2nd Lieut. Baillie Chisholm Munro, 2nd Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps, M. C.






"In Flanders fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up your quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break the faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."

John Alexander McCrae











Baillie Chisholm Munro was born at Altnaharra, Sutherland at 10 a.m., on 23 May 1884, his father William Munro being the innkeeper there. He was still at the Altnaharra Hotel for the census on 31 March 1901 as a 16 year old scholar, living with his widowed innkeeper mother Annie Gordon Munro nee MacLeod, his father William having died at Altnaharra on 30 April 1895. Some time after the 1901 census, Baillie and his elder brother Donald MacLeod Munro studied mining engineering at Newcastle.


Baillie emigrated to South Africa, departing Southampton on 22 September 1906 as B. C. Munro on board the 'Kinfauns Castle' for Cape Town: 








Donald MacLeod Munro left for Cape Town on the 'Walmer Castle', departing Southampton on Christmas Day 1906, listing his occupation as engineer. Of the fifteen passengers on the manifest, three were engineers and two were miners, South Africa being a land of opportunity for those prepared to work hard, and chance their arms:







Rather than following their uncles John and David to Kimberley where diamond mining was then in decline, Baillie Chisholm and Donald MacLeod went to Johannesburg, where gold had been discovered on the Langlaagte farm earlier in 1886, and what was then a tent farm, by 1904 had became a city with a population of 155,000, of whom 83,000 were whites. The brothers settled at Langlaagte Deep, and were there when it was taken over by Crown Mines Limited in 1909.





A portrait of Baillie taken at Johannesburg


Within a year, Donald and Baillie had moved 650 miles or so north to the mines around Battlefields, Rhodesia, a small and inhospitable open pit gold mine, so called because the claims were named after famous battles. They may have remained in the employ of Crown Mines Limited, as they were located at Crown Mine when at Battlefields.

Battlefields can be found today, not that you would want to, off the main road from Harare to Bulawayo, between Kadoma and Kwekwe, in Mashonaland West, Zimbabwe:







It was near here that Donald MacLeod Munro died from the bite of a mamba snake, on 14 November 1910. Mr A. T. Hutchinson, "Hutch", an engineer who had arrived at Cape Town on the 'Guelph' in November 1909, was with Donald when he died, and later wrote a detailed account of the incident to Donald's mother at Inverness. Hutch wrote from Valhalla Mine, Hartley on 19 June 1911, that Donald had visited the Crown Mine, where Hutch and Baillie were, on the morning of 14 November 1910, and after breakfast Donald and Hutch decided to explore ground seven miles from Crown that might be gold bearing. With the help of a native bearer, they had almost reached their destination, travelling mostly over burnt out ground where they had good visibility, but in an area of long grass Donald, who was a dozen paces to the right, shouted "Look out Hutch; snake". Hutch looked towards him, and saw an eight foot brown mamba heading their way. The native boy went one way and Hutch the other, as the snake was right on them, but at this point Donald, who had started to run for cleared ground, shouted "Come on Hutch, he has bitten me." By the time Hutch got to him, Donald had already bared his leg and had taken out a lance, and the permanganate of potash that he always carried for such occasions, but in his haste he had opened the outfit at the wrong end, and lost some of the potash.
As it happens permanganate of potash, or Condy's crystals, would not have helped, as it was later established that the treatment only destroyed venom on the surface, and was useless once the poison was in the tissues. Donald lanced the wound himself, and Hutch rubbed in the remainder of the potash, while instructing the native boy to get bark from a tree to make a tight tourniquet, so the poison would not circulate. Hutch then instructed the boy to return to camp for six more boys, potash, and whiskey, but the native was so fearful of returning alone, that Hutch could only get the desired result by threatening to shoot him. Black mambas, or brown as here described by Hutch, are the longest species of venomous snake in Africa, and also the fastest moving, being capable of speeds up to six miles per hour over short distances. Without immediate, and vigorous anti-venom therapy, a black mamba bite is rapidly fatal almost 100% of the time. Locals called the bite of a black mamba "The kiss of death". Donald knew this, and asked for a piece of paper and a pencil, but as they had none, he dictated his will to Hutch. Donald instructed that his insurance money, and his share in the Glencairn Mine, were to go to his mother. His share in the Valhalla syndicate, his rifle, and his pointer dog Dandy, were to go to his brother Ben (Baillie). The money in his purse was payment to his native boys, and his executors were named as Willie and Baillie Stokes. Donald said he had an idea that he would die in the bush by some of the large beasts, but not a loathsome thing like a snake. Death was slow, with paralysis enveloping his body. Drifting in and out of consciousness, Donald said "Hutch, if I am going to die, I am going to die game." His last words were "Hutch, this is very rough on you old man", and "Goodbye Hutch, I am going", as he died in Hutch's arms. Hutch added a postscript to his letter "It was 3 1/2 hours before help arrived and I did hope that Donald would live until Ben came; but it was not to be." 

Willie and Baillie Stokes were distantly related to Baillie and Donald Munro, but a decade older, and no doubt were behind the Munro brother's decision to emigrate to South Africa. Willie was William McDonald Stokes, born 1868, and Baillie was born Thomas Baillie Munro Stokes in 1872, both at Duthil, Inverness-shire. They were grandsons of Mary Fraser, sister of Margaret Fraser who had married the Munro brother's uncle, another Baillie Chisholm Munro, at Nethy Bridge, Inverness-shire in 1863. Baillie Stokes arrived at Cape Town in 1894, and was a Sergeant in the Imperial Light Horse during the Boer War, being injured on 9 September 1900 at Silverkop farm, in the Carolina district, Mpumalanga. At age 42 he enlisted for WW1 at Chelsea Town Hall, London on 26 February 1915, and was discharged at Longford, Ireland the following year. The Stokes brothers were mentioned in notations on the reverse of photographs that Donald MacLeod Munro sent to his widowed mother Annie, the photographs leaving absolutely no doubt as to the harshness of the Battlefields environment:
























Baillie made his home about 43 miles north east of Battlefields,
at Hartley, Rhodesia, now known as Chegutu, Zimbabwe. By 4 August 1914, when the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, Baillie had spent eight years in Rhodesia, and was now a Rhodesian national.

