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Remembered Today:

9th Coy 1st Btn W.I.R. A.C. Johns (NZ)


Carolyn Beadle
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I have recently accessed the Military Record of Alton Clive Johns who was my Great Uncle. He left New Zealand on the Tofua on 11 October 1916, disembarking at Plymouth and then spent time in Sling Training Camp. After that he was transported to Etaples, France spending about a month there. I am having great difficulty tracking his progress after that. On the Statement of Services, 14 March 1916, it states that he "Joined Battalion" as a Private volunteering to give up the title of Corporal officially recorded on 8 April 1917. Under the heading "Regiment or Corps" it states "9th Coy 1st Btn W.I.R."

I am unsure where this battalion went to after Etaples and are there any details on the 9th Coy 1st Btn W.I.R. in France? Perhaps I can track down where he went with that information? Ultimately, on about 6/7 June 1917, Clive was wounded, returned to Etaples and sent back again onto the field....where he was wounded once again..

I do look forward to hearing from anyone who may be able to fill in some of these blanks for me. Thank you.

Carolyn

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Hi Carolyn

9th Company is the Hawkes Bay Company if you did not know, although I see he was a Te Awamutu boy.

It was very common for NCO's like a corporal to revert to the ranks when they joined the battalion in the field. 'by his own request' shows he had the smarts to do this, rather than arrive with battle hardened troops and try and lead them.

in very general terms.

He joined 1/Wellington when they were still at Ploegsteert wood, Belgium border with France.

wounded at the battle of Messines, 7th June 1917, north side of Ploegsteert wood.

Returned to Battalion while they were at Ploegsteert, they then moved to Selles (training for Passchendaele)

then onto Battle of Broodsiende (Gravenstafel) starting line where Dochy Farm Cemetery is and then Battle of Passchendaele (basically same area as battle had not progresses very far)

wounded again on 20th October - on that date 9th Coy of 1/Wellington was holding the frontline trenches at Waterloo Farm. they were relieved on the 21st - the day after he was seriously wounded.

Waterloo Farm still stands (rebuilt) today, on the road from Dochy Farm Cemetery and Passchendaele New British Cemetery. If you find the NZ Memorial at Gravenstafel and then travel up this towards Passchendaele New British Cem, abt 1/4 of the way up there is a farm with a horseshoe lake directly behind it, that's Waterloo.

The frontline crossed the road just past the next farm buildings, with the lakes on the other side of the road.

hope that helps

Rodg

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You have given me some most interesting information. Thank you. I am interested in your explanation about Clive Johns' voluntary choice of giving up his rank of Corporal to join the Ranks.

It seems the more information I gain, the more questions I have!

I am a little confused about how the Companies relate to the Regiments. Although the 9th Company is the Hawkes Bay Company, did Clive belong to the Wellington Infantry Regiment?

is there any way of finding out what Clive's particular speciality was in this Regiment?

Would you be able to recommend some readings on the 9th Company during the period of 1917 please?

Again your assistance is much appreciated.

Carolyn

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Hi

Each Wellington battalion was made up of the

7th Wellington West coast

9th Hawke’s Bay

11th Taranaki

17th Ruahine

companies.

At this period in the war 1/Wellington was part of the 1/NZIB -1st New Zealand Infantry brigade.

This comprised 4 battalions: 1st & 2nd Wellington and 1st & 2nd Auckland. ie. the North Island Regiments.

The 2/NZIB was therefore made up of the 1 & 2 Canterbury and the 1 & 2 Otago.

To read more about the Wellington Regiment ( being all the Wellington battalions 1, 2 & 3) you should try:

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH1-Well.html

Clive's speciality seems to be simply an infantry man, nothing underrated about that, he would have seen the horror of the war standing in a trench and advancing across No-Man's-Lands, that is about as bad as it gets.

Cheers

Rodg

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Great information there Roger

Carolyn, welcome to the GWF, great to have you on board

Once you have read the official history of the Wellington Regiment that Roger has posted, you might also like to read the The New Zealand Medical Services in the Great War 1914-1918

The Medical Services will take you onto each battlefield and describe detailed 'conditions' generally a little better than the regiment history's do, probably because the officer writing up the days events didn't have all in sundry trying to kill him at the time.

First thing I do when starting research on a soldier is write up a time line, add everything you know from the service file, as you read and learn more add further details and dates as you go. Remember to only add information that is relevant to your soldiers company or Battalion. Trace his whereabouts on trench maps and you will really get a good picture of things.

This is a small snap shot of the first trench map you would need, 1917 Ploegsteert 28 S.W 4. If you would like copies of any trench maps PM me

Regards - Wendy

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Edited by Wendy Mac...
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Here we go...

Trenches corrected to the 1.4.1917

Blue = British held trenches. Red = German

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Hi Wendy

Your assistance is very much appreciated - I have now been taken a step further into the trenches where perhaps Clive may have been with your links on the medical experiences in the trenches. .

However, again I am confused regarding Clive's movement between units. Clive Johns left New Zealand on 11 October 1916. However he is listed on the "The Long Tail" as being part of the "E" Company, No. 20 Platoon. What is the relation between E Company 18 (on his Statement of Services) and E Company 20 as mentioned on "The Long Trail" ship magazine? I see also that he was transferred to the 9th Coy when he joined the Battalion in March. Does everyone who belonged to the E Company 18 go to the 9th Coy. Did they have a choice or were they assigned? Apologies but I am very unfamiliar with military hierarchy/organisation and moving between units but appreciate any pointers. Thanks for your patience.

Carolyn

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20921 JOHNS Anton Clive Cenotaph Page - incorrectly states Clive with the 12th Reinforcement, that's a typing error, should be 18th Reinforcements.

Ok, Clive attested at Trentham Military camp in Upper Hutt. Clive was training with the 18th Reinforcements, he was in 'E' Company and within that company he was in number 20 Platoon.

Clive embarked for England, on arrival in England, Sling/Codford Camps he lost his rank (as Roger explained) and also was no longer with the 18th Reinforcements. Men are only with their reinforcement group while in New Zealand training and while on the troopship, this is for comradery.

Reinforcement 2000 -2500 men

Company aprox 250 men

Platoon 30-40 men

On arrival in England the men have to take off their 18th Reinforcement insignia and await posting. Clive was posted to No 3 Reserve Battalion of the Wellington Regiment. Reserve Battalions feed men into Regiments/Battalions that have suffered casualties and require reserves to fill those gaps and bring the Regiment/Battalion back up to strength. Clive was then posted to 9th (Hawkes Bay) Company of the 1st Battalion of the Wellington Infantry Regiment. He was then shipped over to the front, via Estaples Camp to meet this battalion in the Field.

The men had no choice where they were assigned.

Please ask questions if you wish.

Wendy

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Thanks very much Wendy and Roger. You have given me valuable information that should keep me busy for a little while.

Carolyn

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I have been reading the following website regarding the Wellington Regiment. When the 1st Battalion is mentioned in this article is the 9th Company, 1st Battalion referring to the one Clive Johns Joined?

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH1-Well-t1-body-d21.html

Thanks again.

Carolyn

Hi Carolyn

Yes, any mention of the 1st Battalion or 1st Bn or 1st WIR (Wellington Infantry Regiment) will be a general indication to where Clive's battalion was.

Remember the 1st (& 2nd) Battalion had four companies 7th Wellington West coast - 9th Hawke’s Bay - 11th Taranaki - 17th Ruahine. So if you see 1st Bn 9th Coy or 1st WIR 9th Coy that is Clive's exact location.

The Wellington official history is made up with lots of diaries from the different Wellington battalions, you will have to wade through all the other battalions information to glean information about the 1st Bn, however this is good as you will learn a great deal about the Wellington Regiment as a whole. If and when you want to get down to the real nuts and bolts of Clive's movements, a clearer picture will be in his unit diary which is held at New Zealand Archives in Wellington. However start off with what you are doing now, when you want to take your research to the next level get the 1st Bn Wellington Regiment diary from Wellington.

Remember Clive joined the battalion in the field 14 March 1917, so start from around that time frame. Generally the new recruits were eased into the action, attached to a company that was working further back from the front lines.

