The World War Forum (Page 21)

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Posted by: Kay Hunt {Email left}
Location: High Wycombe
Date: Friday 19th August 2016 at 11:36 AM
Hi Alan
Your site looks amazing!
Please could you help me find out about my grandfather's WW1 service. He was Alfred George Jordan born I think in Fulmer (or poss Stoke Poges) Bucks c 1895. I think he joined up in 1915 under a Short Service Attestation 100306 in the Army Service Corps, living then at 2 Coburg Villas Farnham Royal Bucks. I have some faded photos of him and colleagues playing snowballs alongside their large lorries which I have always understood were taken in France. If they are of any interest I can of course send you copies.
He survived the war and was married in Stoke Poges on 19/11/18.
Many thanks.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 19th August 2016 at 11:59 PM

Dear Kay,
Alfred Jordan enlisted in the Army voluntarily at Whitehall, London, on 25th May 1915. He was aged 20, 5ft 10ins tall, and was a motor driver, of 2, Coburg Villas, Farnham Royal, near Slough. He had probably responded to advertisements in the local newspapers: “Wanted – Motor Drivers – and Motor Mechanics for Mechanical Transport Section Army Service Corps. Pay 6 shillings per day”. That pay was about the same as the average weekly wage in pre-war 1914; while an infantry private soldier was paid just one shilling a day in 1914.
Mechanical transport was comparatively new to the Army, which relied on horses. The first army petrol lorry was put on trial in 1904. The Army expanded its mechanical transport rapidly to carry heavier war materiel such as ammunition. At first, lorries were requisitioned from private companies that had invested in purchasing motor lorries under a pre-war Government subsidy scheme. The Government paid part of the cost of commercial lorries provided they met military specifications and on the understanding the vehicles could be requisitioned in time of national emergency. This meant the army didn’t have to maintain unnecessary fleets of lorries in peace-time, but could call on supplies of vehicles immediately war broke out. In 1912, one thousand commercial lorries were registered under the Subsidy Scheme which paid their operators £110 a year. In the same year, 1912, new mobilization plans included for the first time the use of petrol lorries by the A.S.C. from railhead to re-filling points. At the same time the plans called for the creation of Divisional ammunition parks operated by the A.S.C. under the supervision of a Royal Artillery officer who ensured the lorries were loaded with the right ammunition and the correct fuses for the intended destination.
As the war progressed military vehicles were developed and the Army Service Corps (A.S.C.) expanded its Mechanical Transport (MT) section. However, it was not the vehicles that were in short supply but men who could operate them. So, already being a motor driver meant Alfred would be willingly recruited by the A.S.C. in 1915. Most transport in the First World War was horse-drawn. The MT Companies drove motor ambulances and omnibuses but many of the heavier vehicles were attached to each Division’s Ammunition Column for carrying ammunition from the Divisional rail-head to what were known as re-filling points from which the supply lines spread out like a fan to the ammunition dumps or stores of the units nearer the front.
On May 26th 1915 Alfred was at Grove Park, London which was the No 1 Reserve MT Depot, where recruits first attended. The premises were in the former Workhouse on Marvels Lane.
On May 29th 1915 Alfred was moved to Chatham, which was probably Chatham Dockyard where the Royal Engineers were based. He remained there until 18th June 1915 when he was moved to “Burnham”. His record does not state which Burnham this was. There was a Burnham near Slough; one on the Essex coast and one on the coast of Somerset. It was a year before Alfred served overseas, and on 22nd May 1916 he sailed for France aboard SS “Princess Clementine” from Southampton to Le Havre where he was attached to 497 MT Company A.S.C.. This company served under the command of V (5) Corps. It formed and operated 61 Ammunition Sub Park. In military terms a “park” is a store established in the area of combat operations. Each Corps had its ammunition park (stockpile) and each division had its own sub-park, which was operated by an MT Company of the A.S.C.. The ammunition was manufactured in the U.K. and was transported to docks on the French coast. From there, or from large stockpiles inland, it was moved by railway to rail-heads nearer the Front. The MT Company then carried the ammunition forward by road in motor lorries to the point where it could be handed over to the horse-drawn transport of the divisional ammunition column.
For V Corps engagements see Chris Baker’s website, The Long, Long Trail at:
http://www.1914-1918.net/corps.htm
The war diaries of 497 MT Company can be downloaded from The National Archives in three parts at £3.45 each. See
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_q=%22497+company%22
An MT Company had some 340 men with 45 three-ton lorries and sixteen 30-cwt vehicles. Transporting ammunition was arduous work as the roads could be pitted with shell-holes; movement by night was without lights; and the vehicles offered no protection from shrapnel or bullets: they had solid tyres and the cabs were often open with no windscreen and covered only by a canvas tilt (cover).
Early in March 1918, 497 MT Company was absorbed by 302 MT Company during a widespread re-organisation of sub parks and ammunition columns. The merged MT Company then became the Divisional Mechanical Transport Company for the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division; it was still doing the same job, under Corps command, but had changed its structure. It would then be known as 61st Div[ision] MT Company. At the same time, in March 1918, Alfred was granted the appointment of unpaid Lance-corporal with 61st Division MT Company. The engagements of the 61st Division in 1918 are shown at:
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/61st-2nd-south-midland-division/
The National archives online index appears to show only one war diary for 302 MT Company under “Corps Troops: 61 Divisional Supply Column (302 Company A.S.C.)” for November 1918 to May 1919. See:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/f3178e0e0807405ca1b9081a1fb5dd09
Alfred was granted leave to the U.K. from 5th November 1918 to 19th November 1918, during which time he married Millie Curtis on his last day of leave. Following the Armistice with Germany on November 11th 1918, Alfred returned to France on November 20th 1918 and served there until 12th April 1919. He returned to England on 13th April 1919 and was released from the Army on 12th May 1919. His address on release was 2 Fairleigh Villas, Queen’s Road, Slough.
Alfred qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
He afterwards lived at 2 Park Villas, Stoke Park, Stoke Poges, and he died there on 29th July 1948.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Kay Hunt
Date: Saturday 20th August 2016 at 5:45 PM

Hi Alan

You are simply wonderful. Such detailed info, and so quickly provided. Thank you so much.

