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

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

Archive for the tag “Major G. K. Rose”

1917, AUGUST 23rd – DEFYING A GERMAN COUNTER ATTACK AT POND FARM

Attack Aug 22 1917

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

In front-line trenches at St. Julien. At dawn the enemy rushed and captured Pond Farm, but at 8 a.m., assisted by three platoons of the 2/6th Glosters, we recaptured it. Afterwards the enemy made some local counter-attacks; which were repulsed with heavy loss. In these two days we took about 80 prisoners. Casualties today : 2nd Lieuts Webb and Gray and 3 men killed, 29 wounded.

KILLED IN ACTION AUGUST 23rd 1917

2nd Lieutenant Webb

2nd Lieutenant Gray

202109 Private Frederick Berry

24436 Private Thomas John Owen (Formerly 2891, R.F.A.)

32853 Private Thomas William Richards

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

At night the Battalion was relieved by the 2/6th Glosters, and marched to camp near Ypres (Goldfish Chateau). During the night of August 23/24 the Battalion was relieved, when those whom death in battle had not claimed nor wounds despatched to hospital marched back through Ypres to the old camp at Goldfish Château.

1917, AUGUST 22nd – CAPTURE OF POND FARM

Attack Aug 22 1917

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

On the following night Companies assembled for the attack. Neither the starting place nor the objectives for this are easily described by reference to surrounding villages. The nearest was St. Julien. The operation orders for the attack of August 22 assigned as objective to the Oxfords a road running across the Hanebeck and referred to as the Winnipeg-Kansas Cross Road. The 48th Division on the left and the 15th on the right were to co-operate with the 184th Brigade in the attack.

Shortly before 5 the bombardment started. In the advance behind the creeping barrage put down by our guns, of which an enormous concentration was present on the front, C, D and A Companies (from right to left) provided the first waves, while B Company followed to support the flanks. The Berks came afterwards as ‘moppers up.’ Half-an-hour after the advance started D, B and A Companies were digging-in 150 yards west of the Winnipeg-Kansas Cross Road. The losses of these companies in going over had not been heavy, but, as so often happens, casualties occurred directly the objective had been duly reached. In the case of C Company, on the right, but little progress had been made. Pond Farm, a concrete stronghold, to capture which a few nights previously an unsuccessful sally had been made, had proved too serious an obstacle. Not till the following night was it reduced, and during the whole of August 22 it remained a troublesome feature in the situation.

Before the line reached could be consolidated or they could act to defeat the enemy’s tactics, our men found themselves the victims of sniping and machine-gun fire from Schuler Farm, which was not taken and to which parties of reinforcements to the enemy now came. More dangerous still was an old gun-pit which lay behind the left flank. The capture of this had been assigned to the 48th Division, but as a measure of abundant caution Colonel Wetherall had detailed a special Berks platoon to tackle it. This platoon, assisted by some Oxfords on the scene, captured the gun-pit and nearly seventy prisoners, but failed to garrison it. A party of the enemy found their way back and were soon firing into our men from behind. During the early stages of consolidation, when personal example and direction were required, John Stockton, Scott, and Gascoyne were all killed by snipers or machine-gun fire. Scott had been hit already in the advance and behaved finely in refusing aid until he had despatched a message to Headquarters. While he was doing so three or four bullets struck him simultaneously and he died.

Throughout the 22nd no actual counter-attack nor organised bombardment by the enemy took place, but much sniping and machine-gun fire continued, making it almost impossible to move about. Our loss in Lewis-gunners was particularly heavy.

Callender, the acting company commander of A Company, had been killed before the attack commenced, and Sergeant-Major Cairns was now the mainstay of that company, whose men were thoroughly mixed up with B. Upon the left the 48th Division had failed to reach Winnipeg, with the result that this flank of A and B Companies was quite in the air. On the Battalion’s right the failure of C Company, in which Brucker had been wounded, to pass Pond Farm left the flank of D Company exposed and unsupported. But the position won was kept. Ground to which the advance had been carried with cost would not be lightly given up. Moberly, Company Sergeant-Major Cairns, and Guest -the latter by volunteering in daylight to run the gauntlet of the German snipers back to Headquarters-greatly distinguished themselves in the task of maintaining this exposed position during the night of August 22 and throughout August 23. Some of our men had to remain in shell-holes unsupported and shot at from several directions for over fifty hours”.

