Published By Ben Hillidge
Armentieres. Fleurbaix. 6 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. August 1915.
GOOGLE MAPS Centres on Fleurbaix
The 6 Bn King’s Shrophire Light Infantry, including the ‘Oswestry Pals’, arrived in France on 22 July 1915 and went into billets at Zoudousque near to St Omer. On 28 July they joined up with other battalions in 60 Brigade and began a 3 day march via Hearques and Borre to Outersteene where they had arrived on 30 July. After a rest day they continued with their training and instruction There were route marches, drill, musketry and bayonet practice, field craft, care of weapons, signals – including specialist training for the battalion’s snipers –see Lieutenant Richard AM Lutener, 6 Bn KSLI. There were also trips to the baths and laundry at Balliel as well as a visit to the battalion HQ by Sir Douglas Haig – who would replace Sir John French as Army CinC in December 1915.
All the new service battalions, when they arrived at the front for the first time, would spend time learning the ropes of trench warfar; it was now the turn of 6 Bn KSLI. At 12.05am Tuesday 10 August the battalion, in column with the 6 Bn Oxs. and Bucks., marched up to the front. They were posted to a section of line to the south of Armentieres around Fleurbaix. The bivouacs and HQ were at Rouge de Bout. The battalion was to be accompanied by regular troops from the West Yorkshire Regiment and would go into the front line by company. The first to go was A coy, plus a platoon from B coy. At 7.15pm they left the relative safety of the bivouac for a 24 hour tour in the battle lines.
The Shropshire men were deployed along the line at intervals, the West Yorks. helping them and passing on their experience. During the morning of the 11 August the battalion C/O and Adjutant, accompanied by the C/O of the West Yorks. came up to visit the men and to make an inspection. All was well, at least for the time being. Later in the day, at 5.15pm, came another staff visit, this time the 2O/C and Adjutant accompanied by 2O/C West Yorks. arrived. As a demonstration, the battalion trench mortar section fired off three registering or ranging shells. The Germans retaliated and for the next twenty minutes a fire fight of artillery, grenades and mortars erupted. During this engagement Sergeant 12258 Stanley Williams was severely wounded and would die the next day. He was the first casualty in the battalion.
Over the next days each of the companies would go on two 24 hour tours in the front line. They then went for a rest period in billets at Noote Boom before moving down to Laventie on 25 August where the battalion was assigned to brigade reserve. Casualties were ORs 3 KIA and 4 wounded.
References and Sources WAR DIARY 6 Bn KSLI. Regimental History KSLI
B&O 1915 Armentieres. Fleurbaix. 6 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. August 1915.