Sunday, 16 September 2018

Erquinghem Lys - Chruchyard Extension Cemetery

Erquinghem Lys Churchyard Extension Cemetery was begun in April 1915 and contains the graves of 558 Commonwealth soldiers, 130 German soldiers and one unidentified Russian soldier.

Erquinghem Lys Churchyard Extension Cemetery
Erquinghem Lys Church

Erqunighem was briefly occupied by the Germans in October 1914 as the Allied and German Armies raced to the sea. It was taken by 1st Somerset Light Infantry on 16th October 1914.

The cemetery was used throughout the war by Field Ambulances.

Erquinghem Lys Field Ambulance

Erquinghem Lys Field Ambulance

Erquinghem Lys Field Ambulance
Erquinghem Lys Field Ambulance

In April 1918 the Germans launched the second of their spring offensives, Operation Georgette. The town was captured by the Germans on 10th April 1918 despite stubborn defence by 1/4 Duke of Wellingtons. The Germans utilised the existing cemetery to bury their casualties. There are 130 German Soldiers buried around the Cross of Sacrifice. They are mainly casualties from the German Spring Offensive.  

Erquinghem would remain in German hands till September 1918. 

Erquninghem Lys Churchyard Extension Cemetery
Cross of Sacrifice
Erquninghem Lys Churchyard Extension Cemetery
British and German Graves

There are 72 Australian and 3 New Zealand graves from April to August 1916 when I ANZAC Corps deployed on the Western Front for the first time.

Erquninghem Lys Churchyard Extension Cemetery
Australian Graves

In 1915, the French requested 300,000 men from Russia to support the French Army on the Western Front. The request was opposed by the Russian Army, however Tsar Nicholas II agreed to send a Brigade. The First Russian Special Brigade landed in Marseille in April 1916. The Brigade was disbanded following the Russian Revolution in 1917. Some Russian soldiers wished to continue the fight against the Germans. Some joined the French Foreign Legion, others were incorporated into the Légion d’Honneur Russe, Russian Legion of Honour. The Russian Legion was attached to the 1st Moroccan Division on December 13 1917. The unit was disbanded on the signing of the Armistice 11th November 1918. The cemetery contains the grave of an unidentified Russian Soldier of the Imperial Russian Army.

Erquninghem Lys Churchyard Extension Cemetery
Unidentified Russian Soldier

The cemetery contains the graves of 71 Gunners, 53 from the Royal Field Artillery17 from the Royal Garrison Artillery and one from the Royal Horse Artillery.

Captain CJH Clibborn RFA
KIA 14th December 1914

The first Gunner officer to be buried in the cemetery was Captain Cuthbert John Clibborn who was killed in action 14th December 1915 serving with D Battery Royal Horse Artillery. Cuthbert John Clibborn was born Born in Mussourie, Dehra Dun Dist, Uttar Pradesh, India on 13 Nov 1883 He was the Son of Lt. Col. I. Clibborn  and Mrs. Clibborn of Moorock, Ballycumber, Ireland.

Capt SC Bartley RFA
KIA 12th March 1916

 Stanley Cole Bartley was the son of conservative politician Sir George Christopher Trout Bartley. Born in 1878, the 2nd son, one of five children. He married in 1902  and had two daughters.

 He trained at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich. He served in the South African War as a Lieutenant in the Royal Field and Horse Artillery. Bartley was present at the relief of Ladysmith, including the actions at Colenso and also at Spion Kop, Vaal Krantz, Tugelo Heights and Pieters Hill. He received two medals and six clasps.  In 1910 he retired as a Captain and joined the Special Reserve.

His medal information card shows he entered France on 9th January 1916. He took over command of 'D' Battery 176th Brigade (Leicestershire), Royal Field Artillery on 10th March 1916. The Brigade a Howitzer unit formed part of the 34th Divisional Artillery supporting the Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish.

Two days after taking command he was killed in action on 12th March 1916.

In St Margret's Chapel Westminster Abbey is a window dedicated to Sir GCT Bartley, below which is a plaque commemorating Captain SC Bartley.

Captain Stanhope Cole Bartley
Royal Field Artillery

2.Lt William McCall Johnstone RFA
in memory
Major Henry Archer Johnstone
Sergeant John Gordon Johnstone

The grave of 2.Lt William McCall Johnstone also contains an inscription relating to his two brothers, Major Henry Archer Johnstone, and Sergeant John Gordon Johnstone.
The oldest John Gordon was born in 1888, Henry Archer in 1890 and William McCall in 1892.  A fourth brother, Herbert Alan, was born in 1894. They were the sons of John and Ada Johnstone, of Fairmead, Risley, Derbyshire.

