Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

Research and Resources around the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry during WWI

Archive for the tag “Ivor Gurney”

1916, DECEMBER 16th – WORKING PARTY NEAR MOUQUET FARM

 

The Remains of Mouquet Farm, October 1916

The Remains of Mouquet Farm, October 1916

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

I take December 16–a Saturday. My company was warned for working party last night, so at 6 a.m. we get up, dress, and, after a hurried breakfast, parade in semi-darkness. As the outing is not a popular one and reduction in numbers is resented by the R.E., the roll is called by Sergeant Major Brooks (recently back from leave and in the best of early morning tempers) amid much coughing and scuffling about in the ranks. At 7 a.m. we start our journey towards the scene of labour, some 80 strong (passing for 100). We go first along a broad-gauge railway line (forbidden to be used for foot traffic) and afterwards through Aveluy and past Crucifix Corner to near Mouquet Farm.

After a trivial delay of perhaps 40 minutes, the D.C.L.I. or 479 have observed our arrival and tools are counted out and issued, the homely pick and shovel. The task is pleasantly situated about 150 yards in front of several batteries of our field guns (which open fire directly we are in position) and consists in relaxing duckboards, excavating the submerged sleepers of a light railway or digging the trench for a buried cable.

Perhaps the work only requires 50, not 100 (nor even 80) men. Very well! It is a pity those others came, but here are a thousand sandbags to fill, and there a pile of logs dumped in the wrong place last night, so let them get on with it! For six hours we remain steadily winning the war in this manner and mildly wondering at the sense of things and whether the Germans will shell the batteries just behind our work–until, without hooter or whistle, the time to break off has arrived. By 3 p.m. the party is threading its way back, and as darkness falls once more reaches the camp. Cries of ‘Dinner up’ and ‘Tea up’ resound through the huts, and all is eating and shouting.

SIDE NOTE: Ivor Gurney of the 2/5th Gloucester Regiment wrote the following poem about Crucifix Corner.

Crucifix Corner

There was a water dump there, and regimental
Carts came every day to line up and fill full
Those rolling tanks with chlorinated clear mixture;
And curse the mud with vain veritable vexture.
Aveluy across the valley, billets, shacks, ruins,
With time and time a crump there to mark doings.
On New Year’s Eve the marsh glowed tremulous
With rosy mist still holding late marvellous
Sun-glow, the air smelt home; the time breathed home.
Noel not put away; new term not yet come,
All things said ‘Severn’, the air was full of those calm meadows;
Transport rattled somewhere in the southern shadows;
Stars that were not strange ruled the most quiet high
Arch of soft sky, starred and most grave to see, most high.
What should break that but gun-noise or last Trump?
But neither came. At sudden, with light jump
Clarinet sang into ‘Hundred Pipers and A”,
Aveluy’s Scottish answered with pipers true call
‘Happy we’ve been a’together.’ When nothing
Stayed of war-weariness or winter’s loathing,
Crackers with Christmas stockings hung in the heavens,
Gladness split discipline in sixes and sevens,
Hunger ebb’d magically mixed with strange leavens;
Forgotten, forgotten the hard time’s true clothing,
And stars were happy to see Man making Fate plaything.

 

 

 

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Resources on the 184th (2nd South Midland) Brigade

The Battalions that made up the 184th are listed below, with the resources I’ve found for each Battalion:

2/5th Bn Gloucestershire Regt.
Feb 1915 – 11 Nov 1918.
September 1914: Formed at Gloucester as a home service (“second line”) unit.
January 1915: attached to 2nd South Midland Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division, at Northampton.
April 1915: Moved to Chelmsford
August 1915: formation became 184th Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division
Park House Camp (Tidworth) in February 1916.
23 May 1916: Landed in France
August 1915: formation became 184th Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division.

Story of the 2/5th Battalion the Gloucester Regiment 1914-1918
ed by A.F.Barnes
ISBN: 9781843427582
Format: 2003 N&M Press reprint (original pub 1930) 192pp with 39 b/w photos and 12 maps.

This is essential reading for anyone interested in the 2/5th Gloucester Regiment and the other battalions that made up the 184th (2nd South Midland) Brigade

Gloucestershire Regiment in the War 1914-1918
Everard Wyrall
ISBN: 9781843425724
Format: 2003 N & M Press reprint (original pub 1931). SB. ix + 357pp with one b/w portrait picture frontispiece and 20 maps

Severn & Somme
Ivor Gurney
Publisher: London : Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd.
Published 1917

Ivor Gurney is one of the most well known poets of World War One. He served with the 2nd/5th Gloucesters. The book is freely available at www.archive.org

Key Web Site:
Soldiers of Gloucestershire

2/4th Bn Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
Jan 1915 – 11 Nov 1918.
September 1914: Formed at Oxford as a second line unit.
January 1915:moved to Northampton and attached to 184th Brigade in 61st (2nd South Midland) Division. April 1915: Moved to Writtle and quickly on to Broomfield (Essex)
January 1916: moved to Parkhouse Camp, Salisbury Plain.
24 May 1916: landed in France.
March 1919: sailed for Egypt and was still there by the end of that year.

The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
G. K. Rose
Publisher: Oxford : B. H. Blackwell
1920

This book is a fantastic first hand account of the 2/4th Oxfords during WW1, although the “great adventure” tone at time plays down the horrors and failures. The content is freely available from www.archive.org

Key Web Sites:
http://www.lightinfantry.org.uk/regiments/obli/ox_tl.htm
The Museum For The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust

2/1st Buckinghamshire Bn (Oxs and Bucks LI).
Jan 1915 – 22 Feb 1918. Disbanded.
September 1914: Formed at Aylesbury as a second line unit. Record same as 2/4th Bn.
22 February 1918: disbanded at Germaine, troops going to 25th Entrenching Battalion.

2/4th Bn Royal Berkshire Regt.
Feb 1915 – 11 Nov 1918.
6th November 1914: Formed at Reading as a second line unit.
Moved to Maidenhead.
February 1915: Attached to 2nd South Midland Brigade in 2nd South Midland Division, at Northampton.
April 1915: Moved to Chelmsford
August 1915: Formation became 184th Brigade in 61st (2nd South Midland) Division.
March 1916: Moved to Salisbury Plain
27 May 1916: landed at Le Havre.

Key Web Sites:
The Wardrobe The War Diaries for the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment are found online and available for purchase in a printed form. A great resource.

A great Web site: http://www.purley.eu/H142.htm. The site details the operations of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment, but within it is contained a wide range of information on the 184th Brigade and the Battalions that made up the Brigade.

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