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JWK

Interned in the Netherlands - Pictures of 1500 soldiers found

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horatio2
20 minutes ago, Prue Peters said:

can you point me where to find out about the account of his losing his arm and the Battle please. 

For an overview of the Battle of the Ancre on 13/14/15 November 1916 see the divisional history "The Royal Naval Division" by Douglas Jerrold. Online here (Chapter XI and note on p.195):-

https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.523461/page/n227

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Prue Peters

Thank you so much.  

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NR72
On 19/01/2020 at 14:36, Prue Peters said:

It definitely seems as if could be THE one!.  More goosebumps here!  I have sent links to my cousins so that they can see the interesting correspondence on this forum.   Makes it all so much more real and appreciate what they all went through.  I am moving on to finding out about the battle where he lost his arm....in France - .... something he lived with so well for the rest of his life and was the only person we knew who get get winkles out of a shell with one arm.  He gave up on the false arm very quickly!.  Will post anything else if I find it.  (Have just been reading all about the Naval Reserves at Blandford Camp where he started out).

Thanks so much for this (see my other response too)... can you point me where to find out about the account of his losing his arm and the Battle please.  Someone sent them to me many years ago and I have no idea where I put them.... I belong to all the main ancestry sites.  Thank you.

Screenshot 2020-01-19 at 13.44.58.png

Screenshot 2020-01-19 at 13.44.09.png

 

I saw Falmouth (My home town) and thought you may want to see these , although they are captioned as 1918

 

20-Hospital-Group-1918.jpg

38-WW1-wounded-Recreatioin-Ground-Falmouth-1918.jpg

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GVC

JWK, Many thanks for your posts on this site and directions to the Rotterdam Archive site.  It has been an immense help.  I found the photo of my GG grandfather Thomas Croft who was a member of Benbow Batt. interned in Holland.  Also although I cant read Dutch, I stumbled on a letter in the archive from the Camp Commondant to the Rotterdam Chief of Police dated 29th Oct 1915 referring to Th. Croft who had escaped and was absent while the photos were taken. He escaped on Friday 16th July 1915 along with a man named Joe Limb, and made it back to England, reporting to Crystal Palace.  Following agreement between England and Holland for escaped internees to be returned to Holland, he was sent back to Gronignen on 8th October 1915.  His photo was taken subsequently and sent to the Rotterdam Police along with that of 2 other soldiers who had been absent, with the above mentioned letter on 29th Oct.  I wonder if there was any article about his escape in the local papers at the time?

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spof

JWK

 

I have edited your first post to include the new web address for the photos to make it easier for anyone coming across this wonderful resource will find it more easily. Thanks for follwing up the change in URL.

 

Glen

GWF Admin Team

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horatio2

GVC, An interesting story. I was not aware that an escapee had been returned to internment. Indeed, I can find no other case and there were several escapes to UK after your GGF, none of whom were sent back.

In this case, I note that AB Thos CROFT not only escaped from Holland but then deserted from the RND not long after arriving in England, handing himself in two weeks later only to be sent back to Holland. Perhaps the "RUN" in UK was linked to his return to Holland.

The records of Stoker Joseph LIMB, in contrast; make no mention of escape from Holland and subsequent return. Perhaps, unlike your GGF, he was captured in Holland before completing a home run.

That said, the majority of home runs were in the first half of 1915 and there were far fewer thereafter.

Do you have a reference for the UK-Holland Agreement about escaped internees?

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JWK
9 hours ago, GVC said:

I wonder if there was any article about his escape in the local papers at the time?

 

Hi GVC.

Unfortunately no reports in the Dutch press! Closest I could get was an escape of 2 internees early July, but they were quickly caught.

And a 2 line report in August "2 Sailors, who had escaped from internment in Groningen, were sent back to Flushing from the UK"

 

What I did find is that apparently he wasn't at the dinner a group of escapees who succesfully made it back held on July 19th (but seeing horatio2 's comment about desertion maybe not surprising), and that, due to the growing number of escapes in July 1915 (to around 30 per month),  it was decided to photograph every internee, and send the photos to the Rotterdam police.

So without your GGGrandfather (and all the other escapees) there would be no photographs of the internees.

 

And to @Prue Peters your grandfather was one of the instigators of that dinner!

 

 


dinner.jpg.8193806d4e934ee1ceb983269306a55a.jpg

 

"Omnes Veniant" translates loosely as "That all may come"

 

(From "The Camp Magazine. August 1915"

And thanks to the (Dutch-language) book "Het Engelse Kamp Groningen 1914-1918" by Menno Wielinga  (ISBN 9789052945491 )

Edited by JWK

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JWK
8 hours ago, horatio2 said:

Do you have a reference for the UK-Holland Agreement about escaped internees?

 

Menno Wielinga states in his book (on page 168) : "On 1st September 1915 the British Government reported to the Dutch Government that all NCO's and OR's who had broken their "non-escape promise" [and were found in the UK] would be sent back to the Netherlands"

And on 1st May 1916 this was to be for everyone, also including those who had not given their "non-escape promise"

 

 

Edited by JWK

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horatio2

Thanks to JWK fir that information.

