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Gunner Time

blog-0958991001350824703.jpgIt was normally the Gunner officer who gave time when I was on exercise. This would ensure that any timings on a plan, notably H hour would be carefully co-oordinated with the guns firing. Any deviation could comprimise supprise, cause confusion or cause own casualties

Tine was critical to the bombardment plan in WW1 as poor communications meant flexibility was reduced (or non existent), so the rigid movment of barrage lines would take place at the designated times. If the infantry were slower than the timings, they could end up with no artillery support as fires moved away from them, too fast, and they would be shelled by their own guns.

A crtical point is knowing the time - it's time zone (yes I have seen this one scrwewd up) and it's designation ie 7 pm or 19:00 .

There have been a number of posts about time used in World War One.

Time Difference http://1914-1918.inv...time difference

Army Time http://1914-1918.inv...k

24 Hour Clock http://1914-1918.inv...k

What was the time in 1916 http://1914-1918.inv...k

This is my summary:

1914 - Time zone GMT timings --> denoted in AM / PM

1915 - Time zone GMT timings --> denoted in AM / PM

1916 - May 21 / 22 Daylight saving introduced timings -->denoted in AM / PM

1917 - Time zone GMT / Daylight saving -->denoted in AM / PM

1918 - Time zone GMT / Daylight saving -->denoted in AM / PM till 1st October 1918

AO 23 1918, effective midnight 30 Sep/1 Oct 1918 introduces 24 hour clock

1919 - Time zone GMT / Daylight saving --> deonted in 24 hour clock.

And from timeanddate.comthe dates for time changes for London can be found:

1914 No time changes

1915 No time changes

1916 Sunday, 21 May, 02:00 Sunday, 1 October, 03:00

1917 Sunday, 8 April, 02:00 Monday, 17 September, 03:00

1918 Sunday, 24 March, 02:00 Monday, 30 September, 03:00

1919 Sunday, 30 March, 02:00 Monday, 29 September, 03:00

All nicely presented in a diagram by eparges in this post - Time differences

doc.gif timedifference.doc


From British Summer Time on the front thanks to Kevin for an entry from a war diary confirming daylight saving changes took place:

ALTERATION TO TIME. British Armies in France addopted summer time at 11pm this day and all clocks and watches

--------------------------------- were advanced one hour and so 11pm became midnight.

As ever thanks to Ron Clifton for clarification about when daylight saving was introduced and about time zone. From British Summer Time on the front

It is a common misconception that French time in WW1 (and in WW2) was one hour ahead of British. It wasn't - the British, French and Belgians were all in the Greenwich time zone. The Germans were one hour ahead. The French did not change their normal time until some date in the mid-1950s - possibly when the Common Market began in 1957.

Daylight Saving Time was introduced in 1916 and applied by all Western Front combatants, though not necessarily on the same dates. The actual dates are given in the Introductions to the British Official History, in the first volume for the relevant year.

The Armistice came into force at 11 am GMT on 11 November 1918.

A great contribution from Tony Lund in Army Time regarding the official introduction in 1916.

In May 1916 daylight saving time was introduced, and the Home Office sent out the following notice: “Important Alteration of Time. On the night of Saturday/Sunday, May 20 /21, at 2 a.m., the time on all railways, at all Post Offices, and other Government establishments, will be put forward by one hour to 3 a.m. The altered time will be used for all ordinary purposes during the summer. For instance, licenced houses, factories and workshops, and all other establishments where hours are regulated by law, will be required to observe the altered time.

“The Government requests the public to put forward all clocks and watches by one hour during the night of Saturday, May 20. Normal time will be restored at 2 a.m. on the night of Saturday/Sunday, September 30/October 1.

“The chief object of this measure at the present time is to reduce the number of hours during which artificial lighting is used in the evenings, and so save to the nation part of the fuel and oil used for lighting, and release large quantities of coal, which are urgently needed for other purposes arising from the war.”

Though a contribution from Time differenceby nigelS from an article in the Sunday Telegraph would suggest that there were proably a number of letters to the Times about it's introduction !

A slight deviation - Today's Sunday Telegraph carries a piece about the first changeover to BST on May 21st 1916 just four days after the "Summer Time Act" had received Royal assent on the 17th. There was, apparently, quite an outcry when this was drawn to the attention of the general public, with the editor of "Meteorological Magazine" calling it "Prussian Time" and "Sham time" while accusing the government of: "compelling us to keep the time of the enemy meridian". The Telegraph article continues by mentioning that a another correspondent was able to counter this allegation by pointing out that: "the fact that noon is now that of Berlin need not cause the patriot to shudder at the change, because in Germany and its subject lands the noon of Petrograd (St. Petersburg) is used to set the summer clock"; Germany itself having , apparently, introduced daylight saving during summer months so that its time corresponded with that of St. Petersburg in Russia. Although the military might not have been confused about the correct time, doubtless a large part of the general public would have been.

and Grumpy's library of Army Ordesr defines when 24 hour clock was introduced. Must have been interesting when that happened, one can almost here time being described as 23 o clock. From Army Time

AO 23 1918, effective midnight 30 Sep/1 Oct 1918.

Though the post by Hoplopfile from 24 hour clock idicates that the French were different !! (brings back memories of remember French army staffing procedures)

The French Army adopted the 24 hour clock just before the outbreak of the war, in 1912 or 1913

As well as the nice diagram eparges has summarised the methods adopted by the Allies and the Germans from Time Difference

looking for info on the difference between german time and allied time, I found several treads on this forum. Having applied some of the remarks, I found it didn't allways work or gave wrong results and did a little research. I found that:

* germans, french and brits introduced summertime in 1916

* german time was in general one hour ahead of european time

* allies on the western front (that is french and brits) used the french time

* all applied different dates for the beginning and ending of summertime

I 'poured' all this into a some tables (that is french and german times etc, since for battle(field)research the britishtime is irrelevant, hope I'm correct there, and postwar history didn't converse again..). Tables are german vs allied (french)

this gives for exemple:

* german source gives 12.00 (noon) on the 10th of may 1916, which makes it 10.00 am allied time

* allied source gives 20.00 pm on the 20th september 1918, which makes it...20.00 pm german time.

Well, hope I haven't made a mistake (or an ass), else, please correct!

Attached Files

doc.gif timedifference.doc

german changes as for 1916,1917 & 1918:

30.04.1916, 23:00 Uhr - 01.10.1916, 01:00 Uhr

16.04.1917, 02:00 Uhr - 17.09.1917, 03:00 Uhr

15.04.1918, 02:00 Uhr - 16.09.1918, 03:00 Uhr


Royal Artillery - St George's Ypres

Another visit to St Georges in Ypres. Always learning, I just realised on this trip there was a window dedicated to the Royal Regiment of Artillery.





Remembered Today: Serjeant Robert GRISTWOOD, Royal Field Artillery who died on 2nd October 1916, A I F burial Ground, Flers

:poppy:CWGC Information


Rank: Serjeant

Service No: 46506

Date of Death: 02/10/1916

Age: 29

Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery

"D" Bty. 94th Bde.

Grave Reference II. H. 29.


Additional Information:

Son of Martin Gristwood, of Rickmansworth, Herts.

Robert Gristwood was born in Rickmansworth (near Watford), Hertfordshire in 1888. He is recorded in the 1911 census living at 6 Messina Terrace, Edbury Road, Rickmansworth with his father, Martin Gristwood (a retired grocer and porker), 3 brothers and a sister.

He enlisted at Stratford, Londob, his occupation being recorded as a Grocers Assistant. His MIC records his entry in to France as 9th September 1915 qualifying for the 1914/15 Star, BWM and Victory Medal.

The 94th Brigade RFA formed part of the divisional artillery of the 21st Division. They deployed to France at the begining of September 1915, being complete in their concentration area 13th Septemeber 1915. After a few days in theatre they were thrus into the Battle of Loos.

Their next major action was on the Somme. The Brigade deployed in the area of Bercourt, firing in support of the 21st Divisio's thrust towards Fricourt and Mametx Wood on the 1st July 1916. The Division were subsequently enaged in the battles of Bazentin Ridge and Flers-Courcelette.

Long Long Trail 21st Division

He was killed 2nd October 1916.


Remembered Today: Gunner Reginald Alfred GRAINGER, Royal Garrison Artillery

who died on 28th September 1915, Dunkirk (Christ Church) Churchyard

:poppy:CWGC Infomation


Rank: Gunner

Service No: 51061

Date of Death: 28/09/1915

Age: 21

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery

No. 3 Depot

Grave Reference In North-West part, near North boundary.


Additional Information:

Son of Thomas and Eliza Jane Grainger, of Croft Cottage, Boughton, Faversham. His brother Thomas Andrew Grainger also died in service.

Dunkirk (Christ Church) Churchyard lies mid way between Faversham and Cantebury. So not in France as one first thought. The No. 3 Depot RGA was based at Hilsea to the north of Portsmouth.

It would appear that Reginald Alfred Grainger was born in Blean, Kent (2 miles north of Cantebury) in 1894.

With thanks to Shiela W a photo of his grave can be found;


His elder brother Thomas Andrew Grainger also died in service, and is buried next to him. Thomas Andrew Grainger, a cooks mate in the Royal Navy died 6th march 1919. Both brothers are remembered on the Dunkirk (Kent) war memorial.



From: Phonetic Alphabet

Thanks to Chris Henschke for 'spelling' out the phonetic alphabets in WW1. I have just checked an Imperial Army series manual on signalling published in 11917, and whilst it mentions and gives examples of the use of the phonetic alphabet, there is no listing. One wonders if it was in general use as in more modern times.

Only two survived the march of time, C - Charlie and X - X-Ray, though V - Vic and V - Victor are not far away. I must admit M - Emma would not be my favourite, and this had clearly gone by WW2 with Mike Targets, Emma Targets does not quite have the same resonance. Not really convinced on S -Esses.

However, a contemporary from WW1 would probably be suggesting that standard NATO looks a bit strange.

The key is the necessity to ensure quick communication and clarity, so as long as a common method is in place then those aims should be achieved.

