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  • keithmroberts

    How NOT to use blogs

    By keithmroberts

    This area is not for queries but for ongoing blogs. if you want to ask for help, please go to the appropriate sub-forum in the main part of the GWF. You have been asked to make your first post in a specified location. Once you have done that, your query can be raised in the various sections of the forum. If you previously posted a request for help or information in this area, it is likely to be deleted at some point in the next few weeks or months. So if you have a reply, please make a note o

Our community blogs


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    Recent Entries

    This area is not for queries but for ongoing blogs. if you want to ask for help, please go to the appropriate sub-forum in the main part of the GWF.

    You have been asked to make your first post in a specified location. Once you have done that, your query can be raised in the various sections of the forum.

    If you previously posted a request for help or information in this area, it is likely to be deleted at some point in the next few weeks or months. So if you have a reply, please make a note of it, If not, can you re-post it in the appropriate part of the forum, which is likely to get you a quick response.

    Keith Roberts

    for the GWF team

  2. Stars, Stripes and Chevrons

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    Latest Entry

    By Muerrisch,

    Chapter 7.


    The Post-War years.

    Other than for the regular army, our information is scanty. In general, stars, usually of five points have been used for a wide variety of purposes such as Tank Corps First Class Driver worn above the tank badge right upper arm (Priced Vocab 1923) and then by Driver Mechanics, corporal and above, finally all Drivers (ACI 164/1950). The four-point star was used for a variety of purposes, most recently for Cadet Forces, and even as a half badge version.


    Good Conduct Badges.


    GCBs at last came officially into line with what had become the practice of allowing veterans to sport more than the regulation six. The Royal Warrant (RW) of 1923 added one for every further five years, and this continued until 1945 at least, according to RW 1940 amended to 1945.


    Major change to GCB conditions.


    Queen’s Regulations 1961 paragraph 1086, issued as National Service was ending, awarded badges after 2 ½ years, 5, 10, 15, 20 etc without an upper limit. There has been no change since then to date, but there was a lack of enthusiasm to wear them after about 1970, both by units and by the soldiers themselves. In an all-professional army, good conduct was assumed, and to sport badges rather than rank was seen as stigmatising by some. The badges still appear in current Dress Regulations but they are in fact rarely seen. The Gurkhas wear them, but Household troops ceased to do so over a period in the 1980s. The regiments report (Private correspondence with regimental adjutants) that they mark the Home Service tunics permanently such that they cannot be re-issued, an important consideration in thrifty times.


    A rather Grumpy LCpl Dutchy Pierce, who ended hi days as a Chelsea Pensioner.


    and other soldiers who had to drink their pints with the right arm.









  3. Australian nurses

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    Looking for a reference book on Australian nurses in WW1? I recommend this book


    'More than Bombs and Bandages - Australian Army nurses at work in World War I' (Big Sky, Newport NSW, 2011).


    A review from a Queensland RN, Rev’d Dr Barbara Oudt:


    What I enjoyed most about Dr Kirsty Harris’s book is her ability to reflect those nurses voices in a way that was so real – one could be there, the settings were so well understood from her research and the language kind of made a time warp in the reading. Very satisfying. As you know I have that Peter Rees book, but I could not get into it after reading the historical one. It was like comparing a great documentary to Face Book trivia!!!


    Available from all good book shops, online via the publisher at http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/…/more-than-bombs-and-b…/, (at a very reasonable price for a hard back) or read or order for your local library.

  4. The Guards Memorial is located at the edge of St James Park and Horse Guards.




    It was built to commemorate those who lost their lives whilst serving with the Guards Division during the First World War. As well as commemorating those who served in the Foot Guards, the inscription on the memorial remembers the Officers, WO's, SNCO's and men of the supporting arms and logistics units which were part of the Guards Division, which includes the Royal Regiment of Artillery.






    A panel at the rear of the memorial portrays an 18 pounder gun in action.



    Guards Memorial 18 pounder in action

    Source:  mattbuck.


    The Guards Division was formed in France in August 1915 by transferring all the Guards Battalions from the Divisions with which they were serving into the new formation. 


    Long Long Trail - Guards Division


    When the Division formed, the bulk of the divisional artillery was brought in from the 16th (Irish) Division. The 74th / 75th / 76th Brigades Royal Field Artillery were formed in September 1914 by the Irish Command as New army (K2) units. They moved to Aldershot, then on to Salisbury Plain, equipping with 18 pounders. The fourth unit in the Division was the 61st (Howitzer) Brigade RFA,  a New Army (K1) unit which transferred in from the 11th (Northern) Division.


    LXXIV - 74 Brigade RFA (232, 233, 234, Batteries)

    LXXV - 75 Brigade RFA (235, 236, 237 Batteries)

    LXXVI - 76 Brigade RFA (238, 239, 240 Batteries)


    The 61st Brigade RFA formed as three x 6 gun batteries. In February 1915 the Brigade re-organised into four x 4 gun batteries. It came under the command of the Guards Division in August 1915,  when the 11th Division was ordered to the Mediterranean, and deployed to France. 


    L61 LXI (Howitzer) Brigade RFA (193,194,195 Batteries)


    The Divisional Ammunition Column was originally raised by the 16th (Irish) Division, transferring to the Guards Division. Three Medium Trench Mortar Batteries (X / Y / Z)  were formed in March 1916, and a Heavy Trench Mortar Battery (V Guards) in May. 


    The 61st (Howitzer) Brigade was broken up in November 1916 and the units left the Division. D/61 Battery would transfer to 50th (Northumbrian) Division.

  5. The Great War took a terrible toll on William Weekes and his family.

    William, of Sherford, near Kingsbridge, Devon lost five sons in 2½ years between 1916 and 1919.

    Only four of those who died are remembered on the War Memorial in Sherford – and on a grave in the village churchyard.

    Missing from the memorial and grave is William’s eldest son, William Henry.

    He was killed in action in France in 1916.

    His story is told here for the first time.

    The devastating losses suffered by the Weekes family would never have been revealed – but for Devon Family History Society and research carried out by Audrey and Dick Lloyd on the men named on Sherford War Memorial.

    A picture of the grave commemorating brothers John, James, Charles and George Weekes was published by Devon Family History Society in 2019.

    Audrey and Dick Lloyd discovered that William Henry served in the Royal Engineers and was killed at Givenchy. He left a widow and child, but nothing more was known about him.

    William Weekes and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Maddick) – who died a year before the outbreak of the Great War – had 13 children.

    The first of their sons to die in the war 25-year-old John Robert Weekes (regimental number 10622), who was killed in action in the Battle of Loos on September 25, 1915. A private in the 8th Devons, he is remembered on the Loos Memorial in France. Born in East Pool, near Sherford in 1890, he worked as a farm labourer at Bowden Cottage, near Kingsbridge before enlisting in the Army.

    James Thomas Weekes was 33 when he was killed in action in Salonika on April 25, 1917. A private in the 10th Devons (regimental number 15230), he is remembered on the Doiran Memorial in the north of Greece. Born in Churchstow in 1884, he enlisted in the Army in Kingsbridge. In 1911, aged 26, he worked as a horseman, living with his family at Bowden Cottage.

    Charles Weekes, a sergeant in the Machine Gun Corps, died of wounds and pneumonia in Nottingham Military Hospital on October 23, 1918. He was just 22. Audrey and Dick Lloyd discovered that he had fought on the front line for more than three years and had several narrow escapes from death. Charles (regimental number 18282) previously served in the Devonshire Regiment (regimental number 10688). Born in South Pool in 1895, he worked as a farm labourer before enlisting in the Army in Exeter. He is buried in St Mary’s Churchyard, Sherford.

    George Edwin Weekes was a leading seaman in the Royal Navy (service number 231215) before the war began. He served in HMS Thunderer in the Battle of Jutland – the largest naval confrontation of the Great War – and died at home from Spanish flu on April 7, 1919, aged 30. He was born in Churchstow on October 20, 1888. His brother Alfred, who also served in the Royal Navy in the Great War, was the only one of the six brothers to survive.

    William Henry Weekes was killed in action on November 17, 1916 while serving as a pioneer in the 1st Labour Battalion Royal Engineers. He was believed to be 42 when he died. He enlisted in London on August 14, 1917 (regimental number 110225). At the time he was living at Glendower, Sea View Terrace, Newlyn in Cornwall. His war records show that he went to France on August 21, 1915 with the British Expeditionary Force. He was invalided home on April 17, 1916 and received treatment at a hospital in Newcastle. He returned to France on July 13 that year, just four months before he lost his life.

    William Henry married Ethel Morrison Nicholls on October 4, 1904 in Penzance. In 1911, aged 36, he was working as a mason’s labourer and living with Ethel at St Peter’s Hill, Newlyn. They had a daughter, also called Ethel Morrison, in 1911. Before enlisting, William Henry worked for a Justice of the Peace in Mousehole. After his death, his personal belongings – a damaged silver watch, chain, medallion, a photo and letters – were returned to his widow. He was buried at Guards’ Cemetery in Lesboeufs, on the Somme. His widow, born on April 24, 1885, died at 2, Sea View Terrace, Newlyn on August 15, 1945, aged 60. William Henry and Ethel’s daughter was born on May 12, 1911. She married John Harry in Penzance in 1928. He died the following year, aged 23. Ethel Jnr died in 1976, aged 65.

    The picture – showing the grave remembering four of brothers – is from Devon Family History Society.

    weekes family losses great war.jpg

  6. Saturday 25th December ,Xmas day, Bethune hospital.

    The rash has disappeared and though still weak I feel very well. Well here we are, Xmas day. "Peace and good will towards men"

    We spent quite a nice day, a simple luncheon and in the evening things became quite festive. The table was dressed up with flowers and about 12 of us sat down to :- soup, turbot, turkey and cauliflower, plum pudding and dessert, stout, beer and lemonade. The dinner was nicely served too, the food wasn't just slopped on one's plate. After dinner the sister brought in half a dozen half bottles of hospital champagne so that all together, things quite hummed. We had a good gramophone with a good many indifferent records and there was a piano nobody could play.

    There has been rather a puzzling patient here since last Monday, he was sent in as a hysterical case and indeed he looked in most ways entirely so, although there were also present indications of nerve trouble in the legs which looked undoubtedly organic. He had no temp and pulse was normal. He complained of profound loss of power on one side, pain, numbness etc,


    *7th Battalion war diary. Epinette.

    Saturday 25th.

    No fraternising this year, although the Germans tried to make peaceful advances by showing the white flag. Our artillery consistently pounded their trenches all day and night. A certain amount of retaliation took place but not as much as we put over.


    Sunday 26th December.

    Well last night I was just getting off to sleep when he suddenly fell out of bed on to the floor and when picked up he was dead. It would be interesting to know the true diagnosis. Doctor Robinson the head surgeon here diagnosed the above as Landry's paralysis having seen a similar case where no temperature occurred.


    Friday 31st December. Windy corner trenches.

    The arrangements of the trenches here is rather extraordinary, platoons are dotted about . This time I have my dressing station just by the headquarters and am sleeping at H,Q  myself. We are hopelessly far away from the firing line.

    We sat up playing patience and talking before a nice fire. There present, the colonel, Major Wilson, Major James, Captain Nicholls, myself. a machine gun officer and a liaison officer. At midnight our field guns opened rapid fire just to show there was no ill feeling. The Germans scarcely replied and things settled down. Thus the old year went out and new year came in, not to the merry ringing of church bells but to the roaring of countless guns.


    *All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this blog is the sole copyright of the holder of the diaries of Reginald Hannay Fothergill.

    (* I think, "live and let live" happened)

  7. Croisilles Wood, featured prominently in this video, is a destination in 1917 (2019 film) by Sir Samuel Alexander Mendes. The protagonist, Corporal Schofield, reaches Croisilles Wood as the suicidal raid to which he has been sent to cancel, is already underway. The 7th Division attacked Croisilles in March 1917 and took it on 2 April. It was lost on 21 March 1918 and recaptured by the 56th (London) Division on the following 28 August, after heavy fighting. Plots I and II of the cemetery, were made between April 1917 and March 1918 and the rest was formed after the Armistice, when graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields and from some smaller burial grounds. The majority of the soldiers buried in the cemetery belonged to the Guards, 7th and 21st Divisions. Croisilles British Cemetery now contains 1,171 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the Great War. 647 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 14 casualties buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate casualties buried in HENDECOURT-LES-CAGNICOURT Communal Cemetery in 1917, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery also contains the graves of six Commonwealth airmen of the Second World War and 18 German war graves.

  8. In December 1918 the Class Z system was introduced by the army.  This system, which released huge numbers of men very quickly, created a reserve of soldiers who would be recalled quickly to the army if the armistice was to break down.


    Many of the men who were discharged to the Class Z reserve had claims to pensions for disability - presumably an assessment was made that this disability would not prevent the man being useful to the army again in future.


    The Class Z system lead to a new pension numbering format being used for these cases.

    Class Z

    The reference under the Class Z system was in the format of Z / Corps or Regiment / Sequential Number of claim from Corps or Regiment / Surname Split.


