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Barny

Military Medal award WW1

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headgardener

Well, it's clearly the same guy as in post No. 7 and post No. 32 of this thread.

Definitely RSG. A good view of the number on his epaulette, too.

Same wound stripes as the KRRC man, good view of the MM ribbon together with a rather long unidentified ribbon, probably a foreign decoration, would match a C de G, and essentially the same configuration as the KRRC man. Looks like the same sort of ring on the little finger of his left hand, too. Facially they are similar.

The combination of wound stripes and medal ribbons certainly appear to indicate that it's the same man.

But how can it be the same man? How can we match the periods of service in each unit with the details that we have here?

Any more badges or uniforms or documents to show us before we start hypothesizing? You're certain that Frank Easton Woodhead is your half-brother's full name?

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headgardener
Looks like 'MG' (Machine Gunner) or possibly 'HG" (Hotchkiss Gunner).

He's wearing 2 overseas service stripes, and looks like he's got his medal ribbons up, so at the earliest this must be taken in late 1919 or in 1920.

Just noticed that this info matches the detail in the letter from the RGJ's museum stating that he qualified on Lewis guns and Hotchkiss guns in India in 1920, putting making this photo as 1920 or later. The foliage in the background looks the same as the other images which I assume are taken in the UK rather than India.

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Barny

Full name is Frank Easton Woodhead, the christian name Easton is derived from his paternal grandmother's maiden name Emma EASTON.The foliage is part of his (and mine)father's garden in Nottingham somewhere.The little finger ring shows up on all pictures where you can see enough of his left hand. Do you think the photo in post 8 looks like the chap in 7 and 32? this shows he's in the cavalry and has been promoted to corporal.It certainly looks a lot like the man in civvies with his younger brother in post 36 who definately is Frank.

Regards, Brian (half brother of the "Enigmatic Soldier".

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Blackblue

Very interesting Brian,

I agree it appears to be the same man.

Would his service papers survive with Ministry of Defence? I think this would be worth a check as he may well have continued to serve after 1921 (seems likely) and these may mention all his prior service, even if under another name. Try here: http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/army.html

Given your photos and other evidence it appears that he served with RSG, was awarded the MM and CdG, wounded 3 x times, promoted to CPL. Then in 1917 ends up in a Training Reserve Battalion (with no mention of prior service) and is then assigned to KRRC in 1917 or 1918. It is curious that his MIC does not mention prior service.

To commence his KRRC service as an A/CPL suggests prior experience and to end up in a TR battalion in 1917 without a 1914/15 Star seems to indicate a pretty tight timeline for RSG service. If he did serve with both and won an MM and CdG he must have enlisted very young and won them as a 16 or 17 year old (they were often both awarded at the same time for the same action). The fact that he is wearing the MM and CdG ribbons in the later photo seems to suggest that the KRRC was aware of the awards and his previous service (unless he simply put them on for the photo).

A possible explanation seems to be that he served with RSG under another name (perhaps due to being underage). If his records are with MoD and don't mention RSG service then it may be worth seeing if you can ascertain the names of RSG MM and CdG winners in 1915/1916/1917 (there shouldn't be very many) and see if anything stands out.

Rgds

Tim D

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Stebie9173

Just a quick note, Tim.

The BWM/VM medal roll is only required to show the last rank a soldier held, hence Acting Corporal is his final rank/appointment, and not necessarily the one he went overseas with.

Steve.

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Blackblue

Cheers mate, my mistake.

I am looking at men with similar numbers on Ancestry. It appears that the majority of those who have a MIC around A20542? also have Service Papers.

A205429 Albert Victor Jaggard. Called up March 1917. 18th Training Reserve Bn, 285th Infantry Bn, 52nd Graduated Bn. 8th KRRC in February 1918 before being captured 21 March 1918. POW before returning to the 1st Bn after the war.

A205426 Ronald MacEwan appears to have an almost identical history being posted missing and then POW.

