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    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
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  1. IWM 319: PONT REMY SPORTS [MAIN TITLE]
    0ohw5lv08433qn06g.jpg
    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
    1918
    Place made
    GB
    Dimensions
    whole: Number Of Items/reels/tapes 1

    Catalogue number
    IWM 319

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

    Obituary_for_Fred_Seaman.pdf

  3. 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.

  4. 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  7. allanpeter's Blog

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

  8. "But Georges," said Dominique, dismayed, "How do I do that?"

    The General considered a minute.

    "It isn't going to be easy. You will have to go to her. Take Drouin and a Staff car - it will be better than arriving in your own car with chauffeur, and the fact that the village is in the Canadian military zone is a good excuse. As to what you are to say, I can't tell you that. It will be up to you to read Marie, and respond in whatever way will touch her."

    And so it was that a week later Dominique found herself knocking at the door of the house of Marie's cousins. She felt very vulnerable. Drouin had driven off, promising to return within the hour.

    It was Marie who answered the door.

    Dominique screwed up her courage.

    "Mademoiselle Drollet? May I come in?

    Marie's back straightened at the sight of Dominique, but she bade Dominique come into the sitting room.

    "Mademoiselle Drollet - Marie? I've come to apologize."

    "Yes?" replied Marie.

    "I should have introduced myself back at the hospital. And I should have thanked you for helping me nurse the General. I am Madame Johnson - well, Veuve Johnson to be correct. The General tells me that you are the Marie that Jean wrote to tell me he would marry. But I understand that you have dismissed him. Would you tell me why? Do you not love him anymore? Or do you feel that his family would not approve?

    Marie stammered her reasons, ending with "And of course you and the General would not want a farm girl for a daughter-in-law."

    Dominique looked at her. "Georges has had nothing but good things to say about you. He says you love Jean very much, and I know he loves you. And above all other things, I want Jean to be happy."

    "Marie, let me tell you a story. Years ago there was a young girl. She was attractive, but had little money, and truth be told not a whole lot of intelligence. But because she was attractive, she had many admirers. There was one she liked better than the others. He was a young army officer, just starting his career. But he was due to be posted to Algeria, and this girl did not want to leave France, so she did not encourage him. And the night before he left it seemed there was something he wanted to say, but it was left unsaid because he received no encouragement. Shortly after, the girl met a wealthy lawyer who was visiting France, married him, and went to live in Canada. They had one son - that was all. He was good to her in his own way, but he was not the right man."

    "As you will have guessed, Marie, that girl was me. I spent over twenty years in a foreign country. Years that I could have spent with a man I truly loved. But God was good. Edward died, and the young officer, now a General had not married. And I found him again, but gravely wounded. I was selfish back then, and I fear I've never quite lost it. I should have payed more attention to you, whether or not I knew you were my son's fiancee."

    "Marie, please do not make the same mistake that I did. If you love Jean, as I believe you do, please let him know. You might not be as fortunate as I was."

    Marie threw herself into Dominique's arms, and burst into tears. Dominique held her and cried as well.

    "I love him!" cried Marie. "It's just this war, and my father, and maman. I can't stand the waiting, the fear that I will lose another dear one."

    "You must be brave, as I must be. This war will not last forever, but we must finish it. And then there will be time to rebuild, to marry. Please, let John know that you love him. It will give him something to help him through to the end."

    "Can't you do that for me, Madame?" asked Marie. "I'm too ashamed of my behaviour."

    "No. my dear. It must come from you. Otherwise it will just be 'Maman interfering again' and John won't trust it."

  9. The following extract is taken from “MI 7b, the discovery of a lost propaganda archive from the Great War”.

    A Trench Raid[1]

    At last, after what seemed years of waiting, the long-expected signal came, and we filed into the sap, and then crawled cautiously across No Man’s Land to the shelter of some friendly shell-craters about forty yards from the Boche wire. The signal for the final rush was to be an intensive bombardment on the flanks of the position we were to attack.

