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James & Alfred MEREDITH, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.


djanej
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I would be most grateful for some advice regarding 2 cousins of mine. They were brothers from central Birmingham, who served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and were both killed on the Somme in 1916. I have just returned from a visit to trace the various family members buried or named on memorials on the Somme and in Flanders, and found both their names on the Thiepval Memorial. They are also both named in the Birmingham Hall of Memory.


The younger brother, Alfred, was born in 1887. He served with the 1st/6th Battalion, which I understand was a Territorial Battalion, which was sent to France in March 1915. Alfred was killed in action on 18 August 1916, almost certainly at Leizig Redoubt, and his name appears on the Thiepval Monument at 9A. His sister Nora placed an appeal for information about him in September 1916. His Medal Card shows only the British WW1 War Medal and Victory Medal, confirming that Alfred did not reach France until 1916. His Service No. was 241644, which I suspect is a ‘new army’ number. His Medal Card does not reflect that he was ‘K in A‘.


Alfred’s older brother James was born in late 1883. He was a Corporal in the 15th Battalion (k/a the 2nd Birmingham Battalion). His Medal Card shows him entering France on 21 November 1915, which matches the date that 15th Battalion is officially recorded as arriving. James was awarded the War and Victory Medals, and also the 1915 Star. He was killed on 3 September 1916, almost certainly at Falfemont Farm, near Guillemont. His card is annotated ‘K in A’. He is recorded at 9B on the Thiepval Memorial. James’ Service No. is 253, clearly a low number, and presumably a pre-1916 number.


My questions: I suspect from the evidence that James was in the pre-War Territorials but that Alfred was not. I also suspect that Alfred was a ‘replacement’ for those lost previously, in his Territorial Battalion. Can anyone please advise me whether this sounds plausible?


Secondly, might I be able to obtain more information about the circumstances of their deaths from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment archives, and if so, can anyone please advise me as to whom I should contact?


Many thanks.


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James Meredith was an original volunteer to the 2nd B'ham Bn. (15th RWR) and he served in B Company, No.5 Platoon.

Alfred would have had a four figure service number. However because he was missing he was still on the role, so to speak, so his number changed to the six figure 241644 and that was the number accorded to him when officially recorded as KIA in 1917.

The Birmingham Daily Post Casualty list has a Pte A Meredith 5294 (Missing) that was published on 20 September 1916

Terry

Hope that makes sense.

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Hi Terry,

Thank you very much for this. Yes, it makes perfect sense. I hope you don't mind, but I have some new questions resulting from your answers.....

From what you say then, if James was an original volunteer to the 15th Battn, am I correct to say that he joined up in Sept 1914?

Also, does this mean that Alfred WAS in the TA equivalent, and so probably joined up quite early on? But if so, why would he not have gone to France with the Battalion in March 1915?

I am also fascinated as to why Alfred was finally recorded as KIA in 1917, having gone missing in mid 1916. Was there a set time that was left after someone went missing? Or might they have found some evidence - some belongings on an otherwise unidentifiable body? Or did some comrade remember seeing him die? The bureaucracy of this is particularly interesting, given that he has no known grave, and also that his medal card has no reference on it to his being KIA (though I know of another example that does not record the death).

Thank you again for your help,

Jane

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Hello Jane

Yes, James was an original volunteer enlisting in September 1914. The Birmingham Daily Post published daily lists of men wanting to enlist in the Birmingham Battalion (three were raised due to the amount of volunteers) in September. J Meredith is down as living at 59 George Street, Lozells.

Regarding Alfred.

If he was a pre-war territorial, would have more than likely have gone to France on the 22 March 1915.

I think there was a set time from being posted missing to being declared killed in action.

Terry

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Terry,

That is absolutely brilliant. Thank you so much for this info. The new material on James is wonderful - it is so exciting to get something like this, as it puts real flesh on the bones. Re Alfred, it tends to confirm my suspicion that he may have joined 1/6 Battalion as a ‘replacement’ for those lost earlier in the conflict.

Very best wishes

Jane

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Jane

Here is the brothers' entries on the medal rolls. Aa it shows, they only ever served in the same battalions overseas and weren't transferred anywhere. Alfred also appears to be mentioned on the Roll of men who served from The Birmingham Small Arms Ltd company.

Glen

post-32914-0-49399700-1380378605_thumb.j

post-32914-0-62474500-1380378615_thumb.j

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And here is a photo of his platoon. He is one of 8 Lance Corporals (one chevron on his upper sleeves). I can easily see 4 of them sitting 2nd and 3rd in in the first row sitting on chairs. If he isn't one of them, I'm struggling to find the others although there might be one on the left in the same row.


And the list of men in the photo

Glen

PS No luck finding James on simialr rolls yet and I don't have a photo for Alfred either.

post-32914-0-05370300-1380379317_thumb.j

post-32914-0-56452200-1380379358_thumb.j

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I am so grateful to you both, Terry and SPOF, for your help and advice with James and Alfred.

Yes Terry, Charles William was the third brother in the family, younger than James and Alfred. He was a Silversmith, and married before the War (his older brothers were still single). He served in the No. 7 Reserve Veterinary Hospital in Ormskirk from 1917 to 1919. It seems from the information you provided me with from the Bhm Daily Post, that James was living with Charles and his family when he joined up.

It is quite sad, but also perhaps fortunate, that the family of 7 had lost their Mum in 1895 and then their Dad in 1904, when both were still quite young. So Mum and Dad never knew about the loss of their boys. The 5 younger children, all boys, were brought up by their 2 older sisters, and it was Nora, the oldest, who posted the notice asking for any information about Alfred when he first went missing. They come over as a close family. Father had been a Goldsmith and Diamond Setter, and although James became an Insurance Clerk, Alfred was a Jewellery Box maker in 1911 (so lots of evidence of the family being immersed in one of Bhm's major industries!).

It is therefore really interesting that there is evidence of Alfred working for Bhm Small Arms. I strongly suspect that as a craftsman, he almost certainly moved there to work when War broke out, as guns were needed but Jewellery boxes weren't!

The pics are fantastic. I am so grateful for these. It all helps to add weight to the story. Having seen their names on the Memorial earlier this month, amongst all those other Brummie lads, and young boys and men from so many towns and villages, I just feel so strongly that I want to ensure that the family has a strong lasting record of their lives.

Very best wishes

Jane

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