From Wikipedia:


"Starting immediately after the outbreak of war, parties of white Southern Rhodesians paid their own way to England to join the British Army. Most Southern Rhodesians who served in the war enlisted in this way and fought on the Western Front, taking part in many of the major battles with an assortment of British, South African and other colonial units, most commonly the King's Royal Rifle Corps, which recruited hundreds of men from the colony, and created homogenous Rhodesian platoons. Troopers from Southern Rhodesia became renowned on the Western Front for their marksmanship, a result of their frontier lifestyle."

The 2nd Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps war diaries for the western front regularly mention "the Rhodesians", as if they were a splinter group within the unit.

Baillie packed his bags and boarded the 'Norman" from Durban to London, arriving on 4 November 1914, three months after Britain had declared war on Germany. He travelled as 30 year old engineer Baillie C. Munro, his country of last permanent residence being Rhodesia, and country of intended future residence, Scotland.







The Rhodesian civilians were escorted on the 'Norman' to London by an army officer who found sport in asserting his authority at the expense of a hapless young Rhodesian. Baillie, who had done some boxing and was handy with his fists, intervened, and knocked the offending officer into the harbour water. Recruitments completed, Baillie waited in turn to be interviewed by the Commanding Officer, and must have had mixed feelings to discover he was standing in front of not only his recent opponent, but also his future Colonel. The Colonel was friendly, shook his hand and said "Munro is your name I understand".

He enlisted with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps at London on 18th November 1914 with the rank of Private, and after just one month of training, boarded a troopship to France on 21 December 1914.


He was reported to have been injured in March 1915, and if that is correct, the injuries may have been incurred at either Aubers, or Loos on the western front where the Kings Royal Rifle Corps were in action at the time.

I don't know when Baillie had been promoted from Private to Lance-Corporal, but he received his commission from Lance-Corporal to Temporary 2nd Lieutenant on 28 November 1915 according to his campaign card:










The Supplement to the London Gazette reported his promotion to Temporary 2nd Lieutenant on 22 December 1915, quoting information from the War Office:









The 2nd Kings Royal Rifles were in the North Maroc sector, about three quarter of a mile west, south west of Loos, on 30 June 1916, and had enjoyed four relatively quiet days while preparations were under way for an attack scheduled against German fortifications at a location known as the Triangle. Parties selected for the attack moved into B Company's billets at 7.30 p.m., and by 8.30 p.m. all were ready, with zero time having been fixed at 9.10 p.m. At 9 p.m. the bridges were put up. The enemy either saw these, or saw the troops assembling in the trenches, as at 9.03 p.m. they opened fire with trench mortars and artillery, causing heavy casualties, the trenches being then overcrowded. The 2nd Kings Royal Rifles opened their artillery attack as arranged at 9.10 p.m. At 9.15 p.m. three mines were sprung, and at 9.16 p.m. the storming column went over the parapet. The two parties on the right failed to penetrate the heavy wire in front of the hostile trenches, and consequently what remained of them turned south, to the northern end of the Double Crassier, a land formation half a mile south west of Loos, in an attempt to help the Royal Sussex Regiment who had a company engaged, but once again were unsuccessful as a consequence of wire and machine gun fire.





North Maroc, Double Crassier, and Loos can be seen in the lower section of this map.



The outer column reached, and entered the enemy's trench but found it much exposed to hostile bombing attacks, and was unable to join up with the left column. Under the circumstances the Major in command ordered a withdrawal of the outer column, carried out in "poor orders" according to the war diaries, as it left the left column, who had reached their appointed trench, isolated. The left column, under the command of Lieutenant Munro, remained in action until 3 a.m. on 1 July, when they also were forced to retreat. Losses were heavy, with 3 officers killed, another 2 later dying of wounds, 6 wounded, 28 ordinary ranks killed, another 8 later dying of wounds, 24 missing, and 167 wounded. The Battalion, having accounted for an estimated 100 of the enemy during the action, was then relieved, returning to billets in North Maroc, en route to rest billets at Petits Sains that same evening, before relocating to the Somme, where a major offensive had commenced that same day.



The catalogue reference number for the following two pages covering the attack on the Triangle, is WO 95/1272/6.
Permission must be obtained from The National Archives Image Library for the reproduction of copies of any of their records, whether they are protected by Crown copyright, are non-Crown copyright, or are out of copyright, for publication, on the internet, for broadcasting, for exhibition or for any commercial purpose.



















Author Arthur Conan Doyle, whose son Kingsley Doyle fought, and was wounded at the Somme in 1916, saw this attack as a means of distracting the Germans from the main offensive at the Somme, having this to say:

"There can be no greater trial for troops, and no greater sacrifice can be demanded of a soldier, than to risk and probably lose his life in an attempt which can obviously have no permanent result, and is merely intended to ease pressure elsewhere. The gallant stormers reached and in several places carried the enemy's line, but no lasting occupation could be effected, and they had eventually to return to their own fine. The Riflemen, who were the chief sufferers, lost 11 officers and 200 men."



This was published in the Dundee Courier on 8 July 1916:









The publication followed up with this article on 2 August 1916:









The Supplement to the London Gazette on 19 August 1916 has his citation for the Military Cross, and leaves no doubt that Baillie would indeed have been the talk of the regiment:

















The Military Cross inscription reads "Baillie Chisholm Munro June 30 1916".







2nd Lieut. Baillie Chisholm Munro


Two months after incurring injuries at the Triangle, Baillie was not only back in action, but earned a mention in depatches at the Somme, for his heroics at Wood Lane:


"9th September 1916 - Orders arrived that the attack would take place at 4.45 p.m. During the morning 'A' Coy. was relieved by 'D' Coy. and 'B' Coy. moved up into close support in SEAFORTH TRENCH some 50 yards away from out front line. 'A' Coy. went into RIFLES TRENCH in the 3rd line, while 'C' Coy. remained in its original position. Lt. [temp. Capt.] L. A. BLACKETT was unfortunately hit by fragments from a bomb, which had been exploded by a shell, while waiting in the front line to lead his company in the attack. The command of 'C' Coy was taken over by 2nd Lt. LEE. At 4.45 p.m. the guns opened with an intense barrage and at the same moment our men went over the parapet. The assault delivered with much dash, was entirely successful on the left. Here 'C' Coy. carried their objective without any great effort or much loss. On the right 'D' Coy was held up by MG fire and the two platoons of 'B' Coy. who were to support them on the right were also stopped - Lt. MUNRO, commanding 'B' Coy. organized a fresh attack by orders of the Commanding Officer - Stokes Mortars and Lewis gun fire subdued the enemy's resistance and on the threat of assault he surrendered. The remains of 'D' Coy. and half 'B' Coy. then carried their objective and joined touch with the 5th Kings Liverpool Regiment on their right, and with 'C' Coy. on their left. 'C' Company, at the same time was in touch with the 2nd Royal Sussex so that the whole line then stood firmly in WOOD LANE."