Source: Phonetic Alphabet


A - Ack A- Aplha

B - Beer B - Bravo

C - Charlie C - Charlie

D - Don D - Delta

E - Edward E - Echo

F - Freddie F - Foxtrot

G - Gee G - Golf

H - Harry H - Hotel

I - Ink I - India

J - Johnnie J - Juliet

K - King K - Kilo

L - London L - Lima

M - Emma M - Mike

N - Nuts N- November

O - Oranges 0 - Oscar

P - Pip P - Pip

Q - Queen Q - Quebec

R - Robert R - Romeo

S - Esses S - Sierra

T - Toc T - Tango

U - Uncle U - Uniform

V - Vic V - Victor

W - William W - Whisky

X - X-Ray X - X Ray

Y - Yorker Y - Yankee

Z - Zebra Z - Zulu


Remembered Today:Gunner John INSCOE, 62nd Trench Mortar Battery, Royal Field Artillery, who died on 15th September 1917, Arras Memorial

:poppy: CWGC Information


Rank: Gunner

Service No: 31730

Date of Death: 15/09/1917

Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery "Y" 62nd T.M. Bty.

Panel Reference Bay 1.


Born in 1895, John Inscoe enlisted in Wolverhampton Sfaffordshire. His 1911 Cenus entry records his occupation as a metal worker (general), and living with his parents, Albert and Susan, together with brother Howard at 6 Manlove Street, Wolverhampton. The cenus records that by 1911 Susan Incscoe had given birth to 5 children, three of whom are recorded as died. She would loose a fourth child on 15th September 1917.

He serving with Y 62nd Trench Mortary battery and the begining of August 1917 the trench moratrs had gone into the line in the area of BULLECOURT, near ARRAS.

on the 15th September the battery was lenat to the 50th division to conduct a trench raid. The record from the War Services of the 62nd Divisional Artillery records "Previously Y Battery had only had two men killed, and so were able to man their four guns.The German barrage was again very heavy, and we suffered severely. Round one gun were grouped about a hundred bombs ready for firing, and exactly what happened we shall never know, but the lot were detonated. The detachment was of course blown to atoms, and at the next gun two men were killed by the explosion as well as Lieut. Harris"

Those recorded on the Arras memorial from the 62nd Trench Mortars are Gunners William Ingram (21) , John Inscoe (22) and Edward Kerrigan (18)

Information from Beckminster Methodist Church War memorial Penn Fields


John Inscoe

The son of Albert and Susan Inscoe of Lorne Terrace, Church Road Bradmore, when he died John Inscoe was Gunner 31730 of the 62nd Trench Mortar Battery, Royal Field Artillery. Although normally attached to the 62nd West Riding Division, which had only arrived in France in March 1917, two Companies, 'Y/62' and 'Z/62' Trench Mortar Batteries were seconded to the 50th Division for a raid carried out on September 15th that year.

Their position was in a little-used trench about 150 yards behind their own front line opposite Cherisy in the Arras area of France. This trench had previously suffered very little from the German barrage, and it was expected that casualties there would be slight. In the event, this trench received about 75 percent of the total German Barrage that day. Earlier John’s Battery had had few casualties, but now they suffered severely. Around one gun were grouped about a hundred bombs ready for firing, and exactly what happened we shall never know, but at 7.40 pm. the whole lot were detonated. There would have been nothing left for his comrades to bury. He was 21 years old. John’s elder brother Howard is also on the church memorial as having served. John is officially commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

Extracts from War Services of the 62nd Divisional Artillery

August 1917

On about this date one of my trench mortar batteries

went into action in Bullecourt.

They are in a ruin in the middle of the village. You get to

them by first entering an old cellar in another ruin, and then

scrambling down a sloping tunnel to an underground chamber

about 30 feet below the surface of the ground. Here the detach-

ment live. Then you crawl up another tunnel, and emerge into

the ruin which holds the mortar emplacements.

I think that the trench mortar batteries had, on the

whole, while they were in action, the most uncomfortable

and dangerous job of any troops in the line. The

infantry, while recognising their great value, objected

not unnaturally to have such favourite objects of the

enemy's attentions in any position near their dug-outs

or much frequented trenches ; and, as it was necessary

that the mortars should be sited as close as possible to

the enemy's front line, and yet, for the above reason,

not too near the infantry, it followed that the only

available positions were usually in unpopular spots

shunned by all who had any choice in the matter, and

generally bearing such significant titles as Hell Fire

Point, V.C. Corner, Deadman's Gulley, etc. The

unfortunate detachments lived underground for practi-

cally the whole of their tour of duty, as it was often

impossible to get to and from their emplacements during

the daylight ; and, owing to shortage of men, their tours

of duty were generally two or three times as long as those

of the infantry. When I went to visit them, I could

nearly always promise myself an exciting walk with

plenty of thrills in it. I retain lively recollections of

crawling with Lindsell or Anderson, guided by Powell,

the D.T.M.O., along shallow trenches, or places where

trenches had been before they were demolished, and

finally diving down into the ground to find ourselves,

when the eyes got used to the subterranean darkness,

in the midst of a party of smiling jolly looking gunners.

They were a cheerful lot, and, after all, they had their

compensations. There were times when there was no

scope for the use of trench mortars, and then they would

sometimes get a rest for several weeks at a time, in some

pleasant billet well back from the firing line ; and when

they did get a rest, it was well deserved.

" Y/62 and Z/62 trench mortar batteries were lent

to the 50th Division for a raid they carried out on

September 15th, 1917. The field guns and trench

mortars provided a box barrage, the latter putting their

contributions at each side, while the field guns shelled

the enemy's support trenches.

" Our positions were in a little-used trench about

150 yards behind our own front line, opposite Cherisy.

This trench had previously suffered very little from

the German barrage, and it was expected that casualties

there would be slight. The wire was not cut from any

of these positions, and guns not even registered from


" The first portion of the raid was carried out from

4 p.m. to 4.40 p.m., and was completely successful.

The Battalion which went over the top was commanded

by the late Brig.-General Bradford, V.C., then Colonel,

who afterwards came to the 62nd Division as a Brigade


" As ill luck would have it (I cannot think it anything

else), the trench the mortars were in received about

75 per cent, of the total German barrage, and casualties

were so heavy among Z battery that they were unable

to man their guns for the full length of time. Lieut.

G. A. Craven was so severely wounded that he died the

same evening, while Lieut. W. Wooliscroft was wounded,

and most of the men either killed or wounded.

" At 7.40 p.m. half a battalion went over the top again,

and in this case also the results were all that could have

been desired. Previously Y Battery had only had two

men killed, and so were able to man their four guns.

The German barrage was again very heavy, and we

suffered severely. Round one gun were grouped about

a hundred bombs ready for firing, and exactly what

happened we shall never know, but the lot were

detonated. The detachment was of course blown to

atoms, and at the next gun two men were killed by the

explosion as well as Lieut. Harris. One man alone was

left unharmed, and after carrying some wounded under

cover, he returned and manned his gun single-handed

until the raid was over.

"We went to the raid 4 officers and about 40 other

ranks, and returned to our Division 1 officer and 6 other


I received the following letter from the G.O.C.R.A.,

50th Division :

' Will you please thank your fellows very much for

the good work they did for us yesterday. I am most

awfully sorry your trench mortars had such a bad time.

It was just bad luck ; the Boche put down a barrage

where he had never put one down before, and caught

them. It was most unfortunate. I can't tell you how

sorry I am about it."


Remembered Today: Bombardier Charles MARTIN, Royal Horse Artillery who died on 1st September 1914, Nery Communal Cemetery

:poppy:CWGC Information

Rank: Bombardier

Service No: 56849

Date of Death: 01/09/1914

Age: 23

Regiment/Service: Royal Horse Artillery "L" Bty.

Grave Reference Special Memorial.


Son of the late William and Jane Martin of Zeal Monachorum, Bow, Devon

Nery Communal Cemetery (Oise France)

On 1st September 1914 L Battery were located at Nery. 'L' . Shortly after dawn, a German cavalry division attacked the British cavalry brigade situated at Nery. Most of the British artillery was put out of action in the first few minutes, however a single gun of L Battery Royal Horse Artillery kept up steady fire for two and half hours. This allowed British reinforcements to counter attack and force the Germans to retreat. Three men of L Battery would be awarded the Victoria Cross.

The Battery's casualties included 20 men killed ,of which one was Bomdardier Charles Martin.

1st September 1914 - the Affair at Nery

Source: http://www.chakoten....y_010914_2.html


Day broke cool and very misty, and when the march should have been resumed it was quite impossible to see objects more than 150 to 200 yards away. Orders were, therefore, issued that units should stand fast until 0500 hours.

From here the battery field was open to view, and Major Sclater-Booth saw that three guns had been unlimbered and brought into action to answer the fire of the German battery, the flashes of which could be seen stabbing through the slightly thinning mist. Apparently the German guns were in action on the heights to the eastward a short half-mile away. The din was terrific. There was one incessant roar of gin and rifle fire, punctuated by the violent detonations of 'Universal' shells bursting over the battery.

As he ran forward to reach his battery a shell burst immediately in front of him, knocked him down, and put him out of action for the rest of the fight.

The battery, which was standing halted in mass with the teams hooked in, took advantage of this delay to let down the poles and water the horses by sections at the sugar factory. Generally, it may be said, 'the only desire of our force in Néry at this moment was to get outside an excellent breakfast'. This very natural desire was to be roughly frustrated.

The mist was nearly as thick as ever when, just before 0500 hours Major Sclater-Booth, with his officers, walked down from the sugar factory to the north-west corner of the battery field, where the haystacks stood. Leaving the others here, the Battery Commander walked on up the main street of the little village to Brigade Headquarters in order to get the latest instructions as to the resumption of the march.

Going into the house he found the Brigadier and his Brigade Major. Hardly had he entered when a high-explosive shell burst over the village, and a roar of gun and rifle fire broke out from the heights overlooking the eastern side of Néry.

At the same moment Lieutenant Tailby, who had been sent with a patrol to reconnoitre the high ground north of Néry, reached headquarters and reported that he had ridden into a body of German cavalry in the mist and had been chased back. It was now about 0505 hours and the 1st Cavalry Brigade had been taken completely by surprise.

Despite the disadvantage at which the British Cavalry and Horse Artillery were taken, and despite the heavy artillery, machine gun and rifle fire pouring into the open bivouacs around the village, steps were taken by all units to offer an effective resistance and hold on till assistance arrived from neighbouring troops.

As soon as firing broke out, the Brigade-Major went out to see that the necessary action was taken. Major Sclater-Booth also went out into the street with the Brigadier, and then left at once to return to his battery.

