Meikle Twins Durham Light Infantry

Discussion in 'Durham Light Infantry' started by BobKat14, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member

    JasperDog,

    You said you would be interested in any information I could find. I have been scouring the internet for things which might be of interest, and I came across these two diagrams of the positions of the lines around Bucquoy during the battle and after the German Offensive ground to a halt on 5 April 1918.

    The 1/9 DLI position in defence next to Rossignol Wood (together with the 2/5 Duke of Wellington) is shown at the bottom of the first diagram, which depicts the confused alignment of the front line as the battle progressed. The second diagram, pictured a few days later, shows how the front was then established.

    This may help if you ever decide to visit the battlefield. I went to the battlefield sites where I knew Billy had been (Butte de Warlencourt and Bouilly Ridge) last year - it's a pity I didn't know about Bucquoy at the time of the trip, but I am glad to know now, so thanks again. Perhaps I will have an opportunity for a visit on another occasion???
     

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  2. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member

    JasperDog,

    I have been carrying out some more research. The DLI War Diary does not provide much information, but there is a lengthy account of the battle of Bucquoy in the 5th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Diary - they were part of 186 Brigade to which 9/DLI were attached as Pioneers.

    There is also some information contained in the history of the 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, The Gateshead Gurkhas, written by Harry Moses. Pte C. Burdon is recorded amongst those who died on 30 March 1918 and there is a reference to Billy Meikle's award of the Military Cross.

    I am attaching an annotated copy of a trench map of the area (with thanks and acknowledgements to PoG). You will need to click on the image to enlarge.The trench lines are taken from the grid references recorded in the 5/D.of W account of the battle. If either of us have the opportunity to visit the area, this will enable us to see exactly where the action was fought next to Rossignol Wood.

    If you would like further information, please let me know.
     

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  3. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    JasperDog,

    I have been carrying out some more research. The DLI War Diary does not provide much information, but there is a lengthy account of the battle of Bucquoy in the 5th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Diary - they were part of 186 Brigade to which 9/DLI were attached as Pioneers.

    Just to put the 1/9th DLI's service as pioneers into perspective, they only joined the 186th Brigade, 62nd (West Riding) Division (as pioneers) on 10 February 1918, albeit as you say they still fought as Infantry.

    Until this transfer the 1/9th DLI had been part of the 151st Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division and first entered the line as part of this first line Division on 22 April 1915.

    All of the 151st Brigade had been decimated in numbers due to KIA, MIA or wounded, but the 1/9th DLI were transfered because of a major reorganisation of the British Army; whereby the number of Infantry Battalions in a Division were reduced from 12 to 9.

    The 5th, 6th and 8th DLI, the 1/9ths ex-sister Battalions' in the 50th (Northumbrian) Division, were all reduced to cadre on the 4 July 1918, due to their losses. They were replaced by 1st Bn KOYLI, 6th Bn Inniskilling Fusiliers and 4th Bn KRRC.

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  4. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member

    Many thanks for this Steve - a stark reminder of the losses suffered by the DLI.

    Billy Meikle was in action with 9/DLI in 1916 and was wounded at the Butte de Warlencourt. His service record is not to be found, although some medical records survive relating to the period of his recovery. He was pronounced fit for service once more in June 1917, but precisely when he rejoined the battalion is not known.

    What I have been struggling to find out is his actual period of service. He obtained his commission in June 1915, but I have not been able to ascertain when he was first involved in the conflict - his Medal Card, which might have helped, seems to be amongst those missing.

    With the assistance of this forum, Faithful - The Story of the Durham Light Infantry and The Gateshead Gurkhas, I have put together the possible picture of his movements first with 151 Brigade and then from February 1918 with 62nd Division, but I can only positively identify his involvement at the Butte de Warlencourt (1916), Bucquoy and Bouilly Ridge/Marfaux/Cuitron (1918). The War Diary only mentions him by name when he was awarded his MC in 1918. By this time 9/DLI (Pioneers), as mentioned, were largely involved in road construction work as the Division pressed eastwards with the occasional requirement to join the fighting infantry.

    What would be interesting to find out is to what extent he was involved in actions with 151 Brigade in late 1915 and early 1916, but unless some information comes from an unexpected source (as for Bucquoy), it seems I may never know.
     
  5. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    BobKat14,

    I would have thought that the Durham County Archivist would be your best bet; they have the 9DLI's WWI war diary and archival records.

    There are also a couple of books that may have information, both by Everard Wyrall covering the 1914-19 period; A History of the 50th Division 1914-19 and A History of the 62nd (West Riding) Division 1914-19, Volumes 1 and 2 (both 'The Naval and Military Press'). Both are currently available via Amazon, but if ordering be careful you don't go for any cheap US facsimilie/photocopy!

    My only source of information on Billy Meikle is 'The Gateshead Gurkhas', which you appear to already have.

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  6. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member

    Thanks again Steve. As you say, I do indeed already have a copy of The Gateshead Gurkhas.

    I will see what else I can find. I have seen the 9/DLI War Diary at the National Archives, but it may be that the Durham County Archivist could provide some more information. Perhaps there will be something about the early period I am looking for in the 50th Division history you mention. Your warning tip is gratefully noted!
     
  7. BobKat14

    BobKat14 Member

    I note that this is my 50th post and that this topic has now received more than 4,000 views. I hardly thought, when I started this thread over two years ago with the Meikle Twins in WW2, that discussion would have led into WW1, or that the subject matter would have proved so popular. My thanks again to Verrieres for getting the topic started, and most recently to JasperDog for the entirely unexpected contact about the letter Charlie Burdon's family received from Billy Meikle in 1918.

    JasperDog and I have been communicating privately and have agreed that we should post photographs of Charlie Burdon, his medals, the 'next-of-kin' memorial plaque and Billy Meikle's letter. They are attached.

    My thanks to JasperDog for the photographs. Before anybody else points it out, we have noted that the medal ribbons have been interchanged!!

    Perhaps there may be others somewhere who served with 9/DLI and whose family also received handwritten letters from Billy Meikle? He must have written a number that day after the battle of Bucquoy. Do any more survive?
     

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