A slightly different account from "The Annals of The King's Royal Rifle Corps, Vol. V, The Great War", where Major General Sir Steuart Hare describes the 9 September 1916 attack on Wood Lane at the Somme:

"At 4:45 p.m. our artillery opened an intense barrage on Wood Lane, and at the same time our men went over the parapet. The assault, which was delivered with much dash, was quite successful on the left. Here C Company carried their objective without any great effort or much loss. On the right D Company was held up by machine-gun fire, and the two platoons of B Company who were to support the attack on this flank were also stopped. Sergeant-Major Hyde was killed while endeavoring to lead forward the men of B Company. A fresh attack was organized on this flank. Stokes mortars and Lewis-gun fire subdued the enemy's resistance, and on the threat of assault the remainder of the Germans surrendered. Their machine guns and the teams that had fought them had been put out of action by our Stokes mortars, and by 2nd Lieutenant Munro's fire from a Lewis gun."



The Battalion lost two 2nd Lieutenants in that action, with six officers including Baillie being wounded, and from the other ranks there were 24 killed, 82 wounded, and 36 missing.






Baillie Chisholm Munro is an officer here, and at Inverness, so the photograph would have been taken during the closing months of 1916, when he was recovering from injuries received at the battle of Wood Lane.


Baillie, preferring to be called Ben, sent a telegram to his bride-to-be, Isabella Mary Fraser, in autumn 1916 saying "Coming home Ben", and so he did.
Baillie proposed to Isabella in a Hansom cab in London, the couple spending a necessarily brief "honeymoon" at the Russell Hotel there. On 26 December 1916, he married Isabella at her residence "Moorlands", 11 Drummond Road, Inverness. Baillie's brother John, a Lieutenant with the 44th Battalion Canadian Infantry, New Brunswick Regiment, was a witness, and like Baillie was recouperating, having received injuries to both legs and a finger at Courcelette, France on 5 November, 1916. Their mother, Annie Gordon Munro nee MacLeod, lived at "Naverton", 5 Drummond Road, so was a neighbour to Baillie's  wife.







Within seven months of the wedding both John and Baillie were killed at different conflicts along the Hindenberg Line, so were never to see each other again. Nor was Baillie to again see his bride Isabella, or their daughter, Minna Baillie Chisholm Munro, who was born at Inverness on 22 September 1917. 

I haven't sighted this particular record, but on 4 January 1917, just nine days after marrying, Baillie had the distinction of being again mentioned in despatches, so had not wasted any time in returning to battle. His record card has "Operations LGS 4.1.17, Vol 29890, Page 236, MID", and may refer to fighting that took place during the German retreat from the Somme to the Hindenberg Line.








Lieutenant Baillie Chisholm Munro's good fortune on the battlefields finally deserted him at Nieuport Bains in the Flanders region of Belgium on 10 July, 1917. By October 1914 the Belgian Army, no longer able to defend Flanders from the Germans, had retreated to the Yser River, and with the fortified town of Nieuport in imminent danger of falling, made the decision to halt the German advances by opening the sluices and locks to flood the Polder Plain; hence the French addition of "Bains", or baths, to the Nieuport name.

The Yser River flows in a south easterly direction from the North Sea to Nieuport, with the Germans having retained the area on the north eastern bank since 1914, and by July 1917 had further strengthened an already heavily fortified position with troops retreating from the Somme. The Germans referred to the Battle of Nieuport Bains as Operation Strandfest, which translates to "beach party", but it was anything but a party for the 2nd Kings Royal Rifle Corps, or for the 1st Northamptonshire Regiments.

The following article from The Long, Long Trail web site gives an excellent account of the battle, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of it's author, Robert Dunlop:


"On the 20 June, the British XV Corps took over the French sector on the Belgian coast. The Marines Korps Flandern patrols detected the changeover on the 21st. Korps commander von Schroeder correctly interpreted this report as the prelude to a British attack along the coast. He began planning Operation Strandfest, a pre-emptive strike to eliminate the Yser bridgehead. Meanwhile, the British set about improving the defences in the bridgehead. Tunnellers were used, including the 257th and the 2nd Australian Tunnelling Companies, but their work was not complete when Operation Strandfest began. Nor was all the British artillery in place; only 176 of the planned 583 guns and howitzers were available to defend the bridgehead.
On the 6 July 1917, the MarinesKorps Flandern began a desultory artillery bombardment, which continued for the next three days. Fog and low cloud prevented detection of the German build-up. Then, at 5.30am on the the 10 July the massed German artillery, including three 24cm naval guns in shore batteries and 58 artillery batteries (planned naval gunfire support from destroyers and torpedo-boats was cancelled), opened up on the British positions in the bridgehead. Mustard gas (Yellow Cross) was used for the first time in the barrage. All but one of the bridges over the Yser River were demolished, isolating the 1/Northamptonshire and 2/KRRC of 2nd Brigade, 1st Division on the extreme left flank. Telephone communication was also cut. The German bombardment continued throughout the day. The British artillery attempted a counter-barrage but several guns were knocked out and the German infantry were well protected. At 8pm, the MarinesKorps launched the infantry assault, by which time the two British battalions had suffered 70-80% casualties. The German stormtroopers attacked down the coast, outflanking the British. Their attack was then followed by waves of German Marines, supported by flamethrower teams to mop up dugouts. After a gallant defence, the British battalions were overwhelmed. Only 4 officers and 64 other ranks managed to reach the west bank of the Yser.
The German attack on the 32nd Division, further to the east, was less successful. Only the 97th Brigade was attacked and although there was some penetration into the line, a counterattack that night by the 11/Border Regiment, supported by two companies of the 17/Highland Light Infantry, restored all but 500 yards of the front line. A general counterattack was ordered for the 11 July by General RAWLINSON. Wisely, he later rescinded his decision at the request of XV Corps Commander, Lt. General John Du CANE.
The total British casualties amounted to approximately 3,126 of all ranks, killed, wounded and missing. Of these, fifty officers and 1,253 other ranks belonged to the two battalions of 1st Division. Lieutenant Colonel Richard ABADIE DSO, Officer Commanding 2/KRRC, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Nieuport Memorial to the Missing."



