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Remembered Today:

A Royal Irish Fusiliers POW March,1918


Terry

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I noted on ebay a trio named to 14466 Pte.W.H.Brown,West Yorkshire Regiment. In the description it was stated that he transferred to the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, number 40053; was reported missing 23 March,1918, and died in captivity 5 Sept.,1918.

I know that the great German offensive drove back various BEF divisions starting on 21 March. Can any member provide information on whether the 9th R.I.Fusiliers were hit on that day, and if it took until the 23rd to report casualties, losses,prisoners,etc.?

Cheers,

Terry

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Hi Terry,

Yes, they were, but let me qualify that. Of the three 108th Bde (36th (Ulster) Division) battalions on the morning of 21 March 1918, one was deployed forward, one in support and the third was the 1/R Ir F in divisional reserve at Grand Seraucourt which may be described as in the rear of the Battle Zone. As such they were not 'hit' in the opening assault. The brigade objective was to form a (right) defensive flank and this was under severe attack during the morning. This pressure resulted in 9/R Ir F being released reinforce, but the situation was beyond their aid and the 36th Div was pressed back to the Somme Canal, withdrawing over it - under fire - during the night. Though the bulk of the surviving units did make it across, some were cut off when all the bridges were blown. The resulting retreat was ordered in parts and chaotic in others, continuing day and night until 26/27 March. Record-keeping during this period was extremely difficult and most diaries of the time were written up significantly after the event. Understandably, many casualties were not reported until the end of the month or beyond so it is entirely possible Pte. Brown became a prisoner at any point from the afternoon of 21 March to 23 March. Indeed, he could have been one of the unfortunates who were left behind to the east of the canal. I haven't seen any records relating to his capture or incarceration.

Cheers,

Simon

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Thanks so much for your comments, Simon. I have an interest in Canadian POW medals, and decided that Brown would be a good representative BEF POW group to accompany my CEF material.

Cheers,

Terry

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Can any member provide information on whether the 9th R.I.Fusiliers were hit on that day,

The ref book I have on POW officers only gives one officer POW from 9th R I Fus on

  • 21/3/1918, 2/Lt C J T Perkins,
  • 22 Mar, 2/Lt J H Connor
  • 24 Mar, Capt T Slatter and Capt M Henehan
  • 26 Mar 2/Lt E H Gilmer
  • 27 Mar 7 officers

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  • 2 weeks later...

Terry

The Red Cross Enquiry List of Dec 1st 1918 records 40053 W H Brown as being with D Coy and posted missing between 21st - 29th March 1918.

Chris

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