Published By John Davies
6 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. 60 Brigade. 20 (Light) Division.
The fist contingent of Oswestry men left Oswestry on 9 September. They travelled by train to Shrewsbury and the next day to Blackdown Camp near to Aldershot and then marched to their camp at Cowshot. They were barracked in tents. As they arrived they were formed up into companies. The Oswestrians were concentrated in B Company. Training began straight away. With the exception of the officers and a few NCOs all the men were volunteers. They had no uniforms or equipment, they made do using wooden stakes and poles as drill rifles. In November ’emergency blue’ uniforms arrived but the men were still parading in a variety of ‘mufti’ and a selection of hats, their enthusiasm made up for the deficiencies. The officers were impressed by the calibre of the men commenting on their intelligence and adaptability. The men also displayed the camaraderie and keenness so much associated with the Pals battalions.
Back in Oswestry reports and letters published in the Border Counties Advertiser kept people up to date on the progress of the Pals. In one letter Samuel Gowrie Dalrymple Campbell, Private 12360, a survivor of the war (died 1976), wrote of their time in camp – ‘we have plenty of blankets. Bread is the main food, and we had margarine for tea yesterday, which was a great treat. We get brawn for breakfast and four loaves have to last sixteen of us a day. He also wrote of watching aircraft from the nearby Royal Flying Corps base at Farnborough ‘looping the loop …..it is very pretty to watch them against the setting sun‘. Each day they trained ‘we skirmish every morning from 11 -1 o’clock, and it is awful charging the hills’. He finishes off by listing the other men in his tent: ‘Owen Williams (the librarian), Corp. Cecil Huxley, L/Corp Woolledge, L/Corp Beaton (from Phillip’s), Tudor Roberts, Bert Kenyon, Ernie Evans (Mr Gains Evan’s son), Hughes (North and South Wales Bank), Charlie Hughes, Gwilym Roberts, TP Price, Corp. Beck (Barrs Bank), Billie Edwards and Sabbin (United Counties Bank)’.
In another letter Private 11804 A (Arthur) Leslie Pritchard also writes about the training – they were now doing semaphore and machine gun drills. The battalion had just been issued with uniforms and of the food he wrote that it was improving and ‘not the slightest need to grumble’, that day they had had pineapple chunks for tea.
The training continued over the next months with trench digging. musketry courses, firing on the ranges, tactical exercises, drills and lectures. The training was intense. In April 1915 they moved to the huge army camp at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain. Here they carried out brigade and divisional manoeuvres and exercises. The battalion was attached to 60 Brigade. 20 (Light) Division. This was the final part of their training before going over to France.
The battalion embarked at Folkestone for France on 22 July 1915 arriving at Boulogne early the next morning. It had been a rough crossing, the bad weather continued as the men marched to Camp K at Osterhove arriving at 3.00am, they were tired and wet through. Their journey, by train and route march, continued over the next days until they arrived at Outtersteene near to Ballieul on 30 July. There was more training until 11 August when they went up the line for trench familiarisation. On this day too they had their first casualty – Sergeant 12258 Stanley Williams.
The battalion went into action for the first time during the Loos Offensive and served in all the major actions during the war. The battalion was at Blanc Pronier near to Maubeuge when the war ended. By Janurary 1919 they had moved to Authie. They were spending their time training, on educational courses, salvaging and filling in trenches. In February demobilisation began with drafts of men sent home and by April they were down to cadre strength – 4 officers and 46 ORs, they returned home at the end of the month receiving a great welcome when they arrived back at Shrewsbury.
Private 12340 George William Brookes West Felton War Memorial
Second Lieutenant James R Whittaker, 6 Bn King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. KIA 29 August 1916, Delville Wood Cemetery formerly in 6 Bn KSLI prior to commission
Private 12369 Alfred Evans, KIA 12 October 1916, Thiepval Memorial (unknown) Former ‘Pal’ transferred to 1 Bn KSLI after wounding February 1916 –
Private 21425 William Husbands, KIA 29 November 1917, Favreuil British Cemetery. – formerly 6 Bn reposted to 7Bn.
Private 40016 Godfrey Reynolds, 2/7 Bn Lancashire Fusiliers, KIA 21 March 1918, Pozieres Memorial (unknown) formerly 6 Bn KSLI enlisted September 1914
Private 19732 Richard L (Ritchie) (Lloyd) Roberts, Died 9 June 1918, Hautmont Communal Cemetery Died as PoW, taken prisoner on March 22 1918.
Private 31070 Private Arthur Henry Clare 2 Bn South Lancashire Regiment. KIA 21 August 1918. Tyne Cot Memorial(unknown) originally enlisted in 6 Bn KSLI but then reenlisted in 3/4 Bn KSLI and was then transferred into 2 Bn South Lancashire Regiment.
Second Lieutenant Charles H Hughes, KIA 30 August 1918, Morval British Cemetery Formerly Corporal 12328 6 Bn KSLI
Second Lieutenant Charles A (Albert) Davies, KIA 22 September 1918, Doiran Memorial (unknown) Formerly Private 11797 6 Bn KSLI to Commission 7 Bn SWB Feb 1918
Private 15347 Geoffrey Davies, KIA 29 September 1918, Unicorn Cemetery, Vendhule later in 10 Bn KSLI (Pal)
Corporal 12303 Frederick Davies. Died 12 January 1919, St Chad’s, Haughton Churchyard West Felton War Memorial
Pals on other local village War Memorials
Private 12286 Thomas Langford Roberts: Born in 1893 at Whittington. He was the son of Rev. Edward Roberts, congregational minister in Gobowen. Thomas worked as a pharmacist. He was killed in action on 9th October 1915 by GSW to head and is buried in Rue du Bacquerot Military Cemetery. Gobowen War Memorial. (CWGC)
Sergeant 12282 Edward Gilbank MM: Born at Ripley, Surrey. Nothing is known about how he came to Oswestry. He died of wounds on 4 September 1916 and is buried at St Sever Cemetery Rouen. Weston Rhyn War Memorial. (CWGC)
Private 12251 Richard Rogers: Born in 1895 at Llansilin, he worked as a cattleman. He was killed on 14 May 1918 and is buried at Sucrerie Cemetery, Albain St Nazaire. France. Llansilin War Memorial. (CWGC)
No war memorials known.
Private 17566 John Robinson: Born in 1893 in Oswestry. He lived on the Racecourse and worked as a farm cattleman. He died of wounds on 28 May 1916 and in buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery. No war memorials known. (CWGC)
Private 12340 George William Brookes: Born in 1894 at Whixall, worked as a gamekeeper at Sandford Hall, Whixall. Died of Wounds 30 June 1916 and buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France. No war memorials known. (CWGC)