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31st October 1914 - The Great War, Day by Day - The Wartime Memories Project

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The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day

31st October 1914

On this day:

  • 3rd Monmouths on the move   The 3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment moved from Northampton to work on the East Coast Defensive System where trenches were dug and when finished they were equipped with shelters, barbed wire and machine-guns. At this time the threat of an invasion was considered to be real enough and the tedium of routine work was relieved by rumours of bombardments and attempted landings. At this time the British Army in France was fighting against heavy odds, the advance of the German Army appeared to be only temporarily checked. This situation gave rise to great anxiety for all. So when orders were received that the Battalion were to return to Northampton to refit for service in India, the prospect of serving in India was not very well received.

  • Germans attack Geluveld   On the 31st October the Germans made an attack from the east along the Menin Road and captured the area around Geluveld Chateau. Just after mid day the Chateau was struck by a shell causing serious causalties. With the British line close to breaking the remaining 500 men of 2nd Worcesters in reserve at the Western edge of Polygon Wood, were ordered to counter attack. With one company guarding the Menin Road to the north of Geluveld village, against German advance towards Ypres, the remainder prepared to attack. At 1400 with bayonets foxed they filed to Black Watch Corner at the south west edge of Polygon Wood. They made a bayonet charge into the Chateau grounds to reinforce the remnants of the 1st South Wales Borderers had earlier recaptured the Chateau.

    Holts Battlefield Guide

  • Hooge Chateau shelled   Hooge Chateau was shelled killing several staff officers of Major General Monro's Divisional Head Quarters and wounding others, including Gen. Monro

    Holts Battlefield Guide

  • Hospital ship grounded   

    HMHS Rohilla

    Sailing south through the North Sea, at around 0400 on 30 October 1914 the Rohilla struck Whitby Rock, a reef at Saltwick east of Whitby. At the time there was a fierce gale and due to wartime blackout conditions no landmarks were visible. Although the ship was only 600 metres from shore, the treacherous conditions of the high seas and storm force winds made rescue difficult.

    Rockets with ropes attached were fired from the cliffs, but all missed. The Rohilla had no rockets of her own. Due to the weather conditions Whitby's lifeboat could not be launched from the harbour, so it was carried by hand over an eight-foot seawall and across rocks so that it could be launched from the foreshore nearest the ship. The five women aboard the ship were the first to be rescued. Seventeen survivors were taken during the lifeboat's first run, and another eighteen were rescued on its second; however, the lifeboat itself was too badly damaged to continue the rescue.

    Six Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboats (Bradford, John Fielden, Queensbury, Robert and Mary Ellis, William Riley of Birmingham and Leamington and the Henry Vernon) carried out a rescue operation lasting fifty hours, saving many of the 229 people on board, but 85 lives were lost in the disaster. Amongst those rescued from Rohilla was Mary Kezia Roberts, who had survived the sinking of RMS Titanic just two years earlier in 1912.

    The Empire Gallantry Medal (later changed to the George Cross) was awarded to Major Burton of the Tynemouth lifeboat Henry Vernon for his role in the rescue.

    The Gold Medal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the highest honour the institute could award, was presented to Coxswain Thomas Langlands and Coxswain Robert Smith. The Silver Medal, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s second highest award, was bestowed on Second Coxswain Richard Eglon, Second Coxswain James’ Brownlee, Lieutenant Bazil Hall RN, and George Peart, who also received £10.

    Lloyds Agent, Captain John Milburn, received a letter of thanks and a pair of binoculars. Whitby Police received £10 from the R.N.L.I. and £25 from the owners of the Rohilla. The crews of the lifeboat John Fielden and Henry Vernon got additional cash payments. Captain Neilson was awarded the Bronze Medal of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, for his efforts in the rescue of the ship's cat.

    Rescue Attempts - another account.

    Whitby’s tale of courage and endurance took place on 30 October 1914 as the HMHS Rohilla (a naval hospital ship), travelling to Dunkirk to pick up the wounded, struck Whitby Rock. Although only meters from shore, the high seas and storm force winds made any rescue difficult. Whitby's RNLI lifeboat was carried by hand over a seawall to be launched from the beach. Eventually six lifeboats battled the sea to reach the ship, fill up with desperate passengers and return them to the shore.