At 4.45 a.m. the Battalion attacked on a front of 750 yards, the objective being about 900 yards distant. On our left were the l/5th R. Warwicks, and the 2/1st Bucks on the right, with five platoons of the R. Berks acting as moppers-up. The assembly, which was carried out unknown to the enemy, was on a tape line, laid down in advance of our line by 2nd Lieut. Robinson the previous night. The disposition of companies from left to right was A, D, C in front line, and B in support. The Battalion advanced under our artillery barrage, and A and D Companies, closely followed by two platoons of B, reached their objective and consolidated. C Company on the right, with a platoon of B in support, were held up owing to the failure of the mopping-up platoon to take Pond Farm. Owing to casualties among senior officers, the front-line command devolved on 2nd Lieut. Moberly, with whom were 2nd Lieut. Coombes (A) and 2nd Lieut. Guest (D). The battalion on our left was unable to hold its objective, and consequently both flanks of the front line were unprotected; but 2nd Lieut. Moberly decided to hold on, and arranged to provide such protection as was possible. At 4 p.m., with the assistance of two platoons of the 2/5th Glosters, we assaulted and captured Pond Farm.

KILLED IN ACTION AUGUST 22nd 1917

Captain J. G. Stockton.

Lieut. WT. D. Scott. 2nd

Lieut. W. E. Gascoyne

201057 Sergeant Alfred Mobey

202295 Lance Sergeant Albert Barnes

200871 Corporal Albert Margetts

200978 Corporal James William Smith

202440 Lance Corporal Harold William Percival Bolt (Born Sydney Australia)

201270 Lance Corporal Eric George Cheasley

200689 Lance Corporal Frederick Edginton

267405 Lance Corporal William Merrith

201458 Lance Corporal Benjamin Arthur Tyler

201230 Private Harold Bolton

203189 Private Dennis Bush

240310 Private William James Callow

201694 Private Aubrey Castle

14783 Private Albert Thomas Childs

201655 Private William Walter Cox

24484 Private Herbert Charles Date (Formerly 141415 R.F.A.)

202885 Private William Dennis

203867 Private Albert John Drewitt

285020 Private Arthur Henry Drewitt

202393 Private Joseph Eversden

240350 Private James Charles Ferriman

202151 Private Frank Herbert Gardiner

203844 Private William Guess

201358 Private Lewis Heath

266895 Private Edward George Hoare

203475 Private Arthur James Hughes (Formerly 2694, R. Bucks Hussars)

201435 Private Harold Hughes

201864 Private Henry Impey

200931 Private Howard Stanley May

29025 Private George Albert Missen

240409 Private Leve Mitchell

202701 Private George Payne

202768 Private Christopher Piekton

203787 Private William Richard Pitson

22534 Private Jasper Quincey Plumb

204409 Private Ernest William Rolfe

202554 Private Harold Rolph

202661 Private George Roper

201967 Private Ernest John Rose

204413 Private John Elford Soper (Formerly 3457, Berks Yoemanry)

203434 Private Robert John Stratford (Formerly 1794, R. Bucks Hussars)

203535 Private Ernest Walter Sutton (formerly 2777, R. Bucks Hussars)

203811 Private Alfred Fred Taylor

23717 Private Horace White

200270 Herbert Edward Wright

DIED OF WOUNDS AUGUST 22nd 1917

32542 Lance Corporal Arthur Stamper (Formerly 3427, Notts and Derby Regt.)

Wounded: Captain A. H. Brucker. 2nd Lieut. T. A. Hill. 2nd Lieut. H. G. Turrell. 2nd Lieut. F. Dawson-Smith 2nd Lieut. T. W. P. Hawker And 74 other ranks.

Missing: 44 other ranks (3 of whom were afterwards reported to be prisoners, the remainder presumed to have been killed).

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

The attack, in which the Bucks had successfully co-operated on the right of our advance, earned credit for the Brigade and the Battalion. It had been, from a fighting standpoint, a military success. But from the strategical aspect the operations showed by their conclusion that the error had been made of nibbling with weak forces at objectives which could only have been captured and secured by strong. Moreover, the result suggested that the objectives had been made on this occasion for the attack rather than the attack for the objectives. The 184th Brigade had played the part assigned to it completely and with credit, but what had been gained by it with heavy loss was in fact given up by its successors almost at once. Withdrawal from the Kansas trenches became an obvious corollary to the German omission to counter-attack against them. Ground not in dispute ’twas not worth casualties to hold. On the Battalion’s front Pond Farm, a small concrete stronghold, remained the sole fruit of the attack of August 22. It was after the 61st Division had been withdrawn, wasted in stationary war, that what success could be associated with this third battle of Ypres commenced. Judged by its efforts, the 61st was ill paid in results.

