1915 Into the New Year the 1st Gordons were in billets at Westoutre and Locres, later in trenches at Vierstraat with shelling and some casualties. Later at La Clytte, Westoutre in billets, drafts arrived to augment strength, some 200 NCOs and men, including 3rd Battalion, and reservists amounting to a further 160 men.
La Clytte Quiet spell in trenches, alternating in billets, further draft of 166 men joined 27th January 1915, with very little training. Intermittent shelling.
February 1915, Blue Balmoral bonnets issued replacing the Glengarry, but not to be worn in trenches until Khaki covers arrived; too conspicuous. Relieved by the 2nd Suffolks, and alternating trenches and billets during month with casualties, with this battalion.
March saw further alternating relief at billets, with trenches near Vierstraat, with casualties from shelling. Later relieved by 1st Royal Scots and Suffolks, with Bn relieving Camerons 18th March at Vierstraat. Losses of two and three men from snipers and shelling.
April continued with occupation of trenches north of Vierstraat; relieved by Worcestershire Regt. Back in billets at La Clytte. Mid April, quiet virtually no casualties. Half Bn in billets and half in trenches, quiet continued until 22nd April, first reports of gas being used. Month ended as before, few casualties.
May began quietly, heavy shelling on 6th, killed 3 and wounded 5. By the 11th May, Brigade was ordered to relieve 13th Brigade in front of Hill 60. Bn relieved South Lancs; many rifles and equipment found, left by West Riding Regt due to gassing, many corpses; cleaning up carried out. By mid-May patrols carried out at Hill 60, with bombing continuing and parapets blown in. Relieved by Dorsets on 20th, marched back to billets at La Clytte. Preparations leading up to 2nd Ypres begin, with Bn engaged in trench work at Hooge, and quiet conditions at night. Some shelling in mornings.
June began with very heavy shelling, with 22 men killed and 46 wounded. Later conditions quieter and relieved by 2nd Suffolks on 7th/8th. Bivouac at Poperinghe/Vlanmertinghe. Ypres heavily damaged. 15th June attack began after bombardment at 3 am by 5 am German trenches captured.
June 15th, respirators were used, proved quite effective, 16th saw many wounded in trenches, sent back under cover. Bn HQ and C and D companies heavily shelled, about 80 casualties suffered. 17th, relieved by KRR (New Army) more gas shells used by Germans. June 18th, returned to Bivouac at Brandhook, losses by the 20th June totalled 126. Remainder of month at Brandlock with games, route marches, concert in evening of 26th June; 27th Church parade. Last day at Poperinghe, Baths!
July. First days at Brandlock; relieved the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles on 12/13th July at Hooge, Ypres salient. In trenches at Hooge, mortars fired with some casualties suffered.
Sniper forts set up, good results with Express Rifle, enemy snipers loopholes targeted. 18th July, relieved by 4th Middlesex Regt and returned to bivouac, but ordered back to Ypres ramparts to deliver bombs to front trenches at Hooge. Attack delivered by Middlesex and 1st Bn Grenadiers snipers, and machine gunners. Some losses, but attack successful. Bn returned to trenches, some shelling for further 3 or 4 days, and some losses; relieved by 7th Rifle Brigade 22nd July. Bivouac, and return to trenches after 2 days, balance of July at Verbrandenholen with relative quiet.
August 1915 began quietly, relieved by 4th Gordons 3/4th August, at Verbrandenholen. General Allenby inspected 1st Bn at Oudendown in bivouac, delivered great speech of thanks. DCM awarded Pte P McKay for Gallantry on 19th July at Hooge; attempt to present ribbon to Private McKay by Major General Haldane CO 3rd Division on 10th August fails, McKay failed to show up!! Relieved 4th Bn 10/11th in trenches Square 134C. Continuous occupation of trenches through to 23rd, relieved by Sherwood Fusiliers. Some damage and casualties suffered during those days. Back to Oududown bivouac for remainder of month.