    We did not have to wait long. Punctual to the second, the artillery strafe commenced and simultaneously a blinding sheet of flame and an earth-shaking roar told us that H.E. had completed the work of our wire cutters in blasting a gap in the entanglements. The next few minutes were crowded in the extreme. The whole party made a dash for the opening in the wire, scrambled over the parapet, and, as had been arranged, divided their forces, and bombed their way, right and left, down the trench. A sentry, who had been posted quite close to the point of entry, had been blown backwards off his perch by the force of the explosion, and was no longer in a condition to dispute our passage. The only real resistance we encountered was on the right where a machine gun team hurriedly dismounted their gun from its emplacement, and directed a stream of bullets down the trench in the hope of catching the attackers unawares when they rounded the traverse. But the Bombing Sergeant, crawling along the parapet, dropped a couple of Mill’s Bombs in the middle of the party, and then jumped down afterwards lest there should be any mistake. So it was that a battered machine-gun, plus a pair of stout Bavarians, very much the worse for wear, were shortly being passed to the rear.

    Naturally the time is limited on a raid, and it is prudent to get back to the shelter of your own trenches before the enemy has time to recover from his surprise, and starts to retaliate. But before we turned back we lighted the fuse of an “infernal machine” which had been part of the R.E.’s contribution to the night’s entertainment, and placed it in an unobtrusive position at the foot of the traverse, with the object of discouraging any Huns from annoying us in our retirement. We returned to the original starting point to find the “moppers-up” had lured several unwilling captives from their under-ground funk-holes, and had already started to shepherd them across No Man’s Land on the first stage of their journey to England. As we picked our way through the shell-holes on our way home, our machine-guns were sweeping the Boche parapet on our right and left to restrain any vulgar curiosity on their part as to the fate of their brethren. The last of the excursionists dropped over our friendly parapet just as two infernal machines, in quick succession, rent the night with the roar of their explosion, and a salvo of “woolly bears”, the first fruits of retaliation, burst high up in the air over the ground we had just vacated.

    The article, “A Trench Raid” was written by Lt J.P. Lloyd of the Welch Regiment in September 1917, and is one of 150 or so articles and stories he wrote. His work is the sole surviving archive of military propaganda from a secret outfit designated MI 7b. All the official documents of MI 7b were thought to have been destroyed at the war’s end.

    Lt James Price Lloyd was my paternal great uncle and as a Second-lieutenant, he had been shot and wounded in the first Battle of the Somme in the fighting at Mametz on Friday, the 7th July 1916. Whilst recuperating, he responded to a War Office trawl for officers to write articles about the war. His work was accepted and on 7th July 1917, a year to the day since he had been wounded, he reported for duty with MI 7b.

    He thought he was joining a unit set up to counter Hun propaganda, but that was just a cover story. Although he didn’t know it at the time, he was joining a strategic propaganda offensive aimed directly at the Home Front, and the home fronts of the Empire, her dominions and colonies. Allied nations too were targeted, as were neutral nations who needed to be swayed towards our cause.

    MI 7b (1) had been set up in response to the perceived threat that support for the war was waning, that revolution was in the air, that there was discontent in the factories, and saboteurs active amongst us! In the autumn of 1916, through to the dread dark days of early 1917, disaster loomed. The nation, traumatised by the horrendous losses on the Somme front, faced insurrection in Ireland, revolution abroad, and was in danger of losing the battle at sea. The fear of losing the war and the prospect of famine brought home the reality of a modern, total war. To have any hope of preparing the nation not only to accept the huge losses that the strategy of attrition would inevitably demand, but also to sustain their faith that the cause was just and noble, and the sacrifice necessary, there had to be a counter-balance to the Roll of Honour.

    The authorities recognised that they had to seize the agenda, set the tone, improve and sustain morale. To that end, the War Office trawled for officers with some time on their hands to write about the war, especially the human interest side. Capt Alec Dawson (Border Regt) fielded their submissions and set up what became MI 7b (1).

    It attracted some of the finest literary talent of the day, many of whom were serving in the Army and had connections to the popular newspapers and magazines of the time. Similarly illustrators and artists were recruited and so it was that MI 7b (1) was able to produce high-grade propaganda material in both graphic and text media from the outset. Given its connections and the newspapers’ insatiable appetite for war news, MI 7b (1) became a major source of news that was then reported by the press all over the English speaking world.

