9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

During September 1914 three new armies were raised as reinforcements. The 13th Division of the “ First New Army” included the 9th Worcestershire which was part of the 39th Brigade.

39th Brigade was made up of 4 battalions:
9th Royal Warwickshire
7th Glostershire
9th Worcestershire
7th North Staffordshire

Lieut.-Colonel M. H. Nunn

The majority of the original personnel of the 9th Battalions were raised in the County of Worcestershire, though many enlisted in Birmingham.  Many of the great names of former days reappeared in the Regiment.  The new 9th Battalion was, it is true, first commanded by a serving Regular officer, Lieut.-Colonel W. E. Sykes (with Capt. J. V. Godfray as Adjutant).  Lieut.-Colonel Sykes had been a substantive Major attached to the 5th Battalion on the outbreak of war, and was given temporary rank of Lieut.-Colonel on appointment to command the 9th Battalion; but after the sad death of Colonel Sykes the command passed in January 1915 to the veteran Lieut.-Colonel M. H. Nunn (Born in 1864, Colonel Nunn had been commissioned to the Regiment in 1886 and had retired in 1906 with the rank of Major. He was to prove a splendid Commanding Officer, untiring in care for his men, up till his gallant death in Gallipoli).

In June 1915 the difficulties in Gallipoli peninsula resulted in the British Higher Command requiring reinforcements to be sent if the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was to win through to its goal, Constantinople.  Accordingly five fresh Divisions were sent out as reinforcements from England to Gallipoli. One of these was the 13th Division, which included the 9th Battalion of the Regiment.    
The 9th Worcestershire left Blackdown on Salisbury Plain on Sunday 20th June 1915 and moved by train to Avonmouth.  There on the same evening the transport ship “Cawdor Castle” received the Battalion, 28 officers and 970 other ranks.

The officers who embarked with the 9th Battalion were :—Lt.-Col. M. H. Nunn, Majors W. C. Crofton, E. W. Boyd-Moss, D.S.O. and W. Barker. Captains G. W. Rolph, W. D. Gibbon, R. B. Horsfield, J. V. Godfray, (Adjt.), S. Munnick, E. M. Carter and W. Austin. Lieuts. R. N. Bellairs, T. Neame, G. T. Pearson, G. T. de Blaby, C. E. Sladden. P. MacD. Sanderson, E. H. Hiscock. C. 3. Tree and J. Riggs-Walker, 2/Lieuts. R. C. Marshall, J. N. Lancaster, L. E. Hiscock, R. Cavanagh, C. W. Rawle, J. C. Bourne and F. G. V. Beard. Lieut. and Quartermaster C. H. Inwood, and Lieut. I. M. Brown, R.A.M.C.  The Battalion formed part of the 39th Brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General W. de S. Cayley, with Captain N. K. Street of the Regiment as his Staff Captain.  Captain J. M. Graham went out with the Divisional Cyclist Company.

Early on the morning of the 24th June 1915 the “ Cawdor Castle “ moved out from dock and steamed down the Severn to the sea.  Enemy submarines were not as yet considered a serious menace, but two destroyers escorted the troopship a long way out into the Atlantic.

After touching at Malta (where the troopships had a most inspiring send-off from the French battle-fleet anchored in Valetta harbour) and Alexandria, the “Cawdor Castle” reached Mudros on the evening of the 10th July 1915.  The Battalion remained on board the transport ship in that crowded harbour for two days.  Not until July 13th were further orders received.  Then the companies were transhipped to the destroyer “ Reynard” and the mine-sweeper “ Newmarket.”
That evening the “ Reynard” and “ Newmarket,” together with other similar craft, left Mudros Harbour and proceeded to the Gallipoli Peninsula.  It was dark before they reached “V” Beach and saw the hulk of the “ River Clyde” looming above the floating jetties.  The work of disembarkation was long and toilsome in the darkness.  Each contingent was ordered off as soon as it had assembled complete. “A” and “B” Companies, from the “ Reynard,” marched off across country, led by guides through the darkness.  But before “C” and “D” Companies, from the “Newmarket,” were ready the dawn was at hand.  Movement across country in daylight was dangerous, so those two companies had to march along the coast, by a sheltered track beneath the cliffs. The troops were not in good condition after their voyage, they were heavily laden, and the long tramp over sand and shingle proved very exhausting. Not till after midday did these two companies rejoin the rest of the Battalion in reserve shelters among the cliffs of Gully Beach.