Lt. General du Cane's request that no counter attack be undertaken, was heavily influenced by disastrous earlier decisions on his part that had seen the almost complete annihilation of his 2nd Kings Royal Rifle Corps. As a consequence, the 1st Northamptonshire Regiment on their right flank was left further exposed, and suffered equally.

Captain Humphrey Butler, dictated a brief matter-of-fact report on the battle to his father, Lt. Col. Lewis Butler, probably on the 11th July, prior to setting out on a patrol in search of Lt. Col. Abadie. Lt. Munro is mentioned on the second page:



Captain Humphrey Butler's private report.

Again, permission must be obtained from The National Archives Image Library for the reproduction of copies of any of their records, whether they are protected by Crown copyright, are non-Crown copyright, or are out of copyright, for publication, on the internet, for broadcasting, for exhibition or for any commercial purpose. The catalogue reference number for the following six pages is WO 95/3898.









Captain Butler, being for the first time under attack by flamethrowers, described them as "a kind of liquid fire".



Nieuport Bains 1917





The sand dunes can be seen clearly here on the far bank of the Yser. I would estimate that the 1st Northamptonshire Regiment was positioned about where the dunes taper off to the right of photo, with B. Company of the King's Royal Rifles being to their immediate left, D. Company being somewhere near the dark area in the middle of the dunes, and A. Company where the sands meet the beach. That would place C. Company, which was in was in support behind D and B Companies, somewhere near where an object or barge can be seen against the river bank.


Captain Humphrey Butler waited two months until 10 September 1917 to present a more detailed report, and it could be that he disagreed with Corps Commander du Cane's version of events and felt the need to right a wrong. The report would have been seen by du Cane before it reached the desk of  General Officer Commanding of IV Army, Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Rawlinson, and it was of du Cane that Butler was most critical.





Allied and German positions at Nieuport on the 10th and 11th July 1917.

For visual representation of the description given below, I have marked the positions of the 2nd King's Royal Rifle Corps and the 1st Northamptonshire regiments on the map to the north and east of the Yser, with B Company being between the 1st Northamptonshire and D Company, A Company on the coastline, and C Company in support closer to the river. The Loyal North Lancashire and Royal Sussex Battalions are to south and west of the Yser. The original image is from "The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front" by Peter Barton.


While many of Captain Humphrey Butler's criticisms remain in the report, his observations have been expanded upon or heavily censored in many instances. Anecdotal comments appear under ruled-off sections on the pages, some typed, and some in Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Rawlinson's handwriting, with Rawlinson adding comments throughout the report. When reviewing the document, Lieutenant-General Rawlinson has cross-referenced to the report with pencilled “x” marks. I've highlighted the typed comments in red, and Lieutenant-General Rawlinson's pencilled comments in blue. Words underlined are as per the report. Sections of the report relating to Lieut. Baillie Chisholm Munro and B Company are in bold.







ACTION AT NIEUPORT BAINS - July 10th 1917.

The Sector bordering on the sea was taken over by the British Army from the French in the month of June. On the 4th July the northern portion of that Sector, from Nieuport to the sea, was occupied by the 1st Division on a front of about 1400 yds. The 2nd Brigade being in advance, this space was divided in about equal proportions by the 2nd Battalion of The King's Royal Rifle Corps on the left, and the 1st Battalion the Northamptonshire Regiment on the right. These Battalions forming the first line were thrown out beyond the Yser and posted on a line of sandhills running north and south about 600 yds. east of the river. The terrain consisted of sand dunes, in places soft underfoot, in others hard.

The two remaining Battalions of the 2nd Brigade, viz., the Loyal North Lancashire on the left, the Royal Sussex on the right, were posted in support about Nieuport Bains, west of the Yser. It so happened that Brigadier-General Hubback had been wounded a few days previously and his place had just been taken by Br.-Genl. Kemp. In rear of the 2nd Brigade was the remainder of the 1st Division.

The line on the immediate right and south of the 1st Division was occupied by the 32nd about Lombardzyde; the Geleide bank is a tributary of the Yser, running from east to west, and dividing the two Divisions which were connected only by a single bridge. causeway.

At a distance of 600 yds. behind the front line as occupied the river turns northward through a canalised channel to the sea. During this latter part of its coarse it was spanned by three floating bridges, all close to the mouth, and a fourth near the bend. The banks had stone revetments; the breadth of the river varied according to the tide from about 60 to 100 yds. 100 to 200 yards.

The trenches taken over from the French were of a somewhat sketchy nature, and indeed in the absence of concrete it was difficult for them to be anything else. As a protection they were most imperfect.

It was obvious to the veriest tyro that the most unremitting vigilance, the support of the most powerful artillery fire, the closest co-operation between the naval and military forces were essential if the position were to be tenable even for only a few hours.

The orders, given to the Battalion Commanders were to hold on to the last; a strong support being thus virtually promised.

The French, and before them the Belgians, aware of the weakness of the post, had been most careful to do nothing that could attract attention or raise an alarm on the part of the enemy. Our Battalion Commanders were given to understand that for similar reasons and in view of impending operations they were to keep equally quiet. But in direct contradiction of these general instructions, they were ordered to make raids upon the enemy's entrenchments, and to these contradictory orders the subsequent tragedy may probably be traced.

Equally astonishing is the fact that no additional preparations were made for communication between the troops on either side of the river. It was obvious that the bridges would be broken down if the enemy made any determined bombardment. Yet no rafts nor boats, which might easily escape the enemy's shell fire, were moored under the banks. (x) I doubt if this would have been much use -

The Divisional Artillery was in position west of the river and a large proportion at all events of the heavy artillery was also in position and ready for action. All the guns which the French had in position were relieved by batteries of our own

The 2nd Battalion of The King's Royal Rifle Corps, commanded by Lieut.-Col. Richard Abadie, which had already been four times decimated since the beginning of the war had taken up its position as follows:-

On the left of the line, overlooking the North Sea, "A" Company was posted, near a projection known as Pimple Point. This Company was commanded by Captain H. F. E. Smith, whose subalterns present were 2nd Lieuts. E. W. Barnes, A. G. Boucher and N. F. E. Anson. "D" Company (Capt. W. L. Clinton, Lieut. H. A. Pinnock, 2nd Lieuts. H. Chevis, W. Sheepshanks and A. Simpson) took the centre, and "B" Company (Lieut. Munro, 2nd Lieuts. A. C. Heberden and D. H. Taylor) was on the right. "C" Company (Lieut. H. J. F. Mills, 2nd Lieuts. H. G. Lindsay and R. Madeley) was in support, its Headquarters being in a central position forming the apex of a triangle of which D and B Companies were the base.
--------------------
(x) Some think there was one raft under the west bank, but are doubtful whether it was in effective condition. Anyhow, no attempt was made to utilise it.
--------------------
Bn. H. Q. as well as the Dressing Station were established in a central position some 350-yds in rear of the front line, in the trench running north and south known as the Back Walk.
About 80-yds to the north was an underground tunnel, running east and west, something over 100-yards in length, but unfinished; and it was decided in case of need to transfer the Bn. H. Q. thither.