Suddenly a mob of maddened horses came galloping wildly down the main street. They were the horses of the Bays, stampeded by the enemy's fire. At the same moment a high-explosive shell burst among the surging mass of animals and rendered the road impassable. Crossing over to the western side of the street the Battery Commander ran behind the houses and so came to the field where 'C' Squadron of the Bays had bivouacked during the night.

From here the battery field was open to view, and Major Sclater-Booth saw that three guns had been unlimbered and brought into action to answer the fire of the German battery, the flashes of which could be seen stabbing through the slightly thinning mist. Apparently the German guns were in action on the heights to the eastward a short half-mile away. The din was terrific. There was one incessant roar of gin and rifle fire, punctuated by the violent detonations of 'Universal' shells bursting over the battery.

As he ran forward to reach his battery a shell burst immediately in front of him, knocked him down, and put him out of action for the rest of the fight.

At the moment of surprise was effected, Captain Bradbury and the other officers of the battery were standing near the haystacks. Suddenly, with no previous warning, a shell burst over the battery, and immediately afterwards the bivouac came under very heavy rifle fire from the ridge. Captain Bradbury shouted out 'Come on! Who's for the guns?' and running out from behind the haystacks, made for them, followed by all the other officers. Meanwhile, in the exposed battery, horses and men were falling fast. Joined by those men who were engaged in steadying the horses in the inferno of bursting shells, the officers got three guns unlimbered and swung round to face the German battery. Captain Bradbury, Sergeant Nelson and others took one gun; Lieutenant Giffard took another; while Lieutenants Campbell and Mundy were at a third. The ammunition wagons were 20 yards away, and over that death-swept open space the ammunition had to be brought up. Hardly were the three guns in action when one of them, under Lieutenants Campbell and Mundy, was knocked out by a direct hit; the other two guns opened fire on the enemy.

These two guns of 'L' carried on an unequal struggle. A few rounds only had been fired when Lieutenant Giffard, in charge of one of the guns, was severely wounded and all the detachment either killed or wounded. This left only one gun - under Captain Bradbury - still in action.

Lieutenants Campbell and Mundy, when their gun was knocked out, at once ran to the gun where Captain Bradbury and Sergeant Nelson were working, while Gunner Darbyshire and Driver Osborn crossed and re-crossed the shell-swept zone behind the gun to bring up the necessary ammunition from the wagons.

Almost immediately after the two subalterns joined Captain Bradbury's detachment Lieutenant Campbell was killed and the distribution of the duties at the gun became as follows: Lieutenant Mundy in position close to the gun, acted as Section Commander, while Captain Bradbury carried out the duties as layer, and Sergeant Nelson those of range-setter. The gun appeared to bear a charmed life and remained untouched. Also it was clear that its fire was not without result, for the German guns were being badly mauled.

When the action began the German guns seem to have been in two groups - one battery in action on the heights, and now busily engaged with 'L' Battery, and two more batteries, unlimbered farther to the north almost opposite the centre of the village and firing on it.

Drawn by the fire kept up by 'L' the Germans now apparently decided to mass all their guns, and the two batteries in action abreast of the centre of the village moved round to join that engaged with 'L'.

The solitary gun of the latter was now opposed to heavy odds: the hostile guns were less than 800 yards away and in a commanding position. The action broke out with renewed fury and the massed German batteries made a determined effort to crush the single undaunted gun. Lieutenant Mundy was now seriously wounded, and the tale of casualties began to mount up, until at last at 0715 hours there remained only Captain Bradbury, still unhit, and Sergeant Nelson, who had been severely wounded. They kept up the best rate of fire they could, but naturally it became very desultory. A reinforcement now reached the little detachment, in the person of Battery-Sergeant-Major Dorrell, and on his arrival Captain Bradbury, knowing that the ammunition up with the gun was running low, went back to fetch up more from the wagons. As he left the gun he was hit by a shell and mortally wounded. There now remained only the Battery-Sergeant Major and the wounded Sergeant Nelson. With these two to serve it, the gun fired its last remaining rounds, and was silent. The end had come.

But it had not been fought in vain, for, as its last discharge boomed and echoed, reinforcements of all arms reached the field and the result it had fought so hard to attain was achieved.

'L' Battery's casualties amounted to 45 officers and men killed and wounded, out of a strength of 170. Among the killed were Captain Bradbury, who was awarded posthumously the Victoria Cross; it was also awarded to Sergeant Nelson and Battery-Sergeant Major Dorrell. The German cavalry division lost more heavily, was driven into the surrounding forests, did not emerge from hiding until late next day, and was still unfit to move on September 4.



Remembered Today: Gunner F CANHAM, 88th Battery Royal Field artillery who died on 21 August 1915, Auchonvillers Military Cemetery

:poppy:CWGC Information


Rank: Gunner

Service No: 38498

Date of Death: 21/08/1915

Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery 88th Bty.

Grave Reference I. B. 9.


Frederick Canham was born in 1887 at Staford in Essex. The 1891 cenus shows him living with his father (a carpenter), mother, 1 brother and 4 sisters in Cobham Street, West Ham. By 1901 he had enlisted into the army. The 1911 census records him serving with 12th Battery Royal Field Artillery, with the location being India. The battery location is thought to be Punjaub, India, Multan.

His MIC records his unit as the 4th Divisional Artillery Column. Mobilised in August 14, the Division were initially held back in the UK, deploying at the end of August 1914. Gunner Canham's MIC gives his date of entitlement to the 1914 Star as 23rd August 1914.The Division plus its field and howitzer batteries were part of III Corps and their first engagement was at Le Cateau. They battery were then involved in the retreat to the Marne, then the subsequent battles of 1914 on the Marne, the Aisne and at Messines. In 1915 the Battery would be engaed in the 2nd Battle of Ypres.

Gunner Frederick Canham was a pre-war regular soldier and one of the 'old contemptible'. He was killed 1 year after entering the continent, and was part of the BEF in some of the most important battles of WW1.




Artillery Survey in World War One

The adoption of indirect fire as the main methodology necessitated the need for accurate mapping and survey in order to establish the exact location of our own guns, and to provide a mechanism to know the enemy target. At the battle of Mons, british artillery was ofter located near the infantry positions, shrapnel direct fire augmenting their rifle and machine gun fire. By November 1917, Cambrai became the first bnattle which relied on wholly predicted fire.

In addition to the survey role, the location of enemy artillery for counter bombardment became another essential role of the surveyors.

As ever the Long Long Trail provides essential information: http://www.1914-1918.net/re_survey.htm

I have Peter Chasseaud's Artillery's Astrologers - A History of British Survey and Mapping on the Western Front 1914-1918 on my reading list;


I came accross a paper to presented at the RA Historical Society which provides an good overview

Source: ROYAL ARTILLERY HISTORICAL SOCIETY A Presentation by Brigadier Fraser Scott MA

A Royal Engineer Ranging Section was sent to France in November 1914. It fixed enemy batteries using air or ground observers. Aeroplanes had no wireless so enemy batteries were fixed by the pilot dropping a smoke bomb over one. This was intersected by ground observers which meant that the observers had to be surveyed in. So too had the guns which were to engage them. This was the nucleus for surveying in the artillery. The aircraft were soon issued with wireless so that they could report enemy battery positions on the map. And, as artillery ammunition was in short supply, they needed to reduce the amount used in adjusting fire onto targets and in registering them. This meant surveying in our own battery positions. At the start of 1915 the Ranging Section had a strength of only 19, then in April 1915 it became the 1st Ranging and Survey Section RE under GHQ and a circular went out to Army and artillery commanders:

“The primary objects of this Section were:

1. To determine a means of obtaining, in conjunction with aeroplane signals, the ranges of targets invisible from the ground.

2. To carry out survey work and revision of maps in the area occupied by the British Army.

In addition to the above, the Section has, on several occasions, done useful work in determining the coordinate positions of heavy guns or batteries and supplying bearings and ranges to various conspicuous objects round them” (this was the original of the “bearing picket” ).


The Ranging Section started flash spotting in the winter of 1914-15 using a bearing and range from the angle of depression (the observer was in a commanding position higher than the enemy battery). The results were poor due to the state of the maps (for range accuracy you had to know the difference in height between the observer and the gun). They also used the time from flash to bang to determine range but this wasn’t accurate. Allenby, who was commanding the Third Army, authorised a flash spotting course to be held for 12 officers to select five to be in charge of OPs which were being constructed. Men were provided by artillery units, and flash spotting started. On the Somme front in October 1915 (the front line ran east of Albert) flash spotting, posts named after London music halls were chosen to give as good a coverage as possible..

At this time enemy gun location was mostly done by air reconnaissance which did not satisfy the commander of Second Army who ordered, in October 1915, that

“Counter-battery work must be a matter chiefly for the heavy artillery, and it has therefore been decided that the work of locating the enemy’s batteries shall in future be done at the HQ of the Groups of Heavy Artillery Reserve. For this purpose a special officer, with the necessary assistants, will be attached to the staff of each Group Commander. This officer will be called the Artillery Intelligence Officer”.

This was the start of a proper counter-bombardment system.


Sound ranging began, for the British, when Lawrence Bragg, a Territorial RHA officer and Nobel Prizewinner, was sent to France in October 1915. The French and Germans had already started. Lucien Bull in Paris had developed a recorder based on his work on recording heartbeats. He proposed using an Einthoven string galvanometer with the movement of the strings, and that of a timing device, recorded photographically. Bragg got a Bull recorder and started to sound range just south of Ypres in the Second Army area. He had a mathematician, and electrician, an instrument maker and five others. He got going and persuaded the authorities to add more recorders. He had worked at Manchester under Rutherford and got eight other scientists from there. But the real problem was the microphone type – carbon granule – this was excellent for high frequencies but useless for the low frequency of guns firing (40 hertz or 40 cycles per second).

In 1916 things started to get more settled. In February the surveyors were organised into Field Survey Companies RE, one per Army. Each Army had an Observation Section (for flash spotting) and a Sound Ranging Section. So the field survey companies were responsible for:

Fixing British batteries - topographic section

Map drawing, printing and distribution - map section

Flash spotting - observation section

Sound ranging - sound ranging section

all under a Company HQ which also had a compilation section responsible for artillery intelligence.

1916 saw the system develop - more men were made available so that flash spotting could operate with their posts manned effectively all the time. There was also a Group HQ connected to the posts by telephone exchange so that the posts could communicate to each other too. But it was still difficult to know which flashes were which. The bearings had been measured using theodolites but these presented an upside-down image. They were replaced with Apparatus, Observation of Fire, Instrument used by Coast Artillery; it had a spider’s web graticule, black by day and lit, at night, by a bulb controlled by a resistance. If the flash was dim you decreased the brightness: if it was bright, or you were only seeking a sky reflection, you made the graticule brighter so you only saw the core of the flash and could take the bearing to it.

