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Movement of the 1/19th London Regiment


hedleywilliams
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My Grandfather, Pte Alfred John Williams, 2123 enlisted with the 19th London Regiment on 5th August 1914. at the drill hall in Camden High Street. Jack embarked for France on March 9th 1915 and, according to the Daily Telegraph and Territorial Service Gazette "2123 Pte. A.J. Williams , London Regiment, was wounded in April 1916"

My son and I are preparing to go to Ypres in just 3 weeks as a tribute to Jack (and my other Grandfather GB Nathan of the Kings Royal Rifles)

Could anyone help me in tracking the location of the 1/19th London regiment during the period that my Grandfather was on the Western Front from his arrival in March 1915 until his injury in april 1916. ?

Thanks again to this great site and all the help I have been receiving

Hedley

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Hedley

Have a look at the parent site for your battalion and also 47th Division - should give you a good start.

Regards

Andy

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All March/April 1916 19th London casualties seem to be in Cabaret Rouge Cemetery, Souchez (3.5 km North of Arra) so I think it is likely that your Grandfather was wounded in trenches in this sector.

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Could anyone help me in tracking the location of the 1/19th London regiment during the period that my Grandfather was on the Western Front from his arrival in March 1915 until his injury in april 1916. ?

Hedley, I have the full war diary for the 1/19th London Regt so will be able to post this - probably not until the end of this week as there is rather a lot to go through.

Do you know the exact date on which he was wounded? The 47th Division and 19th London Regt were occupying the N end of Vimy Ridge in April and May 1916. There was a good deal of mining and raiding activity at this time, and the Germans exploded a mine under the battalion's front line at this time. I may be able to pin down the incident more precisely. As ianw says, this was in the vicinity of Cabaret Rouge/Souchez, and was along the line of craters which existed along the top of the ridge. The craters included 'New Cut' amongst others, and the motorway which was built from Calais to Paris unfortunately sliced right through them. However, if you follow a small road/track East from Souchez you can go up the ridge and under the motorway. Beside the track you can see the faint outlines of some of the communication trenches winding up the ridge. The track will take you to the remains of an old war memorial to the 44th Bn Canadian infantry (Winnipeg). Find that and you are in the right area.

Vimy Ridge is about 1 hour + drive SE of Ypres. If you are going to be based in the Ypres area you will really need to have a hire car to get there easily from Ypres. It will take you an age by public transport and taxi (even if you can explain to the locals what you are looking for). I recommend getting hold of the IGN 1:25,000 map of this area.

My grandfather (see my signature) was 2i/c of one of the rifle companies at the time. I have accounts of some of the incidents that took place in this area, but these will take some digging.

regards

Charles

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this was in the vicinity of Cabaret Rouge/Souchez, and was along the line of craters which existed along the top of the ridge. The craters included 'New Cut' amongst others, and the motorway which was built from Calais to Paris unfortunately sliced right through them. However, if you follow a small road/track East from Souchez you can go up the ridge and under the motorway. Beside the track you can see the faint outlines of some of the communication trenches winding up the ridge. The track will take you to the remains of an old war memorial to the 44th Bn Canadian infantry (Winnipeg). Find that and you are in the right area.

Hedley

'Vimy Ridge' by Nigel Cave is one of the guides in the Battleground Europe series and includes this area (see pp 150-153)

You may also like to read this article Old Haunts Revisted (please click) which is hosted on Tom Morgan's excellent site Hellfire Corner. This article originally appeared in "Memories, the Journal of the Old Comrades Association of the 19th London Regiment" and is an account of a tour of the battlefields made by my grandfather in 1920. He describes going from Souchez up to the craters, and the view from near the old Canadian memorial.

regards

Charles

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Unfortunately, I do not have the exact date of the injury to AJ Williams, although he was mentioned in both the Territorial Army Gazette and the Daily Telegraph, the latter was the earlier of the two, dated April 26th 1916 and simply listed my Grandfather as wounded.

I look forward to extracts from the War Diary and gaining some idea of Jack's experiences on the Western Front from March 1915 until he was wounded in April 1916

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Unfortunately, I do not have the exact date of the injury to AJ Williams, although he was mentioned in both the Territorial Army Gazette and the Daily Telegraph, the latter was the earlier of the two, dated April 26th 1916 and simply listed my Grandfather as wounded.

Thats OK, the only place this is therefore likely to be on is his service record. However, as per one of my posts he is mentioned as wounded in the St Pancras gazette of 21 April 1916 - the earliest mention so far. I will go through the war diary and pay particular attention to any wounded in the first fortnight or so of April. (Unfortunately these are not always mentioned, and rarely by name in the case of other ranks.)

