The Charles Laughton pages   ...   7th Service Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment.

  2/1st Hunts Cyclists to France.   Leslie Henson   Dermot MacSherry C. L. Letters Home
4th (Reserve) Battalion Beds Regiment Gas H C B Home Page

7th Service Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment

(whereabouts from August 1918 to disbandment in June 1919)

To put into context the draft of men from the 2/1st Huntingdonshire Cyclists sent to France in August 1918, I will give some background information. First a brief explanation about the origins of the 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment, then a résumé of the manpower fluctuations in that unit from January to July 1918, then a full transcription of the War Diary from August to November 1918. Finally, a résumé of the whereabouts of the battalion from December 1918 to its disbandment in June 1919.

The excerpts from the War Diary of the 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment, WO 95/2218 (The National Archives -PRO), and the 73rd Field Ambulance, WO 95/2202 (The National Archives -PRO) are reproduced here by kind permission of the National Archives, Public Record Office, Kew, London, UK.

The 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment was one of the many "Service" battalions raised at the beginning of the war at the prompting of Lord Kitchener. It became known as "The Mobbs' own" because one of the first men to volunteer was Edgar Mobbs, a well-known Rugby player. Mobbs enlisted as a private but eventually became Lieutenant Colonel in the Battalion. Mobbs was killed in action on the 29th of July 1917, in the course of an attack in Shrewsbury Forest. Mobbs' charisma and appeal led to many men from Northampton rushing to join the new battalion, including a good number of sportsmen.

After training in England, the Battalion was ordered to be sent to France on the 28th August 1915, to be part of the 73rd Brigade, 24th Division, where it remained to the end of the war. The Battalion would take part in a large number of actions, among them the Battles of Loos, Hooge, Guillemont, Vimy Ridge, Messines, Battlewood, Pilkem Ridge, Cambrai and Mabeuge.

Manpower fluctuations
Due to the casualties suffered by the Battalion, by the beginning of 1918 the unit no longer was composed mainly by Kitchener volunteers: as in most units in the front, conscripts had been steadily replacing the casualties, such as the draft of young soldiers from the 2/1st Huntingdonshire Cyclists.

After the heavy fighting during the massive German Spring Offensive of March 1918, the Battalion was reinforced by a draft of 386 OR's and 3 officers on April 11th, and a further 33 OR's and 5 officers on April 19th. The number of casualties is not recorded in the war diary, but, from the number of men in the drafts it is evident that they must have been many.

The war diary records no further drafts to the date of its disbandment. This makes it difficult to place the moment at which the men from the 2/1st Huntingdonshire Cyclists joined the Battalion, but this draft ultimately happened as men from this draft were demobilized as soldiers of the 7th Bn. Northamptonshire Regt., and at least three of them have so far been spotted in the Weekly Casualty List as soldiers of the Northamptonshire Regiment, the earlier entry found  being for October 12th 1918. Since these men left the UK on the beginning of August, it can be deduced that they joined the unit at a date in between, even though there is no mention of a draft in the Battalion's war diary.

It is quite likely that further drafts existed but went unrecorded (in the same way that the number of casualties of March 21st 1918 and the following days are not given). To give an example of a similar omission, the War Diary of the 7th Northamptonshires records heavy fighting taking place on November 4th 1918, but only two officers and an undetermined "number of casualties" are noted: we can't determine how many OR's were wounded there, but 13 rankers of the battalion died on that day, according to "Soldiers Died in the Great War".

The diary of the 73rd Field Ambulance in the rear, in charge of the wounded men of the three battalions of the 73rd Brigade, records 360 cases received on that same day (we bear in mind that, logically, the Field Ambulance must have recorded only the wounded cases) and no doubt some of these casualties were from the 7th Northamptonshires. It is quite likely that the Battalion received reinforcements after April 1918, but that these were not recorded by the officer in charge of the diary.

From January to July 1918 the Battalion's war diary records the following casualties:
- Missing: 2 OR's
- Killed: 1 Officer and 21 OR's
- Wounded: 53 OR's
Apart from that, there were 290 cases of influenza (dubbed "Pyrexia" by the army).
Animal casualties consisted of 5 horses and 3 mules killed, and 3 horses wounded

Incidentally, men joining the 7th Northamptonshires in the summer of 1918 found its soldiers wearing shorts from the beginning of July onwards (if you're curious as how they might have looked, there is a 1917 picture of 7th Northamptonshires wearing shorts in this link.

