2/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment
Awarded 13 battle honours: France & Flanders 1916-18. Ypres 1917. Langemarck 1917. Somme 1918.
Cambrai 1917. St. Quentin. Rosieres. Avre. Lys. Hazebrouck. Bethune. Selle. Valenciennes.
Died: 481 men.
The sign of the 61st Division: The Roman numerals LXI (61).
With the Territorial battalions going to France, second line battalions were raised in September 1914. Lieut-Colonel A. Bathurst raised the 2/5th as a Home Service Battalion. To help form the Battalion officers and NCO's were sent back to Gloucester depot from the 1/5th Glosters. These were Major S. Champion, Major E. Moore and Major C. Allen, RSM Tomlins and QMS Canavan. Lieutenant Oswald Harrison was appointed Quarter Master of the new Battalion. Training began to turn the volunteers into soldiers.
February 1st 1915 the 2/5th moved from Gloucester to Northampton. In April they moved on to Chelmsford and more training.
In February 1916 the battalion moved to Salisbury Plain for the final stages of training for active service. May 5th the Division was inspected King George V. On the 24th the battalion marched to Tidworth Station and entrained for Southampton. There they boarded H.M.T. 861 for France, arriving at La Havre early the next morning.
May 31st the battalion moved into the trenches near Riez Bailleul for instruction under the London Welsh, who were there at the time. June 10th the 2/5th moved to Laventie and on the 15th relieved the 2/1st Bucks in the Fauquissart-Laventie Sector. On the 19th June Lieutenant Clifford Cole of 'C' Company was killed. The first raid was made but failed to reach the German trenches, 5 men were killed, 1 more died of wounds, 3 officers and 13 men were wounded and 4 missing. For their actions during the raid Captain Wales was awarded the MC, Private L. Fletcher the DCM, and Sergeant Norris the MM.
DCM - Private L. Fletcher (London Gaz. 27 July 1916) - "For conspicuous gallantry during a raid on the enemy's trenches. he helped to extricate his wounded officer from the enemy's wire and brought him back over 200 yards to our lines, being under heavy fire the whole time."
June 21st the 2/5th were relieved for 6 days and then were back in the line until the 3rd July, when they moved back to La Gorgue. On the 6th they moved to Richebourg-St. Vaast to relieve the 4/5th Black Watch.
July 19th an attack was launched on Aubers Ridge, with the Glosters in reserve. The attack stalled and for 4 days the Glosters were employed bringing in the dead for burial; the Germans allowing them to walk into No Mans Land to do so. On the night of the 27th of July the Germans attacked a position known as Duck's Bill Crater, held by 'A' Company of the 2/5th. Usually only a sentry manned the crater, but when the Germans started to shell the line Captain Rickerby moved his Company into the Crater. The Germans had expected to walk into the Crater but instead were driven back. Two more attempts to storm the position were defeated. For this action Captain Rickerby and Lieutenant Varcoe received the MC, L/Corporal C.C. Davis the DCM, Privates Humphries, Davies, Hester, Mundy, Sanders and Smith the MM.
DCM - Sergeant H.W. Webb (London Gaz. 22 Sept. 1916) - "For conspicuous gallantry during operations. He was in command of the most exposed part of his company's line during a heavy bombardment. Later, when one hostile attack had been driven back and another was coming on, he led a bayonet charge, completely routing the attackers."
DCM - Private C.C. Davis (London Gaz. 22 Sept. 1916) - "For conspicuous gallantry during operations. At great personal risk he carried out a machine-gun to an exposed part of a crater commanding the enemy's advance. Although the enemy brought up a machine gun to the opposite lip of the crater he kept up his fire, and it was largely due to his pluck that the enemy's attack failed."
August 1916 the 2/5th were in the posts around Laventie. On the night of the 19th 'C' Company raided an enemy trench, losing Lieutenant Jackson killed and 11 men wounded. The front was quiet and on 27th October the 2/5th moved to Robecq and then to the Somme. November 20th they reached Albert in heavy rain. The next day they moved into the front line at Grandecourt.
