by Murray Barnard

CONTENTS - CHAPTER I. The Seventh Division CHAPTER II The Trek through Belgium CHAPTER III The Welcome of a People CHAPTER IV A Chapter of Incidents CHAPTER V The First Battle of Ypres CHAPTER VI Concerning Officers and Men CHAPTER VII The Work of a Chaplain in the Field CHAPTER VIII The Care of the Wounded CHAPTER IX Work at the Base CHAPTER X A Closing Word

In the autumn of 1914, the 7th Division formed up at Lyndhurst. But a month after going into battle, more than half of the men were killed or wounded. They came to be known as ‘The Immortal Seventh’.

The Division suffered heavy losses in a largely successful attempt to hold the line against the Germans.

The 7th Division was formed of regular army units, which came together from across the whole of the British Empire. They assembled in the New Forest and set up camp at Lyndhurst during September 1914, before leaving for Belgium on 4 October 1914.

The Division of 18,000 men arrived in Zeebrugge with orders to assist in the defence of Antwerp. However, the city was already falling by the time they arrived. Instead, they were ordered to hold important points and bridges to assist the westward evacuation of the Belgian Army. Once this was done, the Division moved westwards where they fought in The First Battle of Ypres. It was after this fateful conflict that they became known as the Immortal 7th.

The defence of Ypres was critical to Britain's involvement in the war as it was a strategic point on the route for the German Army to the French coastal ports of Dunkirk and Calais. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the 7th Division held their line against the odds. Its core units suffered huge numbers of casualties while others were more or less destroyed. At Ypres over 9000 of the Division were killed, wounded or missing. Ypres never fell to Germany during the war, but if it had, it could have proved fatal to the Allies.

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