No Bad Soldiers

119 Infantry Brigade and Brigadier-General Frank Percy Crozier in the Great War

Michael Anthony Taylor

This book describes the evolution of an often-overlooked infantry brigade and its controversial commander, from its beginnings as an element of Lloyd George's Welsh Army through to its destruction in the undergrowth of Bourlon Wood. Originally consisting of four Welsh bantam battalions it was reorganized and rebuilt twice in 1918.
Date Published :
June 2022
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
7 b/w ills, 23 b/w photos, 6 maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781915070845
Pages : 266
Dimensions : 9.75 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : Available


On 20 November 1916 the newly promoted Brigadier-General Frank Percy Crozier took command of 119 Brigade, one of three infantry brigades that made up the 40th Division, once labeled “the forgotten Fortieth”. This book brings the history and achievements of the brigade to a wider audience and adds to the story of the controversial Frank Crozier.

Raised in 1915 and originally intended as a formation of the Welsh Army Corps, 119 Brigade, consisting of four battalions of Welsh bantams, had crossed to France in June 1916 - more than a year after it was formed - as a part of the last of the New Army divisions to join the BEF. It then spent an undistinguished few months in the Loos sector. According to Crozier, fresh from his service commanding the 9th Royal Irish Rifles on the Somme, he was told on arrival at divisional headquarters, that the brigade was “very bad – quite the worst in the Division”. Firmly believing that there were no such things as bad soldiers, only bad colonels, Crozier claimed to have transformed the brigade in six months and in the process removed “a brigade-major, a brigade signaling officer, nearly a dozen commanding officers in turn, a few seconds in command, three adjutants, several doctors, quartermasters and transport officers and one or two sergeant majors”. The brigade performed well in April 1917 around Villers Plouich and later, most famously, at Bourlon Wood in November 1917. After the major army reorganization of February 1918, the brigade was reconstituted with a majority of new battalions in time to be severely mauled in the German Spring Offensives but, reconstituted once again (largely with men considered unfit for front line service), it nevertheless performed creditably in the final months of the war. Despite these upheavals Crozier remained as GOC until after the end of hostilities and was one of just twenty-seven New Army brigadier-generals to remain in command for more than two years.

About The Author

Michael Taylor is an independent scholar and an experienced museum professional now working freelance. His first degree, in geology, was awarded by the University of Wales in 1974, followed by a MA in British First World War Studies from the University of Birmingham in 2007 and a PhD from the same institution in 2017. He is a member of the British Commission for Military History, the Society for Army Historical Research and the Douglas Haig Fellowship, and is a Fellow of the Museums Association. He has lived near Perth, Scotland for many years and was a founder member and current Chair of the Tayside Branch, Western Front Association.

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