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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

13th (Bantam) Battalion Green Howards.


nicktamarensis

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Hello all,

I'm continuing my North Hill, Cornwall war dead researches.

Can anyone describe the movements of this battalion in and around 1st January 1918 when a North Hill man, Pte John Henry Hutchings, 33969, was killed or died from wounds?

He was buried at Mory Abbey Cemetery.

A subsidiary question - were the bantams battalions reinforced later in the war by men of having a height of more than 5'3"?

Many thanks,

Nick.

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Although popular with the public like all government gimmicks, the Bantam system collapsed almost before it got going as it was found that often soldiers who were under 5'3" were generally not fit enough for front line duty. Their height was often a consequence of poor diet and ill-health. The 40th Division, for example, of which the 13th Bn Yorkshire was part recruited (and badged) as a Bantam Division but before going overseas the Divisional History records one Battalion 'weeded out' 800 men from an original strength of 1000. So the answer to the subsidiary question is yes by 1918 the unique status of the Bantams had ceased to exist.

Your man previously served, and originally went overseas with, the AVC. SDGW shows 'killed in action' which could mean shot or shell.

In the absence of the 13th Bn war diary (for now), on the 1st January 1918 the Division was resting and licking it's wounds following the heavy losses during the last phase of the Battle of Cambrai and the intense fighting in Bourlon Wood (later marked by an acorn over the Bantam in the Divisional badge). The Divisional HQ was at Gomiecourt and throughout December 1917 the weather was awful, heavy snowfall and in the front line trenches extreme cold, wet and windy, with many cases of trench foot reported. Throughout the month there were 'constant alarms and tenseness' according to the history and a major raid on the 15th by the 19th RWF 'opposite Bullecourt ' [which gives some idea of the location].

The Divisional History reports the New Year opened with 'a major strafe by the British Artillery' and also notes a group of about fifteen or sixteen 'misguided' Germans started to trek across No Man's Land apparently with the idea of fraternising, 'Fired on heavily and continuously these doves returned to their ark in double time'. There was no other action for the Division until the 5th when there was a strong raid by about 250 Germans on the British line.

Ken

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Thanks Ken,

A most useful addition and also for the extra info on the bantams. Much appreciated.

Pardon my ignorance but what was the 'AVC' that Hutchings went overseas with. Is there a record of his previous service?

Also, if on 1st January 1918 the division was 'resting' I take this to mean that it would have included the 13th and as such behind the lines and not involved in offensive (or defensive) duties? If behind the lines then Hutchings must have been unlucky that day.

Cheers,

Nick.

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The 40th. Division were never really a true bantam div. having normal sized soldiers in the unit, the 35th. were the only truly bantam division until re organised due to lack of bantams in 1917.

Colin.

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Nick

The battalion was just east of Bullecourt according to the diary. No specific mention of casualties though it refers to strafing and shelling. PM me an email address and I'll send you the pages.

Kind regards

Colin

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Thanks Ken,

A most useful addition and also for the extra info on the bantams. Much appreciated.

Pardon my ignorance but what was the 'AVC' that Hutchings went overseas with. Is there a record of his previous service?

Also, if on 1st January 1918 the division was 'resting' I take this to mean that it would have included the 13th and as such behind the lines and not involved in offensive (or defensive) duties? If behind the lines then Hutchings must have been unlucky that day.

Cheers,

Nick.

His mic and Soldiers Died in Great War show he was 'formerly SE/19884 (Royal) Army Veterinary Corps' an asterisk against this unit on his mic strongly suggests this was the first unit he served overseas with post 31/12/1915. You would have to do some work around the numbers to find the transfer but I suspect it was for 'the benefit of the service' rather than voluntary.

When I said 'resting' I meant the Division was not engaged in a specific campaign or offensive, other than raids and counter raids, they didn't have their feet up, sorry to mislead you. Throughout the war there was very little campaigning during the winter months on the Western Front due to the weather. The Division was in the front line with the normal routine of rotating Battalions through the trenches and into the reserve areas, I don't know where exactly the 13th Bn Yorkshires were on that day though they had just spent their second Christmas at the Front. However I suspect heavy artillery fire from the British would attract counter-battery fire from the other side so there was probably a lot of metal flying around their position whether it was in the front or reserve lines. All the Battalions would have been receiving drafts to make up the losses of the previous November.

According to CWGC there were two 13th Bn casualties that day, Hutchings who was in D Coy and Blakeborough who was in C they are interred alongside each other in Mory Abeey Military Cemetery.

Ken

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Thanks Ken,

Thanks to guys such as yourself I'm chipping away at the North Hill names (23 all told excluding the WW2 ones) and adding extra service info to the bald facts of their demise

Much appreciated.

More to follow!

Nick.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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my great great uncle was Donald Blakeborough

How interesting, it's a small world, do you have any information about his death?

Ken

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not really, just what i learned from here, he had a brother stanley who died the the battle pf passchendael he was the the northumberland fusilier, iv recently been doing research into my family history. also there was a cousin to these call george ivor blakeborough who survived the war but i cant find any info about him as it seem to be difficult to find info on surviving soldiers

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