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Albert Ellis Bayfield, Private 62878. 13th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers


Shannock Bob

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I am investigating the history of my Great Grandfather Albert who lost his life on the 11th April 1917. My research so far has been restricted to internet searches and I am hoping to visit Kew in the near future in hope of more results.

Last September my wife and I stopped off at the Arras cemetery and found his name on the wall of the memorial. He is one whose body was never recovered so has no known grave. Being in the 13th Battalion of the Fusilers who fought as part of the 37th Division in the second battle of Arras I believe he would have lost his life in or around the area of Monchy-Le-Preux in the first battle of the Scarpe. I believe it is likely that he would have been buried on the battlefield as the frozen ground and poor conditions meant that recovery of the losses could not happen.

I would love to know more but aside from a visit to Kew Gardens I am a bit unsure of my next move.

We in the family do not know much about his service only that given his age he would not have had to go to war but as many others he wanted to do his duty.This was against the wishes of my Great Grandmother who was left at home looking after 8 young children. What we do know is that he was a man with a short temper. Given his age and lack of previous military experience (he was a builder by trade), he was due to be sent to a lesser ferocious area with the Middlesex Regiment. While on the parade ground, I believe during a ceremony prior to embarkation he was inspected by a younger Officer and pulled up for something and took exception to it. Due to his short temper he berated the young Officer and threw down his rifle. He was arrested and spent some time in military prison before being transferred to a different area which I take it was the 13th and then sent overseas to the battle of Arras.

I would have thought there would be some kind of record of his outburst and imprisonment and transfer. I would be interested to know of his service prior to this event including why a Norfolk man would join up with the Middlesex Regiment after enlisting in Cromer, Norfolk. Also I would love to learn as much as possible of his service abroad and the battle leading to his death.

If anyone has any hints or tips and indeed any advice on how to further my research I would be extremely grateful.

regards

Rob Henry

Albert Ellis Bayfield, Private 62878. 13th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). Killed in action Wednesday 11th April 1917. Age 41. Born Hunworth, enlisted Cromer, resident Sheringham.Formerly 38982, Middlesex Regiment. Son of Ellis and Bridgett Bayfield, of Hunworth Holt, Norfolk; husband of Eliza Bayfield, of "Schieldt", Barford Rd., Sheringham. Commemorated on ARRAS MEMORIAL, Pas de Calais, France. Bay 3.

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  • 1 year later...

It has been a while since i have logged in to this website. Bit disappointed to not have heard anything but I understand it is really tough. If anyone has any tips they wouldnt mind sharing I would really appreciate it.

I have been informed we do have the penny my Great Grandmother received within the family and I am touched that it will be coming my way in the future. I am hoping to complete more research soon and hopefully make a visit to London to help with this.

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The medal rolls show that he only served overseas with the 17th Middlesex from 5.3.17 to 20.3.17 before being transferred to the 13th R.F. from 21.3.17 to his death.

He probably arrived at an Infantry Base Depot in France with 17th Middx on 5th March before being transferred to the R.F in the field on 20th March.

His age of 41 would not have prevented him from being conscripted in 1916.

You can download the relevant war diary for just £3.30 here :

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7354102

BillyH.

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Thank you Billy H. I will certainly make that purchase.

Interesting that he wouldnt have avoided conscription as we were always told he joined up voluntarily and that he was transferred due to his temper and misdemeanour? I have much work to do!!

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Bob,

He may well have actually joined up voluntarily under the Derby scheme, but when conscription was introduced in early 1916 the cut off age was 41.

See the Long Long Trail here : http://www.1914-1918.net/msa1916.html

BillyH.

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  • 8 months later...

Bob,

I'm sure you're aware that the headstone of his wife Eliza in Sheringham Cemetery also references that she is reunited with her husband. I came across this while looking for background on the other names on the Sheringham War Memorials. I've done some further investigation and added the details to my Flickr page - please let me know if I've got anything wrong or if you'd like anything removed.

27192859792_0d03d3e94d_n.jpgAlbert Bayfield, Killed in Action 1917. by Moominpappa06, on Flickr

Couple of things specific to the events of the day. The book "Royal Fusiliers in the Great War" by H.C.O'Neill is freely available online to read and download, The relevant pages are 161 to 163.

9th April 1917.

(Page 161) Monchy le Preux. – Meanwhile the 37th Division had moved up. The 13th Battalion reached Blangy at 11.30 a.m without casualties, and at 1.10 pm orders came to move forward and take up positions in Battery Valley, along the line of Fred’s Wood, which lies about 200 yards north of the railway, and east of Blangy. At about 6.45 p.m. the battalion moved to a point from which they were to begin the attack on Monchy le Preux, a village standing on a small hill about 90 feet above the surrounding country. Up to the ‘Blue Line’, which had been taken and consolidated early in the day, there was no shell fire; but on crossing it the Fusiliers soon saw that the next line had not been in their immediate front (page 162) and there was no alternative but to attack it preparatory to the final advance. With the 10th Royal Fusiliers on the right, the troops advanced steadily for about 2,000 yards and were at length brought to a halt just east of the Feuchy-Feuchy Chapel road. Their left was in the air, and the 13th had to form a defensive flank there. In this position they dug in at nightfall. Shortly before dawn they were withdrawn to near Broken Mill and another brigade took over the positions. The 10th Battalion had fallen back to Feuchy Chapel at 4 a.m., and then later to the ‘Brown Line’, farther back.

