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  • keithmroberts

    How NOT to use blogs

    By keithmroberts

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

Our community blogs


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    Recent Entries

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

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

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

    Keith Roberts

    for the GWF team

  2. Muerrisch
    Latest Entry

    By Muerrisch,

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

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


    The focus is on the period 1900 to 1920.


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


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



    Fact File 1.





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

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

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


    Early Badges for soldiers.

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

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

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

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

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


    The mid-Victorian era.

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

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


    Major changes.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


    Training Schools.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (ii)            As an apprentice tradesman; or

    (iii)           A regimental boy for general duties.


    National Service ends.

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

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


    Current Dress Regulations include:

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

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


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


    More and better illustrations would be welcomed please.


    David Langley

    March 2021









  3. It's been an interest of mine, when time allows, to research the men listed upon the 1914 and 1914-15 star medal roll for the Black Watch.
    Here i will share the statistical breakdown of these results, so far. These will be updated as more research is done.


    1914 Star


    The 1st, 2nd and 5th battalions of the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) reached France and Belgium in the qualifying period for the awarding of the 1914 Star, between 5th August and midnight on the 22nd of November 1914.


    Composition of the men.


    90% of the other ranks, with known places of birth, were Scottish born. English born men made up almost 7% of the remainder, with a sprinkling of Irish, welsh and dominion born men making up the rest.


    The average age of a soldier that died was 24. The youngest being two 16 year olds and the oldest a 48 year old.

    Previous war service.

    About 400 men of the regular battalions have service numbers that indicate they may have served in the 2nd Boer War, that's 14% of the other ranks listed in the 1914 star roll. A handful of the territorials had been in South Africa also as regulars with the Black Watch, other regiments or with the local volunteer units that volunteered to go.
    Of the officers of the regular battalions, 28 saw active service in South Africa. Therefore over 3,500 of the Black Watch soldiers who qualified for the 1914 Star had no experience of soldiering in wartime.


    Fatal Casualties.


    Black Watch 1914 Stars awarded (1st, 2nd & 5th Bns) - 3699
    Deceased - 1321 (35%)


    The territorials were used as lines of communication troops when they arrived in late Autumn, so they did not have the same experience of open warfare the regulars had in 1914.
    So taking only the two regular battalions as a whole, the 1914 casualties present a slightly different overall picture of a 40% fatality rate.

    1st Btn

    The initial cohort of the 1st battalion: 33 officers and 1,153 other ranks (slightly different numbers are given by other sources, but these are the star roll numbers) arrived on the continent on the 13th of August, 1914.

    The 1st battalion were never at Mons. The first time they engaged the Germans, aside form the odd Uhlan scout and being lightly shelled on their march, was on the 8th of September at the Marne. This is where the battalion suffered its first fatal casualties.

    The most recently enlisted soldier to go with this first contingent, whose date of enlistment is known,  joined on the 27th of June, 1914, only 6 weeks before departure.
    There were 4 large reinforcement drafts made up almost exclusively of reservists and special reservists consisting of 32 further officers and 722 other ranks.


    1st Btn 1914 Star - 1939 awarded – 777 dead - 40%

    Officers – 65
    Deceased – 31 (48%)

    Year - deaths - % of total dead

    1914 – 22 (71%)
    1915 – 5 (16%)
    1916 – 2 (7%)
    1917 – 0
    1918 – 1 (3%)
    1919 – 0
    1920 – 0
    1921 – 1 (3%)

    Other Ranks - 1874
    Deceased – 746 (40%)

    Year - deaths - % of dead
    1914 – 352 - (47%)
    1915 – 246 - (33%)
    1916 – 70 - (9%)
    1917 – 30 - (4%)
    1918 – 42 - (6%)
    1919 – 5 - (0.6%)
    1920 – 1 - (0.1%)


    2nd Btn

    The 2nd Btn arrived from India, landing at Boulogne, on the 12th of October, 1914. Almost all depot reinforcements were fed into the 1st battalion, only a few, other than those who arrived from India, are on the roll.


    The 2nd btn missed out on the open warfare of 1914, but once in the line at the end of October, they did suffer considerable casualties throughout November and December, the flooded shallow trenches providing little protection.


    2nd Btn 1914 Star - 944 awarded – 379 dead - 40%

    Officers - 21
    Deceased – 13 (62%)

    Year - deaths - % of dead

    1914 – 1 (7%)

    1915 – 7 (54%)

    1916 – 4 (32%)

    1917 – 1 (7%)

    Other Ranks - 923
    Deceased – 366 (40%)

    Year - deaths - % of dead
    1914 – 57 - (15%)
    1915 – 182 - (50%)
    1916 – 84 - (23%)
    1917 – 18 - (5%)
    1918 – 20 - (5%)
    1919 – 5 - (1%)

    1920 - 4 - (1%)

    5th Btn


    The Territorials of the 5th (Angus & Dundee) Black Watch left for France on the 1st of November 1914, landing at Le Havre in the early hours of the 2nd.
    It wasn't until the 17th they were engaged in trench digging work, about a mile behind the firing line. In letters home they complained of the lack of excitement of the work!
    The first casualties occurred in early December, by which time they were engaged in night time trench digging parties, under Royal Engineer instruction, at the front.


    5th Btn 1914 Star – 816 awarded – 166 dead (20%)

    Officers - 29

    Deceased – 3 (10%)


    1915 - 1 - (33%)

    1916 - 2 - (66%)

    other ranks. - 787

    Deceased – 163 (21%)


    1914 - 5 - (3%)

    1915 - 61 - (37%)

    1916 - 46 - (28%)

    1917 - 28 - (17%)

    1918 - 25 - (15%)

    1919 - 1 - (1%)

    1914-15 Star (other ranks only)


    The numbers (so far) show that for 7,500 entries - Dead = 3,000 - 40.0% (the roundness of these numbers at this stage is remarkable)


    It's interesting to see the lethality of service throughout the war for 1914-15 star men is the same as that of the 1914 star men (the 5th btn aside). This however may be a skewed figure, as many slightly wounded, but medically downgraded men, would be transferred to support arms such as the Labour Corps or Army Service Corps and be listed upon their 1914-15 star medal roll, these have yet to be included.


    Approximately 11,500 men may be listed in the 1914-15 star roll for the Black Watch. This will include those who initially served abroad with the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, (4th/5th), 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 13th and 14th Battalions. Unfortunately does not include an unknown number who initially served with the regiment before transferring out, who are now subsequently listed upon their later regiments roll.

    * 5 men who went abroad in 1914, qualifying for the 1914-15, but not the 1914 star, died before the end of 1914.
    * There are two men, in different battalions, with the same name, rank, army number and embarkation date.

    While Perth and Perthshire are the historical home of the regiment, there's no doubt Dundee was the beating heart of the Black Watch. Men born or residing in the city make up by far the largest contingent, across all regular and service battalions.

    (Once all the 1914-15 star roll is transcribed and researched, with as many as possible of the transferred out men on other regiments rolls added, then more statistics can be looked at. I may add more analysis on the 1914 star men at a later date also)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    They reveal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Paul Roberts

    Roberts A-Z poster jpeg.jpg

  5. 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!

  6. 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.





  7. 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. 😀 


  8. Don Hedger

    • 1
    • 1
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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 



    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.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. Australian nurses

    • 2
    • 0
    • 165

    Recent Entries

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


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


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


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


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

  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,



  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




  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.


  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.


    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

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


  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. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. allanpeter's Blog

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

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