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jainvince

9th BnKings Royal rifle Corps

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jainvince

One of our local soldiers was KIA on 19th August 1917. LANCE CORPORAL R/10827 GEORGE HOWCROFT 9th Bn Kings Royal Rifle Corps was killed in action in the St Julien area and his body interred in Grave Number I. E. 27. Perth Cemetery (China Wall) Zillebeke,

The chaplain of Corporal Howcroft’s battalion in a letter said of his death “Lance Corporal Howcroft’s end came while performing his duty in the fighting line. He was killed by a shell that burst near by, like so many of his brave companions

Letters to his parents from two of his comrades Rifleman H. Fry and H. Low testified to “The respect and esteem in which George was held by all who knew him. His loss is keenly felt and with you we mourn for a faithful comrade who was always willing and did his part manfully. His body is laid to rest in a cemetery just behind the lines and a number of us attended the burial service. Pray accept our sincere and deep sympathy

Whilst no member is listed as having a copy of the War Diary can any member tell me a more accurate location of where L/Cpl Howcroft may have fell.

any assistance would be appreciated.

Bernard

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jainvince

When searching for the 9th KRRC I came across my earlier request with unfortunately at the time wasn't possible. I am wondering what with the passage of time and greater availability of WDs the information is now available? From further reading I have a feeling that he was on the Gheluvelt Plateau somewhere between Hooge and Inverness Copse or in the forward positions in that area but cannot confirm. Can any pal now help as this soldier's 100 year anniversary approaches.

 

Bernard

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jainvince

Many thanks but the Free Trial Period is proving difficult

 

Bernard

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MBrockway

9/KRRC were acting as 42 Brigade's Left Support battalion from 17th to 20th August 1917 in the HALFWAY HOUSE area to the north of ZILLEBEKE - trench references 28.I.17.c and d.  Battalion HQ was at the RITZ DUGOUT at 28.I.17c.2.5

 

They took losses from German artillery counter-battery work probing for the numerous Allied batteries positioned nearby.

 

Mark

 

Edited by MBrockway

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stiletto_33853

42nd Brigade Diary

DSC09390.JPG

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MBrockway

Between 19 and 24 Aug 1917, 9/KRRC had the following casualties:

 

Killed - Officers: 2; OR's: 36

Wounded - Officers: 2; OR's: 100

Missing - Officers: 0; OR's: 3

TOTAL - 143

 

Of the wounded, 4 were caused by gas shells, compared to 102 and 103 in 9/RB and 5/OBLI respectively.  These two battalions were in the front line.when the German gas shelling took place.

 

The period covered includes the offensive undertaken 21-24 Aug in the Glencorse Wood, Inverness Copse, Herenthage Chateau area.  Andy and I have covered this in great detail in Terry Reeves topic' on flamethrowers (should be easily located with a forum search).

 

Only one of the 9/KRRC officer casualties (Capt Summerfield, wounded) took place on 19 Aug 1917.

 

Source for these figures is a Brigade Casualty Report dated 28 Aug 1917 and headed "ACCURATE CASUALTIES", hence the slightly lower figure for 9/RB than in the Brigade war diary Andy has posted.

 

The Brigade diary also reports heavy shelling on 17-18 Aug when the Division was taking over the sector.  Brigade HQ was also at HALFWAY HOUSE and the diary talks of much shelling by 5.9's and 4.2's - presumably HE rather than gas - with 42 Bde casualties of 60 in the 18 hours covering the relief on 17-18 Aug.  This was counter-battery work and knocked out seven of the twelve field guns in the vicinity of HALFWAY HOUSE.

 

Mark

 

-

Edited by MBrockway

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MBrockway
On 20/08/2011 at 22:13, jainvince said:

One of our local soldiers was KIA on 19th August 1917. LANCE CORPORAL R/10827 GEORGE HOWCROFT 9th Bn Kings Royal Rifle Corps was killed in action in the St Julien area and his body interred in Grave Number I. E. 27. Perth Cemetery (China Wall) Zillebeke,

Bernard

Bernard,

What's your source for L/Cpl Howcroft falling in the St JULIEN area?

 

9/KRRC were some 5km to the south of St JULIEN in Aug 1917.

