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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Gr J.W. Maltby, 180th Brigade RFA.


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Thanks again anyone who has helped with my efforts to learn more about my great uncle John William Maltby. I have just struck gold so to speak !. I asked my aunt, a niece of "Willie" as he was known, if she had any photos of him. She thought she had a box of stuff passed down from her mum, Willies sister, somewhere in the attic. Anyway, when she found it I went to have a look and to my surprise it contained :

Photos of him in uniform, one with his mum and dad.

Letters he had written home.

A lot of documentation from the War Office and Red Cross concerning his death.

His metal dog tag (quite a narrow chain, worn on wrist ?).

A circular leather dog tag.

His cap badge, & tunic buttons.

His medals, still in the original box, each medal still in its little individual paper packet,

along with a letter of confirmation for entitlement and condolences.

From what I can see, Willie served with the 383rd Bty, 179th Brigade, RFA. He had been home on leave when the photograph of him and his parents was taken, but on return to France found he had been assigned to B Battery of the 180th Brigade. In his last letter to his sister on 18th April 1918, he says he had been with the 180th for three weeks. In the early hours of 1st May, he was wounded and taken to the 54th Clearing Station near Aire where he arrived at 5.30am. He was suffering from "severe head and facial wounds", was unconcious and never came around. He died that afternoon.

That answers the mystery of whether he was in the 160th or 180th, so the CWGC website data is actually in-correct. I`ll have to let them know. Was quite surprised to learn that when the cemeteries were laid out properly and headstones erected in 1919-20, families had to pay for any additional text. There is a bit of correspondence about that along with a bill and receipt for the words inscribed on Willies. Would`nt you have thought that those costs could have been met by the country under the circumstances !.

The same aunt also has some very interesting stuff on the Sheffield Pals, in which her father served and was wounded at the Somme. Another guy in the pals was a reporter for a Sheffield newspaper, and sent regular reports back which were printed in the paper. She has a thick wad of these cuttings.

Thanks again for any help given. I`m off to wade through this stuff to see what else I can find !.

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It's amazing what's tucked away in attics isn't it Tom, you must be pretty chuffed with the feast that was spread in front of you. I'm really pleased that you've found some fantastic momentos to your families sacrifice. May I suggest that you contact forum member Terry Denham who may be able to help you with the CWGC inscription on John's headstone.

The war diary for the 180th Bde RFA is held at the NA in WO 95/1963, it's not available online, but you can request certain parts. A base cost of £8.50 gives 10 pages, which should work out around a month or more worth of diary. I doubt that John will be mentioned by name, but at least you should get an exact location of 'B' Bty on the day that he recieved his fatal wounds.

I've read a few reports about the charges incurred to families for the added inscriptions on headstones, eventually the charge was waivered since many families couldn't meet the costs. And don't forget that money owed to John by the army would have been docked by the cost of the blanket that he was buried in, shocking I know, but thats how it was 90 years ago.

Rest In Peace Gunner John Maltby, gone but not forgotten


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