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Durham Light Infantry service number query


high wood
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I am trying to identify a soldier in the DLI whose photograph I have. The photograph is not named but there is some useful information on the back.

Firstly, the photograph was taken by Thirlwell and Co. Photographers who had branches at Stockton, Middlesboro, West Hartlepool, Newcastle and Bishop Auckland.

The message on the back reads:

Born. Oct 9th, 1897. Joined D.L.I., May 31st, 1916. Left England, March 8th, 1917. Officially reported missing, April 9th, 1917, (this could be interpreted as KiA or captured).

Judging by the date of his death or capture the man in the photograph was probably in the 10th Btn, D.L.I. and was killed or captured during the first day of the Battle of Arras.

Can anyone please give me an approximate service number for someone who joined the D.L.I. on 31st May 1916. This will help to narrow down the probables from amongst the many who died that day and provide a name for further research.

Thank you.

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Amongst the probables are:

10498 Sgt George Walker.

26221 Pte John James Jewitt.

32606 Pte William Dolan Skidmore.

39270 Pte Wilton Raine.

43319 Pte Walter Henry Hughes.

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Just saw your PS on the Essex lad's post.

My data for the DLI for this period in 1916 is a little thin. The closest I have are 32669 on the 29th May and 33728 on the 7th June.

Paul

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There's a Free BMD register entry for a John James Jewitt in the fourth quarter of 1897 (ie consistent with the inscription) in Sculcoates, East Yorks, and one for a Wilton Raine in the same quarter in Sunderland, plus two George Walkers - one in Gateshead and one in Tynemouth. Can't see the others on FreeBMD in this time frame.

Robert

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Paul,

many thanks for your swift reply. I have a list of all the 10th Btn DLI casualties for 9th April 1917 and you have enabled me to whittle down the candidates considerably.

I have a Pte Robert Davison Gray (32798) on the Arras Memorial but he is listed as being 29 years old.

William Dolan Skidmore who is the right age at 19, falls just short of the number block with 32606 so he can be ruled out.

The same applies to 32100 Frank Smith.

I will recheck SDGW to see if other DLI battalions suffered casualties on 9th April 1917.

Your help is much appreciated.

Simon.

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Robert,

thank you for your help.

Both John James Jewitt's (26221) and Wilton Raine's (39270) service numbers are outside of the number range that Paul has provided. Sadly, they must be ruled out as candidates.

Simon.

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I am coming round to the idea that the "reported missing" quote on the back of the card might refer to our man being taken prisoner rather than being killed.

I have trawled through SDGW for DLI men numbered between 32669-33728 and have found a total of 10 men who were killed in action or died of wounds in this number range. None were killed on the 9th April 1917. The nearest to that date was 32709 Pte James Keith who died on 22nd April 1917.

Back to the drawing board.

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William Dolan Skidmore who is the right age at 19, falls just short of the number block with 32606 so he can be ruled out.

The same applies to 32100 Frank Smith.

Simon.

Just a general word of warning, Simon.

It may well be that the numbers I quoted formed part of a larger sequential series and that everything tripped along nice and sequentially, allowing you to rule out the people that you mention above.

However, as the war progressed and drafts of men were transferred in from other regiments, number series which had up until that point in time been pretty much sequential, started to fall apart and it's quite common to see blocks of numbers appearing "out of sequence". So as I say, tread a little carefully. If I get the chance I'll do a little more digging for DLI numbers in that range to see if anything out of the ordinary turns up.

Paul

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  • 11 years later...

I don't know if this is still operational but on my extensive data base on DLI. If it is still active I will look deeper

These were killed April May 1917

32606   SKIDMORE       WILLIAM D.      W D

32640   HOWE  WILLIAM HENRY          W H

32676   MORRIS           THOMAS CUTHBERT    T C

32697   GAIR    ROBERT           R

32706   BURNSIDE                   C

32709   KEITH               J

32784   NEVIN  SEPTIMUS GEORGE    S G

32798   GRAY   DAVISON R.     D R

32805   HOOLE WILLIAM DAVID           W D

32948   GILL     HEMINGWAY    H

33008   MOORE            ENOS   E

33216   RODGERS                    W

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Also have these 10th only Bn numbers

 

32719'   DAWSON         SEPTIMUS JOSEPH     S J

''33051'  SINCLAIR          ANDREW          A

'33307'  MILLING            JOSEPH           J

'33308'  MOODY            FRED   F

'33343'  WAUGH            REVELL WEARS          R W

'33445'  WILKINSON      FRED   F

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  • 1 month later...

26221 John James Jewitt, 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry can be ruled out as his baptism details give his date of birth as 25th August 1897. This is a little strange as his birth was recorded as being registered in the December quarter of 1897.

Due to the wording on the back of the post card, "Officially reported missing, April 9th, 1917", I am still of the opinion that the young lad in the photograph will be commemorated on a memorial rather than have a known grave.

I will continue to delve until I can positively identify the young soldier in the photograph.

Jewitt baptism.png

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This is getting more confusing as it seems that the John J Jewitt from Hull was Killed in Action on the 26th July 1916 whilst  serving with the 4th battalion East Yorkshire Regiment.

 

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/95173/JOHN JAMES JEWITT/

 

The John James Jewitt KiA with the Durham Light Infantry appears to have been born in Hexham, Northumberland in the September quarter of 1887.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/1574449/JOHN J JEWITT/

Edited by high wood
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Of the four Durham Light Infantry soldiers killed on the 9th April 1917 and who have no age stated and who are commemorated on Memorials rather than have known graves, this is the current situation.

26778 Walter Faulkner. Loos Memorial. His service papers show that he enlisted on the 10th July 1916 age 20 and not on 31st May 1916 as reported on the post card.

26221 John James Jewitt. Arras Memorial. Born 1887 not 1897 as reported on the post card.

32760 Charles Walker. Loos Memorial. His service papers show that he served in the Expeditionary Force in France from 10th December 1916, not the 8th March 1917 as reported on the post card.

53502 Joseph Wilton. Arras Memorial. From Darlaston, Staffordshire, joined the Durham Light Infantry on 20th December 1916 not 31st May 1916 as reported on the post card. His age was also given as 26.

So I think that none of the above are the lad in the photograph.

Edited by high wood
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1235289247_RobertTaylor3.jpg.209afe6a84e9e4b37ade94ac748a7cdd.jpgI have found the details of a Robert Taylor, 32995, 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry whose service papers have survived. Two of the points listed on the back of the post card match, but not all of them.

1) Joined D.L.I. May 31st 1916.

2) Reported Missing April 9th 1917.

Furthermore his birth registration appears in the right quarter of 1897, (December). However, his date of joining the Expeditionary Force is given as the 6th March 1917 rather than the 8th March 1917 and he joined the 2nd Battalion in the field on 26th March. The C.W.G.C. give no details of his family and I cannot find a date of birth in Durham Baptism records.

 

Robert Taylor 3.jpg

 

 

Robert Taylor.jpg

Robert Taylor 2.jpg

Edited by high wood
minor correction
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I noted in an earlier post that:

"53502 Joseph Wilton. Arras Memorial. From Darlaston, Staffordshire, joined the Durham Light Infantry on 20th December 1916 not 31st May 1916 as reported on the post card. His age was also given as 26".

The photo is not my GGF but on the numbers given these are the historical records of my GGF.

He enlisted 03/12/1915,  was attested into the 2/5 Sherwood Foresters (69172) on 30th Dec 1916, 1st Jan 1917 off to Rugeley via Derby. 23/03/1917 saw him in the 9th Tr Bn Res (33476) and arriving in Etaples on 27/03/1917 and then within 48 hours the 13th, 15th and finally the 10th Bn DLI, arriving at his unit on 15/04/1917 as 53008 Pte Wilfred Lomas. KIA Virile Farm 16/12/1917, age 40.

Hope this assists

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Thank you for posting, it does help in that it helps to rule Joseph Wilton out. He seems to have been amongst a draft from the K.R.R.C.

The fundamental problem that I have is that the post card doesn't give a name for the soldier in question, just a series of clues that should confirm his identity. There were 73 soldiers of the Durham Light Infantry killed on the 9th April 1917 and many others who were reported missing and later presumed dead on the 9th/10th April.

In the vast majority of cases the service papers have survived but often the details given aren't those written on the post card. e.g. Joined D.L.I. May 31, 1916. Is that the date he enlisted, was mobilised or literally joined the D.L.I. in the field after basic training with a Young Soldier Battalion? The two precise facts are the date of birth and the date officially reported missing.

The date that he left England would imply that it was the day he first disembarked in France, but it may be the date that he last arrived in France after taking a period of leave.

The "officially reported missing, April 9, 1917" is also open ended, I assume that it means that he was missing believed Killed in Action and therefore commemorated on the Arras Memorial or similar. However, it could also mean that he was captured and later reported as a prisoner of war.

The good news is that the C.W.G.C. website allows me to download all the Durham Light Infantry casualties for the 9th/10th April 1917 on a spreadsheet. The bad news is that it will take a lot of time to go through them all to find the right man.

