2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment - 1919
The Armistice was followed by a few days of minor movements and readjustments, while decisions were made as to future plans and as to the re-distribution of the British Armies. Then a series of moves took place. The various Divisions shifted their positions. Some were retained in the War Zone to assist in the work of salvage and reparation; others were moved back into the unbroken country behind the lines to reorganise and to train in comfort; for the Armistice was not an absolute guarantee that the war was at an end; and precautions had to be taken against possible renewed hostilities.
In the days following the Armistice the 8th, 19th, 25th, and 33rd Divisions all moved back some distance from the final fighting line, and the Battalions of the Regiment included in those Divisions had several moves and some little discomfort; for the weather was not of the best, and the billets were seldom good.
The 2nd Battalion (33rd Division) also moved back. The Final Advance had taken the Battalion to the very line of the Retreat in 1914, along the banks of the River Sambre. The Battalion re-crossed that river on November 11th and went into billets in Berlaimont. Four days later the 33rd Division concentrated further back, and the 2nd Worcestershire marched back on their tracks through the forest of Mormal to that same village of Englefontaine where they had fought so gallantly three weeks beforehand. Next day the march was continued back along the line of the previous advance, down the main road through Forest across the River Selle to billets in Clary; where the Battalion remained during the ensuing three weeks.
Early in December 1918 His Majesty the King paid a visit to his armies. The King was received with great enthusiasm by the victorious troops. On December 4th the Royal cars passed through Clary and Carnières and the 2nd Battalion and 1/8th Battalion turned out and joined the cheering soldiery who filled the streets. Next day the King was at Valencienes and Mons, in which area he visited the companies of the 14th Battalion at work, and praised their labours. Two days later (November 7th) the King reached Tournai. There the 1st Battalion furnished a Guard of Honour in the principal square of the city—a guard which handled its arms with something of the former precision of the old Twenty-Ninth.
So soon as hostilities were realised definitely to be over it was decided that the old battalions of the army might again take over their Colours; the consecrated Colours which at the outbreak of war had been placed for safekeeping in the guardianship of the Church.
Very few of the officers and men who were serving at the end of the war had ever seen the Colours of the Regiment; but from such old soldiers as were left small parties were selected by each Battalion and despatched to England to fetch the Colours.
One by one those Colour Parties from the different Battalions of the Regiment came back to England, received their Colours from the hands of the Dean at the steps of the Cathedral, and carried back to France those beautiful symbols of everything that a soldier holds dear. The 2nd Battalion party consisted of; Capt. C. C. Tough, M.C., Capt. H. E. Boswell, D.S.O., M.C., R.S.M. H. J. Farley, D.C.M., R.Q.M.S. J. Evans, M.M., Q.M.S. G. Pollard. Left St. Maulvis for England on the 18th December 1918. Received Colours at Worcester Cathedral on the 29th December 1918. Returned to St. Maulvis on the 2nd January 1919.
During the winter several moves took place. Early in December the 33rd Division was ordered back out of the battle-zone to the area west of Doullens. The move was made by march route; and the 2nd Worcestershire marched once more past many scenes which the Battalion had known well. The first day's march on the 9th December (Stages of march. December 9th. Clary—Ligny—Haucourt—Esnes—Crevecoeur—Masnières. December 10th. Marcoing — Ribecourt — Havrincourt — Hermies. December 11th. Doignies — Beaumetz — Velu — Favreuil. December 12th. Favreuil — Bapaume — Albert. December 13th. Albert — Pont Noyelles. December 14th. Amiens — Longpré — St. Sauveur. December 15th. Brailly — Foudrinoy — Bougainville — St. Aubin. December 16th. St. Aubin — Hornoy — Fresneville — St. Maulvis.) took the 100th Brigade back through the debris of the Beaurevoir Line south of Cambrai to billets in Masnières.
Thence next day the Brigade marched in drizzling rain across the Cambrai battlefield, through the ruins of Marcoing and the shattered defences of the Hindenburg Line, over the Canal du Nord at Havrincourt to camp at Hermies.
Rain was still falling next day when the 2nd Worcestershire marched on through Beaumetz to billets at Favreuil; and dismal weather still prevailed on the following day, when the 100th Brigade marched through the ruins of Bapaume and thence south-westward along the main road to Albert across the old Somme battlefield. The column tramped past the Butte de Warlencourt, through Le Sars, and then saw dimly through the rain to the southward the ragged skyline of High Wood. By Courcelette, Pozières and La Boisselle the Brigade marched back across the desolate battlefield down the main road to camp among the ruins of Albert.