    For example,



  9. I have finally written up the story for my 3 x great grand father John Edwin Barnes, thanks again for everyone's help on here that have helped make this possible, cheers everyone.



    One of my “Heroes” and Favourite Ancestors the fourth in my series of blogs about my 8 great-grandparents The Life and Times of John Edwin Barnes





    Gordon was born on the 31st of May 1888 in St Kilda, Victoria.  He was the youngest son of John Ross SODEN and Isabella Mary HALTON, who married in Vic in 1881.

    His father, John, died in 1892, aged 44, and was buried in the St Kilda Cemetery.

    Isabella, a beneficiary of the James Tyson millions, who became associated with all kinds of charitable and philanthropic work, died on the 21/11/1924 in London following an operation.  Her remains were brought back to Australia and buried with her husband.


    Siblings (3):

    1. John Leslie (Jack) b.1/11/1882 Kyneton – Doctor – WW1: Capt, AAMC, AIF – marr (Dr) Margaret H.U. ROBERTSON 12/2/1920 Vic – d.7/12/1930 Elmhurst, Middle Brighton;

    2. Alfred Bentley b.1/8/1884 – Grazier – marr Nell BRIGGS 1925 UK – WW2: Pte V395409, 17th Bn, VDC – d.1/3/1982 Vic;

    3. Henry (Harry) b.17/5/1886 St Kilda – Member of rowing (8) team 1912 Olympics – Solicitor – WW1: Lieut, MG Corps, AIF – marr. Anne QUIGLEY 25/9/1920 Vic – d.29/6/1944 Greyholm, Sandringham;


    Religion: Church of England

    Educated at Melbourne Grammar School

    Military training in the Melbourne Grammar School Cadets

    Mechanical Engineering course (3 years)

    Played one seniors game with Essendon Football Club in 1906

    Captain of the Melbourne Grammar football team 1907


    From 1910 he was a Grazier, in partnership with his brother Alf on their New Park station, Morunda, near Narrandera, NSW


    WW1 Service:

    With the intention of enlisting in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), Gordon embarked in Melbourne on the RMS Persia 10/8/1915 for England, arriving in London 17/9/1915.

    On his arrival he found that the RFC weren’t accepting any more recruits for six months, so on the 1/10/1915 he enlisted as a Private in the Army Service Corps (ASC), and was stationed at the Main Supply Depot in Reading.

    On the 8/11/1915 he wrote:  “I have been teaching about twelve officers to drive a motor, and last week they had to go through a military test, which they all passed except one.  I had the job of driving Lord Kitchener all round London the other day.  I had taken the Lord Mayor to the War Office, and Lord Kitchener’s car had a puncture and no spare wheel, so I had to take him round.”


    It was noted in a Melbourne paper early in December 1915 that while he was:  “walking on the bank of the Thames, he saw a man struggling in the water.  Flinging his coat on the ground and himself into the river, the young Victorian swam to the rescue.  He brought the drowning man to the bank and applied first-aid methods.  Long before the man opened his eyes Ross-Soden was “famous” with the crowd that had gathered.  The whisper got around that he was an Australian.  “Bravo, Australia!” cried the crowd until they were hoarse.”

    For his efforts he received a medal from the Royal Humane Society.


    Eventually on the 13/5/1916 he received a commission in the Royal Flying Corps as a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant, General List, and began his training at Christ Church, Oxford.

    On the 8/6/1916 he wrote from Catterick, York:  “I am quite able to fly without an instructor, and expect to be moved in a few days to a more advanced school.”  ……..

    “It only takes about an hour to teach a man of ordinary ability to fly, but the landing is the hardest part.  …………..  When we leave here we are given a machine and sent off to find our way about England by air to get used to map reading, which is rather sport.”


    Later he wrote: “I am up at Montrose in Scotland now, and we fly in all sorts of weather; in fact, yesterday the wind was so strong that it blew me back as I was rising, and I found it darned hard to get back to the drome.  It’s a great life, and I wouldn’t have missed it for worlds.  They are a dare-devil crowd in this corps, as all the others get weeded out very soon.  Flying soon finds them out.  I have looped the loop twice alone, and come down from 15,000 feet with my engine shut off just to see if I could do it.  It is fiendishly cold work, and it’s quite usual to come down with a piece of ice clinging to your top lip.”


    Appointed Flying Officer 18/7/1916

    Received instruction at the Grahame-White School, Hendon July, Aug, Sept 1916

    Appointed Wing Instructor, Aerial Gunnery, Hythe, Kent 14/9/1916

    29/12/1916 Temporary Captain, General List, Flying Officer, relinquishes the appointment of Wing Instructor in Gunnery (graded as a Flight-Com.), and reverts to the rank of Temp. 2nd Lieut

    [7th Wing, then 25th Wing]


    Serving with 56th Squadron when he was wounded on the 9/8/1917 over France:

    “The weather turned bad again for the next three days, but patrols were resumed on 9 August.  Gordon Ross-Soden was wounded during the last flight of the day, having been set upon by an Albatross.  Barlow successfully drove off the enemy scout, but not before Ross-Soden had been hit in the knee.  He managed to return to Estree Blanche, from where he was rushed off to hospital.”

    [Source: No.56 Sqn RFC/RAF, Alex Revell]


    Before hitting his knee, the bullet had also cut a Bowden wire on his machine which threaded through his leg like a needle, and cut an artery.

    Following an operation in France, he was evacuated to England and admitted to the Acheson Hospital for Officers, London, where he wrote his version of events:

    “With three others I was on an offensive patrol, about 50 miles over the lines.  Two of my comrades dropped out owing to engine trouble, leaving the leader and myself.  After about two hours we saw two Hun machines slightly below us and at once attacked them.  But before I had fired more than 20 shots eight German aeroplanes dived from a cloud about 200 feet above.  They saw only my machine and soon the air about me was thick with tracer bullets.  A bullet went through the side of my machine, cutting the wires to one of my guns, cutting one of my flying wires and going through my leg.  When the bullet struck me my leg shot out like a bar of iron and jammed my rudder.  I managed to get my foot off the rudder and then saw the Huns were preparing another dive.  I had to do some fancy work to get away, for the leg that had been hit was useless and I had to work my rudder with one foot.  However, I had the satisfaction of bringing down a Hun machine with one of my parting shots.

    “I then decided that it was time to go home.  How I managed this, I do not know, but they tell me that I made a perfect landing and then went off into a silly faint owing to loss of blood.  It took me three-quarters of an hour to fly home after being hit and in that time I must have bled a good deal to cause me to faint.  Two hours after having been shot I was operated on and within 48 hours I was in England.”


    His wounding put an end to 9 months of fighting the Hun, and following his recuperation he was appointed Chief Test Pilot at the Brooklands Aircraft Acceptance Park (No.10), Surrey on the 20/10/1917.

    Appointed Temp Lieutenant 16/11/1917


    One day while testing an aeroplane, with his brother Harry watching on, the machine crashed to the ground, upside down, pinning him underneath.  Luckily he escaped with minor cuts and bruises and of course, shock.


    10/1/1918 No.15 Aircraft Acceptance Park at Manchester


    In early 1918 a visitor wrote:

    “We went to X.Y.Z., where there were seventy new machines to be tested.  Gordon had to do all these himself, as the other test pilot had hurt his knee the previous Saturday, and will be laid up for a fortnight.  Gordon was too busy to take me up for another flight, but he did some exhibition flying in one of the machines he was testing.  I thought I had seen some good tricks done in the air with aeroplanes during my time in England, but I discovered then that I had not.  His machine was just like an autumn leaf, blown about in the wind, rolling, tumbling, twisting, shooting up and down, chasing his own tail, spinning over and over and round and round in a most marvellous manner.  I did not think such things were possible; but now I believe he could make an aeroplane do anything he liked – even to going up by itself and coming back when he called it.  No wonder his brother-officers call him a demon, and admire him tremendously!”


    Appointed Temporary Captain 4/8/1918

    During his time in the RFC he flew in 60 types of machines, and served 7 months as an instructor in Aerial Gunnery.

    Apparently he “established a record at Weybridge Park by testing and passing 130 aeroplanes in a month.”


    In July 1918 Gordon cabled his mother in regard to his marriage to Dorothy George.  The papers reported the ceremony had taken place on the 15th of June, however the couple didn’t actually marry until 1919.  Perhaps it was the engagement that had taken place on that date.


    Gordon married Dorothy Ida STREET (widow, nee GEORGE) on the 18th of February 1919 in Devonport, England [she had been doing ambulance work in London, driving a car between Charing Cross and Paddington]


    The couple returned to Australia together on the Norman, departing Devonport on the 5/7/1919 and arriving on the 18/8/1919


    They returned to his New Park property before moving to Sydney at the end of 1923

    Bankrupted 1926 (he blamed his wife’s spending)

    Divorced in 1927 after his wife left him – he was selling advertising space for a living and residing at the Wembley Hotel

    Associated with Mr R. Parer's aerial service, New Guinea at time of death


    Gordon died of Black Water Fever on the 20th of March 1931 in Salamoa, New Guinea, aged 42

    [Buried in the Outside Riverina Cemetery, Griffith, NSW]






    Leader (Melb, Vic), Sat 9 Dec 1905 (p.18):


    The Melbourne Grammar School sports were, as usual, a great success, and some fine performances were made.  G. Ross-Soden put up an exceptional performance in throwing the cricket ball 115 yds. 4 in. – a school record…………….


    Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur Thur 20 Jun 1907 (p.24):

    Fact and Rumour

    Mrs Ross-Soden has bought “Grong-Grong,” on Toorak-road, where she contemplates building a house.


    Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 16 Nov 1911 (p.30):


    Mr and Mrs Cecil Levien, late of Acland-street, St Kilda, have left for their station home, New Park, Morundah, New South Wales.  Mr G. Ross-Soden is a partner in the new venture.


    The Age (Melb, Vic), Wed 17 Apr 1912 (p.12):


    Gordon Ross-Soden, of “Grong Grong,” Toorak-road, Toorak, was charged with having driven a motor on 18th ult. along St Kilda-road at a speed dangerous to the public.


    Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 13 Mar 1913 (p.43):


    On Friday last Mr Douglas Campbell left Melbourne for Sydney upon the Vinot car with which he will endeavour to break the Sydney-Melbourne record.  Mr Gordon Ross-Soden accompanies Mr Campbell on the run.


    Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 1 Jan 1914 (p.29):


    Mrs Ross Soden left early this month to spend a few weeks with her sons, Alf and Gordon Ross-Soden, at their property in the Riverina.


    Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 17 Jun 1915 (p.30):


    Mr Gordon Ross-Soden has made arrangements to leave his property in the Riverina, and come to Melbourne prior to sailing for England, where he will enlist.  Mr Ross-Soden had a military training in the Melbourne Grammar School Cadets.


    The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 26 Jun 1915 (p.38):


    At the present time many of our well-known people are having their family circles contracted owing to their sons having volunteered for active service, and among them is Mrs Ross Soden, as her eldest son, Dr. J. Ross Sodden, will leave shortly, and he will be followed by her youngest son, Gordon.  Knowing that many of her friends are similarly situated, Mrs Ross Soden gave an afternoon party on Wednesday, June 24, with the object of bringing about a few hours of brightness.  The guests, who numbered 80, were welcomed in the drawing room, ……………………………..

    She intends leaving Melbourne next week, in order to spend a week or so with her sons on their station property, New Park, N.S.W.


    Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 19 Aug 1915 (p.30):


    Mr Gordon Ross-Soden, youngest son of Mrs Ross-Soden, “Grong Grong” Toorak, left on August 10 for London with the intention of enlisting for service.


    Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 9 Dec 1915 (p.6):


    Gordon Ross-Soden, scion of a well-known Toorak family, secured a fresh leaf for his country’s laurel crown before reaching the firing line.  He was waiting in London his call to the front when, walking on the bank of the Thames, he saw a man struggling in the water.  Flinging his coat on the ground and himself into the river, the young Victorian swam to the rescue.  He brought the drowning man to the bank and applied first-aid methods.  Long before the man opened his eyes Ross-Soden was “famous” with the crowd that had gathered.  The whisper got around that he was an Australian.  “Bravo, Australia!” cried the crowd until they were hoarse.


    The Sun (Syd, NSW), Wed 26 Jan 1916 (p.3):


    Lieutenant Gordon Ross-Soden son of Mr Ross-Soden, of Melbourne, drives Lord Kitchener’s car when he travels by motor.  The young officer is provided with a whistle, and when he blows it all traffic stops to allow the car to pass without delay.


    Tweed Daily (Murwillumbah, NSW), Mon 28 Feb 1916 (p.2):

    Lord Kitchener’s special chauffeur is one of the wealthy young Australians who enlisted early in the war – Gordon Ross Soden, a grand-nephew of the late multi-millionaire Tyson, formerly of Queensland.  He was given a commission in London in the R.A.M.C., and proved himself by obtaining a medal of the Royal Humane Society for saving a drowning man.


    Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 13 Apr 1916 (p.28):

    Fact and Rumour

    Mr Gordon Ross-Soden, who left here to join the Aviation Corps in England, found, on his arrival, that no more could be taken for six months.  He has, therefore, joined the motor transport unit at Reading, from whence he was summoned to London, to “chauffeur” for Lord Kitchener.  Motor driving in London is no joke, as everyone is only allowed a small green lamp.


    War Services Old Melburnians 1914-18, 10th May 1916 (p.155):

    Letters from O.M.’s

    GORDON ROSS-SODDEN, who recently gained the Royal Humane Society’s medal in England, writes thus from Army Service Corps, Main Supply Depot, Reading, on November 8: “I am still at the above address, and quite well and happy.  There are a good few Australian wounded round about here.  The people are awfully kind to the Australians; they can’t do enough for them.  I have been teaching about twelve officers to drive a motor, and last week they had to go through a military test, which they all passed except one.  I had the job of driving Lord Kitchener all round London the other day.  I had taken the Lord Mayor to the War Office, and Lord Kitchener’s car had a puncture and no spare wheel, so I had to take him round.  It’s pretty solid driving in London in the night now, as there’s not a light anywhere.  It makes your eyes bulge some.  Still, it’s a great life.  I’ve got a beautiful 60 Vauxhall car, six bob per day, and no responsibility but to get there in time.  I am supplied with a whistle, and if in a hurry I only have to blow it and all traffic is stopped to let me pass.  I’m on the go day and night, but get plenty of time to sleep, and am supplied with enough clothes for two men.  Remember me to all my pals.”


    Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 11 May 1916 (p.28):


    Mrs Ross-Soden, of “Grong Grong,” Toorak, has received a cable from her son, Gordon, saying he has received a commission in the Royal Naval Flying Corps.  Hearing there were so many hundreds of names in front of his when he first applied some time ago, he has been working with the Motor Transport Corps at Reading.  His work there was so satisfactory that he has been granted his desire.


    Flight, May 25, 1916 (p.434):

    The British Air Services

    Royal Flying Corps (Military Wing)

    Privates to be Temporary Second Lieutenants for duty with the R.F.C.: ………..; G. Ross-Soden, from A.S.C.; May 13th.


    War Services Old Melburnians 1914-18, 23rd Aug 1916 (p.159):

    Letters from O.M.’s

    GORDON ROSS SODEN, who was at Christ Church, Oxford, in May, writes thus from Royal Flying Corps, Catterick, York, on 8th June: “I am quite able to fly without an instructor, and expect to be moved in a few days to a more advanced school.  It is very interesting work.  We had no flying last week at all, as the weather was so bad, but last night I was up over an hour by myself.  It only takes about an hour to teach a man of ordinary ability to fly, but the landing is the hardest part….  I’m feeling fit as a fiddle; hope to remain so.  When we leave here we are given a machine and sent off to find our way about England by air to get used to map reading, which is rather sport.  This place is like a drove of bees let loose in your hat; sometimes about 30 of us flying about at all heights.  How the people who live hereabouts must curse us at 4 o’clock every morning.  The other day I was about 40 miles from camp, and seeing a nice paddock to land in near a big house, I just called in for breakfast to vary the monotony.  We often drop in for real treats this way.  They have just sent an orderly to inform me that I am to go up again, so I must float off.”  Later he writes: “I am up at Montrose in Scotland now, and we fly in all sorts of weather; in fact, yesterday the wind was so strong that it blew me back as I was rising, and I found it darned hard to get back to the drome.  It’s a great life, and I wouldn’t have missed it for worlds.  They are a dare-devil crowd in this corps, as all the others get weeded out very soon.  Flying soon finds them out.  I have looped the loop twice alone, and come down from 15,000 feet with my engine shut off just to see if I could do it.  It is fiendishly cold work, and it’s quite usual to come down with a piece of ice clinging to your top lip.”


    Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 12 Oct 1916 (p.28):


    Mr Gordon Ross-Soden, son of Mrs Ross-Soden, has attained the rank of Flight-Commander, and is permanent Instructor for Flying.  Under his instructions at present are one or two boys from the Church of England Grammar School.  Flight-Commander G. Ross-Soden has been up 15,000 feet and looped the loop three times, coming down with his engine shut off.


    The Argus (Melb, Vic), Thur 2 Nov 1916 (p.9):


    News has been received that Flight-Commander Gordon Ross Soden, son of Mrs Ross Soden, of Grong Grong, Toorak, has been promoted in England to be wing instructor in aerial gunnery with the rank of captain.  He will be in charge of a flight, and his duties will include training in gunnery and the institution of new methods of practice.


    Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 9 Nov 1916 (p.26):

    Fact and Rumour

    Mr Gordon Ross Soden, son of Mrs Ross Soden, has been recently promoted in England.  He is now a Wing Instructor of Aerial Gunnery, and a Captain in charge of a Flight.  His new duties will include seeing that aerial gunnery is properly carried out, and also instituting new methods of practice.  He is a present at Hythe, in Kent, where “Zepps” pay hurried visits occasionally.


    Flight, Mar 29, 1917 (p.306):

    Flying Officers – ………………………; Temp. Capt. G. Ross-Soden, Gen. List, a Flying Officer, relinquishes the appointment of Wing Instructor in Gunnery (graded as a Flight-Com.), and reverts to the rank of Temp. 2nd Lieut.; Dec 29th.


    Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 23 Aug 1917 (p.30):


    Flight Lieutenant Gordon Ross-Soden, who has been testing new airship guns at the French front, has been wounded in action, a leg having been injured.  His elder brother, Captain J. Ross Soden, of the Australian Army Medical Corps, sent his mother a cable saying he had been granted special leave to cross the Channel to see his wounded brother, and that he found the patient doing well.  Mrs Ross-Soden has also been informed that Sergeant Harry Ross-Soden has been transferred from the Infantry to the Artillery, where he will train for a commission.


    Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Fri 2 Nov 1917 (p.14):

    Purely Personal

    Mrs Ross Soden is leaving town early this month to spend a fortnight in the Riverina with her second son, Alfred, after which the latter will come to Melbourne to take charge of his mother’s residence, “Grong Grong,” Toorak, when she will pay a three weeks’ visit to friends in Sydney.  Her youngest son, Flight Lieutenant Gordon, is still in hospital in France.


    Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Fri 7 Dec 1917 (p.8):


    Mrs Ross Soden has laid down her patriotic work for a spell and gone to the Riverina to cheer her second son, Alfred’s lonliness.  The latter, who can’t get a medical pass for the trenches, misses his three brothers, all in khaki, and at the front.  Flight Lieut. Gordon has just acquired the art of walking on crutches, after being shrapnelled in a running fight with six enemy airships.


    The Herald (Melb, Vic), Sat 5 Jan 1918 (p.5):



    Writing from the Acheson Hospital for Officers, London, Lieutenant Gordon Ross Soden, Australian Imperial Forces, gives a description of a thrilling aerial encounter in which he sustained a wound in the calf of the leg.

    “With three others I was on an offensive patrol, about 50 miles over the lines,” writes Lieutenant Soden.  “Two of my comrades dropped out owing to engine trouble, leaving the leader and myself.  After about two hours we saw two Hun machines slightly below us and at once attacked them.  But before I had fired more than 20 shots eight German aeroplanes dived from a cloud about 200 feet above.  They saw only my machine and soon the air about me was thick with tracer bullets.  A bullet went through the side of my machine, cutting the wires to one of my guns, cutting one of my flying wires and going through my leg.  When the bullet struck me my leg shot out like a bar of iron and jammed my rudder.  I managed to get my foot off the rudder and then saw the Huns were preparing another dive.  I had to do some fancy work to get away, for the leg that had been hit was useless and I had to work my rudder with one foot.  However, I had the satisfaction of bringing down a Hun machine with one of my parting shots.

    “I then decided that it was time to go home.  How I managed this, I do not know, but they tell me that I made a perfect landing and then went off into a silly faint owing to loss of blood.  It took me three-quarters of an hour to fly home after being hit and in that time I must have bled a good deal to cause me to faint.  Two hours after having been shot I was operated on and within 48 hours I was in England.”


    Flight, Jan 17, 1918 (p.80):

    Schools of Technical Training

    General List: ……………………….; G.R. Soden; Nov 13th 1917.  ……………………………..


    Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Fri 22 Mar 1918 (p.20):


    Australia is coming to the fore in every direction.  Last month some of the illustrated British weeklies published pictures representing Flight Lieutenant Gordon Ross-Soden’s running air fight with several Hun machines.  Last year the same journals featured the famous cloud battle, in which Flight Major Vivian De Crespigny, another Melbourne boy – earned his Military Medal.  Mr Gordon Ross-Soden had been promoted to crutches when he last wrote, and hopes to get back to the skies to take part in the 1918 struggle.


    The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 20 Apr 1918 (p.33):


    Second Lieutenant Harry Ross –Soden is now at Grantham doing a machine-gun course.  Flight Lieutenant Gordon Ross-Soden had an accident at Brooklands while his brother was visiting him on leave.  His machine dived into the ground and fell upside down, pinning him underneath.  Luckily, however, he escaped with some cuts, bruises, and a severe shaking.


    Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Fri 3 May 1918 (p.7):


    Lieut Gordon Ross Soden narrowly escaped being listed with killed last month, when testing aeroplanes in Blighty.  The machine, being defective, crashed to the ground, after rising a considerable height in the air.  Fortunately the young aviator escaped with no more serious result than shock and minor injuries.  His brother, Lieut Harry Ross sodden, who was on the eve of his return to the front, was witness of the accident.  Medical Captain Jack, the eldest of the khakied trio, has sent along a message saying “All’s well,” after being twice blown out of the Aussie trenches.


    The Bulletin Vo.39 No.1995, 9 May 1918 (p.20):

    Flight-Lieut Gordon Ross-Soden had hardly hopped back to khaki after recovering from war injuries when he was put on to the sick list again by a defective plane.  Young Gordon had been given a machine-testing job as light employment suitable for a flying convalescent.  When the last mail left he was still too sore to go aloft.


    War Services Old Melburnians 1914-18, 16th May 1918 (p.204):

    Letters from O.M.’s

    GORDON ROSS SODEN writes: “I have now got a nice job testing at the Brooklands Aircraft Aeroplane [sic - Acceptance] Park; in fact I am in charge of the testing.  I spent nine months ‘straffing’ the wily Hun, but he got me at last.  I tried to be too clever and took on eight, but one of them got me through the knee.  I had the satisfaction of bringing him down immediately after, but had to beetle off from the other seven, as I was about 50 miles over their lines.  On my way home I ran into another six, but evaded them.  I don’t remember crossing the lines, but I got back to my own aerodrome, on which I must have landed, for when I woke up they were pumping salt water into me to take the place of the blood I had lost.  The peculiar part was the bullet had cut a Bowden wire which it threaded through my leg like a needle, and cut an artery.  Since I came out of hospital I ran into HAROLD LUXTON and his wife in London.  He had a crash flying, and cut his face very badly.  He had been some months with the R.F.C.  I have met HARRY several times in town; he is now doing some course at Cambridge.  Jack has gone to France as M.O. to one of the Australian base depots.  Met A. COLE in the Regent’s Palace the other day, also JIM STEWART, who has one hand useless, which is bad luck.  Best wishes to the old School.”


    Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 16 May 1918 (p.11):


    Amongst the young Australians distinguishing themselves abroad is Commander Gordon Ross-Soden, R.F.C.  He has charge of the testing of all new machines, and another Melbourne boy has written, “We went to X.Y.Z., where there were seventy new machines to be tested.  Gordon had to do all these himself, as the other test pilot had hurt his knee the previous Saturday, and will be laid up for a fortnight.  Gordon was too busy to take me up for another flight, but he did some exhibition flying in one of the machines he was testing.  I thought I had seen some good tricks done in the air with aeroplanes during my time in England, but I discovered then that I had not.  His machine was just like a n autumn leaf, blown about in the wind, rolling, tumbling, twisting, shooting up and down, chasing his own tail, spinning over and over and round and round in a most marvellous manner.  I did not think such things were possible; but now I believe he could make an aeroplane do anything he liked – even to going up by itself and coming back when he called it.  No wonder his brother-officers call him a demon, and admire him tremendously!”


    Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 13 Jun 1918 (p.28):

    Fact and Rumour

    Flight-Commander Gordon Ross-Soden, second son of Mrs Ross-Soden, of “Grong Grong,” Toorak, has established a record at Weybridge Park by testing and passing 130 aeroplanes in a month.  This he did alone, as his assistant was in hospital with an injured leg.  It meant that the young Australian spent nearly the whole day in the air.  His brother, Dr. J. Ross-Sodden, is in the middle of the big offensive, working nearly twenty-four hours a day.


    Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 4 Jul 1918 (p.26):

    Fact and Rumour

    A cable has just been received by Mrs Ross Soden of “Grong Grong,” Toorak, announcing the marriage of her fourth son, Captain Gordon Ross Soden, to Miss Dorothy George.  The ceremony was celebrated on 15th June, in London.  The bride comes of a very old family.  Her mother resides in Glasgow, and her father was, when alive, a Civil Engineer in the British Navy.  Her brothers, British Naval Officers, are all on active service, and she is a niece of Admiral Saunders, also on active service.  The bride has been doing war work in London since the beginning of the war.  They have been engaged for some time.


    Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Thur 11 Jul 1918 (p.6):


    Mrs Ross Soden is in the seventh heaven of delight over her newly-established dignity as a mother-in-law.  Last mail her youngest son, Flight-Lieut Gordon Ross Soden, wrote saying he proposed to add a wife to the family tree, a Scottish girl, Miss Dorothy George, whose late father was a civil engineer to the Royal Navy.  The ceremony happened on June 15, and Mrs Ross Soden coo-eed back joyous congratulations.  Last week a cable drifted in saying the knot had been tied in Blighty, where the bride had been war-working when she met her fate in the Anglo-Australian officer.


    Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 18 Jul 1918 (p.34):


    Mrs Ross Soden, of Toorak, Melbourne, who is a frequent visitor to Sydney, recently received news of the marriage of her son, Captain Gordon Ross Soden, to Miss Dorothy George, a daughter of Mrs George, of Glasgow.  The bridegroom is a flight commander in the Royal Corps, and while on furlough in Scotland claimed his bride.


    Flight, Aug 22, 1918 (p.949):

    The Royal Air Force

    Flying Branch

    Lieuts., to be Temp. Capts. whilst employed as Capts: ……………; G. Ross-Soden, ………; Aug 4th.


    War Services Old Melburnians 1914-18, (p.364):

    War Service Particulars

    G. ROSS-SODEN went to England and joined R.A.S.C. on 1st October 1915.  After service in England he transferred to R.F.C. in which he obtained his commission.  He arrived in France on 7th November 1916 and served there till August 1917 being promoted to Captain on 8th February 1917.  On 2nd August 1917 he was wounded in left leg and was invalided to hospital in England for 10 weeks.  On 20th October 1917 he was appointed Chief Test Pilot at Brooklands until 10th January 1918 when he formed Acceptance Park at Manchester.  He was demobilised and returned to Australia on 25th October 1919.


    The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 8 Feb 1919 (p.32):


    Mrs Ross Soden, Grong Grong, Toorak, has received a cable message from her youngest son (Captain Gordon Ross Soden, of the Royal Flying Corps) stating that he and his English bride intend leaving this month for Australia.  Captain J. Ross Soden, A.A.M.C., expects to remain in England until after demobalisation.  Mr Harry Ross Soden, A.I.F., is with the army of occupation.


    The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 23 Aug 1919 (p.43):


    Mrs Ross Soden returned to Grong Grong, Toorak, last week, after having spent five months with her son Alfred, at New Park, Morumbah, N.S.W.  Mr A. Ross Soden accompanied her home, so that he might meet his brother, who with his English bride arrived on August 18 by the Norman.  Captain Flight-Commander Gordon Ross Soden, R.F.C., was away for nearly five years, and did some record flying.  He left for New Park on the following day with his brother, in order to be there for the shearing season.  So that some of their friends might meet Captain and Mrs Gordon Ross Soden, his mother gave a small impromptu dance and musicale at her home on the evening of their arrival.  The guests included…..


    The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 15 Nov 1919 (p.43):


    A delightful ball was given by Mrs Ross Soden at her home in Toorak on November 10, as a welcome home to two (Captain Gordon Ross Soden and Lieut. Harry Ross Soden) of her three sons who were on active service, and to meet Mrs Gordon Ross Soden, an English bride.  The hostess, with the assistance of her daughter-in-law, received in the central hall.  The ballroom presented a novel effect, gained by balloons of every hue resting against the handsome white ceiling, from each one hanging a long white thread.  By the end of the second dance they were all fastened to wrists or shoulder-straps.  Refreshments were served in the billiard-room, and supper in the dining-room, where the long table was beautifully ornamented with high groupings of exquisite pink roses.  For the first part of the evening a string band provided capital music, and shortly before midnight there arrived a “jazz” band, the members of which not only played their strange instruments but sang the music.

    Mr A. Ross Soden had come from his station in New South Wales, and with his brothers seconded their mother’s efforts.  Mrs Ross Soden wore a gown of pale saxe blue Liberty satin, ………………….

    Also present were…………………………………, General and Mrs Edward Tivey, Brigadier-General and Mrs H. Lloyd, …………………………………………



    Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 12 Feb 1920 (p.31):

    Captain and Mrs Gordon Ross-Soden are in Sydney.  Mrs Ross-Sodden is in a private hospital, having recently undergone two operations.  Captain Ross-Soden is still under treatment for the knee that was injured by shrapnel.


    Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser (NSW), Tue 21 Aug 1923 (p.2):


    New Park Estate Subdivision – Persons in search of land in this district will be interested to learn that the Land Settlement Board and the Government Savings Bank (Rural Bank Department) have approved of New Park estate as being suitable for closer settlement purposes.  The Bank has issued certificates, and is prepared to advance amounts ranging from £2,250 to £3,000.  Any difference between the purchase prices and the bank’s advances will require to be paid in cash or arranged for by the purchaser with the vendor, Mr G. Ross Soden.

    Six farms on this estate are to be made available, the areas ranging from 708 acres to 1,603 acres.  New Park is situated about 17 miles from Narandera.  The railway from Narandera to Tocumwal runs through the property, which is 1½ to 3½ miles from Morundah siding.  The advances range from 66 per cent to 80 per cent of the bank’s valuation of the property.


    The Herald (Melb, Vic), Wed 26 Dec 1923 (p.10):

    Says and Hearsays

    Mr Gordon Ross Soden has sold his Riverina property “New Park,” and, with his wife, will settle for a time in Sydney.


    Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW), Fri 18 Jan 1924 (p.6):


    A clearing sale was held at New Park on the 5th December, by Messrs Lloyd Bros., on account of Mr G Ross Soden, who has left this part for Sydney, where he intends to make his residence.


    Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 27 Nov 1924 (p.35):


    The news of Mrs Ross Soden’s death, which has saddened her many friends here, recalls a romance of the last century, which proved how true unpretentious worth will triumph over difficulties.  Mrs Ross Soden was one of the nearest kin discovered when claimants to the Tyson’s millions were hunted for.  She arrived in Melbourne after establishing her claim, quite unknown socially, and with her young sons, and soon began to make her way into society.  She neither tried to push her way in, nor made any pretentions of any kind, but her quiet, unassuming manner soon won her many friends, and she was welcomed by the most representative of Melbourne society people.  She lived at Mandeville Hall for some time, and entertained lavishly, after which she built “Grong Grong,” Toorak, and her hospitality became more lavish.  The war years brought a cessation of private entertaining, but Mrs Ross Soden lent her lovely home for patriotic activities, and gave many entertainments in aid of the various patriotic funds.  In recent years she has not done so much entertaining, and some time ago she sold “Grong Grong,” the house that was built to her own plans.


    Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW), Fri 25 Sept 1925 (p.8):


    Mrs Gordon Ross Soden is Navy right through.  Being Dorothy Genge [sic], the youngest daughter of Admiral Genge, she married the youngest son of Mrs Ross Soden, of Toorak, Melbourne, in London, just before the armistice in the war.  Mrs Ross Soden’s four sons served in the war.  Gordon was a Captain in the Royal Flying Corps.  His brothers are Dr John, Harry, who has a station near Deniliquin, and Alfred (also a squatter), who has just gone home to be married.  Mrs Gordon did ambulance work during the war, driving a car between Charing Cross and Paddington.  She now works for St Margaret’s Hospital.  She and her husband are living in a house they have lately bought at Cremorne.  Mrs Ross Soden hopes to return to England in February to see her people, including her sisters, who have all married into the Navy.


    Daily Mercury (Mackay, Qld), Sat 12 Dec 1925 (p.10):


    There was a sensational occurrence at Cremorne (Sydney) early on Sunday morning.  Gordon Ross Soden, upon approaching his home, saw a man lurking suspiciously in front of the house.  Upon going to the rear he saw two men attempting to secure the key of the back door with a piece of wire.  The intruders attacked Soden, and a desperate struggle ensued, lasting for some minutes, during which Soden used a piece of iron piping with good effect.  Eventually the three men made off.


    Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW), Sat 20 Mar 1926 (p.9):



    Last week, Gordon Ross-Soden, of Cremorne, filed his schedule in bankruptcy.  He was a beneficiary under the will of a well-known N.S.W. pastoralist millionaire.  Ross-Soden served with distinction as an aviator in the war, and married an English woman of good family.

    On her arrival in Sydney, Dorothy Ross-Soden entered into social affairs, and made a great hit in the best circles by reason of the glittering functions which she organised.

    Lavish as was his wife’s mode of entertaining, the husband footed the bills.

    Enormous bills they were in Sydney’s luxury trade – exclusive business houses and hosteiries.

    Early in 1925 the husband inherited from the estate of his mother almost £20,000.

    He began to realise that the financial tide would ebb if a change of programme was not soon operating.

    The crash, however, was not averted.  It duly came, and many of the expensive furnishings of “Norrit,” the beautiful home at Cremorne, were sold.  Last December the house was sold to a well-known lawyer, and realised £6250.

    A luxurious apartment at Elizabeth Bay followed suit, and the pair took up residence in a Darlinghurst flat.

    The statement of unsecured creditors filed in the Bankruptcy Court shows that Ross-Soden owes dressmakers and milliners the sum of £1095, jewellers £1590, and for entertaining at one of Sydney’s high-class cafes, £50.

    His own tailor’s bill amounts to only £30!

    In addition, there is an overdraft of £5000 on a Melbourne bank.

    The unsecured credits total £9420 18/-

    Mrs Ross-Soden is now running a soda-fountain at Coogee.


    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Tue 20 Apr 1926 (p.6):



    Examined by Mr C.F.W. Lloyd, official assignee, before the Registrar in Bankruptcy yesterday, Gordon Ross-Soden, of Elizabeth Bay-road, Sydney, whose estate was compulsorily sequestrated on February 26 last, stated that he was a beneficiary in the estate of his mother, who died in 1924, his share being about £7000.  He believed there was a little more to come.  From 1910 till 1922 he was a grazier in partnership with his brother in a property in Riverina.  He went to the war in 1914, and returned in 1919.  During the past two years he had been looking round to see what he could do in Sydney.  He had never been bankrupt before, nor assigned his estate.  In his statement of affairs he showed unsecured creditors to the amount of £9420, but that was inclusive of all his wife’s debts.  Of the amount mentioned, £5000 was owing to the Royal Bank of Australia in respect of an advance on a station property known as Newpark, at Narrandera, where he was in partnership with his brother.  The bank held the deeds of two blocks of the Newpark station property.  The cause of his bankruptcy was, principally, debts incurred by his wife without his authority or knowledge.  If it had not been for the debts incurred in that way by his wife he would have had sufficient assets to pay his liabilities.  Out of the £9420 shown in his statement of affairs roughly £3000 worth were contracted by her.  The debt of £1300 to Hardy Bros., jewellers, was contracted by her; also Farmer’s, £279; Pauline et Cie, £239 for dresses, and £273 to Pelliers for dresses.  He had a list of the debts contracted by his wife, which included: Mrs Mates, £61/19/; Poullar’s, £22/8/2; Scott and Ahern, £118; Electrolux, £17; Jacqueline, £307; David Jones, £283; Beard, Watson, £60; Marcelle, £97; Buckley and Nunn, Melbourne, £63; Lassetters, £23/1/3.  He showed Hardy Brothers at £1300 in his statement of affairs, and they had proved for £42/1/.  The balance they took as owing by his wife.

    In reply to the Registrar, the bankrupt said his wife had independent means apart from him, which brought her an income of from £150 to £200 a year from shares.  She was interested in the Coogee Casino, and at the outside her income was not more than £200 a year.

    To the Registrar:  There were about 6000 acres of the station property not secured to the bank; it was Freehold land, absolutely paid for, and was worth from £4/10/ to £5 an acre.  He had a half-share in that land with his brother.  Portion of the land had been sold, and his share of what remained would be about £7500.

    In further reply to the official assignee, bankrupt said that after the bank was paid off its £5000 his interest in the purchase money of Newpark would be about £2500.  “I say,” continued Ross-Soden, “that my bankruptcy has been brought on by my wife’s extravagance in living, not my own.  I again honestly say that I did not know what my wife was doing.  She never consulted me in any of her dealings, but worked on the name.  She instructed people not to bother me with accounts.  Bills came in by post, and were torn up by her, and I never saw them.  She then received summonses, which she tore up, and I knew nothing about them.”

    Continuing, bankrupt said that the diamond ring purchased from William Farmer and Co. in December, 1924, for £225, was a present he gave his wife before he knew she was contracting debts elsewhere.  In Hardy Brothers’ claim for £42 there was a gold cigar case for £37.  That was not for him.  His wife gave it away to someone else.  The item of the Ambassadors’ entertaining in September, 1925, for £52/8/6/ was his own.  He entertained at the Ambassadors for some months – they would give one credit for two years if necessary.  If he had been called on to pay his debts six or nine months ago he certainly could have paid them out of his share from his mother’s estate, which had since been spent.  Since November, 1924, he had had approximately £7000 from his mother’s estate.  During the last two years he had lost about £350 at the very outside on racing or betting.


    Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser (NSW), Tue 24 Aug 1926 (p.4):


    Mrs Ross-Soden’s Story

    Dorothy Ida Ross-Soden, wife of Gordon Ross-Sodden, was last week examined in the Bankruptcy Court before the Registrar (Mr N.C. Lockhart).

    In answer to Mr C.F.W. Lloyd, official assignee, she said she owed about £1518, and of that amount £1293 was for diamond rings and other expensive jewellery and art objects purchased on credit at Hardy Bros., Ltd., Sydney.

    In February last she bought her husband’s half-interest in the Coogee Casino for £300 cash, and ran the place in partnership till April last.

    “I pledged a diamond ring for £400, which I bought from Hardy Bros. for £550,” said Mrs Ross-Soden.

    “There was another diamond ring, which cost £750.

    “My husband bought me a fur coat for £140 guineas.

    “In the last two years I’ve lost between £200 and £500 playing cards.

    “At the races, during the same period, I lost about £1000.

    “I never missed a meeting, and backed horses myself, but my biggest bets would be £10 to £20.”

    “My own extravagance,” added Mrs Ross-Soden, “would be a cause of my bankruptcy.”

    The cause of her bankruptcy, she said, was bad luck at the Coogee Casino.

    Mrs Ross-Soden also said that her estate was compulsorily sequestrated on the petition of Hardy Bros., Ltd., to whom she owed £1293.


    The Sun (Sydney, NSW), Thur 11 Nov 1926 (p.13):



    By a kindly little action Mr G. Ross Soden recovered his general service and victory medals to-day.

    Some time ago Mr Ross Soden, who was a major in the Royal Flying Corps, suffered a reversal of fortune, and among the articles parted with was a chest of drawers which, he discovered later, contained his war medals.

    He had given up all hope of tracing the medals.  As he was walking along William-street to-day he saw a Digger playing a mouth organ on the street corner.

    Your Medals, Sir!

    Because it was “Poppy Day” he spoke to the Digger, asked how he was, and gave him his card.

    The Digger, who had had both legs amputated, glanced at the card and said, “Why, I’ve got a couple of your medals here, sir!  I saw them in a pawnbroker’s window in Newtown.

    “I went in and took them, telling the pawnbroker that he should not sell military medals, and I saw your name on them.”

    Mr Ross Soden pocketed the medals gratefully, and the Digger has promised to go back to the pawnshop (he has forgotten the name of it) to look for the rest of the medals.


    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Wed 30 Mar 1927 (p.12):



    In this suit Gordon Ross-Soden petitioned for a divorce from Dorothy Ida Ross-Soden (formerly George) on the ground of her adultery with one Walter Edwards (who was joined as co-respondent) between January 1, 1926, and October 20, 1926, at Kellett-street, Darlinghurst.  The marriage took place on February 18, 1919, at Plymouth, England, according to the rites of the Church of England.  A decree nisi, returnable in six months, was granted in favour of petitioner, for whom Mr S. Bloomfield appeared.  There was no appearance on behalf of respondent or co-respondent.


    Truth (Sydney, NSW), Sun 3 Apr 1927 (p.14):


    Dorothy Soden Confesses Her Love for Dancing-teacher Edwards



    Last week in the Divorce Court he asked Mr Justice Davidson to shear asunder the marriage tie which has bound him since 1919 to Dorothy Ida Soden.

    She had misconducted herself with a dancing teacher, Walter Edwards, he said, and he was there to tell his story to the judge.

    Gordon Ross Soden, the man who has travelled the world over, seen dawns and sunsets in far lands, lived in a Toorak mansion, the best hotel in Sydney, and lorded it in a stately homestead at Narrandera, said that he was now selling advertising space for a living and residing at the Wembley Hotel.

    His story to the court was a simple one.  There were no allusions to what he had been in the past, no reference to the state of affairs of which he had spoken in the Bankruptcy Court.

    He merely said that he and his wife lived happily enough until March 23, 1926, when she left him.

    “Three times I wrote to her asking her to return,” he said, “and three times she refused, and then she asked me to stop annoying her.”

    In August Soden said he received the following letter from his wife: –

    “Dear Gordon, – I really don’t see what use it is answering your letter as there is nothing to be said at all, except that I do not wish to come back to you ever.  You say you have proof of my infidelity to you with Bill (Edwards) so what is there for me to do but admit it.  You know there was never anyone else till I met him and he appealed to me and has meant more to me than anyone else ever could do.  I love him with all my heart and soul.  Gordon, feeling as I do I just couldn’t live with you again as I know only too well my feelings will never alter as long as he wants me.  I will never give him up.  I am sorry, Gordon, it has come to this but try and forget me.  Time heals everything, you know. – Dorothy.”





    The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 25 Mar 1931 (p.1):


    ROSS-SODEN – On the 20th March (from black water fever), at Salamoa, New Guinea, Gordon, youngest son of the late Mrs I.M. Ross-Soden, of Grong Grong, Toorak.


    The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 28 Mar 1931 (p.9):


    Relatives in Melbourne have been advised of the death of Mr Gordon Ross-Soden, which occurred at Salamoa, New Guinea, on March 20.  Mr Ross-Soden, who was aged 42 years, was the youngest son of the late Mrs I.M. Ross-Soden, of Grong Grong, Toorak.  After having left Melbourne Grammar School he engaged in farming at Narrandera (N.S.W.).  Shortly after the outbreak of the Great War he was in England and he joined the Royal Flying Corps.  He returned to Australia after the Armistice and resumed farming at Narrandera.  Later he went to New Guinea, and for some time he was associated with Mr R. Parer’s aerial service there.



    ROSS-SODEN FAMILY - Isabella and sons 1904:


    ross soden family 1904.jpg



    Brothers in the A.I.F.:

    John: https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/300790

    Harry: https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/300789


  11. pjwmacro
    Latest Entry

    During the night of 30/31 July 1919, a relief column of 3rd Guides Infantry marched the 20+ miles from Parachinar to Sadda. Nearly 300 men strong, the column was based on B and D companies of 3rd Guides, supported by guns from 28th Mountain Battery and 40 additional mounted infantry from the Kurram Militia. The column was commanded by OC B Company Capt John Henry Jameson DSO. 

    The column reached Sadda on the morning of 31 July and, supported by machine guns from 22 Battery, went into action at around midday. Picquets were established on the high ground, the engine from the crashed Bristol Fighter was salvaged and the body of Lance Daffadar Miru Mian was recovered.

    By the evening, reports indicated that the tribesmen were dispersing.


  12. Written for the Petersfield Post April 2019. Not easy to précis his life in 450 words! 

    "In St Peters Church is a stained glass window depicting St Michael in armour.  It is dedicated to Lt-Colonel Gerard Leachman, one of the most colourful and courageous figures to have come out of Petersfield.

    He has been described as Petersfield’s Lawrence of Arabia, but while the self-promoting Lawrence became a legend, Leachman wrote little and is now largely forgotten.

    Born in 1880, he was the youngest child of Dr Albert Leachman, a much-respected member of Petersfield society, and his wife Louisa.

    After Charterhouse and Sandhurst he became a Second Lieutenant with the Sussex Regiment and served in the Boer War, India, Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).

    Two exploratory journeys were undertaken in Arabia on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society and he formed relationships that would later prove invaluable. The Turkish forces believed he was a spy and tried to limit his movements – so he disguised himself as a bedraggled Bedouin, far different from the Lawrentian model.

    From 1915 he organised irregular Arab fighters against the Turkish army. At the start of the siege of Kut-al-Amara, Leachman successfully led the cavalry to safety through enemy lines. This was just the beginning of his activities at Kut, most of which remain buried in obscure reports and deserve to be told. 

    Later in the war he commanded a Motor Battery and was awarded the DSO. After the Armistice, Leachman was appointed a Political Officer as the Allies parcelled out the Ottoman Empire. Britain was given the mandate to govern Iraq and Leachman was called upon to maintain tribal peace. 

    Deeply committed to duty and steeped in the ways of the Empire, he had a violent temper, and seems to have kept the Arabs in check by the force of his personality and his cut-off polo stick, but he was also respected and many children were named in his honour. Contemporary accounts remark on his good-humour, generosity and loyalty. However others, including Lawrence, disliked him intensely. 

    He certainly divided opinion. Petersfield men returning on leave from the Middle East had nothing but praise for him. There are several accounts of him standing alone against a mob of tribesmen and his will prevailing, such was his reputation.

    In 1920, after a personal conflict, Leachman was shot and stabbed by Sheik Dhari and his son near Fallujah. He was buried with full military honours in Baghdad. His death was marked in Britain by many column inches of praise and anecdotes. The Hants and Sussex News reported: “The news…caused widespread sorrow in Petersfield”

    His murder sparked a tribal revolt and is still seen in Iraq as the beginning of Iraqi independence. It is ironic that Leachman’s name is infamous there, while it has mostly been forgotten in England."


  13. A few have asked to be kept informed as to the publication of my diary, so here you are. It is available from Amazon as an ebook as well as in paperback format. It can be bought from Waterstones in Newcastle upon Tyne, Morpeth and Hexham, also at Cogito Books in Hexham or direct from broomfieldpublications@gmail.com for £6.99 + p&p. It is available in the Newcastle City Library, The Newcastle University Library, and the Lit & Phil Library in Newcastle. So far it is being read in the US, Germany, Australia, Spain, and France. It has yet to have any major review, but all individual reviews by private individuals are very positive indeed. Many thanks for any interest shown to date and in the future.

  14. 100 YEARS AGO TODAY: The March to the Rhine - Day 21.


    King George V and General William Birdwood visit the graves of several notable soldiers including, the temporary grave of Prince Maurice of Battenburg, the King's one-time equerry Major Lord Charles Mercer-Nairne, Brigadier General Francis Aylmer Maxwell VC, CSI, DSO & Bar, and Major the Hon. William George Sidney Cadogan, the equerry to the Prince of Wales. Presentation of baton of the Marshal of France to Philippe Petain at Metz, 8 December 1918. Marshal Petain, Marshal Joseph Joffre, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, General Maxime Weygand (France), Field Marshal Douglas Haig (Britain), General John Pershing (USA), General Cyriaque Gillain (Belgium), General Alberico Albricci (Italy) and General Józef Haller (Poland) awaiting the arrival of French President Raymond Poincare.


    General Staff - 1st Canadian Division, C.E.F.


    13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada)


    14th Battalion (The Royal Montreal Regiment)


    15th Battlion (48th Highlanders of Canada), 3rd Inf. Bde, C.E.F.


    16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish), 3rd Inf. Bde, C.E.F.


    5th Canadian Divisional Artillery, C.E.F.


    14th Brigade C.F.A., C.E.F.


    61st Field Battery, C.F.A., 5th C.D.A., C.E.F.


    Lt Abner Virtue - 6st Fld Bty


    60th Field Battery, C.F.A., 5th C.D.A., C.E.F.



    Outside Recht, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Recht, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Marcard, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Railway Bridge Bonn and Kirke, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Dedenburg & Bonn Railway Bridge, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Outside Amel, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Amel, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Moderscheid, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Outside Moderscheid, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Bullingen, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Outside Bullingen, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Outside Wirtzfeld, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Wirtzfeld, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Outside Krinkelt, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Krinkelt, Photo: Edward Walshe









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    Recent Entries

    These are the categories that I have on my computer in bookmarks. I will update this page on a regular basis, particularly during the early phase of the "sorting into categories".


    These are ONLY for the British cases here on the GWF. They do not include any of the cases on the CEFSG (here).


    I was initially posting this information for the benefit of GWF PALS that wanted to investigate the case further and possibly take it to the reporting stage. I was not familiar enough with the Regiments and did not have access to the UK War Diaries, so I could not finish the case. With the assistance of the Long, Long Trail and now with Ance$try Worldwide, I am able to proceed. There are a number of these cases still listed in the final category below ("Other Cases Posted") and I am now in the process of working through these to move them to the other categories. Many may end up in the "Abandon or Hold" category, which I have now split. If you have looked at a report and believe it is in the wrong category, let me know.


    Changes to this blog include:

    • 23 November 2019 the details of acceptance or rejection during the Approvals Process have now been added, which are generally emails from the CWGC. Any team response or report updates are then uploaded to the site. This information, on how the process works, may be of benefit to other researchers.
    • 12 February 2019 the topic lists that have multiple nationalities have been sorted and classified as to their nationality
    • 25 January 2018 addition for "Short Listed Candidates". Those are the cases where is there is more than one person that fits the characteristics for the grave but the list is very short. The reason for this category is for FAMILY who may be researching an UNKNOWN, so they now know it may be their relative in that grave - but it is not a positive identification. This category has also been used where one or more of the candidates has been identified elsewhere, thus shortening the list.
    • 5 July 2018 addition of "CWGC Reports to be Submitted / Possibly Incorrect Identifications". It appears that the named person is "clearly" (not a minor question) in that grave. This has not been applied yet to cases where a recent submission (post 2000) may have misidentified an UNKNOWN (i.e. Kipling Case).
    • 8 July 2018 added "A member is looking for this soldier".
    • 22 July 2018 added "The Approvals Process", in concert with the 1st "Phase I" Approval.
    • 27 October 2018 added "Abandon or Hold / Accounted for by Special Memorial(s)" - men are listed missing but may be on a Special Memorial within a cemetery


    The cases are now also posted to TWITTER as:


    As always, I appreciate the assistance of any member who wishes to participate in these investigations. If a draft report is prepared, any member is welcome to review the document and provide comments, corrections or criticisms. If the report goes to the Submission Stage, any member that participated in the process can have their name added to the report. For that I need your Real Name, Affiliation (can be as simple as "Private Researcher") and your email address (so the CWGC can contact you directly if they wish).