TO 1917, AUGUST 23rd

1917, NOVEMBER 19th – RAID ON THE GERMAN LINES

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

Two nights afterwards, when the wind luckily was again from the right direction, the raid was carried out. The Germans, of whom some were found in gas-helmets, had no inkling of our plan. B Company, though they missed the gap through the enemy’s wire, entered the trenches without opposition and captured a machine-gun which was pointing directly at their approach but never fired. Wallington, the officer in command of the storming party, killed several Germans. As often, there was difficulty in finding the way back to our lines; in fact, Moberly, the commander of the raid, after some wandering in No-Man’s-Land, entered the trenches of a Scotch division upon our right. His appearance and comparative inability to speak their language made him a suspicious visitor to our kilted neighbours. Moberly rejoined his countrymen under escort.

1917, APRIL 28th – RAID NEAR ST QUENTIN BY THE 2/4th OXFORDS

By G. K. Rose

By G. K. Rose

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

At this point I must explain for the benefit of lay readers the difference between a raid and an attack. The purpose of the latter was to drive the enemy from ground he occupied and stay there. Early attacks upon the Western Front were usually directed against trenches, of which successive lines, reaching to a distance or ‘depth’ of several thousand yards, were often our goal or ‘objective.’ So that our Infantry could enter hostile trenches it was invariably necessary to destroy the wire in front or make a pathway through it. Many attacks failed because the wire had not been cut. Before the days of Tanks the means employed consisted, broadly speaking, in artillery fire, which it was also hoped would put the enemy’s machine-guns out of action and frighten his garrison. Our Infantry advanced immediately this fire had ceased or ‘lifted’ to the next objective. During the Battle of the Somme it was found that the enemy often left his actual trenches and came forward into shell-holes in No-Man’s-Land so as to escape the fire of our artillery. To counter this manoeuvre the ‘creeping barrage’ was devised. Our shells were fired so as to form a moving curtain of destruction immediately in front of our men in their advance, whilst at the same time the enemy’s trenches were bombarded. Attacks on any scale were planned to capture and hold against the enemy some ridge, by losing which he lost observation of our lines, while we, in gaining it, saw more of his and also were enabled to advance our guns.

The purpose of a raid was to penetrate a portion of the enemy’s front, to kill or capture as many Germans as possible, and then retire. Raids differed materially from attacks in this respect, that no attempt was made in the former to hold the ground won longer than was necessary to satisfy the plan. Raids were usually supported by artillery and took place at night; but daylight raids, though less common or successful, were sometimes made, and ‘silent raids,’ when no artillery was used, were also tried.

This explanation, dull to military readers, will serve to indicate what operation I was now about to undertake. The scheme, of which the General and his Brigade Major were the authors, was to pass a body of men through a gap in the unoccupied portion of the German trenches opposite Fayet, deploy, and sweep sideways against some other trenches, thought to be held, and through several copses which Bucks patrols had pronounced weakly garrisoned by the enemy. These copses, which were expected to yield a few handfuls of runaway boys in German uniform, would be attacked by us in flank and rear at the same time. The scheme promised well, but the proposed manner of retirement, which would be in daylight and across nearly a mile of open ground, presented difficulties. The more to overcome them and to be fresh for the event, D Company and the platoons of C selected for the task were to stay in the sunken road north of Fayet, while A and B Companies went to garrison the outpost line……..

