Sergeant W Gregg VC DCM MM

R.D.C. writes:
When the Great War broke out in 1914, the 1st Battalion went out at once and saw heavy fighting at Le Cateau. In the advance from the Marne it is said to have been the first to cross the river. The 3rd Battalion also took part in this fighting and the 2nd Battalion shortly afterwards arrived from India and soon after, the 4th Battalion came out from England, having also arrived from India. It is impossible here to give any details of the four years' fighting that followed but consulting the Time Line will give some idea. In November 1915, the 4th Battalion proceeded to Salonica where it served throughout the remainder of the War.

During the summer of 1915 the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th Service Battalions all went out to France and saw much fighting. The 16th went out in 1916, making altogether four Regular and eight Service Battalions at the Front.

The losses to the regiment during the War were about 546 officers and 11,975 other ranks killed in action or died of wounds.

Frankly there were too many conflicts and far too many casualties to relate here.

For detailed sources of information you should read The Rife Brigade Chronicles issued annually 1914-1919 and consult the very comprehensive War Diaries of each battalion, these written daily whilst in the front line. Both the Chronicles and War Diaries may be seen by arrangement with The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) museum in Winchester.

Excerpts from The Rifle Brigade Calendar:
Friday 9 May -1915.—Battle of Aubers Ridge, 2nd Bn. heavily engaged in attack on Fromelles; casualties: all Company officers except 2 and 628 other ranks.
Tuesday 1 July-1916-18 November. The Battles of the Somme 1st Bn. heavily engaged; casualties 23 officers and over 400 other ranks.
Thursday 10 July 1916, 13th Bn. engaged in attack near Pozieres (Battle of Albert) casualties; 20 officers and 380 other ranks.

Citations taken from: FOCUS ON COURAGE, The 59 Victoria Crosses of The Royal Green Jackets by Lieutenant- General Sir Christopher Wallace and Major Ron Cassidy.

COMPANY SERGEANT MAJOR H DANIELS VC (Later Lieutenant Colonel H Daniels VC MC)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 12 March 1915 Place: Neuve Chapelle

Citation: "For most conspicuous bravery on the 12th March, 1915, at Neuve Chappelle. When his Battalion was impeded in the advance to the attack by wire entanglements, and subjected to a very severe machine-gun fire, CSM Daniels and Corporal Noble voluntarily rushed in front and succeeded in cutting the wires. They were both wounded at once, and Corporal Noble has since died of his wounds." (London Gazette, 28 April 1915)

Date of Act of Gallantry: 12 March 1915 Place: Neuve Chapelle

Citation: "For most conspicuous bravery on the 12th March, 1915, at Neuve Chappelle. When their Battalion was impeded in the advance to the attack by wire entanglements, and subjected to a very severe machine-gun fire, Corporal Noble and CSM Daniels voluntarily rushed in front and succeeded in cutting the wires. They were both wounded at once, and Corporal Noble has since died of his wounds." (London Gazette, 28 April 1915)

Date of Act of Gallantry: 13 May 1915 Place: Ypres Salient

Citation: "On the early morning of 13th May, 1915, when in charge of a portion of an advanced breastwork south of the Wieltje-St Julien Road, during a very fierce and continuous bombardment by the enemy, which frequently blew in the breastwork, Lance-Sergeant Belcher, with a mere handful of men, elected to remain and endeavour to hold his position after the troops near him had been withdrawn. By his skill and great gallantry he maintained his position during the day, opening rapid fire on the enemy, who were only 150 to 200 yards distant, whenever he saw them collecting for an attack. There is little doubt that the bold front shown by Lance- Sergeant Belcher prevented the enemy breaking through on the Wieltje road, and averted an attack on the flank of one of our divisions." (London Gazette, 23 June 1915)

Date of Act of Gallantry: 30 July 1915 Place: Hooge

Citation: "On 30th July, 1915, at Hooge, the enemy having broken through the centre of our front trenches, consequent on the use of burning liquids, this officer's position was heavily attacked with bombs from the flank and subsequently from the rear, but he managed to defend his post until all his bombs were exhausted, and then skilfully withdrew his remaining men. He immediately led his party forward in a counter-attack under an intense rifle and machine-gun fire, and was killed while in the act of cutting the wire obstacles in the open." (London Gazette, 6 September 1915)

