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Remembered Today:

GHQ Signal Coy, Royal Engineers


toomutch

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Hi all,

Looking for more information regarding the GHQ Signal Company of the Royal Engineers.

Does it have a Battalion number?

Was this a TF company, or full time?

Is there a Coy / Btn / Regimental war diary available?

My ancestor, Sapper Alfred E WILES was killed in August 1915 and is commemorated at the Helles memorial.

Any details welcome.

Tim Hutchinson

Beverley, E. Yorkshire

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Tim WO 95/126 appears to be one war diary, but it only covers July 1916 - December 1917. There probably isn't a company number or anything, for lower level formations (down to divisions) the Attachés signallers were simply eg 17th Divisional Signal Company for those attached to 17 Division (see thread lower down the list in this section)

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Tim

The GHQ Signal Company was just that, it served the General Headquarters of the formation of the theatre of war it was in - in this case Gallipoli. From his medal index card, it shows that he was a territorial, but without his service record it is not possible to be absolutely sure of the unit. That said, do you have any clue where he was living say, in 1913 or 1914, which might suggest something? His second number indicates that he was territorial who transferred to the RE Signal Service after mobilisation. Quite a number of TF men voluntarily transferred to the Signal Service from TF Divisional Signals Companies, hence the change in numbers.

TR

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Ah sorry, disregard the reference I gave, that's for GHQ France and Flanders. I missed the Helles Memorial mention somehow

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Hello Tim

The War Diary mentioned by David is for the GHQ Signal Company in France. There does not appear to be a diary for the GHQ Signal Company in Gallipoli but you might find some information in one of these files:

WO 95/4268 Director of Signals 1915 Apr. - 1916 Jan.

WO 95/4275 VIII Corps Signal Company 1915 July - Dec.

The pre-war TF included fifteen Army Troops Signal Companies as well as the Divisional Signal Companies. Your man may have belonged to one of these, and been transferred to the GHQ Signal Company, Gallipoli from there, as Terry suggests.

These fifteen companies were arranged in groups of three: an Air-Line, Cable and Wireless Signal Company in each of five of the home Commands.

Ron

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I now remember that I have a b it of service information on this chap, Thomas Reginald Dennis. Pre-war he was a GPO employee (recorded on the award of the Imperial Service Medal in 1943 as Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist), and a TF signaller. the first war time mention of him I have, in October 1914, describes him as "RE reserves signals" and he was then at Aldershot, then in November 1914 a letter in which he gives his address as "No 1 Relief, GHQ Signal Section, RE, France" (there's quite a lot of detail as to his duties in the letter as a I recall), then in September 1915, "Signal Service RE, 1st Army HQ".

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  • 2 years later...

Hello Tim, I hope that you will get this considering that your original posting was some time ago.

Sapper Alfred Ernest Wiles was my great-grandfather and I can therefore provide you with a little more detail. As the other responses have indicated, Alfred was a territorial, possibly prior to the war when he was working for the Post Office as a telephone engineer in Hull. I understand that many PO workers were also in the territorial force as their skills were likely to be required in the event of war.

Alfred married Mabel Allinson (reputedly a member of the well-known bread/baking family) at Scarborough in 1913. Mabel was a ladies' maid to a Miss Darrel of West Ayton for 15 years prior to the marriage. Prior to the Great War they were living in Hull although the records suggest that Alfred enlisted in Leeds - I have always assumed that he was referred to Leeds in view of his specialism. He was enrolled in the Northern Signals Section, Royal Engineers and underwent training at Royal Engineers Signal Training Depot at Biggleswade after enlistment.

I have been unable to ascertain when Alfred landed at Gallipoli - his medal index card suggests that he disembarked in Egypt on 8 April 1915 suggesting that he might have had an early involvement in the Dardanelles campaign. However, family folk-law suggested that he was killed at Suvla Bay and I had always assumed that he had landed there with the 11th (Northern) Division on 6/7 July 1915. However, one source ( I'm afraid I can't recall which) suggests that communications at Suvla were so poor after the initial landing that a section of GHQ signallers were moved there to assist - Alfred might have been one of this number.