Mark

 

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jainvince

Mark

 

It was probably an oblique reference which as the above details show was totally erroneous. Since I originally posted in 2011 further researches led to an understanding that indeed he was closer to Zillebeke and thus the more recent post. We have a bit more information on Lance Corporal Howcroft so wanted to complete the picture. His location as now provided will clarify the text which is currently. You'll note the reference to St Julien, as not confirmed, was deleted. I'm just hoping that the 1915 reference to Hooge and Trench G10 is OK as the reference to that may well evade me.

 

Bernard

Although he was born in Hadfield in 1895, by 1901 he was living at 5 George St, Walsden, Todmorden, with his parents Thomas (45, a Cotton Weaver) and Rachel (40) and his 4 sisters. In 1911 the family but now only sisters Lily (19), Dorothy (13 a Ring Piecer) and Eva (10), were now living at 3 Smithy Nook, Littleborough. George, like his father and elder sister was a Calico Weaver. He later lived at 2 Kershaw Passage, Dearnley, attended the St Andrew’s Church, Dearnley and worked at Shore Mills (Rochdale Observer 29th August 1917). Private Howcroft enlisted in Rochdale and visited St Andrews on 25th February 1915. He regularly wrote to the vicar including being involved in an attack at Hooge on 30/31 July 1915 along the Menin Road which resulted in the capture of trench G10 "You will have read about the terrible experience our Battalion had in .......... in the paper. I have met two boys from Littleborough, Walter Watson and Midgeley ....... Watson was one of Norman Booth's pals. They have come to our Battalion as we lost heavily in a charge last week .... our Captain was wounded and colonel (Chaplin) is dead. Those two were gentlemen every inch but we are pleased to hear our captain has got the Military Cross. I would like to tell you about our charge but I think it is forbidden ". He was also on leave in June 1916 (or 1917). Prior to August 1917, he wrote to the Reverend Oakley and speaking of deaths of some who had died he wrote “I was sorry to know of those two boys of our district (Dearnley) sacrificing all for King and Country and those we love at home, but, they are still in the keeping of God”. 22 year old Lance Corporal R/10827 George Howcroft, 9th Bn Kings Royal Rifle Corps was killed in action on Sunday the 19th August 1917 whilst serving in Belgium, his body interred in Grave Number I. E. 27. Perth Cemetery (China Wall) Zillebeke, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, his name on St Andrew’s Memorial Card and War Memorial and also inscribed on Littleborough Cenotaph. The chaplain of Corporal Howcroft’s Bn (Rev J W Rose) wrote to his parents stating that “Lance Corporal Howcroft’s end came while performing his duty in the fighting line. He was killed by a shell that burst nearby, like so many of his brave companions” Letters to his parents from two of his comrades Rifleman H Fry and H Low testified to “The respect and esteem in which George was held by all who knew him. His loss is keenly felt and with you we mourn for a faithful comrade who was always willing and did his part manfully. His body is laid to rest in a cemetery just behind the lines and a number of us attended the burial service. Pray accept our sincere and deep sympathy”. The St Andrew’s Magazine for September 1917 records “Just as the Magazine goes to print we hear with deepest grief that Lance Corporal George Howcroft was killed in action in France by the bursting of a shell on Sunday August 19th. George enlisted early in the war and has seen much active service He has been one of the Vicar’s most regular and affectionate correspondents ever since. Confirmed in 1913 he became a regular ‘attender’ and was also a Bible class member. The last Sunday he spent at home (June 1916) ‘he came to church’ and in his first letter after he got back he said “I am still happy now I have got back with the boys. We had a lovely service on Sunday last; I was just in time to attend it”. If ever a lad laid down his life willingly and nobly George Howcroft did, for he volunteered realising the danger fully and with Christian earnestness offered himself for the cause of right. Some time ago he wrote to the vicar and speaking of the deaths of some who had fallen he said “I was sorry to know of those two boys of our district sacrificing all for King and Country and those we all love at home but ...... ......... May he rest in peace”. The Rochdale Observer on 3rd August 1918 noted that tomorrow at the St Andrew’s Guild Anniversary service including a Memorial service would be held for those Guild members who had fallen in the 4th year of the war. The In Memoriam column of the Rochdale Observer for 17th August 1918 carried 3 sentiments from his mother, sisters and sister Janet.