Data from G. Porta.

7th Service battalion Northamptonshire Regiment - War Diary for the month of August 1918.

August 1st 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Enemy fairly quiet - our aircraft fairly active

August 2nd 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Slight hostile shelling in the morning, and at intervals after dusk.

August 3rd 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Quiet day - Slight hostile shelling at intervals after dusk.

August 4th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Quiet day - Battalion relieved by 9th Bn Royal Sussex Regt.
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division) during night. Good relief.

August 5th 1918 - Les Brebis:
Day spent in cleaning up generally. Companies allotted baths.

August 6th 1918 - Les Brebis:
Parades under company arrangements. NCO's classes under RSM. During an organised "Nail Hunt" Cosy etc picked up 130 1/2 lbs of nails in half an hour. Working party of 36 OR's found.

August 7th 1918 - Les Brebis:
Training - the battalion carries out a scheme in the vicinity of Marqueffles Farm. Companies afterwards carried out firing practice on the range. Working Party of 36 OR's found.

August 8th 1918 - Les Brebis:
Battalion again carry out firing practice on the Marqueffles range. Usual working party found.

August 9th 1918 - Les Brebis:
480 OR's of the Battalion conveyed to the Divisional Show in lorries. Battalion succeeded in winning first prize in HD horse class, and first in OR "VC" race. Usual working party found.

August 10th 1918 - Les Brebis:
Inspection of box respirators by Brigade Gas Officer. baths allotted to Cosy etc. During the night enemy aircraft dropped a very large bomb (probably an aerial torpedo) on a billet occupied by 3rd RB's causing several casualties, and wrecking several of our billets in the vicinity. Usual working party found.
Appendix note: Capt B. Wright, MC, O. C. B Coy, and Lieut Hobbs succeeded in finding three men who were buried after three and a half hours search. One was dead, one badly wounded, and the other badly shaken.

August 11th 1918 - Les Brebis:
Battalion relieved by the 13th Middlesex Regt.  (73rd Brigade, 24th Division) on left (puts 14 bus sector) . Relief was complete by 11.45 pm
Disposition as follows:  D Coy: Puts 14 bus - C Coy: 1st support - A Coy: 2nd Support - B Coy: Reserve Coy.

August 12th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Enemy fairly quiet. A fair amount  or movement observed during the day mostly in H. 26 and 27.

August 13th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Hostile artillery - Pratts Dump, New Cut, and Loos received attention at intervals during the night. 30 aerial darts on Humbug. 50 aerial darts on Hull, 5 aerial darts on Puts 40. Our planes active over enemy lines. Usual amount of movement seen during day, mostly in H. 21, 22 and 26.

August 14th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Usual amount of "Mad Minutes" Straffes at intervals on Loos, New Cut and OGM1 during the night. Quiet day.

August 15th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Usual shelling at intervals on OG1, Hull and Horse Alley, and Loos during the night. One EA crossed our front during the day at about 3,000 ft.

August 16th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Quiet day. More EA arrtilery

August 17th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Normal day. Usual shelling at night at Loos, Hull, Humbug, New Cut, Puts 14 Bus.

August 18th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Enemy movement above normal during the day. Hostile shelling on Railway Alley, Hurdle and Hop Trenches.

August 19th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
No activity on the part of the enemy during the day. Quiet night.

August 20th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
More movement during the day. Loos shelled at intervals during the night with HE and Gas mixed, also Tosh Alley.

August 21st 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Quiet during the day. Loos Trench, Tosh Alley, and Loos shelled at intervals during the night with HE and gas mixed at intervals during the night. EA active during the evening.

August 22nd 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Hostile artillery active on back areas in the morning. Right batt. reported gas shelling on Loos early part of the night.

August 23rd 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Quiet morning. Heavy shelling of enemy trenches near Hulluch in the afternoon. retaliation for five minutes only. Two of our planes crashed during the day, one near Fosse 8 by Bosch "Archies", and the other stopped by one of our own shells.

August 24th 1918 - Hill 70 sector:
Dummy raid carried out by left Division in the early morning; slight retaliation later. Battalion relieved by 9th Royal Sussex Regt.
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division) at 12.30 am 25th inst.
Appendix note: The battalion represented the Division in three events in the VIII Corps Horse Show and succeeded in winning two out of the three events, namely - "VC" race (mounted) and best stripped heavy draught.

August 25th 1918 - Les Brebis:
Day spent in cleaning and bathing, kit inspections, and the like.