    The unrelenting courage of the volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews and the community of Whitby, who worked for over 50 hours, saved 144 lives.

    Three Gold* and four Silver RNLI Medals for Gallantry, the Empire Gallantry Medal and the Bronze Medal of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were awarded to Whitby and Tynemouth RNLI volunteers, and to others, involved in the rescue. (*The Gold RNLI medal is often referred to as the lifeboat crew VC).

    John Doran

  • Continued withdrawals   E Battery 3rd Brigade RHA

    Near Wytschaete with 5th Cavalry Brigade. Very heavy attack all day especially on Brigade Cavalry. Fired about 300 rounds from 3 guns till dark when left guns in action team carriages being about 1 mile in North West. Heavy attacks continued after dark and our lines eventually broken in front of guns which were withdrawn under heavy rifle fire about midnight to Groote Vierstraat where went into action in observation. Guns fired till withdrawn on known points and roads. Enemy's infantry were within 500 yards of guns before they were ordered to retire.

    war diaries

  • 31st Oct 1914 HQ Hit

  • 31st Oct 1914 More enemy bombardment

  • 31st Oct 1914 Losses for 1st North Staffs

  • 31st Oct 1914 Village was Recaptured

  • 31st Oct 1914 London Scottish in Action

  • 31st Oct 1914 To Defend Messines

  • 31st Oct 1914 Death Trap

  • 31st Oct 1914 Heavy Bombardment

  • 31st Oct 1914 Wiring

  • 31st Oct 1914 On the March

  • 31st Oct 1914 In Action

  • 31st Oct 1914 Quiet Day

  • 31st Oct 1914 On the March

  • 31st Oct 1914 In Action

  • 31st October 1914 Relief by Indian Corps completed

  • 31st Oct 1914 In Action

  • 31st Oct 1914 Enemy Advance

  • 2 Life Guards moved into woods near Verbranden-Molen   At 6.30 am the 2nd Life Guards moved into the woods just south of Verbranden-Molen whence it moved later with the remainder of the Brigade into another position of readiness (in its role as a mobile Reserve) in the woods 1/2 mile North East of the E of Hooge. Thence the Regiment and Brigade moved to St Eloi in readiness to support the situation in this vicinity but not being required the Brigade returned to the woods about Verbranden-Molen and billeted finally in the village.

    War Diary

  • 31st Oct 1914 Desparate Attacks

Can you add to this factual information? Do you know the whereabouts of a unit on a particular day? Do you have a copy of an official war diary entry? Details of an an incident? The loss of a ship? A letter, postcard, photo or any other interesting snipts?

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Want to know more?

There are:24 articles tagged with this date available in our Library

  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.

Remembering those who died this day.

  • Pte. Andrew Brace. Worcestershire Regiment 2nd Btn. Read their Story.
  • Sgt. Henry John Champion. Somerset Light Infantry 1st Battalion
  • Pte. William Frederick Clissett. Royal Warwickshire Regiment 2nd Battalion Read their Story.
  • Sgt. George Pocock Buxton Dean. Royal West Surrey Regiment 1st Btn. Read their Story.
  • Rfmn. Charles Thomas Gilbert. Kings Royal Rifle Corps 2nd Batt Read their Story.
  • Pte. Henry Greenstreet. Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment 1st Battalion
  • Lt. Lionel Hope Hawkins. Kings Dragoon Guards att. 6th Dragoon Guards Read their Story.
  • Pte. Francis Lyons. Loyal North Lancashire Regiment Read their Story.
  • Pte. William Henry Prudence. Queen West Surrey Regiment 2nd Btn. Read their Story.
  • L/Cpl. George Henry Steward. Worcestershire Regiment 2nd Battalion
  • Pte. Eli Sykes. Kings Own Yorkshire Light infantry 2nd Btn. Read their Story.
  • Pte. Samuel Wilson. Royal Scots Fusiliers 2nd Battallion Read their Story.

    Add a name to this list.

  • Items from the Home Front Archive

    The Hospital Ship Disaster
    The Hospital Ship Disaster

    More about this item

    Do you have any letters, photos, postcards, documents or memorabilia from the Great War? We would love to include copies. Please use this form to submit diary entries and letters or photographs for this new Section: add to this archive.

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