Unlucky Dorsets join the 13th


16th October 1914

As ever, the Dorsets were not left to rest. At 6am they rendezvoused along the Rue de Béthune and were put under orders of the 13th Brigade as Divisional Reserve with the West Riding Regiment. They marched into Festubert and went into billets.

I’m not sure being attached to the 13th Brigade would have been a popular decision among the tattered ranks of the Dorsets. After all, it was the failure of the 13th Brigade to get along the south side of the canal that had ultimately led to them getting cut up so badly in the beet fields.

I have been researching on the day I write a post. I want this blog to feel like a voyage of discovery rather than an authority on the subject, which I will never be. The learning experience for me is what’s keeping me going. Some days I get more time than others and mistakes have and will continue to be made. But it’s only when you turn thoughts and ideas over and over in your mind that patterns begin to emerge.

I didn’t want to spoil the narrative, but we’ve now reached a short gap in the action, and so I thought I would share my thoughts on the last few days of Frank’s war.

When I was writing the post for the 13th it was pretty depressing. I knew vaguely what had happened beforehand, but it’s hard to visualise these battles until you actually pull the facts apart and piece them back together again. Not all so-called facts are accurate. I keep going back to the strange reasons given for their failure of the attack on the 13th October. In the back of my mind is the idea that tremendous errors were made by the Dorset officers and they didn’t go unnoticed.

It’s easy to be an armchair general and I can’t for a second imagine what these men went through a hundred years ago. But I don’t think the truth is in the war diaries or the stories that came back with the men who survived the Battle of La Bassée.

Tomorrow I am going to try to see what really happened by looking at a higher operational level.

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