5th (City of London) Battalion (London Rifle Brigade), London Regiment

This page will provide you with a brief account of the services of the 5th (City of London) Battalion (London Rifle Brigade), London Regiment during the First World War and help you to research those who served with it. I have also written other articles which will help you research soldiers who served in the war:

I offer a First World War Soldier Research Service.

5th (City of London) Battalion (London Rifle Brigade), London Regiment

 

1/5th (City of London) Battalion (London Rifle Brigade)

 

5th (City of London) Battalion (London Rifle Brigade), London RegimentThe headstones of Rifleman Hugh Marshall, Lance-Corporal John Humphrey Walker and Rifleman George Noble. All were killed on 1 July 1916 a short walk from where they are buried in the Gommecourt British Cemetery No.2 Hebuterne during the failed attack on Gommecourt.

2/5th (City of London) Battalion (London Rifle Brigade)

 

 

3/5th (City of London) Battalion (London Rifle Brigade)

The 3/5th Battalion was formed on 26 November 1914 with its role to train men as drafts for the 1/5th and 2/5th Battalions. The Battalion moved to Tadworth on 28 April 1915, Sutton on 22 November 1915  and to Fovant on 10 January 1916. The Battalion moved to Exeter on 17 November 1916,  to Dawlish on 8 December 1916, Aisne Barracks at Blackdown on 23 April 1917 where it was still stationed when the Armistice came into effect on 11 November 1918. During the war, between seven and eight thousand men passed through the 3/5th Battalion. Demobilization quickly reduced the strength of the Battalion and what remained of the unit was moved to Shoreham in February 1919. The Battalion was disbanded in April 1919. There is a good chapter on the unit in The History of the London Rifle Brigade.

How to Research a Soldier who Served in the London Rifle Brigade

Officers:

Other ranks:

To research a soldier who served in the London Rifle Brigade, you’ll need to search the records on FindmyPast and Ancestry. Both sites offer a free trial and you can usually view them for free at your local library if you live in Britain. Clicking on the banner below will take you to FindmyPast.

 

War Diaries of the London Rifle Brigade

There is only one war diary for the Battalion which has been digitized by the National Archives. To download the war diary for a small fee click on the blue link below.

1/5th Battalion

  • Date: November 1914 – January 1916
  • Reference: WO95/1498/2
  • Notes:
  • Date: February – August 1916
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2961/1
  • Notes:
  • Date: August – December 1916
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2961/2
  • Notes:
  • Date: January – March 1917
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2961/3
  • Notes:
  • Date: April 1917
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2961/4
  • Notes:
  • Date: May – July 1917
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2961/5
  • Notes:
  • Date: August 1917
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2962/1
  • Notes:
  • Date: September – November 1917
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2962/2
  • Notes:
  • Date: December 1917 – March 1918
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2962/2
  • Notes:
  • Date: April – August 1918
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2962/3
  • Notes:
  • Date: September – October 1918
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2962/5
  • Notes:
  • Date: November 1918 – March 1919
  • 169th Brigade, 56th Division
  • Reference: WO95/2962/6
  • Notes:

2/5th Battalion

London Rifle Brigade Books

I’d highly recommend viewing The History of the London Rifle Brigade which has been reprinted by the Naval and Military Press. Not only is the book packed full of useful information, including many trench maps it is readable. Many unit histories of the First World War can make dry reading but this isn’t one of them. The book does cover the period between 1869 and July 1915 but the bulk of the pages concern the First World War. There are a variety of appendices including a nominal roll of officers with a brief account of their service history and the operation orders for the attack at Gommecourt on 1 July 1916.

Also, Gentlemen and Officers: The Impact and Experience of War on a Territorial Regiment 1914-1918 by K. W. Mitchinson.

The attack on Gommecourt on 1 July 1916

The following transcription was taken from the 1/5th Battalion’s war diary entry on 1 July 1916. There’s a lot more information in the war diary concerning the attack. The Battalion went into the front line with a strength of 23 officers and 803 other ranks and suffered 19 officer and 569 other rank casualties by the end of the 1 July. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded 275 dead for the Battalion on this date.

As already recorded in the previous month’s diary. The Battalion marched to Hébuterne and took up their position in the assembly and front line trenches in the Y Sector. For the position of the Companies, H.Q. etc. per Operation Orders attached, which also gives the troops on our immediate flanks.

The smoke cloud which was most effectual commenced at 7.16 am and at 7.27 am the 1st wave moved forward followed by the remaining ones exactly in accordance with orders. The lines advanced in excellent order and the movements went like clockwork, so much so that by 7.50 am all our objectives were reached.

By 8.07 am the work of consolidation had commenced. Soon after this the first serious opposition was encountered in the shape of strong enemy bombing parties whose advance was covered by snipers. Some of whom were even up trees. Heavy machine gun fire was also opened from reserve lines.

Bad casualties began to occur and A Company in Fir had to be reinforced by a platoon as they were having a hard fight in Gommecourt Park where hostile bombers were particularly active. Bombs now began to run short and German ones were freely used. Owing to the very heavy and accurate barrage across no man’s land the reserve company although attempting it several times were unable to cross with reinforcements and extra ammunition and bombs.

The situation now became perilous as our men were being driven out of the enemy’s 2nd and 3rd line trenches by strong bombing parties and finally men began to withdraw to our own lines.

Later our only hold on the German lines was in Ferret but at dusk the men there were forced to withdraw so that at 8.45 pm we had no unwounded men except those who had been taken prisoner in the hostile trenches.

It seems probable that although the attack was unsuccessful and was very costly we killed a large number of Germans but undoubtedly the attack failed on account of the lack of success by the Division on our left and also because we were unable to get the Reserve Company across with the supply of bombs that were so ? needed.