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I have an account of a soldier's first day in France that includes


Pauline1956
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Hi this is my first post so apologies if this is in the wrong forum. I was lucky enough to purchase an album a few years ago that had been compiled by a soldier or group of soldiers from the Great War. It is full of watercolours, photographs, sketches, written notes and post cards. It seems to be an account of the first day in France November 18th 1915 (I think it says the 18th but could be the 15th) and its an account of the journey across France, the different places stayed at with sketches or watercolours of these places, sketches also include white city, dugouts, Beaumont Hamel with notes or descriptions. It is a very interesting album that must have taken ages to compile. There is a sketch of Beaumont Hamel showing the mine crater, trenches, a list of signallers lead by George jerard wilkinson who went up the hounslow st trench. Looking again I have spotted in hand writing that this was a plan of the British trenches. The last watercolour is dated 28.7.16 and I think it says warmhounds or wormhounds.

There is a list of soldiers plus two photographs of possibly two platoons, one definately of the 16th Middlesex There is a typed account of second lieutenant j v Ticehurst regarding being awarded the military cross and how he earned it, there is also a photograph of him taken in 1914' written at the bottom is his nickname Tizzie. There is a lovely three page hand written description of company station dug in chalk with description of how rats ran across dislodging loose bits of chalk and how these pieces of chalk used to fall on the sleepers heads below. There is a list of names so if I can help anyone with information is would be happy to take a look.

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Hi Pauline

You obviously have a real gem on your hands, Welcome to the forum. If you break the info. down into individual posts I think you will be amazed at the interest it will generate.

Regards Barry

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Hello Pauline and welcome to the forum. What a wonderful find and I can't deny I am envious of it. I agree with Barry about breaking down your information into individual posts but suspect you will find there will be a lot of interest in your post before contemplating this. From what you describe there is much information in this album and it would be wonderful if you could give us a glimpse of a watercolour or sketch. Well done for finding such an item.

Regards, Anne

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Pauline, very interesting collection you have picked up, most envious.

JV Ticehurst was John Venebles Ticehurst, Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment who was awarded his MC for maintaining wiring to advance units during fighting on the 26th Sept 1918 at Gouzeaucourt.

The other material tantalisingly suggests the 16th Middlesex, who were tasked with storming Hawthorn Redoubt on the 1st July 1916 as Sgt George Jerard Wilkinson, 16th Bn Middlesex Rgt was killed there that day.

I'm sure I'm not the only one here on the forum who would love to see the contents of the album.

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Hi Chester837.

I thought it was a unit of the Royal Fusiliers who attempted, but failed in the rush to secure the crater of Hawthorn Ridge on the 1st of July, correct me if I am wrong.

Regards Andy.

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Andy,

You're not wrong, I just phrased my post badly. You are quite correct, 2 platoons from the Royal Fusiliers were tasked with taking the crater but I think that the 16th Middlesex were the Bn covering the actual Hawthorn Redoubt attack. In Malins film, it's the Middlesex lads that are seen advancing along the slope to the south of the New Beaumont Road and along with the fusiliers, there are 42 men of the Middlesex Regt buried in Hawthorn Ridge No1 who lost their lives on the 1st July.

Cheers

Chester

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Pauline, very interesting collection you have picked up, most envious.

JV Ticehurst was John Venebles Ticehurst, Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment who was awarded his MC for maintaining wiring to advance units during fighting on the 26th Sept 1918 at Gouzeaucourt.

The other material tantalisingly suggests the 16th Middlesex, who were tasked with storming Hawthorn Redoubt on the 1st July 1916 as Sgt George Jerard Wilkinson, 16th Bn Middlesex Rgt was killed there that day.

I'm sure I'm not the only one here on the forum who would love to see the contents of the album.

Hi rather than trying to upload photographs I have done this on photobucket with a little description below each picture, some of these pictures have a more detailed description and there are more postcards of the same places so I haven't included these. An example of a description - I have copied from the album, this is typed but there are little bits of writing where there needs a better explanation the notes are by N Russell - Shows some of the headquarters staff at the White City. This was the first sector of the Southern trenches which we occupied after our move from quiestede on April 24th. We were in these trenches ten days, then in tents in Archeux Wood.then trenches ten days again, then Lonvencourt, then just right of "The White City" in the deep dug-outs, specially made for July 1st, and it was a few hundred yards on the right (i.e. South) of it that we "went over" on the morning of July 1st. The Headquarters at the "White City" (which is just in front of Auchonvillers to somewhere near Beaumont Hamel) formed a long terrace. There were about 15 of these dug-outs, and then the line was prolonged by shanties and huts of tin, and sandbags. The ridge from which they were excavated, protected them well and one was able to walk outside for a good distance back from the path outside them. Though when heavy firing (especially shrapnel) was in progress, it was well to keep close to the doorways & the height of the outer lintel beam would be about 6ft. The whole thing with the heaps of white chalk everywhere, was most dazzling in bright sunlight - hence the name. These were very elaborate (french) dugouts. The building material shown on the sketch is sandbags inside (as seen in sketch no2). The walls were regularly built with lumps of chalk and logs with bark left on. In this (no 1 sketch), you will notice various old buckets, with holes knocked in them, used as braziers - and a reel of heavy cable, a shutter on a pole, and a wooden box-case for a signalling lamp. these were for sending messages back to the batteries nead Auchonvillers. The centre dugout was Signallers headquarters. There is also a handwritten note about Mailly-Maillets sectors, (I have copied a small section of this for you to read) (called Mayly - mallets in the army) The white city sector is the first we occupied on the Somme.