August 26th 1918 - Les Brebis:
Battalion fired on the Marqueffles range (Less A Coy), but owing to the weather the shooting was prematurely finished. Orders received in the middle of the night that the Battalion would probably have to take over the front then held by the Left Bed. of the Division on our right (20th Division).
Orders received that the battalion would take over the line held by the 7th D.C.L.I .
(61st Brigade, 20th Division) in Lens sector today, and orders issued for the battalion to parade at 6.30 pm to march to the line. Orders were however received that lorries would be available to take the troops to the line, and would be at the square, Les Brebis at 8.30 pm The Battalion was therefore formed in readiness at 8.15 pm. No lorries turned up however, and it was not until 12.15 am, after considerable trouble, that they did arrive. The Battalion then en-bussed and proceeded to the line, eventually completing the relief by 5 am.

August 27th 1918 - Lens Sector:
A considerable amount of movement observed behind Lens in the neighbourhood of Loison in the early morning, but no movement actually seen in Lens. Counter-battery work was carried out by our artillery in the evening.

August 28th 1918 - Lens Sector:
Parties consisting of from 5 to 1o Bosch were frequently seen near Loison; they were engaged by our artillery and dispersed. No movement seen in Lens. Enemy very active against our aircraft during day with AA and Machine guns.

August 29th 1918 - Lens Sector:
Usual movement seen in the morning but only in very small numbers. Slight hostile shelling from 8.30 to 10 pm. EA activity, nil. Our aircraft very active.

August 30th 1918 - Lens Sector:
Quiet morning.  Slight hostile shelling during the afternoon on forward area and communications. An officer and 6 OR's left our line to reconnoitre Puts 4 and found it unoccupied and reported no enemy movement.

August 31st 1918 - Lens Sector:
Movement normal during the day. No movement seen in Lens. An Officer and 6 OR's again reconnoitred Puts 4 and occupied it without opposition. At about 10.30 pm two officers and about 36 OR's left our lines with the intention of ascertaining if the enemy was holding the Green Crassier. They were however held up by thick wire so returned to our line and reported no movement, except one patrol consisting of two men on the part of the enemy. Two German privates Pioneer battalion, walked into our lines in the morning and gave us some very useful information; they had been employed on demolition work, and stated that they were "fed up".

7th Service battalion Northamptonshire Regiment
War Diary for the month of September 1918

