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War Diary: 8th Rifle Brigade; Post-May 1918; Does it Exist?

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Dominion-of-the-North

Greetings:

Currently researching a chappie from Ceylon who served in the 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade (S-8641 PTE V. MODDER) who's Military Medal was Gazetted on 6 Aug 1918.

Since Modder was with the battalion from the start (ie., May 1915) I was interested in reading the War Diary for the duration of the war As a result, I downloaded, from Kew, WO 95/1895 -- but was disappointed in realising that the diary for the 8th Bn Rifle Bde ends with July 1918!

I can't find any other reference to the 8th amongst the War Diaries at Kew. Does anyone more experienced with such matters know why this is the case? Have they been lost? Am I simply missing something? Was the 8th merged into another battalion? (I didn't see any reference to such an amalgamation -- but the last few entries do, in fact, refer to a route march out of the trenches and some "Paris leave" for the NCOs.)

Any suggestions or other assistance greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Glen,

In Our Dominion of the North

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Dominion-of-the-North

8th Bn Rifle Bde:

27 April 1918 : reduced to cadre strength.

16 June 1918 : left the Division. Cadre disbanded at Desvres on 3 August 1918.

Much obliged. Thank you.

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stiletto_33853

Glen,

Your mans medal roll has no other entry but the 8th RB and went to class z on 4/2/19.

If you look at 7th May 1918 entry in the war diary you will find his M.M. mentioned in the diary, mentioning that the awards listed were for operations on the 21st March 1918 to April 4th 1918.

Composite battalion that quite a few of the 8th went into maybe???

Andy

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Dominion-of-the-North

Thanks very much, Andy. You've save me a lot of time!

Now all I need do is figure out what he did between the time of the 8th battalion's disembodiment and his demobilisation.

Cheers,

And thank you, most sincerely, once again.

Glen

In Our Dominion of the North

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stiletto_33853

Not a problem Glen, will see if there is anything else I can dig up for you, name is familiar for some reason.

Is your interest just in men from Ceylon?? as there were two officers with the 8th RB with Ceylon connections. YOUNG, Sir Manc Aitchison who served in the Ceylon Civil Service from 1909 until date unknown and DAYKEYNE, F.R. who was a member of the Comrades of the Great War Ceylon branch.

Andy

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Dominion-of-the-North

Good observation Andy! (And thanks for your interest)

In fact, what was to become a long-term relationship between the Rifle Brigade and the Ceylon Planters' Rifle Corps commenced at the outbreak of the Great War. I'm still trying to nail down all the particulars, but it seems to have begun as a result of the efforts of one of the Great-and-the-Good of Ceylon's colonial society at the time: William Biddulph, whom I think had previous service in the Rifle Brigade. Below are a few articles from the Ceylon papers, during the first few weeks of the War, shedding some light on how this connection between Ceylon and the 8th Rifle Brigade came to exist.

Cheers,

Glen,

In Our Dominion of the North

================

Ceylon Observer (Weekly Edition), 13 Aug 1914, p. 1525

THE PROPOSED CEYLON CONTINGENT:

Discussed at Ceylon Association Meeting In London

London, 12 Aug: A special meeting of the Ceylon Association was held at the Rubber Growers Rooms to consider the financial position arising from the war, and in what way Ceylon could render assistance in the present crisis. Mr J. Loudon Shand presided, and the attendance was over 100. Colonel Biddulph spoke to his proposal to raise a force of Ceylon men now in England. He had consulted the Colonial Office, but the War Office was still considering proposals. In the meantime, he had registered 90 names already. On the proposition of Mr G.A. Talbot, seconded by Mr Arthur Lampard, a resolution was passed, without dissent, recommending all proprietors and directors of companies to allow enlisters half-pay for six months, and to allow them to return to their employment. If the war lasts over six months, the question will be reconsidered. After a long discussion, it was decided to leave developments of the financial position of Ceylon in the hands of the Association’s committee.

Ceylon Observer (Weekly Edition), 24 Sept 1914, p.1709

London Letter 18 August

.......

Lt-Col Biddulph and his assistants are still putting in a very busy time at the Ceylon Association rooms with their arrangements for raising a Home Contingent of Ceylon Volunteers. About 150 men are now being corresponded with, and interviewed at the rooms, and probably 50% of these will fulfill the conditions which may be laid down by the War Office. Colonel Biddulph, who communicated again with the Colonial Office yesterday, has not yet learned what precisely these conditions will be. The Imperial Light Horse and other similar bodies are not at the present moment receiving recognition from the authorities, but the proposed Ceylon Contingent is put forward as a regular government offer, and it is therefore on a different footing. Mr Sinclair’s telegram, to which reference was made last week, has given great satisfaction, Lt-Colonel Biddulph tells me.

Ceylon Observer (Weekly Editon), 4 Sept 1914, p.1618

CEYLON HOME CONTINGENT REFUSED BY HOME OFFICE;

BUT COMMISSIONS PROMISED

London, 27 Aug -- The War Office has refused the Ceylon Home Corps as a unit. It promises LCol Biddulph a certain number of commissions. These are expected to be assigned shortly.

