Pete Jones (EFC Heritage Society)  04/09/2016  22 Comments  [Jump to last]

Team spirit is the foundation of success in football as in many other group activities. The great Everton team of the mid 80's had it in skiploads; it allowed them to make the most of their undoubted but underrated skills.  Their spirit came from many sources; they were inspired by the manager, the club and particularly the fans, but also by each other. They had a togetherness which meant when they crossed the white line they relied on each other; they did not want to let the man next to them or the man in front down. They also had natural leaders and, having been through adversity forged a spirt which made them believe they were close to invincible. They went out believing they would win.

The French describe this is esprit de corps, which was originally a military phrase describing the team spirit of groups of soldiers;  history is full of examples where esprit de corps carried forces to amazing victories against all the odds. Because of this the fostering and maintenance of esprit de corps is something that military organisations pay close attention to; the British Army was no different before the First World War. The regimental system was the basis of esprit de corps, with an almost tribal loyalty based on the traditions and history of each unit, some of whom could trace their origins back hundreds of years. Competition between regiments only magnified this.

When war broke out in August 1914 the British Army consisted of long service professionals, but was small in comparison with the vast conscript armies of France and Germany who based their military organisation on training all of their young men for two or three years army service. It soon became clear to the War Office that far more men would be needed to fight a continental war. Lord Kitchener, the Minister of War recognised that hostilities would not be over quickly as many believed and issued a call for 100,000 volunteers. In the first two months of the war half a million men came forward. Many of these were underage, and some were forced to enlist by unemployment caused by the sudden wartime recession, but the enthusiasm of most was not in doubt.

The British Army had traditionally recruited its officers from the upper classes and enlisted men from the working class but Kitchener's appeal brought men from all classes and walks of life to the colours. In late August General Sir Henry Rawlinson suggested that men would be more inclined to enlist if they knew that they would be serving with their friends and colleagues, and issued a call through a friend in the City of London to raise a battalion. The result would become the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, better known as the Stockbrokers' Battalion.

Inspired by this, on Friday 28th August Edward Stanley, the Earl of Derby addressed a packed meeting at the headquarters of the King's Liverpool Regiment asking for volunteers who should be “a battalion of pals, a battalion in which friends from the same office will fight shoulder to shoulder for the honour of Britain and the credit of Liverpool.” At St George's Hall the following Monday the queues of men eager to join snaked across the plateau where their memorial now stands. Enough men eventually came forward for four battalions and two reserves, over 6,000 men in total. The idea of Pals battalions spread rapidly and all over the country groups of men from the same locality or similar walks of life were joining up to serve together.

The Liverpool Pals (BBC)

There was an undoubted element of class involved in some of the recruitment with white collar workers forming separate battalions from tradesmen. This was illustrated in Hull where the city raised four Pals Battalions; they were designated the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th (Service) Battalions of the East Yorkshire Regiment. The 10th were known as the “Hull Commercials” as they were mainly office workers, teachers and businessmen. The 11th were the “Hull Tradesmen” as they drew their recruits from the skilled trades like joinery and welding. The 12th were the “Hull Sportsmen” raised at the instigation of F S Jackson, the former Yorkshire cricket captain. The 13th were a battalion of no particular specialism or trade. They humorously called themselves the “Hull t'others”.

Eventually 142 battalions were created who could be described as Pals, although many were not based in a particular locality. Some were school or sports based like the 16th and 17th Middlesex, the Public Schools battalion and the 1st Footballers' Battalion. Others were based on employers, like the 15th Highland Light Infantry many of whose recruits were from the Glasgow Corporation Tramways Department. The 10th Lincolnshires bucked the pals trend however, they called themselves the Grimsby Chums.

Underlying it all was esprit de corps, with the bonds of friendship, class, shared experience and local pride taking the place of the traditions of the regiments whose battalions the Pals joined.

Battalions, Brigades, Divisions and Corps

The Battalion was the fundamental unit of organisation in the British Army. At full strength it consisted of 1,000 men and 32 officers, although in wartime conditions it was usually well below this. A battalion would have four companies, a company four platoons and a platoon four sections.

