No announcement yet.

La Bascule 1914

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • La Bascule 1914

    Hello all...
    I was reading an account of the Battle of Mons in 1914. There was a side bar in the book that mentioned a stand by bandsmen of the Royal Irish Regiment under a Quartermaster Sergeant that held off several German regiments on the crossroads at La Bascule. This action was mentioned as having saved several battalions, if not the entire BEF. There is scant mention of the event on the Internet and two queries to Great War Forums have likewise proved fruitless. I was wondering if any of the members here might know of a more detailed account of the heroic stand by the Irish bandsmen in August 1914.
    Thanks in advance..

  • #2
    Tom Johnstone gives an account of the Royal Irish actions on the 23rd August 1914 in Orange green and Khaki. 2nd RIR was part of 8 Bde, 3rd Div along with 1st Gordon Highlanders, 2nd Royal Scots and 4th Middlesex Regt. The latter was guarding Obourg bridge over the Condé canal, with the two Sawney battalions dug in along the Nimy-Hermignies road. The Irish were in Bde reserve but were soon sent up, first to reinforce the Middlesex, then to cover a gap between the Middlesex left and the right flank of 9 Bde.

    The German 17th and 18th Divs attacked this gap and managed to cross the canal under heavy fire from the RIR and Middlesex. The Irish suffered heavily from German artillery. Both machine guns were knocked out, though one was salvaged and brought back into action. During the fighting D Coy was cut off from the battalion and joined the Gordons. A Coy lost all it's officers, including the Coy Commander the Hon Fergus Forbes, brother of the Earl of Granard and a direct descendant of the founder of the regt in 1689. The CSM took command of the company.

    About 1600 the Bde comd ordered the Middlesex to retire through the RIR to a new position at Nouvelles, which withdrawal was succesfully accomplished. When the RIR tried to retire they found their way blocked by Germans. They and a section of artillery were cut off so they dug in at a cross roads ( La Bascule presumably). Their right flank was covered by the two other battalions of the Bde and by 2nd Royal Irish Rifles. But the northern flank was exposed to the Germans. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. This is where your Quartermaster comes in.

    RQMS Fitzpatrick, in charge of the cooks, storesmen and batmen and probably the band as well, saw the danger and led his 40 odds and sods to cover the battalions northern flank, holding his position until 2300, by which time the RIR had broken out and began the retreat from Mons.

    Fitzy got a DCM and a commission for his actions.

    Another RIR Senior NCO who distinguished himself at Mons and later, was the RSM, Freddy Plunkett. He fought all through the war, receiving a DCM for actions at Le Cateau, an MC and a commission in 1915 and a DSO and Two Bars later in the war. He finished the war as a Lt-Col and was twice recommended for a VC, at Le Cateau and again in 1918. He was given the DCM for Le Cateau and it was determined that for thirty hours sustained fighting in 1918 he had merely done his duty, so the VC recommendation was again rejected.

    There is a Celtic Cross memeorial at La Bascule cross roads to the 2nd RIR and a German memorial to the RIR and Middlesex in St. Symphorien Cemetery. The German Memorial refers to the Royal Middlesex Regt, which is inaccurate, but the Germans refused to believe that a regiment which fought so hard as the Middlesex could not be a Royal Regt.
    Last edited by Groundhog; 3 December 2004, 23:55.
    Say NO to violence against Women

    Originally posted by hedgehog
    My favourite moment was when the
    Originally posted by hedgehog
    red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head


    • #3
      Groundhog...thank you so much for the reply...most helpful and I will purchase the book you mentioned..


      • #4
        Wellcome to the board but could I warn you that ,that is a rather unfortunate nom de plume you have chosen.The mods don't like it one bit.You will be moderated before your 10th post and your name will be bastardized.In fact this warning brings me even closer to banning.
        Good luck Drummer mark 2
        [MOD: We have no beef with the name.You choose to register under an alias. We combined your two names in case you were under the impression that you had mislaid your large ball of wool over our eyes. We really do love you.]