1916, NOVEMBER 25th – FRONT LINE ALONG DESIRE
From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)
On the evening of November 25, 1916, Robinson of C Company and myself, taking Hunt and Timms (my runner) and one signaller, left for the front line. This was being held along Desire–my fondness for this trench never warranted that name–with a line of resistance in Regina, a very famous German trench, for which there had recently been heavy fighting. Our reconnaissance, which was completed at dawn, was lucky and satisfactory; moreover–I do not refer to any lack of refreshment by the Berks company commander–I was still dry at its conclusion, having declined all the communication trenches, which were already threatening to become impassable owing to mud.
KILLED IN ACTION 25th NOVEMBER 1916
20413 Private Herbert Gerald Montague
Herbert Gerald Montague’s short and adventurous life is detailed below.
DeRuvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914 – 1924
MONTAGU, HERBERT GERALD, Private, No. 20413, 4th Battn. The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, late Lieut. The Royal Munster Fusiliers, 2ns s. of Alfred John Montagu. Of Braeside, Hillingdon, co. Middlesex, formerly of Colnbrook, co. Buckingham, by his Wife Hester Vaudrey, dau. Of the late James Holland, of Manchester; b. Perth, Western Australia, 20 Nov. 1892; educ. St. Paul’s School, London, where he played polo for the school; won the 1909 Bantam Weight, competition at Aldershot the year of its foundation.; was gazetted 2nd Lieut. 5th Battn. The Royal Fusiliers 1 April 1911, and attached to the 4th Battn. At Aldershot, afterwards became a familiar figure at the Regimental hunts in the Curragh, and well known as an excellent shot. On the outbreak of the Turko-Italian War, anxious to see active service, he offered himself to the TurkishGoverment and after a long and adventurous journey reached Turkish Headquarters. During this Journey he and Mr. Seppings Wright, War Artist for the “Illustrated London News” whom he met at Sfax, also on his way to Turkish Headquarters, were owing to rough weather, stranded on an island, where they existed on octopus and porpoise for three days, threatened meanwhile by a mutinous native crew. After leaving the island their fresh water gave out, and suffering terribly from thirst, they finally reached Zwarra, whence Mr. Montagu proceeded by camel to the Turkish Headquarters. Here he was given the rank of Captain, with a command of 3,000 Turkish troops and Arab irregulars comprising the right flank of the Turkish forces. He was three times mentioned in Despatches, and his gallantry and his control over undisciplined Arab troops led Mr. Alan Ostler, War Correspondent with the Turkish forces, to describe him as the “Paladin of the Desert.” He was severely wounded in Dec., and later returned to England suffering from dysentery, having in the meantime been notified that the War Office demanded his resignation for communicating with the Press, as it was he who sent a cable exposing the massacre of women and children whose body he found in a mosque; subsequently he receieved an illuminated address from the representatives of the Moslem community resident in England. Later he visited Constantinople as the guest of the Minister of War, when he was decorated by the Sultan with the Odre Imperial du Medjidie and the Ordre de la Gloire Nichon-I-Iftikhar, who also appointed him an A.D.C. At this time an attempt was made on his life which happily failed; returned to England in March, 1913, suffering from the effects of typhoid; was reinstated as Lieut. In Aug. 1914, being attached to the Royal Munster Fusiliers; served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, 10th Division, at Gallipoli from july, 1915; took part in the landing at Sulva Bay; was wounded on the ridge at Kislagh Dagh, and invalided home in Sept. with a septic wound and nerous breakdown., being invalided out f the Army after a year’s ill-health. On recovery he enlisted as a Private in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, preferring not to wait in the hope of regaining his commission; proceeded to France 2 Nov., and was killed in action at Moquet Farm, near Thiepval, 25 Nov. 1916, while carrying despatches to the base, only a few days before the recommendation for his reinstatement and consequent return to England. He m. in London, 15 Oct, 1913, Mai Hermoine, only au. Of the late James Cunningham Mitchell, Indian Police, Simla.
Limerick Chronicle, January, 1917.
Romantic Career Ended on battlefield.
The death in action is announced of Herbert Gerald Montagu, a private in the Oxford and Bucks, Light Infantry, formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Munster Fusiliers. Mr Montagu was deprived of his commission in the Royal Fusiliers for joining the Turkish Army in Tripoli without leave. He took a romantic part in the Turkish-Italian war in Northern Africa in 1911, and was subsequently decorated by the Sultan with the Orders of the Mejidie and Nichan-Lftikhar for conspicuous bravery in the field. At the conclusion of the Tripoli campaign he returned wounded to England, and was presented with an illuminated address on behalf of the Moslem community in this country. As Lieutenant in the Royal Munster Fusiliers he tool part in the Suvla Bay landing and in other Gallipoli operations, was wounded at Kislag Dagh, and ultimately returned to England in September 1915, suffering from septic wounds and nervous breakdown. Immediately he was fit he joined the ranks, went to France, and there met his death at the age of 24. He was the second son of Mr and Mrs A J Montagu, of Braeside, Hillingdon, late of Colnbrook. He was educated at St Paul’s School.—“Daily Sketch.”
From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Trenches
Entry Normal artillery activity on both sides.