September 1st 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Movement normal. A party was sent out in the evening to cut wire to enable a platoon and 2 sections of B Coy to occupy the Green Crassier; this was successfully accomplished and the Crassier was taken without opposition about 3 am. The battalion was relieved by the 9th Royal Sussex Regt
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division) in the evening, except one platoon and the two sections holding the Green Crassier, and became Support Battalion. All bridges and roads in Lens reported to be destroyed except one or two wooden bridges over the canal.
September 2nd 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Small enemy parties observed near Loison East of Lens in the early  morning; they were successfully dealt with by our artillery. Our aircraft very active over enemy territory during the day. The 9th Royal Sussex Regt
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division) relieved the platoon and two sections on the Green Crassier in the evening.
September 3rd 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Enemy aircraft more active during the day, patrolling his own line, were engaged by our AA. Enemy movement normal behind Lens.
September 4th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Enemy aircraft very active during the morning.
September 5th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Enemy aircraft unusually active. Intermittent shelling all day. 4.2¹s, 5.9¹s and occasional gas shells from 11.45 am to 5.30 pm, all localities.
September 6th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Fierce shelling round M.29.b and d. 4.2¹s, 5.2¹s, and many gas shells from 11.30pm to 2.30 am. A few slight gas casualties. Probably over 2000 shells fell in vicinity.
September 7th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Battalion relieved by the 9th Royal Sussex Regt
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division), and proceeded to new quarters at Marqueffles Farm. Accommodation, Nissen Bow huts. Condition of camp ­ good.
September 8th 1918 ­ Marqueffles Farm
Day spent in cleaning and bathing, etc.
September 9th 1918 ­ Marqueffles Farm
Training (with view to semi-open warfare) under company arrangements, followed by opening stages of the competition in general work, to be decided this week. First stages  field firing.
September 10th 1918 ­ Marqueffles Farm
The day devoted to all round training (with lectures on varied subjects), and shooting competition.
September 11th 1918 ­ Marqueffles Farm
Training in wiring, bayonet fighting, close order drill, open order drill, and fire and movement.
September 12th 1918 ­ Marqueffles Farm
Route march via Bouvigny
, Gouy Servins, Verdrel, etc.., and back to Marqueffles. Weather bad. Night operations.
September 13th 1918 ­ Marqueffles Farm
Training in all subjects under company arrangements.
September 14th 1918 ­ Marqueffles Farm
The Battalion proceeded up the line to relieve the 13th Middlesex Regt.
 (73rd Brigade, 24th Division)  (Daylight relief). D Coy ­ Green Crassier and Puts 4. B Coy ­ 1st Support. C Coy ­ 2nd Support. A Coy ­ Reserve.
September 15th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Dispositions of companies altered. D Coy - Right front Coy. C Coy - Left front Coy. B Coy ­ Right Support Coy. A Coy. Left Support Coy. A platoon of B Coy reconnoitred and established posts in Fosse 5. No opposition encountered. Enemy attitude, quiet. EA nil. A platoon of A Coy reconnoitred with a view to establishing posts Chateau Spriet; this was found to be strongly held by an alert enemy.
September 16th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Orders received to withdraw platoon from Fosse 5. A platoon of A Coy endeavoured to push forward a post, but owing to extreme darkness were unable to find a position to occupy. EA nil. Hostile artillery, quiet.
September 17th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
EA more active all day ­ 1 at 300 ft MG over Green Crassier. Our aircraft fairly active.
September 18th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Our aircraft very active during day. EA fairly active. B Coy relieved C Coy. Enemy movement above normal.
September 19th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
A coy relieved D Coy. D Coy relieved C Coy. C Coy relieved A coy. Enemy shelled Battalion Headquarters for one hour with 4¹2s A party of 6 Germans led by an officer advanced towards our post on Boulevard des Ecole (sic). Warning  was sent by our roving patrol, and enemy patrol was caught between our post and roving patrol, both of whom opened fire killing the officer and two other ranks. The Sgt. And Cpl. (wounded) were taken prisoner, the sixth man was wounded but got away.
September 20th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
EA nil. Enemy very quiet all day. A Coy patrolled ground up to railway, and established posts along Railway in N.20.a and N.20.b.00.20. Puts 4 evacuated. A patrol of C Coy reconnoitred route into Lens by way of Green Crassier and Canal Bank. It is found to be possible to enter Lens by this route except for one or two small enemy posts which could easily be dealt with.
September 21st 1918 ­ Lens Sector
An attempt was made to blow up house at N.14.d.50.00 ­ a party of one officer and 7 OR's, and one NCO and 4 OR's (Australian Tunnelers) made the attempt. The party got to within 80 yards of the house when enemy opened rifle fire and Machine Gun fire. Three men of covering party were wounded ­ remainder returned to our lines at dusk. Generally, enemy very quiet.
September 22nd 1918 ­ Lens Sector
EA fairly active. Battalion relieved by 9th Royal Sussex Regt
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division) and went into Support. A and B Cosy at Cite de Beaumont, C Coy Lievin, D Coy Bois de Riaumont. Batt. HQ Rollencourt. Our artillery active in the afternoon. More boche in Lens than previously.

Said a Sub, to one of his friends,
As she shewed him her latest from Venns,
³Though they look most inviting
They¹re not so exciting
As the outskirts and undies of Lens²
(it is thought there may be tunnels in Lens)
September 23rd 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Battalion in Support ­ Apart from working parties, Companies at disposal of Company Commanders ­ Drums up from Transport.
September 24th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Training under Company arrangements in accordance with programme issued by CO.
September 25th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Training by companies in accordance with programme: Battalion football team played a team from 13th Middlesex Regt.
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division) At Marqueffles ­ result 2-1 in favour of the Middlesex.
September 26th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Training carried out as per programme under Company arrangements ­NCOs instruction in map reading ­ very quiet.
September 27th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Training carried as for 26th. Our guns carried out a shoot in early morning in conjunction with dummy figures. No retaliation.
September 28th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Training carried on under Company arrangements.
September 29th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Inspection of fighting order and equipment by CO. Equipment arranged, 2 companies leather and 2 webbing. Representatives of the battalions of the 58th Division came up to reconnoitre.
September 30th 1918 ­ Lens Sector
Battalion relieved by Battalions of the 58th Div as follows: Bn HQ and C Coy by 10th
(2/10th) London Regt.  (175th Brigade, 58th Division)  A, B and C Cosy by 12th London Regt.   (175th Brigade, 58th Division) After relief Battalion marched to Coupigny Huts.