The assistance of enfilade fire upon the enemy's guns and entrenchments was hoped for from the gun boats and monitors off the coast. This was not a feasable proposition & no order had been issued to lead to this supposition here indicated.

Hardly had the Riflemen taken up their position when the German artillery began to show considerable activity. The fire was distributed along our whole line up to the night of the 9th-10th. No less than 70 casualties were sustained, a fact which in itself should have warned the higher authorities in rear of the impending peril.(x) Of these casualties 25 were inflicted upon "A" Company in one day, which was thereupon relieved by "C" Company and took the place of the latter. In support in accordance with the orders received a raid was made on the enemy's entrenchments during the night of the 9th-10th.
--------------------
(x) The Northamptonshire Regiment was no doubt exposed to equal shell fire, and probably sustained as many casualties.
--------------------
The party employed consisted of an officer and 20 men, all Rhodesians, from "B" Company. The trenches raided seemed to have been constructed on a spur of the sandhill known a La Grande Dune. The operation in itself was successful; but while returning a shell burst in their midst and wounded nine men; and as the only prisoner captured died, the result cannot be considered satisfactory.

The two Battalions were to have been relieved after dark on the 10th; but at 6 a.m. the enemy's artillery became lively along the whole sector, and by 8.50 a.m. the fire had increased to an intense bombardment, which continued till 1 p.m. The metal employed by the enemy was very heavy, comprising 5.9, 8-in. and even a few 11-in. shells. It was not confined to our front line but searched out the supporting Battalions and the Bde. H. Q. beyond the canal.(x)

The Headquarter dug-out contained the Colonel; the officer acting as 2nd in Command;(x2) Capt. Humphrey Butler, the Adjutant; the Battalion Intelligence Officer, Lieut. W. H. Gott; the Signalling Officer, 2nd Lieut. A. L. Gracie; 2nd Lieut. Henry R. A., Liaison Officer; Capt. Ward, R. A. M. C., and the Battalion Signallers and Orderlies.
--------------------
(x) It is said that the base of some 11-in. shells which exploded beyond the river were hurled back into the enemy's own lines, a distance of 800-yds.
(x2) This was Capt. H. F. E. Smith, whose Company, as already stated, was in support close at hand. Capt. Clinton, his senior, having only recently joined the battalion, commanded a company by his own request.
--------------------
Although it appeared certain death, Lieut. Gott volunteered about noon to visit "D" Company, and returned with a cheery message from Capt. Clinton, and a report that up to the present all the Officers were unhurt. Colonel Abadie considered Gott's act to be so gallant that he expressed his intention of recommending him for the V.C.(x)

Shortly afterwards, 2nd Lieut. Taylor reached Bn. H. Q. from "B" Company. He had been struck in the head by the splinter of a shell. The wound was pronounced "not dangerous"; but Taylor, naturally enough, was dazed, and only after an interval was able to mutter that his Company H. Q. had been blown in and that Lieut. Munro had, presumably, been buried. The 3rd Officer - 2nd Lieut. Heberden - had been killed earlier in the day.

About 2 p.m. Lieut. Gott gallantly started out again to get further news of "B" Company; but, having been hit in the left arm and leg, was brought back to the Dressing Station, which had been established close to Bn. H. Q.

Between 2.30 and 3 p.m. a message was received from Lieut. Mills, in command of "C" Company, to the effect that the Officers were all right and their dug-out was still standing. This was the last message received from "C" Company, and it is known that its H. Q. dug-out was shortly afterwards blown in.
--------------------
(x) He also intended to recommend Lt. McDowell for the D. S. O. on account of repeated acts of gallantry performed during the raid of  the 9/10th
--------------------
Then an Orderly, who had been despatched to "D" Company, returned with the startling news that he had reached its H. Q. dugout and found all the Officers sitting therein, but dead. He knew Lieut. Chevis, at all events, by sight; and he also said that a Rifleman was standing outside the dug-out, dead. Although it is possible that the party had been gassed, full credit was not given to the story, for the Orderly was evidently suffering from shell-shock, and it was - rightly as it turned out - and thought possible that the Officers whom he believed to be dead were in reality merely overcome by the sleep of exhaustion.

From 9.50 a.m. the Battalion Fuller 'phone wires had been cut, with the consequence that no direct communication existed either with the Companies in the front line or with the guns beyond the Yser. A buried telephone wire from the Corps Commander (x) extended, at all events, to the west bank of the Yser. Of this no practical use was made, (x) nor did any message come from the rear during the whole day. All attempts by our Signallers to call up the Officer at the near end of it, proved futile. Colonel Abadie's sole means of sending one was by pigeons, of which there were eight. All seem to have reached their destination.

The ground was torn by the enemy's shells: the sand rose in clouds and not only prevented all view around, but rendered our rifles and machine guns useless. In rear our Divisional Artillery was hard at work, but it was evident that the heavy guns were making no successful effort to keep down the German fire.
--------------------
(x) The officer at the Yser end of the wire is said to have sent messages to the rear: but he did not succeed in the more important duty of getting in touch with the Battalion Signallers.
--------------------
During this time the German aeroplanes were swarming over our lines and from an altitude sometimes of only 60-ft. were pouring machine gun fire upon our trenches. The Colonel encouraged all about him by repeatedly saying that our own aeroplanes could not fail to appear within half-an-hour at the latest, but not a single one did so all day.

Nothing escaped Abadie's attention. Orders were sent from time to time to the Companies and he inspired all with the greatest confidence. "He did everything in his power", writes the Adjutant, "and was splendid the whole time". All felt sure that assistance must be close at hand. But hour after hour passed. No aid; no word even of encouragement arrived from the Division or Army Corps. Yet no suspicion arose that the two battalions had been abandoned to their fate. Such action would have seemed incredible.

