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  • keithmroberts

    How NOT to use blogs

    By keithmroberts

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

  1. USING BLOGS - README FIRST

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

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

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

    Keith Roberts

    for the GWF team

  2. Diary of a Dispatch Rider

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    Banstead100
    Latest Entry

    Continuing the diary of John Sangway, dispatch rider with XVII Corps. The Corps Signal Company were in a new office just east of recently captured Cambrai.

     

    21st Oct

    Still working very hard – but winning! Signal Office & billet good – makes me smile now at thought of awful stink of burning offal & disinfectant when we arrived. Country very open like Salisbury Plain but flatter, nearer Fen type but no dykes & not so flat.

     

    True story of one of our Co[mpan]y officers. Coming down the line an Corp[ora]l asked him for a light, remarking “You don’t smoke do you, sir?” The answer was “No but I am missing my sweets.”

     

    Another:- A line was earthed slightly & a linesman reported that fact & said it was all right except that the Div[ision] had superimposed a current & that was what was break [sic]. “Serve them right” says the officer “they shouldn’t interfere with the line!”

     

     

  3. Test Blog

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

     

    Mk

     

    1130175668_OorWullie-facesstudy-1-2.jpg.8353fc2ffa1292cfff8822f85c6e4dae.jpg

  4. Tuesday 18th July.

    Ten p.m. Have made all preparations for casualties as we are making a raid on Bosch trenches. An extra car is here to go and take up Bosch prisoners - if so be it there shall be any of them.

     

    Wednesday 19th.

    Our local raid was not very successful as our men found practically no Bosch in the part attacked and no prisoners were taken. However these repeated raids will not allow the enemy to weaken his line by sending reinforcements to the Somme. In this way our raids are indirectly useful. Did not get to bed until after 6:00 a.m.

    Army General came nosing round this afternoon, which was unfortunate as the men had hardly more than had breakfast and things were not very tidy. However it gave him something to strafe about and that after all is what most of them like to do! These people in cushy billets miles behind he firing line must try and justify their existence.

     

    Thursday 20th.

     A real summers day at last! Not by any means perfect  but but still hot sun and delightfully warm with pleasant breeze. Oh! to be among the mountains threading ones way through the green bracken. The scented ferns hanging over deliciously cool streamlets and above all, the extraordinary peace.

     

    Mrs Besant allowing to the war says :-

    "Well indeed might the masters refuse to give any knowledge of the forces of subtle destruction of the nations who have not let learned the first letter of brotherhood, for imagine, the torrent of destruction had the Germans chemists learned to let loose the force that disintegrates the atom, leaves but a whirlpool of astral dust where men and cities had been. The relation into which husband and wife sometimes pass where married lovers become married friends and which is sometimes but rarely outside marriage, which has all the strength and trust and sweetness of love perfected by sex and difference, but utterly free from passion."

     

    *Anyone like to comment on this profound statement by Mrs Besant?? any budding theosophists amongst the forum members??*

     

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

     

     

                                       

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

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

    https://www.petersfieldmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/gerard-leachman-petersfields-lawrence-arabia-digital-talk

  6. Don Hedger

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

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

    More info is required on this unknown subject 

  7.  

     

    Bertrancourt Military Cemetery. Bertrancourt is a village in the Department of the Somme. The cemetery was used by field ambulances in 1916 and 1917 and again by corps and divisional burial parties in the critical months of June, July and August 1918, when German advances brought the front line to within 8 kilometres of Bertrancourt. There are 419 burials of soldiers of the Great War who fell in the fighting in the Somme sector. Of these, 388 were British, 2 Canadian, 26 New Zealand, and 3 German. Many of the graves are of Yorkshire or Lancashire regiments. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Changes to this blog include:

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

     

    The cases are now also posted to TWITTER as:

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

     

    zzg5p2sub5zg4lf6g.jpg

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

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

    CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

    Killed in Action of 8 August 1918

    Reported Found 29 May 2015

    Rededication Service 1 December 2016

  10. Muerrisch
    Latest Entry

    By Muerrisch,

    Rank and Appointments for soldiers below commissioned rank in the Great War.

     

    Introduction.

     

    This series of notes will concentrate, but not exclusively, on the infantry of the regular army. In this context ‘regular’ includes all Special Reservists, all recalled Reservists, all volunteers in the New Armies, and, eventually, all conscripts.

    On 4th August 1914 there were nine rank groupings. The King’s Regulations [KR] Para 282 list them as follows [i, ii, and vii below were not infantry ranks. For the purpose of this introduction I have simplified the list and excluded, for example, Household Cavalry ‘Corporal’-based equivalents].

    Warrant Officer [not included in the rank numbering series]

    i. Master Gunner 3rd class RA

    ii. Army Schoolmaster when not a warrant officer

    iii. Quartermaster -sergeant or serjeant

    iv. Colour-serjeant

    v. Serjeant

    vi. Corporal

    vii. Bombardier RA and 2nd Corporal RE

    viii. Private.

