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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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    Recent Entries

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

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

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

    Keith Roberts

    for the GWF team

  2. During the Great War hospitals and infirmaries around the UK provided dedicated bed space for ill and wounded soldiers.

    The Red Cross opened auxiliary hospitals, in halls and large houses, to support the already existing facilities.

    Red Cross Auxiliary Hospitals, while staffed by some V.A.D. Members, were not run by them or called V.A.D. Hospitals. They were Red Cross run facilities.

    The Red Cross Auxiliary Hospitals were broken into four regions in Scotland.

    These were centered around Scotlands four cities:


    Western – Glasgow,

    Eastern – Edinburgh

    Dundee - Central Eastern

    Aberdeen – North Eastern


    Arbroath was in the Central Eastern region.


    The roll of Red Cross Auxiliary Hospitals, was to act as a second line to pre-existing hospitals, to treat minor injuries and ailments and host convalescing soldiers.


    In January, 1913, the directors of Arbroath Infirmary, decided to raise the funds to completely rebuilt the towns infirmary.
    The original facility having opened in 1845, it was now too small for the towns needs, even though it had been expanded over the years.


    The following month, the directors bought a nearby mansion house, Greenbank, for use as the infirmary, albeit temporarily.

    The building and its grounds covered about an acre. However, it could hold only about half of what the old infirmary had space for.


    By April all the patients had been moved to the temporary premises, which was expected to be used for two years.


    When the war began, Arbroath was operating its infirmary in a temporary location with a 50% reduction in capacity. The local Red Cross Society did not immediately open an auxiliary hospital, as they did in many other towns and cities.


    On 15th August, 1914, the Infirmary at Greenbank agreed to make 30 beds available for the Red Cross Society. A hall being looked for to provide a further 30 bed capacity.


    In January 1915, Arbroath and other Forfarshire hospitals were a little dissatisfied that their well prepared resources had not yet been utilised.


    It was thought that this was as a result of the military hospital regions in Scotland having been broken into three areas, centered around Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Dundee picking up any overflow these area hospitals could not provide for.


    The first military patients to arrive in Arbroath were on Saturday the 16 of January, 1915. The ten men had been sent from Aberdeen Base Hospital, by rail, to convalesce from illness.

    (unidentified men and nurses in the grounds of temporary infirmary at Greenbank)

    On Friday the the 21st, the soldiers were treated to a concert organised by the towns provost, Rutherford Thomson.

    A local man Mr J. B. Frazer lent his motor car for the use of the soldiers, to take them day trips around Angus during that week. By the 19th of the month, 8 out of the 10 had been discharged.

    On Saturday the 22nd of January, 1915 the first wounded soldiers to Greenbank arrived by train. Most had bullet wounds.

    They were:

    Cpl. J. Harhls, 2nd Border Regt

    L/Cpl Wallie, 8th Royal Scots

    Bandsman Tinker, 2nd Lincolns

    Pte J. Rogers Sherwood Foresters

    Pte. R. Sherley, Sherwood Foresters

    Pte. F. Hunt, 4th Middlesex

    Pte. J Warrior, Northrumberl Fusiliers

    Pte. J. Evans, 1st Royal Warwicks

    Pte. J. Clark, 1st Royal Warwicks

    Pte. R. Millard, Royal Fusiliers


    It was expected that after a week of convalescing in Arbroath they would return to their own homes for two or three weeks to recuperate further.


    No. 9 Alexandra Place was offered, in September, 1915, as a site for the Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital, by an anonymous benefactor.


    This was between the infirmary site and temporary premises. It overlooked a park and had views over the North Sea. It was a large semi detached property owned by a lady who had relocated to Glasgow and initially offered it up to the committee of Arbroath Infirmary for extra nursing quarters in January, 1915.


    On Wednesday, 19th of January, 1916, No. 9 Alexandra Place was inspected by David Erskine, County Director of the Red Cross Society, it was opened shortly after on the 24th.

    It had capacity for 15 beds, although a few more could be made available if needed.


    Less than a week later on the 24th, the first patients were admitted.

    These were 10 members of the 2/9th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who were stationed in the town and had taken ill.


