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Remembered Today:

Missing Essex battalion


cbracher
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I am trying to find my grandfather’s battalion, neither his MIC nor the SWB list gives it. His name was Maurice Augustus Rogers and he enlisted 18 Aug 1917 into the Essex regiment as a private, regiment number 46500. Family lore says he was gassed “within weeks”, being "pulled from the trench as the sole survivor" by "Australians". "He was blinded for 6 weeks and sent to a hospital at/near Winchester for about a year". He was discharged 18 January 1919. . Looking through the SWB list, although soldiers’ units are named for 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 17th Essex, several are just “Essex Regt” – the 13th Essex never seems to be mentioned but then it was officially disbanded Feb 1918 so perhaps it couldn’t be named in 1919!. As a private he is not mentioned in the London Gazette and I have been unable to find any mention of him through searches on any online local newspaper archives. My only remaining course of action is to see if I can find a record in the TNA's hospital admission and discharge list, but it would help if I could identify a likely time period or location. How safe would it be for me to assume he served in the 13th Essex at the Battle of Cambrai? As he enlisted August 1917, how likely is it that he would have been on that section of the frontline by November/December?

regards

Claire

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Claire

He is listed in a casualty return dated 24th May 1918 as gassed- seriously ill at 1 Australian General hospital at Rouen. His unit is shown as 9th Battalion Essex Regiment. The regimental history records that a platoon of A Company, 9th Essex was badly affected by gas shells on18th May, given the timing of the casualty list this seems the most likely incident for his gassing.

Regards

Clive

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Hi,

The thread title made me think of Bernard Cornwall's fictional character Richard Sharpe (of Peninsula War fame) where one episode featured the missing 2nd Battalion of the Essex!

Like our hero Sharpe Clive has tracked down the missing Essex Battalion.

Steve Y

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As a follow -up, although Maurice's service papers don't survive, those of 46501 Stanley Rees of 9th Essex do. Rees wasn't posted to France until 8th April 1918, his papers show 13th Battalion on 8th April but with transfer to 9th Essex on 10th April. Fairly safe bet that Maurice went to France in the same draft which would tie in neatly with him being gassed "within weeks" of arriving in France.

Best

Clive

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Dear Clive

Thank you so much for the information - that is far more help than I was expecting and so quickly too. I shall now go away and read the correct war diary!

regards

Claire

Steve - glad to have amused you. My son has read all the Sharpe books so perhaps something has rubbed off on me.

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Hi Claire,

I noticed the following comment in your original post ...

"He was blinded for 6 weeks and sent to a hospital at/near Winchester for about a year".

... and wondered if you had any more detail on which Hospital or anything else about his time in the Winchester area?

Thanks

Dave

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Sorry but I don't have any other information. There are three possible Winchester hospitals but, as I believe there are no surviving hospital records from WW1, I have just accepted it will remain a loose end. Apart from the civilian hospital, there are two known army hospitals near Winchester - Haseley Down Camp of 105 beds and Magdalen Camp of 2523 beds.

regards

Claire

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  • 2 years later...

Hi Dave

 

As this is many years later, it is a long shot.  I have found a photo of my grandfather in his "hospital blues" in July 1918.  He is with a group of other gas victims outside a stone building.  I am trying to identify the building but it is NOT the main part of the Royal Hampshire County Hospital and architecturally doesn't seem to fit any of the Red Cross hospitals in Winchester either.  Noting your interest in Hursley Park, I don't think the photo is there either - my grandfather's group is not outside a red-brick building but one made of rougher stonework.

 

regards

Claire

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Claire,

 

i can can fairly categorically say that there was a military hospital at Hursley Park of approx 350 beds. This was, like Hazeley and Morn Hill (Magdalen Hill, Winnall Down and Avington Park camps) Hutments so none of them would fit your photo, although there was an old hospital on Magdalen Hill, but I didn't think that was used during the war (but that is an assumption and now you have me curious). The red brick building at Hursley Park was used as a 50 bed 'Hospital for Officers' , Lady Coopers Hospital for Officers to be precise.

 

 I'm somewhat dubious about the number of beds for Magdalen Hill so would be interested in your source... I'm always willing to be proved wrong and learn something new. 

 

Anyway, that isn't really the point as we are trying to find the hospital in your picture. Would you be willing to post it, here or pm me, as I'll happily take a look and see if it matches anywhere I know.

 

all the best

Dave

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