Published By John Davies
7 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
7 Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. 76 Brigade, 25 Division. (Oct 15 3 Division)
76 Brigade 25 Division. October 1915 moved to 8 Brigade 3 Division
The second contingency of Oswestry Pals arrived at Shrewsbury on 22 September 1914 and 2 days later, at 4.30am entrained for Codford Camp in Wiltshire. As with other Pals battalions they had no uniforms or equipment, the paraded in a variety of civilian and old military dress – the Regimental History notes ‘The effect on parade of a man in a red cot, drab trousers and bowler hat defies description’. There was also a shortage of NCOs – many of whom were old soldiers who had reenlisted but did not know the current military drills. Also at this time, again from the History – ‘it was apparent that…a number of men of superior education, many of whom, after some persuasion, applied for and were granted commissions..’.
Through the rest of September and into October the battalion gradually came up to strength. During this time new officers joined the battalion. All the officers except 2 – the CO and Adjutant – were newly commissioned. All were former public school boys including 5 from Shrewsbury School. With minimal equipment the time was spent on route marches and drilling. In October too the first ‘Kitchener blue’ uniforms arrived, these were temporary cloths.
Towards the end of October the weather broke and heavy rain turned the camp into a quagmire. Training was suspended. The men had little to do except shelter in their tents. Food rations too were delayed or spoiled by the rain. The mood amongst the men changed, especially when rumours spread that other Pals battalions were being billeted close to their hometowns. Mass meetings were held and, in one instance some South Wales miners in another battalion had had enough and marched off. The army authorities acted to reassure the men that everything was being done and the next day, good to their word, notice was given that the whole Division was to move to billets at Bournemouth – the Oswestry men moved on 14 November.
The battalion stayed at Bournemouth until May 1915. In January 1915 a new CO was appointed, Major AV Weir, he was the only regular army man in the battalion and, with his experience, the standard of training greatly improved. There was still a shortage of equipment but over the weeks the battalion became a more cohesive and soldierly fighting force, all were keen to get over to France. On leaving Bournemouth they moved first to Romsey and, on 3 June, to Aldershot. In July the battalion was brought up to war establishment. The next month rifles arrived followed by a three week crash course in musketry. The men were now fit and ready and, at 8.30pm on 27 September, they left Aldershot and arrived at Boulogne early the next morning, battalion strength was 29 Officers and 949 ORs.
In October 1915 the battalion was moved into 8 Brigade 3 Division. The joined the Divison at Bousseboom in the Ypres Salient and on 11 October the battalion went into the line at Sanctuary Wood for trench familiarisation and training. The first fatalities occurred over the night of 13-14 October – Privates 13855 E Smout (CWGC) and 16305 J Cooper (CWGC). The battalion served at all major offensives of the Western Front. The battalion was at Solesme near to Cambrai, France when the Armistice was signed. After the war the battalion was part of the Army of Occupation spending most of the time at Golzheim and then at Brauweiler, both near to Cologne. Demobilisation began, the first to be sent home were the coalminers, needed back home in the mines. By May the battalion was down to cadre strength, the cadre returned on 21 May, first to Aldershot and then to a reception and welcome at Shrewsbury on 4 June 1919.
Second Lieutenant George Hughes, KIA 12 August 1917, Anneux British Cemetery Formerly 1/6 Bn KLR)
Private 21425 William Husbands, KIA 29 November 1917, Favreuil British Cemetery. – listed as 6bn KSLI and 7Bn KSLI more likely formerly 6Bn reposted to 7Bn.
Private 15559 Thomas Mills, Died 6 March 1918, Oswestry General Cemetery wounded 14 July 1916 at Bazentin Ridge.
Corporal 17414, Walter W Poole. Died at home, 2 December1918, Oswestry General Cemetery 4 Bn given on CWGC but more likely in 7Bn KSLI
Private 19742 Albert Smith, DoW 25 September 1918. Brie British Cemetery 7 Bn posted to 1 Bn KSLI
Private 19743 Alfred Smith, DoW 25 September 1918, Chapelle British Cemetery, Holnon 7 Bn posted to 1 Bn KSLI
Private 43263 William James, DoW 1 October 1918, Ribecourt Road Cemetery, France. Maesbury War Memorial
Private 19723 John William Dovaston, Died 2 May 1917, Shrewsbury General Cemetery, West Felton War Memorial