    Boy was the lowest of the low, any soldier before his 18th birthday, and he was included in the headcount of Privates for official purposes, Establishments etc. Boys could not smoke or swear without punishment, but could be appointed drummer etc before 18 if qualified and if a vacancy existed.

    Essentially, rank determined the basic pay of the soldier, and he could not be deprived of it without a formal administrative process, such as Court Martial or other prescribed procedure. KR at this time maintained the old seniority structure whereby, rank for rank, a Regular was senior to a Special Reservist who in turn was senior to a member of the Territorial Force. This distinction was subsequently abolished.

     

     

    Private and Boy.

    A Boy could enlist for a specific ‘trade’ [for want of a better description] and was not allowed to transfer if engaged as a tailor, shoemaker or saddler. If he was taken as a trumpeter, drummer, bugler [Rifles and Light Infantry], piper or bandsman, transfers to other occupations were possible. The minimum age [Regulars] was 14 and they became army men at their 18th official birthday, which was the date they offered on enlistment. It was usual for Boys to be required to give proof of age and parental permission. Boys enlisted for nine years plus three years on the Regular Reserve, unless they were to be tailors or shoemakers, who undertook to serve twelve years with the colours and with no reserve liability. The maximum number of Boys allowed on the establishment of a battalion was 16 as band or drums, and four as tradesmen. No specific regulation has been traced that sanctions the wearing by Boys of ‘trade’ appointment badges, but they certainly did so. A Boy was paid 8d per day, 4d less than the minimum for a Private, so there was an incentive to lie about one’s age. Boys could and did go on Active Service in their trade/ appointment, with the Commanding Officer’s approval.

    Privates held rank as:

    Trooper [Cavalry], gunner RA, Driver RA, Sapper RE, and Pioneer RE. Note that the widespread ‘Rifleman’ had no official sanction until after the war, nor were modernisms such as Guardsman or Fusilier etc. listed.  Drummers ,pipers, buglers earned 1d more than privates.. Drummers were not officially ‘Rank and File’, which was up to full Corporal but excluded Drummers and their equivalents. In Line Infantry and the Foot Guards, a Drummer had to master drum, bugle and flute [fife] and usually carried two out of the three instruments.

     

    A recruit would be sent to the Depôt where he was clothed and equipped and his training would begin with the recruits’ musketry course. After that he would usually be sent to the home service battalion in the first instance. The length of service to which he was initially committed was seven years with the colours and five years subsequently as a regular reservist. This total of twelve years commitment was called the ‘first term of engagement’. The ratio of colour to reserve service had been frequently altered: seven and five until May 1902 , then three and nine [AO 73/02 and 117/02] until November 1904, nine and three [AO 189/04] until September 1906 [AO 209/06] when it reverted to seven and five. Provided a soldier was of good character and had made a modicum of career progression he could extend both colour and reserve commitment, or opt to do all twelve years with the colours. When a soldier was due to pass to the Reserve or be discharged the Sovereign reserved the right, often exercised, to insist on an extra year’s service. This was legal if the soldier was serving overseas, or if a state of war existed. Assuming that a soldier’s services were wanted by his commanding officer [CO], he could go on to complete 21 years for pension. He could also buy himself out, cheaply if untrained, and at a cost of £25 later in his service. This was a large sum and beyond the means of most.

     

    Appointments for Privates.

    By far the most important career move a soldier could make was to be appointed Lance-Corporal. This appointment was deliberately ephemeral: a Commanding Officer could revert the man to Private at the stroke of a pen. Soldiers’ records frequently show that a man went up and down and up and down in his early years, before he settled. Drink was often the reason given on his regimental conduct sheet. In the pre-war army, once the single chevron of the Lance-Corporal was sewn on the sleeve, a soldier was required to associate with men at that level and above, and never to mix with his old companions …… harsh, but certainly enforced in some regiments. Lance-Corporals were usually addressed as ‘Corporal’, and were not, in the first instance, paid any more than a Private. Thus they had responsibility, social exclusion, and no compensation until the Commanding Officer was satisfied, at which point the man could be made ‘paid Lance-Corporal’. These paid appointments were limited in number, and attracted an extra 3d per day. In the Foot Guards, a paid Lance-Corporal was slightly better off, at 1/4- per day, and wore two chevrons, not the single one in the remainder of the infantry. There was no permanence in being paid: again, the appointment could be removed immediately, and thus was not a ‘full rank’. In the Artillery, the single chevron was indeed a rank badge, bombardier, and the Engineers had their equivalent, a 2nd Corporal.

     

    The full list of other appointments for Private soldiers was a very long one, and reflected all the specialisms that a modern army needed. Those with an associated badge, to be worn on the upper right sleeve, and made of gilding metal [“brass”] almost without exception since 1905, were as follows.[Combining the information in KR and Clothing Regulations 1914 [CR]].