Regiments would raise a series of battalions which were numbered. At the outbreak of war most regiments had a 1st and 2nd Battalion of regulars with a 3rd depot or reserve battalion to provide replacements. Typically one battalion would be stationed in the UK or Ireland and the other would be garrisoning part of the Empire. A regiment might have territorial battalions, these had been set up initially to provide a home defence force and were often numbered between 4 and 10. The territorial battalions were part time soldiers who drilled at the weekends and spent a fortnight a year in a training camp. At the outbreak of war they were asked to volunteer for service overseas, and each  battalion were split between the overseas service volunteers, who were given a 1 prefix and those for home service who were given a 2. In the King's Liverpool for example the Liverpool Scottish territorial battalion split into the 1/10th and the 2/10th.

The Liverpool Pals Battalions parading in 1915

In wartime conditions a pioneer or engineering battalion was often added and numbered 11; Harry Norris, the first former Everton player to be killed on the Western front was serving with the pioneer battalion of the King's Liverpool.  The Liverpool Pals battalions of the King's were numbered 17, 18, 19 and 20 but are often referred to as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Liverpool Pals.  In keeping with the semi-autonomous nature of British regiments this organisation could vary and some regiments used slightly different numbering systems; the five Manchester Pals battalions numbered 16 to 20.

At the outbreak of war and up to February 1918 four battalions would make up a brigade, and usually three brigades formed a division along with divisional engineers and artillery. Two or more divisions would constitute a corps and two or more corps would constitute an army. By mid-1916 there were five armies in the British Expeditionary Force. The majority of the Pals battalions were with the 4th Army who would bear the brunt of the battle of the Somme.

The Changing Nature of the British Expeditionary Force in WW1

There was not one British Expeditionary Force that fought in WW1, but four, each with a different character based on the battalions that made up the majority of its strength. This meant the character of the army changed over time.

The first BEF was the regular army which crossed to France in late August 1914. This army was for all intents and purposes destroyed by the end of 1914. Some of the regular battalions that made it up lost the initial force and a whole battalion of replacements, mainly in the fighting around Ypres.  Some of the battalions hastily recalled from garrisoning the empire suffered the same fate as they were thrown into the fray.

Their replacements during late 1914 and the first half of 1915 were the reservists who had served their time as regulars and the territorial battalions who had volunteered for service overseas.  The territorials, disparagingly called “Saturday Night soldiers” had initially been intended to replace regular battalions around the empire but such were the losses suffered in France and Belgium they were sent out to the front from October 1914. The army high command had a very low opinion of the territorials but many battalions performed excellently; notably the 1/10th Kings, the Liverpool Scottish, particularly at Bellewaarde near Ypres in June 1915.

The losses suffered during 1915 were met from the volunteers of 1914, and the first divisions of Kitchener's New Army saw action in late September 1915 at Loos. Gradually the rest of the volunteer battalions arrived in France, including the Pals ready for the “Big Push” in the summer of 1916. At the same time the introduction of conscription in the UK in January 1916 meant a fourth army was in the making, they would shoulder the burden during the last two years of the war.

Temporary Gentlemen

The rapid expansion of the British Army created huge strains on the organisation, including a massive demand for officers. For the Pals battalions many of the officers were drawn from the middle class volunteers, but some preferred to remain private soldiers alongside their mates rather than put the barrier of rank between them. One thing the officers and men of the new Pals battalions lacked was experience.

This lack of experience was mitigated in part by adding an experienced battalion to a brigade to fight alongside the enthusiastic amateurs. For the Liverpool Pals three of their battalions, the 17th, 19th and 20th became part of the 89th Brigade with the 2nd Bedfordshires, while the other Pals battalion, the 18th Battalion joined a battalion of the Manchester Pals in the 21st Brigade. Two regular battalions made up their strength. The 90th Brigade like the 89th was made up of three Pals battalions, all from Manchester alongside the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers. All three brigades were part of the 30th Division.

The British army's pre-war policy of drawing its officers from the upper classes clearly couldn't cope with the extra demand despite the use of units like the Public Schools battalion as a pool of young officers. Officer selection often began with the question which school did you go to. This was despite the startling fact that the Chief of the Imperial General Staff in 1916, Sir William Robertson had risen through the ranks to be the military head of the whole British Army. Robertson was a cockney boy who had started as a trooper in a cavalry regiment and had risen to run the supply train at the outset of the war; it was his organisation that saved the army from starving on the retreat from Mons in 1914. He never lost his cockney accent, and when he had to relieve Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien of command in 1915 legend has it that he said “'Orace, you're for ‘ome”.

But Robertson was the exception that proved the rule. Promising officer material from existing battalions and the new army were selected and true to the pre-war army's strict class structure were described as “temporary gentlemen”. Part of the officer's training would be in the etiquette of the dinner table, knowing which cutlery to use was seen as important in the officer's mess. Many of these men would go on to serve with distinction and reach high if temporary rank during the war. The treatment of those that survived after the war is a forgotten stain on British social history.

Among these “temporary gentlemen” were Malcolm Grigg and Frank Boundy. You will not know Malcolm Grigg's name but you may know his face. You may know Frank Boundy's name as one of the founders of another Everton, in Valparaiso in Chile.

Malcolm Grigg: A Familiar Face

Malcolm Grigg was born in Tottenham in 1893 and was working as a trainee actuary in the City of London when war broke out. He had joined the Territorial Army before the war and volunteered for overseas service with his battalion, the 5th London Rifle Brigade becoming no. 9063 Rifleman Grigg. He went to France on 5th November 1914 and was in Ploegsteert Wood on Christmas Day 1914, where he took part in one of the Christmas Truces. He recorded the incident in his diary and mentioned that he heard of a football match taking place, but says it was from a very unreliable source.  One of his friends had a pocket camera and took the most iconic images of the truce and possibly the whole war, showing Malcolm fraternizing with Saxon troops in no man's land.

Malcolm's battalion was part of the 11th Brigade of the 4th Division and was involved in the 2nd battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915. This saw the first use of poison gas by the Germans on the Western front and Malcolm Grigg's brigade suffered heavy casualties around St Juliaan and Frezenberg just north east of Ypres. The 5th London Rifles had to be withdrawn and rebuilt after the battle such were its losses. Malcolm Grigg was wounded during the fighting and having recuperated he was selected for officer training, becoming a ‘temporary gentleman'. He was posted to the 17th battalion of the Manchester Regiment, the 2nd Manchester Pals in late August 1915. He went back to France with the 17th in November 1916.

Rifleman Malcolm Grigg, looking over the shoulder of the Saxon with the cigarette on Christmas Day 1914 at Ploegsteert Wood - IWM Collection Q 70075

Malcolm Grigg with chair in Ploegsteert Wood — winter 1914/15 - IWM Collection Q 11732

Frank Boundy: A Long Way From Home

Frank Boundy was one of the founders and first president of CD Everton in Chile; his name is on the memorial plaque on the gates of Goodison behind the Dean statue. He was working as a clerk in the Valparaiso office of the Liverpool shipping company Balfour, Williamson & Co when war broke out and left for Liverpool on the 29th August 1914, taking just over a month to make the long sea journey. He enlisted in the elite Scots Guards on the 3rd October; they had a strong connection with the north west and three members of the Merseyside Everton then on their way to the championship would later join the regiment.

He was clearly recognised as officer material despite being only 19 and applied for a commission on 25th January 1915, stating on his application form a preference for a Liverpool regiment. He was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant and posted to the 1/9th King's Liverpool, one of the regiment's territorial battalions. He arrived in France on 23rd August 1915 where the 1/9th were preparing for the first major British offensive of the war, at Loos in the coal mining  area of Artois. On the first day of the battle, 25th September the 1/9th attacked the German front line behind a cloud of poison gas near a feature called Lone Tree but sustained heavy losses due to uncut wire and machine gun fire. The following day the first of the Kitchener New Army divisions were thrown in just south of Lone Tree to try and exploit the capture of the German first line of defence. They suffered heavy losses from Gernan crossfire from the village of Hulluch and a low rise called Hill 70 which the Germans had lost but recaptured on the first day.  Such was the carnage the Germans stopped firing and allowed the walking wounded to retreat. The Germans called it “das Leichenfeld von Loos”- the Corpse Field of Loos. It was a terrible baptism of fire for the New Army.

