25 November 1914 – D H Drake-Brockman Memoirs

25 Nov

D H Drake-Brockman, Ted’s Colonel, mentions him when describing an incident in the official history “With the Royal Garhwal Rifles in the Great War 1914 – 1917”.

The next day, 25th November, we received orders to proceed to Festubert, presumably to relieve the 1st Battalion. We were directed to rendezvous at Gorre Church, where we would get orders. We arrived there at 1.45 p.m., and naturally expected to be met by some staff officer to give us orders. After waiting some time, and no one turning up, I set out with my adjutant, Captain Berryman, to search for the missing staff officer. After inquiries, we eventually ran the Brigadier and his Staff to earth, ensconced in a comfortable brewery with warm fires. Nobody then deigned to take any notice of us, and after waiting some time, we got orders what to do. We then went to the front line to see the situation and arrange matters, leaving the Battalion resting at the rear under cover of a large farm. At dusk we moved up and relieved our 1st Battalion in the same trench that they had recaptured, with three Companies, the fourth Company remaining behind at La Couture, under Major Stewart.

The brewery, the fires and the dinner clearly rankled Drake Brockman who had the line officer’s impatience with the staff officers’ willingness to send others into danger from positions of relative safety and comfort.  Earlier in the book he seethes:

The situation could not have been properly appreciated by the Brigadier of that Brigade …. It is very easy to say that “the trenches must be retaken at all costs,” and that “the attack must be carried out immediately,” and so forth, from a comfortable brewery well in the rear, with warm fires and a good dinner. These were favourite expressions of the Higher Command at that period of the War. A personal reconnaissance by the Brigadier is very necessary, as well as by any Commander, before he launches his troops into an attack. Their strength also has to be considered.

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Posted by on 25 November, '14 in Col Drake Brockman, Festubert, Ted Berryman


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