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Mobilisation and Travel to France

The 13th Battalion of the Royal Scots was now formally ready for action as part of 15 Division within 45 Infantry Brigade. The Battalion’s War Diary (National Archives Reference WO 95/1946/1) contains an outstanding record of the battalion’s advance to, and final preparations for, action against German forces that already occupied the mining village of Loos-en-Gohelle, in Pas-de-Calais, the largest coal-mining area in France at the outbreak of the war. Loos is about 60 miles from the French coast at Boulogne Sur Mer, but the journey taken by British troops was not so direct.

At 02.30 on 4 July 1915, the battalion received orders to recall all officers and soldiers. By 05.30 wired messages had been sent to all members not at base camp in Chiseldon: All personnel were to be ready to travel from Chiseldon to Folkestone for onward travel by ship to Boulogne Sur Mer, in France.

On 9 July, two parties of men, consisting of HQ and A and B Companies, followed by C and D Companies (including Robert) travelled in two trains to Folkestone from Chiseldon. Chiseldon village had been provided with a station when the line opened as the Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway in 1881, and during World War I a long siding was built from the station to the military camp at Draycot Foliat. It was named Chiseldon Camp Halt.

Attr: http://www.swindonweb.com/index.asp?m=8&s=116&ss=763

Both parties embarked, along with two companies of the 7th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, on the 312 ft, 2,118 Gross Tonnage, South-Eastern & Chatham Railway Turbine Steamer, TSS Invicta, at Folkestone.

The TSS Invicta had been built for the Railway Company by William Denny & Sons at Dumbarton and launched on 19 April 1905.

More information on the history of the shipbuilder, Denny, can be found at (https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/William_Denny_and_Brothers)


Robert arrived safely in Boulogne at 23.00 on Saturday, 10 July 1915.


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