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1908 - 1919


1/13 Battalion



Training in those days was tough, rough and thorough. In less than three months the Battalion was in France , where at Laventie it took over a section of waterlogged "trenches" which constituted the front. By the end of February, 1915, it sustained ninety-six casualties, mainly from snipers, shell fire and mortars.


On 10th March, 1915 , it went into battle at Neuve Chapelle and suffered one hundred and fifty-six casualties, the first of a long series of heroic but abortive and costly actions. At Aubers Ridge on 9th May the Battalion was decimated, suffering four hundred and thirty-six casualties, but earned the praise of the Corps Commander, who said "By your splendid attack and dogged endurance, you and your fallen comrades won imperishable glory for the 13th London Battalion." It was a feat surpassed by no other battalion in the Great War.


Employed on lines-of-communication work for a year while the ranks were slowly made up by drafts from the second and third line battalions at home, the 1/13 Battalion moved into the line in May, 1916, in preparation for the holocaust of the Somme , taking over trenches facing Hebuterne. The long series of bloody battles followed, waged back and forth over the scarred landscape loosely designated "the Somme ," lasting until mid-October, and costing the Battalion another six hundred casualties. Gommecourt, Hebuterne, Combles and Ginchy followed in relentless succession until the battered Battalion finally drew out, marched north, and found itself once again in familiar Laventie


After five months of trench warfare, first in the Laventie area and then at Arras , during which its own raiding activity cost a further sixty casualties, the Battalion went into action at Neuville Vitasse, losing another one hundred and twenty-eight men in a ten-day struggle. Four more months in the Arras sector and a further one hundred casualties, and then the 1/13th were whisked to the dreaded Ypres Salient. Here, in one fearful day in August, 1917, it suffered one hundred and ten casualties. Back again to the south to participate in the November battle of Cambrai (that so nearly ended the war), before a final year in the Vimy-Arras sector, where action followed action, and then the final advance to Mons in November, 1918, and victory at long last. Eighty-three men marched into Mons .


May 1919, saw the 1/13th Cadre home again, to be welcomed by Princess Louise at Headquarters, and receive back the Colours from the hands of the Mayor of the Royal Borough.

Formed from the overflow of volunteers for 1/13th Battalion at the outbreak of war, the 2/13th had the incalculable advantage of serving as a compact unit of the famous Grey Brigade for nearly four years, although many substantial drafts were furnished to the parent battalion during 1914-15. A valuable preliminary test came when it was called, at Easter, 1916, to cross to Ireland and assist in quelling the Irish rebellion. This episode of a few weeks was followed by an inspection by HM King George V on 11 June. A few weeks later the Battalion was in France , holding the line at Neuville St. Vaast, facing Vimy Ridge. In addition, it engaged in tunnelling operations and two major raids, sustaining some fifty casualties.