I'll be sending a donation to the British Legion, which seems the least the family can do in return for your finding out so promptly about Granddad.

After the war Alf Jordan worked as a chauffeur for Sir Noel Mobbs at Stoke Park (now a major golf course). Sir Noel founded Slough Estates - now a major property company - on land used by the government after WW1 for storing disused military vehicles. After selling the vehicles he and his partner converted the factories and turned the area into the first industrial park.

Kay Hunt
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 20th August 2016 at 6:00 PM

Dear Kay,
Thank you for donating to the Royal British Legion.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Kay Hunt
Date: Saturday 1st October 2016 at 3:43 PM

Hi Alan

You have already been fantastically helpful. Can I now please ask you for yet more info?

This time it is about my G Uncle Albert James Curtis - 8461 - who was buried at Neuve Chapelle Farm Cemetery (plot H2) on 14 March 1915. He was a private in the 2nd Royal Berks engineers, brought back from India at the start of the war. He was born on 19 Nov 1889 in Reading to Richard and Rachel Curtis.

I understand there two British cemeteries at Neuve Chapelle and a huge memorial for Indian soldiers killed throughout the front, the location chosen as this was the site of the first major battle featuring Indian troops. I am intrigued as to why there are 2 British cemeteries so close together, each to just a few dozen soldiers, esp as they seem to have died over the space of a few days at the farm cemetery and an even longer period at the other. If they did not all die on the same day was it likely that they survived injuries for a few days - rather than being transferred to a clearing station? Or were their bodies perhaps not able to be recovered by their colleagues immediately? I understand that small cemeteries like these generally contain bodies initially buried by their comrades and reinterred after the War by the CWGC.

As always I shall be fascinated by any info you can offer.

Best wishes

Kay Hunt
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 2nd October 2016 at 2:47 PM

Dear Kay,
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle was fought between the 10th and 13th March 1915 by the British 7th and 8th Divisions; and the Indian Corps of 3rd (Lahore) and 7th (Meerut) Divisions. British and Indian casualties amounted to 11,652 all ranks killed or wounded. It was the first large-scale organised attack undertaken by the British Army during the First World War.
Once the initial fighting had ended the regiments could bury their accessible dead in battlefield cemeteries, although many of the bodies could not be recovered immediately. Neuve Chapelle Farm Cemetery was started in March 1915 by the 13th Battalion London Regiment (13th (County of London) Battalion (Princess Louise's Kensington Battalion) known as “The Kensingtons”. The graves were dug in the corner of a field at the farm that was in the location of the 13th Battalion’s positions during their advance and attack on the village which was put in on March 12th 1915. The Battalion’s war diary noted: “March 12th; 2.30 p.m. Ninth hour of intense [enemy] bombardment. Can it go on for ever?”
Battlefield cemeteries were prone to being damaged by shellfire both at the time and in subsequent years, and in the German Spring Advance of 1918 the Germans shelled and attacked Neuve Chapelle which was then being held by the Portugese, who also have their own cemetery there. Graves in the village churchyard were destroyed by shelling.
On 12th August 1920, when the Neuve Chapelle farm cemetery was visited by an inspection team, there were twenty-four locally made crosses that marked graves of named men and graves of unknown soldiers; of which two could be identified as being of the 13th Battalion and one was “presumed Kensington battalion”.
Two years later, the farm cemetery was inspected again on 28th February 1922 when a further thirteen bodies were identified. These bodies were identified as named men of the 13th Battalion London Regiment although their actual graves no longer existed individually. They were marked collectively by a special cross. The work of the identification teams was conducted with dignity and meticulous care to establish such identifiers as cap or regimental badges; pieces of equipment marked with names or numbers; or identity discs. Using regimental maps and lists of names, the number of buried bodies could be established even if individuals could no longer be identified. If they had a list of 13 men and found 13 bodies then the men could be named in a collective grave even if they could not be individually identified. They were buried alongside their comrades.
The 13th Battalion lost 45 men killed, or died of wounds, in the period from 9th March 1915 to 17th March 1915 at Neuve Chapelle. Twenty of them were killed on March 12th when, after eleven hours of intensive bombardment by the Germans, the Kensingtons were ordered to support the Royal Irish Rifles and the 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment in an attack into the heart of the village to capture the German trenches “at all costs”. The war diary stated the 13th Battalion attacked at 5.15 p.m. and lost about 50 men killed or wounded in the advance which was thwarted by “murderous machine gun fire”. They were forced to return quickly to their trenches. The 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment lost 86 men killed in March 1915 at Neuve Chapelle.
Before the war had ended, the Army’s, or more formally, the War Office’s “Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries” undertook the task of identifying battlefield cemeteries and scattered burials. The Directorate established Graves Concentration Units whose task it was to use maps and lists of names provided by regiments to identify graves. If no individual identity disc was found, the Concentration Units noted fine details such as tattoos or numbers on equipment to help make positive identification. Between the Armistice of November 1918 and the end of September 1921, the Concentration Units found and exhumed 204,650 bodies and re-buried them in cemeteries set aside for the purpose. These graves were initially marked with crosses; not headstones.
The War Office Directorate of Graves Registration handed over the cemeteries to the Imperial War Graves Commission starting in 1920. After the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919 the Commission formally negotiated with the French and Belgian authorities and landowners for permanent acquisition of land for the war grave cemeteries. At the end of the war there were 2,400 battlefield cemeteries in France and Belgium. Some of the smaller or isolated burial grounds were concentrated into larger war cemeteries to serve a given area. By February 1921 the Imperial War Graves Commission had certified and checked the records for 1,400 of the cemeteries, so there was still much work to be done in the 1920s when the number of cemeteries in France and Belgium was reduced. The Imperial War Graves Commission contacted relatives in 1921 and asked them to provide confirmation of the details of the dead, by returning verification forms, and offering a paid memorial inscription for the war grave headstone and a free entry in the cemetery register.
After 1921 the formal search for bodies ceased but some 38,000 more bodies were discovered by farmers and others between 1921 and 1924. After 1921, through to the 1930s, the IWGC constructed and laid out the now-familiar war cemeteries of identical white headstones arranged to represent battalions of men on the parade ground. The Farm cemetery became one of those war graves cemeteries where the graves were laid out in neat plots and the original crosses replaced with headstones. Today, there are 60 men commemorated at Neuve Chapelle Farm Cemetery of which 35 are named.
During the battle in March 1915 another burial ground was started at Moggs Hole in the village of Neuve Chapelle by units of the 8th Division who took part in the attack on the German trenches. This cemetery was used until November 1915 and includes five graves of British soldiers that were destroyed when shellfire hit the village churchyard where they had been buried.
In 1960 the Imperial War Graves Commission adopted the name of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
There are 463 cemeteries and grave locations listed by the CWGC in the Pas de Calais département of France which includes Neuve Chapelle. Some of them are single graves in village churchyards. The reason two regimental cemeteries could be kept in the same village depended on the attitude of the local landowners, the desire to commemorate the fighting in that location and the availability of War Graves Commission gardeners to maintain the cemeteries.
Albert Curtis served with the 2nd Battalion Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire) Regiment who fought alongside the Kensingtons. Between 4 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. on 14th March 1915 they took up renewed positions in forward trenches in the village of Neuve Chapelle and came under heavy shellfire, although the fighting was “much quieter” by 5 a.m. on the 15th March. The war diary of the 2nd Battalion Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire) Regiment can be downloaded for £3.45 from:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7352495
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Kay Hunt
Date: Sunday 2nd October 2016 at 4:42 PM