    A list of both the Canadian and Commonwealth reports that I have submitted can be found here, with download links:


    The difference between the Canadian and Commonwealth reports is that initially the Canadian reports were submitted to the CWGC Canadian Agency in Ottawa for review first. If acceptable to Ottawa, they then were forwarded to the Maidenhead CWGC Office. This process was modified in January 2019 so that now all cases go directly to the CWGC Maidenhead.


    As cases move through the process, their place on the list below is modified. A topic might go from "New Cases" to "Reports Submitted" and then up to the "Approvals Process". There it might stay for a considerable length of time, before being marked as "Approved" or "Rejected". Once in that part of the process, additional information is added, such as a direct link to the report or review documents received from the approvals authorities (including rejections). Under the new process, a "Commonwealth Case" must make it through all three (3) phases of the approvals process. There is no information at present to indicate a "Canadian Case" would move through the process in the UK or if it would then be sent back to Ottawa.




    Corporal Martin Carroll #55818, Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Plot 6 Row D Grave 3

    2nd Division, 4th Infantry Brigade, 19th Infantry Battalion


    Killed in Action of 8 August 1918

    Reported Found 29 May 2015

    Rededication Service 1 December 2016

    Click here for the video.

    Object description
    The competition between Army Forestry Companies from Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand at the Forestry Camp at Pont-Remy, France, 15th September 1918.


    Full description
    The soldiers watch several forms of contest. A pillow fight between two men sitting astride a log suspended over water. A tree-stump felling contest, in which the four representatives each have to cut down a stump about three metres high. A similar competition to cut through a short log lying on the ground, won by the Australian whose fellows rush forward to cheer him. He poses in his shirt, shorts and bush hat with his axe beside the trunk. A third contest, including New Zealand Maoris, in chopping down medium-sized trees. Finally a 'log rolling' contest for men keeping balance standing on a log on the river, which they cross by rolling the log forward.


    Production date
    Place made
    whole: Number Of Items/reels/tapes 1

    Catalogue number
    IWM 319

  16. Obituary for my Grand Father Company Sergeant Major Fred Seaman No.5572, Of The 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards


  17. It's been a long time since my last post in this blog, so here is one interesting article.



    The Romanian 2nd Army's success at Marasti forced the Central Powers to revise their plans. The offensive planned in the Namoloasa area was abandoned and the bulk of the forces were moved in the Focsani area. The new offensive was going to be launched west of the Siret River, on the Focsani – Marasesti – Adjud direction, with the German 9th Army (general Johannes von Eben) and on the Oituz Valley with the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army (Archduke Joseph). The objective was to encircle and destroy the 2nd Army.


    On the other side, the Romanian General Headquarters decided to cancel its attack in the Namoloasa area. The Russian 4th Army had to be pulled out from the front in southern Moldavia and moved north, where it could threaten the flank of the Austro-German forces advancing in Galicia. The Romanian 1st Army was going to replace the Russian troops departing the area.

    For the offensive, the German 9th Army was strengthened with units brought from the French (the Alpine Corps, which arrived on 6 August) or Italian fronts. General von Eben decided to deliver the main blow with the German 1st Corps (6 divisions), while to its left the German 18th Reserve Corps (3 divisions) had to pin down the Entente troops opposite it. The right wing of the 9th Army was manned by the Ramnic Group (2 divisions). The reserve was made up of one German and one Austro-Hungarian divisions and the Alpine Corps, which arrived in the area during the first day of the battle. The German forces in the attack sector were 102 infantry battalions, 10 cavalry squadrons, 24 pioneer companies, 2 armored cars, 1,135 machine-guns, 356 mortars, 223 field guns and 122 heavy guns and howitzers.


    Opposite the German 1st Corps was the Russian 4th Army, which had in contact with the enemy only two corps: on the right the 8th (3 divisions) and on the left the 7th (2 divisions). The reserve was made up of one infantry and one cavalry divisions. These totaled 84 infantry battalions, 52 cavalry squadrons, 280 field guns and 36 heavy guns. The bulk of the Romanian 1st Army was at Tecuci and was getting to cross the Siret River and replace the Russians.

    The German 9th Army's offensive was preceded by a powerful artillery preparation, which began at 0430 hours on 6 August 1917. At 0730 hours the 1st Corps (general Kurt von Morgen) started the attack, with the 12th Bavarian, 76th and 89th Infantry Divisions in the first line and with another two divisions in the second echelon. The front defended by the Russian 13th and 34th Infantry Divisions was broken and 10 km breach was created. The Russians started a disorderly retreat east of the Siret River. At the request of the Russian command, general Constantin Christescu, CO of the 1st Army, ordered maj. general Eremia Grigorescu, CO of the Romanian 6th Corps, to intervene west of the Siret with the 5th Infantry Division and with the 9th Infantry Division to defend the river's eastern bank. The 32nd Dorobanti Regiment Mircea and the 8th Dorobanti Regiment Buzau counterattacked and stopped the Central Powers offensive on the line Moara Alba – Doaga – Furceni.


    Seeing that the chances to force the crossing over the river are minimal, in the morning of 7 August, the German command redirected the offensive to the north, with four divisions. The effort was concentrated against the Romanian 5th Infantry Division, but the assault was repulsed. However, a bulge was created at the junction with the Russian troops, but the situation was saved by the counterattack of two battalions from the division's reserve. At noon, after a short artillery preparation, the enemy renewed the attack enjoying a 3 to 1 numerical superiority. The 3rd Vanatori Regiment held out in the Doaga village against an entire German division. The same thing happened in the sector of the 32nd Dorobanti Regiment Mircea. The soldiers in this unit made several bayonet charges only in their shirts, because of the suffocating heat, managing to push back the Germans to their positions. In the evening, the 1st Corps attacked and broke through the front of the Russian division on the right flank of the Romanian 5th Division. Threatened with the encirclement, the 32nd Regiment retreated to the Cosmesti Bridge. To fill the gap created, the Romanian 9th Infantry Division was introduced west of the Siret River. It was continuously attacked. In the evening of 7 August, under the cover of darkness, a German group approached and assaulted the 9th Division's flank, engaging into hand-to-hand fights. The Romanians abandoned Doaga and retreated to the outskirts of the Prisaca Forest, where a new defensive line was established. That day the 5th Division lost 44 officers and 1,770 soldiers (dead, wounded and missing). The front moved back 2-3 km.

    On 8 August, general von Eben changed the attack sector to the west, on the front held by Russian units. In the evening, during the second assault, they were forced to retreat. A Russian regiment was almost completely destroyed. The Romanian front was bombarded and the attack on the 5th and 9th Infantry Divisions resumed the following day. On 9 August 1917, the German effort was increased. The assault started at 1900 hours, after a powerful artillery preparation, which caused many casualties to the 9th Division. Its troops were only able to dig foxholes, because the ground was very dry and hard to dig. The Germans again took heavy casualties because of the Romanian and Russian artillery situated on the eastern bank of the Siret River, which was firing directing into the attackers' flank. However, the first line of the Romanian defense was pierced in several spots, but reserves intervened and repulsed them after some very violent fighting. The 34th Regiment, which faced the 12th Bavarian Division, held out against three consecutive assaults. Only the 2nd Battalion, under the command of Major Gheorghe Mihail, the future Chief of the General Staff in 1940 and 1944, remained in the first line. It counterattacked and captured 62 prisoners and two machine-guns. The unit's battle flag was decorated later with Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. The same award was bestowed upon the regiment's CO, colonel Virgiliu Dumbrava, as well the 2nd Battalion's CO. But the casualties were heavy: 35 officers and 1,551 soldiers. The 36th Regiment lost 36 officers and 954 soldiers. Also, the 7th and 32nd Dorobanti Regiments suffered many casualties. During the night, at 0200 hours, another assault took place and the Germans managed to push back for several hundred meters the 9th Division and the right wing of the 5th Division. The neighboring Russian division was also forced to retreat, but the Russian 4th Army counterattacked and captured 2,500 prisoners and recovered the lost ground.

    The last failures had weakened the German 9th Army. Thus, general von Eben strengthened the 1st Corps with a new division and the 18th Reserve Corps with the Alpine Corps.


    On 10 August, it was the Entente's turn to attack. General Christescu and general Ragoza, the CO of the Russian 4th Army, decided to strike each with a corps of two divisions the bulge in the German line. During the morning, the 9th Army attacked the Russian sector, but gained little ground. At 1700 hours, the allied infantry started the assault, after a long artillery preparation. The 9th Infantry Division took the first German trenches, but because of the losses it had to abandon them. Reinforced with a regiment form the Romanian 13th Infantry Division, it resumed the attack, but again without success. The 5th Infantry Division and a regiment of the 14th Infantry Division managed to get inside the German positions, but could keep them. The 8th Dorobanti and 3rd Vanatori Regiments managed to enter the Doaga village, but were repulsed. The situation was similar in the sector of the Russian 4th Army. However the offensive had reduced the combat potential of the German 76th, 89th and 115th Infantry Divisions, which had suffered the brunt of the assault. These were already exhausted after several days of failed attacks. The report of general von Eben to the Army Group CO, marshal von Mackensen, mentions the fact that the 216th Infantry Division had suffered many casualties because of the flank bombardment of the Romanian artillery yon the eastern bank of the Siret.

    For the following day, general Christescu imposed a limited objective to the 6th Corps: the Doaga – Susita Valley. The Russian 4th Army had decided to remain on the defensive. The Germans attacked in its sector at 1600 hours, after a three hour artillery preparation, and again forced the Russian troops to retreat. At 1630 hours, the Romanian 9th Infantry Division began the assault without knowing the situation in the neighboring sector. After the Russian retreat the flank was exposed. The division's CO sent a battalion to extend the line. The Germans were advancing on Marasesti and the situation became extremely dangerous for the Entente.

    The 9th Vanatori Regiment, which was in the division's reserve, was quickly brought in and set up positions in the factory north of the town. It managed to stop the German troops that were threatening to encircle the 9th Infantry Division. For this action, lt. col. Gheorghe Rasoviceanu, the regiment's CO, was awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. A regiment of the 13th Infantry Division, from the 6th Crops' reserve, established the link with the Russians. The 5th Infantry Division attacked in the Doaga area, but the 7th and 8th Dorobanti Regiments failed to enter the village. The same day, maj. general Eremia Grigorescu was named at the command of the 1st Army.

    Noticing that the troops of the German 1st Corps were exhausted, general von Eben decided to assign the main strike to the 18th Reserve Corps of maj. gen. Kurt von Wenniger, which had suffered fewer losses and was less tired. Thus, on 12 August, the 9th German Army attacked with small forces the 5th Infantry Division, in order to pin it down, and concentrated its forces against the Russian 4th Army, taking Panciu. Following this failure, general Ragoza wanted to retreat the Russian-Romanian front north of Marasesti., but abandoned the idea at maj. gen. Eremia Grigorescu's pleas. Lt. gen. Constantin Prezan, the Chief of the General Staff, decided to replace the Russian 7th Corps with the Romanian 5th Corps (10th and 13th Infantry Divisions) and to put the Russian 8th Corps under the command of the Romanian 1st Army. The staff of the Russian 4th Army was retreated to Bacau from where it was reassigned to another front.


    On 13 August, the 18th Reserve Corps attacked the Russian troops north of Panciu, but failed to make any breakthrough. The following day, general von Eben ordered the 1st Corps to eliminate the Romanian bulge in the area of the Prisaca Forest and take the bridge over the Siret River at Cozmesti. In the same time, the 18th Reserve Corps had to attack on the Zabraut Valley. After powerful artillery preparation commenced the assault on the Russian 8th Corps' positions. Brig. gen. Henri Cihoski, CO of the 10th Infantry Division, sent the 10th Vanatori Regiment as help. It surprised the Alpine Corps and caused it important casualties, some in vicious hand-to-hand combat.


    The vanatori managed to take Hill 334, but were forced to retreat following a powerful artillery bombardment. The 38th Infantry Regiment Neagoe Basarab also intervened and its CO, col. Gheorghe Cornescu, received the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class for the counterattack that stopped the German offensive, which threatened to penetrate in the Susita Valley, behind the Romanian 2nd Army. The Russian 8th Corps was forced to pull back north of Iresti and Straoani.


