The 2nd Battalion

Below this page, there will be several subgroups of the men of the 2nd Battalion who were in China at the outbreak of war in 1914.

There is a very interesting book on the siege by John Dixon, “A Clash of Empires, the South Wales Borderers at Tsingtao, 1914” with many photos from the regimental museum, and a nominal roll of the men who were at the siege of Tsingtao. This has been the source of many names of men of the 2nd Battalion. It divides the NCOs and other ranks into the respective four companies of the battalion: A, B, C, D.

Postings of the 2nd Battalion from 1900

Although it was typical practice for one battalion to be on overseas service whilst the other was on home service, the 2nd Battalion was deployed to South Africa during the war broke. The 2nd Battalion remained there until 20 May 1904, when it embarked H.M. Troopship Plassey, sailed for Southampton, and arrived on 9 June 1904. It deployed to Bulford Camp on Salisbury Plain, where it was to remain until 3 December 1904. Thereafter, the 2nd Battalion moved nearby, to the newly-built Aliwal Barracks at Tidworth.

The 2nd Battalion were moved to Oudenaarde Barracks at Aldershot on 12 October 1906 and remained there until 13 September 1909. The next posting was to be Chatham. They then deployed overseas to Pretoria in South Africa in December 1910, their place being filled by the 1st Battalion who returned from Karachi on H.M. Troopship Rewa.

The 2nd Battalion left South Africa on H.M. Troopship Soudan on 4 October 1912, arriving in China on 3 November 1912.  Peking and Tientsin were garrisoned by the 2nd Battalion.

Most of the 2nd Battalion left Tientsin, and on 23 September 1914, disembarked at Lao Shan Bay, situated 30 miles to the south of the German base at Tsingtao. After the siege of Tsingtao, the 2nd Battalion were embarked on 18 November at Sha-tzu-kou Bay, destination Hong Kong, arriving on 22 November.

The 2nd Battalion was then shipped back to the UK, disembarking on 12 January 1915. From 15 January to 16 March 1915, they were at the Base Camp 87th Infantry Brigade, Rugby, Warwickshire. On 17 March, they embarked S.S. Canada at Avonmouth, destination Alexandria via Malta, arriving in Egypt on the 29th March.

On 25 April 1915, “B”, “C” & “D” Companies of the 2nd Battalion landed at S Beach, Morto Bay, Cape Helles, Gallipoli peninsula.  The total casualties were 2 Officers and 12 men killed, 6 men missing (probably drowned) and 2 Officers and 40 men wounded. (Source: Great War Forum.)

“A” Company was attached to the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers. They landed on Y Beach, near Krithia, Cape Helles, Gallipoli peninsula. There is controversy as to the decisions made by the officers on that day. Casualties included their Captain and 26 other ranks killed, 1 officer and 42 ORs wounded. (Source: Great War Forum, reference to “British Regiments at Gallipoli” by Ray Westlake.)

The 2nd Battalion left Gallipoli, and arrived in Egypt on 11 January 1916. They were subsequently shipped to France, arriving in Marseilles on 15 March 1916, for a posting to the Western Front.  They were initially billeted at Englebelmer before deploying to trenches near Mesnil-Martinsart on the Somme. The remainder of the war was spent on the Western Front.

Medal info

For each subgroup, I have recorded the medal roll reference, the regiment to which the roll belongs, theatre of war code and the date of entry as recorded on the medal roll.

As you will see from the other regiments, there has been a lot on inconsistency when it came to recording where they served. For the most part, a date of 23 September 1914 and a theatre of war for Tsingtao. In a lot of cases, they interpreted their first theatre of war to have been Gallipoli, and there is inconsistency as to the date used!