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First World War

1st/5th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment


4 August 1914

Mobilised at Lancaster, deposited Colours in the Priory Church on 5 August, leaving for Barrow in Furness the next day in order to guard the docks.  Returned to Lancaster on 12 August 1914.

14 August 1914

Battalion departs from Lancaster Castle Station for the south.

15 August 1914 - October 1914

Didcot and area guarding lines of communication
see warning poster
Standing Orders whilst at Didcot

October 1914-February 1915

Sevenoaks, Kent

15 February 1915

Arrived in France at Le Havre

March 1915 Attached to the 14th Brigade of the 5th Division
April 1915 Transferred to the 83rd Brigade of the 28th Division
April and May 1915 Second Battle of Ypres
23 April 1915 Counter attack near St Jean
see Sergeant William's Cocoa Tin
8 May 1915 Attack on Frezenberg
28 September 1915 Battle of Loos
October 1915 Transferred to the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division
January 1916 Joined the 166th Infantry Brigade of the 55th Division
July to October 1916 Battle of the Somme

August 1916

The Somme: Battle of Guillemont

15 September 1916 Battle of Flers
10 May 1917 Occupation of Blakeley Crater

31 July 1917

3rd Battle of Ypres: Battles of Pilckem Ridge

31 July 1917 Attack near Wieltje

20 September 1917

3rd Battle of Ypres: Battle of the Menin Road Ridge
Further attack on Wieltje

20 to 30 November 1917

Battle of Cambrai

30 November 1917 Attack near Epéhy
30 November 1917 Defence of Limerick Post
9 April 1918 Festubert-Givenchy

24 August 1918

Givenchy Craters

4 November 1918

Battle of the Sambre - Advance on Ath

12 December 1918 Moved to Brussels
1 April 1919 Moved to Cologne
5 September 1919 Returned to England then to Ireland
16 October 1919 Cadre returned to Lancaster

1st/5th Battalion and the Didcot Connection - North Berkshire Herald – Sunday 22nd May, 1915 - Didcot Man Writes Home From Front.


Diary of Lance Corporal Robert Higginson, 1915.


What does 1st/4th, 1st/5th or 2nd/5th mean?


Renumbering of Territorial Force Battalions

Photographs: 1st/5th (Territorial Force) Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

bullet1st/5th (Territorial) Battalion, King's Own, Lancaster in 1914
bulletUse of Caton Road, Lancaster, First World War.
bullet1st/5th (Territorial) Battalion, King's Own, Didcot in 1914
bullet1st/5th (Territorial) Battalion, King's Own, Sevenoaks, 1914-1915
bulletEssenhigh-Corke Collection of negatives, Sevenoaks, First World War
bulletAlbum: Harry Burrow, 1st/5th King's Own, 1914-1915
bulletAlbum: Corporal W A Morris, 1st/5th King's Own.  1914-1918
bulletCollection: Major Fawcett, 1st/5th King's Own, 1914-1916 Page One
bulletCollection: Major Fawcett: 1st/5th King's Own, 1914-1916 Page Two
bulletCollection: Major Fawcett: 1st/5th King's Own, 1914-1916 Page Three
bullet1st/5th (Territorial) Battalion, King's Own, crossing the Channel, 1915
bullet1st/5th (Territorial) Battalion, King's Own, France and Flanders - Domestic Life
bullet1st/5th Battalion, King's Own in France and Flanders
bullet1st/5th Battalion, 1915 Recruiting Poster
bulletPostcards of places on the Western Front where the 1st/5th Battalion, King's Own was billeted etc.
bullet1st/5th Battalion, King's Own in France - Groups September 1918
bullet1st/5th Battalion, King's Own in 1919



Records of the 1st/5th Battalion, King's Own, First World War.


First World War Recruiting Handbill


Sketch map of burials of the 1st/5th Battalion, King's Own.


Collections: 55th West Lancashire Division


From the Museum Shop: The King's Own (Territorial Force) Being a Record of the 1/5th Battalion, The King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment in the European War 1914-1918.  Compiled by Captain Albert Hodgkinson, published 1921.  Reprint.  Sorry now out of print.

A digital version of the Battalion War Diary is available on cd-rom from the Museum Shop.


The 1st/5th Battalion, King's Own In the War 1914-1919
Extracts from the Lion and the Rose. November 1928

Mainly owing to the deep personal interest taken in work of the Battalion by the Colonel Lord Richard Cavendish, and the 2nd in Command, Major J H Bates, together with the personality of the adjutant, Captain J M Young, the outbreak of war found a united Battalion imbued with the patriotic spirit. Two days after mobilization while the battalion was acting temporarily as a guard at Barrow-in-Furness, every Officer and man volunteered for foreign service.

