Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Recommended Posts

I have been asked for some info resulting from the above man.

I have all the info of his MiC and also his Service records. I am amazed that Melancholia saw him discharged, and with a pension!

However, my friend says that family lore relates that his gun was hit by german fire, and all the others around it killed, except for Hector.

He wants to know who the rest of the gun crew were, and where they are buried.

How on earth do I find out?

The wit and wisdom of the Pals will be appreciated!

Bruce

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Admin

Does he know the date the incident happened on or where - if so the incident cwgc site should help.

Link to post
Share on other sites

He has no idea when the incident happened, so I really don't have much to go on.

I can manage all the info on Hector himself, but how to get info on the incident (if indeed it happened) has me stumped.

Bruce

Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the implication that the incident led to his discharge, Bruce? If so, I can see he got his SWB on 27 November 1918, but he'd previously been in France from 5 May 1917 and then he was home from 11 October 1917. It might narrow it down a bit. Of course, he had had a previous stint in France (from 20 June 1916 to 4 December 1916), so each is a 5-6 month timespan.

I'd be happy to look up the diaries if they can be narrowed down next time I'm at Kew, but it won't be until late October now.

ETA: I see he had four hospital stays recorded in his papers: (1) influenza in Rouen 16 November 1916 (he seems to have stayed until 30 November and was back in the UK by 4 December, as noted above); (2) illness 7 December 1916; (3) again 7 March 1917, both in Carlisle and then (4) admitted to Woking military hospital on 11 October 1917, so this last one is immediately on his return to the UK from his second stint in France. So far, I like the later date.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also assuming they'd be in the same cemetery - so far, the largest concentration I've found is 25 September 1917 at Tincourt New British (and Epehy Wood Farm on the 24th), but they're all 15th Siege Battery. I've got returns for 924 RGA men who died in the second period in France: haven't even looked at the first one!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I couldn't get CWGC to work for this,

Am I right in thinking 156 HB was the London Heavy Brigade for SDGW purposes? The casualty I found for 168 SB didn't have a unit specified on SDGW which snookered me.

Is Geoff's engine still around? I'm sure the forum can solve this!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good grief!

I knew I could rely on you guys!

I also wondered about Woking in October 1917. Since he was an OR, home leave within six months struck me as a bit soon. He also stayed in the UK for quite some time thereafter.

I also wondered if that could be just leave. If a German shell killed all the rest of his heavy gun crew, surely he was likely to have been wounded to some extent as well?

So maybe October 1917 is the key.

I tried geoff's engine too, but I am not sure it is working currently.

Thanks for the help so far.

This is so much more fun than CSI!

Bruce

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would have thought he stood a good chance of being wounded in such an incident too, but there are stories of men dying horribly while someone nearby survived unscathed and the odd thing is I can't see any mention of wounds in his records, although they seem pretty comprehensive. I've shut my computer down for the night, but I thought his SWB was under the sickness para of KR, rather than the wounds one? I agree it's an odd pattern of service for an OR.

Haven't been able to find any deaths on CWGC for the HB or SB given above, but there are certainly concentrations that are interesting.

I agree with IPT that it must be crackable!

Link to post
Share on other sites

158th Heavy Battery doesn't appear to have any "clusters" of deaths that could equate to an entire gun team (say 6 men) being killed in a short period.

Additionally it was his earlier unit, but he could have been wounded or shell shocked and the incipient signs started from that.

Assuming that the story is completely accurate in that an entire team was killed, 168 Siege Battery had the following losses:-

MORGAN D 78176 168TH SIEGE BTY 31/12/1916 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

STEVENS HH 60095 168TH SIEGE BTY 08/06/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

DIXON EE - 168TH SIEGE BTY 09/06/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

DUNKLEY GE 94460 168TH SIEGE BTY 10/06/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

PALMER W 78293 168TH SIEGE BTY 17/06/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

RICE S 321686 168TH SIEGE BTY 17/06/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

ADAMS A 86878 168TH SIEGE BTY 01/07/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

BROCK JE 142192 168TH SIEGE BTY 01/07/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

DANIELL JAH 322398 168TH SIEGE BTY 01/07/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

