Lt. Col. Dudley Boger took over command of the 1st Battalion shortly before it left Ireland. He is strongly linked with Nurse Edith Cavell in that he was one of the first two soldiers that Edith took into refuge with Company Sergeant-Major Frank Meachin.
Lieut. Col. Dudley Boger
ã G E Conway, 2009
When they were taken prisoner on 24th August, Boger and Meachin had been taken to a temporary hospital in a convent at Wiheries, Belgium. But when their guards' backs were turned, the two men had staggered out into the village under cover of darkness and hid in a disused building.
One gray, dismally wet night in November 1914, two British soldiers in disguise were guided through the silent side streets of German-occupied Brussels by a patriotic Belgian civilian. Herman Capiau was an engineer by trade, but since the outbreak of World War I he had played a key role in an escape organization that was sheltering British and French soldiers trapped behind the German lines after the Allied defeat at Mons.
Lt. Col. Boger, who had a leg wound, had grown a beard in the three months he had been lying low, and was wearing the black hat and floppy tie of a typical Belgian factory worker. His colleague, Company Sgt. Maj. Frank Meachin, also dressed as a labourer, had packed rolls of cloth between his shoulders to turn himself into a hunchback. That, he hoped, would explain to any inquisitive German soldier why such a tall, strongly built man was not serving in the army.
In the care of Nurse Cavell, Colonel Boger had an operation on his foot and later both he and Sgt. Major Meachin got hold of identity cards, although the Colonel still could not walk. Meachin, disguised as a "fish hawker", succeeded in reaching Flushing and then on to Folkestone.
The Colonel was not so fortunate. He got as far as Villevorde when his passport (unofficially obtained!) was seen to be not in order. He was ordered to report to the German Commandant in Brussels and was interned at Ruhleben.
...... Nurse Edith Cavell
...... the story of Colonel Boger's escape
Footnote: Lieutenant Colonel Boger was later awarded the D.SO. and died on 27 November 1935. He is commemorated on the Old Contemptibles' Association War Memorial, Stockport, Cheshire.
Click the poppy to see the memorial
Colonel Arthur Crookenden wrote the following on Colonel Boger taking command of the 1st in 1914:
'The man who was to command at Audregnies' he writes, 'took over; Lieut-Colonel D.C. Boger... It must be remembered that in the years before 1939 the Cardwell system required the foreign service battalions to be kept up to full strength by the home service battalions. This meant that the home battalion was little more than a skeleton and spent its time training drafts for the other battalion. Its average strength varied between 560 and 700 and the average draft was 150 a year. The foreign service battalion was composed, therefore, of fully-trained, fit, fighting men, ready for active service as it stood. The home battalion, on the other hand, while undergoing as severe field training as the foreign, had to rely on reservists to complete its war strength. The first battalion took 565 reservists into its ranks. Officers and men who had recently served in India with the 2nd bn. knew many of the reservists but on the whole officers and men did not know each other.'
(Source: "Twenty-Second Foosteps - 1849-1914" Arthur Crookenden, 1956, page: 36)
CQMS Frank Meachin ('B' Company) took great pride throughout the rest of his life that he had in the fact known Nurse Cavell.
He wrote of his escape that "two gallant Catholic sisters called at our hiding place (i.e. the convent at Wiheries) one night with a hurricane lamp and guided us (i.e. Lieutenent Colonel Boger and himself) to the convent at Wasines where we were fed and sheltered until M. Capiau arrived, took photos of us, gave us food and a map showing us how to get to M. Libiez's house in Mons".
Another of the survivors of Audregnies to benefit was Private 9887 Arthur Wood ('C' Company). Disguised in Belgian civilian clothes, he owed his life subsequently to Edith Cavell. On learning of her death he wrote to Edith's mother, from Chester Castle, on 8th October 1915 as follows:
"...I escaped from the Germans after the battle of Mons and was in hiding in the vicinity of that town when I got into communication with your daughter. It was your daughter who arranged for me to get to Brussels, and afterwards to go from there into Holland. I was hiding in the hospital, of which your daughter was the Matron, for five days and she treated me as my own Mother would have done and proved herself to be the very best friend I ever had. I am not the only English soldier that your daughter befriended, there are four more in my own Regiment besides the men of the other Regiments she helped...".