Published By Ben Hillidge
Battle of Armentières, 1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. 13 October – 2 November 1914.
The 1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry had left their barracks at Tipperary, Ireland, in mid-August 1914 and, travelling via Queenstown and Cambridge to embarkation at Southampton, arrived at St Nazaire in France on the 10 September. By the end of the month they were in the lines around the River Aisne near the village of Vailly. They had stayed in this sector until 13 October and then entrained northward to Cassell where they had gone into the line for the Battle of Armentières, First Ypres 1914. The Battle began on 13 October 1914, 6 Bn KSLI were in the Divisional Reserve and did not take part in the initial attack.
On 20 October the Battalion was moved up to Bois Grenier to south of Armentières and behind the main front, The next day they moved up to the front line to relieve the 2 Bn Yorks. & Lancs. in the trenches at Le Quesne Farm. Over the next two days artillery shelling and rifle fire was heavy and continual. At 4.15 on 23 October, in the pre-dawn darkness, the enemy attacked in strength. The KSLI took the full force of the blow. The fighting was fierce but the line was held and, by 6am, the assault had been beaten back -over 200 German dead were counted in front of the KSLI trenches and in the wire entanglements. The fighting was not finished though and German assaults continued during the day until a final attack at 5pm. All were repulsed but at a heavy cost with casualties for the day of 34 KIA and 38 wounded.
The next day, 24 October, began quiet, there was some shelling and much aircraft movement until at 5pm another enemy assault came. The fighting was especially fierce on the flanks and reinforcements were brought up, the line was held but the enemy was now in some places only 50 yards away. At 10pm units to the left of 1 Bn KSLI were forced out of their trenches by shell fire and the battalion moved to support them. The night continued with confused fighting. At 4am the battalion HQ was the target of an enemy bombardment. Another attack came, this time to the battalion’s left, the enemy broke through and infiltrated the British trenches. The situation became critical, orders were received that the line is to be held at all cost until night fall when the Brigade would be relieved and withdrawn. On 9pm on 25 October, under cover of a heavy rainstorm, the battalion came out of the trenches and went into billets at Bois Grenier. Casualties for this tour for officers and men were 55 KIA, 79 wounded and 11 missing.
References and Sources WAR DIARY 1 BnKSLI Aug14-Dec15. History KSLI.
B&O 1914. Battle of Armentières 1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. 13 Oct-2 Nov 1914