September. Bivouac at Farm 119C 0.3. Inspected by Genera Herbert Plummer Commanding 2nd Army, very complimentary of appearance of men. Battalion took deliver of Khaki Balmoral Bonnets to which was added a rosette of Gordon tartan and regimental cap badge. Moved bivouac; again heavy rain very difficult move, very poor conditions and dreadful accommodation with canvas sheets and waterproof sheets. DCM ribbon presented to L/Sgt W Smith, for conspicuous gallantry on 16th August for rescuing 2/Lt Webster wounded on patrol enemies wire emplacements.
Return to trenches at Hooge, relieved 3rd Worcesters; 12th September. Heavy bombardment by our artillery following three or four days, with enemy responding. Return to farm H.13D.55 for rest, relieved by 3rd Worcesters on 18th. Substantial work carried out on trenches. On 22nd September Lord Kitchener inspected brigade (2nd Royal Scots, 1st and 4th Gordons) delivered speech. Returned to Hooge trenches, relieved 3rd Worcesters.
Big attack on 25th by 3rd and 14th Divisions, with Royal Scots Fusiliers, and 1st, 4th Gordons with 2nd Royal Scots; 2nd South Lancashire Regt, and Royal Irish Rifles involved. This attack was repulsed by the enemy whose trenches and wire were not affected by the heavy bombardment, the wire could not be cut by our cutters, very heavy casualties suffered. Returned to bivouac 26th, back to trenches 29th September attacked enemy occupied trenches.
October proved to be very quiet month in trenches, some shelling, reinforcements arriving, training for visiting battalions carried out on trench warfare and duties. Bivouac at Vlamatinghe, and move to barns on 15th October, relieved 7th Shropshires; DCM ribbon presented by Major General A Haldans to 3598 Sergeant P Rennie for conspicuous gallantry at Hooge on September 25th. 22nd October moved to new billeting area at Eeke; training and route marches carried out. Football tournament, battalion won first match 4-0; lost to Kings Own Lancaster Regt 2nd round.
November, in billets at Eeke very wet, many classes of instructions. Football final, holiday, cinema visit at Divisional HQ. Later moved to Reninghelst and trenches, cleaning up, drainage, wire repaired, etc. Some shelling continued, grenades fired, some casualties, work on drainage continued, relieved and returned to rest billets at Reninghelst. Quiet spell and month ends.
December First days, inspection by CO, trench boards laid, training camp. Drill and grenade throwing; specialists left for trenches at 3am, followed by battalion. Enemy mortars for 2 days, quiet otherwise. Continued mortar fire, Belgians shelled the German front line. Relieved and returned to base camp. Baths, lectures, kit inspections, Wing Commander visited. Grenade throwing, bayonet fighting, specialists left for trenches, battalion relieved KORL trenches at 6 pm. Brigade CO visited and inspected trenches. Some shelling, few casualties. 18th and 19th saw heavy bombardment, tear gas shells, heavy rifle fire, very intensive shelling with a number of losses. Following four days with visits from GOC Brigade, General Staff Officer inspecting trenches. Bn relieved by 8th KORL Regt. 23rd December at Baths, 24th Kit inspection, smoke helmets lecture on Espirit de Corps by CO. 25th, holiday, short service at 11 am. 26th, Church parade; lecture on gas by Major Maitland. Drill and bayonet fighting, lecture on History of the Regt. Last days of 1915 in trenches, quiet, inspection by Brigade Co. New year very quiet, senior officers visited.
The most significant event of 1915 was the battle of 25th September when an attack was launched, a major offensive, which became know as the Battle of Loos. The 1st and 4th Gordons suffered very heavily (the 'U', Student Soldiers were particularly hard hit) as were the 2nd, 6th, 9th, and 10th Battalions, a disastrous failure with incredible losses. See Sir John MacConachie's book "The Student Soldiers", (4th Bn University volunteers).
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