Dear Borderers and friends 20 March 2017
KOSB ASSOCIATION – PASSCHENDAELE 100 – SITREP 2
Thank you for committing to joining the KOSB 100th Anniversary Battlefield Tour/ Pilgrimage to PASSCHENDAELE, or 3rd YPRES as it is also sometimes called.
WHEN? Thursday 17 – Sunday 20 August 2017.
WHO? The names attached at Annex B are the party as at today – a great bunch of really good folks and old friendships. This is going to be a “Small is beautiful” party! Some are TBC. Please commit to this- we’d love to have you.
WHAT WILL WE SEE AND DO? We have fleshed out the itinerary, and the latest draft version is at Annex A. You will see we are trying to give you a feel for the overall campaign, by covering some generic Passchendaele sights and stories, but then we will drill down into the KOSB detail, and walk where they fought and fell, and lie now. Very special to us will be the story of our 2 famous VCs, and then the unveiling of the KOSB WW1 memorial plaque, and the treat of a Belgian Tattoo. Minden Day stalwarts will recall the Somme Pipe band taking part last year.
HOW MUCH? A locally hired Belgian bus. Costs – roughly £50 p p, based on a party of around 18/ 20 or so. The more that commit- the cheaper for all of us. Three nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation in The Regina Hotel, central Ypres. If you want a sgl room- approx £225, or a twin approx £125. (Let us know if you’d like a sgl room- we’ll try to accommodate your wishes) The professional services of Keith Dolan- our expert Guide and his expenses -estimating at £ 65 p p. Some places we visit charge a small entry fee of a few euros.
Insurance – make your own arrangements please, and bring your EHIC cards.
Travel Idea: Some from the North have already booked Brussels Airlines: EDI- Brussels, on Thurs 17th August at 0600,(ouch), returning from Brussels to EDI at 1435 on Sunday 20th August, for around £115 return – pretty good deal .Then it’s 2 trains from there to Ypres . So book that up, if it suits, and we can have fun getting out there together. Ian Gibbs is looking at taking the Southern personnel collectively too .
WHAT DO I DO NOW ? DEPOSIT.
We need some cash flow to pay hotel deposits and the coach company etc. We ask you to pay a £150 deposit by 15 April please. We are very grateful to Grant Horsburgh, Chairman of the Association’s Edinburgh Branch, who will be one of the party for the 3rd time, we are delighted to say, for letting us use his Branch account, as our banker, and even more grateful to Euan Scroggie, their Treasurer, for doing trip banker again, as he did so well for Gallipoli and The Somme.
To pay your deposit, please send a cheque, payable to “KOSB Association- Edinburgh Branch -” for £150 to:
John Ross- 106 Clifton Road, Mid Calder, LIVINGSTON EH53 0PN
Or, our preferred option and easier, you can do a BACS payment to:
Bank sort code 80 – 02 – 77, Account Number 00438430 – KOSB Assocn, Edinburgh Branch.
Make sure that your surname, and PD 2017, is used as the reference. Please send John Ross an e mail (see below for email address), warning him funds are incoming, so we can monitor ins and outs.
Thanks to you all. We are getting there, and it promises to be yet another WW1 KOSB trip to remember.
This is commitment time please. We aim to close the list by mid April 2017.
We have included some Ypres info FYI, at ANNEX C.
Very best wishes to you all. XXV OABAAB
John Ross & Andy Middlemiss
with Grant Horsburgh, Ian Gibbs and Peter Walton in mutual support
KOSB COMMEMORATIVE TOUR TO PASSCHENDAELE
17-20 AUGUST 2017
DAY 1 – THURSDAY 17 AUGUST 2017
Arrive Ypres – Make own arrangements to arrive pm at the Regina Hotel, Grote Markt, Ypres
1800 – Collective early supper
1915 – RV Regina Hotel – Muster for the Last Post Ceremony at the famous Menin Gate and briefing – The Association will lay a wreath during the proceedings. Casual (less wreath party- TBA), but wear Glengarries.
2030 – Walk along the Ramparts to the Lille Gate – briefing on the Third Battle of
Ypres and the Tour’s objectives – a quiet bar for a chat and a beer.
DAY 2 – FRIDAY 18 AUGUST 2017
0830 – Casual dress- but bring Glengarries for the VCs visit. Having bought haversack rats. in the square, Drive to Poperinghe – Life Behind the Lines
Toc H – Everyman’s Club – famous throughout the world
Rev Tubby Clayton’s insistence upon equality on entering…
Military Justice – following on from our stand at Gallipoli, and the story of
Sgt Robins, we now look at cells, where the condemned men were housed , prior to their execution, and the firing post in the court yard – discussion.