    Artificer, smith hammer and pincers

    Bandsman crown over lyre with wreath*

    Bugler bugle, or crossed bugles [Rifles and Light Infantry]

    Drummer and Fifer drum

    Pioneer, infantry crossed hatchets

    Saddler bit*

    Saddletree maker no badge specified, but might well have worn the bit

    Shoeing and carriage-smith horseshoe [open end down]

    Trumpeter trumpets crossed [bell up, usually but not invaraiably]

    Wheeler wheel

    [Layer, RA] not listed as an appointment, but officially it was, with a worsted badge of L in wreath

    * not to be worn by cavalry

    Note that Scouts 1st and 2nd class were also appointed to infantry and cavalry, and wore the fleur-de-lys badge except infantry in India, and that pipers, as far as can be ascertained, had no official badge ….. indeed, demi-official pipe badges only emerged late in the war.

    Collar-maker, Farrier, and Carpenter are not listed as possible appointments for Privates, nor are the various assistant instructor posts or Rough Rider. These badges will be described for more senior rank appointments. The Geneva Cross was in the nature of an appointment badge for all Other Ranks of the RAMC, worn on both arms.

    Illustrations to follow

     

    Corporal and equivalent

    Corporal was the first substantive [full] rank, except for RA and RE, who had the extra grading of Bombardier/ 2nd Corporal. Corporal rank was paid at 1/8- per day in the infantry, and the badge was 2 chevrons, to be worn on both arms. It was usually the lowest rank that could be appointed to the various Assistant Instructor [AI] posts, although Lance-Corporals could be A.I.-signalling, and wear the crossed flags badge over the chevrons. Corporals were disqualified from wearing Good Conduct Badges, being deemed above the fray.

    Corporals in some regiments wore a badge of regimental design over the chevrons, particularly in the cavalry, although some regiments reserved this privilege for Sergeants and above. As examples, the Grenadier Guards had the grenade badge, and the Household Cavalry the crown. 

     

    The Corporal appointments other than Lance-Sergeant that were badged were:

    Artificer

    Band

    Farrier and Carriage-smith ASC

    Fitter

    Saddler

    Saddle-tree maker

    Shoeing-smith

    Carriage-smith

    Smith

    Wheeler

    Rough Rider [not listed in KR] who wore a spur.

    Gymnastics [not listed] crossed swords, hilt down

    A.I Signalling [not listed] crossed signalling flags

    And the job titles were either ‘Corporal ……..’ or ‘……. Corporal’ according to custom.

    KR paragraph 282 states that the grant of an appointment conferred the appropriate rank. Thus a vacancy for a Cook-Corporal could either be filled by a pre-existing full rank, or by promoting into the appointment. KRs make clear that, under some circumstances, an Acting appointment could be made that conferred Acting Rank, not necessarily attracting the pay until confirmed. This might be particularly so on Active Service where essential posts have perforce to be filled without much ceremony.

     

    Education

    Before looking at further career progression, it is worthwhile considering a soldier’s education and training. Staying with the infantryman, his basic military training syllabus lasted 6 months at the Depot, after which he was allocated - “posted” to a unit. Other arms of the service might need even longer, as the cavalry had to cope with the man and the horse, and the Artillery with man, horse and an artillery piece. Thereafter, he was subjected to an annual ritual of training which started at individual level, then groups of soldiers working under a Lance-Corporal or Corporal on drills such as “Fire and Movement”, then Platoon work under the Sergeant and/ or the Subaltern, then Company, then Battalion, and, occasionally, higher formations still. He was required to reclassify in Musketry each year. Some specialisms attracted the best recruits: signalling required a good degree of intelligence and literacy, scouting required an eye for country and endurance, pioneering a facility with tools. In each case, and in cookery, shoe mending and a dozen other skills, the army could teach a man and had schools of instruction.

    It also wanted its soldiers to be literate and numerate, in stark contrast to the army as recently as the Crimean War.

    This is a quotation from an earlier offering on the Forum, which summarises matters better than I can. When I can find it, I will acknowledge the original contributor!

    Some further background on certificates of education

    In 1861 a new inducement towards learning was the army certificate of education. On the recommendation of the Council of Military Education three levels or standards were set out and were linked with promotion in the ranks.

    The third-class certificate specified the standard for promotion to the rank of corporal: the candidate was to read aloud and to write from dictation passages from an easy narrative, and to work examples in the four compound rules of arithmetic and the reduction of money.

    A second-class certificate, necessary for promotion to sergeant, entailed writing and dictation from a more difficult work, familiarity with all forms of regimental accounting, and facility with proportions and interest, fractions and averages.

    First-class certificates were a great deal more difficult and were required for commissions from the ranks. Successful candidates had to read and take dictation from any standard author; make a fair copy of a manuscript; demonstrate their familiarity with more complicated mathematics, except cube and square root and stocks and discount; and as well prepare for examination in at least one of a number of additional subjects. After 1887 candidates were examined in British history and geography in place of a special subject. First-class certificates were awarded on the results of periodic examinations held by the Council (later Director-General) of Military Education. Second and third-class certificates were presented on the recommendations of the Army schoolmaster.

    • SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army At Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. Mc Gill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977, p. 94, 95, and 311.

