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Remembered Today:

Private AG Bennett (10707), 1/Grenadier Guards


havergal
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Some 40 years ago, Private Arthur George Bennett's Victory Medal was unearthed (yes, literally!) in a garden in the village of Stoke St Gregory, Somerset.

(I should caution that I am about to provide a bit of detail, but please feel free to scroll straight to my questions/requests below!...)

On behalf of the medal's finder, I have been trying to solve the mystery of quite how it came to be here and, hopefully, identify a suitable next-of-kin to whom the medal might be "returned". As is the way with these things, this quest has turned out to be problematic.

Arthur George Bennett was born in 1885 in St Peter Port, Guernsey, the third son of Somerset-born Henry Bennett (b. Catcott, Somerset, 1842), sometime Gunner, Royal Artillery (ref: 1881 Channel Islands census).

By 1901, aged 17, Arthur was resident in Llandyfodwg, South Wales, where he was working as a coal miner. Henry, one of Arthur's two older brothers was boarding in the same house and, I assume, working at the same pit. This is where my search starts to tail off. Aside from Arthur and Harry, I can find none of their siblings or parents in the 1901 census. Similarly, although I can find Arthur in the 1911 census (still working as a miner, this time in Caerphilly, and for the past five years married to Somerset-born "Elizabeth" (b. 1882)), I can find none of his four siblings and neither of his parents! Worse still, I cannot (via BMD records) trace a surname for "Elizabeth", and Arthur's service record is frustratingly silent on the issue.

In between the 1901 and 1911 censuses, and before his marriage, Arthur did a 3-year stint with the Grenadiers, prompting his recall from the Reserve in August 1914 on the outbreak of hostilities. Despite blotting his copybook by "sleeping at his post whilst acting as a sentinel" in September 1914, Arthur found himself on active service by 9 November. His war was to be a short one, however, as he was killed in action on 13 February 1915: I believe he was accounted for by a sniper, based on the "Casualty - Active Service" form in his service record ("gsw chest") and a statement in Ponsonby's Regimental History about casualties from shell-fire and sniper activity during this period in the front line trenches.

I have Private Bennett's service record and medal card but would appreciate help with the following:

(i) War diary

In order to try and piece together the actions in which Arthur would have been involved, and the locations in which he served, I would very much like to see the 1/Grenadier Guards war diary for the period 9.11.1914 - 13.2.1915. I cannot see any web-reference to its availability, so would greatly welcome some help in viewing it (in return, if required, for a few "look-ups", of course!)

(ii) The identity of "Mrs Bennett"

If someone fancies going off piste and solving the puzzle of Elizabeth Bennett's maiden name (which has beaten me!), I would be very grateful. I have a hunch that it is her identity, and perhaps a subsequent remarriage, that brought the medal to the village. (I should add that I am also trying to compile a list of the house's occupants since 1915, but have not, as yet, found any Bennett link).

(iii) Guernsey BMD records

As previously mentioned, Arthur's father went out to Guernsey with the Royal Artillery sometime prior to 1881. He married a local girl, another "Elizabeth", from St Martin, Guernsey (b 1853) and each of the couple's five children were born in St Peter Port. If anyone happens to be expert in the rather specialist subject, I would be grateful to learn about the ins-and-outs of Guernsey BMD records, since it would be nice to know more of this Elizabeth, Arthur's mother.

If you have read this far, or if you can help in any way with my forlorn quest, then thank you very much!

Best wishes,

Gareth

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Hi Gareth and all

The 1881 census for the C.Isles shows Henry's sister Jane Bennett b.1854 Somerset is staying with them at 48 High St. St.Peters Port as a Cook. The son, Harry is only 10 days old I would presume that the marriage was approx.1879/80. Perhaps the link is from his sister? Will keep searching.

Regards Barry

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Hi Gareth

According to CWGC he was serving with the 4th Bn. Grenadier Guards when KiA. I just wondered if the diaries will be under a different heading as the 1st. transferred to the 4th under the 3rd Guards Division. Forgive my ignorance! I still can't find any more on the censuses.

Regards Barry

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Firstly, thank you gentlemen for those speedy responses!

To provide some context I will post in the morning the census details that I do have, since on re-reading I realise that my initial post focussed on what I am yet to discover!

I think the service record clarifies the Battalion issue too, Barry, so I will dig that out too ...

Thanks again,

Gareth

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Firstly, thanks again for your replies.

