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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Bereavment Letter From Officers

Guest Martin 0918

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Guest Martin 0918

Hi, firstly as a newbie to the site i thought i should introduce myself.

My name is Martin and am 25 and grew up in Witney, Oxfordshire. I have always been fascinated by 20th century Military history

after being told war stories by my grandad. In 2002 i Signed up to the Army and served for 5 years with The Royal Corps of Signals

in Germany, Falklands, Afghanistan and Cyprus. Right, enough of me, here is my story

recently i was told by my dad that his great uncle had fought and was killed in WW1.

His particulars are 199178 A/Bdr Edward Bertie Crook, 25 Batt, XXXV Brigade RFA part of X corps 7th Div

he was KIA 01/11/1917 and is listed on the memorial at Tyne cot.

I had been trying to find information about Bertie and the circumstances in which he had died but hadnt been too successful tbh.

I mentioned it to my gran and she sought out a berevement card and also a letter she had that had been written by a Captain, i assume to be his OC or battery commander??

Here is what it says:

19 12/17 25th Battery R.F.A



Dear Miss Crook

Have just re-read your letter of 25th november & am extremely sorry that you did not receive news of your

brother from this battery, but i understood another officer had written to you

Your brother was only in the battery for a few daysbefore he was killed& had [...] up at the gun line about

12 hours, having gone up on the night of 31st october with one of the reliefs for a gun detachment. i did not

see the shell land but from what i was told afterwards, your brother and another gunner were standing near the

dug-out when a shell burst in front of them & killed them both instantaneously.At that time we were very

unfortunate as our casualties were fairly heavy but it happened in the morning & we succeeded in getting them

buried in the afternoon. The actual grave is marked with a cross & is in WESTHOEK alongside the road which

runs up to GLENCORSE WOOD. (near YPRES) If you would like any further particulars you might let me know

& i will do whatever i can for you. Each grave is registered & all particulars can be had from "the Graves registration

committee" I may add that your brothers section officer has been missing since about 1st november so that really

explains why you did not receive a letter informing you of your sad berevement.

With our sympathies to you all in your berevement from the officers, NCO's and men of 25 Battery

Yours sincerely

Edwin Munlin(????) Capt

Its hard to make out the name of the captain but the surname could begin with M or possibly S so could be smith.

Would it have been normal for the family to recieve this kind of letter??i imagine this was sent to my great gran (berties sister)

I know its a long shot, but does anyone here think it would be possible to find out the name of the author of the letter and maybe even the name of his comrade he died with?

i wonder if he is still in his grave?

any help would be greatly appreciated


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Hello Martin

The battery commander was normally a major, though sometimes a captain. The second-in-command, or "battery captain" was normally a captain, so it would have been one of these two who wrote to Miss Cook.

In November 1917 the battery moved to Italy with the rest f 7 Division, which perhaps explains the misunderstanding referred to in the letter.


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Firstly - yes, it was quite common for officers to write and, often, this would actually be the first notice a family had that someone had been killed. The official notification letter would come later. The unit's war diary at the National Archives is likely to mention officers' names so it should be comparitively easy to establish who he was. And, unlike infantry battaions, I find that artillery diaries are pretty good at listing the names of "other ranks" who were killed so it may well be possible to see who the other man was. I don't think this diary is available online so you'd have to visit Kew (or pay a researcher to look-up the diary for you)

As you mention that Edward is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, it seems that the location of his grave must have been lost or destroyed later in the war. It is possible that the War Graves Commission holds information about where he was was buried and it may be worth you writing to them. If yo do write, enclose a copy of the letter from the officer and highlight the mention of where he was originally buried.


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