Very interesting. Once again, many thanks.

There is a vivid account of fighting destroying recent graves in All Quiet on the Western Front and soldiers using the coffins as protection. Almost unimaginable horror.
Reply from: Kay Hunt
Date: Sunday 6th November 2016 at 1:56 AM

Hi Alan

Once again I'd like some help please. I now find that my grandma's eldest brother too was killed in WW1.

Richard George Curtis pte 16455 Royal Berks regt 3rd Bn is buried at Portsmouth Highland Road Cemetery. He died on 22 February 1915. He had previously served as a stoker in the Royal Navy from 18 Aug 1892 to 18 Aug 1904.

Richard was born in Reading in 1876 to Richard James and Rachel Curtis and married Kate in Reading in 1907.

Was he injured in France and died on return to England for treatment? Or was he serving near Portsmouth?And was it normal for men who had previously served in the navy to enlist in the army in WW1?

Once again I would be most grateful for any information you can provide.

Kay Hunt
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 6th November 2016 at 3:52 PM

Dear Kay,
Richard George Curtis did not fight in the First World War.
The 3rd Battalion of any regiment was its depot battalion that remained in the U.K.. The physical depot was a barracks, whilst the men who formed the 3rd Battalion itself could be based at the depot or elsewhere, making room for more recruits in the barracks. The peacetime 3rd Battalion of Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment) was based at Reading, the town where Richard Curtis lived, but the Battalion had moved to Portsmouth, on the coast, in August 1914. While undergoing training, the men could be employed on coastal defence duties.
The Register of Soldiers’ Effects stated Richard Curtis did not qualify for war gratuity when he died in February 1915, because he had enlisted fewer than six months earlier. So he would have volunteered in late 1914.
The Register of Effects recorded he died in the 5th Southern General Hospital at Portsmouth. He would have died while training at Portsmouth. For details of the hospital, see:
http://rcnarchive.rcn.org.uk/data/VOLUME053-1914/page445-volume53-5thdecember1914.pdf
When he enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1892 he stated his date of birth was 2nd August 1873, although in the 1911 census he stated his age was 33 (born about 1878). Richard Curtis had enlisted in the navy for 12 years, so his service would have ended in 1904: a decade before the First World War.
Prior to the outbreak of war the defence of the British Isles was the responsibility of the Royal Navy and the country had a very small standing army. At the outbreak of war, the Royal Navy was up to strength and did not require recruits, whereas Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, had to create the New Armies for which 2.5 million men volunteered.
Richard’s stated age at death was 36. His death certificate can be ordered online for a fee. It is probably England and Wales General Register Office; Deaths: Richard G. Curtis; male; birth year 1879; age 36; Death Jan-March 1915; Portsmouth; Hampshire; Volume 2B; page 1009. See:
https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Kay Hunt
Date: Sunday 6th November 2016 at 5:32 PM

Dear Alan

Once again you have come up trumps. Thanks so much for your research. Whatever the Q you always know the answer.

His birth certificate show he was born in 1878 - so he enlisted in the navy age at 14 not at 19 as he said. What a life these young boys must have led! The family lived almost opposite the Huntley and Palmer biscuit factory; seeing the world may have seemed preferable to that (and with at least 4 other children at home) or working as a drayman like his dad.

Many thanks.

Kay Hunt
Reply from: Kay Hunt
Date: Friday 18th November 2016 at 4:21 PM

Hi Alan

Once again can I ask for help. This time it's about Frederick R Colson Pte 2391 a musician in the Welsh Guards from 1914 - 20.

He married a widow during the war and when she died in 1929 he married a great aunt. Many thanks.

