The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day
1st December 1914On this day:
- Dec 1914 Durham Pals move to Fencehouses
- 23rd Manchesters move to Morcombe 23rd Manchesters leave the city to continue their training in Morcambe.
- Recruitment and Training 16th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles.
Recruitment efforts continued and helped raise Battalion strength from 230 at the end of November to 500 by the 19th December 1914.
Training began to bring recruits up to the physical requirements for battle fitness with physical exercise and route marches of increasing intensity. A large batch of service rifles arrived on the 19th December which meant that military weaponry drill could be incorporated within the training timetable. Route marches got longer and, on the 7th December, the men marched to Banbridge and back (16 miles) in 3 ½ Hours.
Initially training would have concentrated on infantry skills including drill, musketry, bayonet fighting and training in the Lewis and machine guns. Route marches and PT (Physical Training) would also have featured. Selected Officers and NCOs on appointment were sent to infantry training schools to become instructors in these fields. A rifle range was constructed at the rear of Brownlow House. The pioneers were basically riflemen and in the Royal Irish Rifles had to learn to drill at “rifles pace” which was 160 paces to the minute as opposed to the normal infantry rate of 120 paces to the minute. Field-craft with elementary infantry tactics at section, platoon and company level were gradually introduced as potential section leaders were identified, trained and gained in confidence and experience.
- 2nd Life Guards refit at Eecke. The 2nd Life Guards War Diary records: The Regiment continued to refit at Eecke.
- Rest day E Battery 3rd Brigade RHA
Near Bailleul with 5th Cavalry in reserve.
In billets 1 1/4 miles South West of Bailleul.
- Royal Visit
Drummer Spencer John Bent VC later Regimental Sgt Major.
1st Battalion East Lancashire Regiment enjoy a quiet time from the 1st to 18th of December, with occasional shelling.
On the 2nd December, B coy under Lieutenants Wade and Parker was inspected by H.M the King at Pont De Nieppe. Lt Col Lawrence as acting Brigadier was in command of the 11th Infantry Brigade parade.
Capt C. Fletcher was wounded on the 3rd and Lt Col Lawrence rejoined the battalion on the 10th. On the 11th December the war diary records: D. Bent was awarded the Victoria Cross. (Drummer Spencer John Bent - see below). Capt G.M. Smith was wounded on the 15th.
Spencer John Bent VC, MM (18 March 1891 – 3 May 1977) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
He was 23 years old and a drummer in the 1st Battalion, The East Lancashire Regiment, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
On the night of 1/2 November 1914 near Le Gheer, Belgium, when his officer, the platoon sergeant and a number of men had been struck down, Drummer Bent took command of the platoon and with great presence of mind and coolness succeeded in holding the position. He had previously distinguished himself on two occasions, on 22 and 24 October by bringing up ammunition under heavy shell and rifle fire. Again, on 3 November, he brought into cover some wounded men who were lying, exposed to enemy fire, in the open.
He later achieved the rank of Regimental Sergeant-Major. He survived the war and died on 3 May 1977. Bent was cremated at West Norwood Cemetery, London. Bent's VC, along with his Military Medal and Russian Cross of St. George was sold at auction in June 2000 for £80,000. His VC is on display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum, London.
- 1st Dec 1914 King George Inspects the Army
- 1st Dec 1914 The King's Visit
- 1st Dec 1914 No Respect
- 1st Dec 1914 Belgians Recovering
- 1st Dec 1914 Ploughing up the Fields
- 1st Dec 1914 The King in France
- 1st Dec 1914 Baths
- 1st Dec 1914 Refitting and Training
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