This substantial second of three volumes in the History of the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment details the regiment’s part in the Great War from 1914-1919. The regiment’s Roll of Honour of 6,866 killed – from a total of 21,000 casualties – attests to its proud place at the sharp end of the war from Mons in 1914 through to its final battle in the Mormal Forest in November 1918. Present in the BEF at the battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne in 1914, the regiment distinguished itself at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 when, the line to its left having given way before relentless German assaults, it was attacked from flank and rear, yet still refused to give way. Eventually expanded to 22 battalions, the Regiment was in the Ypres Salient in the Spring of 1915, fighting at Hill 60 and experiencing the first gas attack in the 2nd Battle of Ypres in April. The R.W.K.’s 7th Battalion took part in the July 1st 1916 attack on the Somme, as part of the Eighteenth Division, and was among that terrible day’s success stories, occupying enemy trenches at Montauban. The same Battalion saw hard fighting later in the battle in the fight for the Schwaben Redoubt. The 10th and 11th battalions co-operated with the debut of the tank at Flers in mid-September. The RWK took part in the Battles of Arras and Messines in 1917, before plunging into the mud of Third Ypres (Passchendaele). The 1st Battalion lost 12 out of 16 officers, and 348 out of 581 men alone before Gheluvelt on October 26th, which the history tersely describes as a ‘disastrous day’. 1917 was an appalling year for the RWK, with the 6th battalion nearly wiped out at the battle of Cambrai in November. The 7th battalion was overwhelmed on 21st March 1918, the first day of the German Spring Offiensive, but the 8th battalion stood before Amiens, helping to turn the tide of war on the western front. The 6th, 7th and 8th battalions took part in the Allied counter-offensives which led to the Armistice in November. The history also details the RWK’s role on other fronts – at Suvla Bay, Kut in Mesopotamia, Palestine and in Italy,. With five appendices listing the unit’s Commanders, awards and its Roll of Honour, and many portrait photographs.
QUEEN’S OWN ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT, 1914 – 1919
History of the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent regiment in the Great War. Western front from Mons to Mormal Forest. Suvla Bay, Kut, Palestine and Italy.