The Raid on August 28th

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

At 1 a.m. I roused the men, some 150 all told, and the responsible task of issuing the bombs, wire-cutters, and other things commenced. All these, invoiced with excellent precision by the Brigade Major, Moore, had been carried up by the Berks. The shelling rarely ceased, and I owed everything on this occasion to Corporal Leatherbarrow, who showed not only steadfast bravery but skill. The platoons could not, on account of the shells which sometimes fell in the roadway itself, be paraded, and each received its share of bombs piecemeal by sections. Food, to supplement which I did not scruple to issue some of the next day’s rations, was partaken of at 2 a.m., but it took long, and half an hour later the whole party should have started upon its journey across the mile of open fields to reach the assembly post. Disposal of the bombs, the meal, and those many last attentions which breed delay had taken longer than I had allowed. Time was getting very short. I wanted to dodge the shelling, but had missed a quiet interval that occurred at 2.30 a.m. At 3 a.m. I moved, leading the party in a long column over the open ground north of Fayet to reach its eastern side. The inevitable ‘wire mats,’ an encumbrance without which few raiding parties ever started, hampered the progress. It was a pitch dark night, nor was I certain of the way. To cover the mile and then pass 150 men, ignorant of their whereabouts, silently and in single file through a gap into No-Man’s-Land ere dawn broke and our bombardment started now seemed impossible. It was a serious quandary. To go on might be to compromise not only the operation, but the lives of 150 men, who would be discovered in daylight and in the open near the enemy. But to go back was to jeopardise the reputation of the Battalion.

I went on.

Great darkness preceded the dawn, which was expected shortly after 4 a.m. I found the road, the first crater, the narrow track through the wire, and the empty ground beyond. A few minutes after the last man had reached his place our barrage opened. Shells fell spasmodically here and there for a few seconds; then all our batteries were shooting together. Their fire was admirable, heavy and well-directed.

In the stumbling rush forward to reach the nearest wood–C Company to the second crater on the Fayet Road–waves and platoons were rapidly confused. The Germans, who found themselves attacked in flank and rear, were totally surprised. They had not stood-to and many were yet asleep. Some lights went up and a few sentries’ shots were fired, but it appeared that small resistance to our progress would be made. The wire was trampled through, and for some minutes our men played havoc with the Germans, who ran, leaving draggled blankets and equipment in their trenches. Dug-outs were generously bombed, and explosions filled the air as our men hastily used the weapons brought to hurt the enemy. Three machine-guns fell into our hands. A miniature victory was in progress.

But a turn of events followed; the trenches and woods beyond those we had first entered were neither unoccupied nor weakly held. A force certainly equal to ours was in opposition. After their first surprise the Germans recovered, manned their reserve machine-guns, and opened a fierce fire from front and flanks upon their assailants. Many of us were hit, including Taylor, the officer of No. 15 Platoon, who was severely wounded in the thigh. In No. 13 Platoon, which lost most heavily, Allden and his Platoon Sergeant, Kilby, were killed. The full programme could not be effected. It was getting light; so I decided to withdraw. Most of D Company I found had already done this in their own way, but the remainder now collected at my summons. Lance-Corporal O’Connor with his two Lewis guns did yeoman service to stem what had become the German counter-attack. Ammunition was running short, and German stick-bombs obliged me, in order to save from capture those less badly hit, to leave Taylor, whose wound made him quite helpless. The wire, through which Sergeant Mowby had been busy cutting a path, was safely passed, and an hour afterwards we had regained the sunken road. I learnt that Jones, who had led the right of the advance, had not returned. He with his men had narrowly missed being cut off when the dawn broke. During the ensuing day this party had to lie scattered in shell-holes till darkness enabled them to reach our lines.

The raid was hailed as a signal success for the Battalion. Two machine-guns and one protesting prisoner had been dragged back to our lines. The German trenches had been over-run and many of their occupants had been killed or wounded. By a satisfactory coincidence the troops whom we surprised were a battalion of the Jaegers, the very regiment which after three hours’ bombardment had raided us exactly two months previously at Ablaincourt.

Our losses, considering the scope of the operation, were heavy, but not so proportionately to the number of troops of both sides engaged nor to the severe nature of the fighting. Most of our casualties had bullet wounds. The list, officially, was: Killed, 1 officer and 10 other ranks; wounded, 2 officers and 41; missing, 1 officer and 2. Of Taylor I regret to say no news was ever heard. I left him wounded, probably fatally, and quite incapable of being moved. The likelihood is that he died soon afterwards and was buried by the enemy in the trench where he lay. Allden and Kilby were a serious loss to the fighting efficiency of D Company.

D Company and 2 platoons of C raided the enemy trenches at 4.20 a.m., and reached the second objective, capturing two machine-guns and one German. Our casualties were heavy, viz. : 2nd Lieut. T. H. Allden and 16 other ranks killed, 2nd Lieut. H. S. Taylor  wounded and missing, 42 other ranks wounded, 9 missing.

