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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. I came across a series of postings by Pete Hill posted way back in June 2009 outlining Notable Persons who served in WW1. A fascinating piece of research and I became interested in those who served as Gunners. 


    Having enjoyed the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, read Dennis Wheatley's books, and admired the illustrations of Winnie the Pooh drawn by Ernest Sheppard, it was pleasing to find they all served as Gunners. I have admired the exploits of George Mallory and his attempts on Everest, and find he was also a Gunner. An interest in the Titanic, visiting London, Belfast and New York, resulted in seeing an iconic photo of a young  newspaper seller in London reporting the sinking of the Titanic. The boy  was Ned Parffett who would go on to win the Military Medal and loose his life serving with the Royal Field Artillery.


    Many thanks for additional contributions from voltaire60 , rflory , SapperBooAlan24


    So which notable persons served as Gunners during the First World War ?


    Notable Persons who served as a Gunner in WW1

    Here are those identified to date:  15 April 2021



    Allan Brooke DSO - [WW2 CIGS / Military advisor to Churchill]

    Edmund Herring DSO MC - [WW2 General]

    Andrew McNaughton DSO - [WW2 General]

    Keith Park MC* DFC - [WW2 General]

    Cambpell Christie MC - [WW2 General & Agatha Christie's Brother in Law]

    Colin Gubbins MC - [WW2 General and founder of SOE]



    Gwilym Lloyd George - [WW1 Prime Minister Lloyd George son]

    Norman Manley MM - [First Prime minister of Jamaica]



    George Mallory - [Everest Explorer]



    Ernest Sheppard MC - [Illustrator of Winnie the Pooh]

    Dennis Wheatley - [Author]

    Ralph Vaughan Williams - [Composer]

    Wyndham Lewis - [Artist]

    Colin Gill - [Artist]

    Gilbert Ledward - [Sculptor]

    Leon Underwood - [Sculptor / Artist]

    Bud Flanagan - [Entertainer] served as Robert Weintrop

    Henry Hall - [Band Leader]

    Robert Nichols - [Writer]

    Edward Thomas - [Poet]



    Maurice Bowra - [Academic / Literary Critic]

    Lionel Robbins - [Economist]



    Lawrence Bragg MC - [Physicist]



    Ned Parfett - [Newsboy announcing sinking of Titanic]

    Tom Barry - [Guerrilla leader during Irish Civil War]

    Basil Catterns - [Chief Cashier Bank of England 1929 - 1934]




    • Allan Brooke DSO* 

    Chief of Imperial General Staff 1941-46 and the top military advisor to Churchill.

    During WW1, Brooke served on the Western Front as a Colonel in the Royal Field Artillery and awarded the  a DSO and a Bar
    Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke - Wikipedia




    • Edmund Herring DSO MC

    Commander of the 6th Australian Division during the campaigns against the Italians and Germans in North Africa and Greece 1940-41 and he later commanded Australian Forces  during the  Battle for Kokoda, New Guinea Campaign.
    During WW1, Herring served with the Royal Field Artillery in Mesopotamia and awarded the Military Cross

    Edmund Herring - Wikipedia




    • Andrew McNaughton DSO

    Commander of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. Involved with the planning and staging of the Dieppe Raid in 1942, he received much of the criticism and blame for its disastrous outcome.
    During WW1, McNaughton served with the Canadian Artillery and would ultimately command the Canadian Corps Artillery. He was awarded a DSO

    Andrew McNaughton - Wikipedia


    See the source image


    • Keith Park MC* DFC

    Air Vice-Marshall Sir Keith Park (New Zealand) - Commander of RAF Fighter Command's No 11 Group, the most heavily engaged Group during the Battle of Britain July-October 1940 and later commanded the air defences on Malta.

    During WW1, Park commanded a New Zealand Artillery Battery in Gallipoli and transferred to the Royal Flying Corps where he served with distinction. He was awarded the Military Cross and Bar and the Distinguished Flying Cross

    Keith Park - Wikipedia




    • Campbell Christie MC

    Thanks to rflory

    Campbell Christie was the brother in law of author Agatha Christie. A career soldier commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery in December 1913, he would rise to the rank of Major General commanding Anti-Aircraft Defences, Malta during WW2. After retirement he and his wife, Dorothy, wrote plays for the London stage including Grand National Night and Carrington, VC


    During WW1, he deployed to France in February 1915 with 10 Siege Battery RGA , served in Salonika with 5 Mountain Battery RGA, attained the rank of acting Major and was awarded the Military Cross.




    • Colin Gubbins

    Thanks to voltaire60

    Major General Colin Gubbins was an exponent of irregular warfare who founded the Home Defence Auxiliaries and was Director of SOE during World War Two. He developed his interest in guerrilla warfare ass a result of serving as an intelligence officer during the Anglo-Irish War. He commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery as a Regular Officer in September 1914.


    During WW1, he served with 126 Battery RFA, was wounded, awarded the MC and attained the rank of acting Major. He would also serve in the North Russia Campaign in 1919 as an ADC.

    Colin Gubbins - Wikipedia





    • Gwilym Lloyd George

    Welsh politician and cabinet minister. The younger son of David Lloyd George, he served as Home Secretary from 1954 to 1957.

    Served in House of Lords 1957 to 1967 as 1st Viscount Tenby
    During WW1, Lloyd-George transferred from the Royal Welsh Fusiliers to serve in the Royal Garrison Artillery on the Western Front

    Gwilym Lloyd George - Wikipedia




    • Norman Manley MM

    First Prime Minister of the newly independent Jamaica from  1959-62 

    During WW1, Manley served with the Royal Field Artillery on the Western front and awarded the Military Medal

    Norman Manley - Wikipedia





    • George Mallory

    Mountaineer who made three attempts to climb Mount Everest in the early 1920s.During the 1924 Expedition , Mallory and his climbing partner Sandy Irvine disappeared on the northeast ridge of Everest.  It is not known for certain if the pair reached the summit of Everest.  

    During WW1, Mallory commissioned into the Royal Garrison  Artillery and served on the Western Front.

    George Mallory's brother Trafford Leigh Mallory became C in C of Fighter Command during World War Two. 
    George Mallory - Wikipedia





    • Ernest Sheppard MC

    Artist and Book Illustrator, best-known for his illustrations for the original editions of Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows.
    During WW1, Shepard commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery serving on the Western Front and awarded the Military Cross

    E. H. Shepard - Wikipedia




    • Dennis Wheatley

    Popular author of adventure, thriller and occult/horror novels, who wrote over 75 books between 1933 and 1980. 
    During WW1, Wheatley commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery, served on the Western Front and was invalided out of the Army

    Dennis Wheatley - Wikipedia




    • Ralph Vaughan Williams

    Composer of symphonies, opera & chamber music, choral pieces & hymns from the early 1900s through to the 1950s.

    During WW1, Williams enlisted as a soldier in the RAMC, transferring to the Royal Garrison Artillery on commissioning, and served on the Western Front

    Ralph Vaughan Williams - Wikipedia




    • Wyndham Lewis

    Painter, Novelist, Critic & Writer
    During WW1, Lewis was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery serving on the Western Front

    Wyndham Lewis - Wikipedia




    • Colin Gill

    Colin Unwin Gill was an English artist who painted murals and portraits and is notable for the work he produced as a war artist.

    During WW1, Colin Gill commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery serving in 17th Heavy Battery. His artistic talents would be used when he was seconded to the Royal Engineers as a  camouflage officer.  In March 1918 he was invalided with gas poisoning in March 1918. He was released from his duties at the Camouflage School and returned to France on 7 November 1918 to do sketches, and other work, for his BWMC commission. 

     Colin Gill - Wikipedia




    • Leon Underwood

    Leon Underwood was a British sculptor, print maker and painter.

    During WW1, he enlisted as a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards before commissioning into 2nd London Brigade RFA in June 1915.  In May 1916 he was seconded to Special Works Park Royal Engineers to create battlefield observation posts disguised as trees

    Leon Underwood - Wikipedia




    • Gilbert Ledward

    Gilbert Ledward was a sculptor who would contributed to many post war memorials.

    During WW1, he commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery in December 1916 serving in Italy and being Mentioned In Despatches. In April 1918 he was seconded to the Ministry of Information as a war artist.

    Gilbert Ledward - Wikipedia




    • Bud Flanagan (served as Robert Weintrop)

    Thanks to voltaire60

    Bud Flanagan was a popular British music hall entertainer and comedian. His real name was Reuben Weintrop, and at 14 he had left home to travel the world. At the beginning of the First World War he was in the USA and returned home to enlist in the Royal Field Artillery under the name Robert Weintrop. During the war he met Chesney Allen with whom he would form a double act post war. Weintrop adopted the name Flanagan reputedly  the name of a disliked Sergeant-Major he served with.

