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Court Martial Records of Lieutenant Colonel Elkington, 1st Warwicks


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#26 NigelP

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 12:25 PM

"What happened to Mainwaring afterwards" - it looks like he faded into obscurity. I found this on another forum http://www.angloboer...imit=6&start=12

#27 Alan Tucker

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 01:35 PM

Pinch of salt needed here. Hamilton took a lot of Monty's memoirs as the truth. If Monty had been in command of the 1/Warwicks first real engagement at Haucourt on August 26 1914 we would probably have won Le Cateau and the entire war. It was actually a forced retreat.

I understood that he went back to France to enlist in the Legion, since the KING wanted nothing to do with him.



Interestingly, Montogomery's chief biographer, Nigel Hamilton damns Elkington to France and back. See page 79 in Volume 1. Major Poole promoted Montogomery to Captain and took over what remained of the battalion.


Nothing new in it.

Another book on this subject which appears to have favourable reviews is August 1914: Surrender at St Quentin by John Hutton



#28 tempaire78

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 01:46 PM

Actually Hamilton was not partial to Montogomery in his biography. Have you read both volumes? He's quite cutting about Monty in his book at places and does not pull punches. Incidently he interviewed the surviving Regimental officers after the debacle. He didn't ask Monty at all. And remember Monty was stranded with two companies struggling to make their way to the battalion. Elkington left them to their fate after sending them to their deaths.

#29 Alan Tucker

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 04:38 PM

I am going on the basis of what Hamilton had to say about this first phase of the Great War with Monty in the 1/Warwicks. This is what happened on August 26 at Haucourt...


About 7 a.m. the resting men were disturbed by the burst of a nearby shell and the noise of machine guns from the north. According to Captain Harold Hart, who joined the Battalion on August 15th,and later wrote a ‘narrative of the retreat’ which covered the period August 22-September 5 (22), the battalion ‘moved out of their massed formation’ and took up position ‘in perfect order’. He continued…

“As we looked northwards a terrible sight was to be seen; down the Cattenieres road, near the quarry…poured the remnants of…..the 1st King’s Own….they had been caught on the road on top of the ridge in close formation and at close quarters by machine guns”

The 1st Rifle Brigade in 11th Brigade to the east of Haucourt had been taken by surprise on the morning of their arrival on August 26th. Hart now found Colonel Elkington on the road ‘I was informed that he was attacking the ridge…..and ordered to take my men forward. The leading companies had got well up the hill before those in rear had got more than two thirds of the way up and were already being driven back under artillery, machine-gun and rifle fire’. ‘The attack had been spontaneously made with a view of trying to assist those in difficulties without time for any concerted plan’.

In his memoirs the then Lieutenant Montgomery was not very charitable in describing this counter-attack with the benefit of hindsight. “There was no reconnaissance, no plan, no covering fire”. Nigel Hamilton, Montgomery’s biographer, follows his subject with harsh criticism of command at all levels at Le Cateau and Haucourt.The 10th Brigade was at a disadavantage in terms of reconnaissance anyway as they had not been joined by either their cavalry or cyclists. Two companies of the Royal Warwicks from the reserve, by direction of a staff officer (Official History says this without much corroboration), now swarmed up the hill to extricate the Rifle Brigade but were swept back upon reaching the crest with very heavy loss. The Warwicks War Diary recorded…

August 26th
7.a.m
The forward line in road under Major C Christie attacked the ridge and reached the top but were, owing to heavy gun and Maxim fire, unable to hold the position & withdrew in good order with a company of King’s Own to the road with a loss of seven officers wounded & 40 men killed, wounded and missing.
4 p.m.
We held our position under heavy gunfire for remainder of day with further casualties 1 officer and 14 men wounded.

Captain Burnard with a broken left arm was the only one of seven officers to get away and avoid being taken prisoner. Private L Woolley, from Small Heath in Birmingham, was less fortunate and was taken prisoner and was sent to Paderhorn Hospital, near the Sennelager POW camp, Westphalia. A postcard home informed his parents that he was still alive (25).The CWGC shows 26 deaths on that day (see Appendix 3), the first Royal Warwicks casualties of the war.