THIRTY COMMISSIONS TO CEYLON MEN

LCol Bidduplh to be a Major in 8th Rifle Brigade

London 28 Aug -- The War Office is granting 30 Commissions as 2Lts in the New Army, 20 to members of the CPRC and the others to the CMR, all at Home, (UK). LCol Biddulph is given commission as Major in 8th Rifle Brigade.

Ceylon Observer (Weekly Editon), 4 Sept 1914, p.1601

HEADS OF INTELLIGENCE: 27 Aug to 3 Sept 14

Military and Volunteers:

The CPRC “Contingent” company, has been called out for service. The have gone under canvas at Diyatalawa. The War Office is granting 30 commissions as 2Lts in the New Army: 20 to members of CPRC and 10 to the CMR. LCol Biddulph is given a commission as Major in the 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade. Many of the Ceylon men at home, to whom the commissions have been offered in the 8th Btln Rifle Brigade are well known in Ceylon.

Ceylon Observer (Weekly Editon), 15 Sept 1914, p.1680

CEYLON MEN’S ARMY COMMISSIONS: Some Names Ranks and Regiments

London, 9 Sept: Ceylon men have been posted as follows, enlisting in the ordinary way, unless otherwise stated.

8th Battalion Rifle Brigade: Biddulph, Major; 2Lts: E.S.K. Baumgartner; Jesser Davis; W.N. Fraser; W. Cunningham;

.....

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Dominion-of-the-North
... will see if there is anything else I can dig up for you, name is familiar for some reason.

That would be much appreciated. Thank you.

"Modder" is, in fact, a Dutch name. This chappie, Vivian (or Veere) Carl Modder, (but I noticed later in life usually referred to as "V. Carl Modder") is, in fact, a descendant of the original Dutch colonisers of Ceylon (Britain took Ceylon from the Dutch in 1796). Within Ceylon society they were typically referred to as "Dutch Burgers".

I actually find it a bit surprising that Modder remained a Private throughout the four years of the war -- when most others in his position were commissioned. Modder came from an upper-middle class family, graduated from Ceylon's version of Eaton (Royal College), and was a lawyer. In fact, after the war, he was commissioned in the Ceylon Light Infantry, and eventually became a Supreme Court Proctor (a type of lawyer in Ceylon) -- so he couldn't have been a complete dud.

An obvious (potential) answer as to why he remained a private for the duration of the war: a) he had no interest in being promoted; or b ) was deemed unsuitable. But I've learned to be careful with such things, since the obvious answer is often not the actual one! Life is complex and often throws us curves.

Cheers,

Glen,

In Our Dominion of the North

Edited by Dominion-of-the-North

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Dominion-of-the-North

I don't suppose there's anything on this MM index card which could lead me to a citation or more details on the reasons underlying its award?

post-5403-0-78830300-1361730184_thumb.jp

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stiletto_33853

Now that is interesting was aware of the tie in with the ceylon planters and the Rifle Brigade, will dig up what I have on them.

Now Biddulph, there is a good old Rifle Brigade name. The colonel mentioned was Harold Mavromichali, born 26/9/1869, 2nd Lt. 6/2/89, Lieut. 1/12/91, Captain 1/9/96. Bt. Major 29/11/00, Major 10/9/04, Lt.-Col. 16/12/11 retired 1919. 1st RB India 1890-96, 2nd RB Sudan 1896-99, South Africa 1900-02, DAAG Canada 1903-06, 2nd RB India 1906-11.

Commanded 1st RB 1914-15, G.S.O.1 1915-17, Commanding 6th (SR) battalion 1917-1918.

The Biddulph that went into the 8th Rifle Brigade was born 1897, educated at Westminster 1911 to 1914. Inns of Court 8/4/15, 2nd Lt. 5th RB 11/8/15, to the Western Front on 12th July 1916, joined the 8th RB 1/8/16 into A Company and died of wounds on 15/9/16.

Andy

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Dominion-of-the-North

Andy:

Thank you, again.

FYI, here's the entry for Biddulph from the Ceylon Roll of Honour (he's the only Biddulph on the roll). Some of the less common abbreviations:

PA = Planters Association

JP = Justice of the Peace

CPRC = Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps

Cheers,

Glen

post-5403-0-04334300-1361731360_thumb.jp

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stiletto_33853

More Biddulphs, was aware of more of them, thanks for this.

Colonel L.L. Nicol commanded the 8th from its formation until late September 1914 when Nicol was appointed to the command of a brigade in Ireland, Lt.-Col. Ronnie Maclachlan then took over.

Biddulph, W.H. listed as Major(Temp) (Lt.-Col. C.P.R.C.) under Ronnie, dated 4th September 1914.

On 21/8/14

Andy

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stiletto_33853

FRASER, W.N., Joined the 8th RB on 29/1/15 from the 15th Rifle Brigade, gazetted on the same date.

Andy

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stiletto_33853

Glen,

Going through what I have to hand at the moment, there are reports on the Ceylon Planters as an Allied Regiment and some annual reports to the Rifle Brigade on what they are doing. Last one to hand presently is 1930, are these of interest to you, if so I will scan them and send them to you.