    From August 1917, Lt James Lloyd wrote first-hand accounts of battles and daily life in the trenches, and Captain Bruce Bairnsfather provided cartoons and illustrations that gave the imagination a visual hook. It is clear that their work was integrated as a result of a clearly developed editorial strategy. Bairnsfather’s cartoon character “Old Bill” and his “Fragments from France” were a national sensation – Old Bill became the archetypal “Old Contemptible” and a much loved figure world wide. Lloyd’s retrospectives on fighting in France, along with Bairnsfather’s illustrations, allowed those on the world’s home fronts to identify with the men at war, and get that much closer to what they thought the war may be really like.

    Lloyd had much to learn about writing propaganda as many of his drafts were too close to reality to have been passed fit for publication. Some of the most poignant and moving accounts he wrote, never made it beyond the manuscript. These “rejected” articles contain much that would otherwise remain hidden. In my view, these articles are that much more interesting and shed a truer and brighter light on events that went unreported.

    As the propaganda agenda moved on, Lloyd was tasked with producing “Tales of the VC”, and so that his reports on the fighting in France weren’t stale, he was sent back to the Western Front to observe first hand. It is clear that Lloyd wasn’t the only MI 7b officer to undertake such travels, as A A Milne, too, undertook secret work in France at some time during 1918. Officers from MI 7b travelled the Western Front extensively witnessing, as opposed to taking a further active part in, the battles and major campaigns of the war from early 1917 onwards. Those accounts were their main source of war news reporting and were then distributed for publication around the globe. There are examples of newspapers carrying 2 or 3 articles sourced from MI 7b on a single page.

    With War Office support, what had started out as a “one man and his dog” operation in early 1916, became a highly successful broadcast medium with global reach within 18 months or so, producing an estimate of 7,500 articles for syndication world wide. Had the “Green Book” – the secret valedictory house journal of MI 7b (1) - not been discovered by chance, those writing for MI 7b (1) would have remained incognito, and its secret work only imagined, as so little of its official archive is known to exist. A A Milne is now the best known member of MI 7b, and the current media interest in his role risks eclipsing the wider story. Milne was not the only surprise to be found on the inside cover of the Green Book, posted elsewhere on this forum. The list of members and their literary achievements is truly astonishing.

    The 150 remaining articles in the archive are of a high literary standard and the articles and stories each stand on their own merit. They would be interesting enough on their own, but in the context of their being examples of a secret campaign, they are an invaluable source. Written by someone who had served and been wounded in the front line trenches, Lloyd’s stories provide a fascinating glimpse into the realities of the fighting, and of life in France. His published work for MI 7b (1) is extensive, and I am very grateful to everyone who has helped me find examples. However, not everything was published, and the unpublished drafts provide tantalising glimpses into the realities as perceived at the time and written in the lingua franca of that era with its richness of slang, its wry observations on the detail of daily trench life.

    It is also fascinating to view the propaganda production process in action; from idea to pencil draft, to manuscript and green-ink correction and censorship, to the typing pool and beyond to the higher echelons of the War Office food chain where it may be “Passed for publication.” Then, the article is there on the page of a Tasmanian journal, sitting alongside other articles from MI 7b. Each of the articles are under the name of the serving officer who wrote them giving no indication that they are the principal parts of a highly secret and sophisticated propaganda offensive.

    If the newspaper articles indicate the scale and reach of the operation, the discovery of the Green Book indicates the calibre of its operatives and like the Rosetta stone, unlocks some of the mystery.

    Why were so many talented and intelligent men willing to write propaganda in support for a war that each of them knew would result in further widespread slaughter? I believe that that they knew it to be their duty. They were recruited ostensibly to take part in a counter-propaganda offensive, and although that may have been plausible for a while, it is clear from what is written in the Green Book, that by the war’s end, some of these were men who felt that their integrity had been compromised.

    If all their work was meant for publication, what was the secret? The real secret of MI 7b (1) was that the Crown and Parliament had a very great need for it, far greater than history may yet have acknowledged.

