This Day In History: 1914-11-02

the 2nd Battalion came under intense German attack which forced each of the four double companies from their front trenches. Despite best efforts the deployment of the Reserve was to no avail and after nightfall Colonel Norie withdrew the Battalion. Battalion casualties were: British officers: seven killed, one wounded; Gurkha officers: four killed, three wounded; Other Ranks: 31 killed, 64 wounded, 37 missing. The historians of the Indian Corps in France record: “the heroism of the British officers has seldom been more brilliantly demonstrated than on this occasion. Not a single officer of the 2nd Goorkhas in the front trenches got back alive, several being killed while leading attacks against vastly superior numbers. The bravery of all ranks fully sustained the great reputation of this Regiment”. The Regimental history has the last word: “So ended for us a disastrous but gallantly fought action against superior numbers far better provided with the modern machinery of war than we were”. The following morning the Battalion was ordered to retire and refit.

Among the casualties was Subedar Major Man Sing Bohra, killed while leading a counter-attack.  The family had a long association with the 2nd Battalion.  Man Sing’s father Gopal Bohra had enlisted in the Regiment in 1858 and had been Subedar Major from 1893 to 1896.  His elder brother, who was wounded in France, was later Subedar Major too and Orderly Officer to King George V.  His son, Hari Sing Bohra, was Subedar Major when the 2nd Battalion was captured by the Japanese and died bravely after torture for trying to defend his soldiers.

Subedar Major Man Sing Bohra

Also killed was Major Henry Becher.  He had joined the 1st Battalion in 1896 and served in several campaigns, inventing the more practical Gurkha Hat to replace the Kilmarnock on operations. His father, Sullivan Becher, had raised the 2nd Battalion in 1886.

Major Henry Becher