The telephone lines were provided by the Royal Engineers Signal Service: they could be on the ground, on ‘cosmic’ poles or buried (above ground ones were more vulnerable but easier to repair, buried ones lasted longer but harder to mend). In May 1916 Hemming had a bright idea on how to ensure that the posts were observing the same flash – it was to have a telegraphic key in each post so that when an observer saw a flash he pressed his key and lit a lamp in the HQ – but there wasn’t enough current to light the lamp. He wrote to Bragg who suggested a sensitive relay so when Hemming went on leave he went to Lisle Street in London and bought six relays, keys and buzzers. Coming back after only four days of a fortnights leave (his fellow officers thought he was mad), he mocked up a system that worked. The GPO built Flash & Buzzer Boards for all the flash spotting bases and flash spotting became effective. And in 1916 a School for Observers was inaugurated.

Sound ranging too improved. Bragg had noticed how, when sitting on the privy of his billet, he was lifted when the noise of a gun firing arrived. This indicated that the gun sound moved the air. Corporal Tucker had arrived in this section: he had experimented at Imperial College on the cooling of hot platinum wires by air currents and they thought that such wires would respond to the gun sound but not to higher frequencies. They got some thin wire, put it across a hole in an ammunition box, connected it to their recorder and, when a German gun fired, there was a large ‘break’ in the film record as shown in this diagram of a film showing the breaks and the timing marks:


As Bragg had written “ it converted sound ranging from a very doubtful proposition to a powerful practical method. They also realised that, if the microphones were set out regularly, it was much easier to pick out the signal from one gun, or from a battery. A map of the bases in 1916 shows the section bases are lettered ound rangers are physicists and serious) and the flash spotting posts named after the villages they are near – Lavender for Lavendie – Bullrush for Bully etc.

As the battle fromt moved, the locators had to move forward which the flash spotters did post by post. The sound rangers now had the Tucker microphone, which meant that out own shell bursts could be located so far out that CB fire could be adjusted accurately onto an enemy battery thus avoiding any errors due to wind etc. Tucker himself was commissioned and sent to the Artillery School on Salisbury Plain to form an Experimental Section to work on sound ranging. And early in 1917 they had a series of sound ranging conferences to disseminate new ideas. Ludendorff, directly under Hindenberg, issued an order summarised:

“The English have a well-developed system of sound ranging. Precautions are accordingly to be taken to camouflage the sound eg registration when the wind is contrary, many batteries firing at the same time, simultaneous firing from false positions”.

He also wanted to have a British sound ranging apparatus captured.


For the Battle of the Somme each Corps had a Counter Battery Staff Officer to make sense of the gun location now being obtained. He reported up the Gunner chain of command. Besides the CBSOs there were also Royal Artillery Reconnaissance Officers (RAROs), which caused some confusion. Hemming became the RARO for VI Corps: he couldn’t order any counter battery fire but had to deal through the CBSO, Colonel Fawcett the explorer, who would consult his ouija board to see if Hemming’s location should be “confirmed”. However, British CB had an effect on the German artillery tactics. For them protection gave way to concealment and positions changed with a rapidity that made our hostile battery lists out of date. The CBSO dealt with immediate problems and the RARO with longer-term assessments. Proper CB plans were now being made. For this First Army’s attack CB destroyed or neutralised 90% of the German batteries.

The Germans withdrew to the Hindenberg Line in March 1917. R Sound Ranging Section noted that the Germans were shelling inside their old front line but didn’t report it until the Corps Commander rang up to enquire. T Section made no locations west of the Hindenberg Line but didn’t report this for 24 hours. So they all had to move eastwards. Studies were made of locating accuracy: 4th Field Survey Company found that of 230 German battery positions 86.5% had been correctly located. More sound ranging sections were authorised.

It took about two weeks to install sound ranging sections due to the time taken to lay the lines (the ground was in a bad state). Studies were made to improve mobility which were to be useful later.

In June 1917 First and Second Armies instituted report centres to warn all locating units of activity. These centres were connected to the Flying Corps, balloons, flash spotters, sound rangers, anti-aircraft and wireless stations as well as to corps report centres, corps heavy artillery and divisional HQs.

Before the Messines battle in June 1917 the British put in a false attack to draw German fire so as to get locations. After the battle it was found that the sound rangers had accurately located over 93% of the German battery positions so the Germans had to adopt various ruses - alternative positions, dummy flashes, wandering guns etc. As a result the British CB wasn’t as effective as it had been especially in the flat country around Ypres.

After the Passchendaele battle, the Canadians criticised the locators for being too far back, the reason being the Signal difficulties. They recommended transferring them from intelligence to artillery command. GHQ immediately put them under the Royal Artillery for tactical purposes and this must have influenced the post-war decisions. The Corps HQRAs now directed them.

Schools of instruction were established: each Army had an artillery school and there were also an Observation School for flash spotting and a Sound Ranging School.

In November 1917 the battle of Cambrai became the first battle when all the artillery fire was to be predicted, with no preliminary registration,in order to achieve maximum surprise. All the heavy and siege batteries were surveyed in and provided with bearing pickets as well as some of the field ones. 90% of the hostile batteries had been correctly located, mostly by the locators. Besides this, specially trained mobile flash spotting and sound ranging detachments followed up the advancing troops: one base was in action 56 hours after zero. however, the Germans counterattacked and some apparatus had to be thrown into a pond to avoid capture.

When the Russians collapsed, Germany could now reinforce their Western Front. The focus on the western front was to prepare for defence and reserve bases were prepared. An an experiment was done which showed that a long base further from the enemy was better than a short one near him.

Hemming had a great moment as RARO when, in March 1918, Field Marshal Haig visited VI Corps HQ and came to the artillery office.

He asked Hemming “Could the Germans attack tomorrow?”

Hemming said “I don’t think they could”.

“Why not?”.

“Because we had one gun per three yards of front at Ypres and he will want more. I’ve only found one third so far though more have just moved in”

“All right, as soon as you have found half of the missing batteries send me a telegram”. Hemming sent the telegram on 18th March and the offensive started on 21st March. He used air photographs for this as the Germans had copied us by using predicted fire.

When the Germans attacked the locating lines were cut and no locating could be done. As it was essential to avoid the sound ranging apparatus and the flash and buzzer boards being captured, the locators moved out and through the new British front. As each post only had a two-wheeled cart much had to be left behind or destroyed. Some were taken prisoner: others found themselves formed into ad hoc defence forces digging trenches as infantry. The situation stabilised, gun survey done and locating bases established: In May Bragg and Hemming were brought back to actual locating to work on the GHQ Defence Line, our most rearward position.

In July 1918 the Field Survey Companies became Field Survey Battalions, commanded by Lt Cols, representing the increased strengths. And in July the Allies (the Americans had now joined in) started their offensive using the now established predicted fire. For the battle of Amiens in August the locators were ready to move with the attack and the flash spotters had wireless (attempts to do a radiolink for sound ranging had not been successful).

During the Hundred Days leading up to the Armistice the locators followed up the Allied advance as best they could. Among their problems were deaths from Spanish flu. It is worth noting the batteries located by 4th Field Survey Company/Battalion:

Flash Spotting Sound Ranging`

1917 Dec 800 1500

1918 Jan 342 1047 bad weather for flash spotting

Feb 441 991 bad weather for flash spotting

Mar 1017 2125 German attack

Apr 417 747

May 680 1094

Jun 808 1005

Jul 803 1112

Aug 1002 1260

Sep 1230 434

By the end of the war there were field survey battalions in France, Salonika, Egypt and Italy. What sort of people had been involved? All sorts: they volunteered from the rest of the Army and were recruited from universities. They welded themselves into small groups with a remarkable esprit de corps (even though there was no formal corps). The posts operated on their own with little supervision by officers (the officers were too few and too busy). The nature of the war was such that many groups integrated themselves into the local populace aided, for the flash spotters, by the fact that the positions of their observation posts were dictated by the command they had to have over the countryside so a post was used for months, if not for years. For example Lavender, in Laventie Church, was first used in 1915; 2 Field Survey Company took it over in March 1916 handing it over to 1 Field Survey Company in July and stayed until the German attack in April 1918 (which destroyed the church). But by August 1918, the flash spotters were back in Laventie. Chasseaud wrote in his book Artillery Alchemists: “The men of the group … were practically villagers in their own right”. Here is a drawing of one of them in his billet:


Their self-reliance was well demonstrated in the German 1918 attack: many posts were cut off from their HQ so they had to make their own decisions as to when and where to go.


Railway Artillery

Having spent that latter part of my service involved with depth fire, and having an interest in railways, railway artillery has always held a fascination

A two volume book Railway Artillery: A Report on the Characteristics, Scope of Utility, Etc., of Railway Artillery was published by the United States Ordnance Department in 1921. This outlines the principles of railway artillery, as well as detailing the guns, British are in volume2.

Railway Artillery: A Report on the Characteristics, Scope of Utility, Etc., of Railway Artillery Vol 1

Railway Artillery: A Report on the Characteristics, Scope of Utility, Etc., of Railway Artillery Vol 2

As well as the destructive capacity of depth fire, the shock factor of a 386kg or 719kg shell suddenly exploding in the German’s rear locations would have had a marked effect on the enemy morale.

It is interesting that the Elswick Ordnance Company, Newcastle upon Tyne, were involved with production of all the guns. The 9.2inch gun, 12 inch howitzer and 14 inch gun were all produced on Tyneside. The carriage of the mark II 12 inch gun was also produced on Tyneside, the gun it’s self being manufactured at Woolwich. This may help explain the presence of railway artillery at Hartly [sic Hartley] range on the Northumbrian Coast just North of Tynemouth. [see Marc Coene’s website – bottom set of pics – Captain Walker album).