9th Battalion leave Mudros on the 13th July 1915 for Gallipoli

9th Battalion land at "V" Beach late evening of the 13th July 1915

In the area which the 9th Worcestershire had now entered, the situation had changed but little since the action of Gully Ravine.  Sapping and minor operations had altered details of the trench line, but had not affected the general position of the opposing forces.  The enemy’s trenches stretched, row behind row, across the gently rising slopes leading up to Krithia.  The Turkish defences by this time were well constructed, strongly fenced with wire, and amply supported by artillery.  On our side steady work had rendered the British trenches more or less satisfactory both for defence and for habitation.  Save for the greater heat, the torment of flies, and the privations due to scarcity of water, the situation at the Helles area was now much like that on the British front in France and Flanders. The deadlock was complete.

How to overcome that deadlock was the problem which for some time past had faced the British Staff. Gradually plans had been evolved and the method of the fresh attempt settled.  As yet the plan was secret, and for the moment all the Battalion need note is that it had been decided to deliver the main force of the new blow not at Helles but at Anzac.  Lest the enemy should suspect that intention, the new troops of the 13th Division had deliberately been landed in the Helles area to gain their first experience of war.

At Gully Beach the new troops found themselve. in close support to the war-worn 29th Division; and the new battalions were attached to the “Old Army” battalions of that Division for instruction in trench work.  It should not have been difficult to have attached the 9th Worcestershire to the 4th Battalion of the Regiment; but the opportunity did not occur, and officially the two Battalions did not come in contact (But one curious coincidence of interest to the Regiment was the meeting of Brig.-General D. E. Cayley, with. his brother, Brig.-General W. de S. Cayley, each commanding a Brigade which included a Battalion of the Regiment).

Though the 4th and 9th Worcestershire did not meet officially, the officers and men of the two battalions had time to see something of each other before the 13th Division definitely took over the line.  The position of the 88th Brigade had been shifted, and from July onwards the Brigade had held the trenches west of the Gully Ravine.  The 4th Worcestershire held the trenches nearest to the sea coast until the 16th July 1915 . Then the 9th Royal Warwicksliire, previously attached for instruction, definitely took over the trenches. The 4th Worcestershire marched back to Gully Beach and embarked next day for a period of rest in Lemnos.

While the 4th Worcestershire were resting at Lemnos, the 9th Worcestershire had been receiving their baptism of fire in the trenches of the Gully Ravine.  The Battalion went into the trenches on the night of the 14th July 1915 for attachment to the 2nd Hampshire.  From that battalion the 9th Worcestershire definitely took over the trenches on July 16th and held them for twenty-four hours, during which the first casualties occurred ( 2/Lieut. 3. C. Bonnie killed, Lieut. C. J. Tree mortally wounded).  Thenceforward for a fortnight the Battalion either held the trenches or rested in reserve.  Little of importance took place, except a Turkish local attack further to the right against the 7th North Staffordshire on July 23rd. This caused much firing and some loss ( 1 killed and 3 wounded in the 9th Worcestershire. The North Staffordshire lost more heavily.  Though no heavy fighting actually took place there were several rumours and warnings that the enemy would attack).  By that time orders had been received that the 13th Division would be relieved and withdrawn.  Their place in the line at Helles would be taken over once more by the 29th Division.

Early on the morning of the 29th July 1915, the 9th Worcestershire handed over their trenches, to the K.O.S.B. and Border Regiment of the 87th Brigade, and marched down to Gully Beach.  Thence that evening the Battalion marched along the coast round Cape Helles to “V” Beach, embarked on the minesweeper “Ermine” and were ferried over to Lemnos.

