Alexandra,  Princess   of   Wales's   Own
Page 16 - Nov/Dec 1915 - Armentieres/Merris.
The Human Body Louse, pedicululus humanus.
In the close confines of the Trenches and Billets soldiers often became infested.
[Photo copy retouched by website.]

4th NOVEMBER. Lovely sunny day. The Bn were allotted the Baths as usual and it soon got clean and dry once more.

5th NOVEMBER. Fine morning. Our Chaplain. Mr Keymer gave us a short service in the morning.
In the evening we relieved the 5th Yorks Bn in Trenches 69 and 70 and Support HQ occupied Square Farm.

6th NOVEMBER. Foggy all day. A draft of 25 other ranks was received.

7th NOVEMBER. A fine quiet day. Colonel Hales of 17th Bn, Notts and Derbys came for 3 days instruction.

8th NOVEMBER. Capt Maughan and the Signalling Sgt went sick to Hospital.

[One of the causes of sickness was Trench Fever. Soldiers infected would be struck by a sudden fever, loss of energy, dizziness, headache, skin rash and severe muscle and bone pain could occur. The virus which caused these symptoms was passed from man to man by the lice, with which most men became infested. The lice can only spread by bodily contact. In the confined conditions of the Trenches and billets with only primitive sanitation, lack of
Free from Vermin and Scabies Form.

regular bathing and changes of clothing etc they thrived. Their eggs usually survived in the seams of clothing all attempts at cleaning and hatched out again when they felt the warmth of the human body. A Medical Officer of the 50th Division reported that reinforcement personnel on arrival already had lice and scabies, another condition caused by parasites.]

Ptes Dobinson and Heron proceeded to England to be trained at Officer Training Corps.

9th NOVEMBER. Fine and windy, but a wet night. The men employed with the Brigade Mining Section rejoined the unit.
On the 12th November 1915 the Bn marched 12 miles to Merris via Bailleul for a month's training.

2112 Pte Kitching Reuben. Home at - Church View, Brompton, place of birth. Enlisted at Northallerton, N Yorks. Killed in action. Age 19. Buried at Chapelle D'Armentieres Old Military Cemetery.

Reuben worked at W & J Pattison's Linen Mill and joined the Battalion shortly after the War began.
His headstone gives his date of death as the 16th, but the Battalion were out of the Line on this date and the 10th, as given by the Soldiers Died list, must be correct.
Lt Hutchinson wrote to Reuben's family:-
"...Private Kitching was on duty as a sentry guarding the part of the trench occupied by him and his comrades.
As it was dark at the time, it must have been a chance shot that hit him. He was hit on the right temple and lost consciousness at once, so it is some consolation to know that he would have no pain. We are extremely sorry to lose him, both officers and men..."

[Information courtesy of - Northallerton Memorials Project.]

Pte J Woods was wounded.
The CO rejoined the Bn from Commanding the 150th Brigade.

11th NOVEMBER. Beautiful clear day. The Bn was relieved by the 62nd Brigade and went to their old billets in Armentieres.
12th NOVEMBER. At 9 a.m the Bn left Armentieres for its months training at Merris.
They marched in 4 Companies at 10 minute intervals preceded by the Signallers and Orderlies, Machine Gunners and bombers in one party.
During 1914 and 1915 the Government's request for Volunteers, backed up by advertisements such as these, was received with enthusiasm.
Lord Kitchener formed his New Army
Drafts of new Soldiers were received at regular intervals by the 4th Yorks and other Battalions of the Territorial Force.
A Second line battalion the 2/4th had been formed in September 1914 and in April 1915 the 3/4th Battalion to train volunteers in the UK.
In January 1916, however, it was necessary to introduce conscription to replace the constant loss of men.
[Photo collage by website.]

Lunch was served at Bailleul and the Bn arrived at their Billets between 2 and 3 p.m very wet and weary after a 12 mile march in rain and wind.

13th NOVEMBER. The Battalion got settled in their several billets and there were only 12 men reported sick after the wet march of the previous day.

16th NOVEMBER. Capt and Adjutant B H Charlton was married.
Lt L. J. Yorke proceeded to England to present report to Secretary War Office, London.
Lt R.C Moon joined the Battalion.

17th NOVEMBER. A Canadian Division gave an excellent concert at Bailleul and invited one Officer and 25 men to attend.

19th NOVEMBER. A draft of 20 men was received.
Football matches between the Companies took place all the week in the afternoons.

20th NOVEMBER. "News has been received in North Ormesby, N Yorks, that Frank Woods of the 4th Yorks has been wounded in the Right foot and was amongst the saved from the Anglia. He is now in the London and County War Hospital.
[On the 17th November 1915, the "Anglia", a Hospital ship, was ferrying 390 wounded soldiers from Calais to Dover when one mile off Folkestone it hit a German mine and sank with the loss of 134 lives.]

22nd NOVEMBER. The Bn practised Route Marching.

23rd NOVEMBER. The Army Commander inspected the Brigade in Route Marching and expressed himself as well pleased. The turn out was smart and soldier like and the marching and discipline was excellent. The Transport was well turned out, animals were fit and vehicles well kept.

Nothing of note is recorded for the rest of the month apart from the Port of Boulogne being closed on the 29th, for which no reason is given.

1st DECEMBER. The following message was sent to Buckingham Palace - "All ranks of Her Majesty's 4th Bn humbly send their congratulations on the occasion of H.M. Queen Alexandra's birthday."
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