World War One was a savage conflict, and long before the invention and application of Blitzkrieg the Germans were “masters of shell and attack” tactics, and were within four miles of Ypres when they faced two small but signifigant obstacles, a tiny remnand of the Welsh Borderers, who were relieved by the Second Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment.
You’d know a chap of Longford extraction was involved, a John Dopping Boyd, grandson of James Henry Boyd of Derrycassin via his daughter Charlotte Agnes Dopping.
While their politics were loyalist and they were landed gentry, they are the Orange on our flag, and deserve to be remembered as Irishmen in the First World War.
Verse is subject to editing to come – from what records I gather he was a Lieutenant of the Queens West Surrey, but yet found himself in command of the 2Nd Battalion Worcesters on Nov 1st due to their rank depletion’s. Whether he had joined the Worcesters from the QOWS before the battle, or was one of the wandering retreating that joined ranks with the advancing 2nd Batt Worcestors I dont know, but will clarify when I do.
At Gheluvelt, on Flanders fields
With Ypres itself set to fall
The Second Battalion of Worcesters stationed
Massed to answer to advance the call.
The German shells fell like hail
Shrapnel mercilessly cut the skies
The roar of guns and of wounded mothers sons
Were to the enemy the reply.
Last out were not to see least of the action
As was seen in Biblical times past
As they followed orders to retake Gheluvelt
The best action was kept for last.
This far and no farther
The Germans could be allowed to advance
At all costs retake the village came the order
No matter how small the chance.
The Demon FitzClarence was on the line
The Welsh Borderes held the Chateau
The Church steeple was their only landmark clear
Arising over the burning village below.
That the Welsh held out it was unknown
As the Wocesters set out at the double pace
Below the crest Reutelbeek waters babbled
With blood was red from battle was a dreadful place.
In a wide khaki line in irregular wave
Be bayonets showed above the crest
German guns quickly affixed took their toll
The Battalion passed this savage test.
They crashed in on the Chateau
Caught the Welsh in a welcome surprise
Thinking all theirs lost that some were left
Was moral boosting to realise.
But this was but a stage post to be passed
From and for which too many had fallen
An advance troop to take the village itself
For heros the mission was calling.
There was in the massed British ranks
Many smashed regiments remains
For great were the ranks losses
For each hundred yard gains.
Among those standing a lieutenant
On these Flanders fields so cruel
A Donegal man stood proud and tall
John Dopping Boyd of Ballymacool
Two hundred men, along with his own
Boyd commandeered and led
Retook the village and saved the day
In the name of the many hundreds before them dead.
To spite the German advance being halted
The Demon knew it could not be held
So gave the order, ruefully to be complied
To retreat to Veldhoek from retaken Geluvelt.
Ypres town, a mere four miles
Was saved by these actions brave
Boyd of Donegal was of Longford stock
That’s easy known, some would say.
His mother was Dopping from Derrycassin
Of a family of fighting form before
Who fought for flag, glory and honour
Who would fight in many battles more.
As the sun set on the first wartime Samhain
The spirits of the dead must have looked with pride
On the bravery of men led ably
Alongside whom they had fought and died.