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London Rifle Brigade (London 1/5)


drumnafaughnan
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I realise these topics are covered in some detail as part of other topics on here, but I've spotted two or three posters who, like me, have a particular interest in the LRB (London 1/5) and thought it would be useful to have a thread just for the LRB. My uncle Joe McPartlin was a Sgt in D coy LRB, wounded/gassed at Bird Post on March 28th and taken prisoner. He was in Friedrichsfeld POW camp and eventually repatriated. He died of his wounds on May 25th 1923. So that's my particular interest, but any info on the LRB in 1917/18 would be welcome. Having plotted his place of capture, I'm now wondering about his time leading up to March 28th. He was drafted from the Post Office Rifles to the LRB in July 1916 after the losses at Gommecourt, so the unit's tour from then on in is my area of interest.

Thanks in advance.

Sean McP

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Hello Sean,

I too have an interest in the LRB, see my signature and avatar! There are a few others hanging around as well!

Have you read 'Gentlemen And Officers' by KW Mitchinson and 'Four Years On The Western Front' by A Rifleman?

I have my GG Uncle's MIC and am now trying to find his Service Record and establish what company he was in when he died.

I shall be visiting the Somme with work next month and hope to incorporate a personal trip to Gommecourt within that.

Kind regards

Woolly

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Sean

Michael Joe 10538 joined the LRB on 11.7.16 having arrived in france shortly before with the POR as you say. Start with 'the History of the LRB in the GW published by Naval & Military Press; the other bokks re'd are v good too; have you any info about his time in Captivity; LRB POWs are a particular interest of mine; have identified over 500 by name etc

5 were given MM for escaping!! Chris

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Sean

Michael Joe 10538 joined the LRB on 11.7.16 having arrived in france shortly before with the POR as you say. Start with 'the History of the LRB in the GW published by Naval & Military Press; the other bokks re'd are v good too; have you any info about his time in Captivity; LRB POWs are a particular interest of mine; have identified over 500 by name etc

5 were given MM for escaping!! Chris

Hi Chris,

Yep - have read the LRB history and will be rereading to follow the unit's journey through France and Belgium from 7.16. Only detail I have from the time in POW camp is a postcard from him to his parents which I intend to scan and put on forum. He says how he is able to get out of bed now and is fine. Given his eventual demise I suspect he was being kind to their feelings!

Sean

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Hi Sean

My Grandfather - see below - was CSM "D" Co. when he was KIA 16th August '17 at Glencorse Wood (Battle of Langemarck, 3rd Ypres)

If you can get hold of a copy, try Poor Bloody Infantry: A memoir of the First World War by WHA Groom which gives a very personal account of a rifleman's service with the LRB from his joining in March '16, through to discharge in November '18 ( there are other books which use "Poor Bloody Infantry" in their title, make sure you get the one by Groom! it's ISBN 0718303849 published 1976 by William Kimber) Groom gives a detailed commentary of, amongst others, the battles of Langemarck & Cambrai. However, although he mentions the Mars offensive, Groom was fortunate to miss being involved himself through having been sent for training at gas school as a gas NCO at the critical time.

NigelS

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Hi Sean

My Grandfather - see below - was CSM "D" Co. when he was KIA 16th August '17 at Glencorse Wood (Battle of Langemarck, 3rd Ypres)

If you can get hold of a copy, try Poor Bloody Infantry: A memoir of the First World War by WHA Groom which gives a very personal account of a rifleman's service with the LRB from his joining in March '16, through to discharge in November '18 ( there are other books which use "Poor Bloody Infantry" in their title, make sure you get the one by Groom! it's ISBN 0718303849 published 1976 by William Kimber) Groom gives a detailed commentary of, amongst others, the battles of Langemarck & Cambrai. However, although he mentions the Mars offensive, Groom was fortunate to miss being involved himself through having been sent for training at gas school as a gas NCO at the critical time.

NigelS

Nigel,

Thanks for that. Your grandfather and my uncle must surely have been through much together. I will certainly track down PBI if I can. It's good to make contact.