The 13th Division had been withdrawn to Lemnos in order to take part in the decisive attack of the forthcoming offensive. The 13th Division, including the 9th Worcestershire were selected for the decisive attack at Sari Bair, whilst the a subsidiary attack of the 29th Division at Krithia was to involve the 4th Worcestershire.

March of the 9th Battalion Worcestershire - night of the 6th/7th August 1915

THE ADVANCE TO THE HAL (9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment)
December 1916 to January 1917

In Mesopotamia the 9th Battalion of the Regiment had seen no fighting of any importance I during the Summer and Autumn of 1916. The disastrous campaign for the relief of Kut had left both the opposing armies exhausted; and the heat of the ensuing months had been too severe to permit much movement of troops. So both armies, British and Turkish, lay quiet and waited for the cooler weather of Winter.

We have already told how, in anticipation of the Winter and of the fighting it would bring, the 13th Division, including the 9th Worcestershire, had been drawn back from the front to training camp at Amara. There training was carried on keenly throughout October and November; and by the end of the latter month the 13th Division was once more in good fighting trim.

Then the move forward to the front began. The troops marched in small columns of all arms. The 9th Worcestershire and 7th North Staffordshire, together with a Brigade of Field Artillery and a long train of transport, formed the second column of the Division and marched north-westward along the river banks by easy stages, covering the miles from Amara to the front in ten days (Stages of the march were as follows [distances are approximate)]:— Nov. 29th. 4 miles to Bustan Taific - 30th. 8 miles to Abad Ali - Dec. 1st. 11 miles to Kumait. – Dec. 2nd. 14 miles to Ibniya - Dec. 3rd. 11 miles to Killab Hussain - Dec. 4th. 11 miles to Ali Gharbi – Dec. 5th. 9 miles to Beit Fahad – Dec. 6th. 9 miles to Musadag – Dec. 7th. 12 miles to Sheikh Sa'ad – Dec. 8th. 10 miles to Twin Canals).

The march was begun on November 29th in hot sun and sand; on December 8th the last stage was completed in rain and mud; and the march ended at "Twin Canals," a post on a desolate plain covered for the most part with six inches of muddy slush, in which the camp was pitched. Despite the dreary surroundings all were in good fettle and high spirits. "If my men fight as they have marched," recorded an officer of the Battalion, " they are sure to do well." The 9th Worcestershire now mustered 29 officers and 824 other ranks—a strong battalion once more.

The position of the Turkish Army holding Kut-al-Amara was somewhat unusual. As during the previous campaign, the Turkish forces were disposed on both banks of the River Tigris. On the left, or northern, bank the enemy were still holding the strong position of Sannaiyat which had defied so many attacks. On the right, or southern bank, the enemy forces had been withdrawn several miles to an entrenched position close to Kut itself. The enemy's right wing was thus considerably further back than was their left wing; but the natural strength of the left wing position was very great, and its communications were ensured by an elaborate system of entrenchments along the northern bank of the river from Sannaiyat to Kut.

The Turkish Army consisted nominally of five Divisions (Estimated to total about 20,800 with 70 guns), but those Divisions were not up to strength, and the Turkish Army was not nearly so well equipped or supplied as was the opposing British force of four strong Divisions (The 3rd Indian and 7th Indian Divisions, forming the 1st Indian Corps ; and the 13th Division and the newly formed 14th Indian Division forming the 2nd Indian Corps). On the whole the British were superior, both in numbers and in armament, but that superiority was not so great as to ensure success in attack unless skillfully directed. Fortunately in Sir Stanley Maude (General Maude had received the K.C.B. for his services in command of the 13th Division in the preceding campaign) the British Army had a leader capable of making the most of the superiority of the force under his command.