At 3 p.m. it was found necessary to abandon the dug-out used as Battalion H. Q. Two direct hits had been made thereon and it was not likely to stand much more. With the Colonel and Adjutant went Capt. H. F. E. Smith, acting as 2nd in Command, 2nd Lieut. Gracie, and 2nd Lieut. Henry, R. A., accompanied by the battalion Signallers and Orderlies. It was unfortunately impossible to carry away the two wounded Officers, Gott and Taylor, who were perforce left in the Dressing Station under charge of Capt. H. K. Ward, R. A. M. C. who had also received a slight wound.

The H. Q. party betook itself to the underground tunnel, already mentioned. The tunnel was about 6-ft. high, but only 3-ft. wide. In length it was something over 100-yds. sinuous in form and running, generally, from west to east. It was found to be occupied by about 40 men of an Australian Tunnelling Company, others of whom were engaged in making rapid mining galleries in front, with the object of burrowing under the enemy's lines. At intervals of about 30-yds. air holes had been let in to the roof (which was covered with tin foil), affording a modicum of light and air at these spots; but otherwise the tunnel was quite dark.

The Australians had no Officer, and apparently not more than two N. C. O's. Colonel Abadie therefore divided them into four squads, each of ten men, and placed the whole under command of 2nd Lieut. Gracie. The Australians were for the most part armed with rifles, but had not more than 20 or 30 rounds of ammunition per man.
At 6 p.m. came another lull in the bombardment, and advantage was taken of it to bring up ammunition and rations from the old H. Q. dug-out, the entrenchments adjoining which had, in the meanwhile, been battered almost out of recognition. The Dressing Station was still standing, but Capt. Ward had been wounded. The H. Q. party returned to the tunnel, and ammunition and rations were distributed among the Australians.

The lull was of short duration. At 6.15 p.m. the bombardment became more intense than ever. At 7.15 the German Infantry - a picked Division of Marines - attacked. Under cover of his guns the enemy pushed forward a force along the seashore, the tide being exceptionally low. His curtain fire had made it impossible to I never heard this guard the shore, and the attack was made simultaneously on our front and rear. Indeed, the first news of it was brought by the appearance of the enemy in our communication trench running parallel to the tunnel, whence he threw bombs down the air-shafts and also appeared at the western entrance just at the moment when the Colonel was doing his utmost to get the Australians out of it. They were met by the Germans with bombs. Some panic ensued and about half the Australians surrendered. When the surrenders ceased the Germans threw in a species of liquid fire. The Colonel called to the Riflemen to sit down and they did so with perfect discipline. The heat was intense, but the liquid fire did no positive harm. The Colonel then made for the eastern entrance and went out into the open air, calling upon the party to follow him, apparently with the intention of making a last charge. But within the narrow space of the tunnel, crowded with men and ammunition boxes, rapid movement was impossible; and even as it was, acute danger existed of men on the ground being trampled underfoot by the others. Before the Officers could join their C. O. - indeed, within a few seconds of his quitting the tunnel – the entrances were blown in and the last that was seen of (x) Colonel Abadie was outside the eastern entrance, revolver in hand. What happened subsequently to the Colonel is matter for conjecture. He may have run into the midst of the Germans. On the other haul, there is some idea that he climbed on to the roof of the tunnel and either attempted, or actually reached, two Platoons of "A" Company, which were in support near the dug-out which had been the original Bn. H. Q. These two Platoons unquestionably made a gallant resistance, as later on they were found lying dead, with a number of dead Germans around them. It is said however by an Artillery Officer on the further side of the canal that through his telescope he distinguished Abadie standing alone upon a sandhill. Then a shell burst close at hand and the Colonel was seen no more.

The four Officers remaining in the tunnel, viz., Smith, Butler, Gracie and Henry, set to work to clear the entrances, and decided to join the counter-attack which they still expected would shortly be made by the Battalions in support. But by the time that the entrances had been cleared it was nearly dark. Lieut. Henry, R. A., with great gallantry, went outside to reconnoitre, and reported on his return that the party in the tunnel was surrounded by the enemy. Capt. Butler's servant - who afterwards received the Military Medal for his conduct - went as far as the old H. Q. dug-out, and reported that no wounded men, either of our own or of the Germans, were to be seen. Capt. Smith and Butler, with an Australian Corporal, also went outside, and under cover of a shell hole within 10-yds of the German sentries, discussed the situation. They came to the conclusion that there was a bare chance of breaking through the Germans, who were for the most part busily engaged in digging themselves in, and of getting back to the Yser; and that their best chance means of doing so was to go in parties of about four at intervals of perhaps a minute.
--------------------
(x) In a letter to his father written from Karlsruhe, Capt. Clinton mentions viewing 'unreliable' reports by various Rilemen that one said he saw the Colonel "lying dead near the river." This  seems unlikely.
--------------------
It was now about 10 p.m. The survivors in the tunnel consisted of the four Officers, fifteen Riflemen and about twenty Australians. The conduct of one of the last, named (G) McGrady, is spoken of in the highest admiration; but he was, alas, killed during the course of the night. The necessary instructions were given to the men in whispers and preparations were made for the start. The code and secret documents in the Battalion despatch Case were destroyed by Capt. Smith and the Adjutant. At length everything was ready; but at the moment that the leading party - consisting of the four Officers, revolver in hand - were about to quit the western entrance, word was passed down from the other end that an Officer was required at once; and Capt. Smith, answering the call, was told that the Germans were close at hand and about to enter from that side. Smart, the Adjutant's Orderly, and another Rifleman were consequently detailed to act as rear guard, with orders to delay the enemy and gain time for the retirement of the remainder of our party.
This they effected with great skill and coolness, placing ammunition and biscuit boxes on the ground at intervals of a few yards. The Germans, entering the tunnel, tripped up over the boxes and halted to strike a light. A minute was thus gained, and the procedure was repeated until the whole of our party had evacuated the tunnel.

German sentries had been posted within a few yards of the western entrance, and the men had been warned to come out as quietly as possible. Nevertheless, partly on account of their steel hats, their rifles and the intense joy relief at the prospect of quitting the death-trap, a certain amount of clatter was made, in spite of which, the German sentries were eluded; and the party, marching at the prescribed arranged intervals,? was successfully launched on the hazardous attempt.

