THE 9th KING'S
And the part they played in the GREAT ADVANCE
The recent big advance on the Western Front had long been in the minds of those who were to take an active part in it and the chances of its immediate success and its effects on the War generally were the subjects of great deliberation. The 9th Battalion THE KING's (Liverpool Regiment) T.F. under the command of Lieut. Colonel F.W. RAMSAY, 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment had for three weeks immediately preceding the advance undergone a vigorous training some distance behind the line with a result that the Battalion was in a very fine condition to undertake the arduous task that would be given to them in the near future. That they would have an important part allotted to them was only to be expected, and at the same time hoped for as they had already established for themselves a very high name for general proficiency and good work in their Brigade. It is only two months ago that in competition with regular Battalions of the Brigade in a Horse Show they were able to take with credit a lion's share of the rewards, while at other sports they are always reckoned a tough proposition to their opponents.
On the night of 24th September, the Battalion left its reserve billets which it had occupied during the last stages of the preparations for the attack and took up it position in the trenches allotted to it. The weather conditions were extremely bad and a continual deluge of rain quickly churned the trtenches into a quagmire, but even this was not calculated to dampen the spirits of the men in the trenches who had braced themselves for a mighty effort and were only conscious of the work to be done and the fact that the Germans would be in retreat on the morrow.
It was known that the 9th King's were to advance in co-operation with the London Scottish, the two Battalions constituting a force known as "Green's Force". This fact alone was sufficient to brace the boys of the 9th for any eventualities in view of the fact that they were to work with a Territorial Battalion that had already created for itself a name. The time for the assault was not communicated to the Battalion until one hour before it was to take place. Our artillery had for the past three days bombarded the enemy's lines continuously and the bombardment was renewed on the morning of the 25th at daybreak becoming very intense. At 8-am the 9th King's moved forward towards the first line of British Trenches which had just been vacated by the remaining Battalions of their Brigade, who had now moved forward to the attack on the German Front Line. The enemy were keeping up a hot fire on our attacking force and at this stage in the advance we sustained our first casualties, Major J.W.B. HUNT, 2nd in Command being wounded about 8-30am. Our communication trenches and front line were during the whole of this time being heavily shelled and all movements were carried out over the open the ground being perfectly flat and affording no cover to the attacking force. At 9-am the Battalion after moving over the open occupied a position immediately behind the old firing line where they remained until 10-am. Several casualties had occurred in the Battalion and Companies were now reformed and the position taken up in the open, between the old firing line and the new support trench, ready for the attack. At 12-15pm, the Battalion received orders to advance and attack the German front line, a distance of 600 yards from the British front line. Led by Colonel RAMSAY, whose great fortitude and brilliant work had already inspired all of the Officers and men, the Battalion pushed on eagerly and at 12-30pm, the two leading Companies had jumped the front British line and were moving in splendid order towards the German lines. During the whole time that the Battalion were advancing, the enemy maintained a heavy Machine Gun fire on our lines, inflicting many losses in both officers and men, amongst the number being Major F.S. EVANS and Capt. H.W. HOLROYD, commanding 'C' and 'A' Companies, respectively, and Capt. And Adjutant P.G.A. LEDERER, all of whom received leg wounds. The latter officer is very well known in Liverpool Banking circles as the Assistant Manager of the London, City and Midland Bank Ltd., 4&6 Dale Street, Liverpool, and has done very fine work since his appointment as Adjutant of the 9th King's on 10th May last. In the face of a very hot fire from the enemy the progress at this stage of the advance was not so pronounced, but at 2-0pm our Machine Guns were brought to play on the enemy's front and this had the effect of reducing considerably the German fire. Our losses had now become very severe but in spite of this the Battalion continued its advance in short rushes and by crawling through the grass and at 3-30pm they had succeeded in establishing themselves in one line within one hundred yards of the German trenches. The London Scottish now came up to their support on the left rear. At 3-55pm the German's surrendered to the King's who had stuck to their work with great tenacity and were rewarded with the capture of some 300 to 400 prisoners, Colonel RAMSAY who had led his men with great dash and spirit, receiving the token of submission from the now shrinking Huns who had once more shown their fear and dread of the British bayonet. The prisoners were quickly sent to the rear and the Battalion again reformed with orders to advance on the remaining lines of German trenches and at 4-30pm, the Battalion, its strength then being 5 officers and 120 men took up a position on the …….. Road. This position was maintained until 4am on the morning of the 26th when orders were received to retire on the first line of German trenches, the Brigade having been relieved and here the battalion remained during the whole of the day and the following night. On the morning of the 27th we were again withdrawn to the original British line where we remained until the early morning of the 29th. The 25th September will ever be remembered in the 9th Battalion "THE KING'S" as a day of achievements. On this day another testimony was given to justify the good name that the Battalion has always enjoyed under the Command of Colonel RAMSAY.