    During WW1, he served on the Western Front as a Driver in a Divisional Ammunition Column arriving in Theatre May 1916 serving till the end of the war.

    Bud Flanagan - Wikipedia




    • Henry Hall

    Thanks to voltaire60

    Henry Hall was an English band leader over a period of 40 years regularly performing on BBC Radio.

    During WW1, he was called up to serve with the Royal Field Artillery in December 1916. After basic training at Woolwich and Brighton, he transferred the Royal Garrison Artillery. He served at Number 1Cadet Training School RGA playing in concert parties.

    Henry Hall (bandleader) - Wikipedia




    • Robert Nichols

    Robert Nichols was an English writer, known as a war poet of the First World War, and a playwright.

    During WW1, he commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery in October 1914. Nichols served on the Western Front seeing participating in the Battle of Loos and the Battle of the Somme. He was invalided home August 1916 and awarded a Sliver War Badge

    Robert Nichols (poet) - Wikipedia



    • Edward Thomas

    Philip Edward Thomas was a British poet, essayist, and novelist.

    During WW1, he enlisted into the Artist Rifles July 1915 aged 37, rising to the rank of corporal. He commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery in November 1916. He joined 244 Siege Battery in 1917 and was killed on the first day of the Battle of Arras, 9th April. Edward Thomas was standing next to the Beaurains Observation Post when a shell exploded nearby killing him.

    Edward Thomas is buried in Agny Military Cemetery, south of Arras.  The inscription on his headstone simple reads POET. He is commemorated in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey.

    Edward Thomas (poet) - Wikipedia







    • Maurice Bowra

    Thanks to voltaire60

    Maurice Bowra was an English classical scholar, literary critic and academic, being a warden at Oxford University 1938 to 1970.

    During WW1, he was commissioned from an Officer Cadet Unit into the Royal Field Artillery July 1017 serving on the Western Front

    Maurice Bowra - Wikipedia




    • Lionel Robbins

    Thanks to voltaire60

    Lionel Robbins was a British economist  prominent as an academic at the London School of Economics and served in the War Office during WW2 attending the Bretton Woods Conference. His published work includes  The Economic Causes of War.  During the early 60's he was chair of a commission on higher education.
    During WW1, he joined the Officer Training Corps commissioning into the Royal Field Artillery in August 1916. He deployed to France in 1917 serving till Spring 1918 when he sent home after being wounded.

    Lionel Robbins - Wikipedia





    • Lawrence Bragg

     Thanks to SapperBoo

    Lawrence Bragg was a Nobel Prize winning scientist, the youngest ever aged 22 ,being recognised as a joint winner with his father in 1915.
    During WW1, Bragg developed sound ranging methods for locating enemy guns. Commissioned into the Leicester Royal Horse Artillery  in July 1915, he was quickly employed developing sound ranging, and would transfer to the Royal Engineers on special employment. He rose to the rank of acting major being awarded the OBE and MC for his work.

    Lawrence Bragg - Wikipedia






    • Ned Parfett MM

    Newsboy & subject of a very famous, iconic photograph holding the headline banner announcing the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912 
    During WW1, Parfett enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery serving on the Western Front and awarded the Military Medal. Ned Parfett was killed by an enemy shell on 29th October 1918 and is buried in the British War Cemetery at Verchain - Maugre in France.

    Edward John “Ned” Parfett (1896-1918) - Find A Grave Memorial



    Service Number: 128981
    Regiment & Unit/Ship

    Royal Field Artillery

    126th Bty. 29th Bde.

    Date of Death

    Died 29 October 1918

    Age 22 years old

    Buried or commemorated at


    D. 9.



    • Tom Barry

    Thanks to voltaire60


    Tom Barry was a was a prominent guerrilla leader in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the Irish War of Independence (Anglo-Irish War 1919 to 1921)

    During WW1, he enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery in June 1915 and sent to Athlone for basic training. He was posted to the Middle East in January 191g serving in Mesopotamia (including Kut relief force), Palestine and Egypt. He returned to Ireland in 1919 when he was discharged from the British Army.

    Tom Barry (Irish republican) - Wikipedia




    • Basil Cattens

    Thanks to Alan24

    Basil Catterns was Chief Cashier of the Bank of England from  1929 to  1934  and his signature appeared on all bank notes issued during that period.

    During WW Basil Catterns served as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery and was severely wounded in the legs in 1917. He was placed on the retired list in July 1919 as a result of his wounds and returned to his pre-war career at the Bank Of England

    Basil G. Catterns - Wikipedia





  3. 3/949 Pte.William Murray, a Special Reservist from Dundee, arrived in France on the 20th of September in a reinforcement draft. Being wounded less than a month later, on recovery he served in the 2nd battalion, finally being discharged in May, 1919. Murray died in 1960 aged 69.


    23rd December 1914 Dundee Courier


    Private William Murray, 1st Battalion Black Watch, has returned to his home at 36 Kirk Street, Lochee, to recover from five shrapnel wounds sustained on 10th November at the battle of Ypres.

    Yesterday he gave the “Courier” a graphic account of how he came by his many wounds.


    “The detachment of the Black Watch I was in joined the rest of the British forces at the Aisne,” said Private Murray. “We were safely tucked away in quarries along the river, and I do not think we lost more than three men all the time we were there. But when we were transferred to Belgium there was a different story to tell. After the spell we put in on the Aisne we were held in reserve, and at Armentieres, before crossing into Belgium, we were billeted in a farm house some 500 or 600 yards behind the firing line. We expected to have an easier time there, but we had scarcely got settled down when the order came for us to reinforce the Coldstreams. From that time I was never out of the firing line until I was wounded.




    “During that engagement with the Coldstreams I witnessed an act of conspicuous gallantry on the part of one of our officers which, in my opinion, should have gained him the Victoria Cross. The Guards had been having a hot time. The had been opposed by a tremendous force of the enemy, and were compelled to retire, and they were just executing the movement when we joined them. The German's fire was deadly, and many a good man fought his last fight there. One of the Guards' officers – a captain, I think he was, but I am not at all sure – had been wounded in five places, and was lying out in the open. Lieut. McCrae, of the Black Watch, volunteered to go out for him. The brave chap advanced under a withering fire, and succeeded in bringing in the Coldstreams' officer. When he was in the act of lifting up the officer a private called to him to assist him also. The plucky young lieutenant said he would return for him, and go back he did when he had safely disposed of the injured officer. But his errand was in vain, the private had disappeared. He had either crawled into a hole or had been picked up by someone else.




    “When on the way from Armentieres to Ypres we encountered one morning a band of almost 170 German prisoners under the charge of a detachment of one of our cavalry regiments. Fully three-quarters of them were mere boys. I have seen older and more physically fit lads playing about the streets of Lochee. And they were quite happy – wearing smiles as wide as the mouth of a German siege gun. They knew they were in for a good thing. This company of German infantry had been concealed in a roadside wood, and had ambushed a British Army Service Corps transport. Our lads had realised their danger just in time, and managed to keep the Germans at bay until the cavalrymen came along, surrounded the wood, and cleared it of its human game.


    “We had not gone very far beyond the spot where we encountered the German prisoners when we fell in with the ambushed transport. Imagine my surprise when someone called me by name. He was George Ferguson, an old Lochee friend, who was one of the transport. I was the first Lochee man he had met all the time he had been on the move through France and Belgium.




    “At Ypres we were sent to the trenches directly, and we were there for a number of weeks. It beats me to know how the Kaiser's gunners got the range of our trenches. It seemed as if some of their officers had come up and measured the distance with a surveyor's chain. My Company, D Company, was just about wiped out. There were seven of us in one trench. Two of us were killed and three wounded. The two others escaped death by going for assistance. I was among the first to be wounded that day. A piece of shrapnel made a hole in my hip. One of my companions, a Dundee man named Reekie, asked me if I had been seriously wounded, and I crawled up to where he was. He had a peculiar habit of sitting up while all the others lay and slept, and when I got up to him he asked me to wait a minute and he would endeavour to get me away from the trench to fix up my wound. I was so done up that I laid my had on his knees and waited. Then there was a tremendous crash just over our heads. A shrapnel shell rained its leaden death on top of us. I was struck several times about the hips and the small of the back. Reekie didn't move. I looked up into his face, His eyes were closed, and a thin stream of blood trickled down from a wound in his forehead. He was dead.


    “Somehow – I can't remember anything of it – I managed to drag myself from that deathtrap to a dressing station, where I had my wounds dressed. I was hit in five places.”

  4. Socks, Sütterlin, & Other Musings

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    During World War I, knitters from Allied nations produced millions of socks, caps, scarves, and sweaters for military use. American Red Cross volunteers knitted nearly 24 million garments; Australian knitters sent 1.3 million pairs of socks overseas. These efforts are often described as “knitting for victory.”