Brigadier General Aylmer Haldane submitted a report on events at Haucourt to 4th Division HQ on September 9 (26). He commended 13 soldiers including four Warwicks.

‘Major A.J Poole and Major Christie..took part in the attack on the ridge at Haucourt and held their men together under a very severe fire of machine
guns and shrapnel. Both these officers deserve great credit for the successful manner in which they drew off their men after the action and eventually rejoined headquarters’

‘Captain Burnard was severely wounded when gallantly leading his men through a hail of bullets in an endeavour to capture the German machine guns’

‘Serjeant P.T Thornton…who was wounded in the foot with a handful of men tried to capture the German machine Germans and had it been possible to support him adequately he would probably have succeeded. This NCO’s conduct was brought to my notice by a captain of a regiment other than his own'.

Nigel Hamilton, Montgomery’s biographer, has been very critical of Elkington’s leadership at Haucout. However, 2nd Lieutenant C.E Dalton, who took part in the attack, noted that “It was a very gallant attempt and carried out in accordance with the teaching of those days, to reinforce where things had gone wrong”. Haucourt was similar to events on the North-west frontier in 1908.

Major A.J.Poole continued his account of the day’s events in the War Diary…

7.30 p.m.
The Regiment now became split up. A Coy had retired as escort for the Guns at 3 p.m. . Of the remainder about 60 with Colonel Elkington retired also on Ligny at 6.30 p.m. Major Poole in command of the remainder & still holding the position rec’d no orders & became aware of the general retirement at about 7.30 p.m. At this time the enemy were on three sides of the position with detachments of other regiments similarly situated. Major H.J.Poole affected a retirement by night & for 48 hours avoided collision with the enemy & eventually rejoined the 4th Div near Ham.

Captain Harold Hart described how the battalion fell back after the failed attack that morning and hastily dug shallow shelter trenches on the line of the Haucourt-Ligny road. During the late afternoon they came under a one hour artillery bombardment. Major Poole now commanded parts of B, C and D companies, about 300 men, strung out along the road for 600 yards and wanted to rejoin but had no definite information as to the whereabouts of other troops. They were now in an isolated position with no contact with brigade. The infantry brigade commanders in 4th Division only received their orders to retreat at about 5 p.m. 10th Brigade were to be the rearguard.

With the Warwicks, in addition, there were remnants of other units in the vicinity. After consulting the senior officers Major Poole decided upon withdrawal as their ‘position was impossible’.The Germans were now in Haucourt and they feared that they were already behind them. All the remaining soldiers assembled in darkness to withdraw along the Cattenieres-Caullery bridle path. Major Poole felt this route was unsuitable for wheeled transport so the machine gun section’s wagon and ammunition cart were abandoned. The section had to carry its two guns with ammunition. At 2 a.m. they reached what turned out to be Caullery.

#30 Alan Tucker

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 04:46 PM

The Divisional commander was D'Oyly Snow. On September 1 he became aware of events at St Quentin - "a very extraordinary thing which had happened, not extraordinary as regards the happening but extraordinary as regards the way the authorities dealt with it. (he was ordered to put both Colonels under arrest)After they had been carted about in an ambulance for some ten days, first during the retreat and then during the advance, they were tried, convicted and sentenced to be cashiered. As far as I can see (Dubs Col) he behaved correctly..All through the war the correct thing to do seemed to depend on the point of view of one's immediate senior. Later in the war, when men found themselves in an isolated position and retired, it depended on the point of view of the senior officer whether they got DCMs for gallant conduct in a difficult position or whether they were shot for cowardice".

#31 Moonraker

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 05:50 PM

I meant permanently, in the head.


1. How do you think you would have performed under the circumstances?

2. To what extent, would you say, should the death penalty have been applied to those who were found wanting in very demanding situations? (Bear in mind the comment in the last post: "Later in the war, when men found themselves in an isolated position and retired, it depended on the point of view of the senior officer whether they got DCMs for gallant conduct in a difficult position or whether they were shot for cowardice".)