    I would add that, from the introduction of Proficiency Pay in 1905/6, any soldier wishing to receive the enhanced rate needed at least the Third Class.

    Our man, having reached Corporal by means of an Army Certificate, a period of minor responsibility as a Lance-Corporal, and acquiring some skills of man-management, fieldcraft, and endurance, might have taken many years to achieve this, or only a few months. It was possible for a Grammar School boy to whistle through the 3rd and 2nd class certificates and become, for example, a Corporal Assistant-Instructor Signalling in 18 months. Promotion to Sergeant would usually take rather longer, with some Commanding Officers being very conservative, and others progressive and always with an eye to having a unit with young and active Senior Non-Commissioned Officers {SNCOs].

     

    Lance-Sergeant

    Apart from the Foot Guards, this appointment for a full Corporal was abolished in 1946. In some units, it conferred a limited membership of the Sergeants’ Mess, enabling a young soldier to mix with, and learn from, his betters in a social setting. The Lance-Sergeant might be ‘paid’ or ‘unpaid’. If the latter, he received his basic pay as a full Corporal. If the former, he was paid an extra 4d, bringing him to 2/-, double that of the Private. He wore three chevrons on the upper arm, and on formal parades he could usually be distinguished only by the absence of a full Sergeant’s scarlet sash [Although, as ever, the Foot Guards had other distinctions]. He would expect to be addressed as Sergeant, and would do duty on Sergeants’ rosters such as Guard, Picquet, Orderly.

    The Household Cavalry had no use for the noun Sergeant, and had only various grades of Corporal, which, of themselves, could form the basis of a separate article.

    It was useful to have Lance-Sergeants scattered in the specialisms: the Signals often had one, and the Transport Section, and the Drums, thus assisting an orderly succession of leadership.

     

    Sergeant

    Sometimes ‘Serjeant’, which usage was being maintained in KR 1914.

    A Sergeant had arrived, so to say. He belonged to a Mess, which enabled him to mix with his seniors and the Sergeant-Major . He had a specific job, a job-description in modern management terms, and was one of the 50 most senior Other Ranks in a battalion [at War Establishment] of about 1000.

    He frequently commanded a Platoon [there were 16 Platoons, and there was always a shortage of qualified subalterns, even when the BEF sailed to war], he might be 2ic Signallers and Assistant Instructor, 2ic Transport, 2ic Machine Guns, 2ic Battalion Scouts. There were Sergeants in charge of battalion cooking, tailoring, shoemaking and repair, pioneering, the regimental police, and sundry other tasks. Some Sergeant posts carried Staff status exalted above Sergeant, with a more elaborate Full Dress scarlet tunic of better quality. They included the ‘Music Major’ ie. the Drum-, Bugle-, Trumpet-, or Pipe-Major, more correctly entitled the Sergeant Drummer etc. at that date. Such worthies carried a sword on formal parades, and wore the old Staff Sergeant First Class badge of 4 chevrons point up, on the cuff, with a suitable musical instrument badge above. The band Sergeant, under the Bandmaster, was also usually clothed to a higher standard in Full Dress, but had the conventional badges.

    The basic pay of a Sergeant of infantry was 2/4- per day, and his badge, of three chevrons worn upper arm with point down had changed little since 1800. [strictly, it is an inverted chevron, as the heraldic chevron has the point uppermost]. The scarlet sash of full sergeants was of wool, whereas that of Warrant Officers was a deeper crimson and of superior material.

     

    In the Household Cavalry, the rank at the Sergeant level was Corporal-of-Horse, three chevrons surmounted by the regimental crown badge, and in other cavalry there was usually a regimental badge in silver worn with the chevrons. The RA Sergeant wore a gun [called ‘the gun badge’] above his ranking, and the RE wore the traditional grenade. Grenadier Guards Sergeants were called ‘Gold Sergeants’ and wore the grenade above their ranking in service dress.

    A man could expect to put some hard yards in as a Sergeant before earning any more promotion.

     

    Sergeant appointments other than infantry.

    These were many and various. In the Household Cavalry, C-o-H Trumpeter, Farrier-C-o-H, Paymaster-C-o-H, Saddler-C-o-H, all with equivalent ‘Sergeant’ titles in the line cavalry. The Gunners had no specific one other than sergeant artillery clerk, but each piece [gun] usually had a Sergeant as the commander; two guns under a subaltern, comprised a Section. There were many types of Sergeant-Instructor, there were Flight-Sergeants RFC [yes, one down on the present status], Fitters, smiths and Carriage-smiths ad infinitum.

     

    Colour-Sergeant.

    Hitherto, a Colour-Sergeant had enjoyed the ‘honourable distinction of attending the Colours’ and getting shot at, in a role first defined in 1813. The badge had evolved [deteriorated, more like] from early forms depicting crossed swords and Colour and Crown to a utilitarian stripped-down version on SD of a small crown over three chevrons. Only on the scarlet tunic did the elaborate badge remain, and, after war was declared, even that became a rarity except on Foot Guards, where each regiment has a different design. The exception is the Grenadier Guards, whose Colour-Sergeants cling to a notional old badge on SD with, in sequence, three chevrons, grenade, crossed swords and crown above.