    As a result of the war, causing delays to materials and manpower, the new infirmary building was delayed and eventually opened on the 22nd of April, 1916. at a cost of over £14,000.


    The newly built infirmary received its first wounded soldiers on the 2nd of November, 1916. The 13 arrived by train from Dundee, none were of a serious nature.


    During the weekend of the 7th and 8th of March, 1918, the Auxiliary Hospital relocated to a large mansion called Seaforth House. It was only a short distance away. Located on the seaside.


    Seaforth house being a larger building. it had a greater capacity for patients, able to house up to 50.


    The former temporary infirmary at Greenbank was sold on Saturday 13th of July, 1918, by the Arbroath infirmary Directors, for £1,200, any excess being spent on hospital equipment.


    The Auxiliary Hospital closed on Friday the 21st of February, 1919. 958 patients had been treated over the course of its existence.

    Apr 1913 - Arbroath infirmary moves temporarily to Greenbank, while it's rebuilt on its original site
    Jan 1915 - Greenbank receives its first military patients
    Jan 1916 - Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital at No.9 Alexandra Place opens
    Apr 1916 - The newly rebuilt infirmary is opened
    Nov 1916 - First wounded soldiers arrive at new infirmary
    Mar 1918 - Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital moves to Seaforth House
    Jan 1918 - Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital closes.


    Greenbank house stands today as a retirement home.
    No 9 Alexandra Place is still standing and a private home again.
    Seaforth house was later a hotel and was destroyed by fire under suspicious circumstances in 2006.


  3. 2 September 2023, page: The Bridging Train or Pontoon Park
    14 September 2023, page: The Royal Engineers' Bridging Trains

    That may be it for this month, as I am focusing mainly on my next book.

  4. Throughout World War I, Germany sent out rigid dirigibles, also known as Zeppelins or airships, to terrorise their foes across the English Channel and to destroy military targets. The success of this campaign was questionable. Although German bombs set towns like London, Loughborough, and Great Yarmouth alight, they missed many crucial targets and Britons were not easily cowed; Arthur Balfour, First Lord of the Admiralty, said in September 1915 that "Zeppelin raids have been brutal; but so far they have not been effective." Nevertheless, the Germans never stopped trying. Thus it was that Zeppelin L20, in the company of six other airships, headed out on its latest mission on the night of 2 May 1916.

    Their destination was Edinburgh, where the British naval fleet was anchored at the Firth of Forth. If the northwesterly winds held in accordance with the forecast, they would reach Scotland within a few hours. However, given the atmospheric instability that had lately tended towards thunderstorms, each airship commander had been instructed to change course and target central England if southerly winds prevailed.

    “This is no May weather!” L20’s captain Franz Stabbert had told lieutenant Ernst Schirlitz that morning. Nevertheless, by 9.20 p.m., Edinburgh lay within sight. Then the weather turned against them. According to the official history, “At 11.20 p.m., L20—at 2100 m altitude—was caught in heavy rain and snow squalls, at 12 a.m. in dense fog.” One by one, all the other ships headed south; only L14 and L20 remained on course for Scotland.

    The official history later described Stabbert’s refusal to turn back as being animated by “a lively spirit of attack.” However, this bellicosity, coupled with technical malfunctions, ultimately meant that L20 never returned to her home port at Tondern.


    Approximate path of L20 on the night of 2-3 May 1916. Source: Der Krieg in der Nordsee Vol. 5.

    Twenty years later, Peter Vossen, who had been a machinist aboard L20 that fateful night, recalled:

    A pitch black night enveloped land, sea, and airship…any attempt at orientation was impossible. …Where was sea and where was land? Below us we saw only the silent depths of darkness. …We cast out firebombs, which would disappear if they fell into the sea but which would light up and glow if they fell on land. Everything remained as black as before. Yet still the engine hammered on!