The enemy, only 20-yds away, was observed to be digging himself in, but was safely passed; and despite continuous shell fire, the Officers had nearly reached the bank of the river when a new difficulty presented itself. A wooden barricade, some 12 or 14-ft. high, forming a camouflage or screen, had been set on fire by the shells, and barred the way to the bank of the Yser, parallel to which it ran for a considerable distance. The Officers halted. The moment was critical, for by means of Very lights the enemy was searching the entire ground. Smith and his companions lay down flat and, though one such light dropped close by them, escaped notice.
The question was not only how to climb the camouflage, but to choose the least unfavourable spot for approaching and crossing the canalised river. To the south the shells of our own Divisional Artillery were raking the ground. A communication trench to the northward leading to one of the broken bridges was tempting but its occupation by the Germans seemed a certainty. The best course, on the whole, seemed to be to move straight ahead; the rather that the camouflage was lower at this particular point, affording something of a gap. The moon now began to rise behind them.

The camouflage was safely crossed and the nearest section of their party in rear was seen following in extended order. Then the revetting wall of the river was reached. Smith and Henry were expert swimmers; the other two were less good. Gracie took off his boots and puttees and consequently cut his feet against the mussel shells embodied in the wall. Butler retained his boots, revolver and 50 rounds of ammunition. All kept on their steel hats.

Dropping into the water with as little noise as possible, the four struck out and safely reached a small remaining portion of the floating bridge in mid stream. Here they stayed for a few minutes, for none of their men seemed to be following them, and a party was observed to the northward crossing a bridge which appeared to be intact. Whether the party was German or British was for the moment uncertain;, but Butler, observing that all were going westward and none returning, decided that they must be our own men; and this indeed proved to be the case. The men had lost sight of their Officers and diverged to the right into the communication trench mentioned above, which, after all, was unoccupied by the enemy. The bridge on which they were crossing in reality extended over only about two-thirds of the river. They swam the remaining part and although some were shot or drowned, the greater number reached the further shore of the river in safety.

The Officers reached the further shore without hurt, but their difficulties were even now not quite at an end. They found themselves without gas helmets under the fire of gas shells; but the pressure was happily not very great, and in due course they entered a communication trench which brought them to the Head-quarters of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, in support.

Previous to leaving the tunnel, the Adjutant, as mentioned above, had destroyed the confidential documents belonging to the Battalion. The Despatch Case containing them was judged to be too great an encumbrance and was left behind. But the Adjutant's Orderly, unaware of the decision and seeing the Despatch Box on the ground, carried it with him. When the end of the broken bridge over the Yser was reached he attempted to throw the case to the western bank. It fell into the river; but the tide washed it up, and the case was consequently recovered, still containing a copy, beautifully clear, beautifully written, of the last order given by Colonel Abadie to the Companies of the front line.

On the following day at 6 p.m. a Sergeant and fourteen Riflemen of "B" Company, having got clear of the dug-out in which they had been buried, walked back in broad daylight and safely crossed the Yser without seeing a German!

A few men, wounded early on the 10th but able to walk, had been ordered to return to their lines, and in all, three Officers and about fifty-two N. C. O's and Riflemen got back over the river.

So ends the story of Nieuport Bains, so far as is at present known. Out of 20 officers either belonging to or attached to the battalion, two were killed and fifteen missing.(x) Of the latter, news - at the date of writing, Sept. 10th 1917 - has been received from the following:-
Captains Clinton and Ward; Lieutenants Pinnock and Mills; 2nd Lieutenants Lindsay, Madeley, Taylor, Simpson, Gott and Chevis.

Much remains to be explained. The following notes may be made:-

1. The orders given by the higher Command were contradictory. Commanding Officers were ordered to remain quiet in their trenches and to attract no attention, as had been done successfully by the Belgians and the French. Notwithstanding this, orders were given for raids, which of course stirred up the hornets' nest.
1. The position was taken up at a time when the Corps Artillery most wanted direction, could not be used in support.
--------------------
(x) Later information makes the number 7 killed, 10 prisoners of whom 5 were wounded.
--------------------
2. A buried telephone wire from the Corps Commander extended, at all events, down to the west bank of the Yser. Of this no use was made during the whole day.
It was constantly used as far as the left bank -

3. (Blank paragraph; Butler's note having been excluded) 
Better not refer to the Australian tunnellers

4. Why was no serious attempt made by our heavy guns to keep down the enemy's bombardment? Even allowing that all were not as yet in position and that observations were not complete, was it impossible for them to fire from the spot where they were temporarily parked;  and did the lack of precise observation prevent them firing on any portion of  No Man's Land or the enemy's trenches?
The hostile guns were too numerous and too well protected by concrete for the heavies to do much

5. The serious nature of the situation does not appear to have been appreciated by the Corps Staff. The Commander himself may have been absent on duty; but anyhow the paramount importance of support and communication were ignored.
both were impossible once the bridges were gone

6. Why did the Naval Squadron off the coast not co-operate?
because it was not either feasable or desirable

It is too early at the present time to attempt to attribute blame to any individuals. After the action the Divisional Commander addressed the remnant of the two Battalions in terms of the highest praise. The Corps Commander, on the other hand, had no word of recognition for the magnificent gallantry of the two battalions, but was good enough to inform the Rifle Officers that he attributed no blame to them on account of the ground lost! This ungracious, and indeed insulting, speech, addressed to Officers whose nerves were still overwrought by what they had gone through, and smarting at the idea of the loss of their comrades who had been abandoned to their fate, as would seem by the culpable neglect of the speaker, stung them as if it had been the lash of a whip. It needed all their sense of discipline and self restraint to prevent giving burning expression to their feelings. The men of Northampton and the Riflemen had died where they had been posted, like the Spartans at Thermopylae. Heroism could do no more. And their reward was insult. !! is this quite correct?

In giving vent to the tone of the Corps Commander, we venture to speak not only on behalf of our own Battalion, but also for the Northamptonshire Regiment, which had sacrificed itself with equal gallantry and which has no Officer left to take its part; for one Sergeant and eight men only returned from the action.

As to the cause of the failure of the Naval Squadron to co-operate, we cannot at present speak with certainty, but it is rumoured that the Admiral responsible was "surprised at not getting a request for assistance"! It may be wondered whether the naval heroes of a century ago would have been so subservient to etiquette as to wait to be asked before taking part in so desperate a fight, when a gallant body of men was upholding the honour of its country against overwhelming odds. Such insistence on the formalities of etiquette would seem more appropriate to a dancing master than to a Naval Officer. The weather was no bar to interference. An eye-witness states that there was a slight breeze off the shore and that the sea was calm enough to sail a fourteen foot boat.