HANNAFORD WEJ 99216 168TH SIEGE BTY 01/07/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

SPILLER F 110444 168TH SIEGE BTY 01/07/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

REED ES 128410 168TH SIEGE BTY 01/07/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

SCRIVEN EJ 43324 168TH SIEGE BTY 01/07/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

BARTLETT G 87580 168TH SIEGE BTY 05/07/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

COLES LW 102340 168TH SIEGE BTY 26/07/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

CLIFFORD FG 87052 168TH SIEGE BTY 30/07/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

SMITH JR 60947 168TH SIEGE BTY 08/09/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

BOURN BJ 102253 168TH SIEGE BTY 31/10/1917 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

EDWARDS M 78386 168TH SIEGE BTY 26/02/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

KNIGHT AW 154650 168TH SIEGE BTY 21/03/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

CROSS JH 138595 168TH SIEGE BTY 24/03/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

COWEN RW 175405 168TH SIEGE BTY 25/03/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

HYDE J 78258 168TH SIEGE BTY 18/09/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

COFFIN AE 135140 168TH SIEGE BTY 24/09/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

SIMPSON AW 348687 168TH SIEGE BTY 29/09/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

WALMSLEY RA 124382 168TH SIEGE BTY 29/09/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

WHITTALL HH 78260 168TH SIEGE BTY 14/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

HUGHES OH 136866 168TH SIEGE BTY 15/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

ROUTLEDGE JH 48600 168TH SIEGE BTY 16/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

BROWN A 82027 168TH SIEGE BTY 16/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

WHITE G 87553 168TH SIEGE BTY 17/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

JAMESON W 146239 168TH SIEGE BTY 18/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

PRISK S 153089 168TH SIEGE BTY 19/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

MCGETRICK J 284995 168TH SIEGE BTY 21/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

KYBERT HF 67583 168TH SIEGE BTY 22/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

CROSSLEY JE 115137 168TH SIEGE BTY 29/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

ADAMS H 29836 168TH SIEGE BTY 10/11/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

HERBERT J 167907 168TH SIEGE BTY 10/11/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

PARNELL CR 86885 168TH SIEGE BTY 14/12/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

from which it can be seen that 7 men were killed on 1st July 1917, which is during his second stint in France (20 June to 4 Dec 1016 and 5th May to 10th October 1917)

I don't know enough about how many men per gun for 168 Siege Battery, but would guess at an even number, so that might be when Edgars team were wiped out.

There were 4 men dying in September but not in a cluster, although obviously could have died of wounds over several days.

The October cluster seems to be after he left France, therefore 1st July is the likeliest date given the salient points of the story.

That still leaves him from early July to mid October before being sent Home, but wounds or shock might explain that, maybe he simply couldn't face the firing line again, the noise or memories being too much for him.

I believe the current terminology might be "survivor guilt" .....

Don't know if War Diary might have more clarity than my guesses

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! That must be a record, ONE minute to confirm date!!

IF we accept that date, the burials give a sort of pattern:-

Name: DANIELL, J A H. Rank: Serjeant

Service No: 322398. Date of Death: 01/07/1917.

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery. 168th Siege Bty.

Grave Reference: III. D. 1. Cemetery: VLAMERTINGHE NEW MILITARY CEMETERY

Additional Information: Son of J. I. and S. B. Daniell; husband of Emily Hilda Daniell, of 76, Christchurch Rd., London, S.W.2. Native of Bristol.

Name: ADAMS, ALEXANDER. Rank: Gunner

Service No: 86878. Date of Death: 01/07/1917. Age: 33

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery. 168th Siege Bty.

Grave Reference: III. D. 2. Cemetery: VLAMERTINGHE NEW MILITARY CEMETERY

Additional Information: Son of Edward Adams; husband of Emily Adams, of 5, Russell St., Arbroath. Native of Dundee.

Name: BROCK, JOHN ERNEST. Rank: Gunner

Service No: 142192. Date of Death: 01/07/1917. Age: 28

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery. 168th Siege Bty.

Grave Reference: III. D. 3. Cemetery: VLAMERTINGHE NEW MILITARY CEMETERY

Additional Information: Son of Arthur and Elizabeth Brock; husband of Edith J. Brock, of 140, Miskin St., Cathays, Cardiff. Native of Cardiff.