    A Colour-Sergeant’s basic infantry pay was 3/6- per day, and his primary duty was to be the senior soldier in each [old] company of the [old] eight-company battalion, and to be the Pay-Sergeant. To this day, the Foot Guards call the Colour-Sergeant the Pay Sergeant. Private Frank Richards, famous author of Old Soldiers Never Die, wrote of his pre-war time in India:

    “Although all gambling was strictly prohibited, even the most regimental of the N.C.O.s in the Second Battalion [RWF] always winked an eye at it. Most of them were fond of a gamble themselves and on the line of march every one of them had a flutter now and then - with the exception of the Regimental Sergeant-Major and the Colour-Sergeants, who had their dignity to keep up”.

    The reorganisation of the infantry, begun in 1913 and not completed until 1915, meant that the four new double-companies would have had two Colour-Sergeants, clearly undesirable. There was, however, adequate precedent for an appointment called ‘Company Sergeant-Major’ in other arms of service [the Artillery and the Engineers and the Rifle Brigade, for example], so, without promoting any soldiers, and with only the slightest disbursement of extra pay to 4/0- , the senior four Colour-Sergeants were appointed Company Sergeant-Major and retained their rank badges as Colour-Sergeant. The junior four became Company Quartermaster-Sergeants, with no extra pay, and no change in badges. A very economical and unsatisfactory temporary fix.

     

    Staff Corporal-of-Horse.

    When it came to the Colour Sergeant tier of ranking, the Household Cavalry had painted themselves into a corner, in that their use of the crown as a regimental arm badge over all sets of chevrons had effectively 'used-up' the obvious combination with one tier down, at Corporal-of-Horse, the Sergeant equivalent.

    In 1881 it had been ordained that any badge of 4 chevrons had to be lower sleeve, and points up 'like the hairs on a monkey's arm', whereby chevrons above the elbow point down, those below point up.

    It would not do for the Household Cavalry to not include the crown, so the badge of their CSgt equivalent had to be four chevrons and crown, and the rank title had to reflect the increased responsibilities. It became Staff Corporal-of-Horse. A nice mouthful, and difficult to pronounce if in drink.

    The remainder of the cavalry soldiered on happily with Squadron Sergeant-Majors at this level, badged as Colour-Sergeants, together with their Quartermaster-Sergeants. RA and RE Troop, Battery, Company Sergeant-Majors were at this level, the RA and RE men retaining their regimental SNCO badges respectively. There were the usual Farrier, Wheeler, Saddler, Smiths at this level. Clothing regulations do not describe the use of their special trade badges, but they were usually worn between the chevrons and the crown

     

    The complicated subject of Staff-Sergeants

    From 1813, the year in which the army introduced a new rank in the infantry, the essential grades were:

    Sergeant Major [Four gold or silver chevrons]

    Quartermaster-Sergeant [four silver or white chevrons]

    Colour Sergeant [badge various, but always at least one chevron, crossed swords, Colour and crown

    Sergeant [Three]

    Corporal [Two]

    And that was it. Surprisingly, the RA and RE also had Colour-Sergeants for a while but there was an increasing use of the term Staff-Sergeant, as much as anything to do with the quality of cloth and trim to be issued to distinguish senior NCOs. It was not disputed that Sergeant-Majors and Quartermaster Sergeants had First Class Staff status, but the dividing line between them and those of 2nd Class status has varied over the years, and the last echoes of this can be seen in AD 2020 in the clothing of ‘Music-Majors’ who look for all the world as if they are First Class in any order of dress, but are, in fact, fortunate to be even Second Class, being nominally only Sergeants with promotions to Colour Sergeant and WO II in due course.

    In the infantry the dotted line was clearly drawn above Colour Sergeants of Second Class Staff status, but below such CSgts who had battalion staff appointments. In the heyday of Victorian and Edwardian pomp, such First Class worthies paraded with sword, better quality sash, extra lace to the tunic, and a very different and smart cap.

     

    Crowns

    In the reign of Queen Victoria the Royal Crown design seems never to have been other than "more or less" a standard design, and, in later years, became almost a cartoon shape, with huge angular bulges like ears sticking up and out left and right.

    Known by collectors as the QVC, it was bustled out with almost unseemly rapidity when the old lady died, because on 1st May 1901 the Royal Army Clothing Department ledger gives the most minute and careful description of a new crown to be adopted [the so=called "Kings' Crown" or KC] and said sternly that the new design was to be used for all purposes.

    This coincided almost exactly with the need for new designs of badges for the new SD in drab. The nearest Priced Vocab in date that I have is 1907, when crowns large and crowns small were in the Vocab for SD. Clothing Regs do not seem to make the distinction clear, the large ones were for the greatcoat but adopted by Sergeant-Majors and equivalents, the small ones for the more junior ranks and regiments [such as the Household Cavalry] who used the crown as a regimental distinction.