As was A205421 Elisha Fox!

MICs are all identical to Woodhead's.

Brian,

I wonder if Frank Woodhead was also captured? Would definitely write to MoD as Stebie has previously suggested.

Rgds

Tim D

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Blackblue

52nd (Graduated) Battalion

Up to 27 October 1917, this was known as 285th Graduated Battalion and had no regimental affiliation. Before that it had been 22nd Battalion of the Training Reserve and up to September 1916 had been the 16th (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. A training unit based at Canterbury, it was part of 202nd Brigade in 67th Division. Moved to Colchester in about March 1918.

If Frank Woodhead did win an MM, CdG it appears this must have been with the RSG as a 16 year old in 1916 or in very early 1917.

8th (Service) Battalion

Formed at Winchester on 21 August 1914 as part of K1 and attached to 41st Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. Moved to Aldershot, going on to Grayshott in November and in February 1915 went to Bordon. Returned to Aldershot in March 1915.

May 1915 : landed at Boulogne.

27 April 1918 : reduced to cadre strength.

16 June 1918 : transferred to 34th Division and on 27 June to 39th Division.

3 August 1918 : disbanded at Desvres.

I am guessing most of the 8th went into the bag during the German offensive 21 March 1918.

Rgds

Tim D

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Blackblue

Only 1 officer and 30 other ranks were left of the 8th Bn after the German offensive....

The 8th Battalion KRRC suffered very badly in the German spring offensive that started on 21 March. Known as the Kaiserschlacht or operation Michael, it was the last desperate bid by the Germans to win the war before the Americans arrived in force. Between 21 March and 29 March, 63 men from the 8th KRRC lost their lives and many more were taken prisoner. The Battalion was so badly mauled that it was disbanded in August 1918, the few survivors being sent to other units.

and

Opening Of The German Offensive - 21st March

After a period of calm on the front, a terrific bombardment, using a big percentage of gas shells, opened on a fifty-mile front against our Third and Fifth Armies at 5.30 a.m. on 21st March. It was a morning of thick fog and the Germans, by using a new method of infiltration instead of linear attack, easily penetrated the thinly held "forward zone" of the Fifth Army and were well into the " battle zone" before their advance was slowed up at all.

On 21st March the 14th (Light) Division was in the front line of the Fifth Army. Our 8th and 9th Battalions were in the forward zone near the St. Quentin—Vendeuille Road and the 7th Battalion - in the battle zone near Benay. As all form of communication except by runner was destroyed, or impossible owing to the fog, accounts are incomplete. Many small parties fought gallantly to a finish, but the defensive system adopted in these areas was generally inadequate to cope with an attack where the odds were four to one in men and three to one in guns. The enemy were not checked until reaching the "rear zone," where the 43rd Brigade checked their advance for some hours.

Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. S. Dimmer, V.C., M.C. (60th), was killed in action on 21st March when commanding the 2nd/4th Bn. The Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Last Days of the 14th (Light) Division, 22nd March to 6th April

On 22nd March the 14th (Light) Division held the Germans on a reduced front on the canal. The enemy crossed at several points on the next day, and the retirement continued on the 24th and 25th. An exhausted remnant, about 2,000 strong, of a fine division reached L'Ecouvillon on the 26th.

The Division was relieved between 4th and 6th April. A short period employed in the training of American Autry units followed and it was then disbanded after an honourable existence of four arduous years.

During the retirement our 9th Battalion lost 23 officers and 620 other ranks. The muster on 26th March was as follows : 7th Battalion, 5 officers and 140 other ranks; 8th Battalion, 1 officer and 30 other ranks[/b]; 9th Battalion, 2 officers and 70 other ranks.

Losses of the three battalions: Officers about 70, other ranks: over 2,000.

Rgds

Tim D

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headgardener

Given your photos and other evidence it appears that he served with RSG, was awarded the MM and CdG, wounded 3 x times, promoted to CPL. Then in 1917 ends up in a Training Reserve Battalion (with no mention of prior service) and is then assigned to KRRC in 1917 or 1918. It is curious that his MIC does not mention prior service.

