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10th Royal Fusiliers

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The Inside Story of the First Pals Battalion - 10th “Stockbrokers” Battalion, Royal Fusiliers:

 

Reflecting a pencilled note by Siegfried Sassoon when he was writing Memoirs of an Infantry Officer  ‘anyone can find out photographic details of the war. What they can’t find out is the secret drama inside a soldier’s head’ this book takes the words of members of the 10th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers from when it was formed in London in August 1914 until the end of the War. Many comments come from personal diaries and letters written at the time but the author also uses the War Diary of the Battalion and accounts of events written by participants after the War.

The battalion at first recruited young men from the Stock Exchange and City firms who were keen to join up and get into action. Many could have applied for commissions but were reluctant to spend the time necessary for training. Members of the Stock Exchange from well-known families, like Rothschild and Rubens, served in the ranks alongside clerks from insurance, shipping and banks. The City connection was strengthened when the Lord Mayor, Sir Vansittart Bowater, was made Honorary Colonel in 1914 and held the position throughout the War. City Livery companies gave money to provide weapons, and the instruments for the Band.

The battalion served in France from July 1915 until March 1919. They were in action on the Somme, at Ypres and faced the German Spring Offensive. They participated in the pursuit of the German Army back through France and ended the war at Charleroi.

Outline of the Battalion’s story:

 

Volunteers from the City of London many employed in the Stock Exchange and other City firms gathered to sign on from 21 August 1914. They marched to Tower Ditch and were sworn in by the Lord Mayor of London, who later became their Honorary Colonel. Leaving Liverpool Street Station on 3 September they went to begin training at Colchester, moving the following year to Andover. Crossing to France on 31 July 1915 they went first to Armentieres and spent time becoming familiar with trench life and warfare. For the remainder of the war they travelled between the major battle area of the western front  

1916:Bailleulval: Mezerolles: Berles au Bois: Somme Fighting: Boiselles Attacks on Poiziers: Bazentin, Mametz Wood, High Wood, Loos, Ham. 1917:Hulloch: Buneville:  Arras Push Attacks on Monchy le Preux and Gavrelle: Messines Operations Attack North of Wytchaete, Attack in Tower Hamlets sector of Ypres Salient: Menin Road 1918: Wardreques: Dickebusch: Polderhoek: Counter Attack on Joppa, Foncquevillers: Rossignol Wood: Hebuterne: Ablainzeville: Bucquoy: Foncquevillers (Gas Bombardment): Villers Bretonneux: German Retreat: Attack and capture of Ablainzeville: Bihucourt: Logeast Wood and Havrincourt Wood: Counter Attack on Favreuil: Canal de Lescaut: Attack on Belaise and Hindenberg Line: Ligny Attack on Beaurain and Louvignes: Armistice Caudry.

From the time of the Armistice until the battalion was disbanded in March 1919 they were based in Charleroi.

A number of notable individuals were members of the battalion. Colonel White had been involved in the Jameson Raid in South Africa and had spent time in prison as a result. Major Keppel joined in 1915, he was the husband of Alice Keppel who had been the mistress of Edward VII. William Babington Maxwell, an author of some note in the period helped White in recruiting and establishing the battalion. Sons of City families, like the Rothschilds and Rubens volunteered and brought wealth and influence. Oswald Birley R.A. was a Private in the ranks, but was later commissioned as were  Raymond Bevir, onetime President of the Oxford Union and Vivian Delbos, son of a French Professor who, with Birley, joined the Intelligence Branch known as 10(IB) Royal Fusiliers. Maggie Teyte and other notable performers entertained the battalion at concerts.  

The City of London provided support, the Corporation offered to buy two machine guns, the Musicians Company of the City of London provided instruments for the band. An individual, friend of Private George Rothschild, offered £3000 (worth nearly £200,000 today) as a fund to provide equipment and comforts for the men.

 

Casualties at Pozieres

Appendices:

Killed at Hamel - Nov 1916

Casualties at Monchy le Preux

Killed at Cuba Trench 1917

Casualties Sep - Oct 1917

Casualties 8th - 9th March 1918

Casualties 11th May to 1st Jun 1918

Killed in Fevreuil 25th Aug 1918

Killed 13th - 16th Sep 1918

Killed 8th Oct 1918

Killed 9th Oct - Last Casualty

Book scheduled for publication by Pen and Sword in February 2014