During the early part of September 1915, the 37th Division took over trenches from the French on a line from Foncquevillers in the south, to German held Monchy au Bois in the north.  Between the two, lay the community of Hannescamps, also in allied hands.

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The battalion was to service this part of the line until the early days of July 1916.  Veterans of the 8th East Lancs always remembered the 'Fonky' sector as the place where the battalion developed its own identity, became familiar with the local area and lost its first casualties.

 

The 37th Division line was divided into two sectors.  To the north, opposite Monchy au Bois, it was held by the experienced men of 110 Brigade.  The southern Foncquevillers sector was allotted to both 111 and 112 Brigades. 

 

The sector was divided into three battalion portions, the middle unit with all four companies in the front line, the flanking battalions with two companies in the firing trenches and two in support. One battalion remained in brigade reserve.

 

Thus it was on that first night that B company not only held the right most flank of the battalion, but also the brigade and the division!   After six days in the front line A and B Companies exchanged positions with C and D until the whole of 112 Brigade went to rest.

 

Such was the early experience of the 8th twelve days in the trenches and twelve in reserve, billeted behind the line.  This pattern would continue throughout 1915 and into the spring of 1916.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

              8th East Lancs Coy HQ Foncquevillers Reserve, late 1915.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Casualties

 

 

Although the 'Fonky' sector was a relatively quiet part of the Western Front, fifteen of the 8th East Lancs soldiers are buried in Foncquevillers Military Cemetery.  Others died on their way to the Dressing or Casualty Clearing Stations as a result of their wounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of them was Private Harry Knowles from Cloughfold, near Rossendale.  He was a twenty nine year old father of three, originally a carpet printer by trade, who earned a living as a quarryman prior to the outbreak of war. He had played the violin in Warburton Brothers Orchestral Band and was probably involved with the musicians of the battalion.  Knowles was taken to the hospital at Henu, five miles from Foncquevillers.  Another Chaplain, the Reverend A. Gordon-Wrigle, described Knowles last moments to his wife:

 

'September 22nd 1915. Private Knowles died in hospital yesterday after being fatally wounded in the stomach.  I am the Church of England Chaplain attached to the Field Ambulance, and I was suddenly sent for by the commander of the hospital and I found your husband in a critical condition.  He was unconscious, but while I waited by his bedside, he suddenly came to and I spoke with him and did all I could do for him.  He was very easy in mind and after a little talk he understood who I was and told me that he was not afraid to die.  It was extremely sad, yet very wonderful.  I called to see him the next morning and the doctors told me that he was very bad, but might last a few hours.  He was sleeping quite peacefully and half an hour after I left he passed away in his sleep.  I buried him last evening after dusk in the civil cemetery of the village in which the hospital is situated.'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8th East Lancs

Dedicated to the men of the 8th (Service) Battalion,

East Lancashire Regiment in the Great War.