    At 9 a.m. the following morning, the crew sighted the Norwegian coast. Only four hours of fuel remained; strong headwinds made progress difficult and rough seas precluded a water landing. Perhaps it was at this point that one of the men penned the message “We are in danger. Zep. L 20”, sealed it in a bottle, and threw it overboard. The bottle and its cry for help eventually washed up in Tungenes—about 15 km from Stavanger—in July. (The members of L19, which had gone down in the North Sea in February, also turned to messages in a bottle in their final moments. A British fishing vessel, fearing a hijacking, declined to pick up the German crew. Facing certain death, Captain Odo Loewe and his men wrote their last letters to their loved ones, packed the messages into a bottle, and sent it out to sea. It came ashore near Gothenburg, Sweden, in August of that year.)

    Arrival in Norway

    When viewed in the light of Zeppelin attacks on civilian targets in the UK, the excitement that greeted the first sightings of L20 in Norway may seem incongruous or even inappropriate. (Prior to the aborted Edinburgh attack, it had been nicknamed the “Raider of Loughborough” for its role in bombing that city.) However, Norwegians knew that Norway’s neutrality meant that they were not under siege; as Stavanger Aftenblad’s correspondent put it, the sight of “the great shining grey-gold bird, this masterpiece of human ingenuity, a cradle of death and destruction, a fearful symbol of the enemy” left witnesses on the ground “almost all speechless, not with fear but with wonder.”

    Stavanger Aftenblad’s correspondent seemed to view the airship as a living creature, describing it by turns as “bird” and “beast” that “advanced calmly and majestically.” He imagined that L20 had survived cannonades on the Western Front only to be “mortally wounded” by the “Lilliputian mountaintop” with which it initially collided and which left the back of the ship, with its propellers and steering equipment, at a 45 degree angle to the ground.

    “It’s not every day that something happens in Stavanger,” wrote “S.R.” for the women’s magazine Urd. As such, everyone came out to see it. “Bicycles, cars, carriages and cabs in pleasant confusion—ladies in office aprons and schoolgirls just let out of the classroom—inquisitive boys of all ages, besides a crowd of proper and ordinary people. Boats lined up across Hafrsfjord to see the wreck up close.”

    The wreckage itself was a further source of amazement. Peder Krohn took a motorboat out to see this marvel of engineering and didn’t know whether he was more impressed by “the size, or the thoughtful and thorough craftsmanship beginning with the smallest things.”


    “The wreck seen from close up.” Source: Romerike, 9 May 1916. Peder Krohn described the inside of the envelope as “straw yellow,” adding that the ship’s name was painted in “two-meter-high dark red letters on the foremost gondola.” Another visitor to the wreck noted a small German flag still flying from the aft.

    Krohn described the wreck as if he were conducting an autopsy. “The foremost gondola was built to be quite open, with great celluloid windows; they were smashed. In the middle stood a great mitrailleuse. …The propeller had two wings and measured approximately 5-6 metres. …The inner skeleton was stiffened with a whole net of fine steel threads.” Meanwhile, S.R., writing for Urd, opted for a less technical turn of phrase: “It lay bobbing up and down like a huge broken eggshell.”

    Krohn numbered among the souvenir hunters who got there early and hence got lucky. Bits of aluminium proved popular, as did the envelope; Krohn got a piece of the latter and sent it to the offices of Søndmørsposten “so that many more people can see it.”

    The Crew

    Newspapers at the time only named Captain Franz Stabbert and Lieutenant Ernst Schirlitz. The non-ranking crew did not warrant their names in the newspapers. In 1936, survivor Peter Vossen said that they consisted of “Bavarians, Saxons, and the steward Hannemann, from Hamburg.” Vossen also specified Hans Peters as radio-telegraphist. Yet whatever their names and ranks, Norwegians in 1916 were still fascinated by them, their ordeal, and their mission.


    “The German officers visiting the wrecked airship.” I is Captain Stabbert; II is Lieutenant Schirlitz. Source: Stavanger Aftenblad, 5 May 1916.

    Thea Solheim found herself at the centre of the action after Stabbert and Schirlitz swam ashore and were taken to the nearby asylum at Dale where she worked. Stabbert, it was said ten years later, was still wearing his gloves when he emerged “in good condition” from the sea, while Schirlitz was in rather poorer form and was put to bed at once in the care of the asylum’s doctor.