    Why was it disbanded so quickly? The rapid disbandment of MI 7b did not affect its role and function, for that carried on. I think that Lords Northcliffe and Beaverbrook recognised that MI 7b (1) was a first class news agency with global reach, in effect, the information superhighway of its day. They took control of its infrastructure to further their newspaper interests, and MI 7b’s role and function morphed via the Ministry of Information through to the BBC.

    From Adelphi House to Bush House!

    With its records destroyed, and all its members bound by the Official Secrets Act, the story of MI 7b (1) might have remained an interesting, but obscure, footnote in history. With any luck, this discovery may yet inform our thinking about the First World War, and play a significant role in our understanding of the true nature of the conflict and the context in which it was reported.

    “Tales of the VC”, 96 of the 150 or so articles can be found on:

    http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en/

    [1] 21 September 1917

  10. seaforths' Blog

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    I have decided to begin blogging on my research which I started a couple of years ago. The journey has been interesting and taken many twists and turns and I would like to keep a record of what have done and what I intend to do.

    In order to do this I must first back-track to the very beginning...

    My mother in 2007 and at that time in her 69th year and in seemingly good health asked me to find out 'what happened to your granddad in the First World War', my granddad being her father. My responses were:

    We already know what happened, he was a 6th Seaforth Highlander, under-age, reported and made to be a stretcher bearer, was wounded and captured as a POW. He also joined up as a runaway about two weeks after the war started.

    And, as she insisted she wanted to know how he was captured, where he had been as a soldier and POW - I don't have time to find this stuff out right now.

    I had asked tons of questions as a child and got the answers. I didn't think there would be anything more to find out. However, she didn't let it drop and in 2009 I began to do some searches on the internet based on what she (and my grandma previously) had told me. 'He was captured at Arras in 1917'. I couldn't really make sense of the information I found and the truth was, I still didn't really have time - always too busy.

    In 2010 my mother died unexpectedly from an undiagnosed heart condition/disease and in amongst all of the grief and torment, I also felt I had let her down. For I had loved and worshipped my granddad while he was alive because to me he had always been a hero and yet as a grown-up, I no longer had time for him or my mother who wanted to know what her father really did.

    After the funeral a cousin asked me to take her to another kirk so we could visit her mother's grave too and on that visit she told me she knew where our old family graves were and would show me. As it turned out she couldn't find them and so some weeks later, I returned to look alone. I had almost given up after quite a while of looking and started to walk away. On reaching the gates, I checked my watch and decided to allow another 15 minutes but doubted I would be successful. Some of the grave stones were completely illegible due to the erosion. I only went another row down when I found two of them, side by side.

    My attention was caught by an inscription on the grave of my great, great grandparents 'and also their grandson William Proctor Duncan who was killed at Beaumont Hamel November 13, 1916 aged 31. Buried in Maillet Wood cemetery...' I asked myself several questions. Who was he? How had I not heard of him? How did he tie into granddad and the war? He must have been highly thought of but now forgotten. He needed, like granddad, to be remembered once again.

    That was the start of the journey in the summer of 2010 when I began some serious ancestry research on my granddad's side of the family and in particular, the enigmatic William Proctor Duncan.

    Six weeks after my mother died, my father died. He had emigrated to Cape Town in the late 1980s and had remarried my step-mother died ten months after him. Because of the distance and circumstances of funerals taking place immediately, I could not attend either. Instead in the spring of 2011, I found myself on a train to London having taken 3 days unpaid leave from work, to collect the belongings of my father that were being brought back from South Africa after the death of my step-mother, by her granddaughter whom I had never met.

    I had managed to accumulate quite a lot of information on my great, great grandparents, their ten children and their grandsons William and George (my granddad). The day before leaving for London, I did something quite strange, I typed the words William Proctor Duncan into the Google search engine, not really expecting anything at all. What a shock I got. I found he was being discussed on something called The Great War Forum...

    There was a conversation on the Forum and as I recall, it was entitled A Service Number on a Spoon.

    It appeared that a spoon had been found by an amateur archaeologist near what had been the sight of a CCS at Poperinghe. It had been engraved with the letters SEA. and a number 3936. The feeling was that the letters denoted a Seaforth and the number was a service number. They had identified that William Proctor Duncan, a Seaforth, had that service number. However, it appeared from the conversation, he was not the only Seaforth with that number.