Will keep updating

Sean

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Hi again Sean

Your uncle probably saw more action with the LRB than my grandfather as he only served with the LRB for about three and a half months! Like your Uncle he joined the Bn (as a CSM) in early July '16 (immediately post Gommecourt) from 2/7th Middx having served in Egypt since early '15, but in early September '16, prior to the LRB's attack on Leuze Wood, he was moved to the 2nd Entrenching Bn for 10 months only moving back to the LRB in early July '17 for the six weeks before he was killed at Glencorse on 16th August. if you haven't already come across it, you might find the letter home from my grandfather given in this post of interest:

 

NigelS

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Hi. My great uncle, Rifleman 304009, was also transferred to LRB from the Post Office Rifles in July 1916 after Gommecourt. Researching books suggests the transfer took place on the 3rd July but our comrade suggests it took place on the 11th. I wonder why there is a difference in the dates. I am hoping to follow Edwin Jones' travels with the LRB from July to September 1916 when he was killed and any information about the locations occupied by LRB in that period will be gratefully received. His death, incidentally, has been recorded on 6th, 9th, 10th and 11th. If the 6th |I believe it would have been Chimpanzee Valley and if the 9th, probably in Leuze Wood. Again, any light cast would be appreciated.

P.S. Any info on the movements of POR before July 1916 also welcomed

Regards, Ian

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Ian

From the war diaries and my examination of the medal rolls I believe the LRB's casualties occurred on 9 th in Leuze Wood; for some reason the men who were missing after the action were recorded as missing on the 6th when as you say the LRB was in reserve in Chimpanzee alley; there is an amazing account of the failed Leuze Wood attack in 'Englishman Kamerad" by Captain Gilbert Nobbs; who was blinded and captured in this action. Published in UK in 1918 Have not read a more graphic account.

POR draft arrived in France on 3.7.16 and about 90 (roughly two platoons) were transferred to LRB on 11th; again info from medal rolls

Chris

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Ernie, mon Capitaine, merci. Edwin Jones was home on leave in 1915 where could I find his whereabouts in France before the draft of 3.7.16? As stated elsewhere I am very keen to follow his movements with the POR when I visit France.

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Hi Ian,

The research I got on my uncle is quite clear he was with the P O R till JUly 10th and joined LRB on the 11th. POR were posted abroad on June 26th. Maybe they were posted in anticipation of the losses of July 1st, decision was taken to transfer them on the 3rd but couldn't physically happen till the 11th?

Info I have on LRB from July - Sept:

Remained in line opposite Gommecourt till mid July, when was relieved and sent for rest and further training, including with tanks. In early September took over the line east of Guillemont, opposite Bouleaux and Leuze Woods. Objective was to push through woods and take Combles beyond - finally taken 26.9.

As to Mars, now know that 1 Platoon of D coy was at Bird Post and 2 platoons were in Viscount and Earl Trenches - so my search narrows. Bird being on the edge of the front the division was holding, they must have been wiped out pretty quickly - certainly the war diary has no mention of the Post or either of those trenches once the attack began.

Sorry if you already knew all of this -am still a novice at finding info.

Sean

Hi. My great uncle, Rifleman 304009, was also transferred to LRB from the Post Office Rifles in July 1916 after Gommecourt. Researching books suggests the transfer took place on the 3rd July but our comrade suggests it took place on the 11th. I wonder why there is a difference in the dates. I am hoping to follow Edwin Jones' travels with the LRB from July to September 1916 when he was killed and any information about the locations occupied by LRB in that period will be gratefully received. His death, incidentally, has been recorded on 6th, 9th, 10th and 11th. If the 6th |I believe it would have been Chimpanzee Valley and if the 9th, probably in Leuze Wood. Again, any light cast would be appreciated.

P.S. Any info on the movements of POR before July 1916 also welcomed

Regards, Ian

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Neither the war Diary, nor the Regimental History, are in my experience particularly accurate on the nature of casualties. Often there is simply a figure for those missing after a major fight; and very little info on PoWs. I have found the medal rolls to be an excellent source of info; extract of my research into gavrelle casualties;

So how many casualties had the 1st Battalion suffered at Gavrelle? The analysis derived from the Regiment’s medal roll etc. identifies 102 men killed in action or presumed killed. However by March 1918, many other ranks had been posted to the 1st Battalion from a variety of other units, and many of these men were not subsequently listed on the Regiment’s medal roll, but those of their former units. Thus 15 of the casualties have been identified on other rolls, notably 8th, 10th and 17th London Regiments. This strongly suggests other casualties are still to be discovered.

