 am - Capt. Young received telephone reports that both parties were ready to begin the assault. He waited 3 minutes, for a cloud to obscure the moon, and then asked the Artillery officer to send the signal for the barrage to begin. The word "ready" was telephoned back to Divisional gunners at 1.03 am and the barrage began. The raiders began their assault.

The Right Party (Lt. T.T. Pryce)

At position Y they found only low wire and were able to get into the German trenches without alerting the enemy. The first shelter they found was a telephone office, a German soldier was coming out of the shelter, he refused to surrender and was shot. Three bombs were thrown into the shelter and then a block was formed to cut off the target area. The raiders then ran down the trench throwing bombs into six more shelters. Three unarmed Germans were taken prisoner, but as they were passed along the trench, they dashed into a shelter and emerged with weapons, all three were killed. One of the raiders was sent back to the signallers with a message, but he was never seen again.

A group of German soldiers emerged from a shelter and were bombed. The raiding party then left the German trench and moved back to Z hedge, with one wounded German prisoner. Lieutenant Pryce was wounded by a German officer, but he killed him with his revolver.

The Left Party (Lt. J.M.C. Badgeley)

At position X they found that the enemy wire had not been cut by the artillery barrage. They had to cut through 2 belts of wire, the second belt being new strong wire 5 yards deep. The sound of cutting alerted some enemy sentries, but the Lt. Badgeley and 10 men managed to dash into the German trench. Lt. Badgeley shot 2 enemy soldiers and the first shelter was bombed. The Germans retired along the left trench and more of the enemy threw bombs at the raiders from a parallel rear trench. Contact was made with the right party. Lt. Badgeley was wounded by a bomb which exploded at his feet. As the party made its way back to Z hedge, one of the wounded men was killed.

With both parties now back at Z hedge, Capt. Young telephoned for the Artillery to stop the barrage. Small groups of men then made their way back to the British lines. Lt. D.H. Hartog with a rifle-grenade party, moved off to the left to fire grenades into the enemy trenches, now presumably crowded with enemy soldiers. The party then withdrew.

Results

The prisoner reported that the German trench garrison was 180 strong and that many must have been killed when the deep shelters were bombed. At least 8 German dead were counted in the trench. The raiders lost 1 man killed and 1 man missing (never seen again). 20 men were wounded, including Lt. Badgeley and Lt. Pryce.

In Soldiers Died, there are only 2 men listed as casualties for 25/26th November 1915:

2894 Lance Corporal John William Kilburn "died of wounds" (most likely the 'Left party' casualty)
He was 29 years old, the son of Alexander and Jane Kilburn, of Giggleswick, Settle, Yorkshire. He is buried at Achiet-le-Grand (19 km south of Arras.)

2466 Corporal David James "died" (most likely the "missing" man from the 'Right party')
He was 28 years old, the son of David and Elizabeth James, of Bristol and husband of Beatrice James, of Barton Hill, Bristol. He is buried at Fillievres British Cemetery (44 km west of Arras and 14 km south-west of St Pol.)

Lieutenants Badgeley and Pryce were awarded the Military Cross for the raid.

Lieutenant Thomas Tannatt Pryce had joined the 1/6th Glosters from the Honourable Artillery Company. He was invalided back to England as a result of his wound and later returned to France with the 2/6th Glosters. He was awarded a bar to his M.C. on 19th July 1916 for an "act of exceptional gallantry." He transferred to the Grenadier Guards and was killed near Vieux Berquin, while commanding No.2 Company, 4th Grenadier Guards, on 12th April 1918. He was "last seen engaged in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle against overwhelming odds" and was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

Two Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded:

Lance-Corporal H.W. Moore London Gazette 22nd January 1916 - "For conspicuous gallantry at Gommecourt on the night of 25th/26th November 1915. During a bomb attack against the German trenches he showed great bravery in entering shelters full of the enemy and clearing them with his bombs. When he had no more bombs he fought his way with his fists through a group of Germans in order to carry an order to retire to a blocking group which had been cut off."

Private W.J. Redmore London Gazette 22nd January 1916 - "For conspicuous gallantry on the night of 25th/26th November 1915, when with a raiding party in the German trenches. He showed great bravery in hand-to-hand fighting and was the last man to leave the trench. As he was leaving he found a corporal in the bottom of the trench wounded in the leg, lifted him out, carried him through the German wire, and brought him into safety."


22nd November Lieut. C.E. Schwalm was killed.
26th November Capt. P.G. Irvine was killed.

