Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front. 3rd August to 24th August 1916.

Specialist training

Training was carried out intensively whenever a unit was away from the front line. It formed an important part of a soldier’s life, especially given the rapid development of new tactics and technologies as well as the large turnover of men in any given unit. On top of this, while not actively fighting the enemy, the sickness rates were high for all troops stationed along the Suez Canal. Specialist training included first aid, signalling, sniper skills, Lewis gun training and bombing (hand grenade) techniques. This was the period when the separate machine gun sections in each company were reorganised to form the 161 Brigade Machine Gun Company. This offered better support for the brigade and marked the start of a successful military career for the 22 year old Lt John Harding, at that time a junior officer in the 1/11 Finsbury Rifles.

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© IWM (Q 57855) Left to right: Captain-. 1/4th Northands Regiment; Lieutenant Colonel Lambert, 1/10th London Regiment; Lieutenant Harding, 1/11th London Regiment; Lieutenant Colonel John Brown, 1/4th Northans. 162nd Infantry Brigade, 54th East Anglian Division, Mahamdiyeh, near Romani, February 1917. BYRNE STANLEY CESNOLA (COLONEL) COLLECTION

 

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Date 3/8/16

Work on defences. Training and usual routine. Order received for half the Battn to proceed to OLDHAM to relieve 1/6 Essex Regt.

Location OLDHAM

Date 4/8/16

B and C Coy shifting camp to fill vacancy caused by departure of A and D coys to Oldham. A and D under MAJOR FW CLARK proceeded to OLDHAM by route march and relieved 1/6/ Essex Regt.

Location MANCHESTER

Date 5/8/16

B and C Coy training, Routine as usual.

Location OLDHAM

Date 5/8/16

Work on defences and specialist training.

Location MANCHESTER and OLDHAM

Date 6/8/16

Divine service under Regtl arrangements

Location MANCHESTER

Date 7/8/16

B and C coys training. Routine as usual.

Location OLDHAM

Date 7/8/16

Routine work and specialist training. 3 officers and 44 other ranks rejoined.

Location MANCHESTER

Date 8 to 9/8/16

B and C coy training and usual routine.

Location OLDHAM

Date 8 to 9/8/16

Routine work and specialist training.

Locations MANCHESTER and OLDHAM

Dates 10 to 11/8/16

Coy and specialist training. 3 officers and 73 other ranks proceeded to SHALLUFA EAST.

Locations MANCHESTER and OLDHAM

Date 12/8/16

Coy and specialist training

Locations MANCHESTER and OLDHAM

Date 13/8/16

Divine service

Locations MANCHESTER and OLDHAM

Date 14 to 15/8/16

Work on defences and specialist training.

Locations MANCHESTER and OLDHAM

Date 16/8/16

Work on defences and specialist training. Lt WG Pope rejoined from hospital.

Locations MANCHESTER and OLDHAM

Date 17 to 19/8/16

Work on defences and specialist training.

Locations MANCHESTER and OLDHAM

Date 20/8/16

Divine service.

Locations MANCHESTER and OLDHAM

Date 21 to 24/8/16

Company and specialist training resumed.


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Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front. 17th July to 2nd August 1916.

Work on defences

The defence posts by the Suez Canal included a network of communication trenches.

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© IWM (Q 57788) Suez Canal Defences. Trench system, Ashton Post, December 1916. BYRNE STANLEY CESNOLA (COLONEL) COLLECTION.

Maintaining these trenches was a never ending task involving an immense amount of hard physical labour by the men. The trenches were lined with sandbags and boards but these gradually rotted away because of the heavy night dews and had to be replaced. The shifting sands of the desert gradually built up around the barbed wire defences and filled up the trenches despite their matting cover. It all had to be dug out and thrown at least 12 foot away.

 

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© IWM (Q57749). Suez Canal Defences. Fatigue party 1/11th London Regiment, 162nd Infantry Brigade, 54th East Anglian Division, repairing the revetting of a trench which had given way. Ashton Post, 1916. BYRNE STANLEY CESNOLA (COLONEL) COLLECTION.