 

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MBrockway

Thanks Bernard.  All that extra detail about George is fantastic.

 

The 9/KRRC action on 30/31 July 1915 where Lt.-Col Chaplin was killed was the 14th (Light) Division counter-attack following the German liquid fire attack which had re-captured the Hooge Crater.

 

Andy and I have a long and detailed topic on this liquid fire attack - see here ...

We published it on the centenary of the attack in 2015 and it is designed to connect together all the other various topics we'd been involved in over the years.

 

See especially all the links in Post #3.

 

 

Mark

 

Edited by MBrockway

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jainvince

Mark

 

Thanks for the links, fascinating and so detailed. Pity I cannot incorporate them into my histories of Local Soldiers, it would become too long.

I had edited somewhat his comments about the July 1915 attack. I can check the source to see if anything relevant was omitted if you wish.

 

Bernard

 

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MBrockway
2 hours ago, jainvince said:

Mark

 

Thanks for the links, fascinating and so detailed. Pity I cannot incorporate them into my histories of Local Soldiers, it would become too long.

I had edited somewhat his comments about the July 1915 attack. I can check the source to see if anything relevant was omitted if you wish.

 

Bernard

 

 

Yes please Bernard - this was a very important action.  It was where the first VC was won by a Kitchener battalion.

 

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jainvince

Enclosed is a copy of the entry into the St Andrews Magazine for September 1915. The gaps within the posted text were actually in the magazine so am assuming that the edit was possibly by the Mag Editor or most likely censored by the Army but cannot be sure.

 

Bernard

Private Howcroft.jpg

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MBrockway
3 hours ago, jainvince said:

Enclosed is a copy of the entry into the St Andrews Magazine for September 1915. The gaps within the posted text were actually in the magazine so am assuming that the edit was possibly by the Mag Editor or most likely censored by the Army but cannot be sure.

 

Bernard

Private Howcroft.jpg

 

Of the captains in 9/KRRC wounded on 31 July, only Capt E.W. Benson was awarded the MC.  A year later, Eric Benson went on to command 9/KRRC as a temp Lt.-Col aged only 29, but was Killed in Action on 15 Sep 1916.

 

This would put George Howcroft in B Company.

 

 

Of the Littleborough and Dearnley men, who no doubt will be of importance to your Rochdale researches, "Walter Watson" is almost certainly R/6971 L/Cpl Walter WATSON, 9/KRRC, then 11/KRRC.  Enlisted 14 Nov 1914, landed in France on 03 Aug 1915, discharged due to wounds on 24 May 1918 aged 23 years.  He is listed as Lance Corporal on the SWB roll, but since this is an appointment, not a rank, plain Rifleman on the campaign medals.

 

Generally when men in the KRRC changed battalion, it was on returning from wounds or hospitalised illness, so he is likely to have been sent back to Blighty at least twice.

 

With a November 1914 enlistment, I would have expected him to have already gone out with the Kitchener K1 & K2 battalions (7th to 13th inclusive) all of whom had embarkation dates earlier than Aug 1915, rather than as a 9/KRRC replenishment draft (as per Howcroft's letter), but the date fits perfectly with replacement of the Hooge losses.  Watson may have been delayed in training due to e.g. sickness/injury possibly.

 

No luck unfortunately on finding "Midgley".  I have three Midgley/Midgeley in my KRRC database.  Only one landed before 1916 and he was an Old Contemptible Regular and did not serve in 9/KRRC.  If you have any other clues, I'll have another look.  There are dozens of Midgleys in the Rochdale district Birth Register, so no easy way through there!

 

Couldn't find any "Harold England", "Norman Booth" nor "Edward Partington" in the KRRC.

 

Hope this helps your project.

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by MBrockway

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jainvince

Mark

 

For completion, below are details I have on the men mentioned. There appears to have been a lot of friendship between the soldiers from St Andrews, Dearnley probably because many went to school together, attended church and were in guilds etc and possibly worked in the same mills.

Bernard

 

Harold England 2 RM Bn Royal Navy Division Enlisted prior to Dec 1914. KIA 13th November 1916 at Beaucourt - also a prolific writer

 

Norman Booth enlisted by Nov 1914as far as I know he survived but in letter published (1915) between March and May wrote from Cairo and June to October from Dardanelles.  Dec from a hospital in Scotland. In July asked George Howcroft to write to him. Sept mentioned received letter from GH, Dec mentions not heard from GH for a while. Booth may have been in Lancashire Fusiliers.

