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sgmcgregor

Info wanted on 5th Seaforth Highlanders, 51st Division

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sgmcgregor

Hello,

I was wondering if anyone had any parts of the unit war diary for 5th Seaforth Highlanders, 152nd Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division.

I am particularly interested in events from January 1918 until the end of May 1918. My great-grandfather, Sergeant George Lyon Bartlett from Wick, Scotland, served with the Territorials and was in 1/5th Seaforth Highlanders.

On 24th May 1918, a local newspaper carried news that he had been awarded the Military Medal for "doing great work on the Somme". The family story is that he was awarded the medal for saving the life of Lieutenant Daniel Miller Clyne, also of Wick. George was close to the Clyne family, especially after the war, and would often ride their horses at local shows - showjumping, racing, etc. I was wondering if anyone could shed light on the activities of the Battalion, or the Division in general, for the times in question to get an idea of where he was, and what action the Battalion may have been involved in. Unfortunately Lieutenant Daniel Miller Clyne was killed in action later in the war on 23rd July 1918.

My mother remembers George well, but he would never ever talk about his time in the war, and when any locals asked how he won his medal, he was known to always reply "...for shooting scorries...". And if you're not familiar with the phrase, it means he won his medal for shooting seagulls!

I have recently obtained a copy of Major FW Bewsher's book, The History of the Fifty First (Highland) Division, but don't expect to find any specific details, but hope it will give a good general accounting of the Division's history during World War 1.

If anyone can offer any assistance, I would be most greatful.

Regards,

Steven

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sgmcgregor

Mike,

Thanks for the link. I'll read through the book.

I had been aware of "The Sword of the North" by Dugald MacEachern (hope I spelled that correctly - doing it from memory), and I had looked at a copy in the local library, but everything new helps.

Steven

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dycer

Steven,

The link Mike has posted will probably give you the definitive answer about the location of the Battalion,etc during the period you seek.

A general overview from the Divisional Pioneer Battalion(8th Royal Scots) History.

1918.

Beugny and Beaumetz.

From December 1917 to March 1918,the Battalion constructed the major part of the defences in the Louveral-Boursies-Demicourt sector.The value of these was subsequently proved during the enemy offensive towards the end of March.

Enemy Attack,March 1918.

From the 21st to 26th March,the Battalion was in the thick of the fight.They first came into contact with the enemy on the Morchies-Beaumetz line,and repelled enemy attacks there.The Battalion was finally withdrawn on the 26th.

April 1918.

The Battalion was resting and reorganising in the vicinity of Lillers when the enemy made his attack for Merville.The Battalion moved into action behind the River Lawe,and in front of Paradis,on the 10th April 1918.

St.Venant.

For ten days in the end of April,the Battalion was attached to the 61st Division,and constructed defences in front of St.Venant.

Roclincourt.

During May and June,the Battalion was in the line in front of Roclincourt.

George

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sgmcgregor

Steven,

The link Mike has posted will probably give you the definitive answer about the location of the Battalion,etc during the period you seek.

A general overview from the Divisional Pioneer Battalion(8th Royal Scots) History.

1918.

Beugny and Beaumetz.

From December 1917 to March 1918,the Battalion constructed the major part of the defences in the Louveral-Boursies-Demicourt sector.The value of these was subsequently proved during the enemy offensive towards the end of March.

Enemy Attack,March 1918.

From the 21st to 26th March,the Battalion was in the thick of the fight.They first came into contact with the enemy on the Morchies-Beaumetz line,and repelled enemy attacks there.The Battalion was finally withdrawn on the 26th.

April 1918.

The Battalion was resting and reorganising in the vicinity of Lillers when the enemy made his attack for Merville.The Battalion moved into action behind the River Lawe,and in front of Paradis,on the 10th April 1918.

St.Venant.

For ten days in the end of April,the Battalion was attached to the 61st Division,and constructed defences in front of St.Venant.

Roclincourt.

During May and June,the Battalion was in the line in front of Roclincourt.

George

George,

Thanks for your interest, and reply.

Sorry to seem stupid - very easy for me::rolleyes: , but is the information you give specifically for the 8th Royal Scots, or is it a mention in their war diary for the 5th Seaforth?

Anyway, I'm going to be doing a lot of reading over the next few days to try and get a more general knowledge of the 5th's time during the war. It is remarkable to me that men could go through what they did, and it never entered their mind to talk about what they had seen - although it is vaguely understandable to me. In George's case he would say he shot seagulls to win his medal. Talk about an understatement - and the statement is surely one of many interesting ways in which the men would say "I don't want to talk about it!"

I am too nosy for my own good - as to all discussions, one side wants to know more, and the other wants to forget it. Could they ever manage this though?