If the figures quoted in the History are correct, then up to 353 men (17 killed + 437 missing = 454 – 101 known fatalities) had been captured. If the figures in the War Diary are accurate then the potential number of prisoners is a lot lower at 234 men. (564 – 64 = 500 casualties of whom 101 known fatalities + 175 wounded).

The History also states that by the end of 1917 there were 121 LRB men in captivity, a figure which was to rise to 484 by the Armistice. Thus 361 LRB men were captured in 1918, the majority of them in the Spring Offensives. But the 484 men included former 2nd Battalion men who had been captured serving with the London Irish or the Artists’. In reality the number of LRB men captured at Gavrelle was somewhere between the numbers derived from the History and War Diary. It is also highly questionable whether the History figure of 175 wounded for March can be used in any calculation for casualties on the 28th. The issue therefore has to be tackled in another way.

In Chapter 14, LRB Prisoners’ of War, it is stated that 300 individual soldiers had been identified who had been, or were probably taken prisoner of war at Gavrelle. (19 of them were to subsequently die in captivity). 49 of these men retained their former units’ army numbers (most were ex 8th and 17th London Regiment men with a sprinkling of ex 10th London) and no doubt the actual number captured was somewhat higher. Using this analysis, the number of casualties incurred by the LRB on 28 March 1918 would have been something close to 102 other ranks killed, 300 captured and about 100 other men wounded. The figures quoted in the History are for March as a whole, and it will be recollected that the only other casualty figure given for March was 13 men wounded in the raid on Crab Trench. Mention is made, however, of a small number of gas casualties (none apparently fatal) from one of the periodic bombardments leading up to the German attack.

However an examination of the databases shows that nine or ten LRB men were killed with 1st Battalion in March before the 28th. Reference is made in the War Diary to persistent and accurate German shelling of the British defences and casualties must have been the inevitable consequence. The 5th London Regiment’s Medal Roll shows a considerable number of LRB men returning to the UK throughout March. Although many are clearly former 2nd Battalion men, many attached to the Artists’, 49 were equally clearly serving with the 1st Battalion. Many were former Rangers men (12 London Regiment) who had been posted to the 1st Battalion at the end of January 1918, together with men from other London Regiments also posted at this time. Some of the other men identified were in John Sutton’s draft in early March who must have been wounded to return to the UK so shortly after arrival. In any event the Army would clearly not have allowed so many men to return to the UK unless it was compelled to do so, since the forthcoming offensive was common knowledge.

Thus it is not unreasonable at all to adjust the total casualty figure for March given in the History down by 50 or 60 to reflect a conservative estimate of pre Gavrelle casualties, excluding the raid on Crab Trench. Thus the number of men wounded at Gavrelle would be nearer the 100 estimated as a result of examining the number of prisoners’ of war.

At the end of the day there might be a greater degree of convergence between the total number of casualties given for March 1918 in the History and the figure implied by the War Diary entries for the 28th ( and subsequent report by Lt. Col. Husey ) than is immediately apparent. If indeed both the figures are accurate, then the Battalion lost 500 men at Gavrelle on the 28th, 13 wounded during the raid on Crab Trench, 10 killed and another 106 wounded at other times during the month. This scenario is compatible with the data extrapolated from the medal rolls, particularly as many men who were victims of the gas shelling would not have been invalided back to the UK. Thus, in round figures, 102 dead, 100 wounded and 300 prisoners is as close an analysis of the casualties at Gavrelle which can be identified so far.

chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

Think it was NigelS who recommended the book 'Poor Bloody Infantry' which covers the experiences of the LRB, written by WHA Groom who served in a Lewis Gun Team with the unit. It's out of print but I managed to get hold of it and it's a fascinating read. Quite apart from the detail of what the LRB went through, it fairly reeks of authenticity and is fairly scathing about the ignorance of High Command and even the tendency of line officers to gloss over some of the PBIs suffering. He wrote it in the 8os I think because he was worried that the last of the veterans would die without an accurate account from a private soldier surviving. He talks of fear as well as heroism and defeats instead of 'moral victories'. It's quite an unusual view of the war from 'one who was there' and a great addition to the wide range of literature already familiar to most posters I would imagine. And, of course, for this topic, it has the added attraction of being 'close to home'.

