October Casualties

N.C.O.s and Men of the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment Killed in Action, October 1914

In the latter part of September and early October the British positions on the Aisne were taken over by the French after Sir John French had suggested to Marshal Joffre that the British army should move northwards to its original place on the left of the combined front and also to be able to link up with the large numbers of British reinforcements were about to be landed in northern France.

Furthermore, he considered that as the BEF had already proved itself to be a first-class fighting machine he did not want his men to stagnate in trenches, but rather to engage in their strength of open fighting.

The 1st Battalion War Diary tells us that on October 7th they moved by train to Abbeville and from  there was another long march before finally arriving at Bethune by bus. The 1st Battalion was in General Smith-Dorrien’s II Corps whose task it was to turn the enemy’s northern flank to prevent the German armies reaching the Channel ports.

If Battalion losses had been small during September in the campaigns on the Aisne and the Marne, the same could not be said for October 1914.

La Bassée Canal in 1914

On the 16th they “went over the top” and the following day, strengthened by a reinforcement of 3 officers and  250 men, a stronger battalion successfully attacked Violaines. 

On the 19th the battalion attempted to take La Bassée, but, “came under heavy fire of each arm. Finally entrenched 450 yds in front of former positions“. The attack lasted 3 days until the Battalion was withdrawn at 8.00 p.m. on the 22nd.

The Battalion’, wrote Crookenden had got nearer to La Bassée than any British or Allied troops were to go for four years.’

On the 20th October the Germans launched a huge offensive stretching from Arras to the sea and included a  massive assault upon the 1st Battalion positions at Violaines. During the 21st and 22nd October the Battalion lost rather more than 200 Officers, NCOs and men, including Captain J. L. Shore, who was captured.

Virtually all those ‘killed in action’ have no known grave and are commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.

The little village of Violaines occupies an important place in the history of the 1st Battalion”     (‘Ever Glorious’ – Bernard Rigby)

The following 100 Officers, N.C.O.s and men of the 1st Battalion were killed in action or died of their wounds during October 1914 (57 of whom died attacking La Bassée on the 22nd)

11th October 1914 – P.o.w. Hospital

13th October 1914 – Festubert

14th October 1914 – Festubert

16th October 1914 – Died of wounds

17th October 1914 – Violaines

18th October 1914 – Violaines

19th October 1914 – Violaines

20th October 1914 – Violaines

21st October 1914 – La Bassée

22nd October 1914 – La Bassée

23rd October 1914 – Died of wounds

28th October 1914 – Neuve Chapelle

29th October 1914 – Died of wounds

30th October 1914 – Died of wounds

31st October 1914 – Calonne


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