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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

43.1.k Anzac Centenary - Grandsons of Bishop Richard Durnford

Robert Chichester Durnford and Richard Selby Durnford are the Grandsons of Bishop Richard Durnford and the cousins of Guy Lydekker and his wife Gladys Durnford.  Guy is our 4th cousin*1.

Robert Chichester Durnford

Death Date:  21 Jun 1918 Rank:Captain Regiment:  Hampshire Regiment Battalion:  4th Battalion (Territorial) Decoration:  DSO Type of Casualty: Killed in action

Name:  R C Durnford Death Date:  21 Jun 1918 Cemetery:  Tehran War Cemetery
Burial Country:  Iran Regiment:  Hampshire Regiment Region or Memorial:  Asia
Robert was the  son of Richard M Durnford CB and Beatrice Mary (nee Selby) Durnford of Hartley Wespall House, Basingstoke in Hampshire, and Richard Selby Durnsford's brother+

1/4th Battalion
August 1914 : in Winchester. Part of Hampshire Brigade in Wessex Division.
9 October 1914 : sailed for India, landing Karachi 11 November 1914. Attached to 4th (Rawalpindi) Brigade in 2nd (Rawalpindi) Division in January 1915.

18 March 1915 : landed at Basra with 33rd Indian Brigade and remained in Mesopotamia and Persia for the rest of the war. Battalion HQ and one Company were captured at Kut-el-Amara on 29 April 1916. The remainder formed a Composite Bn with the 1/5th Bn, the Buffs, and - attached to 35th Indian Brigade - transferred to 14th Indian Division. November 1916, transferred to 36th Indian Brigade.

2 January 1918: entered Persia with Lt Col Matthews' Column. C Company occupied Krasnodovsk on 26 August and pushed on to Merv; D Company occupied Resht and Enzeli. A small detachment under Lt Fisher occupied Baku between 4 August and 15 September 1918. In November Battalion HQ was at Zinjan. In June 1919 two Companies were attached to Lt Col Matthews' Motor Mobile Column and fought at Resht in August 1919.



All quiet on the Eastern Front

The amazing photo album which shows how our boys fared in India in WWI.  

The story appeared in the Daily Mail, as a photo album held by the family was to be auctioned. Perhaps it was not all as the story indicated


An amazing photo album of a World War One soldier's military campaign has been unearthed - and shows the men having a roaring time.
Unlike the traditional images of corpse-laden trenches in northern Europe, these pictures show the men swimming, dressing up for a concert party and enjoying a whist drive.
Private Wally Langrish travelled from Aldershot in Hampshire in 1915 through India and Mesopotamia - now Iraq - during his service, before he returned home in 1919.

The album includes pictures of the men visiting ruins in Babylon, reading books in comfy beds and travelling on trains and boats in much greater comfort than their colleagues on the Western Front.

The men of the 'Nimble Ninths' football team are shown playing in front of a packed stadium against Calcutta - at the same time as the Battle of the Somme raged. The British team lost 1-0 after extra time.

As thousands were killed on both sides in the muddy fields of France during the Somme, the 'ninths' were also pictured playing the 'Kents' at bicycle polo.

Then to Basra

After the Battle of Basra (1914) during World War I, the occupying British modernized the port (works designed by Sir George Buchanan); these British commercial interests made it one of the most important ports in the Persian Gulf "with shipping and trade links to the Far East.

During World War II it was an important port through which flowed much of the equipment and supplies sent to Russia by the other allies. At the end of the Second World War, the population was some 93,000 people

Mesopotamia World War One Photographs

Photographs of Basra and Baghdad during WWI taken by QAIMNS nurse Ethel Smithies

The photograph collection below were taken by QAIMNS(R) nursing sister Ethel Smithies during her First World War service at Mesopotamia where she served at Basra and Baghdad. They were kindly provided by her nephew. Mesopotamia is now modern day Iraq. The name changed to Iraq in 1921. Mesopotamia was often nicknamed Mespot by British troops.

Photograph of 31st Hospital Baghdad: 

QAIMNS nursing sisters even kept mascots as pets. The picture below shows off the hospital pet black sheep and mascot. Unfortunately we do not know his name. The picture also shows the tinned huts that served as a hospital and must have been hot in the Mesopotamian humid weather. On the back of the black and white photos is hand written Taken the day before sister ? left us. The black lamb is our mascot given us by the Australians. By the way ? ? has gone to France.

