2nd Portsmouth Pals – formation to May 1916

 

With the euphoric volunteering for the British Army that was experienced in the late summer of 1914, many towns and cities formed their own Battalions for service in the Army. Comprised virtually of volunteers, in many cases these became known as ‘Pals’ Battalions. The word ‘Pals’ is normally applied to midlands or northern working class towns or cities, but my research has shown that the 1st and 2nd Portsmouth Pals – the 14th and 15th Battalions of the Hampshire Regiment respectively – were very much Pals Battalions. And it was quite credible of Portsmouth to raise two Battalions – over 2,000 men – considering that most of her young male population must have been either at sea with the Royal Navy, or engaged on important war work. Fortunately, the war diary for the 2nd Portsmouth Pals is available to download online from the National Archives website, and it tells us an awful lot about what happened to these young men from Portsmouth in those dramatic years.

 

The 1st Portsmouth’s were formed by the Mayor and a local committee on 3 September 1914, and would have taken the initial rush of recruits. After gathering and training locally, it was found that there were still enough recruits to form a second battalion, which took place on 5 April 1915. Several men died before they even left Britain – Private R.P.A. Cornhill on 6 August 1915, who is buried in Kingston Cemetery. After training locally, on 30 May 1915 both battalions were accepted by the war office, and began training for service abroad. With so many raw recruits, so many new units and a shortage of equipment, naturally things happened slowly. In October 1915 the 2nd Portsmouths joined the 122nd Brigade, in the 41st Division at Aldershot. In February 1916 they were at Marlborough Barracks in February 1916, before landing in France in early May. Private H.T. Sait died on 11 March 1916, and is also buried in Kingston.

 

The Battalion disembarked at Le Havre at 0600 on 2 May 1916, marching to a rest camp from the port. The next day they entrained at 1139, before detraining at Godewaerveld the next day and marching to Meteren. After three days in billets at Meteren, the Battalion marched to new billets in the La Creche area. On 10 May 12 officers and 40 NCO’s spent two days in the trenches, attached to the 11th Royal Scots, in order to gain experience. Whilst they were there they experienced some heavy bombardments, and then an attack on the Royal Scots trenches. Two were repelled, but a third gained access to the Scots front lines before being pushed back.

 

All was quiet again until the 18th, when a gas alarm was raised. The Battalion stood to at 0115, and stood down at 0150. The next day more men went into the trenches for experience, this time 4 officers and 80 NCO’s. On the 25th the Battalion suffered a sad casualty, when Private H. Evans committed suicide. A Court of Enquiry found that he had become temporarily insane. Private Evans was buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord), but unfortunately his record on the CWGC does not give any information as to where in Portsmouth he lived.

 

On the 28th the Battalion marched from La Creche to billets at Creslow. Two days later on the 30th they moved up to the front line at Ploegsteert Wood, taking over trenches from the 8th Black Watch, between Le Gheer to opposite the Birdcage. A, B and C Companies were in the front line, with D Company in reserve. Ploegsteert was often used to give new units experience, rather than the more active Ypres Salient.

 

 

 

 

About these ads

16 Comments

Filed under Army, Uncategorized, western front, World War One

16 responses to “2nd Portsmouth Pals – formation to May 1916

  1. John Erickson

    I’ve never personally been shelled, but I have been in situations with big guns VERY nearby firing live rounds, and believe me, even knowing that you’re not on the incoming end does NOTHING to keep your heart from pounding and the sweat from flowing! :)
    Do you know, was any training (other than rudimentary drilling) done in the 1914-1915 time period, or was their “basic training” only done AFTER they were accepted? Just curious how things work on your side of the Pond.

  2. James Daly

    I think for the first few months it was very basic training – physical, drill etc. The sheer numbers of men volunteering took everyone by surprise and there weren’t enough barracks, uniforms of rifles for them all. Naturally it took some time to get these citizen soldiers up to speed, and thats why the Pals Battalions and most of the rest of the Kitchener volunteers didn’t really get into action in earnest until 1916.

  3. Pingback: 2nd Portsmouth Pals – The story of a raid: Ploegsteert, June 1916 « Daly History Blog

  4. Pingback: The officer class of Southsea « Daly History Blog

  5. Colin

    (On the 10th May 1916, 12 officers and 40 NCOs spent two days in the trenches attached to the 11th royal Scots.)… My great-uncle was a lance corporal in the Portsmouth pals; he died of his wounds 16th May, at St Omer Hospital. And is buried in Longuenesse cemetery.

  6. I’ve been surfing online more than 2 hours today, yet I nver found any interesting article like yours.

    It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally,
    if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, tthe
    neet will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  7. For example, in some areas, “Streets close up and get mighty dangerous after 11:30pm,” whereas somewhere else, “Cafes and restaurants get going and tango dancing starts everywhere at 11:30pm. We’re talking about living in a single family house here. As is exemplified by video conference and vivid display screens.

  8. Hi there to every body, it’s my first pay a visit
    of this webpage; this webpage includes awesome and actually good information for visitors.

  9. Go and see a dentist about Invalsign today and
    Im sure you will like the results! A number of his movies have already been
    considered the main list of the most effective movies on earth.

  10. Together with The engineering improving daily, it has now become feasible to view
    online videos cost-free. While in Radiator Springs Lightning
    McQueen learns many lessons in living. I will need to acknowledge its kinda sweet.

  11. Updated portable electric heaters with the latest features to provide
    a very safe, yet warm room in your home. bureaucrats’ complicity with the bloodthirsty agenda of the ‘narcos’ (i.

    Speaking off the phone, lift the handset off of the base and examine the ear andd mouthpiece for dirt.

  12. Hair regrowth treatments offers you the opportunity to
    have your hair back as its options ranges from applying hair products, natural hair supplements to surgical procedures.
    It is not surprising that many suffer from zinc
    deficiency since zinc is destroyed in the milling process and is also lost in cooking.
    Likewise, dehydration will cause hair to become brittle and dry.

  13. Similarly, don’t put anything on your dog that has potentially harmful substances like glitter.
    With the right sense of fashion, you can easily grab cute and affordable dog
    clothes in discount dog clothes or pet shops. Now take
    the dog coat off your dog, but make sure to leave some mark on the fabric to show you where to connect
    the coat around your dog’s neck and stomach.

  14. Each choices are developed to prevent somebody from using a misplaced device
    by remotely locking the gadget. In this article, we will introduce two methods to help you
    jailbreak iPad 3.

  15. And it’s got its fair-share of authentic titles on top of
    that. After all, I haven’t had a Grammar Nazi, anti- crybaby that is Valve, or Sony assault me for weeks!
    History has confirmed over and this over again.

  16. I simply couldn’t leave your website prior to suggesting
    that I extremely loved the standard info an individual supply in your visitors?

    Is gonna be again ceaselessly to investigate cross-check new
    posts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s