December was reported to be quiet.

1916

January 1916 the 1/6th were in the front line, in the Hebuterne sector.

DCM - 1640 Lance-Corporal H.J. Glanville (London Gaz. 11 March 1916) - "For conspicuous gallantry and resource on patrol. He has on many occasions carried out difficult and dangerous reconnaissances with success."

Corporal H.S. Pope (London Gaz. 11 March 1916) - "For consistent good work on patrol duty. He has shown great courage, and his reports are always reliable."

On the night of 18th/19th March the 1/6th repulsed a stong German attack that included the use of gas. The action cost the battalion 12 men killed, 29 wounded or gassed and 3 missing. Captain V.L. Young and 2nd Lt. G. Brindal were wounded (18th March) and 2nd Lt. J.G. Homan was gassed on 19th March.

27th April Lt. H.P. Nott was killed.

DCM - 2697 Lance-Corporal E.J. Gingell (London Gaz. 21 June 1916) - "For conspicuous gallantry. When in an enemy trench his officer was severely wounded, but he carried him back into safety, and then, though himself wounded, he returned to the enemy trench and carried a severely wounded man some 700 yards to safety."

Corporal T.H. Hilliar (London Gaz. 21 June 1916) - "For conspicuous gallantry in hand to hand fighting during a raid on the enemy trenches. When the party withdrew he carried a wounded NCO back to our lines, some 700 yards distant."

End of June 1916 the 1/6th were in bivouacs near Sailly. 1st July they moved to reserve line west of Mailly-Maillet. To Sailly on the 3rd, into the front line, Serre sector on the 5th. On the 6th 'B' Company attempted a raid but were driven back. On the 8th the 1/6th were relieved by the 1/4th Glosters.

To Courcelles on the 9th. Back to the front line 12th July to relieve the 1/4th Glosters. On the 13th July 'D' Company made an unsuccessful raid.

To bivouacs at Couin 14th, Donnet Post 15th, front line at Ovillers 20th July.

21st July an assault was made on enemy positions. Capt. G.E. Elliott and 9 men killed, 2nd Lt. A.R. Smith and H.E.H. Sutton and 83 men wounded and 9 missing. (Smith died of his wounds on the 22nd July).

Relieved by the 1/4th Glosters, to Donnet Post 22nd July.

23rd July the 1/6th, supported by the 1/4th Glosters, attacked Pozieres.

At 12.30 am the attack would be launched: 'A' Company (left asault). 'C' Company (right assault). 'D' Company (consolidating company). 'B' Company (reserve).

At 12.15 am the 3 attacking companies moved into position (70 yards from the German line). But the German machine-guns opened fire .... "The fire was very accurate and the leading waves were cut down. The subsequent waves moved on but very few got through the zone of the machine-guns." (Lt-Col. Micklem). A party of 6 men made it into the enemy trench but were soon overwhelmed.

"Casualties were difficult to collect as gas shells were fired on roads 78-39 and gas helmets had to be worn.... Casualties among officers were very heavy, 'C' and 'D' Companies losing all theirs and only one coming in from 'A' Company. As far as I can gather they are as follows: 3 killed, 2 probably killed, 4 wounded and brought in, 1 suffering from gas. The R.E. officer whose section went forward is also missing..... The cause of the failure is, in my opinion, the lack of artillery preparation. Non of the machine-guns previously reported had been knocked out and the enemy line had hardly been shelled at all."

Lieutenant R.E. Parramore - O.C. 'A' Company - "Even after being hit in the stomach he continued to lead the men til he fell dead."
2nd Lieutenant H. Corbett - killed in the leading wave.
2nd Lieutenant H.L.P. Balderson -
"The second and third waves under 2nd Lt. Balderson, who was killed."
Major C.E. Coates - killed
Lieutenant G.C. Dillon - killed

Wounded - Lieut. W.H. Anderson, 2nd Lieut. C.H. Carruthers, M. Durant, L.A.H. Stovell. Gassed - 2nd Lt. V. Coombes.

24th July, the battalion withdrew to Donnets Post.

26th July moved to Bouzincourt, to Hedauville 27th, Arqueves 28th, Beauval 29th, Fransu 30th, Candas 9th August, Puchevillers 10th August, Bouzincourt 12th and to front line trenches north of Ovillers on 13th August.

Attacked southern end of Skyline Trench 14th-15th August, but beaten back (2nd Lt. Barrington wounded). Withdrew to Ribble Street in reserve. Back to Bouzincourt 16th August, Usna Redoubt 19th, back into the front line on the 20th.