Thenceforward the Battalion was clear of the War Zone, and marched onwards on December 13th, in fine weather and good spirits, down the Amiens Road to billets at Pont Noyelles. Next day the troops marched cheerily through Amiens and on out to the westward. Two days more of marching brought the Brigade to its destined rest area; and the 2nd Worcestershire settled into billets at St. Maulvis.
R.S.M. H. J. Farley, D.C.M.
The 2nd Worcestershire was the last of the Regular Battalions of the Regiment to return to the mother country. In January the Battalion had moved by march route (Stages of that march were:—January 3rd. St. Maulvis—Siernapont—Realcamps. 4th. Foucarmont—Londinières —Croixdalle. 5th. Dampierre—Martineglise.) from St. Maulvis to Martineglise, near Dieppe. There the Battalion had lain throughout January and February, carrying out education, recreation and demobilization. In all 12 officers and 430 men of the Battalion were demobilized during January and February. On March 17/18th a notable farewell was given to Captain W. B. Edwards, previously Adjutant of the Battalion. The Battalion received a strong draft from the 14th Worcestershire on February 26th, and on March 7th a draft of 7 officers and 198 other ranks from the 1/8th Battalion.
Lieut.-Col. J. F. Badham, D.S.O.
Late in March orders were received for the 100th Brigade to move to Havre. The 2nd Worcestershire entrained at Argues after dark on March 22nd and reached Havre on the following morning. There the Battalion went into huts and settled down to a routine of guards and picquets.
A week later (March 29th) the cadre of the 17th Battalion arrived at Havre and settled in beside the 2nd Battalion. Early in April came definite orders as to future procedure. On the 1st April the Battalion received a surprise visit from Lieut.-Colonel P. R. Whalley, D.S.O., and the Cadre of the 3rd Battalion, then en route for home.
The 2nd Battalion was to go home as a cadre to reform. All surplus personnel was to be transferred to the 17th Battalion, which would take over the garrison duty at Havre.
Those instructions were carried out during the ensuing weeks. The 17th Battalion took over (On April 17th, before the transfer, subscriptions to the Worcestershire War Memorial Fund were collected to a total of £351 13s. Od. from the officers and men of the 2nd Battalion.) from the 2nd Battalion all the available officers and men, including the Commanding Officer Lieut.-Col. J. F. Badham, D.S.O. and Adjutant Capt. C. C. Tough, M.C.. By the end of the month all was ready; but arrangements at home were not yet complete, and throughout the month of May the cadre of the 2nd Worcestershire remained at Havre. During that period one notable event occurred—the arrival from home of the silver bugles presented to the 2nd Battalion as a permanent memorial of the 10th Battalion of the Regiment.
On the last day of the month orders were received to embark; and on the 1st of June the cadre of the 2nd Worcestershire marched down to the docks. They were escorted by the Band of the 100th Brigade and by a special escort of the 17th Battalion (100 strong under Capt. C. L. de C. Hinds. The cadre of the 2nd Battalion was 3 officers and 36 men, with the Colours of the Battalion), who cheered the little party representing the old Battalion as the troopship S.S. "Londonderry" left the quay.
In the first days of June the cadre of the 2nd Battalion came back to England. The cadre had sailed from Havre on the 1st June and landed next day at Southampton. The journey thence was slow, and it was not until June 5th that the little party reached Worcester. There the welcome given by the City was worthy of the fame of the old Battalion. Many officers and friends of the Regiment assembled at Shrub Hill Station, including Colonel A. H. Hudson (commanding the 2nd Volunteer Battalion), Lieut.-Colonel H. A. Carr, D.S.O., Major G. S. Briscoe, D.S.O., Major the Reverend B. A. Berry, Mr. R. J. Hilliar (Asst. Sec. W. T. A.), Major Kerans, D.S.O. and Capt. E. C. R. Hudson.
The cadre, which were commanded by Major E. L. Hopkins M.C. (The other officers of the cadre were Capt. and Adjt. C. F. Baldwyn, Capt. A. C. Pointon M.C., Capt. J. T. G. Scott M.C., and Lieut. C. S. Quinn D.C.M. - the last two carrying the Colours) , were received by an escort from Norton Barracks and by the newly formed band of the 3rd Battalion. Headed by the band, the party marched to the Guildhall. After a warm civic welcome from the Mayor and Mayoress, supported by the Deputy-Mayor Mr. H. A. Leicester, the High Sheriff and City Chamberlain and many members of the Corporation, the cadre of the 2nd Battalion marched on to Norton Barracks, where Lieut.-Colonel H. A. Carr D.S.O. took over command.
Shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Versailes, the Lord Lieutenant decided to celebrate the return of Peace by a parade in Worcester of the County Forces. That parade took place on 23rd August, and was certainly the largest gathering of military forces seen by the ancient City since the far-off days when the red-coats of Regulars and Militia and the green-jackets of the Volunteers marched past the old Duke of Cambridge on Pitchcroft field in the sunshine of 1887.
Lieut.-Col. H. A. Carr, D.S.O.
The parade (Total on parade were-10,522 - including 374 women) was commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Francis Davies K.C.B., K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O., the senior officer in Worcestershire, and was fully representative of the effort of the County in the War. Detachments of all Battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment were present (see the detachments details below), and for the first time the colours of all the four Regular Battalions were together on parade. The Royal Navy were represented, as also were the County Yeomanry and Territorial Artillery, the Volunteers, the W.A.A.C's., the V.A.D's., the Land Girls and the other women's organizations.
The troops assembled at Pitchcroft during the morning and at 12 noon the march began. Led by Sir Francis Davies who was accompanied by Major-General H. R. Davies C.B., Major-General D. E. Cayley, C.B., C.M.G., and Brigadier-General G. J. Farmar C.B., C.M.G., the long procession marched from Pitchcroft through the streets to the Cathedral. At the Shirehall the salute was taken by the Lord Lieutenant, the veteran Earl of Coventry, who was accompanied by most of the leading personalities of the City and County. Including among others the Bishop of Worcester, Viscount Deerhurst, Lord Dudley, Admiral Cumings, Sir Richard Temple, Lieut.-General Sir George Harper (C-in-C. Southern Command), Major-General Sir Harold Walker, (Commanding the 48th (South Midland) Division), The High Sheriff of the County, Mr. J. W. Willis Bund, Chairman of the County Council, and the Vice-Chairman, Colonel E. V. V. Wheeler, The Mayor of Worcester and the City High Sheriff, and Colonel Sir Harry Vernon.
A temporary Cenotaph in the Cathedral grounds guarded by four V.C's. was saluted by each unit. The four V.C.'s were, Captain J. J. Crowe and Private T. G. Turrall of the Regiment, Sergeant Wyatt of the Coldstream Guards, and R.S.M. Harwood, of the Rifle Brigade.
On completion of the march, representatives of all ranks were invited to meet the Lord Lieutenant at Lunch in the Shirehall, the remainder being entertained with sports at Pitchcroft; at which all units competed, the prize going to the 8th Battalion. The parade had been an unqualified success—a fitting tribute to the fine work of the County in the War.
The detachments of the several Battalions were as follows:
1st Battalion — Captain H. L. E. Ripley, Lieut. C. V. W. Court, M.C., Lieut. F. Perry and 2/Lieut. Humphries carrying the Colours. 70 Other Ranks.
2nd Battalion — Lieut.-Colonel H. A. Carr, D.S.O., Major H. St. J. Jefferies D.S.O., Captain T. F. V. Matthews M.C., Lieut. Rudge M.C., and Lieut. Denstall carrying the Colours. 100 Other Ranks.
3rd Battalion — Major B. C. Senhouse Clarke D.S.O., Capt. J. L. Heselton D.S.O., M.C., Capt. R. B. Berry, Lieut. Pole-Fletcher and Lieut. Preedy carrying the Colours. 100 Other Ranks.
4th Battalion — Lieut. Colonel H. E. Gogarty C.M.G., D.S.O., Lieut.-Colonel P. R. Whalley D.S.O., Captain J. F. Leman D.S.O., Lieut. T. R. Moilliet, Lieut. Hirschfield D.C.M., M.M., Lieut. Lunn M.C., and Lieut. Roach carrying the Colours. 150 Other Ranks.
5th Battalion — Colonel S. A. Stephenson-Fetherstonaugh, Captain A. J. Parry, Lieut. J. H. Gurney, Lieut. N. H. Stone and Lieut. G. S. Pegler M.C. carrying the Colours. 100 Other Ranks.
6th Battalion — Captain S. W. Jones, Lieut. E. R. Newcomb, M.C., and 2/Lieut. E. C. Pepper carrying the Colours. 50 Other Ranks.