The fighting at Loos dragged on with little gain until mid-October, leaving the British front line exposed between the village of Hulluch and Hill 70. The trenches were shallow, under constant shell fire and liable to flooding. Attempts to protect the front line with barbed wire at night were stopped by fire across no man's land. In late November Frank Boundy won the Military Cross organising the wiring of the exposed front line; the citation for the medal tells the story:

For conspicuous coolness and gallantry near HULLUCH on night 23/24th November, 1915, in putting up, with the Brigade Wiring Party, 250 yards of chevaux de fries in front of the front line trenches close to the enemy while constantly fired on by machine guns. This operation had been attempted once previously by the same party, and on several occasions by parties of other Brigades during the preceding month without success. 2/Lt Boundy organised the whole operation, which was exceptionally difficult, with great skill and carried it through successfully. On several other occasions he has done bold and skilful work in putting up wire close to the enemy's trenches.

Chevaux de fries were wooden frames around which the barbed wire was coiled; they could be prefabricated behind the lines and carried out into no man's land. Frank Boundy had been at the front for only three months when he was decorated.

At some stage during the winter of 1915/16 2nd Lt Boundy was transferred to the 17th King's Liverpool , the first of the Pals battalions. His experience over the autumn of 1915 would make him a valuable addition to the inexperienced officers of the battalion. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 2nd April 1916. By 1st July when the Liverpool and Manchester Pals attacked Montauban on the Somme he was seconded to the 89th Brigade Trench mortar battery. They would have gone forward in close support of the 17th and 20th battalions attacking to the left of the village, firing on pockets of German resistance. The capture of Montauban by the Manchester Pals (who included Malcolm Grigg's battalion), together with the Liverpool Pals securing the flanks of the village was the major success on the 1st July.

Elsewhere that day the other Pals battalions fared much worse; the villages to the north and west of Montauban would be indelibly linked with towns in the UK, links which were forged in blood.  The Accrington, Bradford, Chorley, Leeds and Sheffield Pals at Serre, the Belfast battalions and the Salford Pals at Thiepval, the Tyneside Irish and Scottish at La Boisselle and the Grimsby Chums at the Lochnagar crater all suffered fearful casualties, often for no gain. However the Manchester and Liverpool Pals' time would not be long in coming.

Into the Woods

Following the successful capture of Montauban on the 1st July the direction of attack switched through 90 degrees to the east into the adjoining Bernafay and Trones woods. The Manchester and Liverpool Pals in the 30th Division were relieved on 2nd July by the 9th Scottish Divison who included former Everton and Liverpool goalkeeper Donald Sloan; they quickly took Bernafay Wood with mercifully light casualties.

The 30th Division returned to Montauban after a week's rest. Between 8th and 12th July it mounted several attacks across the few hundred yards between Bernafay Wood and German held Trones Wood. Attacks got into the wood but were driven back by fierce German shelling and counter-attacks.  Malcolm Grigg took part in an attack on the 9th and was killed by a grenade as he and 50 men of the 2nd Manchester Pals were surrounded by  the Germans as they tried to hold on to the edge of the wood, they had not received the order to retire. After his death his men lost heart and were captured. Malcolm Grigg, the veteran of the first two years of the war was just 22 years old.

In the early morning of the 11th July the 4th Liverpool Pals and the 2nd Bedfords of the 89th Brigade followed a fierce creeping bombardment into the south end of the wood; the fighting was confused with visibility among the shattered trees down to a few feet. The attackers had a stroke of good fortune when a plan for a counter attack was found on a dead German, allowing the artillery and trench mortars to target the German troops as they formed up. The fighting continued into the evening until at 10.30 pm the 1st Liverpool Pals were able to hold the position on the far edge of the wood. The following day the German counter-attacks were beaten off although they still clung on to the northern half of the wood. It is highly likely that Frank Boundy took part in these operations with his trench mortar battery as close support was critical to success or failure.