The line was pushed forward and German attacks on the barricade held off. At 5 am on 22nd the Germans attacked under a shroud of early morning mist and broke into the front trenches. A German machine-gun crew was spotted setting up their gun and No. 2019 Private R. Kerr knelt up on the parapet in full view and shot 3 of the team, preventing the gun from being used. A counter-attack was launched in which Capt. J.K. Gilmore was killed. The fighting continued and trenches recaptured with bombing and bayonet charges.

DCM - 2019 Private R. Kerr (London Gaz. 26 Sept. 1916) - "For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy counter-attacked and penetrated our line, he climbed on to the parapet, and, though heavily fired at, shot three of the enemy gun team, thereby preventing the gun from opening fire."

1/6th relieved to Bouzincourt 23rd July, trenches near Auchonvillers 26th, Bus-les-Artois 6th September, Sarton 13th, Boisbergues 18th, Sus-St. Leger 30th, Halloy 1st October, St. Amand 3rd, Grenas 4th, Humbercourt 10th, St. Amand 13th, trenches in the Hebuterne sector 16th October. To St. Amand 19th, Sus-St. Leger 20th, Bresle 25th, Albert 31st, Scots Redoubt 1st November, Flers Line 2nd, Le Sars 5th, Scots Redoubt 7th November.

In December the 1/6th moved to Mametz Camp and at the end of the year was billeted at Contay.

1917

January was spent training. On February 2nd the 48th Division relieved French troops north of Barleux. The front was quiet in this sector.

15th March - "Information received from Brigade at 9 pm that a deserter had come in on our left stating that the enemy were withdrawing on our front and had left only 20 men per company in trenches. Orders were issued to 'C' Company ordering a fighting patrol to be sent out." (Bn. War Diary)

The patrol of 20 men entered a German trench, which was deserted, on returning to the British line a sole German sniper fired from a reserve trench. On the night of 16th March another patrol reached the river Somme near La Chapelette without seeing any enemy troops.

The 1/6th moved into billets at Peronne later in the month. By 5th April they were at Marquaix. They moved into the front line at Lempire and were releived on the 11th April.

On the morning of 18th April 1917 the 1/6th Bn suffered a severe loss. The Battalion HQ was in a cellar at Villers Faucon. At 3.55 am a German mine exploded under the cellar.

Lieut-Colonel T.W Nott, Major R.F. Gerrard, Captain L.C. Nott, Captain E. Harrison (RAMC), Captain M.F. Burdess and Lieutenant L. King were all killed instantly. Capt. J.N. Crosskey (1/5th Warwicks, attached) took over temporary command of the Battalion.

24th April the 1/6th took part in an attack on the Gillemont Spur. 'A' and 'B' Companies were to attack The Knoll (with C and D in reserve). At 3.45 am the 2 attacking companies advanced near Tombois Farm. But very heavy German machine-gun fire forced them back. 2nd Lts. J.F. Brown and A. Pears and 2 men were killed, Lt. R.H. Ball, 2nd Lts. J.G. Shuttleton, W.H. Rose, A.R. Coombs, A.H. Watts and 72 men wounded, 12 men missing and 2 men died of wounds. The attack was continued by the 1/4th Glosters.

25th April the 1/6th held their positions near Tombois Farm. In May the 48th Division moved back to Peronne. In mid-May it moved to a new sector, the 1/6th moving to Fremicourt.

27th June 2nd Lt. Dodson was killed.

4th July the 1/6th moved back to Hendecourt for training. Later in the month the 48th Division moved to the Ypres sector. But they did not take part in any of the attacks until 22nd August, when 2 Companies took part in an assault. D and B Company took part in the assault, with 'C' Company in support and 'A' Company in reserve. On the night of the 23rd they were relieved back to Canal Bank. On the 27th August the 1/6th were in support during another assault by two other battalions. During August the 1/6th lost 20 men killed, 1 officer and 11 men died of wounds, 5 officers and 91 men wounded, 68 men gassed and 1 man missing.

The 1/6th moved to School Camp (at St. Jan Ter Biezen) and stayed there until 17th September. Then they moved to Zutkerque. On 4th October the 1/5th Glosters took part in the Battle of Broodseinde, the 1/4th and 1/6th Glosters supplied 2 platoons each to act as stretcher-bearers and prisoner guards.