(i) War diary

Thanks for the National Archives link, Dave.

Please excuse my ignorance, but is that NA document the Divisional diary or a collection of Battalion ones?

(ii) Arthur's battalion

Whilst the CWGC have Arthur listed as "4th Battalion", he was transferred from 4/Grenadier Guards to 1/Grenadier Guards on 7 November 1914, immediately prior to being shipped out to the BEF on 9 November.

(iii) Census details

As promised yesterday, here are the known census details regarding Arthur George Bennett and his family.

The family, from 1851 – 1871 census records for Moorlinch, Somerset:

James 1808 Huntspill (landlord at The Commercial Inn) (Arthur's grandfather, died 1870)

Sarah 1820 Greinton (Arthur's grandmother, died 1896)

William 1836 Catcott

Francis 1839 Catcott

Henry 1842 Catcott (Arthur's father)

Ann 1845 Moorlinch

Charles 1855 Moorlinch

Jane 1853 Moorlinch

Edwin 1856 Moorlinch

Ellen 1858 Moorlinch

Eliza 1861 Moorlinch

1881

48, High Street, St Peter Port, Guernsey

Henry Bennett 1842 Gunner RA Somersetshire

Elizabeth Bennett 1852 St Martin, Guernsey

Harry 10 days St Peter Port

Jane (Henry's sister) 1854 Somersetshire

1891 (Channel Islands)

4, Mansell Court, St Peter Port, Guernsey

Henry Bennett 1842 General labourer England

Elizabeth 1854 St Peter Port

Harry 1881 St Peter Port

William 1884 St Peter Port

Arthur 1885 St Peter Port

Lena 1888 St Peter Port

Francis 1889 St Peter Port

1901 (Wales)

6, Ogwy Street, Llandyfodwg

Harry 1881 Channel Islands - (boarder) coal miner

Arthur 1884 Channel Islands - (boarder) coal miner

(Please note that the Somerset-born "Lizzie Norris" co-habiting at 6, Ogwy Street with her husband is not the future Mrs Bennett! This was my intitial theory. Her husband, Ernest Norris died shortly after 1901, but I eventually managed to establish that she remarried to someone other than Arthur!)

1911 (Wales)

18, Salop Street, Caerphilly

Arthur Bennett 1885 Guernsey - coal miner (hewer)

Elizabeth 1882 Somerset

(Married since 1906, no children)

Please see my original e-mail for the census 'gaps' I am trying to fill. Any help with this will be gratefully appreciated - it has sent me a bit mad!

Gareth

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Hi Gareth. The WD is not overly descriptive but it's better than nothing ;)

09.11.14

The Bn had an hour's drill in the morning. In the afternoon the GOC 7th Division assembled the Brigade and said a few words on the work of the last month.

11.11.14

Major DUBERLY, Captain LYGON, Lieuts WARD and SYKES joined the Bn with 401 men.

12.11.14

Lieut BLUNDELL and 2/Lieut FISHER ROWE joined the Bn with 133 men. The afternoon was spent in reorganising the Bn and posting the draft to Coys.

13.11.14

Bn had an hour's parade in the morning; the rest of the day spent in re-equipping.

14.11.14

Parade 7:30am. Passed through BAILLEUL, STEENWERCK, had dinners at BAC-ST-MAUR. Left Gordons in reserve. Started at 5pm to relieve Leicesters in the 19th Brigade in the trenches.

15.11.14

Lieut WARD wounded in the arm.

16.11.14

Lieut Lord CLAUD HAMILTON went to hospital with a sprained ankle.

17.11.14

Major C CORKRAN arrived to command the Bn. 2/Lieut ROWLEY joined the Bn.

18.11.14

The CO reconnoitred our section of trenches with a view to improving our line.

20.11.14

Captains MORRISON and Earl STANHOPE together with 2/Lieuts Lord BRABOURNE, Lord William PA?? and Rhys WILLIAMS joined the Bn with 100 men.

21.11.14

Weather changed to snow.

22.11.14

Very cold. Number of men suffering from frostbite.

23.11.14

Skin boots were issued to the men also some white smocks for patrol duty at night in the snow.

24.11.14

The weather changed to rain. The quality of the food is excellent; the Bn is well fed and clothed. The sickness is the result of frostbite owing to the sudden change from the wet weather to extreme cold.

26.11.14

The Bn was relieved in the trenches by the Gordons and Borders. ½ Bn marched to Brigade reserve in RUE DE QUESNES, ½ Bn to Div reserve near SAILLY.