KILLED IN ACTION APRIL 28th 1917

2nd Lieutenant T. H. Allden

2nd Lieutenant Herbert Samuel Taylor

200603 Sergeant Herbert Kilby

201083 Corporal Frederick Harris

201477 Corporal Harry Harbud

201373 Lance Corporal Francis Edward Buckingham

203761 Lance Corporal Albert Henry Souch

203458 Private James Edgar Cockridge (Formerly 3065, R. Bucks Hussars)

200445 Private Stanley George Covey

203459 Private William Henry Dear (Formerly 3043, R. Bucks Hussars) (Died)

203534 Private Thomas Ginger (Formerly 3139, R. Berks Regt.)

203839 Private Willie Goff

203497 Private Reginald Jack High (Formerly 2829, R. Bucks Hussars)

203502 Private William John Murphy (Formerly 3015, R. Bucks Hussars)

202654 Private Ernest Roof

200361 Private John Shepherd

202139 Private William Waite

201381 Private George Walker

203762 Private John Thomas Williams

DIED OF WOUNDS APRIL 28th 1917

267483 Private George Henry Williams

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

For their gallantry Corporal Sloper and Sergeant Butcher received the Military Medal and Jones the Military Cross. Corporal Leatherbarrow for his steadfast conduct in the sunken road was mentioned in dispatches. To Sergeant-Major Brooks fell the honour of the Battalion’s first V.C., of which the official award ran as follows:–

‘For most conspicuous bravery. This Warrant Officer, while taking part in a raid on the enemy’s trenches, saw that the front wave was checked by an enemy machine-gun at close quarters. On his own initiative, and regardless of personal danger, he rushed forward from the second wave with the object of capturing the gun, killing one of the gunners with his revolver and bayoneting another. The remainder of the gun’s crew then made off, leaving the gun in his possession. S.M. Brooks then turned the machine-gun on to the retreating enemy, after which he carried it back to our lines. By his courage and initiative he undoubtedly prevented many casualties, and greatly added to the success of the operations.’

Company Sergeant-Major Edward Brooks V.C.

Company Sergeant-Major Edward Brooks V.C.

Fampoux Mill and The Roeux Chemical Works, 17th November 1917

A depiction of the heavily bomb damaged water mill at Fampoux, on the bank of the River Scarpe. The roof has been particularly badly damaged, by Major G. K. Rose, 2/4th Ox and Bucks Light Infantry.

From: First World War ‘Official Photographs’

The destruction and devastation at Fampoux, France. There is little left to indicate that a village once stood here. The only evidence is scattered debris and piles of rubble. A small road winds its way through the chaos. The wooden frame of a large building is visible in the distance. On the left of the photograph, a tree offers the only sign of life. Many small towns and villages, due to their proximity to the Front, found themselves caught in the middle of the fighting. In some cases, entire villages were obliterated by the bombing and shelling. [Original reads: ‘OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. General view of Fampoux.’]

The photographer was John Warwick Brooke, of the Topical Press Agency. He was the second British official war photographer to go to the Western Front in 1916. The demands placed on he and his colleague, Ernest Brooks, were heavy. They had to take as many photographs as possible, with as much variety as possible, a difficult task for two men covering an army of over two million. Despite this, Warwick Brooke managed to take what would become some of the most memorable images of World War I. As an officially appointed photographer, Warwick Brooke was assigned to the Western Front to follow the progress of the British Army. During his time there, between 1916 and 1918, Warwick Brooke is estimated to have taken over 4,000 photographs.

Harbonnieres, 1st January 1918

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by G.K. Rose

The Battalion’s Relief mid-winter respite was brief. On New Year’s Eve, 1917, the 2/4th Oxfords left the wretched Suzanne huts and marched through Harbonnieres to Caix. No ‘March Past’ was necessary or would have been possible, for so slippery was the road that the men had to trail along it’s untrodden sides as best they could. Old 61st Division sign-boards left standing nearly a year ago greeted the return to an area which was familiar to many.

A modern link to Harbonnières and the church. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harbonnières

Bray Sur Somme, Christmas 1917

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by G.K. Rose

After one night at Lechelle the Battalion entrained at Ytrez and moved back to Christmas rest-billets at Suzanne, near Bray.

