South Staffordshires First Battle of Ypres Oct 1914

The First Battalion of the South Staffordshires disembarked at Zeebrugge on 7 Oct 1914 and were moved south to Ypres immediately to stem the German push through Belgium.

Lieut Wilmot Evans wrote from Lyndhurst, New Forest on 1 Oct how he had not yet got used to the English cold, having spent the previous 18 months posted in South Africa. The shock of war that then hit the Battalion is well summarized by reviewing the fate of Wilmot’s colleagues, photographed together in Gibraltar back in Jan 1912.

From his correspondence, it is clear that Wilmot believed that his life was almost charmed in how he was one of the few officers in his battalion of the South Staffordshires to survive these opening encounters of the war.

Wilmot appears to have collected photos of some of his fallen comrades, and as they can be identified they will be displayed on this site. Follow the links below.

Of the Gibraltar photograph of 1912 the following officers I have identified as killed in action at the First Battle of Ypres:

In addition the following ‘new’ officers of the first battalion were also killed on these dates:

  • Captain Julian Silver Strickland Dunlop  24 Oct 1914
  • Lieut Clement Gascoyne Ransford  25 Oct 1914
  • Lieut Charles Reginald Chamberlain Bean 26 Oct 1914
  • Lieut Ferdinand Roger John Tomlinson 26 Oct 1914
  • Major John Frederick Loder-Symonds 1 Nov 1914
  • Captain Henry Mitchell Powell 9 Dec 1914

See also pages on this site for Drummer Wheeler who also died at the First battle of Ypres.

If a full complement of Lieutenants for the battalion was nine (as listed in Gibraltar) there are eight Lieutenants listed above as killed in the space of little more than a week. In addition three captains and a major were also lost. To be a lieutenant and come through those odds is indeed perhaps charmed.

The battalion was largely reformed but again suffered substantial losses in May 1915, action, in which Wilmot was wounded. Wilmot therefore had had a round of new colleagues brought in in January 1915. After August, Wilmot was sent to Jersey to recuperate where a new fourth battalion was formed and yet more new colleagues were made. Identifying these and their photos is work in progress – a number such as  Lewis  Hassell seem to have already been part of the Jersey Militia before the war, which gave the battalion some Jersey roots. WJJ Collas also seems to be a Jersey man and Wilmot writes about the Collas family in Jersey, describing Collas as a good friend. William Collas had been adjutant and Wilmot’s commanding officer in Gibraltar and we can presume was perhaps one of the very few other officers to survive.