Published By Ben Hillidge
King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.
Oswestry Pals – 6 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry / 7 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry raised 12 battalions – 3 regular, 4 territorial and 5 service battalions – during the war of which 8 served overseas. The Regiment was the most poplar amongst local men, the next most popular was the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Before the war Oswestry men served in the regular battalions and in the Territorial Force. During the war the ‘Oswestry Pals’ served in 6 Bn and 7 Bn KSLI.
1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry – 16 Brigade, 6 Division.
The 1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was a regular army unit. At the outbreak of war they were at Tipperary. At this time 3 officers and 30 ORs left for the UK to form the cadre and nucleus for 5 Bn KSLI, the first of the service battalions. In mid-August 1914 the battalion left Ireland and, after a brief lay over at camp in Cambridge, embarked at Southampton arriving at St Nazaire in France on the 10 September 1914. By the end of the month they were in the lines around the River Aisne near the village of Vailly and, in October, at the Armentieres during the Race to the Sea. In June1915 they moved to Ypres and were in action at Hooge. In 1916 they fought on the Somme and in 1917 at Cambrai. In 1918 the Kaiser Offensive and 100 Days. After the war the 1 Bn KSLI was part of the Army of Occupation, stationed at Fussenich – about 55kms SW of Cologne. The battalion returned to England on 18 April 1919,
Men on the Gates in 1 Bn KSLI
Private 10191 Albert Foulkes– 24 October 1914. Ploegsteert Memorial (unknown). West Felton War Memorial
Private 19365 Arthur George Collins KIA 18 September 1916. West Felton War Memorial
Private 12369 Alfred Evans, KIA 12 October 1916, Thiepval Memorial (unknown) Formerly 6 Bn KSLI.
Private 11488 Harry Wright, DoW 5 April 1918, Cologne Southern Cemetery. (Joined from 5Bn KSLI when disbanded Feb 1918 served in 5 BN KSLI until Feb 1918 – PoW wounded 21 March 1918
Private 10037 William Roberts, DoW 30 October 1917, Dozinghem Military Cemetery. Formerly in 1 Bn KSLI =
2 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry – 80 Brigade, 27 Division.
The 2 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was a regular army unit. At the outbreak of war they were stationed at Secunderabad, India. They sailed with 27 Division from Bombay on 13 October 1914 aboard SS Neuralia – one ship in a convoy of 46 vessels, including Royal navy escorts. Nearly all overseas regular units were returned to the UK at the start of the war and replaced with Territorial units (see 1 /4 Bn KSLI). They arrived at Plymouth in November and went onwards to Mourne Hill camp near Winchester. They discovered their uniforms had gone missing at Aden and the men were forced to wear their India drill uniforms and suffered badly from the cold. The battalion went over to France landing at le Havre 21 December. They went into the line on 8 January 1915 in the St Eloi sector. Conditions in the trenches were bad and, with the cold weather, many men, fresh from the heat of India, fell sick, many with trench foot. In April 1915 the battalion was involved in Second Ypres.
In October December 1915 the battalion was transferred to Salonika arriving there in December. They took part in the campaigns in Macedonia during 1916 and 1917. At the end of the war the battalion was moved to Batoum on the Black Sea, Turkey. They returned to the UK in June 1919 arriving at Shrewsbury on 2 July.
Men on the Gates in 2 Bn KSLI –
Private 7562 James A Fraser, Believed died Sept 1916, Manchester formerly in 2 Bn KSLI, at time of death was in 9 Bn KSLI, home service reserves battalion.
3 (Reserve) Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
The 3 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was formed in August 1914 at Shrewsbury as a training and reserve unit. They were stationed at Pembroke Dock, South Wales – a large depot, reserve and training base. They also spent a short time at Edinburgh. In December 1917 they were posted to Crosshaven, Cork and later to Fermoy – part of the ‘occupation army’ of Ireland in the aftermath of the 1917 Easter Rising. The battalion was disbanded after the war and absorbed into 2 Bn KSLI.
Many men ‘passed through’ 3 Bn KSLI either as new recruits, men returning to duty after wounding or officers commissioned to 3 Bn KSLI – for all it was a non-permanent posting before going onto to join a battalion on active service.
