25 November 2018

AHPC 9 - Fellowship

The most exciting event on my annual Hobby calendar has been announced: AHPC 9!

This will be my 5th participation with a target set at 1,000 points

Why a thousand? Because Dux actual says:

I will also, for my sins, be undertaking the duties of 'duels wallah' (and I am open to bribes, naturally)

The banter, the eye-candy and the fun begin on 21 December!


11 November 2018

Lest We Forget

On this Centenary of Armistice Day I thank all those who answered the calls of their Nations to do their duty. I have recently been researching my great grandfather's service in the Great War, so my commemorative post on this day is a personal tribute to him.
My great grandfather James in his Leicestershire Regiment uniform
At the outbreak of war, my great grandfather James was a 32 year old former member of the Territorial Army (much maligned by Kitchener) who had served for six years with the Royal Leicestershire Regiment and discharged as a private soldier in 1908.  As per Imperial policy he was mobilised immediately on the outbreak of war but instead of joining the Reserve battalions of his Regiment (the 4th and 5th which deployed in 1915), he joined the 500 men of the regular army 1st battalion which was brought back from Ireland.  While there is no record of which Company James was attached to, the 1st battalion was assigned to the 16th Infantry Brigade, 6th Division, III Corps.  After concentration and training they entrained to Southampton and took ship to France on 8-9 Sep 14.

The 6th Division marched directly to Arne, arriving on the 19th where they were part of the Franco-British defence during the battle of Aisne - the "Race to the Sea".  As the Germans pushed further toward the channel ports executing the famous Schliffen Plan, the Division moved also.

16th and 18th Brigades formed the British line at Battle of Armentieres - part of the First Battle of Ypres - "Graveyard of the Old Contemptibles" - where they faced the German XIX Corps of the 6th Army. The 23-25th October saw fierce fighting with 16 Brigade taking the brunt of the German attacks at Armentieres. Commencing with heavy shelling, the Germans conducted a frontal attack on the British lines. The British were repulsed but later retook their trenches in hand to hand fighting, and later retired via night march to a secondary defence line to their rear. 
One of the documents the Imperial War Office was able to provide me  - the fire damage is from the 1940 Blitz
During this action the Division suffered almost 5000 casualties.  The 1st Leicestershire Battalion, which was engaged around Rue de Bois, suffered 47 KIW, 134 WIA and 106 Missing, including James.  He, was later reported by the Germans in captivity in a PWO camp in the Black Forrest.  This probably saved his life noting the very heavy casualties his battalion later suffered in 1915 at Second Ypres.  This is a picture I found on the Leics Regiment website (https://ww1tigers.com/index.html) with the caption:

"A very rare image of German soldiers and captured prisoner of war British soldiers including Leicestershire Regiment soldiers on the way to a funeral of their comrades 31/10/1914. Many thanks to Paul Loseby."
It is entirely possible likely, then, that my great grandfather James is in this picture noting the date of his capture less than a week prior and that these are men from his Battalion.

I remember my Grandfather telling me that the PWO camp was reportedly well run but poorly supplied. The prisoners lived on whatever they could farm and suffered badly from malnutrition (as did most of the German civilian population admittedly). He returned home after the war safely, nearly 100 years ago, and while his health was never the same he lived to the age of 65.
James was awarded the 1914 Star ("Mons" Star) with combat clasp, the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Sadly the originals were lost over the years but I have had replicas made.
One Man’s story, like so many others, that must not be forgotten.  I also had two great uncles on my grandmothers side who served with the 4th Battalion of the Leicester Regiment on the Western Front from 1916-18 and survived. I look forward to learning more about them.

A recent acquisition of mine - the Cap badge of the Leicestershire Regiment
Regimental footnote
The Royal Leicestershire Regiment traces its origins to 1688 and can trace service in the 9 years wars, Wars of Spanish Succession and suppression of the Jacobite Uprising of 1715. In 1751 it was redesignated the 17th Regiment of Foot and served in North America during the French Indian War, accompanying General Wolf into Quebec, and also the American War of Independence.

From there the Regiment was deployed in more easterly directions: India from 1804-1823  (during which it received its famous Tiger emblem and nickname), the fledgling colony of New South Wales (where I now live) from 1830-1836, the First Anglo-Afghan War and the Crimean War including the Siege of Sevastopol.

In 1881 under the Childers Reforms, the regiment was renamed The Leicestershire Regiment, and comprised two regular battalions and two militia battalions. One of each served in the Boer war.
Over the course of WW1 the Regiment raised 19 battalions, loosing an aggregated 7,000 men in action over the course of the war. After the war the Regiment returned to its former size and in the interwar years participated in the Irish War of Independence 1920-22.

During WW2 the Regiment fielded 8 different battalions across different Infantry Brigades, participating in diverse theatres including BEF and Dunkirk, Tobruk, Greece, Malaya, Italy, Burma, Normandy and Arnhem. In 1946 the Regiment was awarded the prefix Royal, and the 1st battalion subsequently fought in Korea from 1951-52 including at the Battle of Maryang-San with Australian Forces.

British Army reforms throughout the Cold War were as unkind to the Royal Leicestershires as they were to many Regiments. In 1964, The Royal Leicestershire Regiment was amalgamated with Norfolk and Suffolk Regiment and the Duchess of Gloucester's Own Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire Regiment to become The Royal Anglian Regiment, incorporating the 4th (Leicestershire) Battalion. This battalion was disbanded when The Royal Anglian Regiment was further downsized in 1975.

In 1995, the Royal Anglian Regiment renamed its battalions and companies to better remember the rich history of its parent units. The 2nd Battalion’s 2nd company is now known as B (Royal Leicestershire) Company.  The dress uniform buttons of the Royal Anglian Regiment shows the Tiger originally from the cap badge and insignia of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment.

Regimental Battle Honours: