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Remembered Today:

Pte Robert G Dumbrill Royal Fusiliers


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I'm trying to find out a bit about Pte 50184 Robert Dumbrill 20th Bn Royal Fusiliers who died 16 April 1917.

I have his MIC and his name appears in our local paper of men serving in 1917 who worked at Christs Hospital School near Horsham.

I also have his marriage to an Emily Napper in Horsham in 1914

..but that's it! I can't find any census records, a birth, and Electoral Register info...and I was wondering if anyone with a Royal Fusiiers background might be able to shed any light on this mystery man!!


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20th (Service) Battalion (3rd Public Schools)
Formed at Epsom on 11 September 1914 by the Public Schools and University Men's Force.
26 June 1915 :came under command of 98th Brigade, 33rd Division.
Landed in France in November 1915.
27 November 1915 : transferred to 19th Brigade, 33rd Division.
16 February 1918 : disbanded in France.

Did he have PS prefix before his service number?

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Historical Information

The 21st Division captured Heninel on 12 April 1917 and advanced eastwards on the two following days. The 33rd Division then took over the attack. These two divisions are largely represented in the cemetery. In April 1918 this ground was lost, and the eleven German graves in Plot I, Rows D and E, were made when the cemetery was in German hands. After the Armistice, graves were brought in from a wide area round Heninel.

He is shown as died nott specifically KIA so may have died of wounds later.

The war diary, if available may shed more light.

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1. The MIC has a "GS" prefix...but it looks like it might have been rewritten!!

2. That census name is a bit too much of a coincidence isn't it. I will dig deeper. Well spotted!


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1. The MIC has a "GS" prefix...but it looks like it might have been rewritten!!

I am no expert on service numbers but if it is GS does it show any other battalions on his MIC?

The PS prefix would show that he joined Public Schools. GS prefix was general service used by other RF battalions. If he was transferred within the RF he would probably have kept his original number.

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Brilliant bit of detective work by IPT!

It looks like he was Robert George Dumbrill (Dumbrell?), son of Anna J Dumbrell who was, in the 1891 census, a widow and housekeeper to Henry Pilbeam (a widower).

By 1901 Anna has disappeared (died?) and her two boys (Robert had an elder brother Charles Henry) are still with Henry Pilbeam, both now called Pilbeam, and recorded as his sons.

By 1911 Robert is calling himself Robert George Dumbrill Pilbean

He was a jobbing gardener so I don't think it likely that he joined a Public Schools battalion - more likely a transfer.

The MIC gives no information regarding battalion - the "20th" comes from the CWGC record.

Getting closer though!

ps I think I have also found him on the War Memorial in the nearby village of Slinfold.

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Mr G

He was a later reinforcement of the 20th Royal Fusiliers. With the disbandment of the other three UPS battalions the 20th RF were no longer made up solely of ex public school boys - reinforcements came from the reserve battalions of other RF units as well as the 5th and 6th RF who were the original reserve battalions. I believe men coming through the 5th and 6th Reserve Battalions were allotted the GS/5XXXX series and these went to all battalions of the RF.

The PS/ numbers only were issued from 1 to about 11000 and the later numbers were from men of all walks of life in addition to some ex public school boys.

20th RF were in action on the 16th April attacking Concrete Trench north of the Hindenburg Line. To their right in the Hindenburg Line Siegfried Sassoon was leading a bombing attack during which he was wounded. The 20th RF were attacking to conform with the attack up the Hindenburg Line. The 20th RF suffered heavy casualties and were unable to enter Concrete Trench. You can download the war diary from the National Archives for £3.30 which will give a little detail.

Kind regards


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