1/ 4 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
The 1/ 4 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was a territorial unit with a company based in Oswestry. Just prior to the outbreak of war the battalion, as with many other territorials, was on summer training camp at Glan Rheidol near Aberystwyth. On 3 August 1914 the camp was broken up and the men sent home ‘to await further orders’, they were mobilised the next day at Shrewsbury and travelled in special troop trains to billets at Barry Dock, Cardiff. The billets were uncomfortable made worse by lack of cooking equipment and blankets which were still in transit and had not arrived. The rest of the month was spent reorganising and training. On 4 September they moved to Sittingbourne to temporary billets in a rat infested deserted jam factory, a week later they moved to more suitable accommodations in Sittingbourne town.
During the time at Sittingbourne the word went out asking for volunteers for overseas service – men of the territorial force were not required to serve overseas but could waive this right signing – over 85% of the men signed up. The men expected to be going to France, however, on 29 October they embarked for India arriving at Bombay 1 December and then going on by train ad ship to Rangoon arriving 10 days later. It was at Rangoon the battalion had its first casualty – Sergeant 718 Henry Tudor. In February they helped quell mutinies among native troops at Rangoon and a more serious insurrection at Singapore. The battalion also spent time at Hong Kong. In December 1916 they learned that they would be relieved and returned home; however, the arrival of new troops was delayed and when they arrived had to spend 10 days in quarantine; the battalion would not depart until 14 April 1917. After a troublesome journey, and a lay over in South Africa, they arrived back in the UK on 27 July 1917 and 2 days later went over to France. They spent until October on trench training and familiarisation in the Arras sector and then moved up to Ypres and went into action for the first time on 30 October during Third Ypres and then in November at Cambrai. In 1918 they also saw action during the Kaiser Offensive and 100 Days. After the war the battalion remained in France, drafts of men were either demobilised or posted to other units and duties. The battalion cadre returned to the UK on 18 May 1919.
Men on the Gates in 1/4 Bn KSLI
Private 10037 William Roberts, DoW 30 October 1917, Dozinghem Military Cemetery previously in 1 Bn KSLI
Private 158 Edward Farmer, Discharged 28 October 1914 and since died – April 1915, Oswestry General Cemetery Discharged 28 October 1914 – the day the Bn left for India – died April 1915.
Corporal 17414, Poole, Walter W. Died at home, 2 December1918, Oswestry General Cemetery 4 Bn given on CWGC but more likely in 7Bn KSLI
5 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry – 42 Brigade, 14 (Light) Division.
The 5 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was the first of the KSLI service battalions. The 5 Bn KSLI was in actuality formed on 4 August 1914 at Tipperary in Ireland from a nucleus of 3 officers and 30 ranks detached from 1 Bn KSLI. The detachment was ordered back to England and be ready to accept the anticipated new recruits. They reported to Blackdown Camp, Aldershot to await the arrivals. The ‘call to arms’ for volunteers went out on 4 August, men from across the County responded. At Oswestry, amidst much patriotic fervour, speechifying and flag waving crowds at least 20 men volunteered on the day war was declared. The men were keen to join the first service battalion in the County – many of the men had some previous military experience while officers came from the OTC at Shrewsbury School.
The men reported to the Shrewsbury Depot and were sent on to Blackdown. As they arrived they were allotted to companies. Training began immediately. The speed of events meant that equipment and uniforms were in very short supply but the men made good, their keenness made up for the short fallings – they worked so hard that after a fortnight the training was scaled down, the pace was thought too fast to last and Sundays became days of rest. Over the months the training advanced. The battalion moved during November to billets in Chiddingfold where they stayed until March 1915 by which all equipment had been issued. They moved back to Aldershot barracks where training continued. In May there was an outbreak of measles at the barracks and the battalion was moved out to be under canvas on Watts Common near to Farnborough Aerodrome. The weather turned bad with snow. Conditions became trying but spirits remained high. News broke that the battalion would soon be going over to France.
The battalion went over to France on 20 May 1915. On 27 May they moved forward to Eecke, west of Ypres, and on 30 May, moved into dug-outs 2 miles south west of Ypres. The next day, for the first time, they went into the trenches on working parties. That day too they suffered their first fatality – Sergeant AR Diss (CWGC). The battalion served on the Western Front in 1916 on the Somme and in 1917 at Arras. The battalion was disbanded on 3 February 1918 with men posted to other KSLI units.
Men on the Gates in 5 Bn KSLI
5 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry – Harold Griffiths B Company
Private 11488 Harry Wright, 1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, DoW 5 April 1918, Cologne Southern Cemetery. – served in 5 BN KSLI until February 1918 when the battalion was disbanded and posted to 1 Bn KSLI.
6 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
7 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
The 6 Bn and 7 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry – Oswestry Pals – Click on the Links.
Men on the Gates in 7 Bn KSLI
8 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry – 66 Brigade, 22 Division
IWM Voices of War – recollections of Private Ernest Victor John Jones, served with 8 Bn KSLI until November 1917 when he was invalided home because of frost bitten feet. (IWM 12678)
The 8 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was formed at Shrewsbury 1914. It was a service battalion composed of the ‘overflow’ of men already posted to 6 Bn and 7 Bn KSLI. They moved to Seaford on the south coast for organisation and training. As with other pals battalions they experienced shortage of equipment and inadequate accommodation bt the keenness and willingness of the men made up for the deficiencies. The battalion was assigned to 66 Brigade, 25 Division. The battalion went over to France on 5 September 1915. They went to Amiens and on 11 September moved up to Hebuterne in the Somme sector, they were also reassigned to 144 Brigade. They spent the next days on trench familiarisation until 29 September when they moved to Foucaucourt where they went into the front line on their own for the first time. After about three weeks they were moved again, this time to Marseilles where they embarked on transport ships bound for Salonika and the war in Macedonia arriving on 6 November. The battalion strength was 29 Officers and 1003 ORs.
The battalion spent the rest of the war in Macedonia. During the winter of 1916 they spent time in the ‘Birdcage’ – the defensive ring around Salonika. Conditions were bad. During the winter months the weather was very bad, with cold, snow and rain whilst the spring brought intense heat accompanied by malaria. Many men were hospitalised sick. In April 1916 they part in the failed offensive and again, in 1917 the advance towards Doiran suffering heavy casualties during the fighting at Pip Ridge. In 1918 they took part in what would be the final advance into Bulgaria. At the Armistice in November 1918 the battalion was in reserve at Dedeagatch. On 29 November, because of casualties due to battle and sickness, a much depleted battalion was amalgamated into 2 Reserve Battalion.
9 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
The 9 Bn KSLI was formed at Pembroke Dock depot in October 1914 as a reserve and training battalion. They moved to Prees Heath where they remained for the duration of the war. Men who had been wounded and were returning to active service very often were temporarily posted to 9 Bn KSLI before going on to be posted to either their old unit or an alternative.
10 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (Shropshire & Cheshire Yoemanry)
see also Yeomanry Regiments
The 10 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was formed in Cairo on 1 March 1917. It was formed by an amalgamation of 2 mounted yeomanry battalions – 1/1 Shropshire Yeomanry and 1/1 Cheshire Yeomanry. The 2 battalions were dismounted because of shortage of horses and became infantry units. IN 1917 the new battalion took part in the battles of Gaza, the capture of Jerusalem and Jericho and Battle of Tel Azur during which Oswestrian Harold Whitfield was awarded the VC. Following these successes the battalion was transferred to France, arriving at Marseilles on 7 May 1918. They were in action during the Kaiser Offensive and 100 Days. The battalion was at Ostiches, Belgium when news of the Armistice was received – met with ‘little apparent enthusiasm…..it seems to have been unreal and far less exhilarating than news of seven days leave’ (Regimental History). By the New Year the battalion was at Havinnes, Belgium when demobilisation was begun, the cadre returned to the UK on 21 June 1919.
Sergeant T/354807 Harry Walker, Royal Army Service Corps Camel Transport. 10 October 1919, Kantara War Memorial Cemetery formerly Shropshire Yeomanry (3 or 1 Bn??) Formerly Serg. 499, 3 Shropshire Yeomanry
4 Reserve Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Formed in April 1916 from 3/4 Bn KSLI. A Reserve and Training battalion stationed at Pembroke Dock. No overseas service.
Private 45094 Harry Huxley West Felton War Memorial