Date of Act of Gallantry: 23 November 1915 Place: La Brique, near Ypres

Citation: "For conspicuous bravery on the night of 23rd November, 1915, near La Brique, France. He was one of a patrol of four which was reconnoitring towards the German lines. The patrol was discovered when close to the enemy, who opened heavy fire with rifles and machine gun, wounding the officer and one man. The latter was carried back by the remaining man. Corporal Drake remained with his officer and was last seen kneeling beside him and bandaging his wounds regardless of the enemy fire. Later a rescue party, crawling near the German lines, found the officer and corporal, the former was unconscious but alive and bandaged, Corporal Drake beside him dead and riddled with bullets. He had given his own life and saved his officer." (London Gazette, 22 January 1916)

Date of Act of Gallantry: 7-20 July 1916 Place: Longueval (Delville Wood)

Citation: "For most conspicuous bravery during a period of fourteen days preceding his death in action. This officer constantly performed acts of gallantry and showed the greatest devotion to duty; and by his personal example inspired all those around him with confidence at critical periods of the operations. During preliminary preparations for the attack he carried out position reconnaissances of the enemy lines, taking out parties of officers and non-commissioned officers for over 1,000 yards in front of our lines, in order to acquaint them with the ground. All these preparations were made under fire. Later, by night, Major Congreve conducted a battalion to its position of employment, afterwards returning to it to ascertain the situation after the assault. He established himself in an exposed forward position from whence he successfully observed the enemy, and gave orders necessary to drive them from their position. Two days later, when Brigade Headquarters was heavily shelled and many casualties resulted, he went out and assisted the medical officer to remove the wounded to places of safety, although he was himself suffering severely from gas and other shell effects. He again on a subsequent occasion showed supreme courage in tending the wounded under heavy shell fire. He finally returned to the front line to ascertain the situation after an unsuccessful attack, and whilst in the act of writing his report was shot and killed instantly." (London Gazette, 26 October 1916)

Date of Act of Gallantry: 8 March 1917 Place: East of Bouchavesnes

Citation: "For most conspicuous gallantry and self-sacrifice. When engaged with some other men in deepening a captured trench, their officer struck with his spade a buried bomb, which immediately started to burn; 2nd Lieutenant Cates, in order to save the lives of his comrades, placed his foot on the bomb, which immediately exploded. He showed the most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in performing the act which cost his life but saved the lives of others. This heroic young officer died of his wounds the same night, 9th March, 1917." (London Gazette, 11 May 1917)

Date of Act of Gallantry: 20 September 1917 Place: Bulgar Wood, near Ypres

Citation: "For most conspicuous bravery when the advance of his company was held up by an enemy machine-gun firing at point blank range. He shouted to the man next to him to wait a few minutes, and, going forward to what seemed certain death, killed the enemy gunner and carried the gun to the Company's objective, where he subsequently used it with effect. By this exceptionally gallant act the progress of the attack was assured. About fifteen minutes later it was observed that the Battalion on the right was being impeded by a party of about forty of the enemy, who were enfilading them. Sergeant Burman, with two others, ran forward and got behind the enemy, killing six and capturing two officers and twenty-nine other ranks." (London Gazette, 26 November 1917)

SERGEANT AJ KNIGHT VC (Later 2nd Lieutenant AJ Knight VC MBE) 8th (CITY OF LONDON) BATTALION, THE LONDON REGIMENT (POST OFFICE RIFLES) - 1917 BELGIUM Date of Act of Gallantry: 20 September 1917 Place: Hubner Farm, near Ypres Citation: "For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the operations against the enemy positions. Sergeant Knight did extraordinarily good work, and showed exceptional bravery and initiative when his platoon was attacking an enemy strong point, and came under very heavy fire from an enemy machine gun. He rushed through our own barrage, bayoneted the enemy gunner, and captured the position single-handed. Later, twelve of the enemy with a machine gun were encountered in a shell-hole. He again rushed forward by himself, bayoneted two and shot a third and caused the remainder to scatter. Subsequently, during the attack on a fortified farm, when entangled up to his waist in mud, and seeing a number of the enemy firing on our troops, he immediately opened fire on them without waiting to extricate himself from the mud, killing six of the enemy. Again, noticing the company on his right flank being held up in their attack on another farm, Sergeant Knight collected some men and took up a position on the flank of this farm, from where he brought a heavy fire to bear on the farm as a result of which the farm was captured. All the platoon officers of the company had become casualties before the first objective was reached, and this gallant non-commissioned officer took command of all the men of his own platoon and of the platoons without officers. His energy in consolidating and reorganising was untiring. His several single-handed actions showed exceptional bravery, and saved a great number of casualties in the company. They were performed under heavy machine- gun and rifle fire, and without regard to personal risk, and were the direct cause of the objectives being captured." (London Gazette, 8 November 1917)