After a week at Barrow and two days at Lancaster, railway duties we were taken over on the Great Western and Reading to Swindon, headquarters at Didcot. The zeal and patience of all ranks were well displayed in the way they dealt with an awkward situation at an hour's notice. With the reserve the battalion was over strength, but quite a number of men were rejected for foreign service, and went back to Lancaster to join the newly formed 2nd/5th; originally intended as a home service Battalion, to take over the duties of the 1st/5th Battalion when the latter proceeded abroad. A draft of two hundred fine recruits who had not previously served in the Territorials, made the Battalion again up to strength. In November 1914 the 1st/5th was withdrawn from Railway guarding and concentrated with the rest of the West Lancashire Division at Sevenoaks and Tonbridge, the 1st/5th being at Sevenoaks. While the Division formed part of the London Defence, its proper function was preparation for foreign services. Circum-stances altered the plans. Territorials were wanted immediately to reinforce the overworked regulars in France. Only those units whose second lines were available to take over their home duties were sent abroad at first, which explains why the 1st/5th was one of the first Battalions to cross on 14th February 1915. The Battalion was first attached to the 5th Division for Wulverghem. The history of the 1st and 2nd Battalions will have dealt with the state of the trenches at this time. Let it only be said that the Territorials struck it well. After instructions the 1/5th Battalion joined the 28th Division which included our 2nd Battalion. Very fortunate was the 1st/5th to be in the 83rd Brigade with the 2nd, who gave helpful suggestion and brotherly assistance freely. From March to October 1915, the history of the two Battalions as regards incidents in France is identical except for a short period when the 2nd Battalion battle of Ypres began. The 2nd were holding trenches on a part of the Salient, Zonnebeke, not in line of the German attack while the 1st/5th were in reserve at Ypres. Consequently when the first gas attack broke the French line at St Julien, the 1st/5th were called on to form part of a hastily gathered Brigade of reserve. Units called Colonel Geddes Brigade. The Canadians were filling the gap and Geddes' Brigade completed the scattered line. On Friday 23rd April the 1st/5th joined in a counter attack which did not reach its objective, but enabled the British and French to close the gap and so saved the situation. A few days later the Salient was made healthier by withdrawing from the Zonnebeke sector, and forming the new Frezenberg Line, the 1st/5th rejoined its Brigade and along with the 2nd Battalion on May 8th was called upon to resist a smashing German attack. The 1st/5th again suffered heavily, the 2nd even more so, the result being that the 1st/5th were reduced to 11 Officers and 300 men, including transport. As the Colonel had been wounded and Major Bates and the Adjutant gone to England, sick, Captain F. Eaves was now in command with Lieutenant G.C. Milnes Adjutant. A veil must be drawn over the humiliating summer of 1915. The Battalion was too short of Officers and men to take its turn in the line, and the Territorials draft were few. This was while the 28th enabled the 1st/5th to take a share in the Battle of Loos. Shortly afterwards the 28th Division went to Salonika, leaving behind its Territorial Units and the 1st/5th was attached to the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division. November and December 1915 were spent in the mud before Loos, but early in 1916 the Battalion rejoined the West Lancashire Division whose units had been scattered amongst the Regular Divisions. The 55th Division as it was now called, took over comfortable trenches south of arras, and in July moved south to take its share in the Somme. No outstanding incidents occurred to the 1st/5th here, except that the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Anderson, and the Medical Officer, Captain Deighton, were killed by a shell outside Flers. The 1st/5th lost many men on working parties, and were twice commended for finishing 'jumping off' trenches under nerve shattering conditions. Still, since leaving Ypres, they had not had much chance, and they were glad the Somme even to return to Ypres. The 55th Division were in Ypres from October 1916, to October 1917. Useful work was done in the winter in the Potijze and Railway Wood Sectors. The 1/5th joined another Battalion in the Division to commence the Passchendaele offensive on 31st July their objective was the Blue Line which was achieved with the loss in the 1st/5th of 14 Officers and 211 men killed and wounded. Again on 20th September the Division took up the attack, this time on Schuler Galleries. Captain Bennett reformed the line with fragments of scattered units in readiness for a German counter at-tack, which, however, the Divisional artillery broke up. From the Salient the 55th Division went south to Cambrai, being on the right of the surprise British tank attack on 20th November. Ten days later the Germans counter attacked on the Division front, overwhelming the South Lancashire Regiment and the Liverpool Scottish, but were held up by the North Lancashire Regiment, and 1st/5th King's Own who were in reserve in strong points. Captain Bennett again distinguished himself at Limerick Post. Though surrounded for the best part of the day, along with a section of the Scottish, the whole party was extricated under cover of darkness.

After a complete rest for re-organization, the division took over the Festubert. Givenchy Section before Bethune in February 1918, much good work in preparation was rewarded on 9th April when the memorable defence of Givenchy held up the German advance on that side, and the Portuguese, enabled the British to reform the line when the Portuguese were overwhelmed.

In advance the 55th Division took over the direction of Festubert Section, Tournai and reached Ath on 11th November. By Christmas they were in Brussels, where the 1st/5th were given the task of entertaining football, boxing and cross-country running team from the six armies in France and Flanders during the competitions which were decided at Brussels early in 1919. On 1st April the 1st/5th Battalion left the 55th Division for service in the Rhine Army, Provost-Branch guarding the Belgium-German Frontier and various railway stations and river centres in Rhine area. In September, the Battalion returned to England but crossed immediately to Ireland. On arrival at the Curragh demobilization at once commenced. Finally on 16th October the Cadre of 4 Officers and 10 NCO's and men arrived at Lancaster, where they received a most cordial civic reception. It has not been possible in this short time to name the various Commanding Officers, Adjutants etc., but the transport officer and Quartermaster served throughout the war unchanged. The Battalion had eight Commanding Officers, ten 2nd in Commands and seven Adjutants.

In honours there was one C.M.G. three D.S.O's 24 Military Crosses, with four first bars and one second bar, 10 D.C.M's, 87 M.M's, 3 Foreign Decorations, 17 Officers (2 Officers 3 times) and 18 NCO's and men mentioned in despatched.

Killed or died of wounds 27 officers 537 NCO's and men. Wounded and missing 98 Officers 1919 NCO's and men. Sick 102 Officers 2267 NCO's and men.


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