Lastly, the lad in the photograph may have trained with the D.L.I. but transferred to another regiment before April 1917, in which case I will probably be pulling what is left of my hair out.

If only there was a name on the post card.

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Yes, 09/04/1917 was a sad day as most were killed by friendly fire before they even got out of their trenches mainly B and D Companies

From my records on the reports of missing there is two possibilities here.

It was the last day he was seen or the daily report normal report the missing approximately 28 days after the event after a search of the clearing stations and hospitals..

I have two reported missing on 09/04/1917

37392 Pte Robert A Copeland (39)

Son of R. O. and Elizabeth Copeland, of Fell Side, Whickham; husband of Ellen Copeland, of Swalwell, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

and

43351 Pte Albert Linwood formally Northumberland Fusiliers PTE 6305

Hull (Sutton-On-Hull, Yorkshire )

Missing report 09/04/1917 
Previously reported missing, now reported killed 10/09/1917 NLS 1917_WList07 

TILLOY BRITISH CEMETERY, TILLOY-LES-MOFFLAINES

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Thank you for the update. Both of those two soldiers are on the spread sheet downloaded from the  C.W.G.C., they are some of the many that have their ages given as part of their C.W.G.C. entry. Both are too old to be the lad in the photograph and I have concentrated on those who are listed as being 19 or 20 or younger or those that have no age given.

I have just finished a FMP search of Durham Light Infantry PoWs for 1917, there are 259 in total but strangely, only one for the opening 24 hours of the Battle of Arras. 42418 Pte Owen Euston, 15th battalion, captured 10th April 1917.

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I think he could be 39270 Wilton Raine see England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 for Wilton Raine Q 4 Oct Nov Dec,  Born Oct 1897 Birth Sunderland

Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 list him born in Sunderland KIA 09/04/1917

 

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Sadly, his Military History details do not match the details on the back of the post card. However, his only surviving relative was his brother Robert John Raine who was undergoing military training with the 13th Training Reserve Battalion at Brocton Camp, Staffordshire at the time, and the dates may not be accurate. I will try to find an exact match to the details given on the post card.

mhsheet.png

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I am coming round to thinking that 32995 Pte Robert Taylor, 2nd Battalion , Durham Light Infantry is the soldier in the photograph. There is pencil writing on his service papers that is very hard to read. I think that one section states: Depot Durham Light Infantry. S. Shields. 1/6/1916, which would tie in with his joining the D.L.I. 31st May 1916. His arrival in France appears to be the 6th March 1917 and not the 8th, but that is pretty close. I wonder if the difference in the dates could be the date of disembarkation 6th and the date of his arrival at the Infantry Base Depot, 8th March. There is no way that a relative could have known the exact date of his disembarkation, only that he was "leaving for France" soon after his last home leave. It is possible that he sent a Field Post Card or a letter home on his arrival at the I.B.D., dated 8th March.

If anyone has a way of altering the contrast on the first document so that the pencil writing can be read, I would be very pleased to be able to read it.

Taylor dates.png

Robert Taylor dates 3.png

Edited by high wood
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13 hours ago, high wood said:

Sadly, his Military History details do not match the details on the back of the post card. However, his only surviving relative was his brother Robert John Raine who was undergoing military training with the 13th Training Reserve Battalion at Brocton Camp, Staffordshire at the time, and the dates may not be accurate. I will try to find an exact match to the details given on the post card.

mhsheet.png

I have not seen this record, which archive is it located please. I use Ancestry

12 hours ago, high wood said:

I am coming round to thinking that 32995 Pte Robert Taylor, 2nd Battalion , Durham Light Infantry is the soldier in the photograph. There is pencil writing on his service papers that is very hard to read. I think that one section states: Depot Durham Light Infantry. S. Shields. 1/6/1916, which would tie in with his joining the D.L.I. 31st May 1916. His arrival in France appears to be the 6th March 1917 and not the 8th, but that is pretty close. I wonder if the difference in the dates could be the date of disembarkation 6th and the date of his arrival at the Infantry Base Depot, 8th March. There is no way that a relative could have known the exact date of his disembarkation, only that he was "leaving for France" soon after his last home leave. It is possible that he sent a Field Post Card or a letter home on his arrival at the I.B.D., dated 8th March.

If anyone has a way of altering the contrast on the first document so that the pencil writing can be read, I would be very pleased to be able to read it.

Taylor dates.png

Robert Taylor dates 3.png

I will down the record when I get home and try graphite powder, magnet and bright light from the rear. Sometimes works.  

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