Part 3 - The Sound of Gunfire
General Willcocks was to command the Indian Corps. Shortly after his arrival the Jullundur Brigade received their first billets at St Omer and on the following day proceeded on a long march to Meteren.
Now, truly experiencing field conditions, establishing outposts in the driving rain, the sound of heavy gunfire could be heard from the direction of Lille.
1st Battle of Ypres October 1914
The 47th Sikhs and the 59th Rifles of the Jullundur Brigade marched toward Rouge Croix where they went into billets.
For over a week, till the 1st of November, the battalions were fated to undergo dreadful conditions, outnumbered and outgunned, without the guns, bombs and munitions freely used by the enemy.
The 34th Sikh Pioneers were attacked shortly after relieving their French allies. They were engaged in heavy fighting, but the defence was held for nearly 6 days by two Sikh officers.
The rifle company were holding 1500 yards of front and, as there were no communication trenches, platoons were dug in just where they happened to be, with no lateral communication except over the top, into no man's land.
The Germans attacked this front held by the rifle company and made casualties of British officers and other ranks.
Renewed German attacks – including incursions under the cover of darkness – required reinforcements from the Sikhs. Eventually, in the pouring rain, the enemy was overcome.
Without sufficient food or sleep, the Indian Corps, including the Jullundur Brigade, had represented the very last available reserves for allied forces in France. Fortunately the Germans had taken a heavy mauling and there were no further attacks.