    German (and Austrian) women also knitted for their soldiers. Given the course of history, one cannot say that their work served the cause of victory. Perhaps for this reason, their woolly contributions to the war are less well-known. Yet already on 8 August 1914 — less than a week after German soldiers marched into Belgium — German women were mobilising too. The Rheinische Nachrichten reported that “the women and girls of Braubach mean to take up the knitting of stockings as they did in the past, and knit for the men who fight for us in all weather.” The article added that wool was available at no cost from a Mrs Löw, although “knitters whose means allow it are encouraged to buy their own.”



    “Knit stockings! The foot of the infantryman requires the same care as a horse of the cavalry.”
    Wiesbadener neueste Nachrichten, 15 August 1914, https://hwk1.hebis.de/zeitungen-hlbrm/periodical/pageview/128821

    During the Franco-Prussia War of 1870–71, soldiers had suffered from a lack of socks. In 1914, it was therefore deemed of utmost importance to prevent such a situation from happening again. “Knit!” the Kleine Presse exhorted its female readers. “The knitted stocking, which the French consider a contemptuous attribute of German women, dignifies you.” The Casseler neueste Nachrichten printed a letter from a group of local soldiers, who sent their best regards from France and lamented how much they missed the local beer, before getting to the real point: “What we — that is, our comrades — lack is warm underclothing, stockings, wristwarmers, and all the things that are absolutely necessary in cold, rainy weather.” If such implicit appeals did not work, the Zeitung für das Dillthal was much more blunt. “No one ought to show themselves in public without their knitting; she whose hands lie idly in her lap and leaves precious time unused should be ashamed of herself.”


    Perhaps women took such comments to heart. In any case, they certainly took their knitting into the public sphere. In November 1914, knitting was banned on streetcars in Bockenheim; “the reason given is that fiddling about with the needles can easily injure” other passengers. The knitting craze led to a rapid increase in the price of wool and manufacturers found themselves unable to keep up with the demand for grey yarn — the standard colour for army garments.


    While the press in Germany gave the impression that every woman in the country had suddenly become a prolific knitter, an article from the neutral Netherlands painted a slightly different picture. “Rich ladies came together to knit and sew. But this did not last long. They were quickly convinced that in doing so they were impoverishing their poorer sisters. Soon the only effective solution was found: to provide for the troops, and at the same time to combat the misery of the poor, by providing work. The ladies bought the wool and let women and unemployed girls do the work at home.” Employment agencies were set up so that women whose husbands had gone to war could earn a small income. These agencies filled orders for the army, supplying them with socks and other knitted garments.




    Schoolgirls were quickly corralled into the war effort. “During the First World War, we were allowed to knit socks for soldiers during class time,” recalled Martha Maria Gerthe. Cläre Preisner remembered that “during the last lesson of the school day, we had to knit, and while knitting we had to sing patriotic songs.” Students at the Schillerschule in Friedberg knitted 80 pairs of stockings and 140 pairs of wristwarmers for the army in September 1914; by the beginning of the following month, they had added 40 pairs of stockings and 80 pairs of wristwarmers. Hopefully their stockings fit the intended recipients; Cläre Preisner further recollected that “my father always said, well, now, isn’t that crazy, those socks, they’re more suited for an elephant than a soldier.”



    "Diligently with heart and hand / I knit for the Fatherland."

    From Ein fröhliches Echo aus Kinderland für unsere Feldgrauen by Elisabeth Postler, 1915. http://resolver.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/SBB0000A91600000000


    Perhaps because of the skill needed to knit decent socks, there seems to have been a debate over whether to make Fusslappen instead. These “foot wraps” consisted of a flannel square, which was then folded in a particular way over the foot to produce a covering similar to a sock. (They remained in use in some European armies well into the twentieth century.) Obviously, the making of Fusslappen called for much less effort and skill than sock-knitting. However, they required some expertise to fold and wear as a bad fit would produce discomfort — if a soldier even managed to get his feet into his boots in the first place. “It should not be denied that Fusslappen…can be put to good use, nor that some individual soldiers use them exclusively,” wrote the Casseler neueste Nachrichten. “For the majority, however, a handknitted, well-fitting, woolen stocking is their first choice.”




    The Vaterländischer Frauenverein (VFV)—Patriotic Women’s Association— organised knitting and sewing bees. Prior to Christmas 1914, the local chapter in Braubach held biweekly meetings that produced 310 pairs of socks and stockings along with 283 pairs of wristwarmers. The Red Cross also organised the production of socks and other garments. After knitters delivered them to central collection points, these items were then assembled into parcels known as Liebesgaben. These packages were sent to soldiers at the front, in military hospitals, and in POW camps. They usually contained items such as chocolate, alcohol, and soap, in addition to handknitted socks.


    Both German and Allied sources agreed that a pair of socks lasted approximately 14 days. “We are told that the average life of a pair of socks with men on active service is a fortnight,” The Telegraph of Brisbane, Australia, informed its readers. Similarly, the German soldier Paul Vietmeier wrote to his mother in January 1915: “If I receive a new pair of stockings every 2–3 weeks, that is quite enough. You don’t need to knit them so long; socks are sufficient.”


    The distinction between stockings, which extended to mid/upper calf, and socks, which reached between 5–12 cm over the ankle, was made as early as October 1914. Soldiers reported throwing away stockings as soon as they developed holes, which — if modern handknitted socks are any indication — usually developed at the heels, toes, and ball of foot. At the same time, the rest of the stocking remained in usable condition.


    Thus, to save time, money, and yarn, the solution was to knit stockings in two parts: the top Beinling (literally translated as “legling” or legwarmer) and the bottom Füssling (“footling” or sock). One pair of leglings sufficed for three pairs of footlings. When worn, they overlapped at the ankle; soldiers particularly appreciated this extra warmth.


    The colour of the yarn could be a matter of life and limb. In October 1914, the Wiesbadener Neueste Nachrichten reported on the importance of using grey yarn, particularly for gloves and wristwarmers. Black could be seen too well from a distance, thereby providing a target for the enemy and causing soldiers to be shot in the hand. Australian knitters were also encouraged to use grey and specifically advised against red, black, and blue yarn because the dye was sometimes not colourfast and would stain the men’s skin. Germans may have faced the same problems with dye; the VFV’s “Ten Commandments of Knitting” recommended that “for all knitted items to be worn directly against the skin, use only natural-coloured yarn.”


    In Austria-Hungary, fears about poisonous dye reached a pitch in the fall of 1914. The rumour that “the wearer of a dyed stocking will more easily develop septicemia if he is wounded on the foot” gained such traction that newspapers felt compelled to address it. While the article did concede that foot wounds were linked to high rates of septicemia, “this has nothing to do with the stockings themselves” or synthetic dyes, which were found in everything from clothes to carpets to upholstery. Rather, it was because soldiers had little opportunity in the field to keep their feet clean; “the germs present in the dirt are naturally the ones that so easily lead to septicemia in the event of a foot wound.” Similar fears about poisonous dye seem to have been present in Germany as well, but did not necessitate such thorough debunking. The Schwanheimer Zeitung noted, almost in passing, that “the concerns about the use of black wool are unfounded. Today all woolen goods are dyed using non-toxic dyes.”




    Immediately following the outbreak of war, German newspapers published patterns for stockings. These instructions from August 1914 are typical: “For a man’s sock, cast on 80 stitches, knit 2, purl 2 90 rounds to the heel. The latter amounts to 40 stitches, approximately 38 rows or 14 edge stitches. After turning the heel and picking up the stitches, the gusset is decreased approximately 8–10 times, so that the total number of stitches is 72–80. After approximately 60 rounds, the toe decreases begin.” Exactly how to turn the heel and decrease the toe is not specified. The pattern concludes somewhat acerbically, “If ladies follow these instructions, they will produce not a flour sack but a sock that fits a normal foot.”


    While those instructions may have been unusable by beginners, they were nevertheless slightly better than the ones provided by the Lauterbacher Anzeiger: “Cast on 72 stitches, leg 30 cm in knit 2 purl 2, foot with heel 28–30 cm including the decreases [for the toe].”


    By 1915, organisations like the VFV had begun to print their own pattern booklets. These patterns contained more detailed instructions than those in the newspaper and also featured photographs of the finished objects.



    Field cap from the Strickbüchlein published by the Vaterländischer Frauenverein Königsberg in 1915. http://resolver.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/SBB000056FC00000000


    The VFV’s stocking pattern is a great improvement over the ones printed in newspapers in that it contains actual instructions for turning the heel and decreasing for the toe. It was therefore a pity to discover that the directions for the heel were so incomprehensible that they did not produce a functional sock. For knitters accustomed to turning heels in this way, the written pattern may have functioned simply to jog their memories; for others, attempting to follow the instructions as written would likely have led to much frustration. Luckily, an alternative pattern published by the Cologne-based Nationale Frauengemeinschaft contained a much more straightforward description of the heel turn.


