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Nick Thornicroft

Nelson Battalion, RND, March 1918

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Nick Thornicroft

Does anyone know the whereabouts of the Nelson Battalion on the 24th March 1918? I have an individual taken prisoner on this date, but no precise location.

Many thanks

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The Nelson Battalion ceased to exist in February 1918, the survivors being transfered to other units

Can you supply further details, name etc



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Nick Thornicroft


Thanks for your reply. Possibly 1st RMLI, but not 100% sure. A/B A.G. Smith, R/5695, died as a POW in November 1918.


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He had been transferred to 7th Entrenching Bn. when Nelson was disbanded and then detached to 1/RMLI on 14 March. Captured during the German advance, he died of diarrhoea and sickness in Reserve Lazarette. CWGC is incorrect.

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Initials: A G

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Able Seaman

Regiment/Service: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Unit Text: Nelson Bn. R.N. Div.

Date of Death: 22/11/1918

Service No: R/5695

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: VIII. G. 26.


The following is from 'Nelson at War 1914-1918' by Capt. Roy Swales RN rtd, pub. 2004 by Pen & Sword, ISBN 1 84468 018 5

"Men formally of Nelson Battalion, killed, mortally wounded or died of disease after the February 1918 disbanding.

Recorded as Nelson Battalion by CWGC. The following men had been detached from 7th Entrenching Battalion to 1/RMLI on 14 March 1918 and they were killed or captured in action while serving with that battalion. However, they were still recorded on Nelson Battalion Draft Orders as 7th Entrenching Battalion was only a holding unit for Nelsons pending their permanent posting"

Smith is included in Capt. Swales' list and given as Died of Disease in captivity

As you suggested in your first post he was captured on 24 March 1918

I'll have a look now to see what I can find on 1/RMLI for that day

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Sorry H2 - shortly you can put me down as your official echo ;)

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I forget which general said it first, but it is well known that "all battles are fought at the junction of four map sheets"

Well, here we have only two

Hope that these are of some help



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Nick Thornicroft

Many thanks for all your replies. I also have someone formerly of the Howe Bn., killed in action on 5th April 1918. It is not clear which unit he joined after the disbandment. A/B R.J. (Rupert James) Gardiner, Z/811. Buried at the Englebelmer Communal Cemetery, near Albert.


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Gardiner was attached to 1/RMLI (since 11 Feb 1918), Howe Battalion having also been disbanded in February 1918. He was Bristol Division RNVR (BZ/811).

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From the Naval History Net

"Friday, 5 April 1918

RND, 1st RM Battalion, attached Howe Battalion

GARDINER, Rupert J, Able Seaman, RNVR, Bristol Z 811, France, killed"

This is the action in Aveluy Wood and the 188th Infantry Brigade commenced the action being in support in Englebelmer

The Division had taken over the line the previous day and it was noted that it was particularly weak in Aveluy wood – a few dug-out posts and no wire.

The German bombardment commenced at 5 am and crept northwards till at 6 am it included the whole of the Divisional Front. At 0630 first reports were received that the enemy was advancing. At 1200 the 188th Brigade was ordered to place 1 battalion with the 190th Brigade and the 1st Battalion RM moved up (1/RM at this time was made up of only two companies)

One company tried to fill the widening gap between the 7th Royal Fusilier and the 4th Bedfords near the railway bridge

The HQ Company and the remaining company of 1/RM moved up at 1715 to support the 7th Royal Fusiliers and was posted in reserve along the western edge of Aveluy Wood.

At 2245 the 1/RM took over the right half of the Royal Fusiliers sector and together with that battalion were ordered to re-establish the front line in the left of that battalions sector. At 2345 this counter attack was launched but failed to fully achieve its objectives even after much mixed fighting

This is only half the story, but it covers the day when Gardiner was killed

1st Battalion Royal Marines commenced the action with 14 Officers and 267 Other Ranks

In two days fighting their casualties were, 7 Officers and 90 Other Ranks

The above is condensed from an article in Len Sellers' magazine 'RND' issue No.20, March 2002.

Len based his writing on WO95/3096



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John Morcombe

The following were all taken POW 22-24/3/18 with 1st RM Battalion (late Howe Battalion):-

