Notes of Message from Army Commander 27 July 1915
27th July 1915
In the course of his remarks, when addressing the Troops, the Army Commander said that he had not come there that morning to hold an inspection parade, but rather to say a few words to the Brigade before it left to join the new Army to which it was being transferred.
He was glad to say that, the long period during which the men had been engaged in Trench Warfare, had not caused them to forget how to stand still and to handle their Arms; their Clothing was against them and it would not have pleased those who were used to Aldershot Parades, but those who really knew soldiers, were able to judge, in spite of Clothing, and the Brigade had turned out as it ought to have done.
The General went on to say that, he need not remind his hearers of what they had done in the past, for that would be found written in the records, which would form the History of the War. Those, however, who were acquainted with the facts, knew the part which the 5th Division and the 14th Infantry Brigade had taken, in the early part of the War, and they knew that part had been at least an arduous one.
During the period that the Brigade had been in the Sector which it was then leaving, it had been occupied with Trench Warfare rather than with active operations against the Enemy, with one or two exceptions when although not actually employed as a Brigade, two of its Battalions – the Devons and the East Surreys – had been very hotly engaged at “Hill 60”, and by their efforts, had contributed very greatly, to the retention of that Hill.
Since that time, the Brigade had continued to be engaged in Trench Warfare, but Trench Warfare was not to be rated the dull sort of fighting that some were prone to think, as Army Commanders knew full well. Comparisons, the General remarked, were odious, but he had no hesitation in saying that, so far as the 2nd Army was concerned, and for that matter, so far as the Expeditionary Force was concerned, no Brigade had won so high a reputation for Trench Warfare as had the 14th Brigade, under General Maude.
During the operations that had taken place in the YPRES Salient, the 14th Brigade had been engaged in fighting which might be characterized as “Dull” from the Newspaper point of view, but the General reminded his hearers that unless a Commander can rely on the Troops that are holding the Line, he cannot withdraw troops as he otherwise might, for fighting else where. Whilst commanding the 5th Corps, he knew that the Line occupied by the Brigade was absolutely safe, and, he added, it was to the Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and men whom he was addressing that he ascribed as much credit as he did to those who were engaged in the more active fighting.
The Army Commander concluded by saying that the Brigade was going to a new Army under General Monro and to a new Corps under General Morland, respectively, both of whom knew full well, the reputation of the Brigade.
On those whom he was addressing would devolve the responsibility of living up to the reputation which they had made and of forming the nucleus of the new Army, for they would be the veterans, and the 14th Brigade standard would be the standard which other Brigades would emulate; it must and it would be a high one, and if all the other Brigades reached it, both the Army and the Corps Commander would have confidence.
The General then expressed his sorrow that the Brigade was parting from the 2nd Corps and the 2nd Army, and wished them the best of luck.