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Webmatters : 17th Bn The King's (Liverpool Regiment) Memorial at Maricourt
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The King's (Liverpool Regiment)

Location

Maricourt is a village situated on the D938, Albert-Peronne Road, 10.5 km from Albert. Just after the centre of Maricourt turn onto the road towards Montauban de Picardie (D 197). The monument is on your right at the the junction of a minor road. There is enough room to park a vehicle.

Maricourt Franco-British advance

 

Background

On the outbreak of war in 1914 the British Army, whilst a professional body, was far too small to be able to undertake a protracted engagement on the Continent. The rallying cry for volunteers went out famously telling young men that Your Country Needs You.

The 17th Bn King’s Liverpool Regiment was formed in the city on 29th August 1914 by Lord Derby, becoming the first of the pals battalions to be formed. So called because volunteers joined with their friends/pals/mates/muckers according to locality.

On 30th April 1915 the unit was assigned to the 89th Brigade, 30th Division and arrived in France on 7th November 1915.

Unlike the 153e Régiment d’Infanterie alongside whom they were about to fight, the Battle of the Somme was their first action.

This position marks the point where on the 1st July 1916 the British and French army fronts met.

That morning as the Battle of the Somme commenced Lt Colonel Bryan Fairfax commanding the 17th Bn King’s Liverpool Regiment and Commandant Lepetit commanding the 3rd Bn 153e RI advanced together across no man’s land, during the second wave of the offensive, as an act of friendship and co-operation between the two armies.

Maricourt Franco-British advance

 

The Memorial

Maricourt Franco-British advance

The memorial was conceived by the Somme Remembrance Association and inaugurated on the 7th November 2010.

The panel in French and English explains the history of the site and shows a trench map of the area marking the two fronts.

Whilst little could be discovered about Commandant Lepetit (His forename was never mentioned in documentation) apart from the fact that he was wounded in August 1916 and left the battalion, more is known about Lt Colonel Fairfax.

Born in 1873 Bryan Fairfax had already served in China during the Boxer Uprising and in South Africa. In 1914 he was recalled from the reserve and after a short period with the fledgling Royal Flying Corps was appointed to the command of the 17th Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment (1st City); one of the Pals battalions.

Following the opening day of the Somme he and his battalion continued to advance towards Guillemont. On the 29th July 1916 he was gassed near Trones Wood and invalided home. He returned to France in July 1917 and was responsible for setting up the HQ of the Chinese Labour Corps at Noyelles sur Mer.

 

The other memorials in Maricourt