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RFA West Riding Brigade, 5th Battery - clarification needed


Guest fiji25
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Hi,

I am currently doing research into a family member who received the military medal in 1916, just after it was commisioned.

I know the family story is he won it laying lines in no mans land earlier in the war (pos. Loos?) but the original citation for the medal has gone missing and so we don't know for sure what he won it for or where he was serving when he got it.

I know from his service record that I've dug up that he was in the West riding brigade, 5th battery, but I cannot find out the history of this brigade and battery in the great war. Currently my main area of research is: to fin d o u t the divisions he served with and therefore which battles he would have been involved in and when. His Service Record is woefully scant, or at least I'm struggling to interpret it.

Hopefully someone here can help clarify the mess that is WW1 divisions/batterys/companys/battalions and give me some indication of the battle fields my relative may have fought in as part of the West Riding RFA, 5th Battery. If more detail on the battalion is needed there are other squiggly notations on the document, such as -

1/2, "/2nd, 48th/, and 46th under 'Corps' on his service record at various points in his long army carreer (1911 - 1920) which may mean something.

(It also seems in 1916 when in the 46th Corp he joined 'C Bty' (Batterery?) - the only variation from being in the 5th that there is on his record.)

Hopefully someone will be able to help.

Thanks.

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The 5th W. R. Battery was part of the 2nd W Riding Bde, RFA (TF), the first line of this brigade served as 246th (W. R.) Brigade, RFA (TF) in the 49th (West Riding) Division and as he received his MM in 1916 he must have served with that brigade as the second line brigade did not embark for France with the 62nd (West Riding) Division until 23 December 1916. If this is the case his post-1916 regimental number should be between 780001 and 785000. What is your man's name?

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Hi,

His record says he landed in France in early/mid 1915. His regimental number is: 781 757 and his name is Claude Lee. As I understood things the MM was only created in 1916 and I have recently found a newspaper clipping (date and newspaper unknown, probably halifax somewhere) that says he got it 'laying lines in no mans land in loos'.

Having spent this evening reading up and trying to decipher I thought he might have been in the 8th Division as it seems the 5th Batt (XLV brigade) was part of that. Is this likely?

Thanks for your help... hope you can help more.


Oh yes and he earned the 1914/1915 Star and British Medal so he must have fought in France before 1916...

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as Dick Flory noted 5th West Riding Bty is a territorial unit in 2nd West Riding Brigade [4th, 5th and 6th West Riding Batteries], prewar based in Halifax ....and later renamed 246th Brigade which served in 49th Division [and with no connection to 5th Battery of the regular RFA in 45th Brigade/XLVth brigade RFA]. His service number fits - previously he will have had another shorter number, which should appear on his medal card. if his card says he arrived in France 1915, that would indeed be correct as 49th Div arrived in France mid April 1915.

http://www.1914-1918.net/49div.htm

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857 Cpl Claude Lee received the MM in the London Gazette of 3 June 1916 - no citation was published.

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If you move backwards from his indexed page (66986) on Ancestry you will find a letter he wrote asking about his MM. He signs off with "late 781757, C/246 Bde", so he was in "C" battery. If you keep going backwards you will also see he received a "Mentioned in Despatches" certificate (plus name in London Gazette, January 1, 1916). There is also a re-engagement form signed in November 1915, when a Bombardier, as he would otherwise have been discharged in March 1916 having served 4 years with 1 year added at the start of the war.

It is worth pointing out that although he remained with the same battery it had different designations. 5th West Riding Bty in the 2nd West Riding Brigade would have become "B" Battery in 246th Brigade RFA but was moved to 248th Brigade also as "B" Battery (Service Record says on May 17, 1916). Then on October 18, 1916, "B" Battery in 248th Brigade RFA rejoined 246th Brigade RFA as "C" Battery. As the 2 is cut off from the statement of services page, all you see is 46th and 48th.

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Hello fiji25

Coincidentally I have just replied to a PM from another Pal about 246 Brigade so I can kill two birds with one stone! Here is a note of what I extracted from Becke's Order of Battle of Divisions Part 2A:

On 20 Oct 1915 the batteries were re-armed with four 18-pounders each. D Bty (18-pdrs) was formed on 16 April 1916, and on 1 May 1916 the brigade was numbered 246. 5/WR Bty was transferred to 248 (as B/248) and 4/WR Bty became A, 6/WR Bty became B and D became C. 10/WR (How) Bty joined from 248 and became D(H)/246, having been re-armed with 4.5” howitzers during Jan 1916.

The brigade was reorganized on 18 Oct 1916. C was broken up to make A and B up to six guns each, B/249 (ex 5/WR) rejoined and became C, and it was made up to six guns by Left Sec of C/248. On 8 Jan 1917 D(H) was made up to six guns from Left Sec of B(H)/247 (ex new 518(H) Bty).

Ron

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Fiji25

The pal that Ron helped was me! I have the war diaries of 2nd West Riding Brigade RFA (later 246th Brigade) from 1915 to 1916 but they don't contain the great details that Ron was able to supply! 2nd WR Brigade initially comprised 3 Batteries, 4th, 5th and 6th. My Grandfather served with 6th Battery. The Brigade was actually based at Bradford rather than Halifax.

According to the war diary the 5th Battery entrained for France at Bawtry on the evening of 13th April 1915 embarking at Southampton at 7pm on 14th April and disembarking at Le Havre on the 15th April. The Battery then entrained at 15.45 hrs to make their way to Guarbecque where they billeted for a while. The Battery first came into action on the night of the 22/23 April near Estaires.

If I can be of further help please let me know.

Roger

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Juts to clarify, the 5th WR Battery was based at Halifax - not the brigade [which was indeed based at Valley Parade, Bradford}. On the basis of the July 1914 Army List. At that time the 1st Brigade was 1st-2nd-3rd batteries + 1st WR AC, and 2nd Brigade was 4th [bradford] -5th [Halifax] -6th Batteries [Heckmondwicke] + 2nd WR Ammunition Column [bradford]. 5th battery was commanded by Major Edward Nathan Whitley in Aug 1914; by Jan 1915 the Army List says [same 4th-5th-6th Batteries in 2nd WR Brigade] 5th Bty [Halifax] had a Captain W H Thornton, 2Lt Ackroyd and 2Lt Jackson; Whitley now commanding the Brigade. By May 1915, Captain W H Thornton , Lt Crossley and Lt Whitworth, 2Lts Walker, Harris, Walker, Butler,

Edward Whitley's signature is on Claudes attestation papers in 1911.

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Battiscombe

Indeed you are absolutely correct about Halifax and Bradford. Apologies, but I misread your post

Roger

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