Operations around Kut (1916/1917)

General Maude decided to strike at the Turkish right flank, to envelop and crush the enemy forces south of the Tigris and then to cross the river and cut off the rest of the enemy's forces from their base. In adopting this plan he ran the risk that his own line of communications might be cut by a sally from Sannaiyat; but to avert that danger he trusted to the strength of the British defences opposite that position and to the protection afforded to his northern flank, as well as to the northern flank of the enemy, by the great Suwaikiya Marsh. However it was essential for success that the full scope of the new plan should not be divined by the enemy. So a series of bombardments and feint attacks at Sannaiyat were to be carried on while the main attack went forward on the southern side.

Such was the outline of the plan. The first stage was the envelopment of the enemy's right flank, and that operation was commenced in the middle of December.

Southwards from Kut-al-Amara runs a deep water-course, the Shatt-al-Hai or River Hai. That river, in reality a branch of the Tigris, runs across the low-lying plain of Mesopotamia to join the Euphrates at Nasiriya. In summer the watercourse of the Hai is dry, but in January there is some water in the river bed, enough for drinking although not enough to impede a crossing. As a first move, General Maude decided to extend the left flank of his army to the banks of the Hai.

To deceive the enemy as to his intentions the British Commander ordered a heavy bombardment of the Sannaiyat position. The enemy hastily reinforced the threatened flank. Once that movement was well under way, the force detailed to seize the position on the Hai was set in motion.

To meet the possibility of such a turning movement, the Turkish right flank had been strongly entrenched at the junction of the River Hai with the Tigris. The Turkish entrenchments formed a salient, about half a mile in depth, the apex of the salient being on the watercourse of the Hai. About a mile west of that position a Turkish floating bridge spanned the Tigris.

The 13th Division was entrusted with the initial advance. The Division was to advance under cover of darkness from Dujaila to Atab, and thence to work forward up the line of the Hai to the enemy's entrenched position. Behind them the 14th Division would occupy the old Turkish position, now abandoned, between the River Hai and Dujaila. At the same time the British Cavalry would move further southward, would cross the Hai at Basrugiya, and would then wheel round the enemy's position and attack the floating bridge. The subsequent sequence of events could not exactly be foreseen, but the intention was at once to begin systematic operations for the reduction of the Turkish defences on the southern bank of the Tigris.

The 9th Worcestershire, after three days rest in the camp at Twin Canals, received orders for their part in the forthcoming operations. At nightfall of December 12th, 1916 the 39th Brigade assembled and marched forward to Sinn Abtar. There the Brigade bivouacked in the low ground of the Dujaila Depression. In such cover as that depression afforded the troops lay all through the next day, whilst away to the right the continuous boom of guns told of the feint against Sannaiyat. Next evening (December 13th) the real advance began.

As soon as it was dark the troops of the 13th Division began to move. At about 6.0 p.m. the 39th Brigade advanced from their cover to the appointed assembly position at Imam-al-Mansur. There the force formed up.

The plan for the advance of the 13th Division demanded careful adjustment. The 39th Brigade were to form the Divisional Reserve. In front of them the 38th Brigade would act as advanced guard and would occupy a position (R.8. to Q.7. on the map) to cover the march of the 40th Brigade away to the left, which would seize Atab and would then bridge the Hai.

At 3.0 a.m. the advance began. The 39th Brigade marched forward across country on a compass bearing. The battalions marched in line of companies in fours, with as much silence as was possible. The ground was rough and two deep nullahs had to be crossed, but the direction was well maintained and eventually the Brigade came to a halt in its allotted position (Q.3.).

Dawn was now lighting the sky behind them. News came from both front and flank that the other Brigades had successfully done their work. Presently (7.0 a.m.) came orders for the 39th Brigade to advance.

Operations around Kut (1916/1917)

The Brigade moved forward a short distance (to R. 6.): then further orders were issued. The 9th Worcestershire and 7th Gloucestershire would push on through the outpost line of the 38th Brigade and would advance along the River Hai to Bassouia Ford, the Worcestershire on the eastern and the Gloucestershire on the western bank.

