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Remembered Today:

7th Field Company, Royal Engineers 27 May 1918


brimacombe
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Another trawl through the local newspaper looking for more of my 'Holsworthy Boys' has thrown up the following extract:

31 MAY 1919

BLACKTORRINGTON MAN DIED AS PRISONER OF THE GERMANS.

Sapper Philip WARD was reported missing on 27th May 1918 and is now reported as having died at Trelon Hospital on 2nd October 1918 whilst a Prisoner of War.

He and others were resting in their dugouts after a fierce shelling, when they were overwhelmed and taken prisoner.

Removed to a camp behind the German lines at Rammacourt, they were forced to work on the railways. Sapper Ward appears to have been in good health until September... "

I guess they were captured during the German Spring Offensive.

Can anyone help with any further information?

Looking forward to your replies.

Shawn

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For what it is worth, the CWGC cemetery information is:-

Montcornet was a German hospital centre in 1918. The Military Cemetery contains the graves of British soldiers who were originally buried with French, Russian and German dead in a site adjoining the cemetery. The French, Russian and German graves were removed to other cemeteries in 1919 and the British graves were regrouped to form the present cemetery.

Another casualty Sapper Machin didn't move very far from where his capture seems to have occurred. I would guess that might be because he was too seriously wounded to move, and succumbed eventually to infection etc. Had he been recovering, I feel it likely he would have been further behind German lines and even in a PoW camp, like Ward. Perhaps a flammenwerfer attack?

Furthermore, these deaths are shown thanks to Geoffs Search Engine:-

001 BALDWIN WF - 7TH FIELD COY 27/05/1918 ROYAL ENGINEERS

002 CLARKSON T 178254 7TH FIELD COY 27/05/1918 ROYAL ENGINEERS

003 DENHAM WT 486368 7TH FIELD COY 27/05/1918 ROYAL ENGINEERS

004 MOSES JCW 48528 7TH FIELD COY 27/05/1918 ROYAL ENGINEERS

005 PARKER FH 12820 7TH FIELD COY 27/05/1918 ROYAL ENGINEERS

006 PINNEGAR BT 11901 7TH FIELD COY 27/05/1918 ROYAL ENGINEERS

Maybe the death of Major Baldwin is recorded somewhere, which might give details of what happened. His body is the only one with a known grave, the rest are commemorated on the Soissons Memorial.

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Thanks Kevin...

Going on your hunch about Baldwin lead me to a further search of the forum which brought up this..

The second Battle of the Aisne, May 1918.

The 50th Divisional Engineers - the Field Companies of the 50th Division had similar experiences. Cut off from telegraphic communication and overwhelmed by the bombardment, the R.E units were left to their own devices. A part from the demolition of bridges, there was no opportunity to do any work. Sections became scattered and Companies reduced to skeletons.

The 7th Field Company (Major W. F. Baldwin) was under warning to occupy a strong point in the reserve line in the event of the enemy penetrating the front. But before the messenger from the C.R.E., carrying the order to move forward reached the Company, the heavy concentration of gas shell had put a large number of men out of action. Major Baldwin, waiting for orders to move up, sent 2nd Lieutenant H. G. Pottle to reconnoitre, and while parading his three sections (the fourth was at Beaurieux working on Divisional Headquarters) he was killed by shrapnel. By this time the Germans were advancing through the woods on all sides and the Company had to retire without being able to reach it's battle position. Pottle was wounded and sent back; the Company Sergeant Major and many others were killed and the sections were overwhelmed.

Captain F. J. Slattery, who had taken over the command when Major Baldwin was killed, and Lieutenant H. F. Sharpe were wounded and captured together with all the survivors of the three sections except a few men under 2nd Lieutenant M. H. King who got back to the Company lines. Only No 2 section under Lieutenant W. H. Rebbeck, clearing roads at Beautieux remained intact. This section received orders to retire with the infantry to Maisy, South of the Aisne.

The 447th (Northumbrian) Field Company (Major A. G. Rainsford-Hannay) fared even worse. It was in the forward area, on the Craonne Plateau when the bombardment began and was overwhelmed and cut off when the Germans penetrated on the eastern side. Only one man got back during the day to report himself at Headquarters of the C.R.E.

The 466th Field Company (Major McClellan) was disposed along the river bridges along the Aisne. Out of sixteen bridges fourteen were destroyed, but not without casualties amounting to four Officers and forty six other ranks.

The total R.E. casualties on the 27th of May in the 50th Division alone amounted to 13 Officers and 281 other ranks, more than two thirds of their strength at the beginning of the day.

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks Kevin...

Going on your hunch about Baldwin lead me to a further search of the forum which brought up this..

The second Battle of the Aisne, May 1918.