9th October - the Battle of Poelcapelle. 'A' Company (right) and 'B' Company (left) would be in the first wave, followed by 'C' (right) and 'D' (left) in the second wave. The assault was met by fierce German machine-gun fire. 'A' Company got into the enemy trenches and were joined by 'C' Company. Then they advanced against German positions in the Cemetery. 'B' Company advanced against Vacher Farm. By nightfall the 1/6th had captured 70 prisoners and 12 machine-guns, but at a cost of 242 men killed or wounded.

12th October the Brigade was relieved back to Siege Camp.
13th October entrained at Houpoutre and reached Villers-au-Bois on the 15th.
17th October the 1/6th relieved the 28th Canadian Regiment, in support positions east of Vimy.
23rd October the 48th Division entrained for Italy. Leaving Tinques they travelled via Paris, Lyons, Marseilles, Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo, Menton, Parma, Bologna, Turin and Milan.

30th October the 1/6th were in billets at Villaraspa. They spent time in training and supplying work-parties. At the end of the year they were in Sandrigo.

1918

The 48th Division were now part of the 2nd Italian Army. British and French Divisions had been sent to support the Italian front, where the Italian army had been in retreat. This retreat had stopped at the River Piave. The British were positioned in the Montello sector.

31st March the 1/6th were at Pieve. During April they were in the front-line, sending out ocassional patrols. On the 9th they were inspected by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught.

15th June 4 Austrian Divisions attacked the British 23rd and 48th Divisions. The attack on the 23rd Division was repulsed, but the Austians managed to enter the front-line of the 48th Division. The 1/6th were at Mount Serona. At 11.30 am they were ordered to move to Carriola, then to Casa Magnaboschi, arriving at 1 pm. At 5.30 pm they advanced through a dense pine forrest, along with the 1/7th Royal Warwicks, meeting heavy machine-gun fire.

At 8.30 am on the 16th June they were ordered to resume the advance. The Austrians fell back and the old front-line was recaptured. The 1/6th lost 1 officer and 14 men killed, and 3 officers and 39 men wounded. They had captured 199 prisoners, 14 machine-guns and a flamethrower.

July was quiet and in August the Division sent out patrols and raiding parties.

Night of 8th August the 1/6th raided enemy positions south of Gaiga. 'B' Company (Capt. S.F. Sullivan) and 'C' Company carried out the raid, supported by 'D' Company. 3 men were killed and 7 wounded in the raid.

Night 24th August 'A' Company raid - 2 parties. 18 men commanded by 2nd Lt. W.E. Marks and 32 men under 2nd Lt. D.W. Ware, overall commander was Capt. W.M. Lowick. The raiders captured 3 prisoners and killed 1 enemy officer and 6 men. The raiders suffered only 4 wounded.

Another quiet period followed, by mid-October the 48th Divison was on the Asiago Plateau (attached to XIIth Italian Corps). By the end of the month the Austrians were pulling back and on 31st October the Division advanced. The Austrians were still holding the Val d'Assa in strength. On 1st November the 48th Division launched an attack.

The 1/6th attacked the Mount Interrotto-Mount Rasta Ridge, meeting heavy resistance. By 8 am 2nd October they had reached the top of Mount Interrotto. The Duke of Braganza (Commanding 6th Austrian Cavalry Division) said on surrendering, "The advance of your 48th British Division will go down in history as one of the most splendid feats of the British Army." The Official Despatch- "the Division was attacking very formidable mountain positions with only a fifth part of the artillery ..... Its performance, therefore, in driving in the enemy's rearguards so resolutely while climbing up to heights of 5000 feet, is all the more praiseworthy."

Sergeant F.C. Kite (London Gaz. 11 March 1920) - "He has always set a fine example of gallantry and determination to those under him. During the operations previous to the advance to the Trentino, and during the advance itself, he discharged his duties with the greatest efficiency in spite of the severest strain and long marches."

Sergeant H. Mead (London Gaz. 11 March 1920) - "For exceptionally good service and devotion to duty during three and half years continuous active service which he has served with this battalion. He has on several occasions commanded his platoon in action, and has shown great ability and initiative, especially during the operations on the Asiago Plateau on 1st November 1918, and during the raid on Gaiga South Cutting near Asiago on 8th August 1918."

The Division had captured 20,000 prisoners and 500 guns. On the 3rd the 48th Divison was the first British Division to enter enemy territory, reaching Vezzena.

The 1/6th were billeted at Circe when the Armistice came into effect; however it did not return to England, but moved to Albania in 1919 where it remained for a further twelve months.