1/12th Battalion (Pioneers) The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in Macedonia : Part 3

By Harry Fecitt MBE TD

We were fortunate also in getting during April the 1/12th Battalion The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, which came to us as our Pioneer Battalion, under a most capable officer, Lieutenant Colonel Beckett.  They were a hard-bitten, thirsty lot of Lancashire miners, but what they could do with a spade was a perfect revelation.  The Division owed a great deal to this fine Battalion for the splendid work they did on the Vimy Ridge, and I attribute our comparatively low casualty returns to the rapidity with which these pioneers, assisted by the various battalions, managed to lower the depth of the trenches eighteen inches in record time.

Major General E.S. Bulfin CB, Commander 60th Division, France 1916.

 Embarkation for Egypt

60th (London) Division was being deployed to another theatre of war and the emphasis now was on preparation for embarkation and on infantry training.  The men received cholera injections and fired a short range course of ten rounds.  On the 19th June 1917 the 1/12th Battalion (Pioneers) The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment marched out of its bivouac site at 0330 hours, arriving on the Salonika Quayside five hours later for embarkation on His Majesty’s Transport Huntspill.  The Battalion was 35 officers and 1029 other ranks strong.  Three days later the Huntspill docked in Alexandria, Egypt, and the Battalion disembarked to move with 60 Division into the Palestine theatre, where it was to remain until May 1918 when it returned to France.

During its short stay in Macedonia the 1/12th Battalion (Pioneers) The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment performed its specialist tasks in a professional and competent manner and proved itself to be a very useful addition to 60 (London) Division.  A further sixteen months of operational duty in two different theatres lay ahead of the Battalion.

Casualties in Macedonia

The following four men of the Battalion are buried in Greece and Bulgaria:

1.    No. 265683 Private Matthew Burrows, aged 21 years and born in Wigan, buried in Karasouli Military Cemetery, Greece.

Photograph - Grave of Private Matthew Burrows. © Harry Fecitt
Grave of Private Matthew Burrows. © Harry Fecitt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.    No. 265297 Private John Mills Lomas, aged 21 years from Leigh, buried in Karasouli Military Cemetery, Greece.

Photograph - Grave of Private John Mills Lomas. © Harry Fecitt
Grave of Private John Mills Lomas. © Harry Fecitt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.    No. 266456 Private John William Pilkington, aged 45 years from Preston, buried in Salonika (Lembet Road) War Cemetery.

Photograph - Grave of Private John William Pilkington. © Harry Fecitt
Grave of Private John William Pilkington. © Harry Fecitt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.    No. 265716 Private Richard Robert Roberts, from St. Helens, buried in Plovdiv Central Cemetery, Bulgaria.

Photograph - Plovdiv Central Cemetery, Bulgaria. CWGC photo, supplied by Harry Fecitt.
Plovdiv Central Cemetery, Bulgaria. CWGC photo, supplied by Harry Fecitt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


SOURCES:

  • Cyril Falls, Captain. History of The Great War. Military Operations Macedonia. Both Volumes. (Battery Press reprint 1996).
  • H.C. Wylly, Colonel. The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 1914 – 1919. (Naval & Military Press softback reprint).
  • War Diary. 12th Battalion Loyal North Lancs (Pioneers), January to June 1917. (National Archives reference WO 95/4927).

Author: SCS Web Editor

Robin Braysher joined the SCS in 2003 and soon after became editor of the Society's journal, 'The New Mosquito', a role he held until 2008. He then became the Society's web editor, a role he seems unable to shake off. His interest in the campaign comes from his grandfather, Fred, who served as a cyclist with the BSF from 1915-1917, mainly in the Struma valley.