Further family folk-law suggests that Alfred was killed by a shell which first decapitated two Indian soldiers before bursting. This was remembered by my grandfather from a long-lost letter sent by the padre who officiated at the funeral. Although this was lost I do have a copy of a photograph of Alfred's grave and his wedding ring which were sent with it. The photograph of the grave is faded but it is just possible to make out the inscription on the cross made of the customary pieces of packing case. More importantly the cross is supported by a large flat stone.

In 1995 I visited the Peninsular with my grand father ( also Alfred Ernest Wiles born (in a twist of fate) on 18 August 1914) and a copy of the photograph. The tour guide advised that the stone in the picture suggested that the grave was in the Suvla Point area and when we visited Chuchuk Anafarta later the village elders confirmed that this was the case. Consequently it appears that the folk-law was correct and that Alfred was killed on or near the beach at Suvla Point and buried close by. Contemporary maps show that the area was occupied by the Royal Engineers depot at the time.

I also have a copy of a letter written by Alfred's colleagues to Mabel explaining that he was killed by a shell and buried in a grave dug in the valley behind their camp, further supporting my hypotheses. Obviously, the grave was lost after the evacuation and Alfred's name is now recorded on the Helles Memorial. It might be that his grave was located but not identified in which case the most likely cemetery to which it was moved is Hill 10.

Alfred is also commemorated on the Hull Post Office War Memorial ( previously in the central Post Office but now located in the central sorting office) Cherry Burton war Memorial and on a brass plaque inside Cherry Burton Church ( to the left of the door as you enter) paid for by his colleagues at the Post Office Engineer's Department , Hull.

Attached are copies of photographs of Alfred taken prior to his departure to the Dardanelles. Regrettably the photograph of the grave is too large a file to upload - it was an enhanced scan to pick out the detail.

Feel free to contact me if you require more details.

Regards

post-114329-0-13793200-1408362320_thumb.

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I have now had the opportunity to refer to my notes and can add some additional information. The source reference I referred to is to page 145 of Gallipoli 1915 by Tim Travers (2001):

When Stopford and his staff finally got ashore on the evening of 8 August, there was still trouble because the location of their HQ, which should have been at Lala Baba, but was instead near Suvla Point, at the north end of the bay: "Very inconvenient as regards communications, which became precarious, owing to cable along beach crossed by traffic." Signals problems continued through 9 August, due to poor IX Corps HQ site and limited personnel. so that operators and linemen had to be sent from GHQ to help.

A transcript of the letter is as follows:

Thursday Aug 19th

Dear Mrs Wiles

Perhaps before you receive this you will have heard from the War Office that Alfred was killed yesterday by a shell. I am writing for my self and his other comrades to tell you that we did all we could for him.

It will be a comfort to you to know that he died instantaneously and painlessly . He had not a moments suffering.

We dug a deep grave in the valley behind our camp and laid him gently there . A Chaplain read the burial service. A simple wooden cross was put at the head of the grave.

We thought that you would like to know that your husband died as a soldier should, doing his duty and that he had a proper Christian burial. The Chaplain said that it was the teaching of the Church that a man who laid down his life for his Country was undoubtedly saved.

We will miss Alfred very much because we liked him so. He was very patient & cheerful and never grumbled at anything.

You have all our sympathy and we pray that God in his great mercy will comfort you and heal your sorrow. We returned his effects to General Headquarters they will be sent on to you .

Those who have signed below are Alfred's Chums who are hear (sic). There are many more who will be thinking of you and wishing they could do something to lighten your burden.

Yours Sincerely

L Corp C Gill

Sapper G Galloway

Sapper H Stead

Sapper H J Johnson

Sapper T J Cooper

Cpl A Mayhew.

I have checked through the medal card records and it appears that the above were:

72004 L/Cpl Charles Gill

72147 Sapper James Galloway

72630 Sapper Harold Stead

72089 Sapper Harold J Johnson

75384 Sapper Frederick J Cooper

72010 L/Cpl Alan Mayhew

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