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Hedley

The furthest south your gfather would have been with the 19th Londons was the N end of Vimy Ridge, the furthest north was the area of Festubert and Givenchy (just N of the La Bassee canal) where the battalion first came into the line in March 1915.

Please see below extracts from six of my grandfathers letters written whilst the bn was on or behind Vimy Ridge in April 1916 - which I think would probably cover the period when your gfather was wounded. My gfather was a company commander at this time, and these letters were written when the bn had been withdrawn from its tours on top of the ridge into brigade or divisional reserve. The placenames in brackets are those as given in the war diary where the battalion was on the evening of the day he wrote each letter. You will see they refer to events on the ridge - at this time it was fairly quiet with no major actions.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

23/16 (Villiers au Bois)

Sunday, 2nd April, 1916

Dear Dad,

We have got the most splendid weather now and I hope you are getting dry also. … We have several officers ill with 'flu' and other things. I think these Londoners think they are ill far more easily than we should do. They are so used to having a telephone to their doctor and their chemist, instead of being eight miles from both! We are on our way back to the line now and are curious to see whether the same amazing state of affairs exists. Personally I hope not: it is uncanny and uncomfortable and I don't trust any Hun at all.

On Friday I sat as one of a Court Martial on a man in our Battalion for wearing medals he was not entitled to. Later in the same afternoon I took the chair (consisting of a pile of rugs) in the absence, through illness, of the C.O. at a religious discussion on the question "Does Christianity make a man a better soldier?" I am writing this sitting in a ruined garden outside a partially ruined farmhouse, where we have our Company mess. There is some very good oak furniture still left in the house, guarded by an old woman of about ninety who can neither read nor write and does not ask for any money but only a portion of our rations. We took her over from our predecessors with the other dilapidations!

We have got a voluntary church parade this afternoon. We slept last night in a hut where there seemed to be some officers belonging to almost every branch of the service. We are just far enough behind the line for even gunners and cavalry to begin to come in contact with the long-suffering infantry. I haven't got any subalterns with me who have ever been in the line before, so I shall be kept pretty busy.

Your loving C.H.F.

24/16 (Maisnil Bouche)

9th April, 1916

Dear Dad,

We got out of the trenches in the middle of last night and I crept thankfully between my blankets on a bed of chicken-wire about 4.00 a.m. The weather has been good practically all the time and the trenches are in far better defensive condition now. We had some casualties and were pretty heavily shelled at times, but got out all right. We are very short handed and I got on the average about two-and-a-half hours sleep in each twenty-four. I had my boots on for a week, all but five hours! Major Hamilton has gone to London to receive his Military Cross from the King and the Adjutant is also on leave: the R.S.M. has got a commission and the doctor has got a base job, so that our personnel is changing very frequently. It makes everything very difficult.

There were no more friendly overtures by the Bosches. I think they had realised that our Brigade has a reputation for "strafing". … It was nice to wake up (at lunch time) today and hear pigeons cooing instead of shells roaring!

Your loving C.H.F.

25/16(J) (Maisnil Bouche)

10th April, 1916

Dear Jinny ,

… We are having quite nice weather now and this morning I picked some primroses in a little wood. We are not living in the trenches just now, but I have got to take two hundred men up there to work all tonight. My bedstead is some wire like a chicken run stretched across some bits of board; it is fairly comfortable. The nights are still very cold in the trenches and I have only had a bath three times since I saw you last! A fortnight ago, when we came out of the trenches, my servant couldn't find the top half of my pyjamas anywhere in my valise (which is always left some way back) and at last, when I undressed, I found I had it on by mistake under my shirt: it had been there a week and I had never noticed it, as of course I had never undressed! I am sure this will amuse you and Mum.

(With love from Uncle Charles)

26/16(A) (Bouvigny)

15th April, 1916

Dear Agnes,

… It is still very cold at nights out here and we are having hail storms and thunder by day. I believe we have all to be inoculated again, which is a bore, and the men are naturally very much annoyed. I went for a couple of rides this week, really for pleasure and not for any military purpose. I am still waiting to have a bath, as the last really decent one I had was the first week in March. … I have got quite a decent hut in the woods where we are now. There are two bunks - the other being occupied by Naylor, one of the Haileybury boys. There is also a stove and enough tables for us each to have a sort of wash-stand. The woods are beginning to get quite green. I'm afraid that the flies will be an awful difficulty as the weather gets warmer. We have wonderful circulars sent out as to how to fight them, but most of the suggested materials and remedies are quite out of reaches of the trenches. They also say that men's hands ought to be clean before eating or handling food: this is when shaving is only possible at rare intervals! I wish the authorities occasionally visited a front-line trench.

Love to all, C.H.F.