1130 – Bayernwald Trench System – Life in the Trenches – an opportunity to
actually get into a reclaimed section of the German support line with mine
shaft and bunkers.
1300 – 7/8th KOSB and their successful assault on the Frezenberg Ridge redoubt –nr Zonnebeke .
1500 – 2 KOSB and their disastrous assault on the Polderhoek Chateau –nr Gheluvelt.
1630 – Two 1 KOSB VCs – during the battle for Langemarck at Wijdendrift – CSM J Skinner & CQMS W. Grimbaldeston. Skinner being fatally wounded .
Langemarck German cemetery
Vlamertinghe CWGC –Lay a wreath at the Grave of CSM J Skinner VC -group photo.
1900 – (Approx) Our mini Ceilidh and collective dinner – sangs & clatter! We are inviting Lt Gen Sir Alistair and Lady Irwin (late Black Watch) to join us- President RBLS, who will be officiating on Saturday.
DAY 3 – SATURDAY 19 AUGUST 2017 – half day to allow for our ceremonial parade this PM
0830 – A short walk to Reservoir CWGC and Liz Thornton Howard’s story of
Pte Beattie, a young Borderer.
0930 – St George’s Church, Ypres – two KOSB commemorative plaques
1030 –Drive, with haverbags on board, to Zonnebeke Memorial Museum, to incl. coffee break. Minden Day order.
1230 –Picnic lunch, then Tyne Cot CWGC – the largest and most impressive symbol of our nation’s sacrifice on Belgian soil, and our personal commemoration in the North Rotunda, where the KOSBs with no known grave are remembered – service, wreath laying – tour photograph.
1500 – Ceremonial Belgian led Parade – Scottish Memorial – Frezenberg Redoubt, to include the unveiling of the WW1 KOSB bronze plaque.
Rtn to hotel- freshen up – early supper and back out to ….
2000 – Belgian Tattoo –Zonnebeke
DAY 4 – SUNDAY 20 AUGUST
After breakfast – Return home under own arrangements.
PASSCHENDAELE 100 PARTY
Andy Middlemiss + / John Ross + – Joint leaders, Allan Alstead + – SBO, Ian Gibbs + –Chmn. London and S Counties Branch and Accommo QM /Hotel LO, Geordie Goodfellow +. Sigs specialist, Grant Horsburgh +- Chmn. Edinburgh Branch & Trip MTO, Kernaghan- Bob and Alice # -French LOs
Angus Loudon –our esteemed President, Mike Macdonald – Lon. Branch, Paul Middlemiss – marched in the LOOS squad at Dundee! German LO. Super Jock 19??, Keith Mitchelson *. Former Mortar Platoon commander, Gerry O’Neill –great Cenotaph attendee!, Jeannie Robinson – secretary, London Branch, Peter Walton +- Regtl Secretary HHQ , EOD adviser.(15)
Making own accommodation arrangements, but joining us on site: Ian Domingo+ –gd. father KIA at Gallipoli in 1915 . Super Jock 19??, Liz Howard –Thornton # and some family #- gt gd daughter of Cpl. Howard – KIA in 2 KOSB, at the Somme, in the attack on Faffemont Farm, nr Combles – 3 Sep 1916 , Laura Ainsworth- gt gd daughter of a KOSB WW1 MM winner, Keith Dolan+ – Senior Service – Guide – very bravely back for his 3rd KOSB trip!
TBCs : Padre Rory Macleod – Spiritual guide and Piper, ex Padre 1 SCOTS, Alastair Cunningham *. Father a Gunner FOO at Salonika, Martin Dunn- London Branch, Brain Raine +- Former HT, QVS Dunblane,Cameron Whyte and son – terrific piper- James #
+ Veteran of Both Gallipoli and Somme trips, * Gallipoli trip,# – Somme trip
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION (CWGC) statistics for KOSB on the Western Front:
Identified KOSB graves in cemeteries 3323
Unidentified KOSB graves in cemeteries 492
KOSB casualties commemorated on memorials 3730
TOTAL = 7053
(we do not total the 492 , as their names are included on the memorial panels)
YPRES (now Ieper) was at the heart of the Allied presence in Belgium for most of the First World War, giving its name to the ‘Ypres Salient’. This was an area where Allied lines projected into enemy-held territory, formed during the First Battle of Ypres in late 1914. An unsuccessful German offensive to take the town and push toward the Channel in the spring of 1915 became known as the Second Battle of Ypres. For the next two years, trench raids, sniping and artillery fire continued every day, as Commonwealth servicemen fought to hold their ground and German troops strove to drive them from it. At the end of July 1917, Allied forces launched a major offensive which became known as ‘Third Ypres’, sometimes called ‘Passchendaele’ , after the village where the advance ended. The experience of living and fighting in the Salient was one of the defining features of the Western Front for Commonwealth soldiers.
