Defence of Festubert
The Defence of Festubert was an engagement early in the Great War when Indian and British battalions of the 7th (Meerut) Division, Indian Army defended the village of Festubert against a German attack from 23–24 November 1914. It is notable for being one of the first actions in the war in which an attack was made against a prepared defensive position, thus foreshadowing the years of trench warfare which were to come.
The British and Indian regiments that took part were awarded the battle honour Festubert 1914.
The fighting around Ypres subsided in mutual exhaustion by 22 November and for about three weeks bad weather also inhibited operations apart from artillery-fire, bombing and sniping. At the end of the month the British made several night raids and on 23 November, the German Infantry Regiment 112 captured 800 yards (730 m) of trench east of Festubert in the Indian Corps area. The Indians counter-attacked through the night and recovered the trenches. The Defence of Festubert was one of the first attacks on an organised trench system. Most notably a night attack also occurred, involving mainly Mazhabi Sikhs of the 34th Royal Sikh Pioneers Regiment and the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment. The battle was a costly British victory, the lost trench was recaptured but there were many casualties in the Mazhabi Sikhs and the 1st Manchesters.
Order of Battle
|October 1914 | 7th (Meerut) Division[a]|
GOC: Lieutenant-General C.A. Anderson
Dehra Dun Brigade GOC: Brigadier-General C. E. Johnson
Garhwal Brigade GOC: Major-General H. D’U. Keary
Bareilly Brigade GOC: Major-General F. Macbean
Divisional Mounted Troops
Supply and Transport:
- All data from Edmonds, Military Operations, 1914, Part II, 1925.
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- Corrigan, Gordon (2006). Sepoys in the Trenches: The Indian Corps on the Western Front 1914–15. Tempus. ISBN 1-86227-354-5.
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- Merewether, J. W. B.; Smith, F. E. (1919) . The Indian Corps in France (rev. ed.). OCLC 3774822. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
- Seton, B. (1915). An Analysis of 1,000 Wounds and Injuries Received in Action, with Special Reference to the Theory of the Prevalence of Self-Infliction (Secret). London: War Office. IOR/L/MIL/17/5/2402. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Willcocks, J. (1920). With the Indians in France (PDF). London: Constable. OCLC 1184253. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
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