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Rfn John A freeman


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My great uncle Rfn John Alfred Freeman 37282 16th Bn, KRRC

died Oct 03,1917 aand is buried at the Godewaersvelde British

Cemetary. Any hope of finding the circumstances. KIA, WIA and later died

or illness. If KIA or WIA what was the battle or .....

Thank you

Warren

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Warren,

Here's your Great Uncle's Medal Index Card:

post-20192-1234323817.jpg

His Service Number is in fact R/37282, which would indicate a Kitchener volunteer. 16th (Service) Battalion (Church Lads Brigade) King's Royal Rifle Corps was allocated a KRRC Service Number in beginning with "C/". The "R/" prefixes generally were used by men enlisting into 7/KRRC through to 13/KRRC, which were the earlier Kitchener Service battalions.

This might suggest that John originally enlisted into another KRRC battalion and was later transferred into 16/KRRC.

I notice from his MIC also, that he was not awarded the 1914/1915 Star. This means he did not arrive in France until 1916. 16/KRRC embarked in France on 17 November 1915, so even if he did originally enlist into 16/KRRC, he did not travel out with them, but joined them out there after the New Year.

More to follow ...

CHeers,

Mark

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Warren,

Here's the information from Soldiers Died in the Great War ...

Name: John Alfred Freeman

Birth Place: Newcastle-On-Tyne

Residence: Stratford, Essex

Death Date: 3 Oct 1917

Enlistment Location: Manor Park, Essex

Rank: Rifleman

Regiment: King's Royal Rifle Corps

Battalion: 16th Battalion.

Number: R/37282

Type of Casualty: Died of wounds

This confirms he died of his wounds.

It also gives you an Enlistment Location of Manor Park, Essex. 18/KRRC (Arts & Crafts) was formed in nearby Romford in June 1915, so that could possibly be John's initial battalion. However, 18/KRRC also used the "C/" Prefix I mention above, and the KRRC recruited widely in London, so on balance it's more likely he was in one of the earlier battalions, but was delayed from going out with that battalion - possibly by illness or accident - and was then sent out as a draft to reinforce 16/KRRC.

More to follow ...

Cheers,

Mark

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Warren,

I suspect you already have this, but here anyway is his entry from the CWGC database:

Name: FREEMAN, JOHN ALFRED

Rank: Rifleman

Regiment/Service: King's Royal Rifle Corps

Unit Text: 16th Bn.

Age: 27

Date of Death: 03/10/1917

Service No: R/37282

Additional information:

Son of George and Alice Freeman, of Forest Gate, London; husband of Almena Mary Ann Price (formerly Freeman), of 69, Rosher Rd., Stratford, London.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: I. L. 8.

Cemetery:

Godewaersvelde British Cemetery

Location Information:

Godewaersvelde is a village near the Belgian border, about 16 kilometres south-west of Ieper (in Belgium), and is half-way between Poperinge (in Belgium) and Hazebrouck (in France). The British Cemetery is a little east of the village.

Historical Information:

The cemetery was begun in July 1917 when three casualty clearing stations were moved to Godewaersvelde. The 37th and the 41st buried in it until November 1917, the 11th until April 1918, and from April to August 1918, during the German offensive in Flanders, field ambulance and fighting units carried on the burials. After the Armistice, the graves of five soldiers of the 110th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery were brought in from a point nearer the Mont des Cats and in May 1953, four graves in Godewaersvelde Churchyard were moved into the cemetery. A considerable French plot was made on the terrace at the higher end of the cemetery in May and June 1918, but the graves were later removed. Godewaersvelde British Cemetery now contains 972 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, and 19 German war graves. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

No. of Identified Casualties: 988

More to follow ...

Cheers,

Mark

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Warren,

Next part is to try and identify the location of the battalion when John received his fatal wound.

This is more difficult as we cannot know for sure the time between his wounding and his eventual death on 3rd October 1917.

Since he died at a Casualty Clearing Station, it is likely he was either too seriously wounded to be moved to a Base Hospital or he died before such a move could be organised. Either way, he is not likely to have spent more than days at a CCS, which would suggest his wounding was no earlier than mid September and probably in the section of front line fairly close to Godewaersvelde.

This is backed up by 16/KRRC's movements - they came out of the Line at the end of June 1917 and spent most of July, August and early September training in the Amiens and Dunkirk areas, well behind the front line. Casualties from shelling would still be possible of course, but much less likely.

On 24th September they began to make their way back to the Front, moving into 100th Brigade Reserve at Tor Top holding a line just north of the Menin Road in the Zillebeke area to the ESE of Ypres.

The 1917 KRRC Chronicle records that they there endured heavy and continuous enemy shelling which caused considerable casualties.

Between 25th and 27th September they were involved in a great deal of fighting supporting assaults by the other units in their Brigade - 2/Worcesters, 1/Queens and 9/HLI. This was close quarter fighting with rifle, Lewis gun and bayonet and 16/KRRC met with good success, capturing 48 prisoners and a machine gun, but they sustained casualties of 33 killed, 156 wounded and 31 missing.

These actions were part of the two phases of Third Battle of Ypres known as the Battle of the Menin Road and the Battle of Polygon Wood.

At this time 16/KRRC were in 100th Brigade (together with three units mentioned above) in 33rd Division in X Corps of Plumer's 2nd Army.

I'd say it is most likely that John sustained his fatal wound either from the shelling on 24th September or during the intense fighting in the few days afterwards.

I'll try and glean a bit more detail from the War Diary for you over the next few days to see if we can be more precise about the locations of the 100th Brigade assaults.

Anyway you've got a bit more to go on now that's for sure!

Cheers,

Mark

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Thank you Mark, that's fantastic. I've since learned his brother (my grandfather) serving as BSM to 248 siege battery RGA was allowed to go to the CCS

but unfortunately he arrived to late, John had passed away.

One of these years I will have to travel to Europe and see his grave. I live way out on the west coast of Canada.

Thank you again]

Warren

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Thank you Mark, that's fantastic. I've since learned his brother (my grandfather) serving as BSM to 248 siege battery RGA was allowed to go to the CCS

but unfortunately he arrived to late, John had passed away.

One of these years I will have to travel to Europe and see his grave. I live way out on the west coast of Canada.

Thank you again]

Warren

Warren,

My pleasure - like most Scots, I have relatives in British Columbia: wonderful part of the world!

I'll work throught the War Diary to try and work out the locations in more detail. There's a lot of info at individual company level covering the assaults on the 25-27th, but it's all a bit jumbled up and the handwriting is hard to read. I won't be able to spend the time needed for a week or two :mellow:

Incidentally my grandfather was also in 16/KRRC, but he transferred in after being in 12/KRRC. So far I have not been able to put an exact date on that transfer. Nevertheless this far into the war, there's a fair chance he was already in 16/KRRC alongside your great uncle. He definitely served at Passchendaele.

Best wishes.

Cheers,

Mark

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