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Remembered Today:

Where was Pte A. Smith-Chappell Fighting?


Sally B
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Hoping someone can help me? I just wondered where William Smith-Chappells brother Albert was fighting, when William was killed.

Pte Albert John Smith Chappell 122988 was with the 59th Bttn. Machine Gun Corps., formerly 21761 3rd Bedfordshires. Ive got a copy of their war diary for March 1918, when Albert was killed, but I cant find any war diary for 1917 for 59th MGC on the national archives website at all.

Pte William George Smith-Chappell 328240 1st Bttn. Cambs Reg formerley Pte 1536 Hunts Cyclist Reg. was killed on 29th October 1917, in trenches near Tower Hamlets, just south of Ypres. I wondered where Albert was fighting that day/month when his brother was killed?

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Sally

The MGC Battalions were formed from MG Companies in early 1918. According to Long Long Trail the 59th Bn was formed from 174, 175 and 177 Companies. I don't know which of those he would have been in but it might help your searching.

Glen

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Sally

1 Cambridgeshires as part of 118 Brigade of 39 Division were fighting at the 2nd Battle of Passchendaele when William was killed on the 29th Oct 1917. At this time Albert would have been in the front line at Lens with his unit as part of 59 Division. As Glen says there were three MG Companies,one for each Brigade,until early 1918 when they amalgamated into the 59 Division Machine Gun Battalion.

The MG Company War Diaries were:

174 MGC = WO95/3021/13 from Feb 1917 to Feb 1918

175 MGC = WO95/3025/13 from Oct 1916 to Feb 1918

177 MGC = reference eludes me at present !

Later:

found it ! WO95/3023/8.

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How do I know which MG Company Albert was in before early 1918? He was in the 3rd Bedfordshires, so did they go into a particular MGC? Also, I thought the MGC were in the 20th Division from 3rd March 1916 until they went into the 59th Division on 15th March 1918. I don’t understand?. Sorry!

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The 3rd Bedfords were a training unit in England.

It is perhaps worth a moment to explain the MGC units.

In late 1915 a company of the new Machine Gun Corps was formed in each infantry brigade, and it took the number of the brigade. Thus the 59th Infantry Brigade, which was part of 20th (Light) Division, gained a company: the 59th Machine Gun Company.

In spring 1918, the companies were taken out of the brigades and merged into a larger unit known as a Machine Gun Battalion. This took the number of the division. Thus 59th Company was merged into 20th Battalion MGC. The same thing happened in the 59th (2nd North Midland) Division, and the companies as mentioned above (174 to 177) merged to form 59th Battalion MGC.

Hope that clarifies things!

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As 21761 Bedfords he didn't go to war,there is no entry for this on the Medal Index Card,which records all units served in a war zone. It only shows he fought with the MGC. The MGC was in all fighting Divisions as part of the make-up.

The MG Companies I have listed at Post #3 were those attached to 59 Division until they changed the system and made a whole Battalion (59) of Machine Gunners in early 1918. Your subject Albert was likely in one of these Companies before his service with the Battalion. I listed the War Diaires just in case you can find some reference to him joining one of them. In the absence of a service record this might be the only way to do that. A long shot though.

I have now found the MG Company War Diary for 177 Brigade,WO95/3023/8,Feb 1917 to Apr 1918.

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