27.11.14

Bn spent the day in working and cleaning.

29.11.14

GOC 7th Division inspected the Div reserve. Lieut Colonel L R FISHER ROWE arrived to take over command of the Bn. Lieut MITCHELL and 2/Lieut DARBY with 2 NCOs proceeded to England on a week's leave. Marched back to our trenches to relieve the Gordons and Borders.

30.11.14

The Brigadier inspected our trenches. The supplies of clothing and equipment are well maintained with the exception of the boots which are poor in quality. Large size boots necessary for our men are difficult to obtain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Subject:- Posting of Officers 4th AC No 138 [A]

GS 7th D./12

The GOC

4th Army Corps

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

The War Office is sending out reinforcements of Officers now leaves it to the Commander-in-Chief to post them where they are most required.

On arrival overseas Officers will be posted to Bns according to requirements, such postings will be permanent and the War Office will be informed accordingly for record purposes.

When, however, these Officers reach you it will be open to you to temporarily attach them to Bns seriously depleted of Officers provided that they are returned to their own Bns as soon as the depleted Bns is supplied with a due proportion of Officers by permanent postings.

GHQ Sgd A CAVENDISH, Colonel

15.11.14 for Adjutant

British Army in the Field

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HQ

7th Division

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

With reference to the foregoing, the Lieut General delegates to you the power to temporarily attach Officers posted to your Division, to Bns seriously depleted of officers.

17.11.14 Sgd H P SHEKLETON, Brig Genl

AA and QMG, 4th Corps

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

01.12.14

CO visited the trenches in the morning.

03.12.14

Captain E O STEWART arrived with a draft of 66 men.

04.12.14

Major C CORKRAN proceeded to England on 10 days leave.

05.12.14

Brigadier went round our trenches.

06.12.14

Bn was relieved by the Scots Guards and marched into billets near SAILLY as Div reserve. Lieut MITCHELL returned to duty from leave.

07.12.14

Bn spent morning working and cleaning.

08.12.14

Bn went for a route march through SAILLY and back to billets by the RUE QUESNOY.

09.12.14

2/Lieut DARBY returned to duty from leave.

10.12.14

Went back to the trenches to relieve the Scots Guards.

11.12.14

Rained hard during the night; trenches were in a bad condition.

12.12.14

Captain DOUGLAS PENNANT and 45 OR joined the Bn.

13.12.14

The Bns line was extended to a full Coys distance of the RIGHT of No 2 subsection.

14.12.14

The Bn was ordered to keep up a heavy rifle fire all day with the idea of keeping the enemy in their trenches. The Scots Guards relieved us in the evening and the Bn marched back into Div reserve.

15.12.14

Bn had use of the Div baths all day.

16.12.14

King's and 2nd Coy were ordered to proceed to billets at the NE end of the RUE DE QUESNES to dig at night on our new line of trenches.

17.12.14

2/Lieuts DUBERLY, ROWLEY and PARKER JERVIS joined the Bn also Lieut GREVILLE with 60 men.

18.12.14

Received orders to go back in the trenches. The Scots Guards, Borders and 22nd Brigade made an attack in the evening. The Scots Guards took part of a trench about 25 yards in length but were forced to abandon it before morning; their casualties were 6 officers and 188 men. The total casualties in the Div amounted to 48 officers and 750 men. The Bn held the trenches on the RIGHT of the Scots Guards.

20.12.14

Lieut and Quartermaster TEECE was wounded.

21.12.14

2/Lieuts SITWELL, BURNAND and GUTHRIE joined the Bn.

23.12.14

Scots Guards relieved us in the trenches. 2/Lieut WESTMACOTT and 41 OR joined the Bn.

24.12.14

Prince of Wales and GOC 7th Division visited the Bn.

25.12.14

Draft of 20 NCOs and men arrived.

26.12.14

Major CORKRAN went to hospital. Stood to arms about midnight owing to supposed night attack by the Germans.

27.12.14

Went back into the trenches to take up a new line with our LEFT on the RIVER DES LAYES with our RIGHT on a point at present held by the LEFT of the 8th Division.

28.12.14

No firing on either side, the Bn spent the day in strengthening the line and at night a lot of work was done on the wire entanglements in front of the trench.

31.12.14

The Bn was relieved in the trenches by the Scots Guards and went back into Div reserve. During the time the Bn was in the trenches in the last 4 days a great many improvements were made in our line owing to the enemy not firing.