Trones Wood was finally cleared on the 13th and 14th July by the 18th (Eastern) Division who had attacked on the left of the Liverpool and Manchester Pals on the 1st July. This paved the way for the daring night attack in the early hours of 14th July which took the whole of the German second line along the ridge that runs between the villages of Bazentin-le-Petit and Longueval. The British lines advanced over a mile and nearly took the partly completed third German position. While this advance pushed north the line along the edge of Trones Wood looked east - towards the German held village of Guillemont.


The Somme battlefields are covered with places of terrible significance, now just sleepy villages, verdant woods and isolated farms. Few if any can match Guillemont for sheer bloody horror.  The village was key to any attempt to attack eastwards alongside the French whose sector began just south of Trones Wood. The Germans recognised the importance of the position and tunnelled from the cellars of the houses to create underground bunkers which they linked together to form a defensive labyrinth. Either side of the village the Germans responded to the weight of the Allied artillery and the unhindered Allied control of the air for artillery spotting by employing new tactics. Instead of concentrating their troops in trench lines which could be identified by the Royal Flying Corps and shelled, they fortified the farms either side of Guillemont and thinned and spread their forces out into shell holes behind and sometimes in front of their trench lines. Attacks on the village would be hindered by German fire from unexpected directions and positions. The Germans also began to hold more of their troops further back ready to counter attack.

On the night of 29th to 30th July the 89th and 90th Brigades of the 30th Division containing the Liverpool and Manchester Pals moved back through the scene of their triumphs on the 1st. They came through Montauban and Trones Wood towards the front line on the edge of the woodland. The 89th brigade with three of the Liverpool Pals battalions were to attack south of the road from Montauban to  Guillemont  with the objective of the German line running from the south edge of Guillemont village to Falfemont Farm. Facing them the ground rose slightly before falling towards the German front line. North of the road the ground was the opposite with a shallow valley between the edge of Trones Wood and the village. The ground north of Guillemont sloped up to the village of Longueval and Delville wood less than a mile away. The 90th Brigade with the Manchester Pals and the 2nd Royal Scots would attack Guillemont itself.

The village of Guillemont from the south eastern corner of Trones Wood (John Knight)

For Frank Boundy and the 89th Brigade Trench mortar battery even the approach to the front line was difficult. In 1984 the late Graham Maddocks, author of ‘Liverpool Pals' interviewed a veteran called Harry Readhead who served as a private with Frank Boundy. Harry remembered Frank and his Chilean connections and recounted how they were heavily shelled with both high explosive and gas as they made their way forward from Montauban. Despite feeling the effects of the gas the trench mortar battery were in position to support the attack at zero hour, 4.45 am. From the south eastern corner of Trones wood the 3rd and 4th Liverpool Pals lined up with the 2nd Bedfords on the southern end of the attack frontage. The 17th King's, the 1st Pals were in support along with the trench mortar battery.

The attack started in thick fog, reducing visibility to 40 yards. This initially allowed the capture of a ruin called Maltz Horn farm alongside the French, and the 4th Liverpool Pals reached the sunken lane running south from Guillemont. The3rd Liverpool Pals managed to get into the southern end of Guillemont while the 2nd Royal Scots got through the village right to the eastern side, supported by the Manchester Pals. However as the fog lifted the troops out in the open began to come under heavy machine gun and artillery fire, preventing reinforcement of the first waves.  They quickly became isolated in the village and were counter attacked by the Germans.

Frank Boundy was just over half a mile south of Guillemont having advanced around 600 yards with his trench mortars when he was hit; Harry Readhead takes up the story.

'After a time one of our chaps came in badly shell shocked in no man's land and he told us Boundy (Lieut.F.E.Boundy) had been mortally wounded. So we helped him to a shell hole and Boundy didn't want to go. He said stop with me until I die or something like that. So he did, he stopped with Boundy. Another chap joined them, a chap called Green and while they were there a German put his head over the side of the thing (shell hole) and threw a bomb at them. It went off but it didn't injure any of them. After Boundy died Green pushed off.'

