Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

61 Artillery Brigade Reorganisation 1916 Help Needed


Recommended Posts

When the 61st Brigade was reorganised in 1916, Howitzer Batteries went to 74, 75 and 76 Brigades. They were replaced by D Batteries from those units. Did the men go with the guns and change brigades? If this happened did men serve in two different brigades in the war?

Or did the Brigades keep their men and simply swap guns? This would mean that soldiers served in just one Brigade.

Thanks in advance for any advice offered.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The batteries + men moved. as you probably know the purpose was to add a Howitzer battery to each of the other Brigades [which at that time were all 18pdrs] - and to have 3 x 18pdrs + 1 Howitzer battery. Men were trained on either Howitzers of 18pdrs so stayed with the guns they were trained on.. so lots of men changed Brigades and batteries in effect got new battery numbers in a different brigade. In this case 3 of the 61st Brigade [A, B, C?] batteries became D/74, D/75 and D/76 most likely.. with later reorganisations [some batteries were broken up to upgrade other ones in the Brigade from 4 to 6 gun batteries] they could well serve in 3 batteries .. if they survived [illness/wounds etc] long enough. On balance I would think relatively unusual [maybe only 30% ??] might escape these reorganisations ..and still be in same battery in 1918 as in 1915.

As for 61st Bde RFA - if you are interested - I have some notes indicating this was based on a Major, 1 Sgt , 1 BSM and 1 Corporal posted from 45th Brigade RFA to Weedon 3 sept 1914. the next day getting another 3 NCOs and 6 Ors and 500 recruits from preston depot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for your enlightening reply.

My dilemma is my granddad's date of entry (28/8/15) appears to fit the 74th. The 61st entered a little earlier. (I have downloaded both War Diaries). However, he was wounded at Cambrai and may have been in Howitzer Battery.

So if he was in D/74 and had come from 61 - the date of entry doesn't fit.

Have you got any thoughts? Could he possibly have joined the Howitzer Battery from within the 74th?

Thank you again.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would say that no reason to find this a problem in moving from one brigade to another.. and these reorganisations explain how men moved batteries/brigades. the date of entry is not infallible but is very suggestive of what Brigade men might have arrived in..so yes, a chance that he arrived with 74th but ... as without all the factual information it is difficult to judge. What do you actually know ..? Do you know he was in 61st Bde when wounded? and when was that - exactly? [as people fought around Cambrai at various times..the Guards Div were there late 1917 and late 1918?].

One indirect route would be to look for records of men in same unit [from kia records?] .. and see what units they had served in. When he was wounded there is a good chance that some colleagues were killed on that date or about then.. [as casualties cluster]. If he was in a battery that moved Brigade, for example, there will probably have been c.130 others who moved Battery with him.. and some of the service records of those men must survive. .. the first place to look being medal cards which identify the battery or brigade [rare] or records of those killed which record battery/brigade. And do you have specific information on 61st Brigade, and its reorganisation[s?], prior to its breaking up in Nov 1916? I dont have the details..

if all we know is that he might have been in a howitzer battery when wounded.. and a date of entry .. this becomes rather more difficult.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello again.

I have been searching for months and have the following:

Bombardier George Alfred Robotham (DOB 14/09/1895)

Royal Field Artillery - (Enlisted 2/9/14 - MIC-Qualified 28/08/15 – discharged 1/1/19 - awarded a Silver War Badge – B86016)

Regimental Number: 12953 BMBR. Written record states - Wounded 3 times at Cambrai - 1917 - (maybe) h Battery, Guards Division. I think I can recall my father saying George Alfred was with the Howitzers.

At Ancestry - No Service Record, No Pension record.

GWF found Pension Cards and a written ledger - disability 40%, Shell Shock.

Absent Voters list states 20 Hut .B.D. (Maybe transcript error -20 A.T. Ambulance Train to Base Depot)

Sergeant Aldwyn Lewis Watts (13923) commemorated Panteg Memorial, same village, identical MIC - was definitely in 74 Brigade.

I still feel he was 74 Brigade but if so, how could he have started in August 1915 in a Howitzer Battery, or been trained with Howitzers?

Thank you again, for your replies.


P.S. medal roll for 1915 Star at Kew did not mention Brigade. Were they recorded by brigades or simply in numerical order?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the connections seem possible - a quick check of D/74 casualties shows a Sgt Cuttriss .. originally D/76 .. reorganised to become C/61 May 1916.... landed up in D/74 Aug 1917 after being wounded and posted back .. via D/83.. [but he may well have moved between 18pdr and How batteries..as D/76 was originally an 18pdr battery and formed an 18pdr battery as C/61 ..... but he was a prewar regular ] I think i would look for clues amongst records of other men in 74th, or 61st Bde. It would be useful to confirm which Bty provided the men for D/74 when it was reorganised as a howitzer battery in may 1916 [that is probably one key move to understand] - someone on the forum will know..

'h battery' Guards Div is puzzling .. as an odd thing to write ..but it perhaps depends on where it is written and by who .. as 1917 it would be common usage that all D Btys were the Howitzer battery in a brigade ..one would expect to see D/74, for example.. not possibly one of the Trench Mortar batteries.. V X Y Z?? they can be noted in slightly odd ways??.. for example as something like 'Y Trench Battery Guards Div' ..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you yet agaian.

From searching on-line I think 61 A Battery became D in 74, B became D in 75 and C became D 76.

The written record is very unofficial. George Alfred joined the Church Scouts in 1910 when he was 15. He obviously enlisted 4 years later at the age of 19.

A copy of the Church Scouts Roll Book records his enrolment in 1910 and then a hand written entry records what happened to him (and others) in the War. It reads '3 times wounded with one a bullet at Cambrai. h Battery - Guards Division.

So its as if the recorder simply knew it was a Howitzer Battery with the Guards Division.

By Nov 1917 at Cambrai, the Howitzers were now the D Batteries in 74, 75 and 76. But his date of entry to France only ties in with 74.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...