The 1/9th Battalion, King's Liverpool Regiment

The Battalion was mobilised on the day Great Britain declared war on Germany, 4th August 1914 and on 13th August the Battalion entrained at Lime Street Station, not to travel to France or Belgium, but northwards to Scotland, taking up temporary residence in Dunfermline where they were part of the Firth of Forth defences. During this period they trained intensively, probably wondering whether they would actually be called into action. The threat of invasion by the Germans was taken very seriously at this time.

In October the Battalion travelled south again, to Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where it remained throughout the next five months, training and bringing their state of efficiency up to the standard required for overseas service. As Territorials, overseas service was not compulsory and so the officers and men were asked to take the Imperial Service Obligation, which the majority signed. Those who, for a variety of reasons did not sign, left Tunbridge Wells for Blackpool where they formed the nucleus of the second line battalion, officially nominated the '2/9th' which, it was proposed, would absorb additional recruits as the Army expanded beyond anyone's expectations, and train men to supply drafts to the Overseas Service Battalion, now known as the '1/9th'. Before 1914 was out a third line battalion was formed when it was realised that both the 1/9th & 2/9th would be active service units.

On 12th March, 1915 the 1/9th Battalion marched out of Tunbridge Wells, taking the train to Southampton. Later the same day they set sail for France.


Aubers Ridge

In France the Battalion was attached to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division and in its first major action of the war it took part in the Battle of Aubers Ridge, on 9th May 1915. This battle was typical of actions in the early part of the war and losses were high. Fortunately, the 9th King's were in the third wave of the attack and their attacks later in the day were first postponed and later cancelled. The battalion achieved little and suffered about 100 casualties, including the Commanding Officer, who was killed.


Later in the year the largest British effort of the war so far was launched. The 1/9th Battalion and the London Scottish, made up 'Green's Force' which was tasked with attacking in the region of Lone Tree on the opening day of the Battle of Loos, 25th September 1915. Losses were very heavy and when they were withdrawn from the front line in the early hours of the 28th Sepetember, they left 11 officers and 223 other ranks killed, wounded or missing. But the battle continued and there was not much time to rest and recuperate. On 7th October, the depleted battalion was back in the front line just a day before a large German counter-atack fell upon their position. Losses were again heavy, with 3 officers and 98 other ranks killed, wounded or missing. Then on 13th October, the 1st Division attacked again at Hulluch. The attack was a failure and the 9th King's, held in reserve, suffered from heavy retaliatory shelling by the enemy. Fortunately, on this occasion, the casualties were few and the following day the battalion was withdrawn. Their part in the Battle of Loos was over.


In January 1916 the Battalion left the 1st Division and joined the re-amalgamated West Lancashire Division of the Territorial Force to which they had belonged prior to the war. The Division was now known as the 55th (West Lancashire) Division, Territorial Force, and the 1/9th Battalion joined the other 1st line Territorial battalions from their regiment - 1/5th, 1/6th (Liverpool Rifles), 1/7th, 1/7th (Liverpool Irish) and the 1/10th (Liverpool Scottish).

February 1916 saw the Battalion in the Wailly Sector, south of Arras. They spent the next few months here, alternating their time in the front line with time spent in reserve and at rest. The spring and early summer saw the British Army on the Western Front preparing for the Battle of the Somme which would be launched on 1st July. The 1/9th King's Liverpool Regt. were not directly involved in the opening stages of the battle, but took part in a series of successful trench raids at the end of June, designed in part to maintain pressure on the Germans all along the line to prevent them reinforcing the Somme front.

The Somme

By the end of July, the battlion were moving towards the Somme, in preparation for their part in the battle, a battle that would be the last for so many. On the 5th August, they were in the front line near to the German-held village of Guillemont. The fighting that followed is often referred to as some of the hardest of the whole battle - for both sides. In less than 24 hours the battalion suffered over 100 casualties, a terrible toll when they weren't even attacking. They attacked the village on 12th August and made no ground at a cost of over 200 men. They were not to be spared the full horrors of the Somme. But the Battle went on and a month later, they found themselves in the line once more, a short distance away near to the village of Longueval.

25th September 1916, a year to the day since their attack on the first day of the Battle of Loos, the battalion went forward into the attack once more, this time from the village of Flers, towards Gueudecourt. The 9th King's achieved all of their objectives that day, but again, they paid a heavy price.

In October, the Battalion left the Battle of the Somme and travelled north to Ypres where they would carry out duties in and out of the line through the winter of 1916 and on through the spring and summer of 1917.