Here is a Trench roster , it is from the History of the Canterbury Battalion, don't think there is a trench roster published in the History of the Wellington Regiment. It shows all other battalions ie: Auckland's, Otago's and Wellington's that were in either Front, Support or Reserve of the Canterbury. You will see 1/WIR, that's Clive's battalion (no specific Wellington Company's mentioned). Print it off and place page 296 beside page 297, sticky tape them together and read across the two pages, do the same with the remaining four pages 298 & 299. 300 & 301.

1st, 2nd,12th and 13th are the company's of the Canterbury.

Regards Wendy

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Hello

I have a question regarding the New Zealand Division. Would you please confirm whether I have this correct as much of my research is online and I am unsure of the accuracy of some sites.

In April 1916, there were three sections of the New Zealand Division. These were:

1st NZ Brigade which was made up of battalions from Wellington, Canterbury, Auckland and Otago

2nd NZ Brigade which was made up of battalions from Wellington, Canterbury, Auckland and Otago

NZ Rifle Brigade where there were the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions - I have no idea where these troops were drawn from....

I saw 'somewhere' that on 1 January 1917 there were changes made to the New Zealand Division. These changes were:

1st NZ Brigade comprised the North Island - 2 battalions from Auckland and two battalions from Wellington. Were these called the 1st and 2nd battalions respectively?

2nd NZ Brigade comprised the South Island - 2 battalions from Canterbury and two battalions from Otago. Were these called the 1st and 2nd battalions respectively?

Is this accurate? It seems confusing and inconsistent with other references regarding the New Zealand Division and the brigades.

My problem is when I am doing my reading, I am seeing the 1st battalion mentioned (Clive was in the 1st Battalion Hawkes Bay = Wellington). However, when books refer to the 1st battalion, how do I know whether that means the 1st battalion Wellington or Auckland?

Again I appreciate your assistance and certainly look forward to your reply

Thank you.

Carolyn

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Hello

I have a question regarding the New Zealand Division. Would you please confirm whether I have this correct as much of my research is online and I am unsure of the accuracy of some sites.

In April 1916, there were three sections of the New Zealand Division. These were:

1st NZ Brigade which was made up of battalions from Wellington, Canterbury, Auckland and Otago Correct

2nd NZ Brigade which was made up of battalions from Wellington, Canterbury, Auckland and Otago Correct

NZ Rifle Brigade where there were the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions - I have no idea where these troops were drawn from.... They came from infantry reserves. Someone will correct me if I am wrong, but they had already been assigned NZRB when training in New Zealand in our camps.

I saw 'somewhere' On page 133 of the History of the Wellington Battalion that on 1 January 1917 there were changes made to the New Zealand Division. These changes were: The introduction of the 4th Brigade - 3rd Battalions of the infantry regiments, MGC and Trench Mortars..... And the re-arranging of the 1st and 2nd Brigades.

1st NZ Brigade comprised the North Island - 2 battalions from Auckland and two battalions from Wellington. Were these called the 1st and 2nd battalions respectively? Correct and bloody confusing to everyone, your not alone...lol

2nd NZ Brigade comprised the South Island - 2 battalions from Canterbury and two battalions from Otago. Were these called the 1st and 2nd battalions respectively?

Is this accurate? Yes It seems confusing and inconsistent with other references regarding the New Zealand Division and the brigades. It was not a popular move to begin with but did have advantages to each regiment.

My problem is when I am doing my reading, I am seeing the 1st battalion mentioned (Clive was in the 1st Battalion Hawkes Bay = Wellington). However, when books refer to the 1st battalion, how do I know whether that means the 1st battalion Wellington or Auckland? If you are reading the history of the Wellington Regiment any reference to the wellington battalions will be simply noted as the 1st's or 2nd's or (after 1917) the 3rd's, Or 1st Battalion or 2nd Battalion. All other regiments and their battalions will be noted as such 1st Auckland or 2nd Auckland, 1st Canterbury, 2nd Canterbury etc etc . The Wellington Regiment book is very good at distinguishing the regiments. You would tear your hair out reading the history of the Canterbury Regiment...lol

Again I appreciate your assistance and certainly look forward to your reply

Thank you.

Carolyn

1916

1st Brigade = 1st battalion of the Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago. Ist MGC and 1st Trench Mortar

2nd Brigade = 2nd battalion of the Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago. 2nd MGC and 2nd Trench Mortar

3rd Brigade = 1st NZRB, 2nd NZRB, 3rd NZRB, 4th NZRB. 3rd MGC, 3rd Trench Mortar

All other divisions come under Divisional Troops, Mounted, Artillery, Engineers and Medical, but that's another story!! we are only talking Infantry, ok.

