King's Own Royal Regiment Museum


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© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

The Great War Centenary 1917 - Exhibition

Boomtown - From Front Line to White Lund

King’s Own on the Western Front

The Western Front - 1917

The First World War, which had started in August 1914, had quickly reached a stalemate and trenches ran along the front line from the English Channel to the Swiss border.

The King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment had been involved in all the major actions, the Retreat from Mon in 1915, the Battle of Ypres and Loos in 1915 and of course the Battle of the Somme in 1916. By 1917 seven battalions were deployed to the Western Front in France and Flanders, and all were involved in actions throughout the year.

Battle of Arras 9-15 April 1917

Both the 1st and 8th Battalions of the King’s Own took part in the Battle of Arras which was a successful action mainly due to the British Artillery out-numbering the German guns by four to one. Miles of tunnels had also been dug in which troops were able to shelter before the attack. The successful capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps, was one of the most notable successes of the battle, forcing the Germans to withdraw from their positions below the slopes.

Third Battle of Ypres (or Passchendaele) 31st July to 6th November

The ambitious plan was to launch an offensive which was to push out of the Ypres salient and eventually reach the Belgian coast and advance to the Dutch border. No great breakthrough was achieved, but the salient was expanded and the battle relieved pressure upon the French armies to the south.

Years of shellfire had destroyed the drainage system of the countryside over which the battle was fought, so that the exceptionally bad rain of August and later in the offensive, turned the whole area into a bog in which men vanished and tanks sank up to their roofs.

Battalions of the King’s Own were involved in various actions of Third Ypres, including the 1st and 2nd/5th Battalions at Poelcappelle, and the 1st Battalion at Passchendaele in November 1917.

Private Albert Halton, of the 1st Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the attack at Poelcappelle on 12th October 1917.

The 8th Battalion was present at Zonnebeke and the two battalions, the 1st/4th and 1st/5th, which were part of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division, both took part in the Battles of Pilckem Ridge, Wieltje and the Menin Road Ridge.

Lance Sergeant Tom Fletcher Mayson, of the 1st/4th Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the action at Wieltje on 31st July 1917.

On 6th November the capture of Passchendaele ridge and village, a mere seven miles from Ypres, concluded the offensive. The British army lost more than 80,000 men killed and missing and 230,000, wounded and 14,000 captured. German casualties were around 50,000 killed, 113, 000 wounded and 37,000 captured.

The name Passchendaele has since come to epitomize the misery of trench warfare on the Western Front.

Battle of Cambrai 20th November to 3rd December 1917

The Battle of Cambrai was to the south of the town, between the Canal du Nord and the Canal de l’Escaut. It was initially a brilliant tactical success which tore a wide gap in the German defence line. However, the British advantage could not be exploited and the Germans were able to seal off the penetration. A German counter attack on 30th November allowed them to retake the lost ground.

The 1st/4th, 1st/5th, 7th and 11th Battalions of the King’s Own were present at some of the actions of the Battle of Cambrai, having had only a little time to be brought back up to full strength from the part they played in the Third Ypres.

King's Own Battalions on the Western Front, 1917




© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2017 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum