Tyneside Irish

The Great War: Vimy Ridge
George Van Wyck Laughton, M.C.

Canadian - Serving in the British 3rd Army, 34th Division,  
26th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Irish)

                               


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This page last updated on February 25, 2011

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34th Division
26th NF


TYNESIDE IRISH

In the case of both my paternal and maternal grandfather, they initially enlisted in the CEF and then transferred to the BEF.  This has become a topic of some discussion with a number of researchers. I have posted an interesting response from Chris Wright on a note page that provides for an interesting analysis of the events of the time.

    Transfers of Soldiers from the CEF to Officers in the BEF

These pages on the Tyneside Irish will soon contain a number of specific links to references on the Tyneside Irish Brigade and specifically the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers.  As noted in the title to this site, the 26th NF we part of the 34th Division of the 3rd Army.  As such, we will also provide information from the 34th Division.  For details on armies, divisions and battalions, please see T. F. Mills excellent work at www.regiments.org.

In many of the records, the Northumberland Fusiliers are referenced as the "Fighting Fifth" which I must presume comes from their origins as the 5th of Foot Regiment, one of the oldest in the British Army.  There are references to this in the Walker text on "The History of the Northumberland Fusiliers 1674-1902".  From the listing for this book at the NAVAL AND MILITARY PRESS we know the following:

   
  Cover Picture (if available)  HISTORY OF THE NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS 1674-1902, by H. M. Walker

The 5th Foot. Raised in Holland in 1674 as an Irish regiment. Officially British Army 1688. N America, Canada, S America, W Indies, the Peninsular War, India (three VCs during the Mutiny) and S African War where story ends in 1902.

The Northumberland Fusiliers (the ‘Royal’ title was conferred in 1935) was one of the oldest regiments in the British Army, the 5th of Foot. I say ‘was’ because it no longer exists as such, having become the 1st Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 1968. But all this is well after the period covered in this book. The regiment was raised in Holland in 1674 as an Irish regiment by Lord Clare and in 1688 it officially became part of the British Army; in 1747 it was numbered 5th Regiment of Foot. During the next 155 years it fought in more than fifty campaigns and battles across the world - in N America, Canada, S America, West Indies, the Peninsula, India (three VCs were won during the Mutiny) and finally S Africa where this history ends.

Links from this page:

34th Division History and Battle Record 1916 & 1917 (see Shakespear text)

26th Northumberland Fusiliers, formation and history (texts and web sites)


Without doubt, the most important book on the Tyneside Irish is that written by John Sheen (1998).  While mentioning this, I must also note that I exchanged my information with John Sheen and he was very responsive in providing clarification and additional information to assist me in my research.  You can purchase a copy of the Sheen text from at least these two on-line locations:

Naval & Military Press, East Sussex, United Kingdom

Chapters Indigo Books & Music Inc., Brampton, Canada

What the publishers say:

The Tyneside Irish Brigade was the 103rd Brigade of the ill-fated 34th Division which suffered the highest casualty rate on the opening day of the Somme, 6,380. The Tyneside Irish were the 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers. 

Appendices contain the complete nominal roll of every man who served in these battalions.

Although there are no details or photographs of Grandfather Laughton, he is listed on page 210 (top name on that list).

See below for 2nd Edition that does contain a photograph and details that I provided.

 
John Sheen updated his book on the Tyneside Irish in 2010 and fortunately he included a write-up on Grandfather Laughton and included his picture from the Laughton Archives. You will find George on page 215 and 216 of the new text. You can order the new edition from Pen & Sword Books.


click on the images for a full scale view

Through communication with John Sheen I was able to learn a few specific facts that were of direct interest to my research, perhaps also to others:

The St. Georges Gazette of February 28, 1917 lists a number of Cadets (including George V. Laughton, Dec. 19, 1916) who were made temporary 2nd-Lieutenants.  From this, John advises me that George V. Laughton must have been a Private or an NCO in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), as he knew of no occasion where a Canadian (CEF) Officer was transferred, but many situations where Privates and NCO's were commissioned into Imperial units.

There is a conflict in the exact details of George Laughton (perhaps because there are two G. Laughton's, one George and one Geoffrey) as John Sheen reports that the battalion war diary (a copy of which was provided for that date) shows  2nd-Lieutenant G. Laughton joining for duty of June 26, 1917.  Other documents, including original field notes, show George V Laughton with the 26th NF as early as February 28, 1917.  This coincides with the records of the London Gazette, where Sir Douglas Haig's dispatch of May 25, 1917 refers to the exploits of George V. Laughton of the 26th in the Scarpe Valley in March 1917.  As noted elsewhere on this site, the posting notice to the 26th NF was dated for February 26, 1917 (coinciding with the field book notes February 1917).  All of this is more or less confirmed in the Battalion War Diary of December 5, 1917 as it reports that 2nd-Lieutentant G. (Geoffrey) Laughton was killed in action, as confirmed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (33 Laughton casualties in WW1).

Initially it was thought that the alternative might be that our George Laughton re-joined the 26th in June 1917 after some period of absence - a possibility as it appeared that he was granted and extended furlough to Canada in early May 1917 (Tab 16) but was back at the battle in December 1917 (Tab 17) and reported missing?  We now (April 2006) know that is not correct, as the Military Service History that we commissioned from Chris Baker arrived (it is now posted on this site), along with a great many attachments from the UK National Archives, which clearly show that George was sent from France, to hospital in England, and then back to Canada on leave.  The Medical Review Boards in Canada show clearly that he was declared physically unfit for further service.
 

 

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