The German counter attacks began to isolate and push back the attackers.  The attacks north of the village lost direction and were driven back in confusion, while the 3rd Liverpool Pals were forced back from the south end of the village. The 2nd Royal Scots were surrounded in the centre of Guillemont and nearly all their troops killed or captured.  By the end of the day only Maltz Horn Farm south of the village was successfully held. However the cost of a gain of maybe 300 yards was appalling. The 89th Brigade lost 1,314 men killed, wounded and missing and the 90th 1,463. Frank Boundy was counted among the dead of the 17th King's Liverpool, the first Liverpool Pals. He was one of 15 officers killed, along with 281 other ranks. For the Liverpool Pals the 30th July 1916 was what 1st July had been to many of the other Pals battalions.

Guillemont in late 1916 (Daily Mail)

The 30th Division was relieved by the 55th West Lancs after the disaster, and the grim Merseyside connection with Guillemont continued. The 55th contained some of the Liverpool territorial battalions including the 1/10th, the Liverpool Scottish. In another attack nine days later the medical officer of the 1/10th, Captain Noel Chavasse won his first Victoria Cross tending to the wounded and dying in front of the German defences.

Guillemont was finally captured between the 3rd and 6th September 1916. The British Official History stated that many observers thought that its defence was the finest performance by the German Army on the whole of the Western front at any stage of the war. The status of the village was assured after the war when one of the German defenders, Ernst Jünger wrote of his experiences in the aptly titled ‘Storm of Steel'. A street in the village of Guillemont is named after him, it runs parallel to a street named for the 16th (Irish) Division who completed the capture of the village.

Epitaph for the Pals

The second incarnation of the British Army in WW1, which included the Pal's battalions is often said to be the finest body of men ever to fight for this country. It was also said by one of the survivors that they were two years in the making and two hours in the destroying. Many of the Pals battalions were changed completely after the losses they suffered on the Somme, indeed the last action of the battle in late November 1916 saw the Glasgow Tramways battalion fight a heroic last stand near Beaumont-Hamel. Some of the Pals battalions were relatively unaffected by the Somme fighting but would find other places to which they would forever be linked. The Hull Pals equivalent of Guillemont would be Oppy Wood near Arras at the beginning of May 1917.

Although the Pals battalions would continue in name and fight with distinction the numbers of replacements needed to bring them up to strength often changed their character and weakened their bonds, just as the replacements in the regular and territorial battalions changed the regimental esprit de corps. The Pals experiment was not maintained through the rest of the war with the new conscript men often being assigned to units which had no connection with where they came from.

After the war the idea of the loss of a generation became a refrain as the inter-war years saw so much hardship and disappointment. In pure statistical terms this was incorrect, the post WW1 baby boom replaced the numbers lost; however it was the loss of the brightest and the best which made people wonder about the sacrifice of the Pals on the battlefields like the Somme. We will never know what they might have become.

The Memorial to the Liverpool and Manchester Pals in Montauban

Postscript: A Little Part of Chile in France

In late 1919 the killing fields around Guillemont were searched by men attached to the Imperial War Graves Commission.  Frank Boundy's body was recovered as it was marked by a cross, and the burial return gave a map reference that we can turn into a set of coordinates; he was found at 50.0038 N, 2.8180 E. Malcolm Grigg was not so lucky, his body was lost and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.

Frank Boundy's body was taken about half a mile north and buried in Guillemont Road Military Cemetery alongside 2,263 others who pay silent witness to the ferocity of the fighting in the area. Frank was just 21 when he died. He is honoured on the plaque at Goodison Park, its twin at CD Everton's Estadio Sausalito in Viña del Mar, and at the English church of St Paul's in Valparaiso.

Pete Jones
EFC Heritage Society 2016.


J P Levinge for solving the mystery of J Selby Grigg and Malcolm Grigg, and much else.
John Shearon of the Ruleteros Society
Tony Wainwright
The EFC Heritage Society
Chris Baker ‘sThe Long Long Trail Website  (
The Imperial War Museum Photograph Collection (
Graham Maddocks — Liverpool Pals
Peter Barton — The Somme: A New Panoramic Perspective
Michael Stedman — Guillemont (Battleground Europe Series)

Reader Comments (22)

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Derek Williams
1 Posted 04/09/2016 at 17:40:46
Excellent stuff Pete, a very interesting read. I found myself thinking "Thank God I was born when I was and not around 1890."