7th Battalion — Lieut-Colonel F. M. Tomkinson D.S.O., Major W. Adams D.S.O., Major E. F. Du Sautoy, Major G. H. Green, Captains W. R. Prescott M.C., R. W. Nield, M.C., O. S. Tomkinson M.C. T. C. F. Harris M.C., H. W. Adshead M.C., R. P. Thompson, Lieuts. C. F. S. Roper, C. E. W. Simes, E. C. Hemingway, F. Burton, G. Peters, R. S. Bateman, B. W. Guest, D. Lindsay M.C., J. J. Bocock, G. H. Cartwright, D.C.M., E. W. Hill, W. Moore, J. L. Jarvis, W. Jones, N. Parker. About 500 Other Ranks.
8th Battalion — Lieut-Colonel H. T. Clarke D.S.O., Major H. M. Griffiths, Major F. A. W. Howe, Major J. B. Graham M.C., Major S. H. Clark T.D., Major H. W. Davies D.S.O., M.C., Captains L. R. Bomford D.S.O., M.C., D. R. Bomford M.C., J. R. Anthony, R. H. Abell, T. Stenton, G. H. Smith, M.Harmer, R. H. Burlingham, Lieuts. W. J. Stokes, M.C., and G. L. Watkinson M.C., carrying the Colours. Lieut. R. T. Keen M.C., D. Rabjohns, S. T. Bateman M.C. About 850 Other Ranks.
Service Battalions—Captain P. Leicester, Capt. J. Batchelor, Lieut. C. J. Shuttleworth-King. About 1,000 Other Ranks.
Among other old officers of the Regiment in the procession were Brigadier-General H. O. W. Hickman and Lieut-Colonel F. S. Isaac.
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The Great War was officially ended, but the World was not yet at peace; and a month before the Peace Parade in Worcester the Headquarters of the 2nd Battalion had moved from Worcester to Ireland. The political situation in that country had grown worse as the war ended, and the British forces there had to be strengthened. The 5th (Reserve) Battalion of the Regiment had moved to Dublin in April, 1919 and had taken over quarters in Portobello Barracks. The 5th Battalion, which had absorbed the 6th Battalion in 1918, had moved from Dovercourt and Mistley on February 23rd to Newcastle-on-Tyne. Thence the Battalion moved to Dublin on April 12th-13th. The Battalion was then still temporarily commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel B. R. Roche (formerly of the Bedfordshire). There the 5th (Reserve) Battalion had absorbed the 1st Garrison Battalion of the Regiment and had swollen thereby to a strength of nearly 2,300 of all ranks including 70 Officers. On July 21st Lieutenant-Colonel H. A. Carr, D.S.O. and the Headquarters of the 2nd Battalion reached Dublin and took over that personnel. The cadre of the 5th Battalion returned to England, the Colours were laid up in Norton Barracks, and the representatives of the old Militia were demobilized. On Monday July 9th, the day following the Victory March at Worcester, the Colours of the 5th Battalion, which had been laid up during the war, were handed over at Worcester Cathedral by Canon Lacey to a Colour Party sent from Dublin consisting of Captain Bishop, Lieut. G. B. Harrison, C.S.M. Charlwood, Privates Bowater and Alderthay. The same escort brought the Colours back to the Depot a fortnight later.
The 2nd Battalion, thus reformed, were destined to remain quartered in Dublin for three years—three years of increasing strain as the political situation grew worse. The only representatives of the original Battalion of August 1914 who were present when the Battalion was re-formed in 1919, were the following Capt. G. J. L. Stoney, R.Q.M.S. Waller, C.S.M. Crump and Davidson, C.Q.M.S. Adkins, Pollard, and Lugg, Sergeants Heather, Singleton, Tuton, and Bryant, L/Sergeant Smith, Bandsman Button, and Hunt, Privates Lewis and. Wildings and Armourer-Sergeant R.A.O.C.
We do not intend to tell here in detail the story of those years, but we must record one event—the first important event in the history of the re-formed 2nd Battalion.
In commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the counter attack at Gheluvelt the Battalion carried out a special parade at Portobello, in the presence of their old Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Earl French of Ypres, then representing His Majesty as Lord Lieutenant in Ireland. The King's Colour of the Battalion was trooped with the full ceremony of the old ritual, and thus was initiated a custom which, let us hope, will always be maintained by the Regiment in honour of that heroic fight.