R/3738 AB Francis George Benson

R/3512 AB Joshua Parkinson Berry

R/173 AB Arthur Binsley

R/6288 AB James Percy Booth

TZ/6431 LS Sydney James Brayson

R/5006 AB Joseph Bryan

R/5441 AB Oliver Chambers

R/5325 AB Reginald Henry Cheadle

R/5837 AB Thomas Henry Colbeck

R/1090 AB Percy Charles Cousins

R/5840 AB John Craxton

R/6086 AB Ernest Tom Deeming

R/3650 AB Wilfred Fishwick

R/6037 AB Clifford Fletcher

R/3733 AB Edwin Charles Foot

R/933 AB Reginald Sydney Giles

R/5650 AB Harry Greenwood

R/5233 AB Benjamin Haigh

R/3541 AB Raymond Jarrold Hannant

R/2462 AB Samuel James Harper

R/5673 AB Herbert Harris

R/889 AB William John Harris

R/247 AB George Heath

R/5430 AB Joseph Hilton

TZ/4666 PO John Edward Hodgson

R/2364 AB Frederick Thomas Holmes

PZ/1240 AB William Herbert John Hurren

R/5831 AB Herbert Jacobs

R/4958 AB Edward James

R/4960 AB William John Jarvis

R/5639 AB Penrith Johnson

R/3787 AB Walter Johnson

R/2202 AB Samuel Johnstone

R/3699 AB Joseph Jones

R/5860 AB Sidney Arthur Kendall

R/3675 AB Ernest Lees

R/5440 AB Wilfred Lindley

R/5630 AB Joe Lumb

TZ/4997 AB William Lynam

Clyde Z/587 AB James Mair

Tyneside Z/5215 AB James Mallon

R/6035 AB Arthur Frank Mangan

R/3553 AB William Mooney

TZ/4698 AB Albert Newbury

R/1001 AB Antonio John Norman

R/6281 AB William Horace Ormrod

R/1047 AB Geoffrey Partridge

TZ/7890 AB.HG Thomas Brogden Patterson

R/6268 AB Fred Payne

R/5660 AB Harry Perkins

TZ/4622 AB William Winter Reay

CZ/4692 AB James Reid

R/6090 AB John Thomas Richardson

R/5861 AB Thomas William Richardson

R/1105 AB William Robson Ritson

R/5825 AB Edward John Ross

R/3776 AB William Smith

R/1181 AB Harry Herbert Stebbings

R/5448 AB Herbert Wright

And these late Howe Battalion attached 2nd R.M. Battalion:-

T/S/Lt. Robt. Garven Gray

KP/164 AB Fred Harding

R/5680 AB Richard Johnson

R/3648 AB William Alfred Johnson

R/3784 AB James Mason

R/1056 AB Samuel James Mason

TZ/6413 AB William Robert Meek

TZ/4654 AB Fred Pearson

CZ/799 AB John Pope

R/6280 AB Edgar Roberts

R/2167 AB Donald Rosie

CZ/5277 PO William Sargent

R/2166 AB John Russell Souter

CZ/3045 Piper LS George Ferrier

R/6078 AB John Thos. Williams Stratton

R/1172 AB Samuel P. Swap

CZ/2699 AB Archie Thomson

CZ/2993 AB(HG) Geo. McCall Torrance

R/5141 AB Thomas Wilson

TZ/6539 AB Edwin Young

And these late Nelson attd. 1RM:-

R/4035 AB Wm. Samuel Abigail

R/6360 AB Jacobus Dirk Alta

TZ/3897 AB Thos. Armstrong

R/1273 AB Ernest W. Ashmead

R/6339 AB Herbert Aspinall

R/287 AB William John Banks

CZ/3360 AB Jas. Stewart

TZ/1713 PO John Tait MM

TZ/3088 AB Jos. Ward

R/1318 AB John Henry White

R/4264 AB Samuel Bramwell

R/4863 AB John William Branfoot

R/4056 AB William Jarvis Bridgewood

CZ/7364 AB Patrick Joseph Canning

R/3231 AB Alfred William Carter

R/5920 AB Andrew Cassidy

R/5032 AB Percy Clayton

R/3281 AB Peter Edward Cocker

R/3199 AB Arthur John Collett

R/4839 AB George Edward Collins

R/5513 AB John Cottle

R/3234 AB John William Craghill

CZ/1395 AB John Crothers

R/4108 AB John Davies

R/3272 AB Sackville Lawrence Deacon

R/3406 AB George Desborough

R/6123 AB Henry Edward Devey

R/491 AB Ernest Duke

R/3409 AB Evan John Evans

R/1550 AB Ernest John Everett

CZ/4174 AB Robert Fraser

TZ/4291 AB Thomas Gardner

R/5046 AB William Lacey

London Z/4074 AB James Burt Nye

R/3315 AB Meyer Oderberg

R/4100 AB James Porter

BZ/879 AB John Noel Quinlan

LZ/1695 AB Henry William Randall

BZ/4730 AB Thomas Edward Rose

R/5894 AB John James Simpson

R/1349 AB Ernest Cecil Slade

R/5695 AB Albert George Smith

R/3877 AB John Clare Snelson

London Z/2118 LS Frank Derby Wild

And lastly Nelson men attd. 2RM:- Zero.

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Nick Thornicroft

Excellent info - thank you.


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Interesting to look at your list there John

and to see how things had changed by the spring of 1918

the early volunteers thinned out by death and disease

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John Morcombe

Aye Michael, either that or they were faster runners.

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Well put John

An old sea dog (even from the dry, RND, side of the litter) would soon pick up on which way the wind was blowing.

Here's to the men of 1914 - the quick and the dead - God Bless them All!

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