 

The working day lasted 6 hours –usually split into a very early morning and a late afternoon session to avoid the heat of the day. In summer the temperature could reach 50 degrees Celsius.

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Date 17/7/16

Work on defences as usual. B Coy training. GOC 161 Bde visited the Post.

Date 18 to 19/7/16

Work on defences as usual. Battn finding usual guards and outposts.

Date 20/7/16

Work on defences as usual. Battn finding usual guards and outposts.

Date 21 to 22/7/16

Work on defences as usual. GOC 162 Bde visited the post.

Date 23/7/16

Divine service under Battn arrangements.

Date 24/7/16

Work on defences as usual. Remainder of Battn training 2nd Lt Gethy Bridge (13th Sherwood Foresters) returns to duty from hospital.

Date 25/7/16

Work on defences as usual. Remainder of Battn training.

Date 26 to 27/7/16

Work on defences as usual. Lt Gibson returned from duty with 162 Bde.

Date 28 to 29/7/16

Work on defences as usual.

Date 30/7/16

Divine service under Battn arrangements. Routine as usual.

Date 31/7/16

Routine as usual. 2nd Lt Lawrence rejoined for duty from Alexandria. C Coy commenced training.

Date 1 to 2/8/16

Work on defences. Training and usual routine. Lt WS Owen rejoined from English leave.

Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front. 9th July to 15th July 1916.

Here we see a reference to Captain AL Lewthwaite, a member of the Rifles, who’s spectacular photography collections survives as part of the Imperial War Museum’s archive, providing a personal record of day to day life away from the Western Front. We link to the archive throughout this blog, but you can access the entire collection here…have an explore!


Date 9/7/16

Divine service under Coy arrangements.

Date 10/7/16

Work on defences as usual. Orders received from 16th Bde for this Battn to relieve the 1/7 Essex Regt at MANCHESTER POST.

Date 11/7/16

Work on defences as usual. Lt Pope WG returned to duty with the Battn on his post of assist Wharfmaster Shallufa East being taken over by R Austen

Date 12/7/16

Work on defences in morning, remainder of day spent preparing to move. Advance party left for MANCHESTER

Date 13/7/16

Battn parade 03.15 and proceeded by route march to Manchester Post relieved 1/7 Essex Reg. there at 05.00 remainder of the day spent settling down. Lt WG Pope went to hospital.

Location MANCHESTER POST

Date 14.7.16

Battn finding 100 men for work on defences. Manchester Post remainder on preliminary training.

Date 15/7/16

Battn finding 100 men for work on defences. Capt AL Lewthwaite reported from English leave. 2nd Lt AW Robinson (4th E Surrey Regiment) attached to the Battn for duty.


Please explore the Glossary to clarify any unfamiliar terms!

Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front. 3rd July 1916 to 8th July 1916.


 


Date 3 to 5/6/16

Work on defences as usual. Battn finding usual guards and picquets.

Date 6/6/16

Work on defences as usual.2nd Lt Pethybridge (Sherwood Foresters) and 2nd Lt Hutchinson (S. Staffs Regiment) arrived from Base Detail Camp attached to Battn for duty.

Date 7/6/16

Work on defences as usual

Date 8/7/16

Work on defences as usual. Garrison duties found by battn. 2nd Lt Alden returned from hospital (Alexandria).


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Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front. 25th June to 2nd July 1916.

In recent posts we have seen various divine services taking place. Often these would be open air and represent some of the few times that the men could come together collectively, outside of battle.


Location SHALLUFA EAST

Date 25/6/16
Voluntary divine service. Battalion finding guards and outposts. 2nd Lt Allen to hospital.

Date 26 to 28/6/16

Work on defences as usual.

Date 29 to 30/6/16

Work on defences. Battalion finding guards and outposts as usual.

Date 1/7/16

Work on defences as usual (placing dugouts).

Date 2/7/16

Divine service under coy arrangements.


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Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front. 18th June to 24th June


Date 18/6/16

No work on defences. Divine Service in E7 Canteen.

Date 19 to 22/6/16

Work on defences as usual also finding the battalion duties.