Huts, built by the French but vacated more than a year ago and now very dilapidated formed the accommodation. In them Christmas dinners, to procure which Bennett had proceeded early from the line, were eaten. And O’Meara conducted the Brigade Band.

There are a number of photographs of interest on the following Web sites:

http://www.family-ough.co.nz/A_Melancholy_Time.html

http://laurent59.canalblog.com/archives/2005/09/18/815833.html

Major Geoffrey Keith Rose, M.C., 1889 – 1959

I’m using the content of The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry to help structure this blog. All the content of the book is freely available online. Just click on the title of the book above.

I’ve also discovered today that the Imperial War Museum holds a collection of over 150 sketches by G.K. Rose, but sadly they don’t seem to have given access to them online. Please see the article below:

The Sketches of Geoffrey Keith Rose

From The Avenue of War

Major Geoffrey Rose MC served on the Western Front for three years in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and kept a sketchbook throughout that time. Over some 150 separate drawings Rose drew upon the image of the avenue as a ‘talisman’ of order and rationality. From the first drawing of June 1915 to his last work in Bourlon Wood in October 1918 the avenue is a fixture in his sketchbooks, sometimes smashed to pieces, at other times restored to its axial dignity. Even on the desolated battlefield of the Somme Rose craves the formal rigidity of the avenue, trying to pick out from amongst the debris of battle the former path of the approach road to the Chateau at Bourlon. G. A Willis, interestingly, also concludes his pictorial record of his war with a watercolour Advance through Belgium, November 1918- which depicts army transport moving along a symmetrical avenue towards a recaptured town. As with Rose’s obsession or the underlying geometric order, Willis chooses the avenue for his summative war image – a metaphor for renewed propulsion and the liberation of space and movement.

Geoffrey Rose, 156 Sketches chiefly of the Western Front, IWM Dept. of Art nos. 4775-4930.

P.S. http://www.vortex.uwe.ac.uk/index.htm: The Home Page of Paul Gough is contains a fresh perspective on WWI.

Details of his M.C. award from the Supplement to The London Gazette, 18 June 1917. 5983: Capt. Geoffrey Keith Rose, M.C., Oxf. & Bucks. L. I. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When in command of a raid on the enemy’s trenches, he displayed the greatest skill and energy. He organised an effective resistence to the enemy counter-attack, and conducted a masterly withdrawel under heavy machine gun and rifle fire. (M.C. Gazetted 14th January, 1916.)”

The Medal Record of Major G. K. Rose:

I would love to find the personal papers of G. K. Rose and further information on his life.

Lieutenant Colonel William Herbert Ames, T.D.

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Ames wrote the Introduction to the book. I’ve included it here in its entirety:

INTRODUCTION

The raising of the Second Line of the Territorial Force became necessary when it was decided to send the First Line overseas. The Territorial Force was originally intended for home defence, a duty for which its pre-war formations soon ceased to be available. The early purpose, therefore, of the Second Line was to defend this country.

On September 8, 1914 I was privileged to begin to raise the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the Battalion whose history is set out in the following pages. I opened Orderly Room in Exeter College, Oxford, and enrolled recruits. The first was Sergeant-Major T. V. Wood. By the end of the day, we had sworn in and billeted over 130 men.

The Battalion was created out of untrained elements, but what the recruits lacked in experience they made up in keenness. The Secretary of the County Association had an excellent list of prospective officers, but these had to learn their work from the beginning. We were lucky to secure the services of several non-commissioned officers with Regular experience; Colour-Sergeants Moore, Williams, Bassett and Waldon*, and Sergeant Howland worked untiringly, whilst the keenness of the officers to qualify themselves to instruct their men was beyond praise.

At the end of ten days sufficient recruits had been enrolled to allow the formation of eight companies, which exactly reproduced those of the First Line, men being allotted to the companies according to the locality whence they came. A pleasant feature was the number of Culham students, who came from all parts of England to re-enlist in their old Corps. Well do l remember my feelings when I sat down to post the officers to the companies. It was a sort of ‘ Blind Hookey,’ but seemed to pan out all right in the end. Company officers had to use the same process in the selection of their non- commissioned officers. Of these original appointments all, or nearly all, were amply justified–a fact which said much for the good judgment displayed.