On the 29th September the Battalion left the trenches and moved into billets some three miles behind the line, the general opinion among the men being that they were now to receive a well earned rest. Accordingly they settled down to take things easy for a little while, but at 7pm the same night orders were received to proceed to hold a section of the trenches recently captured from the enemy in the South East of the village of L…(ens)… At 9pm the Battalion left their billets and in a deluge of rain marched back to the line in splendid spirits in spite of the fatigue resulting from the recent heavy fighting. This line was held until the night of the 1st October and during the whole of the time the enemy's artillery was very active and our line was shelled incessantly. We were relieved late on the night of 1st and marched to billets at …. After a week's hard fighting the Battalion were now able to obtain a few days at their disposal to re-organise and re-fit in readiness for the next engagement. On 4th October moving orders were again received and the same evening our former billets some three miles behind the line were occupied by the Battalion until the evening of the 6th. On the 6th the Battalion was temporarily attached to the …… Brigade and orders were received to take over a portion of the their line north of the village of L…… It was found necessary at once to carry out extensive digging operations, the trenches being extremely shallow and offering no cover to the fire of the enemy's artillery which was very active. At about 10-30am on the morning of the 8th the enemy's artillery opened fire on our front line and support trenches and maintained a steady fire throughout the day with great accuracy, the fire evidently being directed by a hostile aeroplane which remained over us for some time. Considerable damage was done to our line during the bombardment but at 2-30pm it became terrific, the enemy guns enfilading our trenches from the North and South East. At 3-30pm the enemy concentrated Machine Gun and rifle fire on our front and the Battalion sustained very heavy casualties. At 3-50pm the Germans advanced to the attack in mass, marching in four ranks shoulder to shoulder. In spite of the severe losses already suffered, the remaining men in the front line trenches stuck to their posts with great tenacity, but it was found necessary to reinforce the front line from the Supports. The enemy advance, which was strongly supported, having reached mid-way between the lines, was now met with a rapid rifle and cross Machine Gun fire, the Germans falling in great numbers. The enemy had been severely checked and small groups could now be seen endeavouring to regain their own line in great disorder under a hot fire from our Machine guns and rifles. During the attack the enemy succeeded in establishing a very intense "tir de barrage" of shrapnel, H.E. and Machine Guns, and the casualties in our front line were by this time very heavy further reinforcements being brought up on the flanks. At about 5pm our artillery obtained superiority of fire and this had the effect of reducing the enemy fire considerably. At this period of the fight, the Battalion had not more than 300 rifles holding the line but the spirit of the men was magnificent, even the wounded who were unable to leave the trench cheering their comrades with shouts of "Go it, the King's", "Stick it, King's, give it them hot". Worn out but not dismayed the Battalion or what remained, still held on and bravely carried out Colonel RAMSAY's command to "keep cheerful". At 8.15pm a company of the London Scottish came up as reinforcements and the situation became slightly easier, the enemy making no further attempt to attack the position again that night. At 5am the following morning the Battalion was withdrawn into the old British Support line, having finished a terrific day, and were rewarded for their fine work by congratulations from the G.O.s C of the Corps, Division and Brigade.
For the second time in a fortnight, the 9th King's had been called upon to play an important part in the advance on the Western Front, and on each occasion they have carried out their part with great credit to their Colonel, themselves and the "KING'S" Regiment.
The following "SPECIAL ORDER OF THE DAY" by Major General A.E.A. HOLLAND C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O., Commanding ………. Division, was issued and received by Colonel RAMSAY on the 10th October :-
"The Corps Commander has desired the General Officer Commanding to convey to the general Officer Commanding …. Infantry Brigade and all ranks under his Command, his appreciation of the gallant defence made by the Brigade against the German attack on the 8th and especially the good work done by 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment and the 1/9th Battalion Liverpool Regiment."