7th Service battalion Northamptonshire Regiment - War Diary for the month of October 1918.

October 1st 1918 - Hersin-Coupigny
Battalion entrained at Hersin-Coupigny at 1 pm and detrained at Mondicourt at 9.20 pm and marched to billets at Grouches.

October 2nd 1918 ­ Grouches
Training under Company arrangements.

October 3rd 1918 ­ Grouches
Training under Company arrangements.

October 4th 1918 ­ Grouches
Training under Company arrangements.

October 5th 1918 ­ Grouches
Transport moved by march route to Moeuvres, halting for the night 5/6th at Boisleux au Mont.

October 6th 1918 ­ Grouches
Battalion proceeded by train to Hermies where they detrained. Battalion marched to camp just East of Moeuvres, where they bivouacked (sic) for the night 6/7th (very cold night with frost in the morning). 24th Division was now in support to 63rd Division, and were told to be in readiness to pass through and follow the enemy if he withdrew.

October 7th 1918 ­ Moeuvres
Battalion struck camp about 14.00 hrs and marched to area SW of Caintaing, where they relieved the 190th Brigade (63rd Div). Battalion was settled in bivouacs by 19.00 hrs.

October 8th 1918 ­ Caintaing
63rd Division, having attacked and captured Niergnies, 72nd IB moved forward to Roumilly; the 73rd Bed being concentrated just East of Canal de St. Quentin. Battalion bivouacked (sic) for the night, with orders to be ready to move at 2 hours notice. Camp had settled down by 17.00 hrs. A few 5.9 shells fell in close proximity of the camp. 1 OR wounded. Orders received about midnight that 73rd Bed were to keep in close touch.

October 9th 1918 ­ Awoingt
Camp was struck about 05.00 hrs. Battalion moved off at 06.15 hrs. Order of march, 9th Royal Sussex Regiment
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division), 7th Northamptonshire Regt., 13th Middlesex Regt. (73rd Brigade, 24th Division) Information received that 72nd IB attack had met with no opposition, and that they had pushed on to Railway East of Awoingt. 73rd Bed followed 72nd Bed keeping close touch. At 13.00 hrs the Battalion had reached a point just NW of Awoingt. At 14.00 hrs the Battalion were ordered to reconnoitre ground towards the sugar factory, and to concentrate just beyond ready to attack village of Cagnoncles. A troop of the 6th Dragoon Guards (4th Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division) went forward to reconnoitre high ground between Cagnoncles and the Canadians, who were on our left. By 17.00 hrs., after overcoming intense MG opposition the Battalion had captured all the high ground overlooking the village.

Order of attack: D Coy (Capt. Pearson MC)- Left Front;= B Coy (Capt. B. Wright MC) ­Right Front; C Coy (2/Lieut W. W. Boal) Left Support; A Coy (Capt Williamson MC) ­ Support. Having taken the high ground on his, Capt Pearson went personally with a strong patrol to reconnoitre the village and failed to return. 2/Lieut Boal, whilst moving forward with Support Company, was mortally wounded by a shell. 2/Lieut Cutting and 2/Lieut Clements were both killed whilst leading their men forward. 2/Lieut Cook and 2/Lieut Osborn were wounded. The village, being too strongly held chiefly with machine guns, which were continuously sweeping the ridge and slope leading to the village, it was decided to dig in and wait for artillery to give the necessary support. Battalion scouts, who had been operating in front during the day, were sent forward to get in touch with Canadians on the left. This was done. Information received that 2/Lieut Boal had died of wounds. Casualties: 4 Officers killed, 2 officers wounded, 85 OR's killed and wounded.

October 10th 1918 ­ Cagnoncles
At 05.30 hrs after artillery barrage, Battalion advanced on Cagnoncles capturing 11 prisoners, 13 machine guns and several H and LTMs. Opposition weak. The battalion continued to advance meeting with no opposition. At 08.30 hrs Battalion scouts reported village of Rieux to be apparently evacuated. 2/Lieut. Harrison went forward with patrol, arriving on far side of village about 09.00 hrs. Cavalry and cyclist patrols passed through shortly afterwards. At 10.00 13th Middlesex Regt
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division) passed through Battalion, which now became Support.

October 11th 1918 ­ Rieux
At 03.00 hrs orders were received for the Battalion to remain in its present position, in deep cutting W of Rieux. Lt Col Hingley MC commanding 13th Middlesex Regt
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division) seriously wounded. Battalion moved into billets in Rieux.