DCM - Sergeant D. Davies (London Gaz. 20 Oct. 1916) - "For conspicuous gallantry. A very heavy and continuous barrage was put on our trenches, two officers and three men being buried, and the trench flattened for over 30 yards. He worked for over two hours in this barrage, assisting to dig out and rescue the buried men."
30th December the 2/5th moved to Varennes and then spent a month training at Gapennes.
February 7th the battalion moved to L'Etoile and then by train to Wiencourt on the 13th. On the 16th they relieved the 2/101st French Infantry Regiment in the Ablaincourt Sector. March 9th they moved back to Raincourt. After the German Retreat on March 17th the 2/5th advanced to Vermandovillers on the 18th and were employed repairing roads. The advance continued and Caulaincourt was reached on the 30th.
April 2nd the village of Bihecourt was attacked by 'A' Company, surprising the German defenders at breakfast. Lieutenant Sinclair was awarded the MC. April 7th 'B' and 'C' Companies attacked enemy positions and 7 officers were wounded, 15 men killed and 27 wounded. The 2/5th next moved to the Fayet Sector and worked on strengthening the line there. April 20th Major G. Collett arrived from the 1/5th to command the battalion in Colonel Balfour's absence. In May the battalion moved by train to Cagny and then to Monton Villers. Then they marched to Arras. On June 1st they moved into the line at Guemappe and buried many dead Scottish soldiers still laying in the field. After being relieved the 2/5th went to Bernaville for training and on the 23rd moved to Buire-au-Bois and into the Ypres Sector.
DCM - Lance-Sergant F. Davis (London Gaz. 18 June 1917) - "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his platoon in the most gallant manner, and personally tried to cut a gap in the enemy's wire. He was severely wounded."
DCM - Sergeant H. Coleman (London Gaz. 9 July 1917) - "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has at all times set a splendid example when under fire, and performed consistent good work throughout." (also received an MM)
August 21st the battalion went into the line at Warwick Farm and on the 22nd the Brigade attacked. The 2/5th supported the attack, which succeeded in overrunning the German positions. Moving up to support the advance, Captain Seymour Tubbs of 'D' Company was killed leading his men forward. One German position held out, a heavily fortified one called Pond Farm manned by machine-gunners. 'C' and 'D' Company stormed the position and captured it, but lost 2nd Lieuts. Davis and Blythe and 16 men killed, 2nd Lieut. Ross Jenkins and 51 men were wounded and 1 missing. That night a firece German counter-attack retook the position, which was held by the survivors who had no officers left. Next day it was retaken.
Relieved by the 2/6th Glosters, the 2/5th moved back to Red Rose Camp. 18th September they moved to Aubigny by train and then marched to Duisans. On October 4th they went into the line in the St. Nicholas area. On the 23rd Captain Badcock led a raid, with only 4 men being wounded. Then the battalion was relieved by the 2/8th Warwicks and moved into Divisional Reserve at Arras. November 9th they relieved the warwicks in the Chemical Works Sector, where Lieut. Dodgshon was killed. The next move was to the Cambrai Front, going to Gonnileu in support of the 3rd Guards Brigade. While awaiting orders to move into the front line a German airplane dropped a bomb on an ammunition dump nearby. 'D' Company lost 16 men killed and 53 wounded. In a German attack on La Vacquerie Lieut. W.J. Pearce was killed.
On the 19th November a German attack got into the line held by the Warwicks. Captain Dudbridge led 'D' Company to restore the line and both he and Lieut. Radford were awarded the MC, Private W.A. Davis was awarded the MM. December 5th the 2/5th moved to Villers Plouich and on the 7th into the line near Corner Work. On the 24th the battalion went by train to Cappy and moved to Rosieres on the 29th.
DCM - Corporal V.F.W. Ind (London Gaz. 26 Jan. 1918) - "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Early in the attack he found himself in charge of two platoons, and led them to the attack on an enemy strong point. The attack was held up and he withdrew his men successfully. Later he led a successful attack on the same position. He showed great powers of leadership, and splendid courage and contempt of danger."