Kay Hunt
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 18th November 2016 at 7:22 PM

Dear Kay,
Service records for the Welsh Guards are not in the public domain. If your ancestor served only in the First World War his records may be held by the regimental archivist. If your ancestor served after 1920 you would need to apply to the Ministry of Defence. See:
http://www.army.mod.uk/infantry/regiments/29824.aspx
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Kay Hunt
Date: Saturday 19th November 2016 at 2:08 AM

Many thanks - as always, a very prompt reply. I'll try the regimental archivist.
Posted by: Wayne Farmer {Email left}
Location: Amesbury
Date: Wednesday 17th August 2016 at 6:29 PM
Hi Alan,
I'm trying to work out from the various snippets that I can find where and when my Great Grandfather Edgar Alfred Bowes was during his military career. He joined the RH+RFA on the 25th May 1905 and continued with them for 21 years until May 1926. He was a Gunner and Bombardier. He is with the 1st Regiment in Woolwich in 1911 and his Medal roll for the 1914 star says he was in "A" Battery, RHA. His army numbers were #37732 and #1021765. As far as I can tell no service records survive. Can you tell me where he would have been from 1905 until 1926? - googling only comes up with some vague hints.
Any help you can give is much appreciated,
All the best
Wayne Farmer
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 17th August 2016 at 10:21 PM

Dear Wayne,
Service records for men who served as late as 1926 are not in the public domain. They are held by the U.K. Ministry of Defence and are covered by the Data Protection Act. The Ministry of Defence may release information to the next-of-kin of a deceased person. They charge a fee of £30 for the service and require proof of death. See the details at:
https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records/apply-for-someone-elses-records
The four war diaries of “A” Battery RHA can be downloaded from The National Archives for a fee of £3.45 each. See:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_st=adv&_aq=%22A%20Battery%22%20AND%20Royal%20Horse%20Artillery&_cr1=WO95&_dss=range&_ro=any
A gunner of the RHA named Edgar Alfred Bowes, born Woolwich about1891, was recorded in the 1911 census stationed with 1st Cavalry Brigade at Aldershot. The 1st Cavalry Brigade was under Aldershot Command between 1911 and 1914.
“A” Battery (Chestnut Troop) Royal Horse Artillery was in South Africa in 1912. The British garrison there was reduced that year and in December 1912 it was announced “A” Battery RHA would move from South Africa to Ambala, India. Ambala is a city in the state of Haryana, India, on the border with the state of Punjab. In 1914, “A” Battery RHA was allotted to the Mhow Cavalry Brigade in the 1st Indian Cavalry Division. The Division arrived in France on 7th October 1914 and served in France and Flanders before being broken-up in February 1918.
Edgar Bowes might not have remained with “A” Battery RHA throughout the war or the rest of his career.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Wayne Farmer
Date: Saturday 27th August 2016 at 2:28 PM

Thank you so much for your help - very helpful. My aunt is applying for his records so hopefully we can find out more.

Posted by: Judith Lowe {Email left}
Location: Merseyside
Date: Sunday 14th August 2016 at 8:49 PM
Good Evening Alan
I have been working my way through the soldiers names that appear in the Autograph Book and in some cases have had success. However I am unable to find out anything about :- Private J or T Brownsoy 946 of 1st Border Regiment. Can you help me?
A number of soldiers who have written contributions have given no numbers. Is it likely that we would be likely to find anything out about them or is it essential to have a service number?
Regards
Judith Lowe
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 15th August 2016 at 4:47 PM

Dear Judith,
A three-digit regimental number is not common and would normally indicate a soldier who had enlisted prior to 1914 in the Regular Army or the Territorials where the battalion strength was of approximately one thousand men who would have been allotted numbers from one to 999 or higher.
In addition, though, it was usual for soldiers to be identified by their “last three”.
This was an expression for adding the last three digits of a soldier’s regimental number to a soldier’s name to identify him. The last three digits would help uniquely identify men with frequently occurring names within a battalion. So, a David Jones in a Welsh battalion would need some numbers after his name to uniquely identify him. The “last three” were often inscribed with a name on equipment, or even called-out vocally at the guardroom: “Jones, D., 678, Sergeant!” When signing for stores or kit or drawing a rifle from the armoury a soldier would sign his name adding his “last three” numbers, to ensure positive identification.
There is no obvious record of T. or J. Brownsoy of the 1st Border Regiment with the regimental number 946.
A search of Browns* [where the * equals ‘anything’] in the Border Regiment did identify a soldier with the last three numbers 946. He was Thomas Brownson, 18946, 1st Battalion The Border Regiment, from Bolton in Lancashire.
Thomas Brownson first went overseas as a private, aged 18, on 17th July 1915 when he joined the 1st Battalion Border Regiment at Gallipoli (medal rolls index-card). The Battalion had been at Gallipoli since April 1915, so Thomas would have been part of a draft of reinforcements.
There is no record of his returning home, but he must have done because he later served as a Lance-corporal with the 2nd Battalion Border Regiment in France in 1916 (medal rolls, Border Regiment, May 1920).
On the night of 12th October 1916, 35 men from the 2nd Battalion Border Regiment formed a raiding party that set out to the enemy’s trenches in front of Pont de Nieppe, which was the bridge at Nieppe north-west of Armentieres on the road to Bailleul. The attack started at 7.30 p.m. on the evening of the 12th October but two parties were caught by heavy machine gun fire from the enemy on their right and they took no further part. Second-Lieutenant R.B. Wood’s party cut the wire and entered the enemy trenches but Mr Wood was wounded and eventually died of his wounds. Only about seven or eight men entered the enemy trenches and accounted for perhaps three enemy killed with grenades. The party retired, bringing in some of their wounded. Two men were unaccounted for, missing and believed killed (War Diary WO 95/1655/1).
Lance Corporal Thomas Brownson was one of those two missing men. In the course of time, “The Times” newspaper of Wednesday February 21st 1917 listed L/Cpl Brownson as “reported missing; now believed killed”. Thomas was eventually listed as “presumed dead on or since 12th October 1916, France” (Register of Soldiers’ Effects).
His body had been buried and the grave marked with a cross by the Germans at Devasier Farm, Wambrechies, on the road to Quesnoy-sur-Deule, East of Armentieres. On 20th October 1924, eight years after his death, that grave was exhumed and re-located to the British war cemetery at Pont-du-Hem, La Gorgue.
Thomas Brownson’s next-of-kin in the 1920s was shown as his mother, Mary Jane Brownson, 54 Beverley Road, off Chorley New Road, Bolton. He had been born at Bolton in 1897, the son of James and Mary J. Brownson. In 1911, Thomas was recorded as a 14-year-old tanner in a leatherworks, living with his parents and two siblings, James 16 and Harold, 7, at 32, Luton Street, Bolton.
Thomas had enlisted voluntarily at Farnworth, Bolton, Lancashire.
He qualified for the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
His elder brother, James , a timber sawyer, enlisted in the West Lancashire Division Royal Engineers on 31st July 1915 at St Helens and served in France and Flanders from May 1917 until June 1919 with 57th Division in 421 Field Company R.E.. He survived the war.
Tracing soldiers by their name and regiment without a regimental number is not always successful unless it was an unusual name. However, it is always worth trying as there might be a service record, casualty report or newspaper article that further identifies the man.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Judith Lowe
Date: Monday 15th August 2016 at 5:08 PM