    Tube socks were rare. However, a pattern did appear in the Wiesbadener Tagblatt, with the remark that “some ladies will not be able to imagine this sock; it has no heel and the appearance of a bag.” To make it, “Cast on 72 stitches, knit 2, purl 2, 26 centimeters. Then, without decreasing, 22 centimeters stockinette stitch. A simple toe with decreases follows, measuring approximately 8–9 centimeters.” It was such a novelty that “a sample stocking…can be viewed at the Tagblatt offices.”


    The reader who submitted the pattern insisted that “this sock fits every foot, large or small” and that they wore wonderfully in army-issued boots. It is hard to know whether or not to believe this claim. Tube socks were described in Austrian newspapers as “socks for hospitals, without heels, just tubes with decreases for the toe.” On the other hand, a New Zealand newspaper published a pattern for a heelless “Japanese Soldier’s Sock” in 1915. It came “specially recommended by the late Lord Roberts for the soldiers at the front…it is easily made, fits spirally round the leg, and forms a splendid heel.” (During World War II, however, Norwegian soldiers expressed the opinion that such socks, knitted with spiral rib, were unfit for purpose.)


    Once the socks had been knitted, they needed to be washed before being sent off. “Unwashed wool…irritates the skin and often causes a nettle-like rash,” warned the Wiesbadener Zeitung. They added the following washing instructions, clearly aimed at preventing felting: “One should first put the knitted objects in lukewarm soapy water, let them soak for a quarter of an hour while squeezing repeatedly (not rubbing) and then let them air dry (not on the stove).”


    Then the socks were ready for distribution. Knitters in Allied countries often enclosed letters and poems to go with their socks. German knitters did the same. Collections of wartime poetry were published in book form; newspapers also printed verses, such as this one from thirteen-year-old Maria Winter. “I have knitted these here socks / Now chase the Russians into the swamp! / And if in France you may be / Fight there also valiantly.”


    Women from the Telephone and Telegraph Office in Königsberg sent socks to Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg, who had led German forces to a decisive victory against Russia at the Battle of Tannenberg early in the war. They enclosed a short poem, which read in part “While on the hunt for Russians he can / Wear these stockings in their cold land.” Hindenburg sent a postcard in return: “Thank you for the lovely stockings, which should serve me well.”


    At least one soldier was capable of knitting his own socks. He was such a phenomenon that he warranted an article in the newspaper. “We have a comrade here who knits,” wrote one of his trenchmates from the Western Front. “He has already knitted himself one pair of stockings and has started a second.” His fellow soldiers nicknamed him “Rike” — short for Friederike, the feminine version of Friedrich, his actual name.




    Later in the war, wool shortages in Germany caused a steep decline in knitting. The British naval blockade meant that Germany no longer received shipments of Australian wool to supplement its domestic production. In fact, a lack of wool for the production of knitting yarn had been predicted as early as the fall of 1914.


    In 1916, soldiers’ wives who had once been employed as sock-knitters now found the parameters of their work changing: sewing and mending replaced knitting. The lack of wool is further reflected in the newspapers. Throughout 1914 and 1915, the Red Cross in Wiesbaden regularly placed ads encouraging/bullying women to “knit socks!” In 1916, these ads ceased and did not resume for the remainder of the war. The request for socks was eventually replaced by one for “rags, paper, and rubber” as well as “kitchen scraps suitable for animal fodder.”


    In January 1917, the British Minister of the Blockade, Sir Robert Cecil, told the press that the blockade was working: “It seems established beyond question that the enemy has little wool and less cotton and is making clothes and boots of paper.” A year later, in a report on the German sheep and wool industry, the Prussian Ministry of War tacitly affirmed Cecil’s claim. “It is a well-known fact that domestic sources of production alone could not possibly supply the army and civilian population with the wool they require. Germany entered the war unprepared with regard to the control of its raw material production and raw material supplies.” The blockade also prevented Germany from importing fodder for its own flocks, which led to a decline in the number of sheep domestically.


    “For want of a nail…the kingdom was lost,” says the old proverb. In this case, one could say that for the want of wool a war was lost.


    The header photograph shows socks knitted from Great War-era patterns published in Germany, North Dakota/USA, Australia, and New Zealand.

  5. Tilloy British Cemetery, Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines. Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines was taken by Commonwealth troops on 9 April 1917, but it was partly in German hands again from March to August 1918. The cemetery was begun in April 1917 by fighting units and burial officers, and Rows A to H in Plot I largely represent burials from the battlefield. The remaining graves in Plot I, and others in the first three rows of Plot II, represent later fighting in 1917 and the first three months of 1918, and the clearing of the village in August 1918. These 390 original burials were increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from a wide area east of Arras and from smaller burial grounds. The cemetery now contains 1,642 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the Great War, 611 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 14 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate 11 men of the 6th Bn. K.O.S.B., buried in Tees Trench Cemetery No.2, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

  6. Muerrisch
    Latest Entry

    By Muerrisch,

    I recently opened my fat box-file entitled: Miscellaneous.

    It had not been touched these last few years, and contains material that I harvested as scans, from Cambridge University Library and from various military magazines such as Soldier and Military Modelling.


    The focus is on the period 1900 to 1920.


    I will concentrate on facts and quote references: there is too much waffle regarding "this is the way it would have been 110 years ago" The truth is out there: the Victorians and Edwardians were meticulous book-keepers. The Blog is dedicated to the memory of a fact-finder par excellence, the late Martin Gillott.


    • I am currently working on the grey area of Good Conduct Badges for young soldiers, and can at last believe that I understand the matter. This will be the first offering on the blog.
    • Next in line will be the changes in extra pay in the period 1900 to 1910: Service Pay, Proficiency Pay, and extras for signalling and musketry prowess. I have, for example, the flow diagram [algorithm in modern terms] to help pay clerks decide who got what.
    • Engineer Pay is a very difficult subject: the rules appear to have reached us having been translated through Polish and Mandarin. These I will write a simplified guide to.



    Fact File 1.





    The general subject of Good Conduct Badges (GCBs) was covered in my article for the Military Historical Society in Bulletin 229, August 2007, subsequently expanded by Philip Haythornthwaite in Bulletin 230. One aspect not addressed was badges for young soldiers, and these notes attempt to fill the gaps. The various regulations use the words “Boy” and “Lad” without distinguishing between them.  King’s Regulations (KR) 1837 page 463 stated that no Boy was eligible for enlistment under the age of 14 years except under very special circumstances. That absolute limit appears to have been adhered to for many years to come. All applications for authority to enlist Boys were to be accompanied by a statement showing the number of Boys or Lads actually on the strength, not bearing arms, specifying in what manner they were employed. Queen’s Regulations (QR) 1844 repeated this.

    A note of caution is needed regarding interpreting the authorities quoted. Warrants and Sovereign’s Regulations played a catching-up role for orders issued since the previous edition. Wikipedia has been used as a source for some post-Great War arrangements for enlisting and training young soldiers. The matter, although probably relevant, is beyond my library. Summarised Wikipedia material is italicised thus.

    To avoid tedious footnoting all references are included in the relevant text.


    Early Badges for soldiers.

    Regimental (as opposed to army-wide) distinctions for well-behaved soldiers had been introduced by, among others, the Rifle Corps, then the 85th, followed in turn by the 35th, 72nd and 79th regiments between 1800 and 1835.  The Royal Warrant (RW) introducing army GCBs with financial incentives was issued by King William IV on 18th September 1836 and made no distinction between “Soldier” and young soldier. A soldier was officially as old as he said he was or had been accepted as such. Birth Certificates did not exist. The official GCB was a chevron, point up, to be worn on the lower right arm, and official patterns were sealed by 3rd January 1837.  A Warrant of the new Queen Victoria of 1839 defined the periods and awards as 7, 14, 21 and 28 years, each worth 1d per day. These periods were tied to the historical Terms of Engagement whereby a recruit signed either for “Life” or “Limited Service”, the latter being seven years with optional seven-year extensions.

    The RW of 1848 gave the prices of distinguishing marks, with considerable price variations: Light Dragoons corporal marks were 1/- each, Heavy Dragoons corporals 9d, cavalry other ranks 3d, and infantry 2d. There was no specific mention of “boys” “lads” or “young soldiers”, but “…. the service may include former service in all ranks after the age of 18 years”, thus seemingly disqualifying young soldier service for those who had enlisted as such. Enlistment had been changed to ten years, and the GCB periods had been amended to 5, 10, 15, 20*, 25* and 30* years, awarded two years earlier for continuous qualification for the periods asterisked above thus (*). The regulations appear to have been applied rigorously, and always annotated on soldiers’ records in red ink. For example Private William Harrison, of the 105th regiment, was initially listed as “under age” for a month in 1846, that short period not being counted towards his GCB service.