With the approach of the Oxford Michaelmas Term the Battalion had to move out of the colleges (New College, Magdalen, Keble, Exeter, Brasenose and Oriel had hitherto kindly provided accomodation) and into billets. Training was naturally hurried. As soon as the companies could move correctly a series of battalion drills was carried out upon Port Meadow. This drill did a great deal to weld the Battalion together. The elements of digging were imparted by Colonel Waller behind the Headquarters at St. Cross Road, open order was practised on Denman’s Farm, whilst exercises in the neighbourhood of Elsfield gave the officers some
instruction in outpost duties and in the principles of attack and defence.

The important rudiments of march discipline were soon acquired. Weekly route marches took place almost from the first. Few roads within a radius of 9 miles from Oxford but saw the Battalion some ‘time or other. The Light Infantry step caused discomfort at first, but the Battalion soon learned to take a pride in it. The men did some remarkable marches. Once they marched from the third milestone at the top of Cumnor Hill to the seventh milestone bv Tubney Church in 57 minutes. Just before Christmas, 1914, they marched through Nuneham to Culham Station and on to Abingdon, and then back to Oxford through Bagley Wood,
without a casualty.

At the end of 1914 Second Line Divisions and Brigades were being formed, and the 2/4th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry became a unit of the 184th Infantry Brigade under Colonel Ludlow, and of the 61st Division under Lord Salisbury. Those officers inspected the Battalion at Oxford before it left, at the end of January, 1915, for Northampton.

The move from Oxford terminated the first phase in the Battalion’s history. At Northampton fresh conditions were in store. Smaller billets and army rations replaced the former system of billets ‘with subsistence.’ Elementary training was reverted to. The Battalion was armed with Japanese rifles, a handy weapon, if somewhat weak in the stock, and range work commenced. The seven weeks at Northampton, if not exactly relished at the time, greatly helped to pull the Battalion together.

The period was marked by a visit of General Sir Ian Hamilton, who inspected and warmly complimented the men on their turn-out.
A minor incident is worthy of record. One Saturday night a surprise alarm took place about midnight. The Battalion was young, and the alarm was taken very seriously. Even the sick turned out rather than be left behind, and marched the prescribed five miles without ill effects.

Just before Easter, 1915, the 61st Division moved into Essex in order to occupy the area vacated by the 48th. The Battalion’s destination was Writtle, where the amicable relations already
established with the inhabitants by Oxfordshire Territorials were continued. Though our stay was a short one, we received a hearty welcome, when, on our return from Epping, we again marched
through the village. After a fortnight at Writtle, the Battalion moved to Hoddesdon, to take part in digging the London defences. We left Writtle 653 strong at 8 a.m., and completed the march of 25 miles at 5 p.m., with every man in the ranks who started. Three weeks later we were ordered to Broomfield, a village east of Writtle and near Chelmsford. There was keen competition to take part in the return march from Hoddesdon ; 685 men started on the 29 mile march, which lasted 11 hours: only 3 fell out. The band marched the whole way and played the Battalion in on its arrival at Broomfield.

In the spring of 1915 it was decided to prepare the Territorial Second Line for foreign service. Considerable improvement resulted in the issue of training equipment. Boreham range occupied much of our time. A musketry course was begun but
never finished: indeed, the bad condition of the rifles made shooting futile. Six weeks were also spent at Epping in useful training, at the conclusion of which we returned to Broomfield. The Battalion was billeted over an area about six miles
long by one wide, until leave was obtained for a camp. For nearly three months the men were together under canvas, with the very best results. Strenuous training ensued. I am reminded of a little incident which occurred during some night digging at Chignal Smealy.’ The object of the practice was to enure the men to work, not only when fresh, but when tired. Operations opened with digging with the entrenching tool–each man to make cover for himself. By 8 p.m. this stage had been reached, so tea and shovels were issued. At 9 p.m. serious digging began, the shelters being converted into trenches, and this continued till 1.30 a.m. Coffee was then served, and work went on till dawn, which provided an opportunity to practice standing to. A rest followed, but after breakfast work was again resumed. About 10 a.m. an officer round a man sitting down in the trenches and ordered him to renew his efforts. The man obeyed the order at once, but was heard to remark to his neighbour, ‘ Well! If six months ago a bloke had told me that I was a-going to work the ‘ole ruddy night and the ‘ole ruddy day for one ruddy bob, I’d never ‘ave believed him!’
At the end of October, 1915, I consider that the Battalion reached the zenith of its efficiency during its home service. It was a great pity that the Division could not have been sent abroad then. In-
stead, each battalion was reduced in November to a strength of 17 officers and 600 men. Individual training recommenced, until specialists of every kind flourished and multiplied. At a General’s inspection during the winter a most varied display took place. Scouts were in every tree, a filter party was drawing water from the village pond, cold shoeing was being practised at the Transport, cooking classes were busy making field ovens, wire entanglements sprang up on every side, nor was it possible to turn a corner without encountering some fresh form of activity. I fancy the authorities were much impressed on this occasion, for nothing was more difficult than to show the men, as they normally would be, to an inspecting officer.