The two battalions moved off. The 9th Worcestershire passed through the outposts of the 38th Brigade, deployed into fighting formation and advanced across country by slow stages, pausing at intervals to gain touch with the Gloucestershire, who, having further to go, fell somewhat behind. British cavalry could be seen in the morning light moving across country away to the west, for the turning movement of the cavalry force through Basrugiya had been successfully accomplished.

That advance of the cavalry scared away any Turkish outposts along the Hai; the 9th Worcestershire met no opposition; by midday the Bassouia Ford had been reached and a position there had been established.

Meanwhile the cavalry on the western bank had been nearing the enemy's entrenchments. Orders came for the 39th Brigade to continue the advance. The 7th Gloucestershire were brought across to the eastern bank, and the Worcestershire and Gloucestershire battalions together pushed on to the ford of Umm es Sa'ad. There the troops again dug in. They had as yet met no opposition, although firing could be heard away to their left front. Clearly the cavalry were in action. To assist the cavalry, the 7th North Staffordshire, hitherto in reserve, were sent forward. Eventually the cavalry fell back, and the attempt to advance further was given up. The troops were very tired and slept on the ground they had entrenched (Line night 14/15th was Umm es Sa'ad—R.8. - "Here we waited till the day broke, watching the flashes of the guns at Sannaiyat and listening to their distant rumble " [N.J.A.] )

Next morning (December 15th) came orders for the 38th and 39th Brigades to advance up the eastern bank of the Hai towards the enemy's entrenchments. After a sharp skirmish with some Arab snipers, the advance began about 10.0 a.m. The 9th Worcestershire were detailed as support to the Brigade. The troops in front of them came into action and there was heavy firing; but the 9th Worcestershire were kept back in rear till almost midday. Then orders came for two companies to be sent forward to fill a gap which had opened between the inner flanks of the two Brigades (near the " Low Ground.") Accordingly "C" and "D" Companies under Major Gibbon moved up to the right flank of the 39th Brigade and were put under the command of the 7th Gloucestershire.

As Major Gibbon's two companies advanced, they were met by a sharp fire of shrapnel and of heavier shells (No other troops were moving at the time and consequently the Turkish artillery concentrated upon them); but the Worcestershire platoons continued their advance across the open until they were in line with the 7th Gloucestershire, who were lying deployed within 500 yards of the enemy's position. The Turkish trenches were strongly held and well protected by wire. The two Worcestershire companies came into action, fire being kept up by the Lewis guns while the remainder of the two companies dug cover with their entrenching tools.

As they lay working for dear life, the Turkish high explosive burst among the labouring soldiers and shrapnel was rained upon them. Men were hit right and left. Private J. Merritt had almost dug himself into shelter when he saw that the man next him was badly wounded and helpless. Private Merritt dragged the wounded man into the cover he himself had made, took the other's place in the open and commenced to dig in afresh (Pte. J. Merritt was awarded the D.C.M. He had joined the battalion has a recruit four days previously).

Gradually the survivors made cover for themselves, but before they were reasonably secure the losses had been very heavy. Of the two companies over a hundred had been killed or wounded (Killed, Capt. P. L. C. Lucas [1st R. Sussex attached] and 24 men. Wounded, 4 officers [Lt. C. W. John, 2/Lts. F. D. Drewitt, H. C. K. Bidlake, E. P. Coles] and 82 other ranks. Missing, 8. 2/Lts. Drewitt and Bidlake though wounded refused to go back and remained at duty for two days longer) before darkness fell; but the rest held firm and remained in good fighting trim.

While Major Gibbon's two companies had thus been under fire, the remainder of the 9th Worcestershire had moved forward, and by nightfall had established a support position some 500 yards behind the front line of their Brigade (R. 17 to Q. 8 on the map). By dawn next day the position of the British forces on the eastern bank of the Hai was fairly secure.