Alan, thanks so much for the fascinating information especially about the three digit numbers. Non of this I new anything about. I feel that you have definitely found out man.
Regards
Judith Lowe
Posted by: Kez {No contact email}
Location: Australia
Date: Sunday 14th August 2016 at 6:26 AM
Evening Alan, I am looking for information if available please for a William McNeish born 1899 Glasgow. Parents William McNeish & Jane Forbes. It is my neighbour's Dad, she thought he was in WW1.
I have found a William McNeish Military Service for United Kingdom, Militia Service Records 1806-1815 born Lanark abt 1899. Can you advise please Alan?
Cheers Kez
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 14th August 2016 at 12:12 PM

Dear Kez,
The entry for William McNeish born Lanark in the Militia records is for a William McNeish born in 1889 whose father was John. Militia service records would not normally extend into the First World War. To search for First World War records you would need to know the man’s regiment and regimental number as so few Army documents from that period have survived.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Kez
Date: Sunday 14th August 2016 at 11:11 PM

Many thanks Alan, appreciate the information,
Cheers Kez
Posted by: Judith Lowe {Email left}
Location: Merseyside
Date: Friday 12th August 2016 at 7:33 PM
Hi Alan
I am working my way through the names in the autograph book, slowly, and have become stuck on the following soldier. Any help that you can give me will be gratefully received.
Private O J Lewis 16479 ? Coy 9th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. BEF

Regards

Judith Lowe
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 13th August 2016 at 11:27 AM

Dear Judith,
The soldier who served in the 9th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers (R.W.F.) with the regimental number 16479 was Thomas James Lewis, who had enlisted on 20th October 1914.
There is little information about him. The 9th Battalion R.W.F. was raised at Wrexham on 9th September 1914, so Thomas probably served with them from the outset. The Battalion joined the 58th Infantry Brigade at Tidworth and spent the winter of 1914/15 in billets at Basingstoke before returning to Tidworth in March 1915.
Thomas James Lewis went to France with the 9th Battalion on 19th July 1915 where they served with the 58th Infantry Brigade in the 19th Division. The Division’s first major engagement was a diversionary action during the Battle of Loos, known as The Action of Pietre, on 25th September 1915. The 9th Battalion had been in the trenches for three weeks without much of a break, and even when on “rest” the men had been occupied at night by taking forward ammunition and trench supplies including chlorine gas cylinders. On the day, the Battalion lost 87 all ranks killed with 165 all ranks wounded. A soldier named T.J. Lewis from the 9th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers was named in a casualty list of mid-October 1915. Published casualty lists often appeared two weeks or so after the event. The Silver War Badge Roll recorded Thomas James Lewis, 16479, was discharged from the Army through sickness on 26th October 1916, which was almost exactly two years after he had enlisted.
Unfortunately, none of the surviving military records provides any biographical detail about him. He survived the war. Thomas James Lewis qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He was granted a Silver War Badge for being discharged through sickness.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Judith Lowe
Date: Sunday 14th August 2016 at 8:41 PM

Dear Alan

Thank you once again for letting me have all the above information on Private Lewis. The research you have done is extraordinary and I only wish that I was able to find out half as much as you can. .
You are so quick with your replies also.
Regards
Judith Lowe

Posted by: Trevor Purnell {Email left}
Location: Tillington West Sussex
Date: Sunday 7th August 2016 at 12:36 PM
Alan,

Grateful for your help with a mystery. I have researched an RNAS man called Percy Maurice Yeatman F/15822. He was a front gunner on 0/100 bombers at Dunkirk in WW1. He enlisted in RNAS on June 6 1916 when he was 19 years old. I have just found two photographs of him on a family tree on Ancestry. The mystery is that there is also a photograph of him in army uniform. It looks as if it is the uniform of the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment and he has two good conduct stripes on his lower left sleeve. Could he have enlisted in the regiment in 1914 and gained the stripes before switching to the RNAS in 1916? I can find no information at all on a possible army enlistment for him. An help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,

Trevor
Reply from: Trevor Purnell
Date: Sunday 7th August 2016 at 5:27 PM

Alan,

I forgot to say that he was killed 25/26 August 1917 when the aircraft he was in was shot down close to Bruges. The remainder of the crew survived and were taken prisoners.