    I must admit, I was very shocked that a relative of mine was being discussed on the Internet. When the initial shock subsided it was also quite exciting that having found out nothing about my granddad, here I might be able to find out more about the war service of his little known cousin. I checked what I had found out about him again. Just to make sure there was no mistake and they were actually discussing the right man.

    So far, I had found him on two census aged 5 and 15 at the home of his grandparents at the Tugnet, Spey Bay. He had been born in Corstophine, Edinburgh the illegitimate son of the eldest child and daughter of the 10 Duncan children, according to his birth certificate. She was at lodgings and gave her usual address as Tugnet. She had been a servant in Fochabers but how she had ended up in Edinburgh, I didn't know at that time. I thought that his name, William Proctor Duncan was a nod to who his real father might be, a clue to be followed later.

    The CWGC had yielded more information and his service number. It was definitely him. I needed to make contact...

  11. lynnie57's Blog

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    Hello

    William Smith was my grandfather. Of course now I wish I had spoken to him about his life when he was alive. And I wish I had asked my dad questions too. Too late. In the unlikely chance someone can help me, I thought I would put up what information I have on my Pop and see if anyone happens to know anything about him.

    William Smith was born in Maryton on 23.8.1896. He was married to Jane (aka Jean) Cameron from Dundee. He went off to war at a young age I believe. I have been told he was a Corporal Machine Gunner in the Black Watch and I remember him talking a lot about Mesopotamia. He was a broken man and never recovered from whatever he experienced there. I do not know any more about his war years but would love to find out.

    He did survive the war and later worked for Glasgow Transport as an Inspector on the trams and buses.

    If anyone could give me any idea on where to start looking for information, I would be most grateful.

    Lynnie57

  12. Troopship's Blog

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    My great uncle Jack Law was killed on 26th September 1917 while serving with the above battery. I should be very grateful if some kind soul could point me in the direction of the battery war diary.

  13. pshores' Blog

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    Please check out the 1916 & 1917 diaries here

    Http://www.reginaldhall.com

  14. peter19's Blog

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    Hello, this is my first involvement with the Forum - here goes. I know there must be many others interested with particular units etc. My interest is the Essex Regt. WW1. Could anybody advise me on how to get War diary's without having to spent too much money. ( I am a pensioner !!)

  15. Gorton19's Blog

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    Yesterday 27/2/13 I found the remains of a World War One soldier In a field in pozieres I have declared the remains to the gendarmerie and passed on the personal effect I found which incl :-

    A spoon

    A fork

    A ring

    An Australian badge

    A button

    And some little beads ??

    I believe the remains have been recovered today from the field and I await their findings , i am hoping they will find some indication as to who this soldier is

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    Good morning,

    I just registered on this forum.

    I’m Italian and I’m doing a research about the British Army intervention in Italy during 1917-1918.

    I'd be interested to maps of the trenches, in particular indicating barracks and artillery positions in the area of the Asiago plateau.

    If you have any one, I would be very pleased to see it, or just have a copy of that!

    So you can go back to the places and map using GPS.

    Can anyone help me?

    Andrea

  16. lynner's Blog

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    lynner
    Latest Entry

    I am looking for records of my grandfather Frank Milsom, WW1, Duke of Cornwall Regiment, no. 35657, then the Wiltshire Regiment, 0682. I have found these records on Ancrestry but believe other records to have been burnt in the fire of WW2.

    He was on the Transylvania when it went down in May 1917 but survived and was in Savona until May 10 1917 then returned to Mareseille. Does anyone know the ship from Savona to Marseille? Where did he go from here, possibly Alexandria or elsewhere in Egypt. What happened on the battlefield for the DDLI in Africa after May 1917, why would he have been tranferred to the Wiltshire Regiment.

    Any information would be gratefully received.