The next step was to establish a proper position on the western bank, where the cavalry had been operating. It was necessary that the cavalry should be relieved before the enemy had time to organise a counter-thrust. So next day (December 16th) the 39th Brigade were ordered to send their supporting battalion to establish a position on the western bank. Accordingly, during that afternoon, the 9th Worcestershire (Major Gibbon's two companies had not yet rejoined) made their way across the river bed on the Hai and took up an outpost line on the further side (Q. 10. to R. 19 on the map). The Battalion came under distant rifle fire, while crossing the river and one or two men were hit.

That night there was a general shift of position. The 38th Brigade took over all ground east of the Hai. The 39th Brigade and the 40th Brigade moved west of the Hai and took up an outpost line running south-westward from a shattered heap of masonry, known as the 'Pointed Ruin,' in preparation for a wheeling movement up against the Turkish positions. The 9th Worcestershire were to be on the extreme right of this line, holding the bank of the Hai by the Pointed Ruin itself.

That night "C" and "D" Companies rejoined the Battalion. All night (Before joining the remainder of the Battalion at this work, "C" and "D" Companies were allowed two hours rest—their first rest since dawn of the 16th) the troops laboured at entrenching defensive posts along the new outpost line (The line was thinly held. The 9th Worcestershire alone held a front of 1,600 yards).

Next day (17th) came orders to advance. The enemy's defences straight in front were strongly held, but further to the west the enemy did not appear to be in any great force in the further loop of the river which was known as 'The Dahra Bend.' So orders were issued for the 13th Division to wheel forward its left flank to envelop the Turkish position. The wheel was to pivot on the Pointed Ruin, and all troops were to gain as much ground as possible, as a preliminary to a deliberate attack.

Just north of the Pointed Ruin was a deep little nullah, which ran parallel to the Turkish front line and offered a good position. As soon as it was dark, the 9th Worcestershire pushed forward and seized that nullah. It proved to be about thirteen feet deep and was entrenched under a sharp sniping fire. The work was difficult, for the troops were now exhausted from lack of rest. Eventually the position held by the Battalion extended along the nullah for some 800 yards. Then the 9th
Royal Warwickshire continued the line. Still further to the left were the other battalions of the
39th Brigade, the 7th North Staffordshire and 7th Gloucestershire (Left flank of Brigade was on P.27).

During the next week the energies of the Brigade were concentrated on the work of entrenching the new position and strengthening it for defence. The position along the nullah maskedthe apex of the enemy's entrenched position, which was now becoming known as 'The Hai Salient,’ and enabled small bodies of our troops to carry out reconnaissance and minor operations against the line of the river further west; but until the Hai Salient had been reduced and the enemy-had been driven across to the other bank it would not be possible to move larger forces further west without grave risk.

Even as it stood the situation was somewhat precarious, and in order to give greater depth
to the defence one half of the 9th Worcestershire — "C" and "D" Companies under Major Gibbon were drawn back from the line on December 20th into Brigade Reserve. Those two companies were employed on the construction of rear lines of defence, including a group of large dugouts which became known as "Worcester City." There those two companies spent their Christmas; and there they were joined next day by the remainder of the Battalion, who had made such cheer as was possible in the front line the second Christmas spent by the Battalion under the fire of the enemy.

The withdrawal of the Battalion to "Worcester City" proved to be preliminary to a readjustment of the position, and the establishment of a defensive flank to the left (From P.27 to Q.17.) in.order to afford greater security against a possible attack from the west; for the enemy were now bringing troops into the broken ground on the western flank of the Hai Salient, and were establishing strong positions in the Dahra Bend.

During that period of hard work on the entrenchments there were many minor incidents. Between the British position in the nullah and the Turkish trenches at the apex of the Hai Salient the ground was rough and broken, with much brushwood, which afforded good cover for snipers and an opportunity for stalking by opposing patrols. For example, on the night of December 21/22nd a patrol of the 9th Worcestershire left the right flank of the line near the river. Five minutes of cautious advance brought them so close to the enemy's trenches that the whole Turkish line broke into a blaze of musketry, three machine-guns joining in the riot. Fortunately the patrol, lying flat, escaped loss, though the firing roused all troops for miles around. When it died down, the patrol began to make their way back. They were stalked by a hostile patrol who cut off their retreat. The Worcestershire corporal (Unfortunately the name of this brave N.C.O. is not recorded in the Battalion Diary) ordered his men to fix bayonets, and charged the enemy; who scattered. The plucky little patrol regained our lines with no greater loss than two wounded.