The whole episode demands a most searching enquiry.

It is difficult to avoid the inference that the Corps Commander, failing to appreciate the importance of the position and its imminent peril, neglected the measures essential for co-operation and support.

I think the tone of these latter paras is unnecessarily venomous.
The Naval problem which I have carefully examined from all points of view was not a feasable proposition - had the ships intervened we should have lost several ships and done no good for the wind was off the shore and no ------- possible in consequence - you forget that there are between 20 & 30 German quick firing coast defence guns that command any position from which the ships can fire -

Rawlinson's initials.





Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Rawlinson, who for the most part had made fair and considered comments on Captain Butler's report, took umbrage at his latter paragraphs, calling them "unnecessarily venomous". Corps Commander du Cane was later knighted, became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief for the British Army of the Rhine from 1924 until 1927, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Malta, and Aide-de-Camp General to King George V from 1926 to 1930. Captain Humphrey Butler who had spoken so strongly on behalf of his men, was awarded a bar for his Military Cross.

The original diary pages can be viewed here

The raiding party by 20 Rhodesians against enemy lines on the night of 9th-10th July was led by 2nd Lieut. McDowell, not 2nd. Lieut Munro.

As a point of interest, one of the German aeroplanes mentioned by Captain Butler as swarming over their lines, would almost certainly have been piloted by Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, had he not suffered a head wound at Wervicq, also at Flanders, just four days earlier.

These photographs, kindly provided by members of the Great War Forum web site show firstly British casualties, and secondly German casualties,
following the battle on 10 July 1917:








As Captain Butler stated, much remains to be explained. The Captain's report to his father commences with "From 8 a.m. to 8.15 a.m the Germans started an intense bombardment of the whole Battalion's sector", and follows up on the second page with "However, when the shelling continued for four hours without a lull, we suspected that it meant an attack. The first news that got down from the front lines was brought by 2nd. Lt. Taylor (B. Company, which was the right front Company,) and he told us that B. Company Headquarters had been blown in and, presumably the Officer Commanding B. Company, Lt. Munro had been buried." So, if Captain Butler was still only "suspecting" an attack at mid-day, four hours after 8 a.m., then the first news from 2nd. Lt. Taylor must not have been received at Headquarters until after mid-day. Captain Butler's second, and more detailed report has that Lieut. Gott volunteered about noon to visit D. Company, and shortly after returning to Headquarters with his report, 2nd. Lieut. Taylor arrived with news of B. Company, so allowing a conservative 15 minutes either way for Lieut. Gott to get to D. Company and back (return trip 600 yards) across sand dunes that were under bombardment, 2nd. Lieut. Taylor would not have reached Headquarters much before 12.30 p.m. This is at odds with the following 1st Northamptonshire version of events. Note the first message timed:









From the 1st Northamptonshire diaries. The full four page report can be viewed here




The Northamptons received a pigeon message from the O. C. of the  2nd King's Royal Rifle Corps at 11.07 a.m. reporting that B. Company; being Lieut. Munro's Company, had been blown in. The pigeon came from Colonel Abadie who, for most of the day until after 7.15 p.m. that evening, was with Captain Butler at one, or both of the H. Q.'s., and even had Colonel Abadie been away from Captain Butler at H. Q. when the pigeon message went to the Northamptons, Captain Butler still would have received news on B. Company earlier than 12.30 p.m., as all eight of Colonel Abadie's pigeons reached their destinations. If Captain Butler had prior knowledge on the fate of B. Company before 2nd Lieut. Taylor's arrival at 12.30 p.m., he hadn't mentioned that fact in his reports, and if he had no prior knowledge, when the Northamptons had been advised as early as 11.07 a.m., why had he not? Could it be that Colonel Abadie had informed his Corps Commander du Cane, as would have been expected of him, and du Cane had not informed Captain Butler, hence Butler's accusation that du Cane may have been absent on duty? 

I don't think that 2nd. Lieut. Taylor was in the bunker H.Q. with Lieut. Munro when it was blown in, else his injuries would have been far worse than "not dangerous", and he would not have used the words "presumably buried" when he arrived at H. Q. in a dazed condition. It may well be that the shrapnel injury he received to the head came from the very same shell that killed Lieut. Munro, explaining his rather vague descripion of the incident. Whatever the circumstances, 2nd. Lieut. Taylor had been injured, and was in no position to render assistance. He could not have been well, having taken one and a half hours to cover approximately 700 yards; much the same distance that a fit and healthy Lieut. Gott managed in less than 30 minutes. Taylor's injuries were such that he, Lieut. Gott, whom Abadie had intended recommending for a V.C., and Medical Officer, Captain Ward, were all "perforce left in the Dressing Station", and while they would have understood that stealth was necessay to evade the enemy, they must have been disappointed that Captain Butler made the decision to leave them behind. With Captain Butler, were Captain Smith, 2nd. Lieut. Gracie, 2nd. Lieut. Henry, Butler's servant Smart, 15 Riflemen, and 20 Australians, and I would have thought that a party of 40 men would have been more than capable of assisting three wounded men at least as far as the Yser. In defence of Captain Butler's decision, from a pure military point of view, the lives of forty men should not have been put at risk to save three. I also thought that the four officers who remained together, losing contact with the enlisted men, might have been better deployed with each officer commanding a party of ten. Captain Humphrey Butler's father, Lieut. Col. Lewis Butler, late the K. R. R. C., who covered the battle for The King's Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle, must have been concerned that others might query this point. Mostly his son's report was copied ad verbatim into the Chronicle, but where Captain Butler had written "At length everything was ready; but at the moment that the leading party - consisting of the four Officers, revolver in hand - were about to quit the western entrance", his father had added to the Chronicle version "(for the men insisted on the officers going first)". Lieut. Col. Lewis Butler's summation shows the military in the best possible light, with all hints of controversy and dissent having now been removed from the proud history of the King's Royal Rifle Corps.

Relevent pages from the 1917 King's Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle courtesy of The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum can be viewed at the link below, and include Lieut.-Col. Richard Abadie's last orders:

The 1917 King's Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle, Action at Nieuport Bains





The sand dunes at Nieuport Bains in 1917








From The Queenslander 21 July 1917:







Baillie's widow Isabella applied posthumously for his 1914-15 Star, and 1914 Star and Clasp:









The Nieuport memorial






















Back                              Home