In January, 1916, the Battalion, having been recently made up with untrained recruits, moved to Parkhouse camp on Salisbury Plain to complete its training with the rest of the Division. We arrived in frost and show and left, three months later, in almost tropical heat – remarkable contrasts within so short a period. The Division was speedily completed for foreign service; new rifles were issued, with which a musketry course was successfully fired, though snow showers did not favour high scoring. We were made up to strength with drafts from the Liverpool, Welsh, Dorset, Cambridge, and Hertfordshire Regiments, were inspected by the
King, and embarked as a unit of the first Second Line Division to go abroad.

Thus at the end of 18 months’ hard work the preparatory stage in the Battalion’s history was concluded. Its subsequent life is traced in the chapters of this volume.

The period of home service is wrapped in pleasant memory. It was not always plain sailing, but difficulties were lightened by the wonderful spirit that animated all ranks and the pride which all felt in the Battalion. I recall especially the work of some who have not returned; Davenport, Scott, Stockton, Zeder, and Tiddy among the officers, and among the non-commissioned officers and men a host of good comrades. Nor do I forget those who came safely through. No commanding officer was ever better supported, and my gratitude to them all is unending. I think the Battalion was truly animated by the spirit of the famous standing order, ‘A Light Infantry Regiment being expected to approach nearer to perfection than any other, more zeal and attention is required from all ranks in it.’ Equally truly was it said that not by the partial exertions of a few, but by the united and steady efforts of all, was the Battalion formed and its discipline created and preserved.

W. H. AMES, Colonel.”

Sergeant James Walton

* I believe that the Waldon mention above is actually my Great Grandfather, James Walton. I cannot find a Sergeant Waldon in documents relating to the the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. I also know that my Great Grandfather was very active in the establishment of the Battalion. I would be very pleased if someone can shed some light on this.

James Walton is saluting an officer just out of the picture.

James Walton on the left with new recruits being drilled, Museum Street, Oxford, late 1914 or early 1915.

Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Ames continued:

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

After the Battle of Fromelles, 19th July 1916
“Soon after these events the Battalion was unlucky to be deprived of Colonel Ames, a leader whose energy and common sense could ill be spared. This was the first change which the Battalion had in its Commanding Officer, and it was much regretted.”

From His Earlier Life:

From: Oxford men, 1880-1892: with a record of their schools, honours, and degrees, By Joseph Foster

Ames, William Herbert, born in Remenham juxta Hurley, Berks, 8 July, 1868; o.s. Charles Herbert, late of Remenham, arm., deceased. New Coll., matric. 14 Oct., 87, aged 19 (from Eton), B.A. 91; Honours :—2 classical mods. 89, 3 classics 91.

From the Lincoln’s Inn Admissions 1420-1893

Admitted on 24 April 1891 was William Herbert Ames of New College Oxford (22), the only son of the late Charles Herbert Ames Esquire of Remenham, Berkshire, late of the Madras Civil Service.

Officers of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, December 1918

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

Officers of the Battalion at the Armistice

Headquarters.
Lieut.-Colonel E. M. Woulfe-Flanagan, C.M.G., D.S.O.
Major G. K. ROSE, M.C., 2nd in Command.
Captain R. F. Symonds, Adjutant.
Lieut. T. S. R. Bouse, M.C., Signalling Officer.
Lieut. W. A. F. Hearne, Intelligence Officer.
Captain J. W. Shilson, Assistant Adjutant.
Lieut.G. W. Woodford, M.C., Transport Officer.
Captain W. G. Murry, Quartermaster.
Lieut. E. P. Neary (U.S.), Medical Officer.

Company Commanders.
Captain H. Jones, M. C., A Company.
Captain R. E. M. Young, B Company.
Captain J. Stanley, M.C., C Company.
Captain J. H. D. Faithful, D Company.

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