Title: History of The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (1st & 2nd Battalions) 1881 – 1923
Author: Bruce, C D
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publication Date: 2002
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 263 pages and 18 maps
Comments: Essentially the story of the 2nd Battalion on the Western front. The 1st Battalion remained in India throughout the war. Matabele Rising, Mashonaland, Boer Wr, WW1 Western Front from Aug 1914 inc. Mons, Le Cateau, Aisne, Armentieres, 2nd Ypres, Somme, Arras, 3rd Ypres, March Offensive, Final Advance. Roll of Honour.
In 1881 the 33rd (Duke of Wellington’s) and the 76th Regiments of Foot were linked to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, the only British regiment to be named after a commoner. It is a Yorkshire regiment and had its Depot in Halifax. The first two chapters in the book provide an historical outline of the raising of the 1st Battalion in 1702 and take its story through to 1923. When the Great War war broke out the battalion was in India (where it had arrived in 1905) in Lahore and it was one of eight regular battalions to remain in India throughout the war.
The 2nd Battalion was raised as 76th Foot in 1787 (two other regiments with that number had previously been raised and disbanded) and the next two chapters give an historical outline of the early years of the battalion taking it up to the outbreak of the Great War when the battalion was stationed in Dublin, part of 13th Brigade, 5th Division. Apart from the last chapter on the Memorial Chapel and a couple of appendixes, the rest of this history recounts story of the 2nd Battalion on the Western Front, mainly by use of quotations from eyewitness accounts, letters, diaries and official documents supported by good maps.
The battalion arrived in France on 16th August 1914 and within a short time it was in action at Mons (360 casualties), Le Cateau and the Retreat from Mons, then the Marne, the Aisne and so to Ypres. Here, on 11th November 1914 the Germans launched their final, desparate attack to break through to Ypres and in the fighting 2nd DW virtually eliminated the Fusilier battalion of the 2nd (Prussian) Guard Grenadier Regiment (4th Guard Brigade); that regiment’s history put the Fusilier casualties at 15 officers and 500 men while 2nd DW themselves lost 400 officers and men. Again, at Hill 60 on 18th April 1915, in a successful assault on the high ground the battalion suffered 421 casualties, 15 of them officers.
On 5th May the Germans attacked using poisonous gas (chlorine) and recaptured the lost ground, inflicting a further 350 casualties, catastrophic losses in just two, separate days fighting. In January 1916 the battalion was transferred to the 4th Division in which it served for the rest of the war. A good feature of this history is the recording by name of officers joining the battalion or leaving or becoming casualties, and the arrival of drafts with strengths. By the end of August 1915 the battalion had received drafts totalling 2,265 other ranks.