27/16 (Bouvigny)

Palm Sunday,

16th April, 1916

Dear Dad,

… We have a lovely day today and I believe we are to have a church parade at midday. Major Hamilton is still away but Trim, the Adjutant, has returned and some of our invalids also. I mentioned in a p.s. to Agnes that Dartford is now at Winchester. If he still possesses his motorbike it would be easy for him to come over and see you. ... I am writing this sitting in my deck-chair outside my hut in the sun. Aeroplanes are buzzing about overhead. The temperature changes with great frequency and it is rather trying for delicate people like me! … Last night we had a rat hunt in the moonlight and succeeded in slaying one after some exciting chases.

Your loving C.H.F.

28/16 (Bouvigny)

18th April, 1916

Dear Dad,

… We are having pretty rotten weather - much rain and wind. Yesterday I rode over to a very witty and interesting lecture by Sir H. Wilson - on the situation immediately before the outbreak of war and the operations up to the Battle of the Marne. He was very sarcastic at the expense of the Liberal Government and Haldane in particular. … I am afraid we shan't get hot-X buns in the trenches, though we have started having a canteen in the Battalion headquarters dugout and the men can order things like cigarettes, tinned fruit and chocolate by telephone from the front line! The C.O. is supposed to arrive back on Thursday: he only just escaped having jaundice.

Your loving C.H.F.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hedley

The St Pancras Gazette for Friday 21 April 1916 gives the following in its Roll of Honour:

The following further casualties in the [19th] London Regiment are reported.  All are privates except where otherwise stated:

KILLED IN ACTION

2777 Sgt Hall AT

1304 L/Cpl Moull C

WOUNDED

2123 Williams AJ

2958 Lockey W

3197 Jackson G

3310 Woodard RC

3424 L/Cpl Lighting H

4185 Aldridge D

2356 Langley T

3004 Pavey A

2139 L/Cpl Whitehead C

4644 Brown G

2356 Langley TJ

From my database (mainly CWGC and SDGW) the two fatalities are:

HALL, Arthur Thomas, Sgt 2777

Enlisted 08/09/14 at 19th London HQ, 76 Camden High St, Camden Town

Arrived in France w 1/19th on 10/03/15 as a private

K in A 07/04/16 Vimy Ridge

Buried Cabaret Rouge Brit Cem

Age 24

Residence Finsbury Park

NOK address 125, Thorpedale Rd, Finsbury Park

(click here for his CWGC entry.)

MOULL, Charles, L/Cpl 1304

Enlisted in Camden Town pre-war

Arrived in France w 1/19th on 10/03/15 as a private

K in A 07/04/16 at Vimy Ridge

Buried Cabaret Rouge Brit Cem

Age 20

Born Hackney, Middlesex

Residence Fitzroy Sq., W.C.

NOK address 135, Millfields Rd, Clapton

(click here for his CWGC entry.)

This total of 2 killed and 11 wounded ties in nicely with the War Diary entries for early April which I will post separately.

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On 2 April 1916 the 1/19th Londons moved into front line trenches in the Carency sub-sector at the northern end of Vimy Ridge.

The War Diary (WO 95/2738) has the following entries

4 Apr 16  Battalion "Strafe" Day with artillery, trench mortars and bomb throwers.  Trenches improved.  Operation order No. 61 received re Brigade "Strafe".  casualties: 3 other ranks wounded

5 Apr 16  Front lines and reserve lines strengthened.  Hostile trench mortars active.  casualties: 2 other ranks wounded

6 Apr 16  Front lines and reserve lines strengthened.  Hostile trench mortars active.  Operation order No. 62 received re relief.  casualties: 3 other ranks wounded

7 Apr 16  Battalion "Strafe" Day with artillery, trench mortars and bomb throwers and Lewis Guns.  Our front line and support trenches repaired and deepened.  Operation order No. 62 received re working parties.  casualties: 2 other ranks killed, 1 wounded

8 Apr 16  Hostile artillery and trench mortars active.  Relieved by 140th Brigade, 15th Battalion and marched to and billeted in Maisnil Bouchee.  casualties: 2 other ranks wounded

This is consistent with the names given in the St Pancras Gazette i.e. a total of 2 killed and 11 wounded.

I think we can now be fairly certain that your grandfather was wounded in the period 4-8 April 1916 whilst the 1/19th was on this tour of duty at the northern end of Vimy Ridge.

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Charles

Again, thank you so much for your time and kindness in helping to put together what happened to my Grandfather A Jack Williams

As you know from our off-line discussions, my son and I have just returned from visiting Ypres, Passchendaele and the surrounding areas - I will post regarding the trip and our thoughts

Amazing the information that you have been able to provide

Hedley

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