You mention a number of former Everton players ... I assume being largely volunteers at this early stage of the war, the current players of the time would have been discouraged from signing up?

But presumably when full conscription got underway even the current players must have found themselves involved in the blood and gore? I can't imagine "footballer" would have been an exempt occupation...

Jay Harris
2 Posted 04/09/2016 at 18:00:58
Excellent article, Pete, and so nostalgic of life in another time.

We are all so lucky to be living the lifestyle we enjoy today compared to those that made it possible for us.

Long may they be remembered and cherished.

Gerry Morrison
3 Posted 04/09/2016 at 19:37:01
Great stuff, as always; thanks Pete.
Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 04/09/2016 at 20:09:02
Great stories, Pete, "Temporary Gentlemen" class counted even in a war, you couldn't believe that would happen, only in England!!!!!
Sue Brown
5 Posted 04/09/2016 at 20:12:43
Thanks Pete, an interesting and very poignant read.
As Jay says, we should be forever grateful to these brave men and never forget them.
Brent Stephens
6 Posted 04/09/2016 at 20:18:57
I got engrossed in that. Great read.

Loved this:

"The 10th were known as the “Hull Commercials” as they were mainly office workers, teachers and businessmen. The 11th were the “Hull Tradesmen” as they drew their recruits from the skilled trades like joinery and welding. The 12th were the “Hull Sportsmen” raised at the instigation of F S Jackson, the former Yorkshire cricket captain. The 13th were a battalion of no particular specialism or trade. They humorously called themselves the “Hull t'others”.

Karl Masters
7 Posted 04/09/2016 at 21:38:49
It makes me sick to think how so many brave men were used as cannon fodder by incompetent, bungling Senior Officers.

It really does show the futility of War.

Tony Draper
8 Posted 04/09/2016 at 21:54:12
You had me "signed up" with the pic!

My, paternal, Granddad "went to teach the Bosch a lesson" aged 15. He fought at "Wipers". He got shot in the upper thigh, and as he put it "if that bugger had been a couple of inches taller, you wouldn't be here".

Both my Granddads "fought the bloody Kaiser", both proper Evertonians. On entirely separate occasions they both told me, "Blue Blood doesn't leak easy, Sunshine", then they "tousled" my hair.

Isn't it fuckin ace being a "Pureblooded Blue"?
Granddads, Grandma's, Man 'n Dad, all Bluebloods. I'm a lucky bugger. I don't treat my heritage lightly, never have, never will.


Tony Draper
9 Posted 04/09/2016 at 22:07:21
"The Great War" always evokes this song, by Liverpool's finest "Boy Band", Cream of the Barley.

The Craic was mighty!

Andrew James
10 Posted 04/09/2016 at 22:21:12
It's tragic how underage members of the working classes were getting into the army because they wanted to do their bit and were slaughtered at the Somme or Ypres because of the Upper Classes not having a clue how to combat the Germans other than sending men to their deaths like cannon fodder.

The Working Classes are this country's foundation and always have been.

Peter Mills
11 Posted 04/09/2016 at 22:38:16
Lest we forget.
Dennis Stevens
13 Posted 05/09/2016 at 00:37:13
Thanks, Pete, a great deal of work must have gone into producing such an excellent piece.
David Ellis
14 Posted 05/09/2016 at 03:13:54
Firstly, a great piece – like others, I am grateful to have missed this particular "show" and glad my grandfather survived (one of his brothers didn't).

However, I will now wander into a possible area of controversy. The class thing. The "incompetent generals" thing. My grandfather was public school educated and a junior officer in the Great War. Junior officers had the highest casualty rate of any type of soldier. And most of them were public school boys. This is not the case of working class lads being sacrificed. They were all sacrificed.

As to the futility of it and the incompetence of generals – this is a matter of dispute. Read "Blood Guts & Poppycock" for a view that WW1 was necessary for the British to fight, that the generals learned relatively quickly how to fight this new modern war, that we won the Battle of the Somme – essential for relieving the pressure on Verdun and by the end the British Army (and the newly arriving American army) was the only one capable of continuing to fight.

