The Green Tiger

Armentieres

Home
Raising of the Regiment
Ghuznee
The Russian War
Tigers on the Veldt
Somewhere in France
Mesopotamia
The World at War
Korea
Cyprus
Borneo
The Sporting Life
Billets and Barracks
Books
Research
WANTED!

In late 1914, following the Retreat from Mons and the Battles of the Marne and the Aisne, the German and Franco-British armies tried to outflank one another in the so-called 'Race to the Sea'. A series of head-on clashes followed as the two mighty armies flung themselves at one another. The two most notable of these battles were at Armentieres, in October 1914, and further north at Ypres in October/November 1914. During the Battle of Armentieres the 1st battalion, which had only recently arrived in France, successfully held the line in the Bois Grenier - Rue du Bois sector, against repeated German assaults.

armentieres020.jpg
A rare photograph showing the view from front line positions near Armentieres. The ruined buildings provided cover for enemy soldiers, whilst the chimneys were used for observation and sniping

briggsh.jpg

The 1st battalion which went to France in 1914 consisted overwhelmingly of 'Old Sweats' - recalled reservists and long serving career soldiers like Pte Henry Briggs (left) who had soldiered in Africa and India in pre-war days. They possessed a wealth of experience, and were almost to a man first class shots - rapid and accurate fire with the .303 SMLE rifle was at the core of pre-war training.
 
briggsmedals.jpg
Left: Medals awarded to Henry Briggs for service in the Boer War and in 1914

Holding a railway embankment at Armentieres between 23 and 26 October the 1st battalion faced many times its own strength, as the Germans tried to break through with sheer weight of numbers. Their soldiers advanced in dense masses, singing patriotic songs like 'Die Wacht Am Rhein' and 'Deutschland Uber Alles'.

dodge.jpg

They made easy targets for experienced marksmen, and they were shot down in heaps. Nevertheless, the pressure began to tell and in the early hours of 25 October, 'D' Company of the Leicesters was overrun. Those men not killed in the hand to hand fighting which followed were marched away as prisoners of war.

Left: George Dodge of Leicester was one of those taken prisoner on 25 October. He was held at first in Lille jail but was later taken to Gottingen POW camp in Germany

smeathman023.jpg
Above: Lieutenant Cecil Smeathman, who died of wounds after being hit by a shell on 23 October 1914, He was a popular and well liked officer

marytin.jpg

Above: The 1st battalion was in the Bois Grenier sector at Christmas 1914, when the men received a gift tin from Princess Mary's fund. This one belonged to Pte Bernard Smith, who instead of smoking the cigarettes and tobacco carefully packaged it and sent it to his mother at 48 Wilberforce Road, Leicester. The paper wrapper still bears the Field Censor's stamp

Acknowledgements