6th January the 2/5th moved to the line at Mesnil where it saw action, before being relieved by the 2/4th Berkshires and moving back to Ugnay on the 10th March. On the 17th Lieut-Colonel Collett handed over command of the 2/5th to Lieut-Colonel A.B. Lawson. On the 18th March the 2/5th moved to Holnon Wood.
DCM - Private D. Carney (London Gaz. 28 March 1918) - "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in taking control of a Lewis gun when the team commander was wounded and keeping it in action against heavy odds. He held up the advance alone while the company withdrew to another position, and inflicted heavy casualties."
DCM - Corporal F.A. Elliott (London Gaz. 28 March 1918) - "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as headquarters signaller. During the advance of the enemy on battalion headquarters he rallied a handful of men left, held up the enemy, and inflicted considerable casualties upon the leading bombing parties. Later, when in charge of a bombing party, he succeeded in beating off six enemy bombing attacks."
On the 21st March the big German offensive started and shells fell on the wood, including gas shells. The Germans had amassed a force 4 times the number of troops defending the line. With a mist in the area the Germans began to infiltrate and heavy fighting followed. Lieutenant Arnott was killed by a shell. The next day another German bombardment opened up and more attacks were repulsed, but Lieutenant Howell was mortally wounded during one. In danger of being surrounded, the Brigade was withdrawn to trenches in front of Beauvois. The Germans advanced and Captain Rickerby was hit by a shell and died of his wounds. Lieut. Nurse was also killed and Lieuts. Stirling and Russell and 2nd Lieuts. Crossman and Hazell wounded. On the night of the 22nd March the Battalion pulled back to Voyennes and then to Breuil to defend the crossing of the Du Nord Canal. The Germans attacked and Lieutenant Lake and 2nd Lieut. Fothergill were killed. On the morning of the 25th March the Germans tried to cross the Canal but were driven back. But the French were driven back and Buverchy and the Germans started to cross the Canal. The battalion were ordered to move to positions near Quesnil and dug in. They then joined an attack at Lamotte, with no cover and the Germans in good positions the attack was hopeless and the battalion suffered 200 casualties. Orders were given to withdraw to Marcelcave. The Germans advanced again and the Battalion, now reduced to 150 men, was in a desperate position. These 150 men were all that stood between the Germans and Amiens. But the Germans did not advance. Canadian machine gunners were rushed to the line and ordered to fire as much as possible to deceive the Germans that the line was stronger. Finally on the morning of the 31st March the 2/5th were relieved by the Australians. The broken defenders had held up 3 German Divisions and allowed the position to be saved. The battalion had lost 20 officers and 550 men killed and wounded.
The survivors of the 2/5th moved back to Warlus. Lieut-Colonel Lawson was awarded the DSO. But the expected rest period was cut short by a German advance at Laventie. The 2/5th moved to Robecq and went into the reserve line at St. Venant. The Germans attacked on the 13th April but were stopped. On the night of April 17th the Germans occupied Bacquerolles Farm and a platoon of 'A' Company under Sergeant E.G. White counter-attacked. They retook the position, capturing 17 and killing more than 20 Germans. Serg. White was awarded the DCM. On April 23rd the 2/5th attacked near the Farm and took the German positions. The Germans opened up on the attackers and the battalion suffered 3 officers and 28 men killed, 21 missing, 1 officer and 100 men wounded. For the attack Lieut-Colonel Lawson received a bar to his DSO. Captain Dudbridge was awarded a bar to his MC and Captain Gray the MC.
DCM - Sergeant E.G. White (London Gaz. 3 Sept. 1918) - "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. The enemy having possessed himself of one of our front posts, had managed to occupy a farm enclosure between two of our posts, under cover of the darkness and the protection of the hedges. This NCO with twenty men attacked with great alacrity at early dawn, and by skilful and fearless leading drove out the enemy, who lost many killed and seventeen prisoners, while his own casualties were few. The result of this operation had unmistakable effects in holding up the enemy's advance, and the eagerness of this NCO to undertake the attack and the manner in which it was carried out were worthy of all praise."
