Title: History of the Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publication Date: 2002
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 489 pages & 14 maps
Comments: The story of the 15th Battalion, the London Regiment in the Great War, including second and third line battalions.
This is a great history, one of the best of its kind. Just look at the wealth of information contained in the appendices: the nominal roll of all officers and other ranks who served 1914-1919, identifying those who died (1,227); list of officers of 1/15th who embarked for France in March 1915; casualty details in tabular form showing separately monthly figures for the first line and second line battalions and those attached to other units and distinguishing between killed in action, died of wounds, missing presumed dead, died of illness and died as PoW; list of decorations and awards; staff list showing all COs, adjutants and RSMs from 1860 to 1920 ; list of those who served in the S African War; annual strength states from 1860 to 1914 and even an appendix on the Regimental Plate with photo and identification of the various trophies.
This is the heart of a regiment. The narrative is as good and informative as the appendices and is arranged in three parts, each by a different member of the Regiment. The first part traces in considerable detail the pre-1914 history from the early days of 1859 to the eve of war by which time the title had become “the 15th (County of London) Battalion the London Regiment. The second part is concerned with the first line battalion, 1/15th, which landed in France on 17th March 1915 with the 4th London Brigade, 2nd London Division (in May these became 140th Brigade 47th Division).
It was at Festubert, in May, that the battalion first became acquainted with the realities of war, even though the men were employed throughout in holding the line. The story is based not only on the War Diary but also on the Regimental Diary which contained all the “personal gossip” in the unit as well as accounts of tours in the line.
The latter was discontinued early in 1918 but the CO decided that to make up for this the War Diary should contain every item of interest to the battalion, not just operational matters. The 2/15th was formed in September 1914 and assigned to 179th Brigade 60th Division and went to France in June 1916; the list of officers, WOs and CQMS’s embarking is given. After four months in the line north of Arras the division was shipped out to the Macedonian theatre, arriving at Salonika in December 1916. Six months later the division moved again, this time to Palestine to join Allenby’s EEF. After a year’s campaigning in Palestine the battalion was one of seven taken from the division and sent back to France where the situation was critical in the wake of the German offensive.