Thanks NigelS!

Neither the war Diary, nor the Regimental History, are in my experience particularly accurate on the nature of casualties. Often there is simply a figure for those missing after a major fight; and very little info on PoWs. I have found the medal rolls to be an excellent source of info; extract of my research into gavrelle casualties;

So how many casualties had the 1st Battalion suffered at Gavrelle? The analysis derived from the Regiment's medal roll etc. identifies 102 men killed in action or presumed killed. However by March 1918, many other ranks had been posted to the 1st Battalion from a variety of other units, and many of these men were not subsequently listed on the Regiment's medal roll, but those of their former units. Thus 15 of the casualties have been identified on other rolls, notably 8th, 10th and 17th London Regiments. This strongly suggests other casualties are still to be discovered.

If the figures quoted in the History are correct, then up to 353 men (17 killed + 437 missing = 454 – 101 known fatalities) had been captured. If the figures in the War Diary are accurate then the potential number of prisoners is a lot lower at 234 men. (564 – 64 = 500 casualties of whom 101 known fatalities + 175 wounded).

The History also states that by the end of 1917 there were 121 LRB men in captivity, a figure which was to rise to 484 by the Armistice. Thus 361 LRB men were captured in 1918, the majority of them in the Spring Offensives. But the 484 men included former 2nd Battalion men who had been captured serving with the London Irish or the Artists'. In reality the number of LRB men captured at Gavrelle was somewhere between the numbers derived from the History and War Diary. It is also highly questionable whether the History figure of 175 wounded for March can be used in any calculation for casualties on the 28th. The issue therefore has to be tackled in another way.

In Chapter 14, LRB Prisoners' of War, it is stated that 300 individual soldiers had been identified who had been, or were probably taken prisoner of war at Gavrelle. (19 of them were to subsequently die in captivity). 49 of these men retained their former units' army numbers (most were ex 8th and 17th London Regiment men with a sprinkling of ex 10th London) and no doubt the actual number captured was somewhat higher. Using this analysis, the number of casualties incurred by the LRB on 28 March 1918 would have been something close to 102 other ranks killed, 300 captured and about 100 other men wounded. The figures quoted in the History are for March as a whole, and it will be recollected that the only other casualty figure given for March was 13 men wounded in the raid on Crab Trench. Mention is made, however, of a small number of gas casualties (none apparently fatal) from one of the periodic bombardments leading up to the German attack.

However an examination of the databases shows that nine or ten LRB men were killed with 1st Battalion in March before the 28th. Reference is made in the War Diary to persistent and accurate German shelling of the British defences and casualties must have been the inevitable consequence. The 5th London Regiment's Medal Roll shows a considerable number of LRB men returning to the UK throughout March. Although many are clearly former 2nd Battalion men, many attached to the Artists', 49 were equally clearly serving with the 1st Battalion. Many were former Rangers men (12 London Regiment) who had been posted to the 1st Battalion at the end of January 1918, together with men from other London Regiments also posted at this time. Some of the other men identified were in John Sutton's draft in early March who must have been wounded to return to the UK so shortly after arrival. In any event the Army would clearly not have allowed so many men to return to the UK unless it was compelled to do so, since the forthcoming offensive was common knowledge.

Thus it is not unreasonable at all to adjust the total casualty figure for March given in the History down by 50 or 60 to reflect a conservative estimate of pre Gavrelle casualties, excluding the raid on Crab Trench. Thus the number of men wounded at Gavrelle would be nearer the 100 estimated as a result of examining the number of prisoners' of war.

At the end of the day there might be a greater degree of convergence between the total number of casualties given for March 1918 in the History and the figure implied by the War Diary entries for the 28th ( and subsequent report by Lt. Col. Husey ) than is immediately apparent. If indeed both the figures are accurate, then the Battalion lost 500 men at Gavrelle on the 28th, 13 wounded during the raid on Crab Trench, 10 killed and another 106 wounded at other times during the month. This scenario is compatible with the data extrapolated from the medal rolls, particularly as many men who were victims of the gas shelling would not have been invalided back to the UK. Thus, in round figures, 102 dead, 100 wounded and 300 prisoners is as close an analysis of the casualties at Gavrelle which can be identified so far.

chris

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Hi Sean

Glad you found Groom's "Poor Bloody Infantry" an interesting read; I must admit that the first time I read his very vivid account on the attack on Glencorse Wood on the 16th August '17 (the action in which my grandfather was killed) I found it extremely disturbing.