Date of Act of Gallantry: 22 April 1918 Place: La Pannerie, near Hinges

Citation: "For most conspicuous bravery and fine leadership during an attack. Sergeant Woodall was in command of a platoon which, during the advance, was held up by a machine gun. On his own initiative he rushed forward and, single-handed, captured the gun and eight men. After the objective had been gained, heavy fire was encountered from a farmhouse some 200 yards in front. Sergeant Woodall collected ten men, and, with great dash and gallantry, rushed the farm and took thirty prisoners. Shortly afterwards, when the officer in charge was killed, he took entire command, reorganised the two platoons, and disposed of them skilfully. Throughout the day, in spite of intense shelling and machine-gun fire, this gallant Non- Commissioned Officer was constantly on the move, encouraging the men and finding out and sending back invaluable information. The example set by Sergeant Woodall was simply magnificent and had a marked effect on the troops. The success of the operation on this portion of the front is attributed almost entirely to his coolness, courage and utter disregard forhis own personal safety." (London Gazette, 28 June 1918)

Date of Act of Gallantry: 8 May 1918 Place: Bucquoy

Citation: "For most conspicuous bravery and brilliant leadership in action. Two companies of his unit attacked the enemy's outpost position without artillery preparation. Sergeant Gregg was with the right company, which came under heavy fire from the right flank as it advanced. All the officers of the company were hit. He at once took command of the attack. He rushed an enemy post and personally killed an entire machine-gun crew and captured the gun and four men in a dug-out near by. He then rushed another post, killed two men and captured another. In spite of the heavy casualties he reached his objective and started consolidating the position. By this prompt and effective action this gallant Non-Commissioned Officer saved the situation at a critical time and ensured the success of the attack. Later Sergeant Gregg's party were driven back by an enemy counter-attack, but, reinforcements coming up, he led a charge, personally bombed a hostile machine gun, killed the crew and captured the gun. Once again he was driven back. He led another successful attack, and hung on to the position until ordered by his Company Commander to withdraw. Although under very heavy rifle and machine-gun fire for several hours, Sergeant Gregg displayed throughout the greatest coolness and contempt of danger, walking about encouraging his men and setting a magnificent example." (London Gazette, 28 June 1918)

RIFLEMAN W BEESLEY VC (Later Corporal W Beesley VC)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 8 May 1918 Place: Bucquoy

Citation: "For most conspicuous bravery. The enemy's outpost position was attacked by two companies of his unit without artillery preparation. Rifleman Beesley was in the leading wave of the left company which came under heavy fire as it approached the enemy's front line. His Platoon Sergeant and all the Section Commanders were killed. This young soldier, realising the situation, at once took command and led the assault. Single handed he rushed the post and with his revolver killed two of the enemy at a machine gun. He then shot dead an officer who ran across from a dug-out to take their place at the machine gun. Three more officers appeared from the dug-out and these he called on to surrender. Seeing one of them trying to get rid of a map, he shot him and obtained the map. He took four more prisoners from a dug-out and two others from a shelter close by, disarmed them and sent them back to our lines. At this moment his Lewis gun was brought up by a comrade who was acting as carrier. Rifleman Beesley at once brought it into action and used it with great effect against the enemy as they bolted towards their support line, inflicting many casualties. For four hours Rifleman Beesley and his comrade held on to the position under very heavy machine-gun and rifle fire. The enemy then advanced to counter- attack, and the other soldier was wounded. Rifleman Beesley carried on by himself and actually maintained his position until 10 p.m. Some of the posts on his right and left had been practically wiped out and the survivors had fallen back. It was mainly due to this action that the enemy were prevented from rushing the position, and that the remnants of his Company when compelled to withdraw were able to do so, without further loss. When darkness set in Rifleman Beesley made his way back to the original line from which the attack had started, bringing with him the wounded carrier and the Lewis gun. He at once mounted the Lewis gun in the trench and remained in action until things had quietened down. The indomitable pluck, skilful shooting and good judgement in economising ammunition displayed by Rifleman Beesley stamped the incident as one of the most brilliant actions in recent operations." (London Gazette, 28 June 1918)

Brevet Major William ( Billy) La Touche Congreve V.C., D.S.O., M.C., Billy Congreve was the first person in the First World War to be awarded the V.C., D.S.O. and M.C. He was the eldest son of General Sir Walter Congreve V.C. who had received his award of the V.C. at Colenso in 1899.