Trevor
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 7th August 2016 at 6:01 PM

Dear Trevor,
Many families have a box of old photographs that cannot be identified because there was no name written on the back when the photo was developed. The photographs you mention have been captioned with inaccuracies in the titles of units which cast doubts on the provenance of the photograph that is described as “Percy Yeatman RNAS uniform c 1917 - Percy Yeatman, aged 19 or 20, wearing Royal Navy Air Squadron [sic] RNAS uniform”.
The photograph is of a young man in Army uniform. I agree with you that the cap-badge appears to be that of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment).
The caption is probably guesswork: he is not wearing Royal Naval Air Service uniform; his age cannot be ascertained but is presumed by the fact Percy was killed on 27th August 1917, having been born on 23rd August 1897 and having enlisted on 6th June 1916 at the age of 18 (dates taken from Royal Navy Records Yeatman F15822). In 1917, Percy Maurice Yeatman was serving in the R.N.A.S. in England and from July 22nd 1917 he was stationed at Coudekerque-Village, France, near Dunkirk.
An online search for any soldier named Yeatman serving in The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) before or during the First World War returned only one man: Walter Yeatman, who was compulsorily conscripted at the age of 18 years and one month on 16th June 1917, so he is unlikely to have had any pre-war service. He trained in the 23rd Training Reserve Battalion; and on 1st December 1917 he joined the 51st Graduated Battalion of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment). He went to France on 30th March 1918 as a recruit of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment). Four days later, probably at an infantry base depot in France, he was transferred to the 1st/24th Battalion The London Regiment. On 14th March 1919, he was transferred to the Duke of Cambridge’s Own Middlesex Regiment. His war-time service ended in October 1919.
Walter Yeatman’s service record stated his father was named George Yeatman. George was born in 1856, the son of Henry John Yeatman who had been born in Dorsetshire in about 1813.
Percy Maurice Yeatman was the son of Harry Percy Yeatman, who had been born in 1874, the son of John Yeatman. John Yeatman had been born in 1851 the son of Samuel Yeatman born in 1812 in Dorsetshire. Both families can be traced back to Doresetshire, so it is feasible Percy and Walter could have been distant cousins.
However, it is unlikely the man in the photograph is Walter Yeatman.
Walter Yeatman wore the cap-badge of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) for just three months. Yet the man in the photograph is wearing two Good-Conduct stripes which indicated between five and six years’ unblemished service.
The photograph: The man in the photograph appears to be wearing a smart uniform, certainly much smarter than the average First World War recruit posing before the camera once he had completed basic training. His uniform is the Service Dress dating from 1902 with “stiff” cap which was introduced from 1905. The cap had a flat top and originally had a rather horizontal appearance but in 1912 the front of the cap was raised by the insertion of a small stiffener in the brim. These stiffeners were informally removed at the beginning of the war and their removal was formally sanctioned in 1915. The stiffened cap was re-introduced after the war.
He is carrying a swagger stick which was popular for walking-out but was left at home as a fashion item when men went overseas during the war.
He is wearing a white ceremonial regimental waist belt of a type worn on formal occasions such as Colour Parties, bandsmen, or soldiers at a funeral.
And he has two Good-Conduct stripes. Good-Conduct stripes were awarded to regular army soldiers, the first stripe after two years; and two stripes suggest some six years’ or more service. The rules for awarding the stripes varied and during the war it seems a second stripe could be earned in the fifth year rather than the sixth year.
The uniform style was typically pre-war and yet was continued with the stiff S.D. cap during the inter-war years, right up to the late 1930s. So, smart chap; ceremonial belt; stiff cap and six years’ service; dressed for an occasion. He could be anyone.
But I’ll wager he was not Percy Yeatman.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Trevor Purnell
Date: Monday 8th August 2016 at 9:01 AM

Alan,

Thank you once again for your speedy and full reply. I agree with everything you say but the army soldier does look very much like Percy in his naval uniform. If he is a relative he must be a close one.

Many thanks and regards,

Trevor
Posted by: Joe Freaney {No contact email}
Location: Derry Northern Ireland
Date: Saturday 6th August 2016 at 10:07 PM
My grandfather, Richard Franey, served with the 2nd Batt Royal Irish Regiment during WW1. His Service Number was 11504. His Medal Card shows he received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. I have a photo of him as a young soldier in Delhi, 1920. I would love to know when he joined and if he left when the Regiment was disbanded. Thanks.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 7th August 2016 at 11:58 AM

Dear Joe,
Records of soldiers who continued to serve after the First World War and who served in India in 1920 would probably not be in the public domain and may be held by the U.K. Ministry of Defence. The M.o.D might release details to the next-of-kin on application and payment of a fee. See:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records#service-records-of-deceased-service-personnel
A 1922 roll of the newly-created Free State army is searchable on the Irish Military Archives site:
www.militaryarchives.ie.

With kind regards,
Alan
Posted by: Colin Davies {Email left}
Location: Hereford
Date: Thursday 4th August 2016 at 3:56 PM
Date: Thursday 4th August 2016 at 3:35 PM
Dear Alan,
Can you please provide any information available on my great grandfather's war service. His name was Pryce Alfred Powell and he served with the 1st Hereford TF his service number was 5539 and he signed up on 16/ 9/1916 he lived at 2 Nelson Street Llandrindod Wells. Any small amount of information would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in anticipation

Colin Davies (CRD)
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 4th August 2016 at 9:23 PM

