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DABT

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Edward John Green (7.4.1897 to 27.1.1986): Western Front

I am busy transcribing hundreds of handwritten letters from Edward ‘Ted’ John Green (my wife’s grandfather) to his sweetheart and later wife, Emma Lee. Thus far, they detail some of his life on the Western Front; but due to censorship few locations are mentioned (although the odd place name does slip through or is hinted at).

Ted arrived in France on 15th March 1915. He gave his address as:

Spr. Green EJ, No. 1864, No. 4 Section, 1/2nd London Div. Signal Comp RE

On 23rd April 1916 there is mention that he was, “… specially recommended by the 15th Btn. Col. to the Brig. Gen. …” (and there is, thereafter, mention of General Cuthbert. Indeed, Ted had to spend all night cleaning off the mud off his uniform to appear before him; much to his disgust!

In 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal. This appears to have been for his bravery on 20th October 1917. The medal card details are:

Awarded “The Military Medal”

Surname: Green

Christian Name: E.J.

Rank: Cpl.

Corps: 51st (High) DS Coy, RE (TF)

Regimental Number: 198907

Date of Gazette: 19th November 1917:

Towards the end of 1917 he was promoted to Sergeant Instructor at a School of Signalling. A letter dated 6th November 1917 gives his address as:

Wireless GHQ, 1st Echelon, BEF France

A newspaper report in 1971 states that:

“As a Sergeant in the 51st Highland Division he won the Military Medal at Passchendaele fixing up trench wireless under heavy fire along a whole brigade front”.

In 1973 he wrote to the Reader’s Digest. His letter infers that he was with the 47th London Territorial Division. The letter goes on:

“Very early after landing my signal section was ordered “up the line” to relieve the 4th Guards Brigade Signal Section in the line up the Labasse Canal. In due course we found ourselves at the Hqrs. and immediately three of us were despatched up the trenches to the Hqrs. of the 2nd Coldstream Guards Battn. At a place called “Windy Corner”, aptly named on account of it being under direct observation and continually sniped at by the Germans. These Guardees were old veterans of the Retreat from Mons etc. and took a very dim view of “amateurs”. However, in less than no time I found myself on the Battn. Office end of the line to Brigade. Shortly afterwards there was a tremendous explosion that shook us off our seats. A high-explosive shell had landed on the adjacent building and demolished it. This being my “baptism of fire” and all of 17 years old I was scared out of my whits and all of adither. At this moment who should come in but an immaculately dressed Staff Officer of stern and frightening appearance and handed me a signal message for Brigade. It read, “All quiet AAA Nothing to report AAA Situation normal stop (signed Adjutant)”. I looked at the message and then at the officer and stuttered “Do … you want this message sent now sir?” With withering and chilling appraisement he rapped out. “Why the Devil not, nothing of strategical or tactical importance has taken place. Send the damned thing AT ONCE!!!”

Ted’s ‘Medal Roll Index’ indicates:

Green, Edward J

RE(T) Sgt. 1864

RE Spr. 198907

Entry into theatre of war: 18.3.15

(His regimental numbers seem to have been switched, as he started with 1864. I am not sure why.)

Some questions, if anyone can assist:

  • How can I found out more about which Regiment, etc. that he was attached to (He seems to have moved around)?
  • Where are Divisional Signal Company records kept, if at all?
  • What is the 1st Echelon, Wireless GHQ?
  • Where is “Windy Corner”?

Any help and tips very much appreciated.

Regards,

David

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David

The Long Long Trail,at top left of this page,will help you to unravel the mysteries. Here a few primers to help you along:

Complement and Function of Div Signals Company RE: http://www.1914-1918.net/whatfieldcoy.htm

47 Division where 1/2 London Div Signal Coy operated: http://www.1914-1918.net/47div.htm

51 Division where the other Signal Coy operated: http://www.1914-1918.net/51div.htm

There are War Diaires for both at the National Archives at Kew,they are not yet digital so would need to be read on site there:

WO95/2719/3 covers 47 Div Sigs Coy from May 1915 forward to Apr 1919.

WO95/2856/2 covers 51 Div Sigs Coy from May 1915 to Mar 1919.

All you have to do is discover when he moved from the first to the second and then you can be sure when to change from one Diary to the other !

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Thank you, RussT,

Vermelles is certainly mentioned in at least one letter; as is Bethune, La Bassee, Bruay, Divion, Ablain St Nazaire, Gouy-Servins and Nouex le Mines.

Edited by DABT
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Thank you, sotonmate.

I’ve still to narrow down when he moved, but a letter dated 21st August 1917 says:

“… The troops are just going out and the bagpipes are wailing, it is everywhere pipes cos this is an Highland Scottish division. I’m getting quite a ... wee scottie now. Do you fancy me as a Jock, in a kilt!? …”.

This implies that he is relatively new to the Division.

Edited by DABT
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