04.01.15

The Bn relieved the Scots Guards in the trenches.

08.01.15

The Bn went back into Brigade reserve.

10.01.15

The Bn was ordered to furnish digging parties at night to dig a line of supporting forts in rear of the trenches.

11.01.15

Captain W E NICOL joined the Bn with a draft of 65 NCOs and men.

12.01.15

The Bn relieved the Scots Guards in the trenches. Most of the line of trenches had been abandoned owing to the wet and the line is now held by a series of small forts built up with sandbags and earth above ground just in rear of the trench line; parts of the trench are still tenable. At night the line is held with 75% in the trench and forts, the remainder being in billets in rear in the RUE PETILLON.

16.01.15

The reserve Coy [No 2] was shelled between 12 and 1pm with high explosive shrapnel which, however, only exploded on contact and no damage was done. The Bn was relieved by the Scots Guards and went into Div reserve.

17.01.15

The Bn had the use of the Div baths. 2/Lieut FOSTER joined the Bn.

20.01.15

The Bn relieved the Scots Guards in the trenches. The LEFT section of the line held by No 2 kept the whole Coy in the trenches and, by means of pumping, managed to control the water in the trenches. The CENTRE section completed a long breastwork connecting their LEFT hand fort with the Coy HQ. A 2nd line of point d'appui a series of forts in rear of the trench line is being constructed under the supervision of the RE.

24.01.15

The Bn was relieved by the Scots Guards in the trenches, the Bn going back into Brigade reserve.

26.01.15

King's and No 4 Coys had the use of Div baths. Lieut H W ETHELSTON arrived with 60 NCOs and men. During this time in Brigade reserve 2 Coys were furnishing fatigue parties daily for working on the 2nd line forts.

28.01.15

The Bn relieved the Scots Guards in the trenches.

29 – 31.01.15

All quiet in the trenches.

01.02.15

The Bn was relieved in the trenches by the Scots Guards and went into Div reserve.

02.02.15

Nos 2 and 3 Coys had the use of the Div baths.

04.02.15

Bn stood to arms about 8pm on account of a rumoured attack on the LEFT of the 7th Division. The attack, however, did not mature and the Bn was dismissed about 7pm.

05 – 09.02.15

The Bn relieved the Scots Guards in the trenches. All quiet in the trenches.

09.02.15

The Bn went into Bde reserve.

13.02.15

The Bn relieved the Scots Guards in the trenches.

14.02.15

10pm An order was brought in stating that a general advance was expected on the 15th or 16th. Nothing, however, happened in the section held by the Bn.

17.02.15

The Bn was relieved by the Scots Guards in the trenches except the RIGHT Coy [No 3] who was relieved by the Northumberland Hussars. No 2 Coy billeted close to the firing line to act as supports in case of necessity; the remainder of the Bn going into Divisional reserve.

20.02.15

King's and No 3 Coys had the use of the Div baths.

21.02.15

The Bn relieved the Scots Guards in the trenches. The RIGHT of the line last occupied by the Bn is now held by the Northumberland Hussars and the line originally held by the Bn has been resumed.

22.02.15

The night has been spent by Coys in improving defences. All quiet.

23.02.15

Work in connection with repair and improvement of line continued. Captain E F F SARTORIOUS has joined the Bn and is posted to No 3 Coy.

24.02.15

Above work continued.

25.02.15

The Bn has been relieved by the Scots Guards and has gone into Brigade reserve. During the last tour of duty in the trenches a great deal of work has been done in improving the line especially the LEFT which, as above mentioned, has been resumed.

26.02.15

Captain Carl STANHOPE left the Bn today having been appointed Staff Officer [3rd Grade] 5th Army Corps. The Bn supplied several digging parties to RE.

27 - 28.02.15

The Bn in billets in Brigade reserve. Digging parties were supplied to RE.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

RECONNAISSANCE REPORT ON No 1 SUBSECTION [bM 355 DATED 5TH FEB]

Reference map France [squared] Sheet 36 SW

1. For this report, the enemy's line is divided into 3, viz, the parts contained in N14a, 14b and 15a.

2. The enemy's line after running in front of the 8th Division, apparently parallel to the RUE TILLELOY, turns EASTWARDS making a blunt salient in 14a, crosses the R LAYES somewhere just NORTH of the 4 in 14 thence runs apparently just in front of the ROUGES BANCS – FME DELEVAL Road.