Dear Colin,
Pryce Alfred Powell had the misfortune of being mobilized for war twice.
The Herefordshire Battalion descended from the Herefordshire Rifle Volunteer Corps of 1860 and in 1908 it became the 1st Battalion Herefordshire Regiment. It was the only battalion in what was a part-time, volunteer regiment of the Territorial Army in Herefordshire. It had a headquarters at Hereford Barracks and seven company drill halls in Hereford, Ross, Ledbury, Kington and Presteign, Leominster and Bromyard, Rhayader, and Knighton.
Pryce Alfred Powell, a coal miner, stated he joined the Herefordshire Regiment on 27th March 1910 with the regimental number 8215. He would have been a part time soldier, training on weekday evenings; weekends and an annual two-week camp. On 4th August 1914 the Battalion was mobilized for war and for the first eleven months of the conflict the 1st Battalion Herefordshire Regiment took up its war stations on coastal defences and internal security duties at Pembroke Dock (4th to 10th August 1914) and then Oswestry for three weeks before moving to Irchester and Rushdeb. In December 1914 they were stationed at Bury St Edmunds until May 1915 when they moved to Bedford. They served in the North Wales Brigade of the Welsh Division which on 13th May 1915 lost its regional identity and became the 158th Infantry Brigade in the 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Division sailed from Devonport on 16th July 1915 for Gallipoli. They passed through the forward base on the island of Lemnos at the beginning of August 1915 and on 9th August 1915, they landed at Suvla Bay. They remained on Gallipoli during the Suvla Bay operations which saw the Division reduced to something like 15 per cent of its fighting strength through illness and battle casualties. The Division was removed from Gallipoli on 12th December 1915 and sailed for Alexandria, Egypt, where it arrived on 22nd December 1915.
On 27th March 1916, Pryce Powell was time-expired from his original enlistment commitment to the Territorial Army and he returned to civilian life in the U.K.. But in March 1916, the Government passed the Military Service Act that introduced compulsory conscription. At the end of August 1916, Pryce Powell was given two weeks’ notice and was called-up under the new Act, this time for compulsory service to begin on 13th September 1916, and on 16th September 1916, at the age of 39, Bryce Powell was enrolled in a reserve battalion of the Herefordshire Regiment at Hereford. There were two reserve battalions of the regiment and it is not clear in which he served, however, it was probably the 3rd/1st Battalion Herefordshire Regiment which had taken the title “1st Reserve Battalion Herefordshire Regiment” in April 1916. This battalion was based at Oswestry at the time. Pryce had stated a preference to join the Army Ordnance Corps on his re-enrolment, but he was sent to re-join his former regiment with a new regimental number, 5539 in the 1st Herefordshire Regiment.
Pryce spent Christmas 1916 locked-up, because on 23rd December 1917 he was sentenced to 14 days’ detention for being in possession of a pair of army boots with intention to sell them. This form of cadging or blagging army kit was quite common. (It still is, if e-Bay is believed).
On January 10th 1917, Pryce was posted to join his old battalion, the 1st Battalion Herefordshire Regiment which by then was serving in Palestine. His battalion was allotted new regimental numbers in January 1917 and Pryce was given a new regimental number, 237110, 1st Herefordshire Regiment. In 1917, the Battalion fought at The First Battle of Gaza (26th and 27th March 1917) during which Pryce was wounded on the first day, although he was not returned to England. The wound was not specified.
The Battalion then fought at The Second Battle of Gaza (17th – 19th April); The Third Battle of Gaza (27th October – 7th November) including the Capture of Beersheba (31st October) and the Capture of Tel el Khuweilfe (3rd – 7th November); The Capture of Jerusalem (7th – 9th December) and The Defence of Jerusalem (27th – 30th December). See Chris Baker’s website, The Long, Long Trail:
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/53rd-welsh-division/
In 1918, the 53rd Division fought at The Battle of Tell’Asur between the 8th and 12th March 1918, and was then re-organised. On June 1st 1918, the Herefordshire Regiment left the 53rd Division and sailed from Alexandria for France on June 17th 1918, travelling via Taranto in Italy where they disembarked on 22nd June. They then travelled to Proven in France, arriving on 30th June where they joined the 34th Division which at that time was being reconstituted for service in the Ypres sector of Belgium. However, Pryce did not remain in France and Flanders for long as he had contracted malaria. He was admitted to hospital in France on 31st July 1918 and returned to England by 10th August 1918 where he was admitted to the West Bridgford Military Hospital, established with 220 beds in a council school, and run by Bagthorpe Infirmary, Hucknall Road, Nottingham. He was treated for malaria at West Bridgford for 22 days.
Following his release from hospital he went to the Command Depot at Heaton Park, Manchester, which was a convalescence camp, on 5th September 1918 until 10th October 1918 when he was discharged to the Reserve and returned to civilian life. He was granted a Silver War Badge for leaving the Army through sickness. He was finally discharged from his commitment to the Reserve on 27th January 1919, having suffered impairment through military service.
Pryce Powell qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
With kind regards,
Alan
Posted by: Frank Rogers {Email left}
Location: Lancashire Englaqnd
Date: Monday 1st August 2016 at 3:37 PM
Alan,

I am researching the WW1 military history of my great-grandfather Charles Henry Dunn 2936 of the 2/5 East Lancashire Regiment. Anything you can tell me about this would be much appreciated.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 1st August 2016 at 7:16 PM

Dear Frank,
There is no surviving military record for Charles Henry Dunn, 2936, 2/5 East Lancashire Regiment. There is no medal roll entry for him which suggests he did not serve overseas in the war. The 2nd/5th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment was a second-line Territorial Force battalion raised at Burnley in September 1914. It initially trained men as reserves for the 5th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment and was garrisoned at Burgess Hill, Sussex; Pees Pottage, near Crawley, Crowborough and in March 1916 at Colchester. In March 1917, the fit men of the battalion went to France and Flanders. In January 1917 all the men of the Territorial Force were re-numbered with six-digit numbers. If Charles Dunn did not have a six digit number, and only a four-digit number, he might not have been with the Battalion in 1917.
With kind regards,
Alan Greveson
Reply from: Frank Rogers
Date: Monday 1st August 2016 at 8:24 PM

Alan,
Thank you for your prompt response. His number was given in 2 letters I have seen which he wrote to his brother who lived in Canada in late 1915/early 1916, and I have no knowledge of later letters or details.He was born in May, 1870, and was 44 years old in 1914. He lived well into the 20th century. I have seen some details of a Charles Henry Dunn who served in the RAMC, with a 6 digit number - maybe he transferred later.

