Page 120 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

THE EXPANSION OF THE ARMY
93
and went almost at once into the line at Vierstraat, some three miles
south-south-west of Ypres. It had a distinguished career in France
and Flanders throughout the rest of the war and survived until the
spring of 1919.
nTH (SERVICE) BATTALION
Most of the information which follows was supplied by Brigadier–
General
J.
D. Crosbie, C.M.G., D.S.O., the second Commanding
Officer of the nth Battalion, and by Major
E.
Munday, who sent his
contribution two hundred miles by lorry from Fort Rosebery, in
Rhodesia, to the railway for carriage down country and dispatch
home by air mail.
The nth Battalion was raised from men for whom there were no
vacancies in the roth Battalion. They came largely from Burnley,
Oldham, Bolton, Wigan, Preston and Blackburn, with a few men
from South Wales. Some of them were weavers; but the majority
were miners, whose ways were at first very different to those usually
associated with the Army. When the men were packed off by train
to Codford, in Wiltshire, without any uniform or real organization,
under the Quartermaster, Lieutenant
J.
Bowyer, a great number of
friends who had come to see them off thought they would like a
holiday in the south and went too. The results were unfortunate,
because these "supers" had, of course, not been attested; and,
when they stayed on, their dependants at home got no separation
allowance nor did they themselves get any pay to send to them.
The only remedy of which the miners knew for grievances was the
strike; and they refused to do any parades, asking "How could a
man soldier well if his wife and children were starving at home?"
The weavers went on strike the first time they were expected to wash
their feet in hot water, which they never had done and never were
going to-"Kaiser or no Kaiser." There were several other such
"strikes," but the men were always very amicable and quickly saw
reason when things were explained to them by such officers as there
were.
For it was not until the men had been at Codford for some days
that officers began to arrive, usually with little or no uniform or kit.
One of the first to arrive was the first Commanding Officer, Brevet–
Colonel A. B. Maxwell, a retired officer, formerly of the Manchester
Regiment, who was gazetted on 24th September and arrived with a
complete kit except for a cap. For the first few days he paraded in
a lounge suit with field glasses slung over his shoulder until Munday
arrived with no uniform except a cap which Colonel Maxwell
commandeered! The officers came from all over the world and from
all sorts of occupations and interests. They included a tea-planter
from Travancore, a farmer from Kimberley, an architect from
Hong Kong, a colonist from Vancouver and a Shell Transport
Manager from China. Its cricket team was so formidable that at
Aldershot it would only play against divisional teams and generally
won. This is hardly surprising as it contained A.
E. R.
Gilligan, who