Name: SPILLER, FRED. Rank: Gunner

Service No: 110444. Date of Death: 01/07/1917. Age: 36

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery. 168th Siege Bty.

Grave Reference: IV. E. 8. Cemetery: VLAMERTINGHE NEW MILITARY CEMETERY

Additional Information: Son of Robert and Martha Spiller, of Rose Cottage, Chickerell, Weymouth, Dorset.

Historical Information: For much of the First World War, Vlamertinghe (now Vlamertinge) was just outside the normal range of German shell fire and the village was used both by artillery units and field ambulances. Burials were made in the original Military Cemetery until June 1917, when the New Military Cemetery was begun in anticipation of the Allied offensive launched on this part of the front in July. Although the cemetery continued in use until October 1918, most of the burials are from July to December 1917.

Name: REED, ERNEST SAMUEL. Rank: Gunner

Service No: 128410. Date of Death: 01/07/1917. Age: 34

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery. 168th Siege Bty.

Grave Reference: XIV. C. 19A. Cemetery: LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY

Additional Information: Son of Alfred and Ellen Reed, of Church Street, Braunton, Devon.

Name: SCRIVEN, E J. Rank: Gunner

Service No: 43324. Date of Death: 01/07/1917. Age: 26

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery. 168th Siege Bty.

Grave Reference: XIV. C. 20A. Cemetery: LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY

Additional Information: Son of W. Scriven; husband of E. Scriven, of 6, Exwick Hill, Exeter. Born Chard, Somerset.

Name: HANNAFORD, W E J. Rank: Gunner

Service No: 99216. Date of Death: 01/07/1917

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery. 168th Siege Bty.

Grave Reference: XV. C. 1. Cemetery: LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY

Historical Information: During the First World War, the village of Lijssenthoek was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields. Close to the Front, but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations. The cemetery was first used by the French 15th Hopital D'Evacuation and in June 1915, it began to be used by casualty clearing stations of the Commonwealth forces.

Daniells, Adams and Brock are in adjacent graves, but Spiller is in a later plot at Vlamertinghe. That might mean the three died together, or certainly were together when interred, but Spillers body did not arrive at the same time. Perhaps delay in recovering him, or being treated at the Battery for his mortal wounds.

Reed and Scriven are in adjacent graves at Lijssingenthoek, which indicates they may have died close together at a CCS. Hannaford is a later burial, perhaps dying somewhat later in the day than the others.....

All pure speculation, I'm afraid, but somewhat plausible...?

Link to post
Share on other sites
kevinrowlinson

It is interesting that he was "confirmed in rank, Sgt" on 1st July 1917. Without written confirmation it would be impossible to say if that was the incident being referred to, but it is the most likely.

Kevin

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a little mystified here.

My guy was 156th RGA. So why all the interest in the 168th? Did I miss a renumbering?

If, however, I have done, then the above would seem quite a good fit.

This will gobsmack my mate!

Many thanks, guys

Bruce

Link to post
Share on other sites

Err..... His Service Record shows one stint at 156th then another at 168th

Doh! My typo

158th Heavy Battery doesn't appear to have any "clusters" of deaths that could equate to an entire gun team (say 6 men) being killed in a short period.

Additionally it was his earlier unit, but he could have been wounded or shell shocked and the incipient signs started from that.

should read 156th, NOT 158th...

Only excuse is lateness of the hour and post Opening Ceremony euphoria!

and Geoff's is still useful, CWGC didn't want to find any RGA Battery numbers.....

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bruce,

He was 168th SB as of 12/6/1917, confirmed Sgt 1/07/1917. Home again 11/10/1917 admitted to hospital. Home until discharged 27/11/1918.

I'm with Verrico in thinking that, if the anecdote is true, then this is the likeliest period.

I'm reaching way beyond my knowledge here, but looking at Kevin's casualties on 1/7/1917 if you take them as a gun crew (as per family lore), could Hector have been acting in the bombardier role but was confirmed as Sergeant 1/7/1917 due to the death of Sgt Daniell?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I missed the reference to 168th and his promotion too, but like Kevin couldn't get CWGC to acknowledge any battery numbers and had given up wading through them all individually: good job Geoff's is still functioning and I knew we could rely on Kevin and others to have a go at it!