    Other civilians shared stories of their encounters. The trade functionary L.W. Hansen met four men who had been cast out of the gondola when L20 hit a cliff. One of them was badly wounded and “asked if he could return to Germany. He was amazed to hear that it was not possible. He seemed quite crushed and repeated many times: Ach, dieser Krieg, dieser Krieg!” The others, however, were in better spirits and “they had hardly gotten to their feet before they lit their cigarettes.” The injured man was taken by car to the military camp at Malde; the other three went by bicycle. For these men, wrote S.R., “there was nothing but a feeling of German-friendliness…people are people, or at least that’s how it ought to be.”

    Although civilians may have evinced open-heartedness, the military did not. At Malde, the reception was rather less friendly. Strict security measures were put in place: soldiers patrolled “with bayonets on their weapons, and no one was allowed to speak to the Germans. Iron bars have been installed on the windows.” While these initiatives may sound over the top, the Norwegians had good reason to be wary: sailors of Berlin, interned at Hommelviken near Trondheim, had made regular attempts to escape since 1914 and in 1915 Berlin’s captain actually made it all the way back to Germany, after which a triumphant telegram was received aboard the ship.

    Five of L20’s crew were later released from internment. They were the lucky ones who had been picked up outside Norwegian territorial waters. This was the wartime norm; the Norwegian government had adhered to the same principle in the cases of the British ships Weimar and HMS India in 1914 and 1915 respectively. The others were interned at Hommelviken with the sailors of Berlin.

    That summer, internees at Hommelviken attempted to escape no less than six times. Although these escapes were all foiled, Captain Stabbert followed the example of Berlin’s Captain Pfundheller and eluded his captors in late November. Stabbert spent the day in town, as was his wont, then returned to the ship in the afternoon and ostensibly disappeared that night. No one was quite sure precisely when or how he managed to do so; it was claimed later that he had been assisted by the captain of the German steamer Ebersberg. Like all other officers, before his trip into town that day Stabbert had been required to give his word of honour that he would return, and it was noted with some irony that he had not actually broken his word since he had not absconded while on leave. He later commanded another airship and died in combat over France in 1917.

    The Final Fate of L20

    The remains of L20, especially its hydrogen-filled envelope, presented a problem in the days after the crash. It was, the Norwegians thought, only a matter of time before it tore loose from its moorings and began to sail willy nilly over the countryside leaving destruction in its wake. While the German official history states that L20 was destroyed by the crew, the Norwegian press tells a slightly different tale. On the orders of Captain Johannessen, Sergeant Aalgaard was dispatched with ten men to put the wounded ship out of its misery. At 3.05 pm, “from a distance of 120 meters…they fired salvos at different points on the airship. It exploded with a terrible bang…”


    “L20 just before it was blown to pieces.” Source: Stavanger Aftenblad, 5 May 1916

    Aalgaard and his men were thrown back by the force; the explosion was felt as far away as Stavanger, eight kilometres away. The roofs of nearby boathouses were destroyed, their shingles broken and blown away (according to other reports, they also caught fire). Windows blew out of farmhouses, the glass shards injuring children. The airship itself was burnt to a crisp: “Only the aluminium skeleton remains, together with a spiderweb of shining metal threads.”

    The Norwegian pilot Tryggve Gran, who had recently flown the first nonstop flight from England to Stavanger, was asked whether he thought the Germans were upset about the destruction of the zeppelin. He replied, “I don’t think so! The explosion certainly took place in accordance with their knowledge and wishes.” Indeed, the official history records the dumping overboard of “classified information, the rest of the explosives and firebombs, as well as the radio-telegraph equipment” and one of the crew, a corporal, confirmed that their priority had been to safeguard the ship’s technology: “We drifted with the wind until we reached the Norwegian coast. Even though it meant death, six men offered to stay on board and destroy the machinery so that no one could learn the secrets of the ship’s construction. The rest of us jumped.” (Bergens Aftenblad told a slightly different story: after the captain issued the order to abandon ship by jumping into the fjord, eight men, not six, remained on board because they were poor swimmers.)

    In September 1916, the earthly remains of L20 were taken to Kristiania by the steamer Mira. Crowds gathered to welcome the ship, whose decks both fore and aft were “covered with scrap, which reached a great height.” Mira lay in at Revierbryggen, a pier close to where the opera house now stands, and L20 ended its days in a scrap depot at nearby Akershus fortress.


