15th August 1914, at sea, The Irish Sea
Frank was onboard the SS Antony, bound for Le Havre in France. The British Expeditionary Force used Le Havre as its main port for the Western Front. 1.9 million British troops passed through the city between 1914 and 1919.
SS Antony wasn’t the only ship sailing from Belfast. The 15th Brigade was formed and based in Ireland and was part of the British 5th Division. The 15th Brigade consisted of the 1st Bn Dorsetshire, 1st Bn Bedfordshire, 1st Bn Cheshire and 1st Bn Norfolk regiments.
The 15th Brigade left Belfast en masse. The convoy consisted of the SS Antony (1st Bn Dorsetshire, Battalion HQ and half the 1st Bn Norfolk), SS Massilia (1st Bn Cheshire and the rest of the Norfolks) and, slightly ahead on the next tide, the SS Oronsa (1st Bn Bedfordshire).
The 15th Brigade was commanded by Count Albert Edward Wilfred Gleichen. In 1917 he reverted to the more English title of Lord Edward Gleichen on request from the King. This was probably a wise move at the time. If you’ve got a Kindle then his rather droll diary from 1914-1915 is available for free on Amazon.
- The 1914 war diary for the 1st Bn Norfolks appears to be missing August and September entries. If anyone knows its whereabouts, please leave a comment below.