Andy

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Dominion-of-the-North

What an exceedingly kind offer. Yes, indeed, I would very much like to read those. I will PM to you my email.

Cheers,

Glen

In Our Dominion of the North

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stiletto_33853

Got it Glen, give me a couple of days to trawl through the material I have as there was more information during WW1, just got to find it among all the material I have.

Andy

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Dominion-of-the-North

No worries... Patience is a virtue!

Cheers

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Dominion-of-the-North

Bit of an update. As I trawled through my own papers, I found the attached list of "Ceylon Men" (as they tended to be referred to in the local press) who were granted commissions by the WO in the late-Summer/Autumn of 1914. These were (almost all) British-born chappies, who although normally resident in Ceylon (almost all of whom were involved in the plantation section), happened to be in the UK when war was declared. Hence, they were usually referred to as Ceylon's "Home Contingent", to distinguish them from the members of the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (the "Ceylon Contingent") who left as a unit for Egypt in late-1914.

Further evidence of the close connection between the Rifle Brigade and the Ceylon Volunteer Force: of the 39 men, 23 (ie., almost 60%) went into the Rifle Brigade; (13 into the 8th Bn; 7 into the 7th Bn; and 3 into the 9th Bn).

Note that these men were all officers and European (British); there were, however, other "non-Europeans" (ie., "native" Ceylonese -- Dutch Burghers, Singhalese, Tamils), who joined-up as enlisted men, such a Modder. Note also that this is only the initial tranche... more joined-up in the following months and years.

Cheers,

Glen,

In Our Dominion of the North

post-5403-0-93555200-1362846298_thumb.jp

Edited by Dominion-of-the-North

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stiletto_33853

Glen,

still digging away at the ceylon connection with the RB for you. Do you want the papers of the men as well?? Some of the men mentioned did not go into the battalions shown. For example Verini was KRRC, 15th Bn, never served overseas as medically unfit, applied to re-enlist to serve in Ireland but was refused. Address given as the Channel Islands.

Andy

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Dominion-of-the-North

Andy:

Thank you, again, for your kind offer.

All I can really say is: my appetite for information about any aspect of Ceylon's military history -- ie., the men (regardless of race: British, Singhalese, Tamil, Burgher, etc.), the units, and the actions in which they participated -- is effectively insatiable.

Hence, anything any kind soul is willing to share I will: a) gratefully gobble up; and b ) happily defray any costs involved in copying or otherwise delivering to me.

Cheers,

Glen,

In Our Dominion of the North

Edited by Dominion-of-the-North

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stiletto_33853

Glen,

Virini's officers papers sent, do you want Victor Randal George Biddulphs papers as well??

Michael Haines (ex RB Officer) used to produce booklets for his exhibitions for the Orders and Medals Research Conventions, in 1991 he produced a booklet concerning affiliate regiments which covered the CPRC and the NZRB.

Andy

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Dominion-of-the-North

Thanks for your kind efforts on my behalf, Andy. Your emails arrived, with the attachments, all in good order. I can assure you they are very much appreciated.

Regarding Michael Haines, as it happens, I acquired one of my first "serious" CPRC medal groups from him (via DNW, in late 2002; see: http://www.dnw.co.uk...so?itemid=32713 ) which came with the booklet produced by Haines.

May I ask: is there a published history of the 8th Rifle Brigade during the Great War? I ask because I've uncovered some intriguing intell on the Military Medal action of Private Vere Modder, 8th Rifle Brigade, and was hoping to find a bit more. (Alas -- unless I missed it -- the War Diary doesn't really go into such details.)

From: A History of Trinity College, Kandy, (Madras: 1922), p. 169

post-5403-0-27585800-1363171806_thumb.jp

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stiletto_33853

Hi Glen,

No there is not a published history of the 8th RB as yet :ph34r: .

Strange, the 14th Division were at Passchendaele in early December 1917 but the diary stipulates that Modders MM was for operations in March/April 1918. Their time in December 1917 was reasonably quiet.

Biddulphs papers on the way to you.

Map is of the 14th Divisions positions at Passchendaele, will check through the Brigade and Division diaries for you.

Andy

post-1871-0-62377700-1363180107_thumb.jp

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Dominion-of-the-North

Once again, Andy, I find myself indebted to you. Thank you.

I, too, was a bit puzzled by the reference to Passchendaele -- but chalked it up to a the fact that the book was published immediately after the war, meaning (perhaps?) the dates for the various actions and campaigns had not yet crystallized in the parlance and understanding of the general public.

I'll probably have to come back to you on the maps -- my analysis of events hasn't quite drilled down that far yet!

Cheers,

Glen

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stiletto_33853

Glen,

 

Old thread and I hope you are still around??

 

I have a Harold Robin Adair, 2nd Lt. 25/1/15, joining the 8th RB in the Field from the 5th 24/9/15. He was previously S/7514 in the Rifle Brigade.

 

Wondered if you had anything on him as his papers made note of the Ceylon Contingent.

 

Andy

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