WORLD WAR 1 1914 - 1918
The History of the Regiment in the First World War is very much the story of the men of the counties of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. When War was declared, The Sherwood Foresters consisted of eight battalions and a Depot in Derby. During the War the Regiment expanded to a maximum of 33 Battalions of which 20 served overseas. Altogether, some 140,000 men, nearly all from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, served in the Regiment - 11,409 of whom did not return.
The 2nd Battalion was part of the British Expeditionary Force which landed in France in September 1914 and went straight into the bitter fighting on the Aisne. On 20 September (the anniversary of the Battle of the Alma - a previous Battle Honour of the 95th) the Battalion carried out a counter-attack to plug a gap in the British Lines. The casualties were almost identical with those at the Alma; 17 out of 22 officers and 214 out of 930 other ranks. Reinforced, the Battalion fought another major battle in October at Ennettiere on the way to Ypres, holding a vastly superior German force for 48 hours and losing in the process 16 officers and 710 other ranks.
The 1st Battalion was in India at the outbreak of the War and was sent to France in November 1914 without any chance to adjust to European conditions and as a result suffered badly in its first four winter months of 'Trench War'. The Battalion took part in two major battles in 1915 - Neuve Chapelle and Loos - and suffered severe casualties. Private J Rivers and Corporal J Upton were awarded VCs for bravery.
Both 1st and 2nd Battalions continued to serve in France until after the Armistice on 11 November 1918 and overall were the most heavily committed of all the Battalions in the Regiment. The 3rd and 4th Militia Battalions were embodied at the outbreak of War but remained in the UK as holding and reinforcement units. The Territorial Army was immediately mobilised on the outbreak of War and the original four Sherwood Forester Territorial Battalions, the 5th, 6th, 7th (Robin Hoods) and 8th formed the 139 (Forester) Infantry Brigade in the 46 (North Midland) Division. In September the Territorial Army was doubled and almost overnight the 2/5th, 2/6th, 2/7th (Robin Hoods) and 2/8th Battalions of the Regiment were formed from the original battalions and were made up into the 178 (Forester) Infantry Brigade of 59th (North Midland) Division.
In February 1915, the 139th (Forester) Brigade had the distinction of being part of the first Territorial division to land in France. By the end of the year they had been engaged in heavy fighting and Captain C G Vickers of the 1/7th (Robin Hoods) had been awarded the VC. This Forester Brigade sereved in France for the remainder of the War and suffered severe casualties. In particular it gained special recognition for its valour on the opening day of the Somme Battle on 1st July 1916, where it suffered 80% casualties and its magnificent part in the breaking of the Hindenburg Line and the final defeat of the German Army in the Autumn of 1918; Lieutenant Colonel B W Vann MC the Commanding Officer of the 1/6th Battalion and Sergeant W H Johnson of the 1/5th Battalion being awarded the VC for conspicious bravery in the latter action.
In 1916, the 178 (Forester) Brigade although only partially trained, was despatched to Dublin to suppress the Easter Rebellion. This operation was completed successfully although at some cost in casualties, especially to the 2/7th (Robin Hoods) and 2/8th Battalions. In 1917 the Brigade moved to France and took part with distinction in the latter part of the 2nd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) suffering heavy casualties and also at Cambria later in 1917. The Brigade continued to fight in France until 1918.
As the new Kitchener Armies were raised in 1914, the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th (Service) Battalions were formed, followed by the 15th (Bantams), 16th (Chatsworth Rifles), 17th (Welbeck Rangers), 18th (Bantams), 19th and 20th Battalions.
The 9th Battalion took part in the ill fated Gallipoli campaign in 1915 and gained a name for its stubborn fighting qualities similar to those of the 45th Foot some 100 years previously. The Battalion arrived in France in August 1916 and fought through the remaining Somme offensive; the bitter drawn-out battle of Passchendaele in 1917, where in October Corporal F Greaves was awarded the VC; followed by the German breakthrough in the Spring of 1918 and the final successful Allied offensive later in the year.
The 10th Battalon went to France in July 1915 and moved almost immediately into the notorious bloody Ypres Salient. In 1916, it took part in the first ten days of continuous fighting on the Somme, returning for a second time into the grim battle in August and yet a third time in October/November. In 1917 the Battalion fought magnificently throughout the 2nd Battle of Ypres suffering further heavy casualties and like the 9th Battalion continued in the forefront of battle throughout 1918 to the end.
The 11th Battalion arrived in France in August of 1915 and within the month was engaged in a minor role in the Loos Battle. It took part in the opening day of the Somme offensive on 1st July 1916 and suffered such grevious losses it was relieved that night. It returned to the bitter struggle in late July and again in October for the final attempt to break through the German rear position. In 1917, the Battalion was heavily engaged in the second Ypres Battle for Passchendaele Ridge. In November it moved with its Division to Northern Ital to asist the Italians in their struggle against the German/Austrian offensive and won further renown for its successful stand at Asiago, where its Commanding Officer Lieutenant colonel C E Hudson DSO MC was awarded the VC for outstanding bravery and leadership. In October 1918 the 11th Battalion was returned to France and took part in the final offensive.
The 12th Battalion arrived in France in August 1915. The following month it took part in the Battle of Loos and from then onwards was engaged in most of the major battles until the end of 1918. although its primary role was that of a Divisional Pioneer Battalion it was drawn into the fight in times of crisis and gained recognition for gallant action on several occasions, notably the Battle of Loos in 1915 and the final German offensive in 1918. This Battalion, under the editorship of Captain Roberts MC created and published what must be the most famous wartime news sheet of all - "The Wipers Times".