  17. Henk H.M.'s Blog

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    Dear all,

    I am the author of the book The Live Bait Squadron, Three Mass Graves off the Dutch coast, 22 September 1914. I presented my book about Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue in an audience of some 100 descendants 22 September last in Chatham/Rochester. But as 2,200 men were in these ships I would be very happy if I could have contact with a lot more. For this reason I established The Live Bait Squadron Society, with a website under construction and a quarterly Bulletin, all for free. My aim is to have an appropriate 100 year's Commemoration in September 2014 as well in UK as in Holland.

    If you want to join The Society, please let me know: your name, where to reach you, the name of your ancestor, and what ship he was in. If you are just interested: you can be Member of the Non-Related Group.

    Yours,

    Henk H.M.

  18. ALCTAy's Blog

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    Today I posted this MIC for Thomas Stanley REAY and the information that I had gathered from it. Straight away someone pointed out that it also contained the date of REAY's commission as Lieutenant, something that I hadn't noticed.

    I was also pointed in the direction of a resource I'd never heard about - The Liverpool Scroll of Honour, and then received an offer of a scan of the relevant entry. The people on this forum are amazing, not just that they know so much, but they are (for the most part!) so willing to share what they know. Brilliant.

    REAY's entry on my blog is at http://thewarmemorial.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/lieutenant-thomas-stanley-reay-ps3182.html

    I'm always happy to receive comments on the blog (usually pointing out my errors!) and suggestions for improvements or new information to be added.

  19. Well dear reader,

    As you can tell from the entry dates of this blog i have not been very good at keeping things up to date.

    Anyroadup........Just returned from a four day stay at Chavasse House with six other like minded chaps. Left home at around midnight on Monday 17th and had a nice quiet mini bus (Ford Toureno) ride down to the Chunnel.

    As you can imagine we arrived nice and early so instead of the 08:20 crossing we got onto a much earlier departure, thus giving us even more time in France.

    Once across (under) the channel it was full steam ahead to Vimy Ridge, a place I had not been to before. Impressive monument and with one of our party having a relative named on the walls we spent a fair amount of time there. We also took the underground tunnel tour which was most informative and gave us all an insight into the underground conflict.

    As we had to wait until about 1500 hrs to get into Chavasse we indulged in our first taste of French food......Yes it was into Alberts Maccy D's for a Grande Mac and Frites, then a wizz down the road to the Super U supermache for supplies (read beer & BBQ meats)

    Up to Chavasse and bag a bedroom........Now, knowing what a bunch of snorers we had I managed to sort the larger of the ground floor double bedrooms to myself. Made up the bed, put on the kettle and made a brew. It was then time for the BBQ to get fired up and a few bottles of beer to get quaffed. Off to bed at about midnight. Day one over.

    Day two..........Up at about at just after 07:30, breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage and baguette...(The bread van arrives at Chavasse at about 0800) Out and about by 10:00 and off to Thiepval and Ulster Tower......Did a quick look at the cemeteries ext to Ulster Tower and booked a tour of the woods with the new 'tenants' Don & Maureen (who we named Rapunzel, cos she loved living in the tower)

    We met Don for the walk and were joined by a coupe of other guys, one wearing sunnies and a baseball cap and the other a quite tall guy, they were clearly together but I took no particular notice of either.

    Anyway after a fantastic tour by Don (I have done similar with Teddy, but this was even better) one of our group said "That's Alexi Sayle in the baseball cap" Well courage was drawn and an approach made. Guess what Mr Sayle was very good had his picture took with our group and chewed the fat back at the Tower. Funny but 'Rapunzel' was serving behind the counter and never even knew he had been a visitor.

    A quick tramp to the Popes nose observation point, a field walk that gave up a live 303 round (left where it was) then back on the bus to travel the short distance to Pozieres and the tank memorial and the windmill site. By now we had also visited a fair few cemeteries along the way and it was almost 17:00 hrs so a blast back to Chavasse for scoff and an evening of shooting the sh*te in the Rum Ration bar. at about 00:30 it was the end of day two.....