    The 5th Infantry Division, at the other end of the front, had been reduced to one third of its initial size during the last days of fighting. The positions in the Prisaca Forest were heavily bombarded by German artillery. At 1700 hours the assault began with two divisions and forced the Romanian troops to retreat. The division's reserves, as well as a regiment form the 14th Infantry Division, in the army's reserve, intervened and stopped the German advance north of the Prisaca Forest. The bridge at Cozmesti was blown up, as the Romanian engineers had built another two to the north. The exhausted 5th Infantry Division was pulled out of the first line.


    On 15 August, the 18th Reserve Corps continued the offensive and managed to create a breach at the junction between the 10th Infantry Division and the Russian division to its right. The 10th Vanatori Regiment, supported by 10 Romanian and 3 Russian batteries, counterattacked and reestablished the situation. However, with its left wing, the 18th Corps took Muncel, forcing theRussians to pull back. Thus the link between the two Romanian armies was threatened. The 2ndArmy attacked with the "Colonel Alexiu" Detachment made up of 2 vanatori battalions, 2 infantry battalions and 3 artillery batteries, which, together with a Russian cavalry division, retook control of the village. The following day, the Germans occupiued half of Muncel, but were again forced to retreat after the assault of col. Alexandru Alexiu's men.


    The days of 17 and 18 August were calm. The losses suffered by both sides, forced the commanders to reorganize their units. Maj. gen. Eremia Grigorescu replaced the 14th Infantry Division, which was deployed east of the Siret River, with the 1st and 6th Rosiori Brigades and the hard pressed 5th Infantry Division with the 2nd Cavalry Division. The latter and the two brigades formed the Cavalry Corps. The 14th Infantry Division was moved on the northern bank of the Siret River in the Cozmestii de Vale area. Also, the army's heavy artillery was redeployed so that it could better cover the sector of the 5th Corps (10th, 13th and 9th Infantry Divisions). The 1st Army's reserve was made up of the 15th Infantry Division and of the 5th Infantry Division, under reorganization. On the other side, at the intervention of marshal von Mackensen, general von Eben grouped 7 infantry divisions under the command of the German 1st Corps and subordinated almost all the heavy artillery of the 9th Army to it. These forces totalized 55 battalions and 95 batteries.


    On 19 August, the Germans resumed the offensive, attacking with the 1st Corps towards Marasesti and with 18th Reserve Corps on the Panciu-Muncel direction. The main effort was concentrated in the sector between Marasesti and the Razoare Forest, defended by the Romanian 9th and 13th Infantry Divisions, the latter being assaulted by three enemy divisions. The artillery preparation started at 0630 hours in the area of the trenches of the 47/72nd, 51/52nd and 50/64th Infantry Regiments, from the first line of the 13th Infantry Division, and at the western outskirts of Marasesti, where the 9th Vanatori Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division was located. It lasted for two hours and was the most violent artillery bombardment of the entire battle. At 0900 hours the first assaults small scale began and were easily repulsed. After 1100 hours a very powerful attack started. The main blow was delivered north of the Razoare Forest, at the junction of the 13th and 10th Infantry Divisions. The 10th Infantry Division was attacked by the 13th Austro-Hungarian Division, which failed to breakthrough the Romanian lines.


    The 13th Infantry Division, commanded by brig. gen. Ioan Popescu, was the Romanian unit that saw the most action that day. It occupied a front 6 km wide, with the 47/72nd Infantry Regiment at the south-western edge of the Razoare Forest, the 50/64th Infantry Regiment in the Negroponte Vineyards and the 51/52nd Infantry Regiment in the middle. The reserve was made up of one battalion of the 50/64th Regiment and the 48/49th Regiment. 15 Romanian and 15 Russian batteries provided artillery support.


    The attack started at 0900 hours. In the sector of the 47/72nd Infantry Regiment, the German assaults failed one after another. The 1st Battalion was situated on the left wing, south of the Razoare Forest. It was attacked by the 28th Bavarian Infantry Regiment (from the 12th Bavarian Division) and by units of the German 89th and 115th Divisions. The 2nd Battalion, on the right wing, was assaulted by the Austro-Hungarian 13th Infantry Division. The 3rd Battalion was kept in reserve. The regiment's CO, lt. col. Radu Rosetti, the former chief of the Operations Bureau of the General Staff in 1916, was wounded at a leg during the fighting. At the center, the 51/52nd Regiment was situated in an open position ands was also powerfully attacked. It had to pull back. The Germans tried to use the momentum and infiltrate behind the positions of the two regiments on the flanks of the Romanian 13th Infantry Division. The 3rd Battalion/47/72nd Infantry Regiment, under the command of maj. Draganescu counterattacked and stopped their advance. The reserves of the 51/52nd Regiment joined the fight directed by the unit's CO, lt. col. Ioan Cristofor, buying time for the reinforcements sent by the division to arrive. The 1st Machine-gun Company commanded by cpt. Grigore Ignat, stubbornly held its position, being almost totally destroyed. Its CO was posthumously awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. However, the Germans advanced towards Hill 100, behind which the allied artillery was situated. The 50/64th Regiment had to pull back its right wing, because of the enemy advance in the sector of the 51/52nd Regiment. Lt. col. Diamandi Genuneanu, the 50/64th Regiment's CO, organized the defense south of Hill 100 and managed to hold out against two Bavarian regiments for two hours.

    General Popescu organized the counterattack against the German forces closing in on Hill 100. The 2 battalions in reserve, together with the 3rd Battalion/47/72nd Regiment and other units attacked from several different directions the German 115th Infantry Division, which had infiltrated between the Razoare Forest and the Negroponte Vineyards. The artillery of the 10th Infantry Division also intervened in the fighting at that moment, at the orders of the army's CO. The 1st Battalion/50/64th Regiment, commanded by cpt. Nicolae Miclescu, emerged from the Negroponte Vineyards and surprised the German infantry in the area and pushed it back to towards the Razoare Forest. Cpt. Miclescu was wounded during the action. He was later awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. The 3rd Battalion/47/72nd Infantry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion/48/49th Infantry Regiment joined the battle. The resistance at the edge of the Razoare Forest was broken following a violent bayonet charge. The Germans started a disorderly retreat. The entire 47/72nd Infantry Regiment started a counterattack, followed soon by the 39th Infantry Regiment (from 10th Infantry Division). The German troops retreated towards the Susita Valley, dragging along the units of the Austro-Hungarian 13th Division. The Romanians captured the first line of the enemy positions, but the advanced was stopped by maj. general Eremia Grigorescu, because von Eben had already started to deploy his reserves.


    The 10th Division and, especially, the 13th Division had achieved a great victory. The commanders of the two divisions, as well as the commanders of the 47/72nd, 50/64th and 51/52nd Regiments were awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. Another 7 officers received this high distinction for the fighting on 19 August. The 39th Infantry Regiment Petru Rares captured 376 POWs and 7 machine-guns and advanced 500 m on a 4 km wide front. The 47/72nd Infantry Regiment took 209 POWs and 4 machine-guns. But the losses were high. The same regiment lost 880 men (99 killed, 300 wounded and 481 missing). The regiment's flag, as well as those of the other hard pressed units on 19 August were also decorated with the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class.

    The same day, the Germans attacked the sector of the 9th Infantry Division, situated south of the 13th Division. It had been reduced to 4,500 men in the previous days of hard fighting. In the first line were the 9th Vanatori Regiment on the right wing and the 40th Infantry Regiment Calugareni on the left wing. After a powerful artillery preparation, two German infantry divisions started their attack. Following some heavy fighting in the ruins of the factory north of Marasesti, the 9th Vanatori Regiment was forced to fall back towards the city. The 40th Infantry Regiment also abandoned its first positions. The 9th Division reformed the front on the line south Negroponte Vineyards – Marasesti Railroad Station – south Marasesti, which it held against the enemy assaults, with the help of the artillery of the 14th Infantry Division from the eastern bank of the Siret River, firing directly in the German flank.


    Because of the failure of its army to take the objectives on 19 August, general von Eben decided that the continuation of the offensive was no longer possible. A week of pause followed, which both sides used for reorganizing. The 9th Army again changed the attack sector. The 18th Reserve Corps was strengthened with 3 divisions and the entire heavy artillery at the army's disposal. The Romanian 1st Army received the 11th Infantry Divison. Maj. general Eremia Grigorescu redeployed his forces. Thus, the Russian 8th Corps formed the army's right wing in the Muncelul area. It had two divisions in the first line and another two reforming in the back. The Romanian 5th Corps (10th and 15th Infantry Divisions) held the front all the way to Marasesti Railroad Station, where it linked up with the 3rd Corps (14th Infantry Division), situated between Marasesti and the Siret River. East of the river was the Cavalry Corps (1st and 6th Rosiori Brigades, 2nd Cavalry Division and one brigade of the 5th Infantry Division). The army's reserve was made up of the 9th, 11th and 13th Infantry Divisions and the other brigade of the 5th Division.


    The offensive of the 18th Corps started in the sector of the Russian 8th Corps on 28 August. At 0900 hours the German troops infiltrated between the two Russian divisions and forced them to retreat. Two regiments of the Romanian 3rd Infantry Division from the 2nd Army intervened and managed to stop the German advance together with the Russian reserves. The following day, general Grigorescu prepared an attack in the Muncelul area, aimed at eliminating the bulge created by the Germans. He put at the disposal of the Russian 8th Corps another Russian division, as well as the Romanian 9th Infantry Division, a regiment from the 13th and another from the 15th Division. The two regiments from the 2nd Army were also supposed to participate in this action.


    The assault started at 0800 hours, from the north and west, but found the Germans ready for an attack of their own and it was repulsed. The second one, around 1700 hours, was also repulsed. The Germans forced the right wing of the Russian 124th Division to pull back. Two battalions from the 2nd Army intervened and managed to stop the enemy advance during the night. The 11th and 13th Infantry Divisions were brought behind the threatened areas. The 5th Division crossed to on the western bank of the Siret River. On 30 August, the German 18th Reserve Corps resumed the attack and its troops managed to get between the 18th Dorobanti Regiment Gorj and the 2nd Vanatori Regiment of the 2nd Army. The 34th Infantry Regiment Constanta, belonging to the 9th Division from the 1st Army, counterattacked and plucked in the breach.


    The Russian 8th Corps was strengthened with the 13th Infantry Division on 31 August, when, because of the weather, there was no fighting. General Eremia Grigorescu subordinated the 9th Infantry Division and a Russian division to the CO of the 13th Division, brig. general Ioan Popescu. This group attacked on 1 September. The artillery preparation started at 0600 hours, with all the artillery available to the group, as well as with the artillery of the other two Russian divisions and the army's heavy artillery. After one hour, the 9th and 13th Divisions attacked from the west and the 3rd Infantry Division (belonging to the 2nd Army), commanded by brig. general Alexandru Margineanu, from the north. After some heavy fighting, the 13th Division advanced up t o200 m of Muncelul. The 18th Corps counterattacked in the sector of the 3rd Infantry Division, but was repulsed. The following day, the same 3rd Division suffered the brunt of the 9th Army's strike. The main objective was the Porcului Hill, defended by the 30th Dorobanti Regiment Muscel. It lost the positions, but they were retaken following the counterattack of the division's reserves and of a Russian regiment. It was the last major operation of the German 9th Army in the Marasesti sector.


    The offensive of the 1st Army in the Muncelul area was resumed on 3 September. The 11th Infantry Division was subordinated to the General Popescu Group, entering the first line beside the 9th and 13th Divisions. The Russian division and the regiments of the 2nd Army formed the reserve. The plan was to attack frontally with the 9th Division and a brigade of the 11th, while the 13th Division and the other brigade of the 11th Division were going to attack the Muncelul village, threatening the enemy flank. The artillery preparation started at 0630 hours and at 0800 hours the 13th Infantry Division started the assault, but could not make any progress. The same happened in the sector of the 9th Division. A second artillery preparation, which lasted for an hour and a half, and some violent hand-to-hand fighting were necessary for the 13th Infantry Division to occupy the eastern edge of the Muncelul village. But the Romanian losses that day were heavy: about 2,700 men.


    This was the last day of the battle of Marasesti, both sides deciding to adopt a defensive attitude on the entire front. The Romanian 1st Army had lost 610 officers and 26,800 NCOs and soldiers, while the German 9th Army had lost about 47,000. Forty Mihai Viteazul Orders 3rd class were awarded for deeds accomplished during the fighting around Marasesti. Maj. general Eremia Grigorescu received the Mihai Viteazul 2nd class. Also, the flags of no less than 9 regiments were decorated with the Mihai Viteazul 3rd class. The fighting continued with little intensity the following days, with local attacks and counterattacks. In one of these clashes, on the Secuiului Hill on 5 September, the volunteer Ecaterina Teodoroiu was killed by machine-gun fire, while leading her platoon. On the other side, on 8 September, maj. general Kurt von Wenniger, CO of the German 18th Reserve Corps, was killed by an artillery shell in the Muncelul area.