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#32 Michelle Young

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 08:55 AM

You say far from exhausted men, what do you base this on? A lot of the BEF were reservists called up, not battle fit, wearing boots which had to be broken in on the march, leaving them very footsore. They were going without food and sleep, oh and having a pop at the enemy along the way. The retreat from Mons was not the longest, but as Richard Holmes points out, the speed at which it was conducted make it one of the most painful.
Try sleeping for 4 hours out of 24, marching for miles in heat and bad boots in itchy khaki and not eating much for a week and maybe you might change your mind.

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#33 MJohnson

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:46 AM

Having read all the posts am with Chris and Michelle . I agree that both Elkington and Mainwaring were wrong to attempt to surrender at St Quentin but I suspect total exhaustion does not help form any rational thinking .I would have thought that their battalions having marched to St Quentin in that extreme heat they would have been totally exhausted :sleep would have been essential . As Michelle says many of the men were reservists not yet fully fit wearing ill fitting boots and having to cover distances each day to keep ahead of the enemy in extreme heat would have taxed everyone .

#34 CROONAERT

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:02 PM

1918 May 22 Birth of a younger son – Richard Ford Rew. One of the sponsors at his baptism was Lieutenant David Wheeler, American Expeditionary Force, who had become a close friend of Elkington in the Foreign Legion.



Just noticed this bit and have to add that Wheeler was an extremely good friend to Elkington... it was because of him that his leg was able to be saved! Wheeler must be one of the most interesting characters of the whole war so deserves a short mention I think (even though it may be a little off-topic, this guy's one of my Great war 'heroes' , so tough!!!!! :lol: )...


He was born in Buffalo, New York and, after graduating from Williams College and Columbia University, became a medical doctor. Initially enlisting as a red cross worker with the American Field Service in France in August 1914, he decided that he wanted to see action and enlisted as a Soldat 2e Classe into the 3RM/1RE on February 7th 1915 (sounds familiar?:rolleyes: ). Serving on the Somme (where he first met Elkington, becoming firm friends a little later while on leave) , he, too, transferred to the 2RM/1RE and saw service with him in the Vosges and the Champagne. Also badly wounded in the right leg by MG fire on 28th September, he used his medical training on many wounded on his crawl back towards the French lines but discovered Elkington badly wounded in a shell hole and , after issuing laudenum and patching him up as best as he could, stayed with him in the shell hole for 13 hours before the brancardiers arrived (by this point Wheeler had passed out through blood-loss (Elkington too?)). Wheeler was awarded the CdeG for his actions on this day (as opposed to the 'standard issue' for discharge due to wounds of Medaille Militaire and CdeG - which he was to receive later). Like Elkington, this was the end of his Legion service as he was honourably discharged due to his wounds later that year.

Returning to the USA, he enlisted for a short while in the Canadian Army and arrived back in France at the end of 1916 as a Medical Officer in the CEF but returned to the USA in the spring of 1917 and transferred to the US Army in April 1917, becoming MO to the 16th Infantry Regiment. With the 16th, 1st/Lt.Wheeler returned, once again, to France in June 1917 and saw service in Lorraine, Cantigny and the Aisne but was mortally wounded by machine-gun fire near the Paris-Soissons Road in front of Cutry and Coeuvres-et-Valsery during an attack on July 18th 1918, dying later that same day. He is now buried in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau (Plot B, Row 4, Grave 15).

Dave

#35 Alan Tucker

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:18 PM

Very interesting info Dave. Thanks

#36 tempaire78

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:27 PM

I'm not convinced and the exhaustion bit won't wash because the entire BEF was exhausted in their retreat but many units fought on until nearly overwhelmed like the Munsters and KOYLI but did not surrender.
The case of the Dublins and the Warwicks was obviously a case a of poor leadership and this is what the courts martial was most concerned about. They were most concerned about their senior officers cracking easily. Wars are not won by weak willed officers.