October 12th 1918 ­ Rieux
Day spent in sleep, cleaning up and reorganisation.

October 13th 1918 ­ Rieux

October 14th 1918 ­ Rieux Battalion moved forward to billet in Avesnes-lez-Aubert. Attack on Haussy, which had been arranged to be carried out by 24th Division, cancelled.

October 15th 1918 ­ Avesnes-Lez-Aubert
BGC inspected battalion.

October 16th 1918 ­ St. Aubert
At 07.30 hrs Battalion received sudden and unexpected orders to move in two hours time to St. Aubert in close support to 72nd IB. Dispositions: Headquarters and 2 Cosy. St. Aubert-2 Cosy. High ground West of La Selle River. At 13.00 hrs the Right Battalion of the 72nd IB was heavily counter-attacked and forced back to West bank of River Haussy. At 16.00 hrs Battalion was ordered to relieve remaining elements of 9th East Surrey Regt
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division) and R. W. Kent Regt with 2 Cosy. This was successfully carried out, with few casualties. At 01.00 (17th) information was received that A Coy had been surrounded by the enemy who had taken possession of the bridge heads. A wounded man who returned shortly afterwards stated that Capt. Williamson, on realising the seriousness of his position, gave orders to rush the bridge heads, every man for himself. This prompt decision undoubtedly unabled a considerable number of men to get across before the enemy could exploit his success. All Officers and 48 OR's returned. This number could have been increased if the men had seen the river by day, as they were undoubtedly under the impression that it was much wider and deeper.
October 17th 1918 ­ Haussy
At 05.30 D Coy was ordered to withdraw from the village of Haussy and take up position on high ground overlooking village of Haussy and take up position on high ground overlooking village. This was done. After a very busy day the Battalion was relieved by Bn Worcester Regt, 56th Div., and marched back to billets in Avesnes.

October 18th 1918 ­ Avesnes-Lez-Aubert
Battalion fell in at 14.00 hrs and marched to Caurior, arriving at 16.30 hrs

October 19th 1918 ­ Caurior
Baths and cleaning

October 20th 1918 ­ Caurior
Brigade Church Parade. Remainder of the day left to the men.

October 21st 1918 ­ Caurior
Companies trained under their own arrangements. A and B Cosy, tactical training ­ C and D Cosy on the range at B.15.a (sheet 51c)

October 22nd 1918 ­ Caurior
Box respirators tested by Brigade Gas Officer. Baths allotted from 6.00 hrs to 13.00 hrs

October 23rd 1918 ­ Caurior
Training in open warfare and battle patrols. Inspection of all arms by the brigade Armourer Sgt.

October 24th 1918 ­ Caurior
C and D Cosy carry out a tactical scheme at 09.00 hrs. Inoculation carried out by the MO Transport inspected by the O. C. 24th Divisional Train.

October 25th 1918 ­ Caurior
Baths allotted to C and D Cosy from 8-12 hrs. A and B Cosy practice Field Firing. All Companies carry out one hours patrol after dark. A nail hunt hold today resulted in 102 lbs of nails being collected.

October 26th 1918 ­ Caurior
The Battalion moved to Haussy vis Avesnes lez Aubert-St. Vaast at 8.00 hrs and arrived at 12 noon.

October 27th 1918 ­ Haussy
Brigade Church Parade. The BGC afterwards took the march past

October 28th 1918 ­ Haussy
Companies at Company Commanders disposal. 1 and a half hours night training carried out. Brigade Sports held in which the Battalion won 7 of the events.

October 29th 1918 ­ Haussy
All officers and NCOs of B, C and D Cosy parade under the CO at 09.15 hrs. Remainder carry on with arm drill. Recreational training and gas drill.

October 30th 1918 ­ Haussy
Company tactical training in the morning. Cross country run in the afternoon.

October 31st 1918 ­ Haussy
Tactical scheme ­ all companies take part.

7th Service battalion Northamptonshire Regiment - War Diary for the month of November 1918.
No notes for November 1st 1918

November 2nd 1918 ­ Haussy
Battalion moved from the Village of Haussy into billets at Bermerain arriving there at 5.30 pm

November 3rd 1918 ­ Bermerain
Company Commanders left early in the morning to reconnoitre forward area. Stores were issued and Companies moved off at 4 pm to a position of assembly West of Sepmeries and then bivouacked for the night. A few shells fell into the village and a long the road.