here is the link to photobucket so that you can look at my photos of this album http://s1200.photobucket.com/user/pennylanecollectables/library/The%20Great%20War

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What a find! Not looked at all of the photos yet but what I have seen are most interesting.

Roger

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Hi rather than trying to upload photographs I have done this on photobucket with a little description below each picture, some of these pictures have a more detailed description and there are more postcards of the same places so I haven't included these. An example of a description - I have copied from the album, this is typed but there are little bits of writing where there needs a better explanation the notes are by N Russell - Shows some of the headquarters staff at the White City. This was the first sector of the Southern trenches which we occupied after our move from quiestede on April 24th. We were in these trenches ten days, then in tents in Archeux Wood.then trenches ten days again, then Lonvencourt, then just right of "The White City" in the deep dug-outs, specially made for July 1st, and it was a few hundred yards on the right (i.e. South) of it that we "went over" on the morning of July 1st. The Headquarters at the "White City" (which is just in front of Auchonvillers to somewhere near Beaumont Hamel) formed a long terrace. There were about 15 of these dug-outs, and then the line was prolonged by shanties and huts of tin, and sandbags. The ridge from which they were excavated, protected them well and one was able to walk outside for a good distance back from the path outside them. Though when heavy firing (especially shrapnel) was in progress, it was well to keep close to the doorways & the height of the outer lintel beam would be about 6ft. The whole thing with the heaps of white chalk everywhere, was most dazzling in bright sunlight - hence the name. These were very elaborate (french) dugouts. The building material shown on the sketch is sandbags inside (as seen in sketch no2). The walls were regularly built with lumps of chalk and logs with bark left on. In this (no 1 sketch), you will notice various old buckets, with holes knocked in them, used as braziers - and a reel of heavy cable, a shutter on a pole, and a wooden box-case for a signalling lamp. these were for sending messages back to the batteries nead Auchonvillers. The centre dugout was Signallers headquarters. There is also a handwritten note about Mailly-Maillets sectors, (I have copied a small section of this for you to read) (called Mayly - mallets in the army) The white city sector is the first we occupied on the Somme.

here is the link to photobucket so that you can look at my photos of this album http://s1200.photobucket.com/user/pennylanecollectables/library/The%20Great%20War

In reply to Chester837 post here is the information I have on John Venebles Ticehurst that has been typed up in the album.

"Gallant Officers. Stories of deeds in the field. The King has been pleased to approve the M.C. to the following officers and Wattant officers, in recognition of their gallantry and devotion to duty in the field. Second Lieutenant J.V.Ticehurst 4th Battalion R.W. Kent, regiment T.F. attd, 1st battalion. For conspicous gallantry and devotion to duty as Signalling Officer, during operations near Gouzeaucourt, on September 2nd 1918. No amount of shelling and machine-gun fire stopped him, and he personally laid, and kept in repair, two wires to advanced companies, which were cut almost as soon as they were laid. The following night, although twice buried by shells bursting close to him, he continued patrolling his wire and keeping communication open".. This note is titled The Military Cross War Office, February 1st 1919.

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Hi rather than trying to upload photographs I have done this on photobucket with a little description below each picture, some of these pictures have a more detailed description and there are more postcards of the same places so I haven't included these. An example of a description - I have copied from the album, this is typed but there are little bits of writing where there needs a better explanation the notes are by N Russell - Shows some of the headquarters staff at the White City. This was the first sector of the Southern trenches which we occupied after our move from quiestede on April 24th. We were in these trenches ten days, then in tents in Archeux Wood.then trenches ten days again, then Lonvencourt, then just right of "The White City" in the deep dug-outs, specially made for July 1st, and it was a few hundred yards on the right (i.e. South) of it that we "went over" on the morning of July 1st. The Headquarters at the "White City" (which is just in front of Auchonvillers to somewhere near Beaumont Hamel) formed a long terrace. There were about 15 of these dug-outs, and then the line was prolonged by shanties and huts of tin, and sandbags. The ridge from which they were excavated, protected them well and one was able to walk outside for a good distance back from the path outside them. Though when heavy firing (especially shrapnel) was in progress, it was well to keep close to the doorways & the height of the outer lintel beam would be about 6ft. The whole thing with the heaps of white chalk everywhere, was most dazzling in bright sunlight - hence the name. These were very elaborate (french) dugouts. The building material shown on the sketch is sandbags inside (as seen in sketch no2). The walls were regularly built with lumps of chalk and logs with bark left on. In this (no 1 sketch), you will notice various old buckets, with holes knocked in them, used as braziers - and a reel of heavy cable, a shutter on a pole, and a wooden box-case for a signalling lamp. these were for sending messages back to the batteries nead Auchonvillers. The centre dugout was Signallers headquarters. There is also a handwritten note about Mailly-Maillets sectors, (I have copied a small section of this for you to read) (called Mayly - mallets in the army) The white city sector is the first we occupied on the Somme.