William had joined the Territorial Nottinghamshire Royal Horse Artillery in 1913. He was mobilised in August 1914 and commissioned 17th March 1915. He entered France in January 1916 with 152nd Brigade RFA, part of the Divisional Artillery of the 34th Division. The Division include the Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish Brigades. He was killed on 13th February 1916 by a piece of shrapnel from an exploding shell.
Henry Archer Johnstone also served with the 152nd Brigade RFA. He was killed 21st March 1918 during the Battle of St Quentin, part of the Battle of the Somme 1918.
The eldest brother, John Gordon emigrated to Canada in March 1913. He enlisted into the Canadian Army in December 1914 in Minnedosa, Manitoba, joining the infantry. He rose to the rank of Sergeant, was wounded, but survived the war. He died of meningitis 31st May 1922 in the home in Risley he was brought up in. 

Plot II Row A contains the graves of six Gunners killed on 16th February 1917. They are listed as serving with 155 Siege Battery. The war diary contains no reference to the incident that killed them, and the Battery location is recorded as Combles, 100kn south of Erquinghem.

155 Siege Battery RGA 16th February 1917
II. A. 19.
II. A. 20.
II. A. 21.
II. A. 22.
II. A. 23.
II. A. 24.
Plot II Row F contains the graves of five Gunners from 350 Siege Battery
350 Siege Battery RGA 30th September 1917
Gunner W KEIGHLEY II. F. 34.   CWGC
Gunner G BROWN II. F. 35.   CWGC
Gunner R V RICHMOND II. F. 36.   CWGC
Gunner J R BRIGGS II. F. 37.   CWGC
Gunner O V RIDING II. F. 38.   CWGC


2.Lt John Charles Chalmers MM
1 TS (20 NF)

John Cyril Chalmers joined the ranks of the Cameron Highlanders in September 1914, and rose to the rank of acting Company Sergeant Major by 24th May 1916. He was commissioned on 9th September 1916, joining the 1st Battalion Tyneside Scottish (20 NF). 2.Lt Chalmers is recorded in the Battalion ward diary records 2nd.Liet JC Chalmers Killed in Action 15-10-16, during a tour of the trenches. He was posthumously awarded the Military Medal on 27th October 1916 for actions as a Company Sergeant Major in 1 /4th Cameron Highlanders.

2.Lt Soloman King
4 TS (23 NF)

Soloman King was born in Ireland in 1893, and came to Bulawaylo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1902. On the outbreal of WW1, Soloman paid his way too England and joined the Officers Training Corps. He was commissioned into the Northumberland Fusiliers. His medal information card shows he arrived  in France 6th September 1916. The following month he wwas killed. The war diary of 4th Battalion Tyneside Scottish (23 NF) records that on the 12th October 1916 1TS conducted a successful trench raid capturing several prisoners and many identifications. The Germans retaliated with trench mortar and artillery fire killing one officer, one other ranks and wounding 8 other ranks. The officer killed was 2.Lt Soloman King.

2.Lt HN Falcy MC
4 TS (23 NF)

Humphrey Ned Falcy MC was killed in action on 21st November 1916 whilst serving as Battalion Intelligence Officer with 4th  Battalion Tyneside Scottish (23 NF). Commissioned in June 1916, he subsequently went on to Win the Military Cross. His death is recorded in the Battalion war diary as being shot through the head and killed by a rifle bullet. Two days later, 23rd November, the war diary records he had been awarded the Military Cross. 


Erquinghem Lys - Lt Catto

A contingent from the Tyneside Scottish Branch Royal Artillery Association deployed to Lille in order to conduct an act of remembrance at the grave of Lt William Basil Catto who was killed on the 11h September 1916 whist serving with 4th Battalion Tyneside Scottish. 

2.Lt WB Catto
4th Battalion Tyneside Scottish
2nd Lt. Catto was buried in Erquninghem-Lys Extension Cemetery .  

Second Lieutenant WB Catto
Tyneside Scottish

In 2012, TS Branch RAA, TS ACF Cadets, and members of the Cato family deployed to France on OP DRUM. A ceremony was held to receive a Drum that belonged to 1st Tyneside Scottish (Black Watch) lost on the retreat to Dunkirk in 1940. It is dedicated to 2nd Lt William Basil Catto.  The drum had come into the possession of Yves Holbeque of the Somme  Battlefield Pipe Band. He recognised the historical importance and contacted  the TS Branch RAA. At the ceremony the Drum was handed over to William Basil's great nephew, Lt. Col. John Catto Royal Artillery.

As a result the Drum was returned to Tyneside.