If you have access to Ancestry, Groom's MIC and pension record are available (William Henry Archibald Groom; Regimental numbers: 4672 & 302781). Note that the regimental number that Groom gives in the book (301258) is wrong this belonged to Private Alfred R Pratt.

As far as I can determine from BMD records Groom died in the period October-December 1983 - RIP

NigelS

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Question re 1/5th London's Service:

Can anyone tell me where they were on 14 December 1914?

TIA

David

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Question re 1/5th London's Service:

Can anyone tell me where they were on 14 December 1914?

TIA

David

Attached to 11th Infantry Brigade which was in the line in Ploegsteert Wood

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Thanks - gives me the Location of where Lt Wilfred Willett was injured.

David

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Hi David if you're not already aware of it, "The History of the LRB 1859-1919" gives (relating to December):

The total casualties for the month were - killed, other ranks 11; wounded - officers, 2; Other ranks, 24. The officers were Lieut. A.G. Kirby and 2nd Lieut W.L. Willet. ....2nd Lieut. Willet, who was also wounded in the head while gallantly going to the help of a man who had fallen victim to a sniper, suffered, too from paralysis, and was unable to take any further part in the war.

(Kirby had suffered from temporary paralysis and later continued his service in England)

The Nominal Roll of Officers in the same book gives:

WILLETT, WILFRED LESLIE. Ed. St. Paul's School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Lieut. Cambridge University OTC. Joined LRB as 2nd Lieut 10/8/14 and went to France with it Nov. 1914-13/12/14 (severely wounded) Honours. Mentioned in despatches. Shooting. School Shooting VIII 1906-09. Cambridge University Snap Shooting 1910-11. Cambridge County X 1911. Territorial VIII United Services 1911. London Hospital IV 1914.

Hope this is of use.

NigelS

Edit: Willett is also mentioned in the "Short History of the London Rifle Brigade". which can be downloaded from: http://www.archive.org/details/londonrifle00regiuoft

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Hi David if you're not already aware of it, ...

Nigel

Many thanks for this - I had the online references, but not the others. Always useful to have contemporary information - what I already have is from his service record and his daughter's biography of him (plus J Smith's slightly fictionalised Wilfred and Eileen).

David

(1st cousin twice removed of WLW)

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Hi again David

Presumeably, because of his short length of service at the front before being wounded, his Mention came about as a result of the assistance he was giving when he was injured?

NigelS

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Hi again David

Presumeably, because of his short length of service at the front before being wounded, his Mention came about as a result of the assistance he was giving when he was injured?

NigelS

That is the assumption on which I was working - certainly Sergeant Moore would have thought so (and Wilfred had a letter from him supporting that thought)!

David

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The london Gazette date of his mention will give you a clue; generally in my experience awards were gazetted about 3 months after the event; until mid 1918

Chris

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The london Gazette date of his mention will give you a clue; generally in my experience awards were gazetted about 3 months after the event; until mid 1918

Chris

Chris,

looks like just eight weeks - Date: 16 February 1915 Issue number: 29072 Page number: 1669 - perhaps the delay wasn't quite so bad that early on!

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/290...upplements/1669

NigelS

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Nigel

Pretty conclusive then; Cairns and Oppenheim for leading the LRB; Jenkins for capturing a German flag although the date in the History seems wrong; don't know about Peck. Suspect Willett would have got the MC later on

Chris

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  • 1 year later...

For Nigel S

I have just registered on this site/forum and came across your entry on this page regarding the action in Glencorse Wood on the 16th August '17. My GG Uncle Thomas Edward Muckle S/15062 was killed in Glencorse Wood on 24th August 17, he was a lewis gunner with 8th Batt the Rifles (Prince Consorts Own) and was apparently 'buried where he fell'. I was in Ypres 3 weeks ago and laid a cross for him at Tyne Cot where he is on the wall.

Having just found him I've no idea where to find out about the battle he died in, or regimental diaries that may be around listing him in some way. I've seen a photo but there are no standing trees in it.

ANy info you can give meon where to look would be a great help and much appreciated.

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