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Any ideas? "Awful Explosion" near Baghdad, 7th March 1917


mrfish

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Does anyone have any info on what “awful explosion” occurred near Baghdad on the 7th March 1917, and what exactly happened?

Read on for further background info…

I am researching the following soldier, from Whitchurch, Hants:

T2/017304 Driver Ernest Frederick Rumbold

Army Service Corps attached 40th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps

Died on the 7th March 1917, Mesopotamia

I was wondering how, he "died" and found this clipping from the local newspaper stating he had been ‘accidentally killed’:

Andover Advertiser 23 March 1917

ACCIDENTALLY KILLED:- On the 7th March 1917, in Mesopotamia, ERNEST FREDERICK RUMBOLD, ASC, youngest son of Mr and Mrs Rumbold, Lower Lodge, Newbury Street, Whitchurch, aged 22 years.

Further info was found a couple of months later:

Andover Advertiser 25 May 1917

NEWS RE A RECENT CASUALTY:- Sergeant A Birch, ASC, Mesopotamia, has been good enough to send along a few details about Driver Ernest Rumbold, son of Mr and Mrs G Rumbold, Newbury Street, Whitchurch, who (as we reported a few weeks ago) was accidentally killed on March 7th. Sergt Birch says: “Ernest was a very well liked by them he was a good worker and a very pleasant companion. I have been with him now since this unit was formed at Port Said. I did not have the luck to be in the same unit as he was on Gallipoli, as I came overland from France to the Peninsular, and was with quite a different unit. It was a pity he should have been killed so near to the place we had been struggling so long – he was killed by that awful explosion on the 7th – as we marched into Baghdad on the 11th March.

Many thanks in advance

Craig

><(((((*>

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During the attack on Turkish positions at Es Sinn on this date the Turks blew defensive mines or fougasse which killed men from a number of attacking units.

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Thanks, Centurion. Would that have been recorded as an accidental death? I was thinking this was more an explosion of a British ammunition store or similar?

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Thanks, Centurion. Would that have been recorded as an accidental death? I was thinking this was more an explosion of a British ammunition store or similar?

No definitely KIA. There was a serious explosion near Baghdad due to a fire at a railway junction where munitions were stored but that was in September 1917.

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Thanks, I wonder if there was something else then that happened on the 7th March to mean he was accidentally killed in an explosion?

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Thanks, I wonder if there was something else then that happened on the 7th March to mean he was accidentally killed in an explosion?

Would seem an awful coincidence if a number of men were KIA by an explosion at the same time there was an accidental one.

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I think centurion is quite right on this one, a bit too much of a coincidence. It is quite possible that the news got garbled somewhat between Mesopotamia and the UK.

Interesting comment by his fellow soldier Sergeant Birch, though - "I did not have the luck to be in the same unit as he was on Gallipoli"... I would have thought a comment akin to my Grandad's, with the Loyal N.Lancs, who had the luck NOT to be at Gallipoli would have been more appropriate!

Trajan

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Hi Craig, I'm very interested in your research as I'm a resident of Whitchurch - if you're local, me and a few others are at the Silk Mill tomorrow (free entry for the day!) for a WW1 display in the lead up to the centenary. Open until 1630

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Thanks, Centurion. Would that have been recorded as an accidental death? I was thinking this was more an explosion of a British ammunition store or similar?

I think your instinct may be right, there were also three casualties that day from the 134th Brigade Ammunition Column RFA. The war diary for 134 Brigade and 40th FA are at TNA but neither has been digitised. The RFA men are shown as killed in action on SDGW whereas, as you know Rumbold is shown as 'Died'. All three and Rumbold are recorded on the Basra Memorial which is unusual that someone who 'died' has no known grave. There are just two other casualties commemorated on the Basra Memorial on the 7th.

I can find no references to an 'explosion' that day but I guess the diaries will.

Maude's forces, who were pursuing the Turks arrived at the Diyala River on the 7th March and eventually forced a night crossing with heavy losses especially the King's Own the majority of whom are shown on the Basra Memorial as kia the following day and one on the 7th. The other casualty on the 7th is also from the 'Lancaster Brigade'.

Ken

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Thanks, Ken. I think I will have to get the war diary to see if whatever killed Rumbold is mentioned. I'll post here what I find.

Craig

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