LINK TO THE MENIN GATE INFO:
THE YPRES SALIENT
Stretching from Langemarck in the north to Ploegsteert in the south, the Ypres Salient was an area where Allied lines projected into enemy-held territory, so that those holding it were exposed to fire from three sides. It was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October, and November 1914, when the small British Expeditionary Force, and its French allies, met the advancing German army, and heavy fighting took place over the crucial low ridges to the east and south of the town. Clashes to the north and south of the Menin Road saw the front-line move back and forth over the next three weeks, before German forces were finally pushed back to the Passchendaele Ridge, to the east, and Ypres was secured before the onset of winter.
The defence of the Salient against a German offensive in the spring of 1915 became known as the Second Battle of Ypres. For the next two years, trench raids, sniping and artillery fire continued every day, as Commonwealth servicemen fought to hold their ground, and German troops strove to drive them from it. The experience of living and fighting in the Salient was one of the defining features of the Western Front for Commonwealth soldiers. By 1917, the British were suffering thousands of casualties, wounded and killed, each month.
At the end of July 1917, Allied forces launched an offensive, which became known as Third Ypres. General Sir Douglas Haig’s primary objective was to dislodge the Germans from their dominant positions on the high ground, but this would also be a battle of attrition: drawing in and wearing down German forces, on land they could not afford to yield, perhaps creating the conditions for a breakout towards the railhead at Roulers, five miles to the East. Haig then envisaged an advance on Belgian coastal ports, from where German U-boats threatened Allied shipping.
A successful assault on the Wytschaete-Messines ridges in June, marked the opening of the campaign, but the main offensive began almost seven weeks later. On 31 July, after a fortnight’s intense bombardment of German positions, nine divisions of the Fifth Army assaulted the high ground to the north-east of Ypres, and made good progress across Pilckem Ridge. However, by late afternoon German counter-attacks had regained much ground, and wet weather had set in. Ceaseless, unseasonal rain in the following days turned the shell-damaged ground into a quagmire, severely hampering the movement of advancing men, the relocating of artillery, and the carrying of casualties and supplies.
The offensive continued at Langemark on 16 August. After a break in the weather, and a change in command, an attack on the Gheluvelt Plateau was carefully prepared. So-called ‘bite and hold’ tactics, with more limited objectives, achieved success in September, encouraging Haig to continue the offensive into October.
Commonwealth soldiers faced well-established enemy defences, and the return of torrential rain turned much of the battlefield into the muddy morass, which came to dominate the memory of the campaign. Canadian forces struggled through to occupy the village of Passchendaele on 6 November, and operations were ended four days later. Both sides had suffered major losses, but there had been little strategic gain. In all, some 250,000 Commonwealth servicemen were wounded, captured or killed during the offensive.
In spring 1918, the Germans began a series of major offensives along the Western Front which, in Belgium, swept through much of the ground that had been won, at such cost, the previous autumn. Commonwealth forces were pushed back almost to Ypres itself. By the end of April the German onslaught had been halted and, in August, the Allies began their own offensive which would end with victory. By mid-October, the success of Allied operations along the line from Nieuport to Verdun meant the Salient had seen its last fighting. Commonwealth and Belgian soldiers were out of their long-held foothold in Flanders, and pushing the German forces back to the eastern Belgian frontier.
No less than a quarter of those killed in action during the war were lost in the Salient. By 1919, it held hundreds of soldiers’ cemeteries. Most were little more than bare expanses of trodden earth, a few untidy rows of graves, with battered wooden markers. There were clusters of graves in fields, on canal banks, along roads and light railway lines, and countless bodies still lay out on the old battlefields. With the civilian population beginning the long work of rebuilding their farms, towns and lives, many of the graves in smaller burial grounds needed to be moved into larger cemeteries nearby.
Much of this work was done by the Army Graves Concentration Units, who also undertook the task of clearing the battlefields. They uncovered remains of thousands of men killed in the fighting, whose bodies could not be recovered at the time, many of whose identities were impossible to determine. These servicemen – numbering more than 40,000, a third of the marked graves in the Salient – were buried beneath headstones bearing Kipling’s phrase ‘A Soldier of the Great War, Known Unto God’.