The 15th (Bantam) Battalion, made up initially of men who although fit were below the normal minimum service height of 5' 3", moved to France with the 35th (Bantam) Division in 1916. The Battalion fought with great distinction and heavy casualties throughout the 1916 battles on the Somme. However at the end of 1916, the problems of finding 'bantam' reinforcements in sufficient numbers became too difficult; the 15th Foresters was redesignated a normal 'service' battalion and fought as such until the end of the War.
The 16th (Chatsworth Rifles) and 17th (Welbeck Rangers) Battalions arrived in France in late April 1916 and played a prominent part in the Somme Battle from august to the bitter end in November 1916. Their losses were heavy: These Battalions were also engaged in the 1917 offensive and again in the great German offensive on the Somme and Lys in the Spring of 1918, after which they were reduced through severe losses to Cadre form to train the newly arriving American Forces. Their finest hour and certainly the period of their heaviest casualties came in the 2nd Battle of Ypres and particularly the grim fighting leading to Passchendaele. It was for outstanding bravery during this battle that Corporal E A Egerton (16th Battalion) was awarded the VC.
All other battalions filled the vital role of reinforcement and training units combined with Home Defence, attempting to keep pace with the heavy losses over the four years of the War. However, towards the end of the War, the high rate of casualties necessitated amalgamation of weakened Battalions and, as with other Regiments, Forester Battalions started to disappear from the Order of Battle. Throughout all the fighting, officers and soldiers alike, displayed the same selfless courage that had won The Sherwood Foresters so many Battle Honours in the past. After the War, no less than 57 Honours were added to that list. For outstanding acts of bravery, nine members of the Regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross including Captain A Ball VC DSO MC Royal Flying Corps, who was previously a Robin Hood. Over two thousand more received other decorations, honours and distinctions.
The cost was high as shown on the War Memorials throughout Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. There can hardly have been a village or city street that did not produce men to serve in The Sherwood Foresters - 11,409 of whom did not return.
Mons : Le Cateau : Retreat from Mons : Marne 1914 : Aisne 1914 : Aisne 1918 : La Bassee 1914 : Armentieres 1914 : Ypres 1914, 1915, 1917, 1918 : Langemarck 1914 , 1917 :Gheluvelt : Nonne Bosschen : Neuve Chapelle : Aubers : Festubert 1915 : Hooge 1915 : Loos : Somme 1916, 1918 : Albert 1916, 1918 :Bazentin : Delville Wood : Pozieres : Ginchy : Flers-Courcelette : Morval : Thiepval : Le Transloy : Ancre Heights : Ancre 1916 : Arras 1917, 1918 : Vimy 1917 : Scarpe 1917, 1918 : Arleux : Messines 1917, 1918 : Pilckem : Menin Road : Polygon Wood : Broodseinde : Poelcappelle : Paschendaele : Cambrai 1917, 1918 : St Quentin : Bapaume 1918 : Rosieres : Villers Bretonneux : Lys : Estaires : Hazebrouck : Bailleul : Kemmel : Scherpenberg : Amiens : Drocourt-Queant : Hindenburg Line : Epehy : Canal du Nord : St Quentin Canal : Beaurevoir : Courtrai : Selle :Valenciennes : Sambre : France and Flanders 1914 - 1918 : Piave : Vittorio Veneto: Italy 1917 -1918 : Doiran 1917 - 18 : Macedonia 1915 - 18 : Helles : Landing at Helles : Krithia : Suvla : Sari Bair : Landing at Suvla : Scimitar Hill : Gallipoli 1915 - 1916 : Egypt 1916 : Tigris 1916 : Kut al Amara 1917 : Baghdad : Mesopotamia 1916 - 18 : Baku : Persia 1918.
Reproduced by kind permision of http://www.wfrmuseum.org.uk
Anzacs, Canadian & Australians. War tours can be arranged for you.
The tour of the battle grounds will be with a professional guide & will include Vimmy, the Somme, Verdun,
Ypres salient -also known as Leper and wipers - Thiepval, Albert, mailly maillet, serre,
Newfoundland, Sheffield, memorial park, ocean ville, ocean villa, Beaumont hammel, hawthorn ridge,
ulster tower, pozieres, lochnagar, locknagar, devil, delville wood, les bouefs, ancre. Visit Tommy or
tommies café, y ravine, the danger tree.
Flanders field museum, visit the trenches or the great war.
See hell fire corner, hill 60 and hill 62. Tyne cott and hooge crater with its museum all in an area called passchendale.
See the last post at the menin gate, go to plug street, toc house in poperinge then on to the firing post,
at which some of those shot at dawn were executed. Learn about what happened on July 1st 1916.
battles of 1914 – 1918. the front line will never seem the same. See a cemetery where Victoria cross holder is
commemorated. Stay on the somme in bed and breakfast with English speaking hosts.
accommodation in the French village of mailly-maillet chamber d’hotes hotel.
All travel details can be found on the web site. Motorcycle tours are available for all those with a motor bike,
in a club a group or individual. Tours can be for groups or clubs or individuals, if you have an interest in history
and the wars battle field experience is for you. details of accommodation, tourist information and how to get around with easy to use maps.