Michelle brings up the recruit factor in the Warwicks which I find interesting. Could you tell me what percentage was the composition of the 1st Battalion The Warwarkshire Regiment was composed of recruits? This was a regular battalion with long serving men of seven years or less so I should be interested if anyone could tally this up.

#37 tempaire78

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:33 PM

By the way to clarify what I meant by exhaustion I'm afraid everyone took me literally. I meant exhausting all available means of your fighting and mental power until overwhelmed. Every one gets fatigued and that's clearly not the issue here As I said above I am not convinced about his case and hence wish to see the records.

#38 Michelle Young

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:45 PM

John Terraine says 50% and as much as 70% reservists; I don't know the % for the Warwicks.

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#39 bushfighter

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:52 PM

All Commanders make mistakes, because they are human.

Some commanders make big mistakes because of the pressures on them at the time, and of the effectiveness or otherwise of their own personal responses to those pressures.

It also helps to have subordinate staff officers who will comment frankly when plans are outlined, if the Commander does outline them.

Please don't forget that we have a military tradition of retribution for public failure "Pour encourager les autres!".

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#40 MJohnson

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:22 PM

Just looked at " Dishonoured "by Peter Scott written in 1994 but he makes no mention of the total number of reservists in the 1st Bn Royal Warwicks .The War Diary of the 1st Battalion is shown as WO95/1484 in the National Archives . Richard Holmes states about 50% of the BEF were reservists .

#41 Chris_Baker

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 04:12 PM

The war diary records the arrival of 458 OR reservists before embarkation.

#42 tempaire78

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 04:26 PM

I suppose mostly with Boer War service under their belts.

#43 Chris_Baker

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 06:51 PM

Unlikely. They would be a mix of men serving their five years normal Section A or B reserve (that is, men who had enlisted in 1902 or later), plus some who extended that by four years in Section D (they are possibly Boer War vets), plus Special Reservists (who may not have had any more experience than reserve service since 1908 or later).

#44 Alan Tucker

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 06:51 PM

The 1st Battalion began mobilisation on August 5th with the recall of reservists to the colours. The strength before mobilisation appears to have been 9 officers and 390 men. In the first three days 462 men joined from reserve. Their ‘place of joining’ was at the Regimental Depot at Budbrooke. One of these was Private R.G.Hill…

‘What a meeting of old friends! All were eager to take part in the great scrap which every pre-war soldier had expected. At the depot all was bustle but no confusion.’ (12)

After a medical inspection they collected personal equipment, clothing and necessaries. Lieutenant John Knight-Bruce, on the staff of the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at the depot, believed that the mobilisation was a “great success; everything worked smoothly except that all the Reservists turned up on the first day instead of taking three days to come in”. As the battalion had not been back from India for very long it had “less than the average number of serving soldiers fit to go out but it got back a lot of men who had only recently passed to Reserve so it took out very few men who had only been three years with the Colours”. “Special attention had been paid to the fitting of the Reservists’ boots” when they came for their annual musketry course. Good boots would prove invaluable in the coming retreat from Le Cateau. Major General Thomas D’Oyly Snow (1858-1940)later remarked that he was “very thankful that we had those few days to get feet and boots in order instead of being rushedoverseas like the other four Divisions had been. It made all the
difference to us later”.

Brigadier General Haldane later recorded that “in the ranks the proportion of reservists …was very high and such men, returning to military service after being out of harness for some time, were soft”.

Of a sample of 25 reservists the average age was about 29 in 1914. Eleven were in their 30s. Other occupations included gardener, labourer,tinsmith, railway fitter, machinist, worker at a brassfoundry and a factory hand.

The 10th Brigade did not join the main body of the BEF in France, which started to land in France on August 9, but moved to the north to York as part of the security for the north-east coast. Lieutenant Montgomery wrote to his mother on August 14 “For the last five days we have been living in the coal yard at York Station. I never imagined I should ever live in a coal yard. You can’t imagine how filthy it is”. A day later he wrote from the Strensall Camp, where the 1st battalion had moved to, 5 miles north-east of York.

