"The Story of the 9th King's in France"


It was soon decided that the Army was to be used for salvage work on the devastated area, and accordingly orders came for a move to the Arras area. On the 3rd December the Battalion left Lille, and after a march of roughly 15 miles it reached Carvin and spent the night in some German ammunition huts in a wood. The next day the Battalion passed through Lens, and one was surprised to see how near the Highlanders must have got to the town at the Battle of Loos. After leaving Lens the Battalion marched right through the centre of the district in which the Vimy Ridge Battles had taken place. The whole region was now desolate and deserted. After a march of twenty one miles three of the companies marched to their billets at Etrun without the loss of a single man. This was a striking example of the efficiency of the Battalion and the standard of its march discipline.

A few days were spent in billets at Etrun and then the Battalion moved to a Nissen hut camp a short distance away at Maroeuil. Twelve months ago the Battalion had spent a night at the camp on its way to Lisbourg. The camp had been empty for some months and was in a bad condition, so that a great deal had to be done to make the huts habitable. Beds and tables had to be constructed, cook houses established and ovens built. Duckboard tracks had to be laid as the ground was muddy. In this work the men were assisted by some German prisoners who worked very well and thoroughly. No enmity was evinced by the men, who would give the prisoners food if not watched. So soon had the British soldiers forgotten their hatred of the Germans. The Battalion was given a large area to clear and every day large parties were engaged on salvage work. The afternoons were devoted to games and some very keen football matches took place.

Christmas time was an occasion for great rejoicing. A competition for the best decorated dining hut was held. Materials were not easily available and the ingenuity of the officers was taxed to the utmost. One company commander had a scenic artist among his men and he managed to secure an ample supply of paint. Others telegraphed to England for table decorations and some things could be bought in Arras. One sergeant major borrowed bed sheets from some lady friend and these served as table cloths. The dining huts were consequently well decorated and comfortable, and eventually "B" Company secured the prize. Christmas Day was one of feasting. A cross country run the next day, in which all from Commanding Officer downward, took part wore off any evil effect.

Early in January a "Colour Party" left for Liverpool, where it received the colours of the Regiment from the Lord Mayor on the 7th January, and later brought them to the Battalion.

Demobilisation commenced in January, and by the end of February the disintegration of the Battalion was proceeding rapidly. The numbers dwindled so steadily that at length parades ceased. Men who had served and lived together for so long were parting and might perhaps never see each other again. Friendships of months' standing were now to come to an end. No bugle would ever call these men together again. They were each to return to their civilian life once more, and there seek their several fortunes.

The members of the Battalion took different paths. A large contingent ultimately made its way to Egypt as part of the garrison there. Others, members of the cadre, came home with the Colours in June and were received with due honour by the Lord Mayor. One or two isolated members crept up to the Rhine Army, where they had the pleasure of seeing the result of their comrades' work, and the Germans dejected and defeated. It was indeed gratifying to see British soldiers quartered in Bonn University, that home of "kultur" where the late Kaiser Wilhelm was educated. A reunion took place in St. George's Hall on the 30th May, 1919. Afterwards the Battalion ceased to exist as infantry, as the War Office changed it to a Battalion of Royal Engineers called the 2nd Battalion West Lancashire Divisional Royal Engineers, to which several of the officers transferred.

The work of the Battalion is done. By the bravery and industry of the officers and men, by the soldierly spirit with which all were imbued, by the discipline and good comradeship which kept all together working in harmonious union, the Battalion earned for itself a high reputation for efficiency in every direction. The work it was given to do has been done in a cheerful and thorough manner, and let there be inscribed, with due honour, upon the list of the illustrious regiments which have deserved well of their country, the name of the 9th Battalion of The King's (Liverpool Regiment) Territorial Force.