  18. gmac101
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    Robert Romanis was stationed near Ypres in Belgium when the Kaiser Slacht started but his Division, the 35th received orders on the 22nd of March to reinforce the British line south near the Somme.  The Division was taken the 100 miles or south to Heilly station on trains. Each of the 9 battalions on a separate train.  The trains consisted of 1 carriage for the officers, 17 flat wagons for carts and stores and 40 covered wagons which would either contain Soldiers or Horses.  The 12th Highland Light Infantry (HLI) Roberts Battalion left Proven at around 9pm on train No. 7 and arrived at their destination at about 1 pm the next day. A 16 hour trip.  They were then bussed 10 miles or so to Bray sur Somme where they marched to the village of Maricourt arriving in the early morning  of the 25th and took up position along the D197 north from Maricourt as far as a Brickworks near Bernafay Wood (the brickworks is gone but it’s location is marked by patch of rough ground alongside the road which can be seen on google maps).  The Germans attacked from the east at 7:45am on the 25th and at multiple times during the day using artillery, rifle and machine gun fire.  The attacks finally ceased at 8pm but the 12th HLI had suffered a number of casualties including Robert.  His body was never identified and he is remembered on the Poziere memorial but at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemetery in Maricourt there are over 150 graves of unknown soldiers – one of these may well be the grave of Robert Romanis

    Robert Hope served in the Highland Light Infantry as well as Robert Romanis but he was in the 2nd Battalion which was part of the 2nd Division and stationed further North near Baupame. He started the battle in reserve but by the 22nd of March was in the front line just to the south of where Gordon Tait and George Frier were serving.  His unit then began a long retreat to maintain the British line.  On the night of the 24th they were allowed 2 hours sleep in the village of Ligny Thilloy.  They continued to retreat the next day over the old Somme battlefield, the shell holes covered in long grass did not make for easy going.  During the retreat they formed the rearguard and came under enemy fire just North of Le Sars and it likely that this is where Robert was killed, his unit then continued their retreat.  He left a wife in Edinburgh who was paid a war gratuity of £8 10shillings

  19. Black Watch (bits 'n bobs)

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    blog-0366122001444364322.jpgIt was the Army Council Instruction (ACI) 2414 of 1916, published on 23 December 1916, that among other things, ordered the renumbering of the men of the Territorial Force.

    Previously numbered 1 - 9999, the Territorials were to be allocated a new (and in most cases) 6 digit number.

    The changes were to be implemented by the 1st of March 1917.

    In the case of the 5th Black Watch the number block given over to them began at 240001.

    With few exceptions the renumbering followed the previous order, with the lowest numbered men recieving the first of the new batch.

    240001 went to 5 Pte. Allan Christie (later awarded the D.C.M.). Christie attested on the 3rd of April 1908, shortly after the creation of the Territorial Force from the old local militias.

    241258 went to 3842 Pte. James Forbes. Forbes attested on the 16th of November 1915.

    On the 15th of March 1916, almost a year before the new numbering regulations were to be in place, the 1st/5th Btn amalgamated with the 1st/4th Btn to form the 4th/5th.

    Looking at CWGC post amalgamation casualties, it is interesting to see there's mixtue of old and new soldiers numbers jumbled together in a 7 month period, starting from 03/09/1916 when the first renumbered man is recorded, until 01/04/1917, a month after the new numbering was supposed to be in use the final casualty was recorded using an old number.

    Of 155 other rank casualties in this period, 101 are recorded under their old number with 54 under their 6 digit one.

    Considering the even application of the new numbers to the old, it's odd that there's not a clean cut off where the new numbers take over in the casualties on CWGC from the old.

    There's no pattern to the two number groups in this time frame. Neither is based on the previous Btn. a man belonged to, 4th or 5th, or if he's remembered on any particular memorial, or has a grave.

    So why there's a large overlap in usage of the two numbering systems remains, to me at least, a mystery.

  20. A medal recently came into my hands with an intensely human story behind it that I feel compelled to share. It is just one of the 6.5 million British War Medals that were produced at the end of the Great War of 1914-19, and is therefore nothing special in itself. As with so many of these, it’s true value can only be found by discovering the story that lies behind it.

    As always, my start point came from the meagre details that the mint had punched into its rim, telling me that the medal was issued to recognise the service of “950. PTE. A. COOK. NOTTS & DERBY”. The actual Medal Rolls proved to be much more informative, revealing to me that he had in fact served with their 1st/8th battalion. Alfred Cook was therefore a member of the newly formed Territorial Force which had emerged from the reorganisation of the old volunteers units that came about with the implementation of the Haldane Reforms in 1907.

    Born at Sutton-in-Ashfield (near Mansfield), in November of 1891, he was the fifth surviving child in a family of six. His older siblings were Annie Elizabeth, Hannah, John William and Harold, whilst Robert, the final addition to the family, had been born when Alfred was two. It is however the special relationship which seems to have existed between Alfred and Harold that will occupy much of our story. He was just a year older than Alfred, and they seem to have been very close.

    So far as is known, Harold was the first member of the family to join the Territorial Force, which he must have done around the year 1909. In those days Sutton-in-Ashfield had its own Company of what was then simply known as the 8th Battalion. Still organised on the old “8 Company system” until after war was declared, their unit had several bases scattered around north Nottinghamshire. There was “A” Company at Retford, “B” at Newark, “C” at Sutton-in-Ashfield, “D” at Mansfield, “E” at Carlton, “F” at Arnold, “G” at Worksop and “H” at Southwell. It would seem that Harold enjoyed the experience enough for some of his enthusiasm to rub off onto Alfred, who followed in his footsteps and joined in his own right on 22nd August 1910. The battalion had actually returned from their annual summer camp earlier in that same month, and perhaps the tales of Harold’s 2 week adventure had been a major factor in influencing Alfred to sign up himself.

    The boys were however growing up in other ways too, and it was not long before Harold had both found himself a bride and started a family of his own. This young couple would go on to have 3 children before the war, who they named as Lilian, Alice and, perhaps significantly, Alfred. It is easy to see that, with a young wife and growing family, Harold may have begun to find his commitment to the Territorial Force a little irksome and, despite their training being part-time, it would certainly have eaten into the time that couple had for each other. Whatever the reasons that lay behind it, we do know that Harold did not extend his contract with the unit, and handed back his uniform when his 4 years were up.

    The two brothers would still have had lots of time together with “C” Company before then, and doubtless went on several annual camps in each others company. If Alfred at all missed his brothers’ presence in the unit, perhaps he consoled himself with the thought that his own contract would terminate at the end of August in 1914. Unfortunately however, by that date the Kaiser already had other plans for both of them.

    The 4th August 1914 actually found Alfred at summer camp with the entire Territorial Brigade of the Sherwood Foresters, where the outbreak of the European war apparently took very few of their number by surprise. In fact, it is recorded that the men were so gripped by “war fever” that it rendered any prospect of them following their planned training schedule completely impossible. Once the formal declaration of war became known to them, their summer camp at Hunmanby near the Yorkshire coast was broken up and the men were sent home. Alfred would doubtless have been exceptionally eager to talk things over with Harold as soon as he arrived back at the family home in Park Street.

    Things then began to move very quickly, and as early as Friday 7th August, the entire battalion had been mobilised and concentrated at Newark, where their men were briefly billeted in the local schools. With their strength recorded at 29 officers and 852 other ranks, a Church Parade and official send-off was held for them in the market square on Monday 10th before they marched off to their designated war station.

    Harold also acted quickly, and signed a new attestation document with his old unit on August 9th. It would appear that, despite his family commitments, he may have been determined to take part in what he perhaps thought promised to be a great adventure. It is also possible however that he was equally motivated by wanting to try to look after his younger brother.

    Alfred’s destiny actually became sealed on 3rd September, when he signed Army Form E624 and volunteered for overseas service. As with many other battalions of the Territorial Force, the issue of overseas service had not been given much emphasis in the 8th before the war, though 80% of their men readily accepted the commitment shortly after they had been mobilised. The brothers would almost certainly have discussed this issue, and we know that Harold also stepped forward to join the majority.

    Part of the first full Division of the Territorial Force to be sent to France, the brothers landed at Le Harvre in early March of 1915. After moving up country towards the front line they engaged in an intensive training programme that culminated in them being sent into the trenches near Messines at the end of that month under the watchful eye of seasoned regulars. Despite the deep seated and widespread suspicions held about the Territorial Force amongst many of the full time professionals of the regular army, who frequently disparaged them as “Saturday night soldiers”, the 8th were judged to have performed well. So well in fact that, from the beginning of April, the battalion were detailed to take over a stretch of the front at Kemmel in there own right.

    Up to this point the 8th had been lucky. Whilst 3 of their number had been wounded, their familiarisation had taken place in a quiet sector where they had not yet been exposed to the full grim reality of the war. All this began to change with the death of 18 year old Jack Hyde on Tuesday 6th April. Originating from Arnold but serving in “A” Company, he was shot through the head by a sniper and buried at the nearby Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery. In fact, as the days passed, and their casualties grew in number, Rows D and E in this cemetery began to assume the appearance of a plot reserved purely for the men of the 8th battalion. By Monday the 14th June, and after several tours in the trenches, it had already become the final resting place for no fewer than 43 of them.

    Tuesday the 15th should have brought relief for the battalion, who were due to be replaced by anther unit thereby affording the 8th an opportunity to spend some time in one of the safer rear areas. It was reported as a quiet day until 21:00 hrs when, quite suddenly, with the unexpected detonation of three huge German mines, all hell broke loose. These acted as a signal that started a hail of artillery shells, trench mortars, rifle grenades and machine gun fire that then swept across the British trenches for over an hour. The enemy infantry proceeded to use this covering fire to advance into one of the mine craters that had been created within feet of where Alfred Cook had been standing, though they were swiftly driven out of this new position at the point of the bayonet. Major John Becher (a native of Southwell) was then able to supervise the reconstruction and reorganisation of the British defences, the coolness and efficiency with which he completed the task contributing towards him becoming the first man of the battalion to receive the DSO. By 23:00 hrs the situation had stabilised enough for the battalion to carry on with its planned relief but, by that time, both Alfred and another man from “C” Company, Oliver Bryan, were missing.

    When greeted by this news, it would appear that Harold became beside himself. Joining forces with two of Oliver Bryan’s brothers, who were also serving with the battalion at that time, the three of them together swiftly sought and received permission from one of their officers to go back and search for their missing kinsmen.

    In the darkness however they soon found that they were unable to conduct a proper search and, being in close proximity to the enemy, were at last reluctantly forced to abandon the enterprise. A court of enquiry later came to the conclusion that both Alfred and Oliver must have been buried under the front wall of their trench at the very start of the attack, when the German mines had been detonated. Neither of them were ever seen again and, having no known graves, they later became the first 2 soldiers from the 8th battalion to be remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial to the missing.

    The story however does not end on that particular date, there being an equally sad postscript. Harold would lose his own life just 4 months later, during the same action which also saw Major Becher become fatally wounded. In a cruel twist of fate for the Becher family, two of his brothers-in-law, who were also serving as officers with the 8th battalion, were also killed on that same date. Becher eventually lost his own struggle for life at one of the base hospitals on the 1st January 1916, eleven weeks after he had been injured. The remaining Bryan brothers fared better, Charles went on to both win the MM and be promoted to the rank of Corporal, before being invalided out due to sickness in August of 1917. Stanley Bryan however was perhaps the most fortunate of them all, he was the only one of the 5 brothers that went on to serve until the end of the war, and was finally demobilised from the Labour Corps at the end of February in 1919.

  21. Having completed my transcription and posts on the 801st MT Coy, I am now looking at the units they supported, particularly the Yeomanry, in this case the Surrey Yeomanry and the Derbyshire Yeomanry. I have acquired copies of their regimental history books, read the Surrey one and I have started a new thread 'Yeomanry in Salonika' on the 'Salonika and Balkans' sub forum, if anyone is interested.

  22. allanpeter's Blog

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    My step-grandfather served in 5th Bn. The London Rifle Brigade. He kept a diary from 2nd August 1914 until he was wounded and repatriated on 1st July 1916. I am publishing it as a series of day-by-day entries on www.robinlodge.com He refers as much to how he spent his time outside the trenches as to time spent in the front line.

  23. The transition from CEF Sergeant to civilian father of two boys was at first fairly smooth. Three years of soldiering had accustomed John to broken sleep, so rocking fretful babies back to sleep was easier for him than many other a new father. And it was some months before he ceased to look at Marie as she slept beside him and wonder in awe at how they had come together at last.

    Very different he thought from the few British and Canadian soldiers he met who had married in France. Apart from a few men from Quebec regiments, they were still struggling with the language - and most of the locals had difficulty with the French-Canadian dialect and pronunciation.

    Still, John was relieved when his mother asked if he could return to Canada for a week to tie up the loose ends of his father's estate, and sell the family home. Marie was included in Madame's offer, but now pregnant again she decided to stay behind.

    Toronto had changed, John decided. Everything seemed to be moving much faster, and the ever-intrusive American culture delivered from radio, magazines and newspapers made John long for the pre-war days.

    He visited his Captain, now back to civilian life, but still serving in the Militia, which had changed greatly since before the War. The old numbers and the scarlet uniforms had vanished.

    John was relieved to return to France.

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