Basra Memorial 1918

Captain Richard Selby Durnford 

101. Richard Selby Durnford was born at St Paul’s in London the eldest son of Richard M Durnford CB and Beatrice Mary (nee Selby) Durnford of Hartley Wespall House, Basingstoke in Hampshire.
D Company, 9th (Service) Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps 

R S Durnford Military Year:  1914-1920 Rank:  Captain Medal Awarded:  British War Medal and Victory Medal Regiment or Corps:  King's Royal Rifle Corps

Richard Selby Durnford Death Date:  31 Jul 1915 Rank:Captain (TEMP)
Regiment:  King's Royal Rifle Corps Battalion:  9th Battalion Type of Casualty:  Killed in action
71  R. S. Durnford  Captain  1914  King's Royal Rifle Corp

The Battle at Hooges.  The Germans introduced Flame Throwers

The outstanding Great War Western Front Hooge Crater night of the 30th to 31st July 1915 repulse of a liquid fire attack Battalion Machine gunner's Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to Rifleman W.A. Melvin, 8th Service Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps, who served on the Western Front from 18th May 1915, and during this famous action he remained with his machine gun after the infantry had been withdrawn and the machine gun detachment had suffered many casualties and worked the machine gun through heavy bombardment and night attack although there was practically no cover for

The 9th Battalion, Rifle Brigade now made a renewed attack via the Menin Road, and were similarly cut down after desperate fighting, the commanding officer being shot dead.

As evening came on, two additional infantry battalion's were sent up as reinforcements, and after dark, the slender but still unshaken remnants of the 41st Brigade were withdrawn into reserve. The fresh battalions were ordered to dig themselves in along the edge of the woods, and sent out patrols to give warning of the enemy's further movements. One company was also moved into an unfinished communication trench, which did valuable service by flanking the German attack attempted soon after.
At 2.20 am in the morning of the 31st July, the enemy renewed their attack on Zouave Wood, preceded by liquid fire, the flames of which through the trees and branches seemed more like incandescent smoke than jets of fire. "This attack," wrote an eye witness, "was very soon stopped, and then followed the most terrific rifle fire all along their front, and a very heavy shelling of the wood.

Germand Flamethrowers 30th July 1915 at Hooges

Germans attack 30th July 1915 Hooges

9th (Service) Battalion, The King's Royal Rifle Corps was raised at Winchester on 21st of August 1914 as part of Kitchener's First New Army and joined 42nd Brigade, 14th (Light) Division. They trained at Aldershot, moving to Petworth in November, returning to Aldershot in March 1915.

They proceeded to France, landing at Boulogne on the 20th of May 1915. They fought in the The Action of Hooge, being the first division to be attacked by flamethrowers. They were in action in The Second Attack on Bellewaarde. In 1916 they were on the Somme seeing action in The Battle of Delville Wood and The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.

 In 1917 they fought in The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The First and Third Battle of the Scarpe at Arras, The Battle of Langemark and The First and Second Battle of Passchendaele. On the 2nd of February 1918 they transferred to 43rd Brigade still with 14th (Light) Division.

 In 1918 they returned to the Somme and were in action during The Battle of St Quentin and The Battle of the Avre, suffering very heavy casualties with almost 6,000 men of the Division killed or injured. The Division was withdrawn from the front line and were engaged building a new defensive line to the rear.

 On the 27th of April, the 9th KRRC was reduced to a cadre and on the 16th of June they transferred to 34th Division, on the 27th they joined 39th Division. The 9th KRRC was disbanded on the 3rd of August 1918. - See more at:

Hooge Crater

A large crater was blown at Hooge in July 1915. This occurred during a time of relative quiet on the British part of the Western Front, when few major assaults were made. Nonetheless, the average casualty rate for the British and Commonwealth forces was around 300 per day. Hooge, having been earlier lost, had been retaken in May 1915. On the 2nd of June, Hooge Chateau was lost.

The officer in charge of tunneling and laying the mine at Hooge was Lieutenant Geoffrey Cassels, and the work was completed by 175 Tunnelling Company in only five and a half weeks. Compared to the months of preparation before the mines used in the Battle of Messines in 1917, this was quick work indeed. The first attempt at tunnelling for the mine, starting from within a stable, failed, because the earth encounterred was too sandy.

A second shaft was sunk from the ruins of a gardener's cottage nearby. The tunnellers reached blue clay, and could then make good progress. The main tunnel was in the end 190 feet long, with a branch off this after about 70 feet, this second tunnel running a further 100 feet on. The intention was to blow two charges under concrete fortifications which the Germans were constructing, although the smaller tunnel was found to be somewhat off course.

The mines were laid using, for the first time, the explosive ammonal - as well as gunpowder and guncotton. The largest mine of the war thus far was blown on the 19th of July at 7 p.m. - but not before a German shell had severed the detonator wires only a few minutes before. They had to be rapidly repaired. The crater made was estimated at 120 feet wide and 20 feet deep. The crater was taken by men from the 1/Gordon Highlanders and 4/Middlesex. Ten of the latter, however, had been killed by debris from the mine as they waited in advanced positions.

Lt. Cassels was almost arrested shortly afterwards because of this, although subsequently he was awarded the Military Cross, and praised for his efforts. The German losses from the mine were estimated to be several hundred.

The two photos below show craters at or near Hooge during the War. Both are German photographs, and the top one dates from 1915. The date of the lower one is unknown.

And today -


United Kingdom  Panel 51 and 53.  YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL

The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is a war memorial in Ypres, Belgium, dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of World War I and whose graves are unknown. The memorial is located at the eastern exit of the town and marks the starting point for one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the front line. Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and built and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Menin Gate Memorial was unveiled on 24 July 1927.

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