The Battle of Arras, 1917

For the next impending battle our Advanced Dressing Station and the Walking Wounded Collecting Post were fixed at Anzin on the Arras-Mont St. Eloi road, where spme accommodation capable of extension existed while at already Madagascar, a kilometre across country in front on the Arras-Bethune road, was a dug- out serving as Relay Bearer Post ; leaving a Collecting Post- the Lille Road Post – to be constructed another good kilometre nearer the line, in an old trench running alongside the Arras-Lille road. Here, marking off some seventy feet of the trench, we set about deepening it, broadening it, and roofing it with iron “English Shelters”, a thinner type of the heavy “Elephant Shelter” ; on top of them, again, laying sandbags filled with the excavated earth. Three tiers of Stretcher racks were fitted on each side of the interior, the whole available space being about fifty feet by ten, and holding forty wounded ; while in the middle, with sandbagged partition walls in case of a hit, was a chamber set apart as a dressing room. 

All this meant steady and hard work for the R.A.M.C. fatigue parties of the three Divisional Field Ambulances from the end of February … Read the rest

The Football Battalions

Memorial to the Football Battalion in Longueval, France
Memorial to the Football Battalions in Longueval, France

The 17th (Service) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment was an infantry battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, part of the British Army, which was formed as a Pals battalion during the Great War. The core of the battalion was a group of professional footballers, which was the reason for its most commonly used name, The Football Battalion (also the footballers’ or players’ battalion). The 23rd (Service) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment was formed in June 1915 and became known as the 2nd Football Battalion. The battalions fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 among others.

During the First World War there had been an initial push by clubs for professional football to continue, in order to keep the public’s spirits up. This stance was not widely agreed with and public opinion turned against professional footballers. One soldier, serving in France, wrote to a British newspaper to complain that “hundreds of thousands of able-bodied young roughs were watching hirelings playing football” while others were serving their country. The suggestion was even made that King George V should cease being a patron of The Football Association.

William Joynson-Hicks formed the battalion on 12 December 1914 at Fulham … Read the rest