The tattered 15th


20th November 1914

The Dorsets enjoyed a day of rest. The rest of the original 15th Brigade were spread over a wide area all the way up to Ypres. The Norfolks had also just joined the 14th Brigade and were now in Kemmel. The Bedfords were up by Hooge (now with the 13th Brigade) and the Cheshires were still with Gleichen’s 15th Brigade on the Menin Road up near Ypres. Both these battalions were down to half strength and less, having suffered large casualties in holding the line in front of Ypres; the main objective of the German attacks. Gleichen recalls:

both of our battalions, who by that time were reduced to 540 Bedfords and 220 Cheshires altogether (the Bedfords having started with 1100 and the Cheshires with 600 odd).

Image of Château Beukenhorst, Zillebeke
Château Beukenhorst, Zillebeke

Gleichen is holed up in yet another château. Beukenhorst Château later became known as Stirling Castle on British Army maps. He and the rest of 15th Brigade’s HQ narrowly avoided a shell which hit the kitchen just after breakfast. It’s good to know that he puts servants just above officer’s trousers.

Poor Conway, Weatherby’s servant, whom he had left behind, was the only casualty; his dead body was found, with both legs broken and an arm off, blown down a cellar passage at the back. The next most serious casualty was Moulton-Barrett’s new pair of breeches, arrived that morning from England, and driven full of holes like a sugar-sifter.

He’s not happy about the monotonous diet of bully beef and chocolate either until…

Help was, however, at hand; for our servants, Inskip and Stairs, who we thought had ignominiously run away, suddenly turned up with heaps of food. They had gone all the way to our cook’s waggon three miles the other side of Ypres for comestibles, and whilst we were d—ing their eyes for bolting, were trudging, heavily laden, along the road back to us—good youths.

Inskip and Stairs sound like a music hall double act. Perhaps they were.