1917

1st Brigade = 1st & 2nd battalion of the Auckland and Wellington. Ist MGC and 1st Trench Mortar

2nd Brigade = 1st & 2nd battalion of the Canterbury and Otago. 2nd MGC and 2nd Trench Mortar

3rd Brigade = 1st NZRB, 2nd NZRB, 3rd NZRB, 4th NZRB. 3rd MGC, 3rd Trench Mortar

4th Brigade = Introduced early 1917 = 3rd battalions of the Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago. 5th MGC and 4th Trench Mortar

The third Brigade came into effect early 1917 they required additional troops for the 3rd battle for Ypres (Passchendaele), and the 3rd brigade was in the field by May 1917 and were broken up by February 1918.

IMO with reading, try to stick to the official histories though they can be a bit confusing to start with. I personally don't surf the net looking for information on the New Zealand division. I stick to the official histories most of which I own in book form from 'Navel Military Press' or I get the battalion dairies from Wellington. There are however one or two errors in the official histories, nothing serious.

Hope that all helps somewhat.... Wendy

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Once again Wendy, thank you for your support and pointers in tracing the footsteps of Clive Johns' time on the Front. It is certainly appreciated.

Carolyn

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Once again Wendy, thank you for your support and pointers in tracing the footsteps of Clive Johns' time on the Front. It is certainly appreciated.

Carolyn

You are very welcome

The Kiwis seem to be very quiet on the boards at the moment, there's usually more peeps around to help out!

There was another recent thread that I posted some Auckland Weekly News photos of the men of the Eighteenth Reinforcement.

When your ready to back-track to Clive's training with the Eighteenths, there are a couple of really good books available on TradeMe, if you are in New Zealand or Aussie you can buy from TradeMe. They are Historic Trentham and Featherston Military Training Camp they give a really great insight to how the men trained and the facilities and duties, written back in the war era and full of photos they are both real little gems.

Wendy

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Hello

I am trying to understand where the following streets and trenches are - taken from WH Cunningham's text regarding the Wellington Regiment. Is there a map I can download which gives the trenches mentioned in his book:

"The following day, the 1st Battalion relieved 4th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, in line in the Ploegsteert sector (St. Yves Hill), marching some four and a-half miles from Bulford Camp, via Connaught Road, Leinster Road, Romarin-Ploegsteert Road, meeting platoon guides at the Strand. Two platoons of the reserve company then proceeded to the Catacombs at Hyde Park Corner, the rest of the battalion entering the trenches via The Strand, Bunhill Row, Mud Lane Breastwork and Ontario Avenue."

Many thanks.

Carolyn

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Hello

I am trying to understand where the following streets and trenches are - taken from WH Cunningham's text regarding the Wellington Regiment. Is there a map I can download which gives the trenches mentioned in his book:

"The following day, the 1st Battalion relieved 4th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, in line in the Ploegsteert sector (St. Yves Hill), marching some four and a-half miles from Bulford Camp, via Connaught Road, Leinster Road, Romarin-Ploegsteert Road, meeting platoon guides at the Strand. Two platoons of the reserve company then proceeded to the Catacombs at Hyde Park Corner, the rest of the battalion entering the trenches via The Strand, Bunhill Row, Mud Lane Breastwork and Ontario Avenue."

Many thanks.

Carolyn

Hi Carolyn

I was just heading off to bed having spent the night on Ancestry plodding away on the family tree, thought I would check mail before I hit the sack.

The Strand runs West to East through Ploegsteert Wood, just above Regent Street and Oxford Circus. Mud Lane is just above the Strand, look on the two trench map clips in post 5 and 6 of this thread and you will see the streets mentioned. Hyde park Corner and Ontario Avenue are just out of shot. Pm me your email address and I will forward you a high res copy of Sheet 28 S W 4 Trenches corrected to August 1917, I think that's your time frame your working with, tell me the date to confirm.

Wendy

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Billets at Nieppe South West of Ploegsteert Wood - Trying to find sheet 36 N W which sits under 28 S W :blink:

Will return

Wendy

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