    Day three....Up again at 0730 quick 3 S routine and breaky was a repeat of day two.....Out again by 10:00 and off to visit Sunken Lane, Hawthorn Crater and Redan Ridge number 1 cemetery where 'we' had a local boy buried. I always find sunken lane such an atmospheric place, quite spooky to be where those lads were asking "are we in the right place?" Up to Hawthorn Crater and a couple of lads go down inside to have a loser look while I did a bit of a field walk. (nowt found) We then went up to Redan Ridge and traced cemetery number 1, where a local lad (from Swindon Nr Dudley) is laid to rest. Private 689 Sidney Henry Garston was in the Royal Fusiliers and died on 14th November 1916 aged 23. He has a grave in Swindon that states he died at Beaumont Hammel.

    From there it was a trip to see the Sheffield Pals memorial and Railway cutting cemetery etc. As we were then moving back past Ulster Tower one of our party uttered the fateful words "I wonder what Iain Mchenry is doing now" The van driver then uttered the fateful phrase " Goodness me (or similar) there he is in the front of that coach" The coach came to a halt at the Tower and we were duly re-united with Iain who's services we had hired some years before when we were on the Salient. So it was time for a brew and sarny at the Tower and a rejoining with Don, Rapunzel and Iain. To close the day we drove to Peronne and visited the museum. From there we re-stocked on essentials and returned to the Rum Ration and another BBQ......We adjourned back into Chavasse House at about 23:30 and just had to drink the rest of the beer/wine as we couldn't bring it back home.. So a late night was had, got to bed at about 0100 ...End of day three.....

    Day four....Up again at 0730 (bit knackered) the 3S's and brekky, packed up and left the house at 10:00 for a quick trip to Corcelette (sp?) where the guy who had a relative remembered at Vimy also had a relly remembered here. Then we went off to Delville Wood and made a trip around the South African memorial. Fantastic place.

    Back on the minibus and off to Lochnagar crater and a drive past the site of the dig at La Boiselle then back towards the Chunnel...Got there early and again took advantage of an early crossing. Back in Blighty at 15:30 but due to crashes/roadworks or whatever the problem was we didn't get back 'home' till 2200. Grrrrrrrr....

    Well that's the trip for another year, so where next for 2013?

  20. lankey's Blog

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    al keay
    Latest Entry

    can anyone help de-cyphering the codes on a soldiers service record for battle wounds. I have 3 entries -

    C1281, C6932 and C1678. any info gratefully received - Alan Keay

  21. advanceddiver's Blog

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    I am looking for information on the said battalion, to whether there is a museum or a association linked with it. I have a relative who served with the battalion 1914-1918 as a sniper and then suffered shell shock.

  22. Magson1's Blog

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    I am keen to fine more info out on Sidney Clarence Kellaway and or his battery. Details I have so far: Est Birth Year 1895.Age at enlistment:20, Regimental Number:108715, Regiment Name: Royal Regt of Artillery, X/24 trench mortar battery, 24th divis. He won the Military Medal in 1916 and was wounded/shot in the left foot. I would dearly love to fine out more about him or his battery, being where they saw action, as his on line war records are not clear. Any more info would be great. Thank you, Brian

  23. MarkH's Blog

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    blog-0154043001346063636.jpgI live in Guernsey, Channel Islands and have been researching my family tree for some time. I have spent quite a while on two of my first cousins, one (Alphonse Dumond) killed on 13th October 1914 at Cuinchy and the other (George Dumond) lost aboard HMS Ghurka in 1917. I have been having more trouble with researching the actual service of my great-grandfather Sidney Roger West, mainly because he was a regular soldier before the Great War and his service records are not available online, presumably amongst the 60% burned. He was certainly in the 16th Lancers in 1911 because the census records show him resident at their barracks, then a lance corporal. One thing I do have though is an unusual photograph of him in 1914 with a mustered group of what must be soldiers passing out from the Royal Military College. My great grandfather was a sergeant in the 16th Lancers at this time and obviously seconded to RMC for training new officer cadets. He later went to France, his medal record shows this as being 8th December 1915. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in the Wiltshire Regiment but its not clear when this happened so I don't know whether he fought with the Wiltshires or the 16th Lancers.