    Revierbryggen and Akershus fortress in Oslo ca. 1907. Source: Oslo Museum


    L20 may have met an anticlimactic end at Revierbryggen with its crew in captivity at Trondheim, but one can argue that this conclusion to its saga was better than that of many other airships. The British began using explosive bullets against Zeppelins, igniting the hydrogen-filled envelope and turning the airships into fiery infernos of death. The crews of L21, L31, and L32 perished in this way in the autumn of 1916. By contrast, all but three members of L20’s crew survived. Moreover, because L20 came down in a neutral country, its technological secrets remained safe from the inquisitive eyes of the enemy. Such was not the case for L49 (captured nearly intact) and L33 (partially destroyed by its crew after an emergency landing in Britain), which inspired later Allied airship designs. In short, while a better fate for L20 may have been possible, a worse one was more likely.

    With thanks to charlie2 for sharing the relevant pages of the official history.

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

    The General considered a minute.

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

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

    It was Marie who answered the door.

    Dominique screwed up her courage.

    "Mademoiselle Drollet? May I come in?

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

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

    "Yes?" replied Marie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  6. Albert Henry Victor Brackley enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force under a false name in 1916. He had ‘deserted’ his wife and two children when he sailed for England later that year. His ruse was discovered when he went absent without leave and after his wife told the Australian Army he had enlisted as ‘Herbert Walters’. Just a few months later, he ended up on the Western Front – facing the greatest danger. Here, I look at the story of Albert, who was connected to my family.

    He didn’t fight on the front line – but beneath it. He helped to dig tunnels under No Man’s Land to allow explosives to be detonated under enemy positions.

    The work was exhausting and dangerous. The explosions were frequently devastating, sometimes killing thousands of soldiers.

    Albert, a sapper in the Royal Australian Engineers, was one of tens of thousands of tunnellers on the Western Front in the Great War.

    He joined the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company – who carried out vital offensive and defensive mining work in France – in the summer of 1917.

    Just a few months before arriving on the front line, Albert found himself at the centre of a major controversy.

    He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on October 10, 1916 under a false name, calling himself Herbert Walters.

    He was not the first or last soldier with an assumed identity. But he was found out after going ‘absent without leave’ – and deserting his wife and two children in Australia.

    Albert sailed to England with the AIF on October 25, 1916 and arrived in Plymouth on December 28 that year.

    Ten days later – on January 7, 1917 – he went missing from Perham Down Army Camp on the edge of Salisbury Plain.

    He surrendered himself in London to a sergeant in the Army Military Police on February 20 that year, and was sentenced to 60 days’ detention.

    When he had been sailing to England, Albert’s wife, Queenie Alice Maud Brackley, wrote to the officer in charge of Army base records in Melbourne, declaring that she had been ‘advised by the police to let you know that my husband had enlisted under the name of Herbert Walters’.

    Queenie, aware that he had left Australia with the AIF, said she had a warrant out for his arrest – issued on November 9, 1916 – for deserting her and her two children.

    She revealed that a Mrs (Lydia) White – Albert’s aunt, listed as a ‘friend’ and next of kin when he enlisted under a false name – had been ‘drawing his money’ (wages) since he joined the Royal Australian Engineers.

    On March 2, 1917, while in custody, Albert signed a declaration that he had enlisted under an incorrect name after Queenie submitted a sworn statement before a Justice of the Peace that he and Herbert Walters were ‘one and the same person’.

    When in France, Albert was twice admitted to hospital with diarrhoea and repeatedly punished for going absent without leave.

    At one stage he was promoted to lance-corporal but ‘reverted’ to sapper shortly after the appointment.

    Admitted to the Australian Dermatological Hospital at Bulford on Salisbury Plain in 1919 with syphilis, Albert returned to Australia from Devonport in January 1920.

    In May that year, Albert was charged, on warrant, with deserting his wife and children after he arrived back in Australia.

    He and Queenie were divorced in February 1922. Albert, then a tramway worker, petitioned for the divorce on the grounds of misconduct.