There were a number of Siege Batteries formed at Tynemouth which were equipped with Railway Artillery - 53 SB / 80 SB / 128 SB

British Railway Artillery

BL 9.2 inch Railway Gun

BL 12 inch Railway Gun

BL 12 inch Railway Howitzer

BL 14 inch Railway Gun

Railway Artillery Siege Batteries

A review if the Index to Units of the Royal Artillery in the Order of Battle of British Armies in France for December 1917 the following Siege Batteries are listed as being railway mounted

18th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzer rail mounted

4th Army

22nd Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

3rd Army

44th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

3rd Army

52nd Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

1st Army

53rd Siege Battery

1x 12in Gun rail mounted

1 x 9.2in Gun rail mounted

4th Army

63rd Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

4th Army

64th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

4th Army

80th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

4th Army

82nd Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

2nd Army

83rd Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

4th Army

86th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

3rd Army

89th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

3rd Army

92nd Siege Battery

1x 12in Gun rail mounted

1 x 9.2in Gun rail mounted

4th Army

103rd Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

3rd Army

104th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

4th Army

128th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

2nd Army

104th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

4th Army

128th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

2nd Army

333rd Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

3rd Army

343rd Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

4th Army

359th Siege Battery

1 x12in Howitzer rail mounted

4th Army

363rd Siege Battery

2 x 9.2in Guns rail mounted

4th Army

366th Siege Battery

1 x 9.2in Gun rail mounted

1 x 9.2in gun rail mounted

3rd Army

374th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

5th Army

381st Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

4th Army

442nd Siege Battery

2 x 9.2in Guns rail mounted

3rd Army

444th Siege Battery

2 x 12in Howitzers rail mounted

1st Army

456th Siege Battery

2 x 9.2in Guns rail mounted

L of C

461st Siege Battery

2 x 9.2in Guns rail mounted

1st Army


1914 Indirect v Direct Fire

An extremely interesting video on you tube contrasting the British 18 pounder versus the German Field Howitzer, though I believe the main comparisons are between indirect / direct fire and the use of Shrapnel versus HE - hence the blog title.

It contrasts the British doctrine an the beginning of the war which was based upon direct fire with shrapnel to support the infantry, and the Germans who were more inclined to adopt indirect fire with HE as the modus operendi.

The primary function of 18 pounder shrapnel shell was anti- personnel, and at the beginning of the war it seems artillery was pushed forward essentially to augment the fire of the infantry, as opposed to adding any depth to the battlefield. The video outlines that at the optimum height of burst (90 feet [27 metres - same as modern artillery I fired]), it was typically effective to 200 yards (180 metres) as a cone of dispersion.

German Howitzer's fired shell twice as heavy, and its primary function was engagement of enemy guns and fortifications. Though not as effective as the 18 pounder against infantry, it was more suited to an artillery duel to neutralise enemy guns. As would be seen at Le Cateau, the Germans were able to neutralise the British Guns, and consequently the British infantry had to fight superior numbers with diminished gunner support.

The conclusion from the video was the Battle of Le Cateau proved that indirect fire was the way forward and indeed following that, the whole geometry of the battle field changed.

Not convinced with the ending….the impression I got was 18 pounders were converted to the anti-aircraft role as they were no longer needed as a direct fire weapon !!!. Although 56 were, it seems to neglect the fact that at the Armistice there were 3,162 18-pounders in service on the Western Front and it had fired approximately 99,397,670 rounds


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://youtu.be/Di5svup9BkY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


Remembered Today: Serjeant A E GOODERHAM, 3rd Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery who died 23 June 1915, Hull Western Cemetery

:poppy: CWGC Information


Rank: Serjeant

Service No: 19738

Date of Death: 23/06/1915

Age: 29

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery

3rd Siege Bty.

Grave Reference 455. 43942.


Additional Information:

Son of Mr. F. and Mrs. L. Gooderham, of 29, Airlie St., Hull.

Information from the War Graves Photographic Project

Died of wounds 23rd June 1915

The 3rd Siege Battery RGA was a Regular Army sub unit and part of the original BEF mobilised in 1914, being formed from 23 company RGA. It deployed to France 17th September 1914, arriving in St Nazaire 19th September. It was equipped with 4 x 6 inch30 cwt Breach Loading Howitzers.


blog-0131271001340217210.jpgFascinating post by chrislock and thanks to

The true war horses were the unsung hero's of the British gun and transport teams. In this they were were not as lucky as War Horse David. The remains of 3 horses being found during work around the Menin Gate. There was a lot of road works going on when I was there a few weeks ago.

Whilst attempting to walk past the Menin Gate Memorial building site today, I realised a crowd had gathered around a trench outside of the memorial who were clearly involved in much discussion in flemish dialect. My learned Dutch was simply not good enough to cope with this however, I could pull out some and more but what caught my eye amazed me. On the floor in front of me were horse jaws, scattered teeth, femurs, ribs, spinal joints etc.

It came to be that during the morning's dig, 3 war horses had been discovered buried in what was believed to be a shell crater burial right in front of the Menin Gate Memorial itself. The horses were still wearing some tack and were all beileved to be British shoed but some had limbs missing.

The horse bones and tack were recovered and taken away in crates for cleaning and future display probably in the IFM according to the local archeologists who were embedded with the workmen.

The few remains I saw were the last to be taken away with the majority having already been removed. The archeologists were originally there to record and photograph the 14th century ramparts which had been exposed and the concensus being, that the horses were part of or a British gun/transport team caught out by shell burst and then pushed into a shell crater for burial.


Source: War horses found during dig at the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, 20/6/12


Artillery of the Great War - Landships

Excellent site which has detailed information on Artillery of the Great War

This site is dedicated to World War One Military Hardware. And to the Modelling of this stuff. Landships

Even a forum with a dedicated section on Artillery Landships WW1 Forum Artillery

Added a block to the blog sidebar

Artillery of the The Great War

British Guns

13-pdr QF Field Gun

18 pdr QF Field Gun

4.5inch QF Howitzer

60-Pounder BL Mk I Field Gun

6inch 26cwt Howitzer

BL 6inch 30cwt Howitzer

8inch Howitzer Mk VI-VIII

9.2inch Mark I Howitzer

B.L. 15inch Siege Howitzer Mk.1

Newton 6-inch Mortar

Stokes Mortar

3.7inch Mountain Gun

13pdr AA Gun on Lorry


From: British Gun Carrier Units

A thread has been running on the The soldiers and armies of the Great War Other sub forums about Artillery mounted on caterpillar tracks.

Thread : Artillery mounted on caterpillar tracks?

Source: British Gun Carrier Units

Many thanks to sotonmate for pointing me in the right direction regarding the British Gun Carrier units.

WO95/100 War Diary for No 1 Gun Carrier Company, Tank Corps,and runs from Jan 1918 to Jan 1919 plus Apr 1919. The Diary is digital and downloadable.

So I downloaded the diaries to find that they also contained a short history of the unit....

Initially during the experimental stage the gun carrying tanks were manned by the Royal Garrison Artillery and Army Service Corps drivers. Initially formed into independant sections of 6 tanks, they were embodied into the Tank Corps. The RGA provided one NCO per tank whose duty it was to take charge of the mounting and dismounting of the guns.

One of those RGA NCO,s , Corporal A Hokins was one of the first caualties killed when tank no 100 received a direct hit from a German 5.9 inch shell, 29th september 1917.

CWGC - Corporal Albert Hopkins- Royal Garrison Artillery attached Tank Corps died 1st October 1917.

A veteran of the Boer War, he was a native of Small Heath, Birmingham.

The four sections were concentrated together to form 1st Gun Carrier Company Tank Corps on 22nd November 1917. Experienced had proved that the services of the RGA NCO’s could be dispensed with, and they were returned to their units on 31st January 1918.

The Company were not called upon until May 1918, by which time it had been decided that the tanks were better employed as supply carriers, and consequently the heavy gun tackle and fittings on the tanks were removed in preparation for their new role.

The use of Gun Carrying tanks therefore ceased in May 1918.

History of 1st Gun Carrier Company Tank Corps July 1917 to May 1918

Source: History of the 1st Gun Carrier Company Tank Corps. WO95 / 100 Image 519 page 122

During the First Battle of the Somme, difficulty was experienced in moving guns of a heavy calibre forward. To alleviate this problem the gun carrier was developed, capable of carrying a 6 inch Howitzer or 60 pounder gun, together with a supply of ammunition. The designed allowed the gun to be quickly mounted / dismounted of fired from the carrier tank. The carrier could then be used to as a mechanism to supply ammunition to the guns.

The first gun carrier tank (no 100) was built at Leeds by Kitson & Company and brought to France in July 1917. The tank was manned by personnel of the Royal Garrison Artillery, with Army service Corps NCO’s and drivers attached. Experimental work was carried out at Erin and Proven (near Ypres).

It was then decided to embody the gun carrying tanks into the Tank Corps. Arrangements were then made to form independent Gun Carrying sections.

A Section Formed 9th Jul 1917 at Leeds deployed France 31st Aug 1917

B Section Formed 6th Sep 1917 at Bovington deployed to France 3rd Sep 1917

C Section Formed 23 Sep 1917 at Bovington deployed to France 7th Nov 1917

D Section Formed Oct 1917 at Bovington deployed to France 4th Dec 1917

Each section included six Royal Garrison Artillery NCO’s (one per tank), whose duty it was to take charge of the mounting and dismounting of the guns.

On formation, A section initially conducted driving training and mounting / dismounting of guns in Leeds. Experimental firing at Shoeburyness preceded

embarkation to France 31st August. On arrival at Erin, training was continued until 6th September, when six gun carrying tanks were drawn from the central workshops. The section then deployed to Ouderdon. Here further trials were conducted, when it became apparent that owing to mechanical troubles and the nature of the ground the tails, as then fitted to the tanks, were undesirable and accordingly abandoned before actual operations were commenced.

Operations commenced a with the deployment of 4 tanks to Zillebekke and 2 tanks to Three Kilo Point (near Woodcote House), where they were employed carrying 6 inch Howitzers and 60 pounder guns and ammunition. It was during this action that the first casualties were sustained when tank 106 received a direct hit from a 5.9 inch shell. The section commander Lt EM Brown[CWGC Information] and 6 Tank Corps soldiers were killed or died from wounds. An RGA Corporal, Albert Hopkins was also killed.

With further sections being formed in the UK, the sections were to be amalgamated to form a company under the command of Major AB Tawse, and further additions would be made to bring the strength up to the establishment.

Operations continued until 19th November when the section entrained at Riegersburg ramp en route to Erin where the tanks were handed into the Central Workshops, where two were found to be non-operational.

They deployed again on the 22nd November 1917, detraining at Ypres moving to Hermies to take part in the first battle for Cambrai. They were employed moving ammunition from the Decauville railway to the batteries positioned on the line of the Grand Canal du Nord. They continued until 20th December when they returned to Erin, before moving to the Depot Camp at Treport.

