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94
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
later captained England; G. H. Cotterill, twelfth man for Cambridge
University; and A. N. Jewell, who played for the Gentlemen of
South Africa.
The men were in no better plight as regards clothing, many
having joined up in their
mill
clogs and clothes. These soon became
very tattered and some men could not go on parade because their
trousers were in rags. A consignment of old red jackets and striped
trousers belonging to various regiments was sent, but these had not
been fumigated before dispatch and were already occupied! It was
not
till
nearly the end of November that blue uniform arrived, which
did enable some kind of smartness to be achieved. A grand bonfire
of civilian caps celebrated the event. Khaki was not issued until
February, 1915.
The battalion lived in tents at Codford while huts were being
built, into which the men moved in November, though the officers'
huts were not ready till the end of December. In January, 1915, the
whole division was suffering so badly from cold and damp that it
was moved into billets, the IIth Battalion finding itself at Boscombe,
near Bournemouth.
In April, 1915, after a week's intensive training at Ringwood, the
battalion moved to Hursley near Winchester, where the loth
Battalion was stationed shortly afterwards. The IIth Battalion's
stay there was short as it moved to Malplaquet Barracks, Stanhope
Lines, Aldershot, in July. Its discipline while in the Southern
Command had been so good as to evoke a special reference
in
Command Orders. There were three cases of desertion in December,
1914, all of men who were trying to get to France as soon as possible;
one was killed in action and the other two were wounded.
The battalion continued to distinguish itself at Aldershot, where,
although there were several Royal regiments represented, and
in
spite of many protests, it was selected for its smartness to furnish
the King's Guard at the Royal Pavilion when His Majesty King
George V was in residence. The protests would probably have been
stronger if it had been known that one of the smartest sentries was
"A" Company's really "hard case" who was taken out of his cell
in
the guard room to mount guard! However, he came up to scratch
and was greatly thrilled when he was spoken to while on sentry duty
by Princess Mary (later the Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood).
During his stay at Aldershot, the King inspected the battalion on
Laffan's Plain, as did Lord Kitchener.
This last inspection was a sort of "passing-out examination," for
shortly after, the battalion, in common with the rest of the 25th
Division, was put under orders for France, to which it crossed on
25th September, 1915, the day of the Battle of Loos. It went
almost at once into the front line at
Le
Touquet, near Armentieres,
where the 2nd Battalion had spent many months in the winter of
19
1
4-
1
9
1
5.
In 1918, as will be told later, the battalion was involved first of all
in the "March Retreat" near Bapaume, then in the fighting near