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Grimsby Chum's Rapid Training for War (1915)

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Captain A. P. Birchall

GALE & POLDEN LTD, London, Aldershot & Portsmouth, 1915

An original WW1 British Army officer's handbook, published by Gale & Polden in 1915. The book is signed on the half-title page by its original owner, ‘W. D. Wroe, 1 July, 1915'.

Lieutenant Wilfred Dent Wroe (1884-1916): Wilfred Dent Wroe was born in Burnley in 1884. After qualifying as a teacher Wilfred moved to Lincoln in August 1908 to join the staff at the North District National School. On the 21st September 1914, three teachers from the North District School, Lincoln, left to enlist in the army. Wilfred was accompanied by Mr A. Dowman and Mr H. G. Woods. The next day the three friends enlisted in the 10th Service Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment, ‘The Grimsby Chums’. The Battalion had been raised in Grimsby by the Mayor and started recruiting on the 9th September 1914. Wilfred was commissioned as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant, and was promoted to Lieutenant in December 1914.

On the 9th January 1916 the 10th Battalion was finally deployed and arrived in France, although it would be another month before they went into the trenches near Erquinghem on the outskirts of Armentiers. The first 10th Battalion deaths occured in the Bois Grenier sector, on the 29th February 1916, with 4 men were killed and 5 wounded. The Battalion started March still at Bois Grenier their next tour being between the 5th and 10th March, coming out of the trenches after 6 days. Each day there had been snow, the trenches were reported to be “Very wet”. The weather changed over the next few days and with the Battalion in Divisional reserve they were now based at Jesus farm near Erquinghem awaiting their next tour that was to see them up to the 17th March.

On the 8th April the battalion started marching to Eperleques (ten miles north-west of St Omer) arriving there on the 12th. Their next moves were to St Omer, by train to Longeau, then marching to Rainneville, the route taking them through Amiens on the 9th May. Two weeks later they marched to Dernancourt where Wilfred’s Company ('C' Coy) were stationed at Becourt acting as Brigade reserve. By 23rd June 1916 the 10th were at Albert, where they relieved the 15th bn Royal Scots in the trenches on the right hand sector of the Divisional area. On 26th June they were in turn relieved by the Royal Scots and proceeded to Becourt Chateau and Wood. On 28th June they once again relieved the 15th Royal Scots in the trenches near Albert - heavy rain meant the trenches were in bad condition, in many places nearly knee deep in mud and water. The 29th June was the fifth day of the intense artillery bombardment of the German trenches in preparation for the 'Big Push' on 1st July. Lieutenant Wroe was killed by shell fire on this day. He was the first officer of the Battalion to be killed since the battalion went on active service in January. He was buried in Becourt Military Cemetery.

2nd Lt Roland Ingle, the 10th's Trench Mortar officer, wrote in his diary the night before the first day of the Battle of the Somme. “I passed the cemetery, as I came back, and looked at Rowe's [Wroe’s] grave. I am moving up by myself at 8.30, having a little time here to wash and have a meal. I had three letters tonight and the Observer, all posted on Sunday. This ends the Diary before the ‘Push’ as I must pack up.” This was the last entry in his diary as Roland Ingle was himself killed only 13 hours later and is also buried in Becourt Military Cemetery.

Mr Woods, Wilfred’s fellow enlistee from North District School, had previously been wounded and, suffering from severe shell shock, was medically discharged from the Army. He returned to teach at the school at the beginning of July only days after his friend and fellow teacher Wilfred Wroe had been killed in action.

Lincolnshire Echo Saturday 8th July 1916

'Lieutenant Wilfred Dent Wroe, a well-known and highley respected Lincoln school teacher, news of whose death on the Western front, on June 29th, has been received in the city with profound regret. Lieutenant Wroe had been an assistant teacher at the North District School since August 1908. He commenced his scholastic career at St Matthew’s School, Rugby, and following a short period a pupil teacher and uncertificated teacher he entered Saltley training College, and was there two years – 1906-8, his course being a most successful one. . . In September, 1914, together with two other members of the staff of the North District School, he enlisted in the ‘Chums” (10th Service) Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment. In a comparatively short time he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and was subsequently promoted full Lieutenant. Lieut. Wroe was also well known as a member of the Carholme Golf Club, and he was an enthusiastic golfer. As a teacher he had a most promising future. In social life he displayed a quiet and genial personality which endeared him to all, and his lost will be keenly felt in Lincoln, especially at the North District School.
Mr. Woods, a teacher at North District School, who enlisted with Lieut. Wroe in 1914, has we regret to say, been compelled to relinquish his commission through ill-health and again takes up his school duties on Monday'.

Rapid Training of a Company For War was intended to be used by the junior officers in Kitchener's 'New Army’. It is full of fascinating insights into every aspect of a junior officers responsibilities on the Western Front. Subjects covered include: marching, musketry, judging distance, entrenching, lice, attack, defence, retreat, attacking aircraft, bombing, cover from artillery fire, night operations and much more. The book comes with its original officer’s reference card and envelope in a pocket at the rear of the book. There is advice on maintaining morale, and the overall tone very much reflects the patriotic fervour of August 1914.

'The rapid rise in recruiting which has taken place during the present war. . . together with the splendid response of the Dominions, have proved that the old Latin motto which served as an incentive to the Roman Soldier is equally the sentiment of the Britisher today: "Dulce et decorum est, pro Patria mori”’.


In very good condition. The illustrated card cover is in very good condition with some minor marks. The hinges and binding are secure. The text is in very good condition. The reference card and envelope are in very good condition. The book is signed on the half-title page by ‘W. D. Wroe, 1 July, 1915'.

Published: 1915
Illustrated khaki card cover with black and red titling
Dimensions: 90mm x 130mm
Pages: 154