B section embarked for France on 3rd November after initial training at Bovington. After a few days at Erin, they entrained for Happy Valley near Fricourt where they drew 5 gun carrying tanks. After moving to Le Platrau, they entrained on the 19th November for Ypres. Deploying to Havrincourt Road, they undertook work supplying fighting tanks, then subsequently gun / ammunition carrying for the RGA from 20th to 27th November. They continued until 20th December when all but two tanks returned to Erin. The remaining two gun carriers carried guns and ammunition for 63rd H.B. group. They continued until 19th January 1918, one tank transferring to salvage work, the other to entraining to the central workshops.

When A & B sections met up at Erin, their tanks were sent to the central workshops. The personnel moved by train to Treport, where they were able to spend Christmas in billets at the Depot Camp.

C section arrived at Erin on the 12th November. Whilst continuing their training, they shared in the work of maintaining supplies of ammunition to the battle tanks in action at Cambrai. On 2nd December they moved to the Depot Camp at Treport.

D section embarked for France 4th December, and proceeded directly to the depot Camp at Trecourt.

The 1st Gun Carrier Company was officially formed 22nd November 1917, however it was not until January 1918 that formation arrangements could be carried out as the sections concentrated at the camp. Organisation and training as a company commenced, culminating with an inspection by Commander Tank Corps 19th January 1918.

Experienced had proved that the services of the RGA NCO’s could be dispensed with, and they were returned to their units on 31st January 1918. On 5th February 1918, Major Moore assumed command.

The Company’s initial tasking was the provision of working parties from 14th February till 14th March. It was not until 10th April before 12 gun carrying tanks arrived from at the Mers ramp. The intervening time being spent training, the tedium of in action being relieved by many football matches and concert parties. Time was now spent preparing the tanks, and bringing the company ip to strength with the arrival of 10 subalterns and 3 OR’s from the depot, as well as 19 OR’s from no 2 gun carrying company.

The next deployment commenced 26th April when the company with 10 tanks moved to Erin. After training, they moved to Humeroruille . Further experimentation with gun carrying work was undertaken, and the company drew a further 14 gun carrying tanks from central stores, bringing the total to 24.

On 22nd May, 12 gun carrying tanks were handed over to no 2 Gun Carrying Company. The other 12 tanks were moved by train for Foulainville , then then tracked to Querrieu Wood on the Amiens-Albert Wood. The remainder of the company remained at Humeroruille to draw 12 more tanks. In Querrien Wood, a camp was established.

Whilst in this location it was decided that the carriers were best used in the moving of stores for Battle Tanks, Infantry, Artillery and Engineers. Consequently the heavy gun tackle and fittings on the tanks were removed in preparation for their new role.

The use of Gun Carrying tanks therefore ceased in May 1918.


British Gun Carrier

blog-0017638001339366803.jpgAlways learning on the forum. Source: Artillery mounted on caterpillar tracks?

The British had 48 tracked carriers for moving guns as prime movers. They were not self propelled artillery, they did not fire from this platform.

Source: Landships google Homepage - British Tank actions of the First World War Gun Carriers List

Courtesy of wikipedia:


During 1916 it became clear that in case of a breakthrough, the very purpose of the first tank, the Mark I, artillery would have great trouble following the advancing troops. Any successful offensive would therefore be in danger of stalling immediately. To solve this problem Major Gregg, an engineer working for the main tank producing company Metropolitan, Carriage, Wagon and Finance, proposed to build special mechanised artillery, using parts of the Mark I. The production of a prototype was approved on 5 June 1916; the actual design began in July. The first prototype was ready to participate in the Tank Trials Day on 3 March 1917. An order of fifty vehicles was given to Kitson & Co. in Leeds. Deliveries to the army started in June and ended in July.

The front was an open area with either a 60-pounder (5-inch) field gun or a 6-inch howitzer.

For transporting the gun only the wheels had to be removed from the gun carriage - these were attached to the side of the carrier until needed again. In theory, the field gun could be fired from the vehicle; in reality only the howitzer could be so used. Alternatively the guns could be unloaded through a pivoting cradle assisted by two winding drums driven by the engine. Above the front of the track frame at each side was an armoured cab for the driver on the left and the brakesman on the right.

An Interesting post on the Military Photos Net - The Mark 1 Gun Carrier: British Artillary that made tracks

"In theory, the crew could fire either gun from the vehicle. In practice, only the howitzer was fireable while in motion"

British Gun Carrier

Many thanks to crickhollow for some very interesting photos and information:

The machine carries either -

(a) One 60 pounder 5-in gun with carriage, wheels and 54 rounds of ammunition. or

( B) One 6-in howitzer complete with carriage and 64 rounds of ammunition,

British Gun Carrier Merlin

Not exactly AS 90, however as the contributor states "What an akward and unweildy machine,but i suppose everyhing has a beginning"

Not exactly AS 90, however as the contributor states "What an akward and unweildy machine,but i suppose everyhing has a beginning" I actually think the concept was not as awkard or unweildy as one thinks.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Courtesy of Military Drawings

This one shows a good perspective. A suggested into action drill - The carriage and ordnance move forward on the slide, then the wheels can be attached. This looks to be quite sensible as the tracks will not actually touch the gun platform. Coming into action could have been quite quick - Halt, carriage / ordnance starts to move forward, one man (possibly) two per wheel brings them to the front , attach, commence laying in centre of arc. Machine reverses, track left.ammunition now available for firing.


One can even purchase models

1/72 Scale WWI British Gun Carrier for 60Pdr. Mk.II Howitzer

WW1 Range - Gun Carrier Mark 1 : 15mm scale (1:100)


2/Lt Osmer Noel Stewart M.C.

Came across the grave of this chap when I visited the Ypres Reservoir Cemetery in Ypres.

Second Lieutenant Osmer Noel Stewart. Royal Field Artillery

Commissioned 9th May 1916 aged 18, gazetted with the Military Cross 18th July 1917, died 31st July 1917 aged 19. His commissioned service lasted 1 year, 2 months, 23 days.

Osmer Noel Stewart was born in Toxteth Park, Lancashire in 1898. His commission to the Regular Army was published in the London Gazette 9th May 1916 page 4560


The under mentioned Gentlemen Cadets from the R. Mil. Academy to be 2nd Lts.

10th May, 1916: — ROYAL REGIMENT OF ARTILLELY. R.H. and R.F.A.

Osmer Noel Stewart.

Whilst serving as a Forward Observation Officer, 2/Lt Stewart was awarded the Military Cross for moving forward under heavy fire and being able to cause considerable damage to the enemy from his own fires. His citation for the Military Cross was published in the London Gazette 18th July 1917 page 7245

2nd Lt. Osmer Noel Stewart, R.F.A .

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When acting as F.O.O. he went forward

under heavy shell fire and sent back valuable information throughout the day. His maintenance of communications enabled the artillery to inflict considerable damage on enemy positions.

He was killed 31st July 1917, and is recorded by the CWGC as serving with “B" Bty. 71st Bde. The Brigade at the time was part of the 15th Division who were deployed south of WIELTJE north of the railway line. The Division was enaged in the Battle of Pilkem Ridge.

CWGC Information


Rank: Second Lieutenant

Date of Death:31/07/1917


Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery

"B" Bty. 71st Bde.

Awards:M C

Grave ReferenceI. D. 1.


Additional Information:

Only son of Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Stewart.


From: War Horse 'David' 107th Battery RFA

from my copy of the RA War Commemoration book. RgdsPaul

Source: War Horse 'David' 107th Battery RFA


This grand old soldier served throuhout the Boer War, then from Mons to the Armistice - a true "War Horse"

David was one of the many horses which that served the Royal Regiment, a reminder that Artillery during this period was reliant on the horse as the prime mover. The Royal Field and Royal Horse artillery were totally dependant on horse transport, and whilst traction engines became available to the RGA, there were still many horses required for the Heavy Bateries.

A few interesting links on Horses in World War One:

The Horse Trust Sets The Record Straight On 21st Century War Horses

The Horse and the War by Captain Sidney Galtrey

In 1914 the Divisional Artilley required 3,804 horses to perform it;s role, this included those with the gun brigades, heavy battery, divisional ammunition colum, and the arttilley contingent at the divisional head quarters,

I have not seen the film War Horse, however from the trailers it seems it shows the charge of cavalry, a rare event from my understanding. For the horses of the Royal Field Artillery, the vital task of moving the guns, the never ending task of ammunition supply, and the threat of shelling when at rest in the wagon lines showed they, to my mind, were the true War Horses of World War 1.

David served with 107th Battery, part of 23 Brigade Royal Field Artillery, which served in the 3rd Divsion.

From the Long Long Trail 3rd Division in 1914-1918 shows David had an impressive war record from the retreat at Mons to the occupation of Germany.

Mons / Le Cateau / Marne / Aisne / 1st Ypres / Somme / Arras / Cambrai / Spring Offensive

If Spielberg made a film about this chap it would keep the Film industry going for years.

Source:Long Long Trail The history of 3rd Division


The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, including the the Rearguard action of Solesmes

The Battle of Le Cateau

The Battle of the Marne

The Battle of the Aisne including participation in the Actions on the Aisne heights

The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914

First Battle of Ypres


Winter Operations 1914-15

The First Attack on Bellewaarde

The Actions of Hooge

The Second Attack on Bellewaarde (in support of the opening attack in the Battle of Loos)


The Actions of the Bluff and St Eloi Craters (local operations 1916)

The Battle of Albert*

The Battle of Bazentin* in which the Division helped capture Longueval

The Battle of Delville Wood*

The Battle of the Ancre*

The battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916


The First Battle of the Scarpe**

The Second Battle of the Scarpe**

The Battle of Arleux**

The Third Battle of the Scarpe** in which the Division helped capture Roeux

The battles marked ** are phases of the Battles of Arras 1917

The Battle of the Menin Road***

The Battle of Polygon Wood***

The battles marked *** are phases of the Third Battle of Ypres

The Battle of Cambrai 1917


The Battle of St Quentin****

The Battle of Bapaume****

The First Battle of Arras 1918****

The battles marked **** are phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918

The Battle of Estaires+

The Battle of Hazebrouck+

The Battle of Bethune+

The battles marked + are phases of the Battles of the Lys

The Battle of Albert++

The Second Battle of Bapaume++

The battles marked ++ are phases of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918

The Battle of the Canal du Nord^

The Battle of Cambrai 1918^

The battles marked ^ are phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line

The Battle of the Selle

The Division was selected to advance into Germany and form part of the Occupation Force.