“We have any amount of work to do as the reservists want a lot of polishing up in their work, also they are very soft and in bad condition. So every morning we go for a long route march to get their feet hard and finish up with some manoevres of sorts. Then every evening we inspect all the men’s feet to see if they haven’t got blisters etc & also to see that they wash them……it is most important, as if your men can’t march they are of no use” (17)

#45 Chris_Baker

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:01 PM

Following the receipt of a private message from user tempaire78, I shall not be taking part in this discussion any longer. Nor indeed any in which the user participates.

#46 tempaire78

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:42 PM

Let it be known since Chris has not kept confidence that I did not specify to exclude him from this thread. Indeed it's not my place do so and welcome his knowledge which is greater than mine but perhaps if he was sensitive to my feelings an apology would have been forthcoming but instead decided to make this public which is regretable.

#47 Alan Tucker

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:46 PM

In case the penny has not dropped - there are no court martial records.

Some facts...

August 24 Battalion arrives Le Cateau Station having left Southampton two days previously.
March 6 miles west to Inchy where they spend the night.

August 25
Stiff climb up to St Python to help cover the retirement of II Corps.
5 p.m. Under German artillery fire while at a farm at Fontaine at Ferte, west of Solesmes. As a result they dug in in the beet and corn fields.
7 p.m. First hard information - the Germans are 3 miles away
Overnight march to 12 miles via Caudry arriving....

August 26
4.30 a.m. at Haucourt where they bivouaced en masse in a corn field. They then slept "the sleep of weary and exhausted men"
7.30 a.m. Heard a shell and MG fire from the North. Moved out and took up position. Saw remnants of the 1/Kings Own pouring down the road.
Two companies attacked uphill towards the Ridge to extricate the 1/Rifle Brigade. Fierce fighting. No time for a concerted plan. Reached the top of the ridge but could not hold it. 7 officers wounded, 40 men killed, missing or wounded. (some taken POW. CWGC gives 26 deaths that day).
Fell back and dug shallow shelter trenches on the line of the Haucourt-Ligny Road.
Late afternoon - German artillery beombarded them for an hour. Lost contact with 10 Bde.
7.30 p.m. With Germans on the three sides the battalion was forced to split up into three parties when they retreated. At 6.30 p.m. Elkington and 60 men retired to Ligny (was this mainly HQ company?)
Major Poole commanding the biggest group decides on a retirement by night.

August 27
2 a.m. Poole party reach Caullery.
5 a.m. Mainwaring and 40 Dubs meets Lt C.P Cowper and 60 Warwicks. Soon afterwards they meet Elkington with 100. They all head for St Quentin.
Midday - arrive at St Quentin.

So over six days these troops, most of whom were certainly not battle-hardened, had endured...

Sea voyage
Long train journey
Marches, some uphill, west of Le Cateau
Digging in at Fontaine au Tertre
Long night march to Haucourt with little sleep in the early hours
Joining a desperate uphill attack against superior forces
Digging in on the line of a road
Overnight retreat to St Quentin for the Elkington party.

So they obviously weren't tired and exhausted!!!

#48 tempaire78

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:57 PM

This is what I suspected and expected!! So much for the blanket exhaustion experts. When I read the initial battalion internary since landing I could not understand where this exhaustion came from.

#49 truthergw

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 09:24 PM

This is what I suspected and expected!! So much for the blanket exhaustion experts. When I read the initial battalion internary since landing I could not understand where this exhaustion came from.



Did you actually read that last post?

#50 keithfazzani

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:14 PM

Clearly not Tom






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Lt. Col. E.P. England DCM RA

By ianjonescl in Northumbrian Gunner meanderings, on 01 March 2012 - 08:11 PM

Excellent and very interesting article by Dick Flory


Below is an article I wrote for the Journal of the Royal Artillery some years ago concerning an RA officer who had much the same thing happen:

An Officer Who...

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