Branch Meeting, 19 November, 2016.
North Staffordshire Regiment
Killed in Action, 19 November, 1916.
We know very little about Peter, ‘Soldiers Did in the Great War’ tells us that he was born in Dublin and the CWGC website tells us that he was the son of a Mr. T. Keogh of 36 Temple Bar, Dublin, although the ‘Army Register of Soldiers Effects’ states that his Father’s name was James.
Originally, Peter joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, presumably after the outbreak of war, as Private 25038, and it is likely that he was transferred to the 8 Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment in the middle of July, 1916, (see note) where he become Private 43025. The Battalion War Diary reports that they had not been in the first waves of attack on 1 July but had been in action later that day, and over the following few days had lost over 300 men, between 11 and 19 July the battalion received several replacements of which the largest appears to have been a draft of 81 men from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Within days the battalion was back in the line, marching via Becourt Wood and Fricourt to take up position at Bazentine le Petit between the cemetery and windmill.
In early August, the battalion moved north to the French/Belgium border area, and then spent September in the Ploegsteert – Meteren area. After an inspection of the battalion by the King of Belgium in early October, they then made their way back south to the Albert area and they spent the next few weeks in and out of the trenches.
As the Battle of the Somme dragged on into November, the British command prepared to launch what was in fact to become their final attack of the battle, on 13 November they commenced what came to be known as the Battle of the Ancre.
When not in the trenches, the battalion was undergoing training every day, the War Diary states:
17/11 Marlborough Huts: Training carried out during the morning, bombs, rockets etc served out to the battalion. Conference of Officers at 2.30 pm on operations to be carried out next morning. Battalion marched off 3 pm to Stuff Redoubt and remained there until 3 am 18.11.16
18/11 Regina Trench: Soup and Rum served out to battalion previous to forming up to attack Desire Trench……..snow fell during the night and it was very cold.
Exactly at 6.10 am the Artillery Barrage opened and the first wave moved off keeping quite close to the barrage. After commencement of operations all touch seemed to have been lost with the battalion. The attack having failed the survivors made their way as best they could to the ….….from where the attack started from in the morning. One officer, 2 Lieut. A ???? left in temporary command of battalion (that was) then left. Casualties, 17 Officers, 317 Other Ranks
19/11 Regina Trench: Still holding front trench, very little hostile artillery but plenty of sniping going on. Battalion relieved at 10 pm and returned to Marlborough Huts……………… Total number returned who had taken part in the attack were 1 Officer, 171 Other Ranks.
Although the attack took place very early on the morning of 18 November and the battalion War Diary indicates that there was comparatively little action on 19 November, Peter and many his comrades are officially listed as having been killed on 19 November.
Peter was entitled to the British War & Victory Medals and is buried in the Grandcourt Road Cemetery, Grandcourt, which is about 11 kilometres north-north-east of Albert.
Number 43027 was allocated on 15 July, 1916.
Ian Chambers, November, 2016.