:poppy: Remembered Today: Gunner J LEITH, 107 Brigade Royal Field Artillery, who died on 1 June 1917, Railway Dugouts Burial Ground

Found an excellent site recording details of John Leith from Aberdeenshire




Gunner John Leith, 107th Bde, Royal Field Artillery

John Leith, the second son son of John and Jane Leith, was born on 6th November 1896 on the family farm of Courtieston, Leslie. John Leith, Snr died at Courtieston aged only 43 in 1904. Shortly after, his widow and her five sons moved to the farm of Piperwell at Duncanston, Kennethmont. It was from Piperwell that John and his younger brother James left to go on active service. James served in the Machine Gun Corps and was also killed in action.

John was working as a farm servat at Tillyangus, Clatt when he enlisted at Aberdeen and was assigned to the Royal Field Artillery, 107th Brigade. It is not known if he enlisted after May 1916 when universal conscription come into effect with a Military Service Act applying to all men regardless of marital status between 18 and 41 years. Working on a farm may have been classed as a ' reserved occupation ' prior to this date. It is known he was not in France or Flanders prior to 1916.

It is known that John was a member of "B" Battery, 107th Brigade in the 24th Division. Prior to his death it is likely the battery were in positions in the Zillebeke area in preparation for the start of the artillery bombarment on the German lines two miles away prior to The Flanders Offensive or Battles of Third Ypres. This offensive opened on 7th June 1915 and culminated in the Battle of Passchendaele in November of that year.

There were no actions taking place on the day on John's death but it is quite likely he was injured by German shell fire directed on his battery's position and evacuated to the Advanced Dressing Station located at a farm, known by the British soldiers as Transport Farm, near Zillebeke Lake. The ADS buried in the cemetery which was established there in 1915. Transport Farm Cemetery is also known as Railway Dugouts Burial Ground owing to dugouts in the adjoining railway line embankment being used to house an ADS which also buried its dead there

LEITH, J Rank: Gunner Service No: 103785 Date of Death: 01/06/1917 Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery "B" Bty. 107th Bde. Grave Reference IV. B. 9. Cemetery RAILWAY DUGOUTS BURIAL GROUND headstone-250.jpg Gunner Leith is buried at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground which is one of my favourite cemeteries. Recently travelled to Ypres by train from Brugge via Kortrijk. Just managed to catch the Railway Dugouts Cemetery as we sped past.



Ypres - Royal Artillery

blog-0574516001338229278.jpgJust back from a quick day in Ypres.

An opportunity to spend some time at the Menin Gate


The Menin Gate lists 477 names for those lost from the Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery. The names are listed on panles 5 and 9, either side of the north archway. There are 112 names for those lost from the Royal Garrison Artillery,these being inscribed on panel 9, to the right of the north arch.

A visit was made to the Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, primarlly to visit the Knott brothers graves, where 313 Royal Artillery graves can be found, including gunner William Butler D/250 Battery from Hebburn Colliery.



Indian Mountain Artillery 1914 - 1918

blog-0293176001365671062.jpgI have just been reading of the Indian Mountain Artillery in the Great War. An interesting account of the Gunners from India and their Trusted Friends

Indian Mountain Artillery by Brigadier CAL Graham.

Indian Mule Artillery

Their actions saw Batteries engaged in Gallipoli, East Africa, Mesopotamia, Persia and Iraq, Their contribution clearly upholding the motto of the Royal Regiment of Artillery – Ubique. The very nature of their equipment, guns broken down into mule loads, meant they could support the infantry in the harshest of conditions.

10 Pdr Mule Team

The events in the book chronicle the determination,professionalism and ingenuity to ensure they could always bring their guns to bear on the enemy, whether it was in mountains, in the dessert, in a jungle or even on the water.


The 1st (Kohat) Mountain Battery and 6th(Jacobs) Battery landed on the Gallipolli Peninsular 25th April1915. The last Artillery unit to withdraw from Gallipoli was the 6th (Jacobs) Battery.

Boiling shrapnel shells to improve their effectiveness,cutting cartridges in two to produce half charges due to the short ranges, and improvising range tables.

Expended 21,383 rounds, sustained casualties of 33 killed and 263 wounded. Mules, 62 killed and 212 wounded.

Battle Honors

The 1st (Kohat) Mountain Battery(F.F.) and 6th (Jacob's)…

"Anzac"- "Landing at Anzac"- "Defense of Anzac"- "Suvla"- "SariBatr"- "Gallipoli 1915"- "Suez C anal"- "Egypt,1915-1916".

East Africa

The operation to capture Tanga necessitated an amphibious landing. The 8th (Lahore) Battery fired from the decks of HMS Kent supplementing her 6 inch and 4.7 inch guns.

Battle Honors

2nd (Derajat) (F.F.)… "East Africa 1916-18"- "Narungombf"

4th (Hazara) (F.F.)…"East Africa 1917-18".

7th (Bengal)…"East Africa1914-18" -"Kilimanjaro"-"Narungombf"-"Nyangao".

8th (Lahore)… "East Africa,1914-17"- "Kilimanjaro".

No. 1 Kashmir… "East Africa,1916-18".

Middle East – Mesopotamia / Persia / Iraq

The initial operation was to clear Fao to clear the Turks out of Shat. In support of that action, the 10th (Abbottabad ) Battery landed from ships with the infantry, the 3rd (Peshawar) Battery augmented the naval guns of HMS Odin by firing from the decks of the ship.

During the capture of Amara and Nasiriya on the Euphrates. The infantry deployed by boats, the Mountain Batteries supplying the fire support from rafts.

Battle Honors

lst(Kohat)F.F…"Mesopotamia 1916-18"- "Persia

3rd(Peshawar) F.F …"Basra"- "Shaiba" -"Tigris 1916"-"Mesopotamia 1914-16 "

5th(Bombay) …"Sharqat"- "Mesopotamia 1918".

6ih(Jacob's)… "Mesopotamia 1916-18"- "Persia 1918"

10th(Abbottabad) ... "Basra"- "Shaiba"- "Mesopotamia1914-16".

11th(Dehra Dun) ... "Mesopatania 1918"- "Persia 1918"

14th(Rajputana) ... "Sharqat"- "Mesopotamia 1918".

15th(Jhelum) ... "Persia 1918"

16th(Zhob) ... "Persia1918 "

Indian Mountain Artillery mule with gun barrel


An interesting question raised by mags "was it safer being an artillery man than a simple soldier ".

From Tom's analysis of Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War 1914 – 1920 it would appear that surviving unscathed was more likely as a gunner than an infantry man. If one considers that the main threat to the artillery man was counter battery fire, the infantry were subject to the same risk as bombardment of trenches and lines of communication were also prevalent. For the PBI it would be the contact battle in no mans land, subject to concentrated artillery and machine gun fire, which the majority of artillery would not be exposed to.

However, this needs to be put in context. As Ken points out the Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park records;

In Proud Memory Of The Forty-Nine-Thousand-Seventy-Six

Of All Ranks Of The

Royal Regiment of Artillery

Who Gave Their Lives for King

And Country in the Great War'



Looking at the statistics 85% of casualties came from the infantry and machine gun corps, testimony to the dangers those men faced. The Artillery sustained more casualties than the other arms added together. This is not surprising as Kevin points out;

It's worth bearing in mind that on many occasions Artillery units remained in the line whilst the Divisions' Infantry went back to billets. They also were switched to other Divisions on a temporary basis whilst the Infantry had a period of rest.

However looking beyond the statistics Roger makes a poignant statement;

I'm not sure that I am bothered which was "safer". They all did their duty :poppy:

Hi all,

From the figures provided from the upper part of the table on page 249 of Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War 1914 – 1920, the following breakdown of casualty percentages are produced:


Tom McC


Source: was it safer being an artillery man than a simple soldier


The use of a 'pistol gun' being moved forward to engage a particular target using direct fire is a useful mechanism to destroy or suppress a particular strongpoint.

In July 1915 the pistol action was conducted by floating the gun across the Yser under fire on a raft, landing the gun then destroying a sap and entanglements. An outstanding action !!!!!


During the operations south of Pilkem, between the 6th and 8th of July 1915, the British trenches were within sixty yards of a German sap, which had to be destroyed, with about thirty yards of thick wire entanglements, to clear the way for an infantry attack. With great coolness and enterprise. Second-Lieutenant Parr Aldous Robinson, of the 135th Battery Royal Field Artillery, conveyed under fire from the enemys guns an eighteen-pounder field gun across the Yser Canal on a raft. On being landed, it was removed to the British fire trenches, and in destroying the sap and entanglements, the gun was of great use in the way for a successful infantry attack. The conspicuous services of Second-Lieutenant Robinson were rewarded with the D.S.O. [sic MC ???]

If I have the right chap:

commissioned 10th February 1915 http://www.london-ga...s/1328/page.pdf

Instructor of Gunnery in Egypt http://www.london-ga...s/1325/page.pdf No mention of DSO but an MC - which makes more sense

CRA 19th Indian Division http://www.generals....at_Britain.html

retires and writes a book on gardening ! http://www.amazon.co...N/dp/B0000CIGRQ


Lt. Col. E.P. England DCM RA

Excellent and very interesting article by Dick Flory

Below is an article I wrote for the Journal of the Royal Artillery some years ago concerning an RA officer who had much the same thing happen:

An Officer Who "Made Good"

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Parker England, DCM, RA (Ret.)

Could a cashiered 52 year-old Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Artillery win a Distinguished Conduct Medal as a Private in a line infantry regiment? Unlikely as it seems, it did happen during the Great War.

Born on 10 August 1866, Edward P. England was accepted as a Gentleman Cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich on 19 August 1884. He passed out of the 'Shop' on 17 February 1886 and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. He subsequently served as a subaltern in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and the Indian Mountain Artillery in the United Kingdom and India. In 1897 he transferred to the Royal Field Artillery, serving at home and abroad as a battery captain and battery commander.

He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 19 May 1913. On the outbreak of war in August of 1914 England was appointed Officer Commanding the 5th Divisional Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery and took his unit to France on 21 August 1914.

