Albert square bashing

7th February 1915

In Bailleul, the Dorsets’ time in billets was still being marked in the diary by a series of dittos (well a big curly brace actually) and so there’s not a lot I can say about what they might have got up to. If there were any letters from Frank during this period of relative rest, sadly none exist today.

The 15th Brigade’s diary is a bit more descriptive. Today was a Sunday and orders were received that the brigade was to parade tomorrow for the King of Belgium, Albert I.

Back at the front, Sector E was added to the dominion of the 5th Division, taking over responsibility from 3rd Division to the north.

Stuck with the Peacemakers and the Holy Boys

28th January 1915

Another quiet day ended with half the Dorsets going into reserve and marching to billets on the Lindenhoek-Neuve Église road at 8.30pm.

The other half of the Dorsets stayed behind in the trenches. Frank, with A Company, came under orders of the O.C. Bedfords, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Roche, and pretty much stayed put. D Company, came under the orders of the O.C. Norfolks, Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Done. D Company would have moved slightly north to D Sector and E1 (Trench 15d) which the 15th Brigade took over from the 3rd Division.

Do the Heuvelland shuffle


24th December 1914

The Dorsets received another morning alarm call from British artillery when shells landed “dangerously near” their trenches at 8.40am.

The enemy kept up a steady stream of machine gun fire and sniping throughout the day. The Dorsets could hear German transport moving in the distance. Perhaps they were readjusting their troops, much like the British were. 3rd Division had shuffled along the Kruisstraat road and so 5th Division moved its troops to the east, which included Bedfords taking over Sector C and moving into half of Sector B’s trenches. I’ve indicated these areas on today’s map using a trench map found in the 5th Division’s war diary. An accompanying letter dates the map at 30th December 1914 but the reorganisation (dropping Sector E) happened today and things didn’t change for the rest of the year.

During the night some Germans opposite Sector D approached British working parties, presumably of the 2nd Bn West Riding Regiment, and spoke to them, halfway between the trenches. What they said is not discussed at this point in the 5th Division’s war diary. There’s been a lot of media interest in the so-called Christmas truce and much of what has been written is utter drivel. There are a number of factors why the truce happened and some of the stories are inflated truths, some are myths and others are down-right lies. But I think there’s another side to the story which isn’t really discussed and one we’ll explore with the Dorsets tomorrow.

Don’t forget to leave out a drop of Lizzie for Father Christmas and a heritage carrot for Rudolph.


Gorre blimey


26th October 1914

The Dorsets were formed into working parties and put under the orders of the Royal Engineers. They spent the day in and around Gorre, according to the Dorsets’ war diary. They returned to their billets in the Rue de Béthune at 6pm.

The Germans continued to press all along the front. The ragged Allies held on precariously. The French were being heavily shelled in Givenchy and the 5th Division HQ received reports from the 15th Brigade that the two French battalions there were “nearly wiped out”.

Further north the Germans had pushed through the 7th Brigade (part of 3rd Division) into a town that would become a household name the following year: Neuve Chapelle.