    Regarding rank chevrons at that time, the PVCN offered 1, 2, 3, and 4 bar for the SD greatcoat, all with different catalogue numbers from the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 bar for the SD jacket, the latter two for Good Conduct badges only. As far as cost was concerned, the greatcoat 4 bar was a fraction more expensive. The greatcoat badges were slightly larger. Note that many badges were not for wear on the greatcoat, including 'trade', Good Conduct, and medal ribbons.

    The other generalisation to make here is that, surprisingly, gilding metal ["brass"] badges were considerably cheaper than worsted, the latter requiring some hand finishing at that time. Between 1905 and 1907 there was a conscious effort to standardise trade and appointment into gilding metal, and 'prize' or 'skill at arms' badges into worsted. This was by no means slavishly followed, particularly in war time, nor indeed did large crowns fail to appear as part of the rank badge of many a Colour-Sergeant, of whom photos abound wearing the large crown.

     

    Quartermaster-Sergeant

    This was a RANK.

    In the simple days of rank, a QMS ranked immediately below the Sergeant-Major, with a very similar badge, 4 chevrons, but usually of inferior material. He needed to be literate, wise in the wicked ways of soldiers, and to be in the right place at the right time with the right stuff.

    In time, he became dressed as a First Class Staff-Sergeant ..... sash, sword, extra trim on the tunic, different head dress.

    In 1881 the 4 chevrons moved to the lower right cuff, displacing Good Conduct badges hitherto on the right cuff, and with points upwards.

    In 1902 ranking was to be worn by all ranks on both cuffs ..... Good Conduct badges no problem because no soldier above Lance-Corporal could wear them.

    In addition to his primary role, a QMS could also serve as Orderly Room Clerk [sometimes OR Sergeant and other titles], and so the man in the senior appointment added a star of 8 points to his ranking, while the lesser QMS in the Orderly Room did not. Either way, they were numbers 2 and 3 in the unit pecking order. The basic infantry pay was 4/-.

     

    Above the QMS came the Warrant Officer

     

    By the time of the Royal Warrant of 1879 granting warrants to conductors, the army practice of appointing subordinate officers by warrant for specialised tasks was well established but patchy in its application and continuity. Those warranted at one time or another before 1879 included surgeons’ mates, hospital mates, schoolmasters, master gunners of Coast Brigades and troop quartermasters of regular cavalry.

     

    Warrant Officer badges in Service Dress.

    In 1907 a policy decision was taken to use gilding metal in preference to worsted on cost grounds. The Priced Vocabulary for Clothing editions of 1911, 1913 and 1915, summarized below, show the provisions for the few badges needed for warrant officers on the drab service dress jacket. 

    Bandmaster:  Crown, lyre and wreath in gilding metal with plate and pin, cost 4 ½ d.

    (There was no recorded provision of a bronzed version for Rifles, nor the special lyre badge for the Royal Artillery, and no worsted variety).

    Conductor & 1st Class Staff Sergeant-Major:  Crown and wreath in gilding metal with plate and pin, cost 2 d., also in worsted for the Greatcoat, cost 8 ½ d.

    Other Warrant Officers:  Crown in gilding metal with plate and pin, cost ½ d., also in worsted for the Greatcoat, cost 5 ¼ d.

    From 1902 until 1914 the RACD needed to maintain (or at least at least approve) three varieties of every badge: for full dress, service dress and mess dress, together with any hot weather khaki drill variants. Full dress (scarlet tunic for most infantry) provision included large and small crowns and, for the RA, their distinctive band lyre. Thereafter, most soldiers (other than Household Troops, the Riding Troop/ King’s Troop RHA, and regimental bands) were not issued with full dress. Photographs show that what was worn in practice might differ from the official priced items: sergeant majors wearing large crowns on the service dress jacket (as opposed to the greatcoat) being a prime example.

     

    Precedence Revised.

    The last complete edition of KRs before the Great War was of 1912, republished and amended to August 1914. There continued to be 26 appointments listed for the rank of warrant officer. The official precedence list was:

                  i.         Conductor AOC, Master Gunner 1st Class, Schoolmaster (1st class warrant officer), Staff Sergeant-Major 1st Class

                 ii.         Master Gunner 2nd Class

                iii.         Garrison Sergeant-Major

                iv.         All others except………….

                 v.         …… Special Reserve warrant officers (in succession to those of the Militia since 1908).

     

    Those in Groups (i) and (iv) were to rank with one another according to date of promotion or appointment.

    The Army List of August 1914 gave the numbers of warrant officers holding each appointment. In Group (i) there were 44 conductors, 20 master gunners 1st Class, and 20 SSM 1st class in addition to the 41 schoolmasters 1st class. At the other end of the scale there were 74 Special Reserve sergeant-majors.

     

    Company Sergeant-Majors.