To commence his KRRC service as an A/CPL suggests prior experience and to end up in a TR battalion in 1917 without a 1914/15 Star seems to indicate a pretty tight timeline for RSG service. If he did serve with both and won an MM and CdG he must have enlisted very young and won them as a 16 or 17 year old (they were often both awarded at the same time for the same action). The fact that he is wearing the MM and CdG ribbons in the later photo seems to suggest that the KRRC was aware of the awards and his previous service (unless he simply put them on for the photo).

A possible explanation seems to be that he served with RSG under another name (perhaps due to being underage). If his records are with MoD and don't mention RSG service then it may be worth seeing if you can ascertain the names of RSG MM and CdG winners in 1915/1916/1917 (there shouldn't be very many) and see if anything stands out.

No, this explanation doesn't work with the available evidence. He served overseas with the KRRC (hence the MIC), but the RSG image at the start of the thread shows him as a trooper wearing overseas service stripes on his right sleeve, so clearly can be no earlier than late 1918 or more likely post-war. But then he also appears post-war as a Cpl in the KRRC. The GC chevrons on his left sleeve bears out the idea of his RSG service being early 1920's.

The only way I can make sense of it is to say that he served in the KRRC, had a spell at the end of the war or immediately post-war with the RSG (hence him wearing his gallantry awards but not his campaign medal ribbons), and then transferred back to the KRRC (evidenced by the records from the KRRC museum).

But why? It seems rather convoluted and improbable.

MOD will still have his records, I reckon.

Edit; you say that it's strange that the MIC doesn't show prior service, it only shows the units that a man served overseas with. So even if he had prior service with another unit, it generally won't show it. There are exceptions to this, but they remain exceptions.

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Blackblue

Good pick up. I agree that it seems rather strange. For his MIC I was assuming he first served OS with RSGs given the photos.

In this event given other numbers in his series it appears we may be looking at enlistment 1917, service in 1918 as A/CPL with KRRC winning MM, CdG and wounded 3 x times, transfer or re-enlistment with RSGs as a TPR, promotion to CPL and then transfer back to KRRC where he is also a CPL? I note that he has his campaign medal ribbons up in the KRRC photos so would place this as 1921 or later I assume? Interesting that he manages to retain his KRRC service number before and after his RSG service?

Does this fit?

Rgds

Tim D

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Barny

I 've been trawling through my photographs and found this one, it's not the best of images but it shows Frank at play with his younger brother Bertram in a domestic garden. The reason I thought it might help is because it could help with dating. The boy Bertram's age is likely to be easier to estimate than a more adult person. Bearing in mind that Bertram is just over 9 years younger ie. born in June 1909, Frank being born March 1900. The boy is wearing Frank's uniform, clearly that of the RSG's but with no wound stripes, and as far as I can see, no ribband. So; if you can age the boy you can date the photo. Judging by the background foliage spring/summer 1918, this my guess only. This then, is the earliest shot I've got of his military uniform(s). They could have been messing about on Bertram's 9th birthday, hence the reason for the photo.

Brian.

post-73081-0-66349600-1307953150.jpg

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headgardener
Interesting that he manages to retain his KRRC service number before and after his RSG service?

Does this fit?

Well, I'm not sure that it does.

It's puzzling me. An alternative explanation is that he served through to about '21 than transferred to the RSG's, but then he didn't put his campaign ribbons up. Strange.

Just thinking about it again, 2 GC chevrons equates to 5 years service, so enlistment in 1917 would place the images of him as a Tpr in the RSG as being about 1922, clearly post-dating the KRRC images. He was so young that he couldn't really have had much service with a TRB before joining the KRRC, so service must have dated from about 1917, or there could be a very slim possibility of his service dating from 1916, but that still takes us to the RSG image being no earlier than '21.