During the retreat from Mons, the 5th DAC retired as part of the 5th Division. On the evening of the 25th of August 1914, they were bivouacked along the old Roman Road to the north of Reumont. At approximately 3 a.m. on the morning of the 26th, Lieut.-Colonel England was ordered to proceed with his column to Premont, which he did, bringing the column to a location west of Premont. At about 2:30 p.m. he received orders to retire to St. Quentin, which was accomplished by alternately trotting and walking his transport wagon teams via Joncourt and Levergies. The horse teams were badly tired on a steep hill near Levergies. In addition, there were rumours of possible attack by German cavalry. Lieut.-Colonel England ordered four to six boxes of ammunition to be thrown out from each wagon to lighten loads. Later, at about 7.30 p.m., he ordered most of the surplus hay, corn, baggage and other impedimenta to be thrown out of the wagons. But, significantly, he did not ensure that his order was properly carried out. As it passed down the column, England's order became increasingly distorted, and many of the drivers threw off all of their ammunition loads. Shortly afterward, General Sir H. Smith-Dorrien, commanding 2nd Army Corps came along the Estrees-Levergies-St. Quentin road, where he found neat piles of white boxes along both sides of the road for nearly three miles. He at first he mistook them for rations and other supplies and only realized as he was entering St. Quentin that it was gun ammunition.1

General Smith-Dorrien was greatly upset, and referred the incident to the Field Marshal Commanding in Chief, remarking that: "the case is really much more serious than appears here. It was an absolute case of panic on the part of Lieut.-Colonel England ending in his abandoning everything for which his unit exists so that he might save himself and his men."1 General H. Smith-Dorrien went on to write that: "At St. Quentin Railway Station at about 10 p.m. on the 26th August, I was at once approached by Lieut.-Colonel England who was in an extremely nervous and agitated state."1

A Court of Inquiry for Lieut. Colonel England was held at Pontoise, France on 29th August 1914 Based on the evidence presented, it was recommended that he be tried by General Court-Martial on two charges:

First Charge - Section 4 (7) of the Army Act: "Misbehaving before the enemy in such manner as to show cowardice, in that he between Premont and St. Quentin on the 26th August 1914, by reason of fear caused by rumours of the approach of the enemy, without due cause allowed ammunition to be thrown from the wagons of the 5th Divisional Ammunition Column, of which he was in command."

Second (Alternative) Charge - Section 4 (6) of the Army Act: Knowingly doing when on active service an act calculated to imperil the success of His Majesty's Forces, in that he between Premont and St. Quentin on the 26th August 1914, without due cause ordered ammunition to be thrown from the wagons of the 5th Divisional Ammunition Column of which he was in charge."2

On 5 September 1914 England was admitted to hospital, ". . . it being reported that his actions were not those of a responsible person. The Deputy Director of Medical Services on examination found Lieut.-Colonel England to be suffering from considerable mental strain due to over-fatigue and want of sleep, and it was stated that he had in fact lost for the time his mental balance. He was placed on the sick list and was sent to the base."1

Lieutenant-Colonel England was sent home and his case was submitted to the King ". . . with the result that His Majesty was pleased to direct that the officer in question be removed from the Army. Before effect was given to the decision, however, Lieut.-Colonel England appealed to the King's Clemency mainly on the ground that owing to the effects of a severe concussion of the brain caused by a fall when riding in a point-to-point race in India in March 1913, he had since that time been incapable of any severe mental effort, which fact he had not disclosed to the medical officer who certified as to his fitness for active service; and he asked that he might be brought before a medical board with a view to being invalided out of the service, thus avoiding the severe penalty and disgrace entailed by removal from the Army."1

"The Army Council, in view of the medical opinion already referred to, considered it probable enough that Lieut.-Colonel England's mental equilibrium had been impaired by the strain he had undergone, but nevertheless they took the view that it was inadvisable on their part to attempt to enter into the question of mental disability in the case of an officer exercising his command in the presence of the enemy; and His Majesty was pleased not to disturb the decision already arrived at that Lieut.-Colonel England was to be removed from the Army."1

The London Gazette of 11 December 1914 carried the following notice: "Lt.-Col. E. P. England is removed from the Army, The King having no further occasion for his services, 12 December 1914." He was granted retired pay of £292.10s.0d annually from that date as 'Mr. England.' 3

Early in 1915 the now Mr. E.P. England travelled to South America to regain his health, hoping that he might be fit for further service.4 On his return to England, he initially enlisted in the Yeomanry, under an assumed name, but was invalided out due to ill-health. He then enlisted in the Mechanical Transport section of the Army Service Corps as a Private, since he was over the age limit for service in a front-line unit.1

In a later letter to the Secretary of the War Office, England explained what happened next.

"As I knew several of the English general officers employed in the German East Africa Campaign, I felt sure of being transferred or attached for duty to a fighting unit of the mounted branches in that country. Hence in January 1916 I was sent to German East Africa with a Motor Ambulance Company as Sergeant, but owing to the kind offices of General Malleson, was attached for duty directly after arrival at Mombassa, to the 4th South African Horse, with whom I served as scout, range taker and occasionally machine gunner, till their disbandment at Moroforo on account of sickness amongst the men and the impossibility of mounting the men since the mounts died before arrival."4

He returned to England in January 1917 and entered hospital for treatment of ill-health as a result of his service in East Africa. On his discharge from hospital he was transferred from the Army Service Corps to the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment as Private No 33797.1 England wrote:

"I found the greatest difficulty in getting a transfer to infantry. . . and was refused a transfer to the Record Office, Woolwich and it was only in France that I managed to do so, through the kind assistance of Officer Commanding, Army Service Corps, Rouen - after 10 days training at Rouen in an Infantry Base Depot, I was transformed into a fully trained infantry man and joined the 8th Devons on their way to the trenches at Bullecourt." 4

He joined his Battalion on 23 July 1917 ". . . and very soon thereafter attracted attention by his exceptional ability and zeal in the performance of duty, whether in the trenches or out of them. He was out with every wiring party and did most useful work on night patrols in locating occupied shell holes and enemy machine gun posts."1

Private England was appointed second in command of a bombing section. On the morning of 4 October 1917 he was detailed for transport work away from the line. But, on hearing that an offensive operation was about to begin, he asked if he could join in the attack. His request was granted. For his actions that day he was recommended for the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The recommendation read:

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during active operations on 4th October 1917, East of Polygon Wood, near Noordendhoek. During the advance an unexpected enemy machine gun opened fire from a pill box on Private England's platoon from a range of 50 yards. The platoon officer and all N.C. Officers were hit and the men somewhat disorganized. Realizing the situation Private England freely exposing himself rallied the remainder of the platoon and taking charge of them rushed and captured the pillbox and machine gun, although badly wounded himself, on the way. Private England's quick decision and gallant action enabled the troops on either flank to advance, who would otherwise have been held up by enfilading fire. By his quick grasp of the situation and determined action Private England showed in addition to great personal gallantry great power of leadership and command over men."1

Private England's Divisional, Corps and Army Commanders all recommended his reinstatement as an officer. These recommendations were supported by the Field Marshal Commanding in Chief who wrote: ". . . while recognizing the seriousness of the offence of the year 1914, is of the opinion that Private England by his devotion to duty, his soldier-like bearing, and his gallantry, merits condonation of the past; and accordingly strongly recommends reinstatement as a Lieutenant-Colonel in His Majesty's Army."1

In January, 1918 The London Gazette contained the following notice:

33797 Pte. E. P. England, Devonport

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack. An enemy machine gun opened fire on his platoon at close range and caused several casualties, including his officer and all the NCO's. He at once took command, rallied the remaining men, and though badly wounded himself, rushed and captured the "pill box" and the machine gun. His prompt and courageous action and splendid leadership enabled the advance to continue.' "8

In the meantime, Private England had been admitted to The Cedars Convalescent Home, Sherwood, Nottingham in January, 1918 as a convalescent. On 19 January 1918 a Medical Board found that Private England was fifty percent disabled as a result of wounds suffered in action. In consequence of that finding, the Minister of Pensions awarded him a pension of 13s.9d per week.4

Upon careful consideration of his case the Army Council recommended to the King that Private E. P. England be reinstated in his former rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.1 He was discharged from the army on 22 January 1918 to accept reinstatement as an officer. The London Gazette of 23 January 1918, on page 1156, carried the following announcement:

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the re-instatement of Edward Parker England in the rank of Lt.-Col., with his previous seniority, in consequence of his devotion to duty and gallantry in the field while in the ranks of the Devonshire Regiment. He is accordingly re-appointed Lt.-Col. in the Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery 30th Dec. 1917, with seniority and to count service in that rank towards retirement on retired pay as from 19th May 1913, but without pay or allowances for the period 12th Dec. 1914 up to 29th Dec. 1917, inclusive."

After his reinstatement as an officer, the War Office informed him that because he was now an officer he could no longer draw an other-ranks pension for being wounded in action. The War Office further informed him that at the same time he couldn't draw an officer's wound gratuity because he was not an officer when he was wounded.4, 5

The now Lieutenant-Colonel England went before a medical board that declared him medically unfit due to wounds. Then, on 28 March 1919 he was informed by the War Office that they had approved his retirement on retired pay on account of ill-health caused by wounds with effect from 1 March 1919.6 On 9 April 1919 he was made eligible for the Silver War Badge.7

Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Parker England, R.F.A. (Retd) died at New Barn, Horwood, Bishop Tawton, North Devon on 10 January 1921 as a consequence of gunshot wounds to the lungs during the Great War.

The 17 January 1921 edition of The Times carried the following obituary:

An Officer Who 'Made Good'

Death of Colonel England, D.C.M.

The death occurred last week at New Barn, Horwood, North Devon, as the result of wounds received in action, of Colonel Edward Parker England, D.C.M., late Royal Artillery. In the early days of the war Colonel England was dismissed the service and subsequently enlisted, and in consequence of his gallantry while serving in the ranks was reinstated.

End Notes:

1. Undated Army Council Memorandum (WO 374/22818).

2. Confidential letter from the War Office to Lieut. Colonel England

dated 5 November 1914 (WO 374/22818).

3. War Office Minute Sheet dated 4 July 1918 (WO 374/22818)

4. Letter from Lieut. Colonel England to Secretary, War Office, 16

January 1918 (WO 374/22818)

5. War Office Minute Sheet dated 4 July 1918 (WO 374/22818)

6. Letter from War Office to Lieut. Colonel England of 28 March 1919

(WO 374/22818)

7. Medal Index Card for Lieut. Colonel E. P. England (WO372)

8. The Times, 17 January 1921, page 7d.

Source: Court Martial Records of Lieutenant Colonel Elkington, 1st Warwicks

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