    On the eve of the Great War, the infantry began reorganisation from a battalion eight-company establishment to four “double companies” Army Orders 323 of 1913; 207 and 210 of 1914 refer. The Territorial Force and units in the colonies and India made the change in the course of the next year. The only warrant officers in the unit were the sergeant-major, the bandmaster, and the schoolmaster if 1st class. On active service only the sergeant-major mobilised. A new appointment was created, that of company sergeant-major (CSM), one for each company, paid an extra 6d per day on top of the colour-sergeant’s pay, with the badge remaining as crown and three chevrons on service dress.  It became necessary for infantry unit sergeant-majors to be retitled as “regimental”. CSMs had existed in 1800 in the Rifle Brigade, and from an early date in the RE and colonial infantry.

     

    Warrant Officers Class II.

    On 29th January 1915 a major innovation was announced in Army Order AO 70, the creation of Warrant Officers Class II. This was called a “new rank”, and was to apply to Regular Army, Special Reserve and Territorial Force alike. Essentially it represented a promotion for the bulging cohort of staff-sergeants 1st class, together with some very fortunate less senior soldiers at the colour-sergeant level. The pre-existing warrant officers were to become Class I. The Class numerals were Roman.

    For the time being there were no badge or pay changes. Class II comprised:

    Master Gunner 3rd Class

    Army Schoolmaster if not a warrant officer

    Garrison Quartermaster Sergeant

    Quartermaster Corporal-Major

    Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS)

    Squadron Corporal-Major

    Squadron Sergeant-Major (SSM)

    Battery Sergeant-Major

    Troop Sergeant-Major

    Company Sergeant-Major (CSM)

     

    When the necessary badges were promulgated by AO 174 of May 1915 they contained interesting novelties such as the crown in wreath for soldiers senior to those with the (new badge) Royal Arms, produced as a modest little item in worsted and also in gilding metal. The list was simplified by gathering all the “sergeant-major” appointments under that one heading. There was no badge at that date to distinguish the regimental quartermaster sergeant (RQMS) appointment from the CSM, both wore the crown.

     

    The Canadian Expeditionary Force introduced warrant officers Class II, but the home-based Canadian Militia did not.

     

    Precedence regarding Auxiliary Forces.

     

    The official precedence of all officers (commissioned, warrant, and non-commissioned) of equal nominal rank placed Regular Army men before the Special Reserve (SR) before the Territorial Force (TF). This distinction became impossible to sustain in war (as an example, author Robert Graves as a SR war-commissioned officer became a Royal Welsh Fusilier SR captain very rapidly and was posted to the Regular second battalion where his contemporaries languished as second-lieutenants). This official precedence was soon cancelled.

     

    Army Orders 240 and 277 of 1915 ended the anomaly of the non-warranted acting sergeant-majors of the TF, raised them to Warrant Officer Class I, and awarded them the royal arms badge. This was a large step for these regular colour- and staff-sergeants.

     

    Warrant Officers Class II to be distinct from NCOs.

     

    In 1917 (AO 279 of September) the War Office found it necessary to emphasize that Warrant Officers Class II were not NCOs within the meaning of the Army Act and thus could not be punished by a commanding officer. This was an echo of the brief hiatus of status from 1881 to 1883. Even today sources which should know better refer to warrant officers as NCOs.

     

    There was a further expansion of warrant officer appointments in AO 194 of 24th June 1918, which added:

    QM Sergeant

    Squadron, Battery, Troop or Company Sergeant-Major or Corporal-Major Instructor

    Squadron Corporal-Major, Roughrider (sic)

    Squadron Sergeant-Major, Roughrider.

     

    Military Cross (MC) or Military Medal (MM)?

    The creation of these two awards by Royal Warrants dated respectively 1st January 1915 and 5th April 1916 caused a few headaches in practice. Warrant officers, by virtue of not being commissioned, have always been eligible for the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), which carried a pension or a lump sum payment. The MC was for captains, subalterns and warrant officers.  The MM was initially for NCOs and men, thus excluding all warrant officers. The Military Secretary’s Branch clarified that the award was to substantive or temporary rank, not acting, but the clarification seen was very late in the war.

    The problem arose when the Warrant of 28th January 1915 creating WO II rank ruled that all pre-existing Royal Warrants referring to warrant officer were to be taken to refer to WO I only. Thus, according to the letter of the law, no WO II was eligible for an MC until a new amending Warrant dated 6th June 1916. Between 28th January 1915 and 6th  June  1916 a WO II was only eligible for a DCM, and from then until much later only a DCM or MC. It was as late as 13th August 1918 that a new Royal Warrant extended the MM to both classes of warrant officer.

    The potential for confusion existed, particularly the granting of MMs to both classes of warrant officers, and MCs to WO IIs. This, added to promotions/demotions or deaths between meritorious deed and award, and the complications of temporary and acting rank, undoubtedly made for some anomalous decorations.

     

    An Indian version of King’s Regulations.

     

    In 1918 a version of KRs was published by the Superintendent Government Printing, India which was in error. Claiming to incorporate all amendments up to 31st December 1917 it failed to acknowledge the existence of any class II warrant officers. Except as an historical curiosity this version can be disregarded.