 

About noon on April 10th the Royal Fusiliers moved forward once more. The 13th Battalion crossed the northern end of Orange Hill and then swung half-left towards the outlying woods west of Monchy. The 10th Battalion on the right were in touch, and both units continued to advance under a heavy barrage until the 10th were only 600 yards west of Monchy. The losses of both battalions had been very heavy. At 7.40 p.m. only three officers besides the CO. and the adjutant remained with the 13th Battalion, and a provisional line of trenches had to be dug west of the village, after consultation with the Royal Engineers. This line was completed by about 4 a.m. on April 11th. About an hour and a half later the 10th and 13th Battalions made a last spurt forward and the 13th established themselves north of the village, about a hundred yards west of Hamers Lane ; and this position they held throughout the day.

 

The 10th Battalion, now commanded by Major A. Smith, stormed the village itself and occupied it under a heavy barrage. The west side was entrenched and a small advanced post was established on the east of the village. The cavalry entered the village about 11 a.m. and were heavily shelled.

The Royal Fusiliers held these positions until relieved at 11 p.m. that night. It was a memorable day. At one time there was a blinding snowstorm ; but the troops ignored such small inconveniences, and, though the Arras front changed considerably in the subsequent operations (page 163) the positions at this point were little changed. In December the line was not 1,000 yards farther east than that achieved on April 11th by the Fusiliers. When Lieut.- General Sir R. C. B. Haking, G.O.C. XI. Corps, inspected the 10th Battalion on January 5th, he said it was the best turned-out unit he had seen for twelve months. Their achievement at Monchy le Preux must place them in the front rank for courage, tenacity and skill. Their losses were twelve officers (including Lieut.-Colonel Rice, wounded) and 240 other ranks. The 13th Battalion had also suffered very heavily, and Colonel Layton's words, in reporting the detail of the action,

" I consider that the battalion behaved magnificently, and I have nothing but praise for every one in it," were well merited.

 

Secondly should you visit the area again there are some possible candidates for the final resting back of Albert.

 

Near to Monchy British Cemetery construction work in the 1990’s on a new factory and industrial estate uncovered the bodies of 27 British soldiers in a mass grave. From their uniforms it was possible to identify they were all men of the 13th Battalion, but 24 of the bodies were otherwise unidentifiable and were quietly re-interred at Monchy in a new row at the back of the cemetery in 1996. There must be a possibility that Albert was one of these. It took a couple of years but eventually two out of the remaining three were positively identified. They were Private George Anderson and Private Frank King.

George Anderson and Frank King both served with the 13th Royal Fusiliers and both are recorded as having died on the 11th of April 1917." See

http://www.ww1battlefields.co.uk/others/arras2.html

"It was hoped that the fact that the third body appears to have been unusually tall would aid identification but this appears not to have been the case. He was interred along with George Anderson and Frank King with a full military funeral on the 15th April 1998."

http://www.hellfire-corner.demon.co.uk/monchy.htm

 

regards,

Peter

Edited by PRC
Date and Unit Correction,Spacing, font
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  • 3 months later...

Hi there, Thank you Peter for the information you provided here and also via the email. I did reply however I am not sure if you received it.

 

I am looking at making a trip to Arras and Monchy in particular to be there over the 11th April 2017 which will mark the centenary of his death. A flying visit during our journey back from the south recently allowed me to visit the 3 cemetery's around Monchy and I realised he could very well be one of the unknown soldiers. However of the three I visited I did not see many Fusiliers and I believed they did suffer quite heavily on the 11th April.

 

Due to purchasing our first house which has required full renovation I have been unable to devote much time to my research but am keen to step this up in the coming months. I did obtain the war diaries and can see where the Fusiliers were fighting on the day of his death and I am keen to visit this area in particular to leave a tribute.

 

Would love to know more about the activity on that particular day if it is indeed available and ultimately allow me to get a better idea of what happened to my Great-Grandad. If there are any experts in the area who are able to give any guidance it would be greatly received.

 

One final thing I have recently been given the 'Dead Man Penny' which was issued to the family after Albert's death which I am very honoured to have possession of now :)

 

kind regards

 

Rob

 

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Rob,

 

Got your e-mail - glad I could help. All the best with your doer upper :-)

 

Hope the visit goes well next year. There are some people here who can do brilliant things with trench maps and google earth so might be worth seeing if you can enlist their help - the starting position of the 13th seems fairly well set out in the book extract and you know their end positions in Monchy so it should be possible to walk the route, including the newish industrial estate as a checkpoint. There are also some battlefield guides and local residents who post here and are very knowledgeable - apologies I can't name names as I just notice them in passing whilst researching.

 

Let us know how it goes,

Peter

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