    War Office Regulations 1848 were informative. Boys were to be paid 10d per day “until they reach the age of 15 Years”. The implication is that they then went on the Privates’ pay of 1/-.  which, if true, is surprising. In a separate section, describing Levy Money, mention is made of “growing lads if under 19 years of age” for cavalry, and “under 18 years” for infantry.

    The GCB was officially a “distinguishing mark” and from about 1850 to 1865 it was frequently referred to as a “ring”, suggesting that the pointed chevron GCBs were not universally issued.  The Standing Orders of the 53rd regiment in 1851 noted that promotions to corporal were to be from “Ring Men”, who also enjoyed substantial privileges. Whether or not proper chevrons were described as rings is not clear: Veterans returned from the Crimea appeared in portraits with genuine chevrons.

    In 1860, by War Office Circular 629, GCB periods were altered to 3, 8, 13, 18*, 23* and 28* years, without specific mention of young soldiers, but among those eligible were trumpeters, drummers, fifers, buglers and pipers. It was often the case that young soldiers qualified in these appointments and were established: music provision depended on a steady stream becoming trained.  However, the RW of 1860 limited GCB qualification periods to service after attaining the age of 18 years, so the position of young appointed “musicians” regarding badges and pay at that time is open to interpretation.


    The mid-Victorian era.

    In the 1860s a further complication arose: the newly formed Volunteer Force {VF} adopted rings as awards for annual efficiency (Volunteer Force Regulations 1863) to be worn on the right cuff, and these were undoubtedly plain silver braid or cloth rings. Portraits of young VF drummers and buglers exist they could be mistaken for young regulars with ring-type GCBs if it were not for other distinctive aspects of uniform. The use of “rings” as opposed to “badges” petered out in regular soldiers’ documents in this period, which may indicate that genuine chevrons were the norm.

    There was a subtle improvement for young soldiers under RW 1870 if they had signed on under the Enlistment Acts of 1867 and 1870: their service from age 17 years became reckonable for GCBs and the associated pay. Regardless of the inherent confusions of the previous ten years, it was now possible for a soldier to receive his first GCB at age 19. Article 929 added that “Boys of 14 years of age and upwards specially enlisted under the Acts of 1867 and 1870 shall reckon only such portion of the service towards Good Conduct Pay as they may render after they shall have attained the age of 17 years”. The qualifying periods became 2, 6, 12, 18*, 23* and 28* years. In 1870 the Terms of Engagement were for 12 years, usually split into six with the colours and six on the reserve. Corporals (except those of Household Cavalry) still qualified, and periods for badges and pay remained unchanged. One feature of this era was the wearing of GCBs on both arms by Fusiliers, Light and Highland infantry who also were privileged to wear ranking on both sleeves. Thus corporals can be seen with eight or even more rank and GCB items on the uniform. RW 1878 amended nothing.


    Major changes.

    The Cardwell reforms were beginning, and substantial changes came into effect in 1881. Six years with the colours did not suit an army garrisoning the Empire: by the time a young recruit was fully trained, 20 years of age (the minimum) and shipped to India or south-east Asia, the clock on his useful time in post was ticking. Terms were therefore changed to seven with the colours and five on the reserve, with a specific clause to be able to enforce an extra (eighth) year overseas or in war. GCBs had to be moved to the left forearm to avoid confusion with some of the new rank badges, and all full ranks (corporals, bombardiers and second corporals) were excluded from benefiting. Young soldier service qualification for GCBs was not rigorously defined except (Article 918) a soldier enlisted after the 1879 Army Act “…. shall reckon all service with the Colours allowed to count towards discharge or transfer to the Reserve”. Terms of Engagement for Boys were confirmed in QR 1883. XIX. 20. as 12 years. By 1881, there would have been a substantial number of boys wearing the badges.

    RW 1884: Article 918-I: “Boys enlisted before 25th July 1879 shall reckon service for GCBs from that date, irrespective of age.” Thus a 20-year-old could be sporting two badges, showing 6 years of service.

    QR 1885. Section XIX. Part VI. gave great detail of the enlistment of boys. If of good character they were to be taken between 14 and 16 years for the purpose of being trained as trumpeters, drummers, buglers, musicians (sic) or tailors. Their numbers were allowed in excess of the unit establishments such that, for example, a Line infantry battalion could have four as tailors and a total of eight for the other appointments. If a boy showed as unlikely to have sufficient aptitude, he could be transferred to another of the appointments or trades. Parental or Guardian assent was necessary. There were special arrangements for enlistments Overseas and from the several Military Schools such as the Royal Hibernian. At age 18 all were to be taken off the roll of Boys.

    By the time QR 1889 was published, Recruiting Regulations had become a separate document. As this chapter is only concerned with young soldiers qualifying for badges during their “boy” service, RWs 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893 and 1896 are unhelpful beyond stating that “all service with the Colours allowed towards discharge or transfer to the Army Reserve” qualified for GCBs. Recruiting Regulations 1900 clarified the matter: Article 1010: “all boys will be enlisted for 12 years with the colours” and could be recruited between age 14 and 16 with written consent of parents or guardian. They were to be trained as trumpeters, drummers, buglers, musicians, tailors, shoemakers, telegraphists Royal Engineers (RE), bricklayers RE, artificers Army Service Corps (ASC) and clerks ASC. There were special rules for enlisting the “children of the regiment” overseas.


    To summarise thus far, since at least 1870 a young soldier aged 19 years might have one badge. From 1884 there was the real prospect of 16-year-olds with one badge and 20-year-olds with two.

    Skelley (The Victorian Army at Home) tells us that, in 1890, 36% of soldiers eligible had a single badge, 10% had two, and 1% each with three and four.  

    QR 1899 changed nothing but Article 728 noted that boys were not to be trained as musicians unless this could be done without detriment to the drums and bugles. Drummers and buglers were paid a penny per day more than bandsmen and were clearly deemed more important.

    The Boer War 1899-1902 and subsequent manning problems led to the general Terms of Engagement for the army being frequently modified: for Line Infantry three years with the colours, nine years reserve in May 1902, changing to nine and three in November 1904, and reverting to seven and five in September 1906. In every case career soldiers could opt for 12 years colour service and ask for extensions beyond to serve for pension. The need to keep units in India at Establishment prompted occasional inducements to either extend or to pass early to the Reserve. Militiamen who had served in the Boer War were awarded the GCBs as Regulars, so that their young drummers and buglers might well have gained one badge.

    The 1d per badge incentive was in the process of withdrawal from 1903 to 1906, as part of a substantial revision of pay and conditions. The Treasury gave with one hand and took away with the other. “Service Pay” which placed as much emphasis on length of service as on military prowess was replaced by “Proficiency Pay” which was a little more demanding.

    Mobilization (sic) Regulations 1909 required soldiers to be 20 years old before going on active service, but young trumpeters, buglers and drummers might be sent at the discretion of the O.C. (sic) the unit and the medical officer. By the Mobilization Regulations of 1914, Article 163, the general age limit was 19 years except for cavalry (20 years), with the same age relaxations for trumpeters etc. No soldier officially younger than 18 years was to go Overseas from 21st February 1915: Army Council Instruction (ACI).

    RW 1906 Article 1085 made another change to GCB qualifying periods: 2, 5, 12, 18*, 23* and 28* years, implying that some 19-year-olds who enlisted at age 14 became able to wear two badges. The Warrants of 1907, 1909 and 1913 made no alterations.


    Recruiting Regulations 1912 amended to 31st August 1914 made slight changes to Boy recruiting, nine years with the colours and three on the reserve for clerks, bandsmen, trumpeters, drummers, buglers or pipers (this is the first mention of pipers) and twelve years for tailors, shoemakers and artificers (except the Royal Flying Corps, who had special terms).

    RW 1914 (Article 1080) reiterated “A good-conduct badge shall be a high distinction conferred on a soldier under the rank of corporal, 2nd corporal or bombardier as a token of our Royal approbation of good conduct, and shall be marked by a chevron worn on the left arm. (References to non-European soldiers are here omitted for clarity and brevity). The badges were not to be worn on greatcoats. All colour service counted. Territorial Force (TF) men were granted the badges after two years Embodied as had been the Militia previously (ACI 1582 of 13th August 1916).  Again, some young TF soldiers would have benefited by a badge but not extra pay.

    Army Order 367 of 1918 allowed badges beyond six for each successive five years, although in practice the rules had been occasionally flouted from late Victorian times. Apart from the cost of the badge and tailoring, no further expense was involved.

