Published By Ben Hillidge
Zillebeke, Gordon House, 5 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. June 1915
The 5 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry had arrived in France about a month before on 21 May 1915. They had gone to the Ypres sector for trench familiarisation and training and also on working parties. They had come under fire but had not yet undertaken a tour in the lines. On 6 June the battalion moved down to Locre for trench training with the Sherwood Foresters Territorials. Each company rotated spending time in the front line. On 12 June they returned to Ypres and went into huts at Vlamertinghe.
On 16 June the battalion was to support an attack at Bellewaedre. They moved up the previous evening and bivouacked near the Ypres-Roulers railway line close to the town walls. There they waited as the barrage bombarded the enemy lines. At 10.00am they moved forward exiting the railway at Hellfire Corner – this was where the railway crossed the Menin Road just beyond the Ypres town walls, the place was a notorious spot, a pinch point into the Salient that attracted frequent enemy shelling. As they left the railway they came under heavy shell fire. They managed to move forward as far Gordon House; here they took shelter in a trench which was already packed with troops making it almost impossible to move. At 4.00pm the order to retire was given. The men made their way back under enemy fire. The battalion eventually regrouped early on 17 June back at Vlamertinghe. Casualties were Officers 2 KIA 2 wounded, ORs 11 KIA, 57 wounded and 1 missing.
After the action the battalion was withdrawn to Vlamertinghe for 2 days of rest and reequipping. On the 19 June a draft of 82 men arrived from England. That evening the battalion was sent to man a section of trench for the first time on their own. They took over from the Suffolk Regiment. The relief was complete by 12.25am on the 20 June with the battalion HQ established in Gordon House, a shell shattered farm house near to Zillebeke about 2km SW of Bellewaarde on the southern sector of the Ypres Salient. Here they found a working pump and a ready supply of water – all water usually had to be carried up to the front line. The battalion was deployed with A and D companies in the front line and B and C in support. The area was very active with frequent and heavy shelling. The battalion War Diary, for the 20 June records ‘Heavy shelling at times. Stood to arms all night thinking we were going to attack. Lieut. HG Booker wounded, Pte Douglas D Coy killed and buried at HQ, 7 other ranks wounded’. They remained at the front until the night of 24 June. Casualties for the tour were ORs 3 KIA and 42 wounded and 1 officer wounded.
References and Sources WAR DIARY 5Bn KSLI. History KSLI.
B&O 1915 Ypres. Zillebeke. Gordon House. 5 Bn KSLI. June 1915.