The "Lions led by Donkeys" suggestion was completely rejected by my grandfather, who at the time was on the front lines but, being an officer, understood what was being attempted and the difficulties of dealing with a new type of warfare. He didn't live to see Black Adder Goes Fourth... but don't confuse that for history. He did see Mel Gibson's Gallipoli – and said it was ludicrous.

I love the articles on WW1 – it was a terrible tragedy and I have nothing but respect for those that took part.

Mike Green
15 Posted 05/09/2016 at 08:22:56
Pete – many thanks for such a fascinating piece, perhaps something we should all read every Monday morning to realise how fortunate we are compared to many that went before us. To have retained this level of detail, and have custodians such as yourself protecting it and educating us all is a blessing; so thank you.

John Keegan's “Face of Battle” interestingly compares Agincourt (Hand-to-hand combat) to Waterloo (Single-missile combat) and then again to The Somme (Multi-missile combat). In support of Dave's comments (#14) WWI and this brand of warfare was completely unprecedented, and thankfully will never be seen again. Both sides were caught in a horrific battle of attrition, using technology never seen before and unfortunately those making, and taking, the orders didn't have the luxury of historical perspective that we have today.

One thing is for sure though, reading this piece alone about just two of the hundreds of thousands of barely adult men taken in that conflict – never mind the effect on those who survived – brings home to true horror and atrocity that was endured by so many only one hundred years ago.

Thanks again Pete.

Lest We Forget.

Dave Abrahams
16 Posted 05/09/2016 at 08:58:51
David (14) I appreciate your point of view and I do not want to spoil a great article by starting a debate on it but to make working class lads and men "Temporary Gentlemen" once they were promoted to officers is very hard for me to comprehend and accept.
David Ellis
17 Posted 05/09/2016 at 09:32:19
Dave - (16) - yes fair point. There is no doubt that at the time the public schools types would never (or hardly ever) have accepted lads from the ranks as a social equal. I'm not trying to defend that.

As a side note there was a TV series in the 80s called the "Monocled Mutineer" which was loosely based on one Percy Toplis. Although in reality he was not a mutineer, he was a private in WW1 who impersonated an officer (and wore a monocle) and he got away with it because (a) "gentlemen" were taken at face value and (b) no-one could imagine a private being able to impersonate a gentleman. It shows the depth of the class gap at the time.

Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 05/09/2016 at 13:23:36
David (#17), thank you for your reply.
Erik Dols
19 Posted 05/09/2016 at 14:13:43
Pete, thanks for an interesting insight, very well written. As I have Belgian and French grandparents (amongst others, emigration is a thing in my family...) both World Wars are still a topic in the family, we still have two Belgian medals given to my great-grandfather after WWI. I cannot start to fathom how terrible war must be and I hope to avoid it in my lifetime.

On the class differences: I guess those differences might have been bigger to start with in the UK than on the continent, and that fighting a defensive war in your own country brings a whole different dynamic in comparison to fighting elsewhere to liberate allies, but I know my granddad always claimed the wars helped to lessen the class differences (basically the French speaking elite vs Dutch speaking working class – it's really not useful to pretend you don't understand each other when you're getting slaughtered) significantly in Belgium.

Robert Mckie
20 Posted 05/09/2016 at 20:22:43
My grandfather Robert McKie, an Evertonian enlisted in the Liverpool Scottish and took part in the Battle of the Somme. He went to the front on the 16th July as far as I know.

He survived to serve in the Royal Engineers in WW2. My Dad, myself and my son are all Evertonians and all called Robert McKie. Couldn't imagine it any other way.

Rob Sawyer
21 Posted 05/09/2016 at 20:24:29
Meticulous research, as ever, Pete – well done. How about doing a book?!
Vin McFarlane
23 Posted 09/09/2016 at 21:22:21
I second that Rob. I'd buy it...
Vin McFarlane
24 Posted 10/09/2016 at 00:34:52
I second that Rob; I'd certainly buy it.

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