    RW 1922 made no change except 2nd Corporal had disappeared (this Royal Engineers and Royal Army Ordnance Corps full rank having been abolished in 1920 by Army Order 142); all colour service was to be reckoned. Recruiting Regulations for the period have not been traced, so that defining Boy soldiers’ “Colour Service” becomes difficult. The RW of 1926 was not helpful, but that of 1931 (Article 1002) has “A soldier shall reckon towards the grant of good conduct badges all service with the colours allowed to reckon towards discharge. In the case of soldiers enlisted for 12 years’ service from the date of attaining the age of 18, unforfeited service prior to attaining that age shall also be reckoned towards the grant of good conduct badges”. Without certainty of recruiting terms, it is not possible to be sure of the effect other than that very young-looking soldiers could be wearing at least one badge.


    Training Schools.

    The army was preparing to move away from enlisting all boys directly into formed units such as cavalry regiments or infantry battalions. Wikipedia informs that a Boys Technical School was opened at Chepstow in 1924 and renamed Army Technical School (Boys). In the 1930s increasing numbers of schools for the more technical Corps and Departments were founded, such as Royal Artillery, Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Royal Engineers.

    RW 1940, issued in March of that year contained Article 1024 confirming that the periods for badges were unchanged, so that very old soldiers could accrue around a dozen if they had been recruited very young and were retained into their late sixties. A few were. A footnoted Army Council Instruction stated “After attaining 18 years of age enlisted boys will be awarded or reassessed for badges on total service since enlistment, without regard for any punishment made before attaining 18 years of age.

    In 1946 the 1940 RW was amended but made no material change regarding boy service.

    Wikipedia tells us that a year later the army Christened four Army Apprentices Schools for artificers and tradesmen, adding Royal Signals and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers courses. The teeth-arm units continued to take boys as “musicians” or tailors. The schools were again renamed, this time as Army Apprentices Colleges, in 1966.

    QR 1955 broke new ground: Article 422. (a):

    A boy is enlisted into the Regular Army in one of three categories: -

    (i)              For training as a bandsman, trumpeter, drummer, bugler or tailor; or

    (ii)            As an apprentice tradesman; or

    (iii)           A regimental boy for general duties.


    National Service ends.

    At some date before Queen’s Regulations 1961 the qualifying period for GCBs was radically changed. The end of National Service (conscription) for male adults was in sight. The first badge was to be at 2 ½ years, the second at 5, and subsequent ones at 5-year intervals. How this was to be applied to soldiers already in possession of several badges was not defined. Articles 1098 and 1099 were poorly drafted but the effect appeared to be that material offences during boy service obviated the award of a badge during that service period, but that after 18 years all punishments during boy service were written off. Regardless of Recruiting Regulations, very young soldiers could qualify for badges.

    Good Conduct Badges continue to be described in current (2021) official publications but are now in reality virtually extinct. A few veterans with half an armful clung for a while to the privilege but otherwise GCBs appear to have become unpopular with soldiers in an all-professional army, as drawing attention to the lack of rank after several years of service. The Foot Guards ceased to apply the badges to the scarlet tunic in the 1980s because they marked the sleeve such that the tunic was not fit to be reissued (Correspondence with the regiments concerned). Contemporary evidence is scarce but the  badges may have been retained for No.2 Dress by the Foot Guards and the Gurkhas.


    Current Dress Regulations include:

    Good conduct chevrons are embroidered in gold, silver or black lace on a backing of the same colour as the jacket on which they are being worn. They are not worn on the backing colour of the regimental rank chevrons. They are worn on the left forearm only according to the regulations contained in this section.

    Also: Good conduct chevrons are to be worn point uppermost on the left forearm of Full Dress tunics and Nos 1, 2, 3 and 6 Dress jackets. Each of the lower outer points of the lowest chevron is to be 10.16cm from the bottom of the sleeve. They are not to be worn with combat dress or working dress.


    Finally, the accompanying illustrations show young soldiers with, and without, GCBs. There are also a few illustrations showing apprentices and current or recent wear. They are not captioned: anyone interested enough to have read this far will be able to extract value from them. I acknowledge particular help from Sepoy and Toby Brayley, and I acknowledge using some illustrations whose ownership I have lost sight of.


    More and better illustrations would be welcomed please.


    David Langley

    March 2021










    Picture 2.jpg

  7. A unique A-Z revealing how hundreds of members of one Devon family fought and died at war has just been completed.

    It gives a detailed insight into more than 350 men and women of the Roberts family who served in the two world wars and the Second Boer War.

    They are all connected to me – either as direct ancestors or through marriage to members of my family.

    Fifteen years ago, I only knew of one ancestor who had gone to war – my grandfather George Burnett Roberts.

    As a boy, I was given a picture of him – taken just after he had enlisted in the Army Service Corps – and a dozen brass buttons from his uniform.

    A chance discovery revealed that he was one of a record 30 grandsons of Witheridge farm worker John Roberts who served in the Great War.

    John’s remarkable story – told in two editions of the book History Maker – provided the inspiration for this new research project.

    The Great War Forum has played a key role in turning the A-Z into reality.

    Many 'mystery soldiers' have been identified - and their war service revealed - thanks to help from members of this brilliant forum.

    The A-Z shows how 75 members of my family lost their lives – 50 in the First World War, 24 in the Second World War and one in the Second Boer War.

    Of those who died, the vast majority were killed in infantry attacks on the front line or died from wounds sustained in action.

    One soldier lost his life as a prisoner of war. Three succumbed to sickness. Six died at sea – in warship and submarine attacks. One was killed in a flying accident.

    Five – including a mother and her two daughters – were killed in Blitz and ‘Doodlebug’ attacks on London and Portsmouth.

    The youngest who went to war was Frederick ‘Fred’ Facey, who was just 14 when he served as a bugler in South Africa.

    Many who fought and died served in the New Zealand, Australian, Canadian and United States Army and Navy.

    Of the women who went to war, many served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and Auxiliary Territorial Service. One was attached to a secret operations unit at Westward Ho!

    The stories of the many who did not make it home – and of those who survived, some with horrific injuries – are highlighted in a series of special features.

    They reveal:

    ·        How five members of the Roberts family fought together on a remote battlefield on the darkest day in the history of the 16th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment

    ·        How a young soldier died in the worst maritime disaster in British History

    ·        The men decorated for their extraordinary courage in the First and Second World Wars

    ·        The eight men held as prisoners of war in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan

    ·        How a soldier turned out to be alive and well when his ‘death’ in the Great War was announced in his local newspaper

    The A-Z is now available on a special custom-made USB flash drive. Any proceeds from sales will go to hospice charities.

    The picture shows 24 members of the Roberts family who fought in - and in many cases - died in the two world wars.

    Paul Roberts

    Roberts A-Z poster jpeg.jpg

  8. Diary of a Dispatch Rider

    Latest Entry

    Continuing the diary of Corporal John Sangway, dispatch rider with XVII Corps.


    30th Oct

    Came into hospital with “special” flu a week ago, 23rd. Damnable. If this is typical of hospitals out here, Florence Nightingale never finished her job. I have seen disinfectant once. I have had my medicine half the times ordered. I have slept on the floor all the time in verminous and dirty blankets. There is no ventilation at night & it stinks. People play horribly on pianos outside your door. The latrine arrangements are foul & frightfully inadequate & there is no water at night to wet your parched tongue. Can’t think of any more horrors at the moment. And yet I am feeling better. God knows why!


    Nov 1

    Left hospital, God be thanked. When shall I get free of vermin!

  9. cawood__dorothy.JPG.104e8111ec767ede3430a6afd96e5c85.JPG

    Sister Cawood has for four years faced the perils of the deep and the dangers of field hospitals near to the firing-line, and has shown by her gallantry, heroism and self-sacrifice that she is worthy of the great honor and distinction which I am proud to know has been conferred upon her.  We diggers all say, “God bless her and all the other brave Australian sisters who gave up everything to assist us when we badly required help.”  We won’t forget them.

    [Michael Adams, 1919 – late Pte 1129, 20th Bn, AIF]


    The great honour and distinction that Michael Adams was referring to was the Military Medal awarded to Dorothy Cawood in 1917.  He personally would never forget her, as it was she who nursed him back to health in 1915, and he clung to the belief that it was solely due to her untiring efforts that he had survived.


    Dorothy had trained in general nursing at the Coast Hospital in Sydney from 1909, and together with colleague Clarice Dickson passed her exam for membership of the Australasian Trained Nurses’ Association in December 1912.  Both ladies were still nursing at the Coast Hospital when they enlisted for war service in 1914.  Having been accepted for overseas service with the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS), they embarked in Sydney and sailed for Egypt on the 28th of November 1914 on the hospital ship Kyarra, as Staff Nurses with the 2nd Australian General Hospital (2AGH).