    I have never seen the equivalent of this detailed photograph in many hours of looking at the various records available. The photograph contains the name, regiment and rank (if applicable) of all present. They include a number of notable prominent individuals, including Oswald Mosley, later to become leader of the British fascist movement. Also included are the Hon B Ogilvy, Lord Killeen and Viscount Weymouth. I am hoping that by transcribing the names and giving something to the forum I might in turn learn something more about my great grandfather's service, and those he served with. Although I never met him this photograph sat above the settee in my grandfather's lounge for at least the last 50 years so I have looked at it very regularly since I was very young and wondered at the stories of the men pictured in it. All enquiries welcome. My great grandfather is standing extreme right of the picture.

    The full list of those in this photograph is as follows:

    K Company, RMC September 1914

    Back Row – L to Right

    T.S. Dr A. Hankey

    F.J. Bridges

    J.V. Isham

    J.B.P. Fitzgerald

    W.G.N.H Dalrymple

    J.H.M White

    D.P. Cox

    W.J. Balfour

    W.H. Cubitt

    F. Egerton

    Viscount Weymouth

    R.O. Arkwright

    E.G. Pease

    P.V. Harris

    R.D Busk

    Sir A.D. Bagot, Bt

    W.D. Daly

    Second From Back Row, L to Right

    R.F. Heyworth-Savage

    Hon. J.H.P. Verner

    M.H. Birch-Reynardson

    D.H. Gough

    S.H. Le Roy Lewis

    C.N.F. Browne

    C.W. Allen

    K.F.S. West

    C.B. Scott

    W.P. Wright

    R.H.E. Abdy

    D.J.E. Norton

    F.F. Smith

    A.C. Wilson

    O.E. Mosley

    Third from Back Row L to Right

    Sergt C. Waters (18th Hussars)

    Hon. B.A.A. Ogilvy

    S.B. Horn

    B.A. Carver

    J.G.H Somervell

    H.O. Oxley

    A.B.P.L. Vincent

    J.S.M. Wardell

    W.S.C. Crawshay

    J.A.B. Lane

    G.C.P. Paul

    Hon. W.M. Stourton

    D.H. Adair

    H.C. Daniel

    L.P.G. Kelly

    R.A.W. Knight

    A.S.C. Browne

    H.F. Bowles

    R.C.M. Shelton

    J.M.Stubbs

    Sergt. C.H. Ullathorne (19th Hussars)

    Fourth From back Row L to Right

    Sergt. D.B. Higgins (21st Lancers)

    P.F.J. Kent

    J.E. Bovill

    J.E.M. Bradish-Ellames

    J.H. Sykes

    L.J.G. Souchon

    M.S. Osborne

    A.C.B Freeman

    Hon. C.J.F. Winn

    Hon. W.W. Montagu-Douglas-Scott

    Lord Killeen

    S.I. Fairbairn

    A.R. Cooper

    K.V. Edwards

    A.B. Smith

    R.A. Scott

    D.M. Stanley

    Sergt. E.H. Biddle (Scots Gds.)

    Sergt. R.J.B. Richards (16th Lancers)

    Sergt. S.R. West (16th Lancers)

    Fifth Row From Back L to Right

    Staff Sergt. J. Smith (Scots Guards)

    W.W. Hayes

    A.C. Mackintyre

    P.R.Astley

    Capt. W.P.H. Hill (Royal Fusilliers)

    Hon. H.H. Douglas-Pennant

    (Fifth Row from back, continued)

    Capt. J.T.T.W. Feinnes (R.W. Kent Regt.)

    Under Officer L.F. Marson

    Major C.N. French (Hampshire Regt.)

    D.F.G. Duff

    Major W.S. Sykes (3rd Dragoon Gds.)

    W.G. Gisborne

    Capt. E.L. Lyon (18th Hussars)

    R.B. Helme

    Capt. R.R. de C. Grubb (3rd Hussars)

    R.G. Morrison

    G.E. Younghusband

    F.W. Pink

    S.S. Major R.R.H.W.L. Carter (2nd Dragoon Guards)

    Front Row, L to Right

    J.S. Fernie

    J.H. Hirsch

    A.B. Johns

    P.G. Carr

    G. Crerar-Gilbert

    C.D.S. Mackirdy

    L.F.C. St. Clair

    T.G. Watson

    M.J. Clery

    J.O.P. Clarkson

    Photograph by Clarke & Co, Camberley

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