2nd Battalion the Border Regiment


On the third of October, 1914, the 2nd Battalion Border Regiment embarked as part of the expeditionary force to relieve Antwerp. This force, totaling some 53,000 men, landed at Zeebrugge, Belgium, where it climbed onto trains and was transported to St. Andre on the French border. They arrived in their lines just in time to begin the evacuation of Antwerp. The battle, originally intended to be an offensive move to save Antwerp, quickly became a desperate defense of the Channel ports.

The Germans poured tens of thousands of fresh troops into the area around Ypres, and a month-long battle -- the First Battle of Ypres -- ensued. An account of some of the action the Second Border participated in has been quoted in Anthony Farrar-Hockley's book "Death of an Army":

"South of the crossroads 1st Grenadier Guards had waited at 5:30 for the enemy like the other battalions in the line. Behind brought urgently from the rear by the brigade commander to meet the the expected attack, were the 2nd Scots Guards and 2nd Border, each at half strength since the battle for Kruiseecke three days before. At 6:30, none of these units knew that the Bavarians had captured the crossroads 200 yards distant, although they heard firing and occasional shouts through the fog. Battalions had no telephone communications to one another and there was of course no wireless. By 6:45 all sounds of battle had faded to the north-where Gibbs' detatchment and 1st Scots Guards were fighting- and there was no sign of an attack on 1st Grenadiers, who began, as practical soldiers, to make their breakfast. But there was no breakfast to be had for the 2nd Scots Guards and 2nd Border because they had no rations. When called forward the previous night, the cooks, carts were just arriving from the administration echelon in rear. There had been no time to break down the bulk of tins or open even the sacks of bread. The battalions had marched off into the fog. Brigadier-General Ruggles-Brise decided to send them back to their respective areas to eat and rest."

The germans attacked at 7:00.

It seems this was on the Menin Road which leads to Kruisecke where the Second Battalion Border Regiment fought a few days before.

The battle of Ypres began on 31 October and in the intense fighting that followed, the 7th Division, of which the 2nd Battalion was a part, was reduced from 400 officers and 12,000 men to just 44 officers and 2,336 men. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, the British lines held, and the Channel ports continued to feed needed supplies from England to the entrenched Allied armies. In the second week of November, French reinforcements arrived to relieve the battered British troops. A blizzard blew in behind the French troops, and the first battle of Ypres finally ended in stalemate on 17 November 1914.

Two members of the Border Regiment; Pvt Abraham Acton of the 2nd Bttn and Pvt James Smith of the 3rd Bttn (attd 2nd); were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First Battle of Ypres. These two men continually exposed themselves to enemy fire as they retrieved several wounded comrades who had been lying exposed to enemy fire form upwards of 70 hours. It was estimated that in their daring rescue Smith and Acton were under direct enemy fire for more than an hour.