    The Kyarra arrived at Alexandria on the 14th of January 1915, and the following morning Dorothy and Clarice were among a party of Doctors and Nurses who took a day trip to the Mena House Hospital in Cairo, arriving just before lunch.  In the afternoon Major (Dr) Reginald Millard, also a former Coast Hospital colleague, who was temporarily in charge at Mena, took them for a ‘walk round the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid ending at the First Field Ambulance for afternoon tea’.


    The party having returned to the Kyarra, it was some days later during the 19th and 20th that the entire personnel of the 2nd AGH and all their equipment arrived at Mena House to take over the hospital.  Before finally handing over and leaving to return to the 1st Field Ambulance on the 26th, Major Millard received a wire requesting 10 nursing Sisters be sent the following day to join the Stationary Hospital at Ismailia.  Dorothy and Clarice were delighted to be among those selected, and had a most interesting time nursing the English wounded, while coming under fire during the attack on the Canal.  The campaign over and all their patients moved to Cairo, they returned to Mena House on the 27th of February.  [Note: Bessie Pocock was also among the 10]

    Following the commencement of the Gallipoli Campaign in April the 2nd AGH also took over the Ghezireh Palace hotel in Cairo, leaving Mena as an auxiliary hospital until finally abandoning it on the 7th of June 1915.  [Note: Mena House was reopened again in July as a Convalescent Hospital]

    While still at Ghezireh Dorothy and Clarice received a couple of visits from Major Millard during August.


    Then at the end of August, the entire nursing staff of the hospital ship Assaye, under Matron Bessie Pocock, was sent ashore and replaced, and once again Dorothy and Clarice found themselves among the 9 new nurses selected to join the ship.  They embarked at Alexandria on the 3rd of September, and the Assaye set sail for Mudros, (Lemnos Island) on the afternoon of the 5th.  On the 8th they were taking on sick and wounded from Imbros Island and that night Matron Pocock noted in her diary: “Everybody worked well & happy all together such a difference from the last lot of nurses’ we had.”


    Following the disembarkation of their patients at Alexandria, they experienced some rough weather on the return to Mudros, and on their arrival on the 17th of September Dorothy was one of 2 nurses feeling a little under the weather.  As they had no patients and not a lot to do, they were sent to bed for the day, and Dorothy had recovered by the following day.


    Having survived the torpedoing of the Southland on the 2nd of the month on the voyage to Gallipoli, Major Millard was encamped at Anzac on the 21st when a messenger arrived from Suvla, where the Assaye was taking on patients.  He had with him 2 sacks of red cross goods that Matron Pocock, Dorothy and Clarice had put together for Major Millard to distribute amongst the men, which he carried out the following day throughout the Dressing Stations.

    The Assaye was stationed off Anzac on the 3rd of October when they sent another sack of goods ashore.


    One of the soldiers taken on board from Anzac on the evening of the 6th of October was the previously mentioned Private Michael Adams of the 20th Battalion.  He was a Scot who had emigrated to Australia and was living with his family in Granville, NSW, before enlisting.  Suffering from shock and a shrapnel wound to the head, he awoke the following morning to a cheery “How are you this morning?”  After establishing that the nurse who was removing his bandages was not only also from the Sydney area, but from a neighbouring suburb to his home, he asked her name.  Recognising the name Cawood as his daughter’s teacher’s name, it was soon realised that Nessie’s teacher was none other than Dorothy’s sister Muriel.


    No doubt the two of them had plenty to talk about over the following weeks as the Assaye slowly made its way to England, and while under Dorothy’s care and attention Pte Adams’ health and strength gradually improved.  Invalided home early in 1916, one of the first things Pte Adams did was visit Dorothy’s family, and her father was overjoyed to meet a ‘Digger’ whom his daughter had nursed at Gallipoli.  John Cawood ‘was one of the pioneers of the Australian citizen forces and the two soldiers yarned for hours.’


    Arriving at Southampton on the 20th of October, the nurses had shore leave while the ship went into dry dock for repairs, and it wasn’t until the 9th of November that they departed once more.  Experiencing bad weather as they crossed out, everybody was sick for the first 4 days.  Stopping first at Malta where they picked up 59 Canadian Sisters, they disembarked them at Salonika before returning to Mudros, and then onto Cape Helles on the 24th of November.


    Having completed their year of service both Dorothy and Clarice received their promotion from Staff Nurses to Sisters on the 1st of December 1915.


    After a few more trips between Gallipoli, Malta and Egypt in the December, they arrived back in Alexandria for the final time on the 7th of January 1916.  Waiting it out in the harbour, it wasn’t until the 18th that orders came through advising that the ship was going to Bombay without any nurses.  Leaving the ship on the morning of the 20th, Dorothy, Clarice and Matron Pocock returned to the 2nd AGH at the Ghezireh Hospital in Cairo.


    Matron Pocock noted in her diary: “Everybody very sorry to say ‘Goodbye’ to us, they say, all said we had worked hard and peacefully and were a great help. Want all back again if ever ship is refitted up for British soldiers.”


    She also wrote home in regard to her nurses: “They were awfully nice girls and worked hard, devoted to their patients.  No one on board ship ever went to bed or off duty till every man had been washed, fed, and his dressings all done; no one felt for themselves until everything was done;….”

    In February, Bessie Pocock was serving back at Mena House, when Dorothy and Clarice visited her on the 19th, staying for afternoon tea and dinner.  Dorothy visited again on the 29th and they went for a camel ride around the pyramids and had their photo taken.


    Leaving Egypt on the 26th of March 1916 the staff of the 2nd AGH sailed on the Braemar Castle to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France.  Arriving at Marseilles on the 1st of April, the nursing staff disembarked on the 5th and caught a train to the Moussot Hospital, where they remained for some time before heading further north in small groups.


    Dorothy and Clarice proceeded to Boulogne on 17th of June, arriving for duty at the 8th Stationary Hospital, Wimereux on the 22nd.  The pair were finally separated when on the 11th of July Dorothy and a few other nurses were transferred to the Australian Voluntary Hospital.  However, on arrival it was discovered that they weren’t actually needed and they returned to the 2nd AGH the following day, which by this stage had established their hospital at Boulogne.  Clarice didn’t return to the 2nd AGH until the 1st of October, and only 2 weeks later she was transferred to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station (ACCS) at Trois Arbres.


    Following 2 weeks of UK Leave from the 13th to the 29th of December 1916, Dorothy was reunited with Clarice on the 31st when she too was attached to the 2nd ACCS, where once again they were serving under Bessie Pocock.  In the new year Clarice had a lucky escape when on the 21st of January 1917 her dress caught on fire while standing with her back to an open fireplace.  Apart from the damage to her dress, initial shock and a scorched hand while trying to extinguish it, she was okay.  However, it was only a few days later that she was transferred to A.I.F. Headquarters in London, and the two friends would follow separate paths for the next 2 years.


    On her arrival Dorothy had been put on duty in ward A1, and it was noted that on the 17th of February she had finished her period of night duty.  Some enjoyment was had on the 6th March when together with a couple of the other nurses she attended a concert at one of the nearby Clearing Stations.


    The 2nd ACCS consisted of both huts and tents, but even those nurses lucky enough to be accommodated in huts still suffered from the bitterly cold winter, with no insulation and fuel hard to come by.  Duckboards ran throughout the complex saving them from tramping through mud, but they still had to contend with wind, rain and snow as they went on and off duty.


    Being so close to the front line they were subjected to the terrific din of intense bombardments that lit up the countryside for miles around, and night alarms for bomb and gas attacks often had them scrambling from their beds for the safety of the dugouts. An Observation balloon situated nearby attracted constant attention from enemy aircraft, and the fallout from the British anti-aircraft fire often dropped within the grounds, occasionally penetrating their huts.


    Bessie Pocock had been relieved by Ethel Davidson in April, and she in turn had been relieved by Louisa Stobo as Sister-in-charge on the 12th of July.  On the 17th Sister Stobo noted that there were 10 Sisters besides herself at the hospital, and it was only 5 days later that 4 of those nurses would become the first members of the AANS to be awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field.  One of those nurses of course being Dorothy.  Of the other 3, Mary Derrer had joined the Unit with Dorothy, Clare Deacon early in June, and Alice Ross-King had only arrived on the 17th.


    It was the night of the 22nd of July 1917 when the hospital was hit by an enemy air raid.

    Lieutenant Colonel J Ramsay Webb noted in his report:

    “On the 22nd inst at about 10.25 pm an enemy aeroplane flying low over the Station dropped two bombs.

    The first fell at the rear of ward C.5 blowing a hole in the ground about 15ft in diameter and 6ft deep in the centre.  Ward C.5 was made up of 4 small hospital marquees arranged in a square.  Of these one was completely destroyed and the three others rendered unfit for service.  Some equipment was destroyed.  The mortuary also was wrecked, the roof and two sides being blown out.