I never knew my great-grandfather, but my mother did, and she remembers him lovingly. Lots of wonderful, and funny stories. I know a lot about him through his participation in local galas, and town events - reading about them in the newspapers should be enough for me, as it paints a vibrant picture of him. Hopefully he would be glad to know that I am interested, even if he could just say to me "I don't want to talk about it!", and "Mind your own business, you young whippersnapper.":lol:

Regards,

Steven

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dycer

Steven,

It's a quote from the 8th Royal Scots History.

The Battalion was the 51st Division Pioneer Battalion i.e. dug the trenches,etc that the Division occupied,captured and did the mundane things like keeping the roads open,erecting billets and so on.

As your timeline is from June to May 1918 but specifically mention the Somme you will note that the Division was in the Somme area from January to March and again in May.

Assuming your Grt/Grandfather received his MM for his brave deed whilst in the Somme area between January and May 1918,the Divisional Pioneer History may assist you to identify the specific month the award was earned or action he was involved in.

George

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sgmcgregor

Thanks George,

I just wasn't sure what the reference was.

I hadn't known that there would be a Battalion dedicated to doing such work - I assumed that the men of the Battalions in the area would have been doing their own work - i.e. dig in / fight; advance; dig in / fight.

Thanks for the details.

Regards,

Steven

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eltoro1960

Hi Steven

This link will take you to a history of the 5th Seafirths

The 8th Royal Scots were the 51HD Pioneers for over 3 years and did some very dangerous work under fire, if memory serves me right the 8th RS and the 5th Seaforths were called upon to hold a section of the line during the Geman Offensive of 1918.

Unfortunately the 5th Seaforths war diary is not available for download at this time.

John

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sgmcgregor

John,

Apologies for not answering sooner. I'd like to thank you for your reply - I have a number of book links now that help fill out general detail about the 5th Seaforth Highlanders.

My particular interest in this Battalion is through my Great-Grandfather - George Lyon Bartlett - my mother's grandfather. Although he never spoke about the events he experienced he always said to my mother to "Keep an eye on the 'Old Files'". This is in reference to a local newspaper - John O'Groat Journal - which is a weekly newspaper, sold on Friday of every week. It always prints stories from old issues of the paper marking events that happened 25, 50, and 100 years ago.

He obviously knew what he was awarded the Military Medal for, and if the stories are correct, so did the Clyne family of Noss, Wick. He is reputed to have saved the life of Lieutenant Daniel Miller Clyne. Unfortunately no records of MM awards survive (so I believe), and there is no way to know why he won the medal. Whenever asked he would always reply that he won it "for shotting scorries". Yes my spelling of 'shotting' is correct - I don't mean 'shooting'. Being a Caithnessian lad it means he won the medal 'for shooting seagulls'. I know, I'm repeating myself - I've mentioned this in an earlier posting :blink:

Anyway, here is hoping that someone can help. I think my request for details is rather too vague to be asking someone to research the record at the National Archives, and prohibitively expensive. I realise that as a Sergeant that he may not be listed in the unit war diary, but researching the 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders (in which other family members were serving), I have seen that NCOs could be mentioned if they were awarded a medal.

Also, is it true that a man could be awarded the MM for a period of sustained 'bravery', rather than just for one single action?

If anyone can answer that, I would be grateful. I am also interested in the 1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders as there was a Donald Dallas serving with them as a regular soldier. That diary is also not available at the NA. It would be interesting to read as Donald served in India with the 7th Meerut Division(?) prior to coming to France, and was injured at Neuve Chapelle, and shortly after returning to the line was killed in action.

Regards,

Steven - hope you've all not fallen asleep reading this long and winding message :doh:

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ALANJONES

I see this topic is from a while ago - but if you are still following it you might like to consider studying the Brigade and 51 Divisional War Diaries in which, for example, one of these (sorry I can't immediately remember which Brigade, but could dig out my previous work on this) included a detailed map of the 5th Seaforths at Doignies on the 21st March and a report on what took place (so there will probably be similar for different dates).

The higher formation diaries can give more detailed descriptions of the activities of the individual battalions and are often overlooked!

Get in touch by PM if I can help further

Alan

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Musgrave

Hi, I am new to this but I am looking to see if anyone can help me with research into my Grandfather.  I live in Northern Ireland and have been trying to find out as much as I can about my grandfather Willian John Craig who was from Belfast and enlisted with the 5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders in July 1915.  I have contacted the Highlanders museum but all they can tell me is his service number which initially was 4461 and then changed to 241129, apparently his service records did not survive a fire in WW2.  I know he was captured by the Germans around 24th March 1918 but I don't know anything else.  I would also like to know why he joined a Scottish Regiment rather that one of the local Irish Regiments and did he have to go to Scotland to enlist and stuff like that. Can anyone please help me with any info which may be online or available anywhere else where I could find out more about what service he would have seen during WW1, like when he would have went to France after training and what campaigns he would have fought in.  Anything would be very much appreciated.