Regards,

Frank
Posted by: Judith Lowe {Email left}
Location: Rainhill
Date: Sunday 31st July 2016 at 8:30 PM
Dear Alan
Thank you so much for the swift and fascinating reply to my question about Private Walters. How do you manage to find out so much so quickly. I have access to Ancestry but seem to struggle finding out much about some of the Oakdene Soldiers, Where else do you suggest I look so I do not have to keep bothering you?
The next soldier that I have been trying to find some information about is Sapper H Varlow 1157 of 1/2nd Field Coy, 1/1st East Lancs Royal Engineers who was wounded at Dardanelles on 4th June 1915.
Any further information would be very gratefully received,
Regards
Judith Lowe
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 1st August 2016 at 6:21 PM

Dear Judith,
Sapper H. Varlow was Harry (not Harold) Varlow who served in the 2nd East Lancashire Field Company Royal Engineers, which was a pre-war Territorial Army company of part-time volunteers based in Manchester and the surrounding area. A “sapper” was a private soldier in the Royal Engineers who was qualified in a skilled trade.
Harry Varlow was born in 1895 at Winton, Lancashire, the son of James Edward Varlow and his wife, Margaret Widdows, who had married on 14th July 1894 at Christ Church, Patricroft, Eccles. In the 1911 census Harry was recorded as a 16-year-old apprentice fitter with Browett, Lindley and Co. who had a factory making engines and dynamos at Sandon Works, on Clifford Street, Patricroft, Manchester.
The 2nd East Lancashire Field Company Royal Engineers was part of the original East Lancashire Division and sometimes took the fractional title of 1st/2nd Field Company. Early in the war, they lost their local identities and were numbered, becoming 428 Field Company R.E. in the 42nd Division.
Harry was 19 when he went to war. The Field Company was mobilized on August 4th 1914, and on 26th September 1914 it arrived in Egypt where it served with the East Lancashire Division around Cairo with some units of the Division stationed in Cyprus and the Sudan. The Division’s role was to defend the Suez Canal from attack by Turkish forces that could only approach across the desert. To their credit, he Turks achieved the desert crossing, attacking the canal on 3rd February 1915 but the assault petered out and back they went. However, the attack saw the East Lancashire Division’s artillery come in action firing their first rounds of the First World War and marking the first firing in anger by the Territorial Force.
The Division trained with the Australian and New Zealand contingents of the ANZAC forces who assembled in Egypt before being sent to Gallipoli. They also took on some dismounted Yeomanry troops.
The Dardanelle Straits had been closed to Allied shipping by the Ottoman Empire, a move which also sealed access to Russia through warm water ports of the Black Sea. When Russia called for aid from her Allies, the French and British launched a naval bombardment of the Turkish forts along the Bosphorus to open up the seaway. When that failed, a land attack was planned for the invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula from the sea.
The East Lancashire Division sailed for Cape Helles on Gallipoli from Alexandria in Egypt between 1st May and 6th May 1915. 428 Field Company sailed on Her Majesty’s Transport “Toronto” and lay at anchor off Cape Helles on May 9th. Disembarkation started the next day with most of the Company landing on V Beach a day later on May 11th. The Division was tasked with breaking out of the beach and bridgehead to capture the village of Krithia. The first attempts were made as they landed on 6th May and continued to the 8th May 1915. A second attempt was made on 4th June 1915. In some cases the fighting was so close that a Royal Engineer officer was able to throw back Turkish grenades before they had exploded. He won the Military Cross.
Sappers took part in the infantry assaults, carry gun-cotton explosive to destroy wire and emplacements, but they were not a success. According to the Company’s commander, the role of the Royal Engineers at this stage of the war was not fully understood by senior commanders and the 428 Field Company war diary states they wasted a lot of energy carrying materials. By the time the attack came on 4th June the men were already very tired. They attacked Achi Baba and at one stage the commanding officer of the 428 Field Company R.E. was the one man who had advanced the furthest along the Krithia Nullah. He expressed disappointment that the infantry fell back and the advance was not consolidated.
In fact, Harry Varlow never went into the battle on June 4th. The 428 Field Company War Diary entry for Wednesday 2nd June 1915 records the Company was working on the front line trenches at Pink Farm. There were making bombs and barbed wire entanglements. There were three casualties that day, including: “Casualties: 1157 Sapper Varlow Harry – shot above knee while on sentry duty.” (National Archives WO 95/4314 via Gavin Robinson on Flickr) See:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/wenham5thlincs/9929021745/in/album-72157635870231396/
Harry would have been evacuated by hospital ship, probably via hospital in Malta. His name was published amongst the 29 wounded and sick of 428 Field Company recorded in a casualty list that appeared in the Manchester Evening News on Thursday July 15th 1915, headed: “In Gallipoli”.
Harry continued to serve after leaving Oakdene as he was re-numbered 440152 which was a number allotted to the 428 Field Company R.E. in January 1917. The later engagements of the 42nd Division can be seen on Chris Baker’s website, The Long, Long Trail:
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/42nd-east-lancashire-division/
Harry Varlow was transferred to the Reserve on 2nd March 1919. He qualified for the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
After the war, Harry married Winifred Kay in 1921. The couple had two daughters [names withheld as they were born fewer than 100 years ago]. Harry died, aged 71, at his home in Smithills, Bolton, on 2nd November 1966.
[Ancestry and The National Archives are my sources for surviving military records from the Great War. In addition to online research and searching techniques, I refer to regimental histories, reference books, and war diaries to research events and locations relevant to each man. The only military record for Harry Varlow was his entry in the medal rolls, but from that, and the details that you had, aided by his uncommon name, it was possible to draw up a partial picture of his experience in the war. Sometimes, of course, I draw a blank.]
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Judith Lowe
Date: Friday 12th August 2016 at 7:25 PM

Wow what a lot of information you have given me here i will need time to digest it all. Thank you very much indeed,.
Judith Lowe

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