1st Faughs into the trenches at Messines Ridge

Wednesday, 18 November, 1914
Lieutenant Billy Leisching Lieutenant Herrick trenches Messines
Lieutenant Billy Leisching and Lieutenant Herrick in trenches near Messines

In November 1914, the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers was in the area of Messines. On 18 November 1914, the Battalion took over a sector running for 1,200 yards under the Messines Ridge, between Anton's Farm and the Douvre River, a line that the Faughs shared with the Seaforth Highlanders.

As the German attempt to break through the Allied defences at Ypres had failed, both sides now settled into a routine in their trenches in readiness for the spring. In the meantime, the trench systems expanded and developed rapidly along the length of the Western Front. For the soldiers, adapting to this new method of warfare, it was very different from their previous experience of war in South Africa. There was so much that was unfamiliar: trench building, sapping, mining, the use of concentrated machine-gun fire and later in the war, the introduction of steel helmets, poison gas, gas masks, tanks and aeroplanes.

Above right; this photograph was taken in the winter of 1914/15 when the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers occupied 1,000 yards of trenches below the village of Messines. The trenches ran through a number of destroyed moated farms, including this one at Seaforth Farm near the river Douve, which gave its name to this sector. It was also close to here that Private Robert Morrow would win the Victoria Cross in April 1915.