Thank You

Paul

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Domhnall

Hello Musgrave and welcome

Here is a brief outline of the timeline of the 1/5th Seaforth Highlanders and a couple of links to further details to whet your apetite.

 1/5th (The Sutherland & Caithness Highland) Battalion Territorial Force and 1/6th (Morayshire) Battalion Territorial Force

04.08.1914 The 1/5th stationed at Golspie, Scotland and the 1/6th stationed at Elgin, Scotland. Both part of the Seaforth & Cameron Brigade of the Highland Division and then moved to Bedford.

During 1915
02.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France where the formation became the 152nd Brigade of the 51st Division which engaged in various actions including;

The Battle of Festubert, The Second Action of Givenchy
 

During 1916
The attacks on High Wood, The Battle of the Ancre.

 

During 1917
The First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The capture and defence of Roeux, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge.

 

During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, Battles of the Marne, Second Battles of Arras, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, a phase of the Final Advance in Picardy.

 

11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Iwuy N.E. of Cambrai.

 

This link gives a rundown of events in March 1918:

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-first-battles-of-the-somme-1918/

 

The link to the 5th Seaforth;s  War Diaries kindly provided above may also fill in some blanks for you:

history of the 5th Seafirths

 

Good luck with your research.

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HarryBrook

The I.R.C. prisoner of war record shows that William J. Craig, 241129, Seaforth Highlanders, was captured at Beaumetz on 21.3.1918, and had been wounded in the arm. The record also gives his date of birth and address in Belfast.

 

Craig, W. J., Seaforth Highrs, P.O.W. record.JPG

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Musgrave

Thank you to those who responded and I apologise for not posting my thanks earlier, I had checked my original post several times but thought that nobody was going to get back to me so I stopped checking it.  I appreciate your info and advice.  Thanks again

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Musgrave

Question about the 5th Seaforth Highlanders uniform - Hello again and thanks again to Domhnall and HarryBrook for answering my last questions.  Perhaps someone would have a look at the photos I have uploaded of my grandfather and let me know more about the badges which are on his uniform.  I am interested to know if the 5th Seaforths had their own specific uniform badges or were the uniform badges of the Seaforth Highlanders all the same.  The first photo shows chevrons on his sleeve, can anyone tell me what rank they would signify?  The second photo shows the cap badge but I would like to know exactly what that cap badge was like, I have looked online but there are a few variations? The third photo shows my grandfather on the right and above his breast pocket there is a badge, can anyone tell me what that badge would have been, I don't see it in any other photos of him in uniform.  I look forward to hearing from anyone who can help me. Thank You

large.580268c96e9bc_Scan14.jpglarge.580268958c6d8_Scan11.jpglarge.58026829d3878_Scan13.jpg

 

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rolt968

Starting with the top left photo.

The three small chevrons on the lower right sleeve are overseas service chevrons. They ones in the picture would be blue. They indicate service overseas for one year or part of year per chevron. In this case between two years and one day and three years. The chevron for 1914 was red which appears darker in a black and white photo. This man had served overseas at some time from 1915 onwards.

The vertical stripe on the left cuff is a wound stripe indicating that he had been wounded once. The larger chevron on the left sleeve is a good conduct badge indicating 2 years good conduct.

The overseas service chevrons came into use about April 1918. The photo was probably taken in 1918 or 1919.

Incidentally none of the men is wearing any rank badges. They are all privates.

 

The cap badge visible in the second and third photos is the badge of 5 Seaforth which was different from the badge of all the other battalions. (It is the badge of the Surherland family.)

 

The man on the right in the lower photo is wearing the Imperial Service Tablet on the right of his chest. Men in Territorial Force battalions had not signed up to serve overseas, but if they did sign up to serve overseas, they were entitled to wear the Imperial Service Tablet.

 

I'm not sure why your grandfather is wearing a plain undiced glengarry in the lower picture. I will that to people with more expertise than I have.

 

Roger M

Edited by rolt968

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Musgrave

Roger, thank you so much for your information, as you can probably tell my knowledge of all things military is not great but what you have been able to see from the photos is incredible and tells me more than I would ever have been able to find out myself.  I know my grandfather was wounded when he was captured in March 1918 at Beaumetz but I had no idea that a tunic could yield so much information.  Once again thanks you for your time and info.

 

Paul

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