That incident was typical of many such encounters, for both sides were active; the British to win their way forward and the Turks to hold their ground. Gradually the British forces gathered strength for the decisive attack. On December 28th the losses of the Battalion were made good by a large draft (3 officers [2/Lts. C. H. West, J. M. Jones, and P. W. Harrington] and 105 other ranks). On that same day "C" and "D" Companies under Major Gibbon were again detached and were moved to the left to aid in the entrenchment of the new defensive flank. On the last day of the year the remainder of the Battalion joined Major Gibbon's two companies in their new position.

Throughout the first fortnight of 1917 the gunfire of the British artillery increased in intensity, while preparations were made for a systematic attack on the Hai Salient. After a fortnight in the flanking defences (The Battalion was relieved from the flanking defences by the 37th Dogras on January 11th and marched back to "Worcester City" [R.19] where the Battalion remained till January 16th) and in reserve at "Worcester City" the Battalion again took over (From the 7th North Staffordshire on January 15th) the former position on the right of the line, abutting on the banks of the Hai.

In preparation for attack on the Hai Salient a system of trenches was now being prepared in front of the nullah by the Pointed Ruin. Those trenches were constructed in successive parallel lines, to act as assembly trenches for the proposed attack. Their construction was pushed on with all speed, by sapping in daylight and by digging in the open at night (That digging by night was very dangerous. The digging parties were tinder the close fire of the enemy and casualties were frequent, especially among the subalterns in charge of the work. 2/Lt. P. W. Harrington was killed on the night of January 15th/16th and 2/Lt. A. A. Pine was killed on the following night), until half the gap between the Pointed Ruin and the apex of the Hai Salient had been covered. By January 21st the new trenches were within 300 yards of the enemy's front line, and assault was possible. The new trenches stretched row behind row; "Queen's Trench" , "King's Trench" , "Emperor's Trench", they were entitled. Headquarters of the 9th Worcestershire were established in the front line by the river bank.

The Hal Salient (25th January 1917)

Heavy rain on January 22nd postponed operations but the postponement enabled arrangements to be made even more complete.

None doubted that a hard fight was in prospect. It was certain that the enemy would make every effort to hold their position. Our airmen had reported new lines of trenches under construction within the Hai Salient and it was certain that the defenders had been strongly reinforced (The enemy's strength facing the attack was estimated as follows on January 21st:—Hai Salient—3,700 and 4 guns. Kut Peninsula—1,700 and 29 guns. Shumran Bridgehead and the Dahra Bend—4,400 and 18 guns).

The attack was planned in two phases; a preliminary attack against the southern apex of the Hai Salient by the 39th and 40th Brigades on the western and eastern banks respectively, followed by an attack of the 38th Brigade against the Salient's eastern face.

The attack of the 39th Brigade on the western bank of the Hai was to be made by two battalions, the 9th Worcestershire and 7th North Staffordshire. The other two battalions of the Brigade would be ready to reinforce.

On the night of January 24th/25th the two attacking battalions concentrated in the forward trenches; by 9.0 a.m. next morning all was ready.


Timeline of movements

1914 (September) 9th Battalion formed (39th Brigade, 13th Division)
1915 (May) Blackdown on Salisbury Plain, England
1915 (July) Valetta, Malta
1915 (July) Alexandria, Egypt
1915 (July) Mudros, Lemnos (small Greek Island)
1915 (July) Gallipoli
1916 (January) Egypt
1916 (December) Mesopotamia
1917 (January) Hai Salient, Mesopotamia
1917 (March) Baghdad, Mesopotamia
1918 Baku
1918 Turkey
1918 (November) Enzeli
1919 (December) The 9th battalion was disbanded on the 19th December 1991.