November 4th 1918 ­ Bermerain
B and D Companies were detailed as support to the 9th Bn Royal Sussex Regiment  
(73rd Brigade, 24th Division) who were to attack along the whole Brigade front from a line which had been established West of the Enlain-Villers Pol Road. Capt. A. Elliman was in command of D Company and supported right flank and Capt. B. Wright the left flank. These two Companies moved off at 3 am, crossed the river Rhonelle by bridges which had been put into position by A Company the night previous, and took their position by early morning. A and C companies remained in the positions occupied the previous night until 6 am and then moved to the rear of the general line of advance. The barrage commenced at 6 am and the Companies moved forward. D Company was caught in the Hun counter-barrage and a number of casualties were caused. The remainder were led onward and in time formed part of the front line. By 8 am they were on the high ground in front of Wargniers-le-Petit. Capt A. Elliman and 2/Lieut J. W. Tetley had both become casualties (wounded). B Company successfully eluded the counter-barrage on the left (N) flank and succeeded in establishing themselves in a position which dominated the small bridge over the river Aunelle. This bridge carried the main Enlain-Bavay Road which separated Wargniers-le-Grand and Wargniers-le-Petit and by concentrated Lewis Gun and rifle fire and by forward patrols they managed to keep it whole. The enemy was shelling the sunken roads and were sweeping the ridge with machine gun fire. The position, having become stationary, it was decided to relieve the pressure by outflanking both villages from the north. The 13th Bn Middlesex Regiment  (73rd Brigade, 24th Division) was allotted Wargniers-le-Grand and the 7th Northamptonshire Regiment, Wargniers-le-Petit.

14.30 hours- A and C Companies were detailed for this duty. They were to cross by keeping their left on the main road and push through the village and then onward to the high ground East of it. C Company formed the front line under 2/Lieut. C. Pike and A Company under Capt. G. A. Williamson were in support. Machine gun fire was met with but overcome by grenades and rifle fire and both Companies established themselves well forward of the village. B Company now became support and D Company having been withdrawn from the front line went into reserve. The enemy began to shell the outskirts and roads leading to the villages which were inhabited by a fair number of French civilians. 50 prisoners were taken during operations.

November  5th 1918

This morning the 17th Infantry Brigade passed through out positions and continued the advance and the Battalion moved into billets in Wargniers-le-Petit.

November  6th 1918

Companies reorganised and rested.

November  7th 1918

Battalion received orders to be ready to move forward and march through La Bois Crette, St. Waast-la-Vallee and on to billets in Bavay arriving there at 6 pm. Transport overcame difficulty of bad roads and brought rations up same night.

November  8th 1918

Battalion now became Support Battalion to 9th East Surrey Regt (72nd Infantry Brigade-24th Division). And moved to La Louvion; then onward to Le Longeville. At 4 pm, D Company armed with bill-hooks etc. Went off to clear a track through the Bois de Longueville in a NE direction from the West side to the East side leading on to the road to La Berliere. Orders were received that the advance would be continued in the morning, the 73rd Infantry Brigade taking over a 3000 yards front. The Battalion being allotted 1000 yards North of left flank of 72nd Infantry Brigade.- The 17th IB being in Support ­ the Division taking over the Corps front.

November  9th 1918

A Company was detailed as advance guard with C Company in Support. Battalion moved off at 5.45 am. Scouts went forward and found Les Guelaros clear of the enemy and joined hands with the Royal West Kents who came into the village from the Southern end. A Company went forward meeting with no opposition, passing through Le Floricamp and to the high ground beyond Mairieux. The Battalion scouts were well to the front the whole time and, in conjunction with the Cyclists and Cavalry, did some good work. An outpost line was established by picqueting the roads leading to Mairieux, the forward Company having withdrawn to the West of it. A Platoon held the Rue d¹en Bas ­ A Company held the Fort des Sart and B Company in Le Floricamp, D Company in Reserve at Roteleux farm  where Battalion Headquarters was established. The enemy shelled the roads just West of Mairieux during the night and C company had one man killed.

November  10th 1918

The Battalion was relieved by a Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, 20th Division about mid-day and went into billets at Le Raguelle near Feignies.

November  11th 1918

Battalion moved off at 6.50 am and marched to billets in Louvignies-Bavay area arriving at 10 am.
News of an Armistice was received on the way.

November  12th 1918

Re-organisation of Companies. Kit inspections and shoemakers inspection etc.

November  13th 1918

Cleaning up, etc. Inspection of Lewis Guns.

