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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Loading Rags in Barges


Brainybri

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In his diary, Driver John Parry of the 113th Brigade (Army) RFA notes: "June 2nd 1917. Loading rags in barges Le Havre."

My questions are: Why the loading of rags? For what would these be intended? Was this perhaps a punishment....or a general task? He had only been in Le Havre for one day, out from Southampton.

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Definitely rags, Centurion...clearly written.

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Salvaged uniforms?

If loaded ionto Barges at Le Havre then travelling from the docks inland - wrong direction.

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ere barges ever towed across the Channel?

never seen any reference to this - they would not be particularly seaworthy. The Americans used barges to run their medical supplies off loaded from ships at le Havre to the front and coal barges and hospital barges ran down to le Havre. But there would be plenty of empty ships available to take stuff across the channel having off loaded supplies for the armies so why would one load barges at Le Havre to run across the channel?

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It was only a thought. But bulk loads such as coal would be easier to load onto open barges?

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The vessel would have belonged to the cross-channel barge service operated by the Royal Engineers. They were steel-hulled, self-propelled vessels, designed specifically for cross-channel and coastal work and were most definitely seaworthy. They transported a whole range of stores, including salvage on return trips to the UK.

TR

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It was only a thought. But bulk loads such as coal would be easier to load onto open barges?

Depends as I said coal barges did sail to Le Havre from inland - ,mainly to coal the ships using the port. From what I've seen recently looking at the economics of the war (and I used to be an economist once) France was short of coal in WW1 (because the Germans were occupying her best coal fields) and did not export any significant amount (if any)

There were such things as seagoing barges but these were not the unpowered river barges used on the river to Le Havre which still ply there and are not seaworthy. and I wsould be very interested to see details of salvage that they carried.

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I have not come across any mention of barges crossing the channel either. It is just that if a coal ship took coal across to France it would probably need cargo not men for the return.

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But what possible uses for rags were there? .....if the rags were moving into France it suggests they had a purpose.....raw material for paper?........did artillery use rags for anything?

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Rags would have no end of uses. Artilley, infantry, drivers of horses, vets, etc.

Would it have been possible then to make non sterile bandages, slings etc from them?

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Rags (c. 1916 - March 22, 1936),[1] born in Paris, France, was a mixed breed terrier who became the U.S. 1st Infantry Division's dog-mascot in World War I.

rags

He was adopted into the 1st Division on July 14, 1918 in the Montmartre section of Paris, France. Rags remained its mascot until his death in Washington, D.C. on March 22, 1936.[2] He learned to run messages between the rear headquarters and the front lines, and provided early warning of incoming shells. Rags achieved great notoriety and celebrity war dog fame when he saved many lives in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign by delivering a vital message despite being bombed, gassed and partially blinded.[3] His adopted owner and handler, Private James Donovan, was seriously wounded and gassed, dying after returning to a military hospital at Fort Sheridan in Chicago. Rags was adopted by the family of Major Raymond W. Hardenberg there in 1920, moving with them through several transfers until in Fort Hamilton, New York, he was reunited with members of the 18th Infantry Regiment who had known him in France.[4][5]

hope this was not him

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BrainyBri

See this thread on recycling:

 

Your man would have been part of a works party, which had nothing to do with his role in the RFA. It was not unusual troops newly arrived in France to be temporarily involved in such tasks.

TR

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ere barges ever towed across the Channel?

the Guinness barges Liffey and Boyne were requisitioned by the Army. Boyne is supposed to have served in France. Would be interesting to know how it got there.

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Thank you Terry-Reeves, especially, for that very interesting link and the information about newly arrived troops being employed for odd-jobs.

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