Battle of Passchendaele (Ypres) Oct 1917

During the summer of 1917 1RMLI was moved to the area north of Arras and took its turn to man front line trenches in the Bully les Mines /Angres / Lievin sector. In October 1917 they moved to Belgium and after a few days camped on the Canal (Canal van Ieper) 1Km north of Ypres, they moved to the front.

They established the Battalion HQ at Hubner Farm and the took over front line positions at Oxford House, Burns House and Inch Houses. The reserve company was at Winchester Farm. After many weeks of some of the heaviest fighting of the War, the landscape consisted entirely of shell holes and mud.

As they lined up for the attack 1RMLI had a strength of 16 officers and 597 Marines. They were to advance on a front 900m wide between the Lekkerboterbeek stream on the left and Inch Houses on the right. Their objective was to advance 900m capturing Berks Houses, Banff House and Bray Farm.   

Heavy rain fell all night filling the shell holes with water. Mud made the ground almost impassable but at 0540am on 26th October 1917 the British Artillery barrage opened up and 1RMLI advanced. Despite heavy machine gun and sniper fire the battalion succeeded in taking all their objectives, but casualties were very heavy. The battalion held their new positions and the following day were replaced by Hawke Battalion. 1RMLI withdraw to Irish Farm north of Ypres.

Capt Pipe, Lt Aldridge, 2Lt Balcombe and 2Lt Bonnett were killed in action. Surgeon Morgan, Lt McBerney Woods, 2Lt Trotman, Capt Evanson, 2Lt Williamson, 2Lt McKeand were all wounded. Of the Marines 270 were casualties. On 5th November Lt Col Ozanne was sent to the Field Hospital and Maj Huskisson took over command. 2Lt Pippet was promoted to Acting Capt. 2Lt Carruthers took over command of C Company. On 18th December Lt Col Ozanne returned to the battalion and resumed command.

 

This photograph from Harold Ozanne's private papers shows the offices of 1RMLI at about this time (names below)

From left to right: - Back row: Lt JE Cornish, Lt CE Mennel, Lt EC Bonnet (Killed), Lt BC Pippet, Lt JH Thomas, Lt HA Carruthers, Lt DA Pipe (Killed), Lt FC Howe, Lt WC Williamson , Lt RM Snider, Lt BG Evanson, Lt RHP West, Lt RE Champness, Lt CLC McKeand, Lt HG Bennett, Lt JD Aldridge (Killed)  - Middle row (seated): The Rev W Whitehead, Capt HB van Praagh, Maj EJ Huskisson, Surgeon RG Morgan RN, Capt TH Burton - Front  row: Lt JD Murray Smith, Lt HA Bass, Lt RF Orfeur, Lt CS Easterbrook, Lt MK Gilbert