Third Ypres

In July 1917 the British Army once again went onto the offensive in the Third Battle of Ypres which became known as 'Paschaendaele'. They attacked near to the village of Wieltje on the opening day of the battle, 31st July 1917 in conditions which soon appeared almost impossible. Survival against the elements was a difficult task in itself without the ever present danger of the German shelling and machine guns.

The objective allotted to the Battalion consisted of a section of the enemy second line called the "Stutzpunkt" Line. In spite of the conditions and the determined resistance of the German defenders, the attack of the opening day of the battle was relatively successful but as always, many men of the battalion paid for this success with their lives before being relieved from the front line on the night of 2nd/3rd August.

Their efforts in the opening days of one of the world's epic battles was recognised with numerous awards to officers and men for gallantry and the following message from the Brigade Commander:

To Officer Commanding,
9th King's Liverpool Regt.

Will you please congratulate all ranks of your Battalion on the great gallantry they displayed during the recent operations? They not only captured all their objectives, but also helped other troops to capture theirs. The magnificent way in which they captured the position and held it against all counter attacks makes me very proud to have such a Battalion in my Brigade.

Brigadier General,
165th Brigade.
4th August, 1917.

After a period of rest and recovery the battalion once more moved up into the front lines for the next attack which was to take place on 20th September. This became known as the Battle of the Menin Road and the 9th King's found themselves in the same part of the line that they had left six weeks earlier.

Once again, after very heavy fighting, some of it at the point of their bayonets, all objectives were seized and the task of consolidation began under heavy shellfire. The Battalion remained in the line until 22nd September when they were relieved.


The Battalion, after two major attacks, had been decimated and needed time to rebuild and absorb whatever reinforcements were available. They were moved to a quiet sector of the line, not far from Cambrai which was to be the scene of the next major effort by the British to defeat the Germans. The 9th King's weren't to play a significant role in this battle, as they simply weren't strong enough after their efforts at Ypres.

The opening phase of the Cambrai battle was a success as the British deployed tanks en mass for the first time, but the success was short-lived. The Germans regained all of the ground at a huge cost to the British. A German counter-attack on 30th November fell upon the weakly held line in front of Lempire and the weakened 9th King's struggled desparately to keep the attackers at bay. They were finally relieved on 5th December.

As a consequence of the reduction of the number of infantry battalions in the organisation of the British division from twelve to nine, the 1/9th, being the junior battalion in the 165th Brigade, was split up. Some considered themselves fortunate when they discovered they were to be sent to the 2/9th Battalion. The remainder were split up into drafts for the 1st, 4th, and 12th King's. When the 1/9th and 2/9th were re-amalgamated they were once again known as the 9th Battalion.


The first few months after the reamalgamation of the Battalion were spent in the Armentieres, Houplines, and then the Estaires sector and when the German advance against the 5th Army began on 21st March 1918, the 9th King's were in the line in the Fleurbaix sector and so were spared the brunt of the attack which was falling on their comrades of the 55th Division which was hard pressed in the Givenchy sector.

This was a time of great pressure and the battalion was constantly on the move, hastily preparing defences as the Germans appear capable of adviancing almost at will. Consequently, morale was low.

In May and June, the 9th King's were in the Gommecourt sector, just north of the Somme battlefield and a few miles south of the positions they had occupied at Wailly, two years earlier.

The Second Battle of Arras

On the 28th August the Battalion attacked the village of Riencourt which was part of the formidable Hindenburg Line defences. The battalion achieved some success, but as always losses were high and as a temporary measure "A" and "C" Companies, now sadly depleted in numbers, were united to form "X" Company, while "B" and "D" Companies formed "Y" Company. This scheme was adopted so that the original companies and platoons would not sink their identities in that of a sister company.

On 1st September the famous Drocourt Queant Switch, the last and perhaps the strongest line of resistance of the enemy, was completely broken. Months had been spent on its preparation and in making concrete machine gun emplacements and belts of barbed wire, and its fall in one day was remarkable.

On the 27th September, 1918, the Battalion took part in the general advance behind the now defeated and demoralised German Army. However, stout resistance was put up by the German rearguard and progress was not at all easy.

The pressure on the retreating enemy did not let up and the battalion reached Lille on 17th October amd Tournai on the 24th. The war was almost over and when the Armistice came on 11th November, 1918 the men of the Battalion must have spent some time looking back over the months and years that they had been in France, reflecting on the friends they had lost.

The work wasn't over even though the killing had stopped and there was much to be done before the men of the 9th King's could go home. They were involved in salvage work in the Arras area and it was only in January 1919 that demobilisation began and in small parties, the men began the journey home for the last time.