Date 23/6/16

6.30am visit of inspection of post by Commander in Chief. Routine as usual.

Date 24/6/16

Work on defences. Lt Noileen and Lt Hamilton and Evans and 144 other ranks joined the Battn from 54 Div Base Detail Camp Sidi Bishr.


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Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front. 9th June to 17th June 1916.


Date 9 to 10/6/16

Work on defences as usual. Orders received to prepare to join a mobile column.

Date 11/6/16

Battalion proceeded to join mobile column by route march to point of concentration via Geneffe railhead. Burgea for the night.

Date 12/6/16

Battalion proceeded to a point 6 miles east of  Geneffe railhead and bivouacked for the day returning to railhead same day into bivouac.

Date 13/6/15

Battalion remained in Bivouac during day marching back to Shallufa Camp in the evening.

Date 14 to 17/6/16

Work on defences. Digging, wiring etc. Battalion finding also all garrison duties.


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Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 24th May to 31th May 1916.

In this passage follow the Rifles from Gebel Murr (on the East of the Suez Canal) to bases at Kubri and Shallufa (to the north of the Canal).

The map below comes from the book ‘The New Zealanders at Gallipoli’ (1919), and illustrates the location of El Kubri and Shallufa. It took the 1/11 London 2hours and 45 minutes to march the 12 miles to Kubri.

WaiNewZ048a

© 2016 Victoria University of Wellington.  The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection . In: http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WaiNewZ-c4.html. Consulted: 19/05/2017

These two images show the Officer’s Mess at Kubri in 1916. We can see how closely the 1/11 London Officers watched over that part of the Canal, and can learn a little about the structures built and inhabited by the soldiers.

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© IWM (Q 57758). Native boats on the Suez Canal at El Kubri, 1916. 1/11 London Officers mess hut on right. Imperial War Museums. Byrne Stanley Cesnola (Colonel) Collection.

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© IWM (Q 57729). Officers of the 1/11th London Regiment outside their mess hut. El-Kubri, Suez Canal. Imperial War Museums. Byrne Stanley Cesnola (Colonel) Collection.

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Date 24/5/16

Striking camp at Gebel Murr. Relieved  by the 2/3 Gurkhas at 9.30am. Proceeded by route march to Kubri at 3.30pm. Arrived Kubri at 6.15pm and pitched camp.

Date 25/5/16

Location EL KUBRI  

Bathing parades. Orders received to join 161 Bde Shallupa East.

Date 26/5/16

Striking camp and packing up generally. Battalion moved out 3.30pm by route march to Shallup arrives 6.15pm and relieved 1/7 Essex Regt. 2nd Lieutenant Gostling appointed Galloper to Brig Gen Mudge.

Date 27/5/16

Location SHALLUFA  

Battalion finding all guards and duties in the sector. Remaining men working on defences.

Date 28 to 29/5/16

Work on the defences and guards as usual. Col AH Windsor appointed Post Commander Shallufa East.

Date 30/5/16

Work on defences and routines as usual.

Date 31/5/16

Work on defences as usual. Capt. LH Newton rejoined from English leave.


Please explore the Glossary to discover any unknown terms.

 

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front: 17th May to 23rd May.

Work continues as usual, with inspections and work on defences. The Rifles prepare to return to Kubri, from Gebel Mur.


Date 17/5/16

Work on the defences before breakfast. Various fatigues found. Guards and piquet’s as usual.

Date 18/5/16

GOK Division visits the post 05/54 inspected the works. Normal routine.

Date 19/5/16

Work on defences. 6 men arrived from Base Details Camp.

Date 20/5/16

Training under Coy arrangements. Guards and posts as usual.

Date 21/5/16

Divine Service under Battalion arrangements. Usual guards and piquet’s.

Date 22/5/16

Work on defences. Usual guards and picket being found from posts.

Date 23/5/16

Work on defences. Lt Kelby Lt Hooper 2nd Lts Ince Dawes and Golochmiddt and 2 other ranks reported from Base details. Orders received for move to Kubri to rejoin 162 Bde.


Explore the Glossary to discover any unknown terms.