It does seem a while between 1 July and his departure in October, but it's quite possible that if he escaped physically unscathed shock and perhaps relief at surviving such carnage (and the culture of the day and probable lack of acknowledgement of any psychological damage) propelled him on into a semblance of normal life until his eventual hospitalisation and subsequent discharge.

While memories fade (or are slightly skewed in stressful events) and he may well have remembered it as everyone being killed on the spot when it's very likely some were killed outright while others were mortally wounded, in short I don't disbelieve the essence of the incident as he recounted it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

All I can say is a huge thank you!

This will all blow my friend's socks off!

Thanks to you all. Now, I have an excuse to go to Vlamertinghe and Lijssenthoek to get him some headstone photos.

Bruce

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, this seems to be the only occasion when a large number of gunners were killed.

Looking through various depictions of siege guns used, (6, 8 or 9.2 inch) all the shells seem to be more than easily carried by one man, and the establishment of a Siege Battery seems to run to some 200 men for 4 guns....

However that doesn't seem likely to have say 50 men scurrying around one gun!

I'd assume that once in position the Tractor or horse drivers and riders/drivers would be employed in re supply, bringing fresh ammunition from rear area dumps into nearby stores, a certain amount stacked for "ready" use and more out of immediate harms way in nearby shelters. Whether there is a warhead and separate charge I don't know, certainly that was the case for the Navy's big guns, but that would double the storage and handling needs.

At the "sharp" end firing the guns would presumably be a Sergeant in charge, a Bombardier as second in command and enough men to aim, traverse, fire and reload, so presumably that would need say 8, 4 men to bring fresh ammunition and take away any casings..... For 8 to be hit simultaneously would either need a direct hit when all the men were loading or perhaps a gas attack on the position.

Obviously this is only guesswork as the War Diary doesn't seem to be available.

Perhaps a Siege Battery expert might shed some light on how 7 RGA men could be killed at one time?

For what it's worth, the Siege Batteries lost a total of 35 men between them on 1st July, 280th (5 men); 262nd (8 men) and 270th (7 men) sustaining multiple casualties, accounting for 27 out of the 35 casualties. Something clearly happening with accurate German counter battery fire?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

WHITE G 87553 168TH SIEGE BTY 17/10/1918 ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

Can anyone tell me where the 168th Siege Battery were located in October 1918? The War Diary stops in January

Andrewr

Link to post
Share on other sites

Andrew,

168 were positioned at Escaufourt in support of operations by the IInd American Corps, coordinates P36d.90.60 sheet 57B. I note George DoW from effects of gas, most likely sustained on the 14th when 68 was subject to severe HE & gas shelling that resulted in casualties of some 4 Officers and 52 OR’s. The depletion of their ranks was so severe that gunners from 494 SB were temporarily attached to ensure it was still a fighting force.

Rgds

Paul

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 years later...
Guest Hectors house

Hi all, a few days ago I was leant Edgar Hectors diary which has the following entry. Sunday 1st July 1917- The most awful thing I have witnessed since being on active service. Was only half an hour ago it happened-12.15pm. Gunner Scriven badly wounded and gunner Underhill both legs off. I dragged these 2 men under cover. Sent Daniels was also badly wounded and died later. Half a minute later and I would have been hit. Daniels died within half an hour. Also 3or4 other men. When I rushed for a stretcher I practically collapsed. Shall never forget the sight. The men were cut in shreds. Thank god for my miraculous escape. May God grant peace and rest to the dead, comfort their friends and relations. Specially restore the wounded and comfort their people. The bravery of Gnrs Jones and Gillings was magnificent. Gnr Scrivens, though badly wounded insisted on another man- Gnr Underhill being helped and carried away before himself. My nerves were badly shaken.     Monday 2nd July.   Felt better this morning but Fritzwas very revengeful. Shifting from the laundry to old houses on the rd. Funeral party to bury the men killed yesterday.    Hector was diagnosed with neurasthenia on Sept 14th. I hope this has answered a few questions, cheers, Phil.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...