here is the link to photobucket so that you can look at my photos of this album http://s1200.photobucket.com/user/pennylanecollectables/library/The%20Great%20War

In reply to Chester837 post here is the information I have on John Venebles Ticehurst that has been typed up in the album.

"Gallant Officers. Stories of deeds in the field. The King has been pleased to approve the M.C. to the following officers and Wattant officers, in recognition of their gallantry and devotion to duty in the field. Second Lieutenant J.V.Ticehurst 4th Battalion R.W. Kent, regiment T.F. attd, 1st battalion. For conspicous gallantry and devotion to duty as Signalling Officer, during operations near Gouzeaucourt, on September 2nd 1918. No amount of shelling and machine-gun fire stopped him, and he personally laid, and kept in repair, two wires to advanced companies, which were cut almost as soon as they were laid. The following night, although twice buried by shells bursting close to him, he continued patrolling his wire and keeping communication open".. This note is titled The Military Cross War Office, February 1st 1919.

It surprising what a little bit of time spent on research and using a magnifying glass can do I have just found out that the photograph of the Pipe Major is Charles Stewart (reg no 1152), looking under the glass I could finally make out the name Charlie. How exciting!!

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Absolutely fantastic!!! Many thanks Pauline for sharing these.

Anne

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  • Admin

Lovely stuff I suggest Wormhoudt and Engebelmer and Beuvry for the place names you are unsure of.

Michelle

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Good to see this work, thank you !

Reminds me of Private Len Smith's Diary published in 2009,entitled "Drawing Fire" (ISBN 978-0-00-731384-6),a mixture of drawings,photographs and stories of his time at the front,beginning with 7th Londons in March 1915 and progressing through to the use of his drawing skills to assist the "higher management" with German front line layouts etc,and later assisting RE with camouflage work.

Do you have enough material to try your luck at publishing this too ?

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Hi Pauline,

That really is a superb collection you have there; thanks ever so much for sharing it with us!

All the best

Steve

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Thanks for posting - great pictures!

Ant

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Andy,

You're not wrong, I just phrased my post badly. You are quite correct, 2 platoons from the Royal Fusiliers were tasked with taking the crater but I think that the 16th Middlesex were the Bn covering the actual Hawthorn Redoubt attack. In Malins film, it's the Middlesex lads that are seen advancing along the slope to the south of the New Beaumont Road and along with the fusiliers, there are 42 men of the Middlesex Regt buried in Hawthorn Ridge No1 who lost their lives on the 1st July.

Cheers

Chester

Hi this is a quote from one of the notes about Beaumont Hamel and the 16th Middlesex and is additional information to the postcard "Crawling to the german trenches under fire" "The view was taken from Jacobs Ladder just to the left of our section and looks over the front rrenches from which we attacked". Colonel Hall's party went over from the Heston Street Trench, the Signallers led by GJW went up Hounslow St trench, Adjutents party went over from Hawthorn Street with the Hawthorn Redoubt just in from of them. Hope this is of some help. Regards Pauline

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  • 3 months later...
Guest WarComposers

This scrapbook is a very interesting find, thank you for posting it. I found this post through the mention of Sgt George Jerrard Wilkinson. I don't know if you were aware, but he was a composer and folk dancer who was a friend of Cecil Sharp and George Butterworth. He was quite heavily involved in the early days of a campaign to keep English morris dancing alive, and a number of songs by him were published around 1916 (one would assume posthumously).

The pencil sketch of Sgt Wilkinson in your postings from that scrapbook must be unique. There doesn't seem to be a huge amount written about him, but I'm compiling a brief biography of what I have been able to find about George Wilkinson for a website I write about WWI composers called "WarComposers.co.uk" and was wondering if I might be given permission to use the picture as his portrait for the front page please?

For comparison with the sketch, there is a picture of Wilkinson c.1912 on the furthest right of the group picture of the morris dancers available here http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/butterworthbio.html, and it's very clearly the same man, but the pencil sketch has a rather haunting quality, doesn't it?

Thanks

Robert

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