Tyneside Scottish Branch RAA
OP DRUM Erquinghem Lys 2012
Lt. Col John Catto receives the Catto Drum
OP DRUM Erquinghem Lys 2012
Lt.Col Catto hands over the Drum to Northumbria ACFOP DRUM Erquinghem Lys 2012

 The Tyneside Scottish Royal Artillery Association remembered Lt Catto in a ceremony conducted with locals from Erquinghem Lys.
Tyneside Scottish Branch RAA 
2.Lt Catto Remembrance

Tyneside Scottish Branch RAA 
2.Lt Catto Remembrance

Second Lieutenant WB Catto
Tyneside Scottish


Saturday, 15 September 2018

Lille - War Memorial

The Lille War Memorial is located in the Place Rihour near the Grand Place. It was unveiled in 1927 to remember the losses and sacrifices during the First World War. It would also become a memorial for World War Two and later conflicts.
The monument is the focus of the citizens of Lille, civic leaders and representatives of regional government on  11 November (anniversary of the Armistice of 1918) and 8 May (anniversary of Victory in Europe Day in 1945).

Lille War Memorial
Place Rihour

Lille War Memorial
The memorial inscription reads:

« Aux Lillois, soldats et civils, la cité a élevé ce monument afin de rappeler au cours des siècles l’héroïsme et les souffrances de ses enfants morts pour la Paix ».

"To the people of Lille, soldiers and civilians, the city has erected this monument to remember the centuries of heroism and suffering of her children who died for Peace".

Lille War Memorial
The sculptured figures on the memorial are 'La Paix', 'La Relève' and 'Les Captifs'; The Peace, The Relief, and The Prisoners. 
Lille War Memorial
'The Peace' commemorates the end of the First World War and the sacrifices of the Soldiers and Civilians of Lille. 'The Relief' celebrates the liberation of Lille in 1918 after four years of German occupation. It features British soldiers of the Fifth Army. 'The Prisoners' remembers that during the four years of occupation in WW1 civilians were deported to Germany for forced labour or as hostages.

In front of the memorial are a number of inscribed paving stones which remembers the French conflicts in Indo-China and North Africa.

Lille - Occupation WW1

The city of Lille was occupied by the German Army for four years from the 13th October 1914 to 17th October 1918 when it was liberated by the British Fifth Army.

On the 4th August 1914 the Germans crossed the Belgian border triggering the start of hostilities in World War One. They launched the Schlieffen Plan which would see German Army's sweeping through Belgium and engaging the French Army on the French-German Border.

The German right flank passed 80 km west of Lille as they engaged the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) at Mons. The BEF and French Army were forced to retreat until they halted the German advance on the River Marne. The Germans withdrew to the River Aisne and began to dig in, the start of trench warfare on the Western Front which would come to symbolise the First World War.

German Schlieffen Plan August September 1914
To the north of Aisne was an open flank of 170 km to the English Channel. As each side looked to turn the flank of the other a 'Race to the Sea' developed and a series of battles occurred as the line began to extend north.

Race to the Sea 1914
Initially Lille was to be an open city and left undefended, however as the French Army began to block further German advances it was decided to reinforce the city on 4th October and defend it. The Germans looked to besiege the city surrounding it with 50,000 troops and artillery. The first rounds were fired on 10th October. The siege would last until 14th October. On 13th October the Germans concentrated artillery fire on the Douai gate and were able to breach the defences and move into the city.

German Army Douai Gate 1914

German Army Lille 1914

Lille 1914
Lille Town Hall 2018
Lille Town Hall Tower 2018

German Artillery Lille

German Occupation Lille Theatre

Lille Theatre 2018

German Parade Grand Place Lille
Grand Place Lille 2018
German Parade Grand Place Lille

German Parade Grand Place Lille

 Grand Place Lille 2018
Lille was situated 20km east of the battle front. As a communications centre many troops would pass through city. It would be a place for hospitals and recreation of troops.

German Occupation Lille

German Artillery Lille
Gare de Flandres
Gare de Flandres 2018
 As the 1918 allies offensive began to force the German Armies back, the German Army abandoned the city in September 1918. As they withdrew they blew up several bridges leaving the Pont-Neuf intact.

Western Front 16th October 1918.
 On the 17th October 1918 Troops of the British Fifth Army entered the undefended Lille.

British Army enter Lille October 1918
The British Army would parade through Lille  to officially liberate the city.

British troops Lille 1918

British troops Lille 1918

Royal Artillery Lille 1918

Royal Artillery Association Lille 2018
General Birdwood, commander Fifth Army, would present the Fifth Army flag to the Mayor of Lille.

General Birdwood presents Fifth Army Flag to Lille

Palais de La Biere Lille