     

    Pay Rise.

     

    Late in 1917 came a modest rise in the pay of all NCOs and warrant officers of 3d per day, plus other small improvements (Royal Warrant issued as an Army Order of 4th December). It should be noted that there were many ways for warrant officers to obtain extra pay: “working pay”, “engineer pay”, “flying pay”, a Headquarters staff post and several others.

    There were minor changes in WO II appointment titles in AO 195 of 1918. There was no difference from 1914 in the top group precedence for WOs Class I, and those in this group were to rank with each other according to date of promotion or appointment. The order added a precedence list for WOs Class II, with the master gunner 3rd class at the head.

     

    New Badge structure.

     

    A few weeks before the Armistice of 11th November 1918 an Army Order (Annex 13) was published which defined the badges of Warrant Officer Classes I and II that were to be recognisable with only a few modifications for the next hundred years.  AO 309 allotted the royal arms in Wreath (new badge) to the Group (i) appointments; the royal arms to all other Class I except the Bandmasters (special badge as hitherto). Class II retained the crown, but the RQMS and equivalent QM appointments were to be distinguished by a crown in wreath. This reinstated a recognition of the unique role of the pre-1915 quartermaster-sergeant (rank) soldier appointed as “Regimental” in contrast to a QMS appointed as Orderly Room Clerk. Warrant officers retained “trade” distinction additional badges as previously.

     

    Cavalry Complications.

     

    In addition to the RA with its gun and the RE with the grenade badge, the cavalry were entitled to unique to regiment arm badges for NCOs and Warrant Officers The standard work on the subject is by Lineker and Dine, on which this section relies. Cavalry arm badges are a very complicated subject. They have been worn from early times, before the warrant officer introductions in 1881, and made in hallmarked silver or German silver or white metal. Some were valuable and had to last for at least 8 years. In 1914 that for the 17th Lancers (“the motto”) cost 12/8d, more than two day’s pay for junior wearers. In some regiments they were for substantive corporals and above, in others for sergeants and above. The crown worn by all ranks above trooper in both regiments of Household Cavalry is a regimental arm badge, not ranking.

    Many Yeomanry regiments distinguished their warrant officers and SNCOs differently from the regulars. The distinctions are too complex to pursue here. A useful source is by David J. Knight. He offers possible but not conclusive evidence of warrant officers as Quartermasters of Yeomanry before 1881.

     

     

  11. Australian nurses

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

    He was killed in action in France in 1916.

    His story is told here for the first time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    weekes family losses great war.jpg

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

     

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

     

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

    Class Z

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

     

    For example,

    Z/DLI/1234

    Z/MGC/1234/AtoK

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

     

     

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

     

    https://chiddicksfamilytree.wordpress.com/2019/08/17/the-life-and-times-of-john-edwin-barnes/

     

  15. pjwmacro
    Latest Entry

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

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

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

    photo-54-3-guides.jpg

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

  17. 100 YEARS AGO TODAY: The March to the Rhine - Day 21.

     

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

     

    General Staff - 1st Canadian Division, C.E.F.
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    13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada)
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    14th Battalion (The Royal Montreal Regiment)
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    15th Battlion (48th Highlanders of Canada), 3rd Inf. Bde, C.E.F.
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    16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish), 3rd Inf. Bde, C.E.F.
    b8se9xpcq0sxxzw6g.jpg

     

    5th Canadian Divisional Artillery, C.E.F.
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    14th Brigade C.F.A., C.E.F.
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    61st Field Battery, C.F.A., 5th C.D.A., C.E.F.
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    Lt Abner Virtue - 6st Fld Bty
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    60th Field Battery, C.F.A., 5th C.D.A., C.E.F.
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    Outside Recht, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

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    Recht, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

    6h4bidw1q56p94j6g.jpg

    Marcard, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

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    Railway Bridge Bonn and Kirke, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

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    Dedenburg & Bonn Railway Bridge, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

    zy64h32la0jn47d6g.jpg

    Outside Amel, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

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    Amel, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

    wglsaw2lt6smt4e6g.jpg

    Moderscheid, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

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    Outside Moderscheid, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

    pqo26qwvdfe8zvv6g.jpg

    Bullingen, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

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    Outside Bullingen, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

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    Outside Wirtzfeld, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

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    Wirtzfeld, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

    qxbvtfys97e2v0c6g.jpg

    Outside Krinkelt, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

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    Krinkelt, Photo: Edward Walshe

     

    https://youtu.be/P7dbZQqqY60

     

     

     

     

     


     

  18. IWM 319: PONT REMY SPORTS [MAIN TITLE]
    0ohw5lv08433qn06g.jpg
    Click here for the video.

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

     

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

     

    Production date
    1918
    Place made
    GB
    Dimensions
    whole: Number Of Items/reels/tapes 1

    Catalogue number
    IWM 319

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

    Obituary_for_Fred_Seaman.pdf

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

     

     

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

     

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

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

     

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

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

     

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

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

     

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

  22. Black Watch (bits 'n bobs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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