Historian Dr Michael Taylor talks about his new book that explores Brigadier General Frank Crozier’s command of the 119 Brigade during the First World War.
Crozier is a controversial character having commanded the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary during the War of Irish Independence, and then became an outspoken pacifist and critic of war during the interwar period. Less known is his command of the 119 Brigade between 1916-1918. The 119 Brigade was one of three infantry brigades that made up the 40th Division. When Crozier took over command of the Brigade in November 1916, he was told it 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.
No Bad Soldiers is published by Helion.