The 50th Divisional Engineers - the Field Companies of the 50th Division had similar experiences. Cut off from telegraphic communication and overwhelmed by the bombardment, the R.E units were left to their own devices. A part from the demolition of bridges, there was no opportunity to do any work. Sections became scattered and Companies reduced to skeletons.

The 7th Field Company (Major W. F. Baldwin) was under warning to occupy a strong point in the reserve line in the event of the enemy penetrating the front. But before the messenger from the C.R.E., carrying the order to move forward reached the Company, the heavy concentration of gas shell had put a large number of men out of action. Major Baldwin, waiting for orders to move up, sent 2nd Lieutenant H. G. Pottle to reconnoitre, and while parading his three sections (the fourth was at Beaurieux working on Divisional Headquarters) he was killed by shrapnel. By this time the Germans were advancing through the woods on all sides and the Company had to retire without being able to reach it's battle position. Pottle was wounded and sent back; the Company Sergeant Major and many others were killed and the sections were overwhelmed.

Captain F. J. Slattery, who had taken over the command when Major Baldwin was killed, and Lieutenant H. F. Sharpe were wounded and captured together with all the survivors of the three sections except a few men under 2nd Lieutenant M. H. King who got back to the Company lines. Only No 2 section under Lieutenant W. H. Rebbeck, clearing roads at Beautieux remained intact. This section received orders to retire with the infantry to Maisy, South of the Aisne.

The 447th (Northumbrian) Field Company (Major A. G. Rainsford-Hannay) fared even worse. It was in the forward area, on the Craonne Plateau when the bombardment began and was overwhelmed and cut off when the Germans penetrated on the eastern side. Only one man got back during the day to report himself at Headquarters of the C.R.E.

The 466th Field Company (Major McClellan) was disposed along the river bridges along the Aisne. Out of sixteen bridges fourteen were destroyed, but not without casualties amounting to four Officers and forty six other ranks.

The total R.E. casualties on the 27th of May in the 50th Division alone amounted to 13 Officers and 281 other ranks, more than two thirds of their strength at the beginning of the day.

Hi, could you tell the source for this information? I have a photo of Slattery and Sharpe taken at Karlsruhe POW camp in July 1918.

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  • 11 months later...

Hi the source of the information above is The History Of the Corps of Royal Engineers, Vol V, page 379.

Best, Brian.

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  • 6 years later...
On 25/01/2011 at 16:11, brimacombe said:

Another trawl through the local newspaper looking for more of my 'Holsworthy Boys' has thrown up the following extract:

31 MAY 1919

BLACKTORRINGTON MAN DIED AS PRISONER OF THE GERMANS.

Sapper Philip WARD was reported missing on 27th May 1918 and is now reported as having died at Trelon Hospital on 2nd October 1918 whilst a Prisoner of War.

He and others were resting in their dugouts after a fierce shelling, when they were overwhelmed and taken prisoner.

Removed to a camp behind the German lines at Rammacourt, they were forced to work on the railways. Sapper Ward appears to have been in good health until September... "

I guess they were captured during the German Spring Offensive.

Can anyone help with any further information?

Looking forward to your replies.

Shawn

 

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Hello Shawn,

Sapper Philip Ward was my maternal Grandfather. Thank you for completing a little bit more of the puzzle about his military service. My Mum told me that as the village blacksmith for

Black Torrington he was in a reserved occupation but chose to enlist in 1916.

I had discovered that he was captured  in May 1918 and I have already visited his grave in Glageon.

I have been doing further research as this year will be the 100th anniversary of his death and I intend to visit his grave again on 2nd October with my family and his grandsons.

If anyone has further information on the camp at Rammacourt or anything else I would be grateful.

I understand that the Imperial War Museum has a copy of a diary by C W Taylor who was a fellow RE of 7th Field coy also captured on 27th May. I have not, as yet, been able to look at this diary but it may shed further light on what happened to those captured at that time.

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Shawn,

 

I forgot to ask if you could direct me to the source of your newspaper article as above about Sapper Ward so that I can read the full article. Thank you.

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Hi

My great grandfather was also in 7th Field Company. Been doing a lot of research and have a fair bit of info. He was captured in the Aisne offensive on the 27th May and died in 1st Sept 1918 in Trier of what i was told was Spanish Flu (possibly weakened by gas attack) I think this is your relative in the war diary attached along with my great grandfather Clarence Walter

Weaver. Also attached a copy of his last letter home which describes what they were doing - working on gas doors for dug outs etc. (if you cant read I can post text up here). Red Cross records are available & that's where I found out more info (if you know a bit of German) Im planning on visiting the site where he was captured in Sept this year near the anniversary of his death. If you would like any more info I can post up here. Wonder if they knew each other??