November  14th 1918

Inspections of A and D Companies by Commanding Officer

November  15th 1918

Battalion inspected by Brigadier General Commanding 73rd Infantry Brigade.

November  16th 1918

Inspection of B and C Companies by Commanding Officer. Training etc. Under Company arrangements.

November  17th 1918

Battalion moved by march route to Wargnies-le-Grand.

November  18th 1918

Battalion moved by march route to the Denain area and was accommodated in billets for the night.

November  19th 1918

Battalion moved by march route to Aubericourt .

November  20th 1918
Cleaning up etc...
November  21st 1918

Parades, inspections, etc. under Company arrangements.

November  22nd 1918

Commanding Officer and Medical Officer inspect billets. Parades under Coy arrangements.

November  23rd 1918

Parades, training, under Company arrangements.

November  24th 1918

Divine services, etc.

November  25th 1918

Battalion moved by march route to Rumegies area and was accommodated in billets for the night.

November  26th 1918

Battalion moved by march route to Mouchin area; the whole Battalion being billeted in an old brewery.

November  27th 1918

Parades under Company arrangements.

November  28th 1918

Battalion paraded for drill under the Commanding Officer.

November  29th 1918

Parades etc under Company arrangements.

November  30th 1918

Parade etc under Company arrangements.

7th Service battalion Northamptonshire Regiment - Resume of the War Diary from the month of December 1918 to May 1919, when it was disbanded.

During December the Battalion was involved in activities such as training, drill, educational classes etc. but also in other activities such as road cleaning and repairs, and helping local farmers in works such as ploughing. Fatigues were carried out as well. They would also perform guard duties as they occasionally did in Tournai station.

Ceremonies also took place, as when the General Officer commanding the First Army presented colours to the Battalion, along with the remainder of the 73rd Brigade.

More recreational activities involved sports such as football matches, boxing classes and riding classes for officers.

The Battalion was stationed in Mouchin until December 5th, 1918, when they moved to Bachy. On December 21st the 7th Northamptonshires move to Tournai, where they would remain until the Battalion, reduced to a cadre, was ordered to proceed to England on June 3rd, 1919. The Battalion reached England on June 7th 1919 and its remains were subsequently disbanded.

In January 1919, demobilization started in the Battalion, with 68 Other Ranks and two Officers being released from duty.

In February 1919, 257 Other Ranks and 4 officers were demobilized. 6 soldiers opted for re-enlistment and were sent to England for leave. As a result of the diminishing number of men, the four original Companies of the Battalion were amalgamated into two.

In March 1919, 39 Other Ranks and 3 Officers were demobilized. A draft of 151 Other Ranks and 5 officers were posted to the 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment, to serve in the Army of Occupation on the Rhine.

In April 1919, 2 Other Ranks and 4 Officers were demobilized. 109 further Other Ranks were posted to the 4th Bn Suffolk Regt, and 2 Officers were sent to join regular Battalions. 1 Officer joined the strength of the Battalion.

In May 1919 16 Other Ranks and 2 Officers were demobilized. 1 Other Ranks joined. 4 re-enlisted rankers were sent on leave to England. Two Other Ranks were sent to the 4th Bn Suffolk Regt.

For those interested in further information on this battalion, here is a list of printed sources. The best choice would be a recent book:
"The Mobbs Own. The 7th Battalion, The Northamptonshire Regiment. 1914-1918" By David Woodall
Published by Northamptonshire Regiment Association (Second edition: 2000).

Norman Holding, in his helpful reference book "The Location of British Army records. A national directory of World War Sources" (published by the Federation of Family History Societies, 1987, second edition), suggests these further titles which may be found in libraries, archives and Record Offices:
"History of the raising of the 7th (Service) Bn. Northamptonshire Regt." By Guy Paget. Gale and Polden, 1915
"The Northamptonshire Regt. 1914-1918" By Lt. Col. Russell Gurney. Aldershot: Gale and Polden 1935
"History of the Northamptonshire Regt. 1742-1934" Aldershot: Gale and Polden 1932

Mr. Holding also suggests to consult old issues of the "Northampton Independent"  which might contain related articles.

And, of course, you can check the War Diaries of the Battalion, which can be found at the National Archives, Kew, under the reference WO 95/2218.



The data on this page has very kindly been provided by Gloria Porter - many thanks to her and to all those mentioned for permission to use their information and research.  Where possible all credit has been given to them and the original source quoted. © Gloria Porter.