 

Willie Midgley - Attended St Andrews, Dearnley Guild Festival as reported in Sept 1915 Newsletter/Magazine - no other information

 

Edmund Partington had enlisted by Dec 1914 - Rifle Brigade. He may have survived. He was a prolific writer as well. Some excerpts

June 1915

Announced his arrival in France "I am with a Littleborough lad called Willie Mills and we are going to try and stay together. We left Southampton at 5:00 pm yesterday and got into one of the boats .... at 7:00 am. We enjoyed the trip very much - it was lovely".   A field service card from Eddy Partington says he is "quite well". Wrote from France thanked receipt of book adding "Pleased to hear the lads are still coming forward. I should like to meet some of them here. .... Best love of all".             

July 1915

Another letter from the trenches which arrived within 2 days of posting! "I am writing this in the trenches and the guns are fairly going at it. We came here on Thursday night for three days. This is my second time in. The last time we were in for 7 days. We go out tomorrow for a few days and then we shall come in again. it is lovely weather here and the fields are full of poppies. I wouldn't mind being here for a bit if there was no war on ..........". He left England early 1915. He added "I have seen a lot since then - houses and churches which have been wrecked by the Huns, and lots of other things I cannot write about  ....... Our men are just firing at a German Aeroplane".                                            He wrote again "We came into the trenches again last night for 6 days. It is now Sunday, dinner time, and its a lovely day  - the larks are singing, so are the guns ................................I can't tell you where I am but there are the ruins of a fine church here which it cost thousands to build and I think the Germans have spent twice as much shelling it. I will now close - the shells are flying over our heads.

August 1915

Wrote from France about enjoyment of Magazine and its viewing by others.  Wrote again having come out of the trenches for a rest "We have been in for six days again. I am glad we will have a Sunday out for once ..... I am writing this down under a haystack as we are billeted in a large farm..... You remember me telling you I was with a Littleborough lad called Willie Mills? ........ I am sorry to tell that he was wounded in his back with a bullet last Sunday but I hope it is not serious .... I should be very pleased to see George Howcroft  out here. I used to have someone to talk to about home with Billy but I can't now".   Wrote again and referred to letter from W Reeves (July) and added "I have seen the same (battlefield experiences) myself..... We are in billets just now but we go into the trenches again so we shall be in at weekend which don't suit me but never mind. Roll on peace so we can come to good old Dearnley again ....." he later sent a postcard which was written in the trenches at 4:00 am.   Wrote a further letter from France "When we came out of the trenches we were wet through; it would do some of the 'stay at homers' good to have seen us.....I was proper done up but never mind, I am all right now. ..... We often sing in the trenches ...... My word, it can't half rain in France when it starts. I wish George Howcroft best of luck in France ..........."

Sept 1915

Wrote room France "We go into the Trenches again to-nigh to I thought I would drop you a line or two ....." In an open air field service a chap was awarded the 'DCM' for bomb throwing.                Wrote again from France "Your letter to hand last night in the Trenches where it is up to the neck in mud ... I am writing this at 4:00 am as it is not our time for sleep until 8:00 am.".  Wrote from Netley thanking for the Magazine and adding "We are having it quiet just now as we have over 500 beds empty ..... I am in good health ........ they are sending 50 of our men away this week - Ernest Greenbank is one of them".   Sent a postcard showing French and English soldiers. He added "still in the best of health".  Wrote again "I am at the bombing school yet and the weather is scorching" Musing on Dearnley he added "and wondered if I shall ever be there again. I have seen a lot since then but always hope for the best".

Oct 1915

Wrote from France "We are now in billets resting and ..... it's the best rest we have had since I came out here .....I met an old pal of mine last weekend, Arthur Butterworth from Shaw Moss Farm. I had not seen him since last November. I was with him all last weekend talking about home but we were moved on Monday so I don't know when I shall see him again but I wish him the best of luck.  He wrote again from France "I have transferred out of the Rifle Brigade into the RE..... I was very sorry to hear W Reeves had been wounded............."

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