3. In 14a

The enemy's parapet varies in height and there are probably forts and entrenchments in rear. In places the parapet appears to be 3 feet high, in other places 5 feet. The enemy's trenches are about 500 yards away from our trench in the SOUTHERN portion of 14a and about 350x away in the NORTHERN part of 14a where there appears to be a blunt salient where the line turns away towards the EAST. The loopholes are mostly of wood either half way down the parapet or at the bottom; the loopholes are wide inside and narrow outside.

The enemy's wire is about 15 & 20 yards wide and averages a distance of about 25x to 30x in front of the enemy's lines. It is barbed and about 2 feet high. Its depth increases round the salient mentioned in para 2 above. There is an engine, either electric or oil, in the trenches presumably for pumping.

In 14b

The enemy's parapet varies between 5 feet and 3 feet in height. Forts and entrenchments are visible along this line. The average distance of the enemy's entrenchments from our lines is about 480 yards. The loopholes are mostly of the box [wooden] pattern as already described. The enemy's wire is about 15 – 20 paces in depth and, in places, consists of several strands of barbed wire twisted together into one rope, height 3 feet or thereabouts.

In 15a

The average height of enemy's parapet is about 4 feet. The German trenches are about 500 yards away in the WESTERN portion of 15a and about 400 yards distance in the NORTHEASTERN portion of 15a. The loopholes are mostly wooden as described above but sandbag loopholes are also used. The wire in this section is as described above and there is a "chevaux de fuse" in front of his trenches near the SAILLY – FROMELLES Road for about 300 yards SOUTHWEST of the road. There is but little wire in this section and it seems possible that the chevaux de fuse is placed here as to be easily removable for a German advance on the SAILLY Road.

4. General

Every attempt has been made to locate the hostile lines behind the front row of trenches but very little success has been met with. Parts of a parapet about 60 or 70x in rear of the front parapet has been observed but no 3rd or 4th lines of parapet can be discerned owing to the flat nature of the country. No communication trenches have been picked up.

Machine Guns

1 hostile machine gun has been located in the NORTHWESTERN portion of 14b. There are also machine guns near the road just NORTHWEST of R of ROUGES BANCS and near the SAILLY Road but these have not been actually located.

Nature of Country

Flat, heavy clay; water at present is obtained at an average depth of 1½ feet. No fences only field ditches about 3 feet deep and 8 or 10 feet wide. The River LAYES is a serious obstacle; it has steep banks, at present about 2½ feet of water and 3 feet of mud. Average width 15 – 20 feet. The weakest point in the enemy's line, and therefore the point most favourable to attack, would appear to be just WEST of his blunt salient in N14a. Supposing the attack to start from near the LEFT of the 8th Division, the hostile line can be enfiladed heavily to ROUGES BANCS and the enemy could only bring frontal fire against us. On the other hand if we attacked from the direction of RUE PETILLON the enemy could enfilade our attack from where his line turns NORTH near ROUGES BANCS.

I am of the opinion that it would be a good thing to mine the SAILLY – FROMELLES Road near or beyond the culvert. Electric mines.

10.02.15 L R F ROWE, Lieut Colonel

Commanding 1st Bn Grenadier Guards

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Diane,

Even judged by the usual high standards of the Forum, those replies are "a bit special".

Thank you so much,

Gareth

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Hooray - finally a little more progress, and thanks entirely to the suggestion that I should look at the Chelsea Pensioners archive on Findmypast. Thanks "ss002d6252" for that!

Henry Bennett's service record is indeed available, showing that he finished his RA career (with 3rd Division Coastal Brigade) on Guernsey after a 16-year stint out in India. The good news from my perspective, and recalling the reason for this particular endeavour, is that I have now established that Arthur George Bennett's mother was Elizabeth Margaret Amelia Priaulx, who married Henry Bennett in March 1880 at St Pierre du Bois, Guernsey.

Mark (1RGLI) - thanks for the offer. Perhaps once I've had chance to think about the above developments I can PM you? I think Elizabeth had several siblings (I believe it is she who is listed in 1861 as "Betsey Priaulx", eldest daughter of Peter and Betsey Priaulx ) so there may be relatives of these (i.e. descendants of AG Bennett's aunts and uncles) still on the island. Whether any of AGB's own siblings remained on or returned to the island is still a mystery ....

Thanks again, one and all, for the sterling assistance so far,

Gareth

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