June 24th Lieut-Colonel Lawson was killed whilst checking enemy dispositions. Major Christie Miller, MC, was appointed to command the Battalion. The next day the Battalion was relieved and moved to Linghem. An outbreak of flu hit the battalion and 250 men were sent to the hospital. July 17th the 2/5th moved to St. Hilaire and then to Cohem and onto Pont Asquin.
August 8th the 2/5th relieved the 12th Battalion Glosters at Arrewage. The Battalion attacked the German positions on the 11th August but the operation was a failure. The battalion lost 8 men killed, 2 officers and 39 men wounded. Corporal H.F. Terrett received the DCM and Privates Livings and Barrett the MM. The Battalion was relieved and moved to Nieppe Forest on the 14th August. by the 25th they were back in the line. Over the next 4 days the British advanced against tough resistance. September 2nd the battalion was relieved, it had suffered 65 casualties. Captain Harvey was awarded a bar to his MC.
DCM - Corporal H.F. Terrett (London Gaz. 30 Oct. 1918) - "For conspicuous gallantry and determination in an attack. When his company was held up by machine-gun fire this NCO advanced with a section of six as far as he could, and then dug in. He maintained his position all day, inflicted considerable casualties on the enemy, and then skilfully withdrew. He rendered splendid service."
The Battalion moved to Estaires next. On the 29th September the Glosters moved back into the front line. An immediate attack on Junction Post was ordered. The position was taken and the next day the new line secured by a further attack. Captain Lavender received the MC and Privates F.T. Fry and G.E. Harris the DCM. The 2/5th lost Captain Harvey, MC and Lieut. Jackson killed, 15 men killed, Lieut. Crucifix and 53 men killed, 2 men missing.
DCM - Private F.T. Fry (London Gaz. 10 Jan. 1920) - "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in charge of a Lewis gun during the attack south-west of Fleubaix on 30th September 1918. He rushed forward and engaged a machine-gun team, knocking out and capturing the gun. Later he forced a second machine gun team to surrender. His courage and initiative were most marked during to days of hard fighting."
DCM - Private G.E. Harris (London Gaz. 10 Jan. 1920) - "For conspicuous gallantry, courage and initiative during an attack south-west of Fleurbaix on 30th September 1918. When his platoon was held up by enemy snipers and machine-gunners he crept forward and cut a thick belt of wire, calling his men forward to attack when he cut a way through. Later in the day he carried on the duties of platoon serjeant with marked ability."
The 2/5th were relieved and moved to La Lacque. Lieut-Colonel Miller MC, went to England and the battalion was commanded by Major R.H. Huntington, DSO.
DCM - Sergeant H. Wood (London Gaz. 21 Oct. 1918) - "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the last two years. He has at all times showed a standard of zeal and steadiness under fire which has been an example to all ranks."
October 6th the 2/5th moved to Beauval and camped in Bourlon Wood. On the 24th they moved to Cagnocles to support an attack. The 2/5th were ordered to attack Vendegies. This they took, losing 2 killed and 25 wounded. On the 26th they advanced under gas attack, to Maresches. Night of 1st November Maresches was taken, the 2/5th lost 14 men killed, 42 wounded and 14 gassed. Relieved by the 13th Middlesex, the Glosters moved to Avesnes-Les Aubert.
DCM - 241211 Sergeant A.E. Barnes (London Gaz. 2 Dec. 1918) - "For gallantry and devotion to duty. At Mareshes, during a night attack on 1st November 1918, he was acting C.S.M. The advance was held up in one section by a strong enemy post, and he, with his company commander and a few men, rushed the post. He bayonetted two of the enemy and knocked another out with his fists. His fins courage and example inspired the confidence of all ranks."
DCM - Corporal E. Cobbold, MM (London Gaz. 2 Dec. 1919) - "For marked gallantry and able leadership at Mareshes on 2nd November 1918. During an attack on enemy positions he found that the platoon on his flank was being held up by machine-gun fire. He at once attacked these positions with his section, captured two machine-guns, killed the officer and captured fourteen prisoners. This enabled the troops on his flank to continue their advance and gain their objective. His gallantry and devotion to duty had a most inspiring effect on all ranks."
The Battalion was at Maresches when the Armisitice signal arrived on November 11th.
Index ...............Officers Portraits