Cheers

Brian

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May 14 1918 Page 1.jpg

May 14 1918 Page 2.jpg

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May 14 1918 Page 4.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

They were captured at a place called Centre de Poitiers. Have a look at this website run by George Cowie http://www.shiny7.uk/7Coy1918-1919_01.html There are war diaries on here as well but dont think I have read Taylors. Red Cross ecords of casualties are here https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/ I've added part of my grandfather's record - the german is sometimes a bit archaic/medical. Text of letter below. Will post up some other relevant info when I get a chance - don't know if your grandad would have trained in the same place in England but Clarence was in Southbourne.

Cheers

Brian

 

 

May 14 1918

 

26/05/18 – when received?

 

Dear James.

Hope you received the field card I sent. I left the words “letter following.” I didn't commit myself to any particular dates did I? ButI expect you anticipated a line before now. Well, I have proceeded overseas at last. Unfortunately I did not get a final leave, so had no opportunity to wish any of my loved ones friends, adieu! However, I have been extremely fortunate in having such a spell in “blighty” I can't complain, can I? Since I have landed overseas I have travelled about quite a lot, had an opportunity to get a glimpse of the French scenery. I have had a number of railway journeys. One occupied thirty two hours and another thirty-five. This thirty two hours railway travelling was quite a scream. You have heard Sommerset, Dorset Rly, & “Farmer Giles” experiences. This beat it easily. Why the slowest railway in “blighty” would be express compared with it. I am not exaggerating when I say that some of the khaki passengers found time to go & have a wash in a stream& catch the train up again whilst it was in motion. It was a trifle monotonous too, imagine about 30 of us in truck, with rifles & full equipment. If one moves, one has to apologise to someone for treading on his corns. I had just one day working in a reserve line & then one compy So I was fortunate, wasn’t I? After coming out on rest for about a fortnight we took the second journey I mentioned. This was a respectable engine, travelled at respectable speed. So now I am in a different part of the country altogether am pleased to say in a quiet part of the line. Today Jerry has been strafing more than usual no doubt in his effort to silence our batteries. We are sleeping in dug-outs, but they are really good, wire-netting for beds, or with plenty of sand-bags, blankets & water-proof sheets, can make ourselves quite cosy. We usually parade at 8 am. Then work up the line til 3.30 or 4 pm, & then return for tea & dinner combined.

Today I have been employed fixing up gas-proof doors to a dug-out occupied by the signal service. Yesterday & the preceding day or two I was working on a machine-gun emplacement. So I am employed on a variety of jobs. We are billeted in a wood. There is scarcely a whole tree standing, & shell-holes everywhere. This place has been the scene of some very heavy fighting. However, nature is making a valiant effort to camouflage the bareness with foliage & lillys of the valley are growing in wild profusion. What a contrast the world as God made it & the world marred by men. This fact has struck me very forcibly of late.

Well how are things going at home? I hope yourself & family are quite well and how are affairs looking in High St ? Shall be pleased to get a line from you, when you have time to spare. Are you having some good times at Ashley Down? I often think about the work there & some valuable shares in it. Sundays out here are no different from week days. Except that we would get our tobacco rations, & more billets if we shifting at all(!) But no spiritual help & uplift at all. I haven't had a chance to attend any service, not even a church parade since I left Xch and I do miss those helps, I can tell you. ( Sap C. W. Weaver. 3 Section 7th field Comy. BEF. France)

The light is failing & it is raining, so must leave my shelter. Will write again first opportunity, old chap. Assuring you of my prayers & kind regards to yourself & family.

I remain

Your old friend.

Clar

C_G1_E_01_03_0023_0229.JPG

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Hello Brian,

 

Thank you for the recent content that you have posted, it is very interesting and (along with the links) gives me a better idea of what possibly happened to my Grandfather.

Can you suggest where I might try to find a Red Cross "Death Certificate" ? In which CW war grave is your great great Granddad buried? 

Unfortunately my ancestor does not feature on the Red Cross link that you  have given!!

Interestingly your relative was from Bristol and mine was from North Devon - so they might have been in the same training unit. Do you know when your Great Granddad joined up?

Thank you for your kind offer of taking photos / laying a wreath. I will let you know if I cannot make it this year and wish to take up your kind offer.

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Hi,

 

2/Lt Herbert Firth Sharpe appears to have been taken PoW 27th May 1918. His service record may/should contain his 'surrender statement' - i.e. his post war explanation to the War Office of how he fell into enemy hands, and might give you more of an understanding relating to your relative.

 

Regards

Chris

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  • 3 weeks later...

Red Cross Certificate here https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/ My great grandfather was initially buried in Trier and then moved to Cologne Southern Cemetery here I believe a number of POWs who died are buried. Not sure yet when he joined up, still trying to figure that one out, but I know he was in the RE in 1916 from his letters. He was based in various camps undertaking training in the Bournemouth area - Pokesdown & Southbourne and also at Chisledon near Swindon from 1916-18

Brian

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