I'm beginning to think that we're looking at 2 periods of service; KRRC up to about '21 or '22, then transfer to RSG.

Thoughts?

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headgardener

I 've been trawling through my photographs and found this one, it's not the best of images but it shows Frank at play with his younger brother Bertram in a domestic garden. The reason I thought it might help is because it could help with dating. The boy Bertram's age is likely to be easier to estimate than a more adult person. Bearing in mind that Bertram is just over 9 years younger ie. born in June 1909, Frank being born March 1900. The boy is wearing Frank's uniform, clearly that of the RSG's but with no wound stripes, and as far as I can see, no ribband. So; if you can age the boy you can date the photo. Judging by the background foliage spring/summer 1918, this my guess only. This then, is the earliest shot I've got of his military uniform(s). They could have been messing about on Bertram's 9th birthday, hence the reason for the photo.

Even more puzzling given my suggestions above. The jacket shows his GC stripes, so 5 years service. That would take him back to enlistment in about 1914.

That just can't be correct.

Are you sure about the identity of the boy?

The idea of Frank wearing another man's jacket doesn't really stack up because of the identical badging on the KRRC and RSG jackets.

It really is a puzzle. I'd be very interested in others thoughts on this.

Edit; I think you're going to have to write to the MOD to see if they've got his service file, just to put us out of our misery...!

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Barny

There's no doubt that the boy playing with Frank is his brother Bertram, take a look at post 36 for confirmation.

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Blackblue

I am pretty sure its the same man in both RSG and KRRC uniform.

As I have outlined his service number appears to be from a series issued to training reserve men posted to 8th Bn KRRC on the Western Front in February 1918. Of the men who have service papers all were called up to in March 1917 and then saw the same training service until posted in to 8th KRRC. The men with papers within 10 numbers of Frank were all captured 21 March 1918. Apparently by 29 March the Bn was left with 1 officer and 30 other ranks. Even if not commencing service until 1917 it appears he would have only just turned 17 when he enlisted.

The OS service chevrons he is wearing denotes at least that he must have gone OS in 1916 or very early 1917 and served there through 1918 (seeing two years OS service). The 2 x Good Conduct Chevrons denote 6 years service and if this is the case he must have first served in at least 1915 or 1916 to be entitled to them. They were discontinued in 1922 so the photo can be no later than then.

I don't know what the answer is! Hopefully the MoD still has his papers. In the meantime perhaps the Medal Rolls will confirm his Battalion?

Rgds

Tim D

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Stebie9173

That popping sound is not Bertram's pop-gun going off, it is the sound of my head exploding!!! :wacko:

You've certainly managed "enigmatic" here!!

Steve.

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Barny

It seems that we've now exhausted all combinations of circumstances surrounding F.E.W. and I want to thank you all for your time and interest in trying to undo this tangle. For me you've provided a credible storyline laced with details about his military life that I could never have known otherwise. I will contact the MOD as suggested to see if they can help. Now! I'm afraid the story of Frank doesn't stop here. Take a couple of asprins and read on. Attatched is a copy of an article from the London Daily Telegraph November 28th 1930. According to his daughter, he often went abroad to Poland and Russia in between the wars doing some sort of engineering consultancy work, sometimes for months at a time. Then;in 1950 he vanished! without trace! according to his daughter who was 20 at the time, she claims there was no warning or clues afterwards, literally here today-gone tomorrow. I know no more than I've related but it is rather intriguing. Apparently, UK businessmen and travellers were encouraged (by what authority I do not know)to "Keep their eys and ears open" whilst abroad which it seems he did,so whether this has any bearing on his eventual vanishing act is open to conjecture. I will post any results I get from the MOD if and when available.

Many thanks, Brian.

post-73081-0-45357700-1307966248.jpg

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headgardener

I think I need to lie-down for a few minutes..........

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Blackblue

Brian,

Maybe you also need to write to MI6?