    He claimed that during his active war service, his wife gave birth to a third child fathered by another man.

    Albert married Alma Beck (1895-1959) on September 9, 1922 in Victoria, and they had a son, William Albert Ernest, who was held as a Japanese prisoner of war in Thailand in the Second World War.

    Albert was a farmer when he died on May 20, 1924 at the public hospital in Swan Hill, Victoria, aged 33. He was buried at Swan Hill Cemetery, Victoria.

    Queenie, born on May 24, 1895 in Inglewood, Victoria, died on August 14, 1963 in Bendigo, Victoria, aged 68. She was buried in Bendigo Cemetery.

    Alma Beck, born on June 28, 1895 in Victoria, married Albert’s younger brother, George Alfred Brackley (1897-1963) on May 2, 1925 in Victoria. She died on October 10, 1959 in Parkville, Victoria, aged 64.


    The Victoria Police Gazette in Australia reported on November 9, 1916 – under the headline ‘Deserters of wives and children’ – that Albert was charged, on warrant, with deserting Queenie.

    Albert’s service records reveal that he initially enlisted in the 14th Infantry Battalion of the AIF under his own name in May 1915 in Tarnagulla, Victoria, Australia. Aged 24 at the time, he was a labourer. The records show that he failed to embark for service abroad in September 1915.

    The 1st Australian Tunnelling Company were one of four tunnelling companies of the Royal Australian Engineers in the Great War. They helped to spearhead offensive and defensive mining work, including placing mines under enemy lines and building dugouts and trenches for troops.

    In the months leading up to the Battle of Messines in June 1917 – which began with the detonation of 19 mines which killed 10,000 German soldiers and left 19 large craters – the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company helped to ensure that tunnels and explosives in the area remained intact and undiscovered.

    Albert, born on October 10, 1890 in Tarnagulla, Victoria, Australia, was the son of Henry George Brackley (1850-1924) and Mary Elizabeth Hurford (1872-1899). Mary was the daughter of William Hurford (1840-1915), of Stockleigh English and Mary Ann Roberts (1842-1926), who emigrated to Australia after their marriage in Cornwall in 1863. William was the son of William Hurford (1802-1881) and Charlotte Roberts (1815-1884). Charlotte was the daughter of Thomas Roberts (1770-1852) and Elizabeth Sharland (1776-1841). Thomas was my great-great-great-great grandfather. Albert married Queenie Alice Maud Hughes (1895-1963) on February 12, 1913 in Bendigo, Victoria.

    Picture below:

    Albert Henry Victor Brackley. Used with the permission of his great-granddaughter, Sonya Salzke.

    albert henry victor brackley.jpg

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

  8. Diary of a Dispatch Rider

    Latest Entry

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


    30th Oct

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


    Nov 1

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

  9. 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.





  10. 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. 😀 


  11. Don Hedger

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    Recent Entries

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

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

    More info is required on this unknown subject 

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

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


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


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


    Changes to this blog include:

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


    The cases are now also posted to TWITTER as:


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


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


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


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




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

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


    Killed in Action of 8 August 1918

    Reported Found 29 May 2015

    Rededication Service 1 December 2016

  14. 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.

  15. Stars, Stripes and Chevrons

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    • 1877

    No blog entries yet

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


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


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

    Class Z

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


    For example,



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



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




  18. pjwmacro
    Latest Entry

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

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

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


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

  20. 100 YEARS AGO TODAY: The March to the Rhine - Day 21.


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


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


    13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada)


    14th Battalion (The Royal Montreal Regiment)


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


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


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


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


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


    Lt Abner Virtue - 6st Fld Bty


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



    Outside Recht, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Recht, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Marcard, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Railway Bridge Bonn and Kirke, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Dedenburg & Bonn Railway Bridge, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Outside Amel, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Amel, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Moderscheid, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Outside Moderscheid, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Bullingen, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Outside Bullingen, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Outside Wirtzfeld, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Wirtzfeld, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Outside Krinkelt, Photo: Edward Walshe



    Krinkelt, Photo: Edward Walshe









    Click here for the video.

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


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


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

    Catalogue number
    IWM 319

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


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



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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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