    Two patients and two orderlies were killed and many of the men in the ward were wounded.

    The second bomb dropped outside the southern boundary of the Camp near the Cemetery.

    The total casualties were 4 killed and 15 wounded – 1 seriously.”



    Refusing to seek shelter during the raid, Dorothy and her 3 nursing colleagues remained on duty together with some of the other medical staff and worked through the dark and destruction to calm the patients and attend to those newly wounded.

    The following month each of them received a letter of congratulations from Lieutenant-General William Birdwood and Miss Maud McCarthy, Matron-in-Chief of the B.E.F., the latter including a piece of ribbon for the Military Medal.


    At the end of July Dorothy was transferred to the 38th Stationary Hospital (SH) at Calais, and reported for duty on the 1st of August.  Upon leaving the 2nd ACCS, Ethel Davidson had been sent as Matron to this hospital, which was still being established when Dorothy arrived.  Although still under construction they had taken on patients, and both patients and staff were accommodated in tents while huts were being erected.  Unfortunately, problems with the water-tightness of the huts was endless, and they were only just beginning to become operational in the second half of October, when it was decided at the end of that month to close the hospital site down.


    Dorothy had been on leave for the first two weeks of October, and when the hospital was closed many of the other nurses were sent on leave, while Dorothy reported for temporary duty at the 6th General Hospital on the 7th of November.  On this date she also received a “Mention in Despatches” (MID) in Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatches, for distinguished and gallant service in the field between the period 26/2/1917 to 26/9/1917.


    On the 11th of November 1917 the Matron-in-Chief (BEF) was notified that the 38th Stationary Hospital (together with the 11th General Hospital) was to proceed to Italy.  With Ethel Davidson in charge of 27 nurses, including as many of the original staff as possible, they were to establish a hospital of 400 beds.  Together with as many of the nurses that could be gathered at such short notice, Dorothy was collected at the Nurses Home in Abbeville on the 15th and transported by the 21st Ambulance Train to their destination.  On arrival in Genoa they were billeted in a hotel, from where they travelled by ambulance to and from the hospital which was established in one of the cities large schools; reporting for duty on the 19th of that month.


    On the last day of January 1918, Dorothy was admitted to the 11th General Hospital with Tonsilitis, and Ethel Davidson wrote the following letter to her mother:

    “Dear Mrs Cawood, – You may have received a notification from the Defence Department that your daughter, Dorothy, is sick in hospital; so I am writing to tell you not to worry – it’s nothing serious – just tonsillitis.  I hope to have her back on duty long before this letter reaches you.  I want to take this opportunity, Mrs Cawood, of congratulating you upon having such a good daughter as Dorothy.  She is a most excellent nurse – one of the very best Australia has sent out.  When I told my O.C. that I had sent Dorothy to the Sisters’ hospital, he said, ‘I’m sorry; I like that little girl.  She does her work well, and gives no trouble to anyone.’  I will take care of her for you, and not let her work too hard.  Kindest regards.  Yours sincerely, ETHEL S. DAVIDSON, Matron, A.A.N.S., 38 Stationary Hospital.”



    Two weeks later on the 13th of February Dorothy was discharged back to duty and continued her service in Italy with the 38th Stationary Hospital until early the following year.  During this time she was granted UK Leave from the 11th of August to the 13th of September, as well as 10 days in Rome from the 14th to the 24th of December 1918.


    With the war over, Dorothy and her nursing colleagues were eventually returned to the UK, arriving at Southampton on the 22nd of January 1919, and Dorothy was attached to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford the following day.  From there she was transferred to the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Southall on the 8th of February, where once again she caught up with her old friend Clarice Dickson.  During her time in England Dorothy was presented with her Military Medal by his Majesty the King at Buckingham Palace.


    The first of the two friends to be repatriated, Dorothy began her journey home on the HT Soudan, embarking at Devonport on the 12th of May and arriving in Sydney on the 3rd of July.  Returning home to Parramatta by train it was noted in the local paper that:

    Mayor Simpson welcomed Sister Cawood as she came out of the southern portal of the station, with her father and mother and other members and friends of the family.  They were given the attendance informally of a guard of honour of returned soldiers and others of the military, the officials of the welcome-home committee …, a number of the splendid, hard-working V.A.D. girls (in uniform), and ladies of the Red Cross and War Chest and other patriotic societies.  After the Mayor had briefly and appropriately expressed the town’s heartfelt gratification at seeing back again with them Sister Cawood, the brave little lady (apparently the most retiring of all the personalities for many yards around) got into Mr Muston’s gaily-decorated cars with penons gaily streaming from them in the breeze; and the gay cortege was whirled through the town and round the park.  At the gate of the neat cottage in Hunter street, at which the cars at last pulled up, Sister Cawood was given an enthusiastic and hearty welcome by a large number of relatives and friends, who assembled to meet her at the residence of her parents, Mr and Mrs John Cawood, Hunter-street.  “Genugen” was prettily and profusely decorated with a liberal supply of flags, and across the verandah was displayed in large letters the words “Welcome home.”



    She received her official discharge on the 1st of September 1919.




    Dorothy Gwendolen, also known as Dora, had been born on the 9th of December 1884 in Parramatta, NSW.  She was the second youngest of the 8 children of John CAWOOD and Sarah Travis GARNET, who had married in Parramatta in 1874.  The family were living in Sorrell Street at the time of her birth, and she was baptized later that month in the local Anglican Church of St John.  Educated at Granville North Public School, Dorothy was amongst those receiving the highest marks in her class in 1899; and winning first prize, a silver medal, in Cookery in 1900.


    Her father John, a Carpenter by trade, died at the family home “Genugen,” 39 Hunter Street, Parramatta on the 27/6/1928, aged 78, and her mother Sarah also died at their home in Hunter Street on the 27/8/1944.


    Following the war, Dorothy continued to nurse and was appointed Sub-Matron of the Liverpool State Hospital and Asylum from the 1/11/1922 to the 3/9/1925, at which time she took over as Matron of the David Berry Hospital, Berry, following the resignation of Matron Williams.  She remained Matron of the David Berry Hospital until her retirement in 1944.


    Following her retirement she returned to the family home in Hunter Street, where she remained for the rest of her life.  Dorothy died on the 16th of February 1962 at a private hospital, aged 78, and was privately cremated and interred in the Rookwood General Cemetery 3 days later.


  10. Test Blog

    Andy - can you see if you can add a completely new Blog Entry to this Blog, or whether you can only add a Comment to one of my existing Blog Entries.





  11. I have put together a digital talk for the Petersfield Museum to mark 100 years since the death of Lt-Col Gerard Leachman on August 12th.

    Available free on YouTube for one night only,  but you will need to register via the museum website. Lots of photographs and maybe some controversial viewpoints. 😀 


  12. Don Hedger

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    Recent Entries

    Any one seen a library card for CEF troops WWI that reads University of Vimy Ridge ~ somewhere in France this was used to educate Canadian Troops while engaged in combat.

    This is most interesting however there is simply no data that I have seen ~ although these library cards did exist 

    More info is required on this unknown subject 

  13. Le Treport Miscellaneous depots and camps
    No 3 General Hospital (opened Dec 1914).
    No 16 General Hospital (opened Feb 1915).
    No 2 Canadian General Hospital (opened Feb 1915).
    No 3 Convalescent Depot (opened June 1915).
    No 16 General Hospital (Isolation Division) (opened Dec 1915).
    No 7 Canadian Hospital (opened 1916).
    No 47 British General Hospital (opened 1916).
    No 10 BRC Hospital
    VAD Camp (opened May 1917)
    RE Workshops & Stores (Mar 1915).
    Horse Rest Camp (EU) (opened Mar 1917).
    Horse Rest Camp (MERS) (opened 1917).
    Tanks Camp (opened Sep 1917)
    POW Camp (Pont et Marais) (opened 1917).
    Army Ordnance Camp (Mers) (opened Oct 1917).
    Rifle Range (opened 1918).
    Chinese Labour Camp (Mers) (opened Jan 1918).
    Chinese Labour Camp (Criel) (opened Jan 1918).
    PoW Compound, Isolation Hospital (opened 1918).
    PoW Compound (Le Treport) (opened 1918).
    No 2 E F Canteens
    No 2 YMCA Recreation Huts
    No 1 YMCA Cinema
    No 1 Canadian RCS Recreation Hut
    No 1 Salvation Army Hut
    No 1 BRCS Recreation Hut
    No 1 Church Army Hut
    No 1 RC Church Hut
    No 4 Base Supply Depot (MT)
    Ammunition Wharf

  14. 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

  15. Australian nurses

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    Recent Entries

    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.

  16. 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,



  17. 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




  18. 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.


  19. 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.

  20. 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









    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

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


  23. 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.

  24. gmac101
    Latest Entry


    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

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