Adrian Gregson makes a personal journey of remembrance to the Western Front
10th April 2018
Project Director Adrian Gregson has made a personal journey of remembrance to the Western Front, he shares his experiences here.
8 April 2018
On 8th April 100 years ago several battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment were in the Ypres Salient area, unaware of what was about to be unleashed in the last German Offensive to their south.
Today the fields round Flanders are peaceful and quiet. The Regiment is marked by a roadside memorial in Geluveld.
9 April 2018
Men of the Worcestershire regiment woke to a dismal foggy and chilly day 100 years ago in the Ypres salient - much like it was here today! But what they woke up to was the German bombardment and then rush at the British lines, quickly overpowering the defenders of the Portuguese Division and Lancashire regiments and wreaking havoc amongst them.
The 4th Battalion were quickly rerouted as the Line on the River Lys near Armentieres and La Basee was broken.
Today Presidents of Portugal and France will be at Richebourg Portuguese cemetery for a memorial service but Project Manager Adrian Gregson is going to avoid the road closures and crowds and head straight for the cemetery at Loos on as part of his week of Remembrance.
Despite the miserable weather Worcestershire World War One Hundred Project Manager, Adrian Gregson made it to Loos Memorial today, on the day his great uncle was killed.
Erlam Greaves of Southport, died on 9 April. Adrian, his father and brother marked the anniversary at the memorial before finishing off where President Macron began this morning with their own memorial service.
Adrian’s journey of remembrance today also passed through Erquinghem (twice) where 100 years ago today the 3rd Worcestershires, along with 11 Lancashire Fusiliers and 9 North Lancs, were in on Lys.
10 April 2018
After the 3rd Worcestershires were forced back from Erquinghem, the 4th Battalion was rushed into action in the Bailleul area with the 29th Division. Casualties were sure to be high.
Meanwhile 10th battalion was holding the Wulverghen Line. The German offensive showed no sign of abating.
Worcestershire World War One Hundred Project Manager Adrian Gregson and family have visited Bailleul Cemetery this morning- after a hearty breakfast of oueufs - to commemorate a relative of John Keatings, chief navigator on our tour on the Western Front.
Lewis Baylis was in 10th battalion Worcestershires, killed in the previous September but dying of wounds in the hospital based here.
100 years ago today was been a bad day for Worcestershires. The home regiment itself lost over 80 men in 10th battalion.
The photo above is looking back down the ridge at Wulverghen, near Messines. Already hundreds of men have died on both sides as a result of bitter fighting all along the Line from the Lys northwards. The BEF is severely stretched as the enemy are on the verge of a breakthrough.
Three Worcestershire battalions were in action 100 years today and all suffering as a result. Third in retreat; 4th and 10th at Baillleuil and near Messines Ridge respectively.
Adrian Gregson and his family visited the ridge today - where Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy or Woodbine Willie famously won the Military Cross.
There are pill boxes and bikers still littering the area and shell holes and craters.
But still and very peaceful especially on such a beautiful day.
The Last Post ceremony today at Menin Gate Memorial Ypres was especially poignant. After the Ypres firemen blew the Last Post, a lone piper played. Over a thousand people heard and stood still and silent before uttering "we will remember them".
And then a great surprise - a school from New Zealand performed a Hakka. Before Adrian and his remembrance party left they found a wreath for the Worcestershire Regiment amongst those laid during the ceremony.
A fitting end to their Journey through the Western Front.
11 April 2018
One hundred years ago, on the 11 April, the 2nd Battalion Worcestershires joined the fray. This battalion had won its spurs at Gheluvelt back in 1914. This battalion was in action at Meteren in the battle of Bailleul. By the end of the day more than 50 men of Worcestershire had lost their lives.
Project Director Adrian Gregson sends a final note from Lille station waiting for the train back to Blighty having completed their trip. “We have been guided by the travel book by Rev James Coop, chaplain to 55th West Lancashire Division, written in 1920. We have of course ignored his advice on pronunciation of towns in Flanders such as Whitesheets, Wipers, and Plugstreet!
“I noticed a typo in yesterday's post and contrary to popular opinion the area is not littered with bikers, but 'bunkers' - unless you count the discarded cyclists who may have come too close to our personnel transport.
“With thanks to fellow travellers John, Al, Lew and Robert it is now au revoir and bon chance!”