:ph34r:

Rgds

Tim D

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Barny

It's all right for you lot, I've still got all this to investigate yet. Incidentally, in 1923 he became bankrupt.

I'd say he was bit of a risk taker. Never a dull moment with this bloke, quite interesting though. Bet he was a good guest at dinner.

Brian.

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CGM

Brian,

Maybe you also need to write to MI6?

:ph34r:

Rgds

Tim D

Seriously though, if you can borrow this book from the Library you might just find something interesting / relevant. No promises as I haven't read it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11378601

One question occurs to me - where did he learn the engineering skills which led to his engineering consultancy work?

CGM

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headgardener

I don't think that this will come as a shock to anyone, but looking at it again in a fresh light.....

The photos are taken sometime between 1919 and 1922 (probably about 1921). 1922 doesn't really work with the age of his brother, but any earlier date doesn't really work with his GC stripes.

He's heavily badged. Some clearly match what we know ('Hotchkiss Gunner'), but some can't be traced (MM - if the RGJ's museum have a record of his Cert of Education, you'd think they'd have a mention of an MM), others don't match family history (Riding Master - that badge doesn't reappear on any other images). All the images seem to be taken at home rather than in a camp or barracks. I reckon you'll find that he didn't serve with the RSG's.

Certainly sounds like a colourful character. Interesting Russian connection. He was certainly telling Hearst's papers exactly what they wanted to hear. Would have thought that if the Russians 'disappeared' him, that there would have been some diplomatic shenanigans. I wonder if anything comes up in the index to the Times? I wonder if you'll be able to find a death certificate in his name?

What a fascinating story. Please come back and tell us what you find.....?

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Barny

I don't think that this will come as a shock to anyone, but looking at it again in a fresh light.....

The photos are taken sometime between 1919 and 1922 (probably about 1921). 1922 doesn't really work with the age of his brother, but any earlier date doesn't really work with his GC stripes.

He's heavily badged. Some clearly match what we know ('Hotchkiss Gunner'), but some can't be traced (MM - if the RGJ's museum have a record of his Cert of Education, you'd think they'd have a mention of an MM), others don't match family history (Riding Master - that badge doesn't reappear on any other images). All the images seem to be taken at home rather than in a camp or barracks. I reckon you'll find that he didn't serve with the RSG's.

Certainly sounds like a colourful character. Interesting Russian connection. He was certainly telling Hearst's papers exactly what they wanted to hear. Would have thought that if the Russians 'disappeared' him, that there would have been some diplomatic shenanigans. I wonder if anything comes up in the index to the Times? I wonder if you'll be able to find a death certificate in his name?

What a fascinating story. Please come back and tell us what you find.....?

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Barny

I've wondered about the engineering ability. I do know that he's listed in a 1933 Nottingham telephone directory with BSc after his name but I don't know what he studied or where, also his dad was in the lace trade working for a lace machine maker as a bobbin and carriage maker, and when the lace trade died out he worked for Raleigh Cycles as a machinetool maker, so engineering was in the family. I suppose there's enough time between say 1922 and 1933 to do a degree course, how it was financed I've no idea. I've looked for a mention of his death to no avail. But since you've taken a liking for him I've attatched a photo of him that I think you'll like. I've no idea who his companions are (they could be twins)or sisters only a year or so apart. My wife and I went for a walk today along that very path you see in the background.(silly, sorry). Got to admit, he's a good looking chap. All my photo's are taken with the same camera which I used to have and which belonged to my (and Frank's) father, all the uniformed ones are taken at home, presumably his parents. Would he still wear a Riding Instructors badge if he'd transferred to the KRRC from the cavalry? so was this the last picture of him in the RSG's before he swapped horses so to speak? Just a small point to do with his identity, notice the big hands, they are on all the photo's, another indication that it is the same person throughout.

Brian.

post-73081-0-51913300-1308079296.jpg

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Pavster1980

I noticed the big hands but had not got round to mentioning it.

Rich

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