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JWK
8 hours ago, spof said:

JWK

 

I have edited your first post to include the new web address for the photos to make it easier for anyone coming across this wonderful resource will find it more easily. Thanks for follwing up the change in URL.

 

Glen

GWF Admin Team

 

Excellent, thank you!

 

And following that I have edited my post about the website that hosted scans of the Camp Magazine.

The original website ( www.groningencamp.co.uk/  ) is gone but it can still be accessed via that invention of all inventions: the Waybackmachine!

http://web.archive.org/web/2018*/http://www.groningencamp.co.uk/

 

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GVC

Thank you for your replies.  From an article in the Barnsley chronicle (of which I only have a transcript) it indicates Thomas escaped Friday 16th July and arrived at Crystal Palace 11-12 o’clock Sunday night 18th July and the following day (coincidentally the day of the escapees Dinner) he was granted 7 days leave to visit his family in Barnsley. 

I also assume the “run” from 31 August to 15 Sept was due to Thomas finding out he would be going back to Holland, and am trying to find out more about this.

The article indicates Joe Limb also made it to England (the transcription states Joe Lumb of Doncaster) but I think this is a transcription error as I cannot find a Lumb in the RND and a Joe Limb is mentioned in the letter I mentioned the commandant wrote to the chief of Police (letter is page 25 on the archive site). However Joseph Limbs RND card on THA doesn’t include any mention of an escape.

Regarding the agreement to return escapees, I had read that the ongoing escapes had caused political issues between the Dutch and English and it is mentioned on Menno Wielinga’s

website: https://www.wereldoorlog1418.nl/englishcamp/part-09.html

 

“A total of 91 British attempted to escape in 1915, of whom 37 actually made it. In May 1916, the British government decided to return every escaped internee to Holland. They probably wanted to be rid of all the problems that the escapees caused with the Dutch government.” 

A small observation on the internees photographs. Most appear to have been taken outdoors at the camp, presumably the photographer went to the camp and took full length photos of the internees standing outside, often in groups which were then cut into strips.  Thomas’ photo is taken indoors with him sitting on a chair. Looking at the chair it may have been at the photographers studio.   The photo is pasted over some red text on the paper  “ geen portret uanwerkig” – no portrait detailed (per google translate) as no photo had been available at the time of the original photo shoot.

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horatio2
On 23/02/2020 at 07:03, GVC said:

A total of 91 British attempted to escape in 1915, of whom 37 actually made it.

 

RND records do not list all escape attempts but from those records I have identified a total of 43 sucesssful escapes leading to a return to England:

By battalion:-  Benbow Bn. 24; Collingwood Bn 7; Drake Bn 1; Hawke Bn 10 and Howe Bn 1.

By rank/service (at date of escape):-  RNVR officers 2; RMLI ORs 1; RN ratings 5 and RNVR ratings 35.

Thomas CROFT is the only Groningen escapee recorded as being returned to internment in Holland.

 

The latest recorded escape was in the period 14 - 25 August 1915. I think the ability, after this period, to be granted leave to UK from internment probably dampened the urge to escape.  Even so, a couple of attempts were made in March 1918 by men who tried to avoid being returned to Holland after such home leave. Their attempts were foiled when they were discovered as stowaways on a merchant ship and landed at Plymouth. They were then sent back to internment.

Edited by horatio2

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JWK
57 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

Thomas CROFT is the only Groningen escapee recorded as being returned to internment in Holland.

 

There seem to be at least two others:

The "Vlissingsche Courant" (Flushing newspaper) of Friday 20 August 1915:

 

Quote

 

Flushing, 20 august [1915]

Last night, two British sailors arrived on the day ferry from England. They had escaped from Groningen some time ago, and are now being sent back to Groningen by the British government.

 

 

vco-1915-08-20-001_jp2.jpg.5f67563ed2b50be639bca6a4f1f45179.jpg

 

 

The ferry probably was the SMZ's "Koningin Regentes" from Tilbury

 

 

 

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horatio2

Interesting - a pity there are no names to match against their records. I can only repeat:  Thomas CROFT is the only Groningen escapee recorded as being returned to internment in Holland. Every other man recorded as an escapee continued to serve in the RND or on sea service. There were twelve sucessful escapers recorded beteween early July and late August 1915 - none of them returned.

 

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JWK
1 hour ago, horatio2 said:

Interesting - a pity there are no names to match against their records.

 

Could it be Joseph Limb and H. Leeson?

Although, as GVC had already found out, Limb's card does not make any mention of an escape.

 

From the Rotterdam Municipal Police archive (click on the grey + in front of 170. click little arrow. scroll down. scan nr 25) a letter from the commandant of Timbertown to the Rotterdam Police

 

Quote

 

With reference to your letter of 28 october last I have the honour to send you the portraits of:

J. Limb

H. Leeson

Th. Croft

all from the Benbow Batallion, who, at the time we sent you the portraits of all internees, had escaped, and since have been sent back to my depot, with the help of the English Admirality.

 

 

NL-RtSA_63_170_0025.jpg.3c6896f5fa8a3b6d1c942c855d904632.jpg

Edited by JWK

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horatio2

This must be Stoker 1st Class Henry LEESON, SS.106304 (RFR B/5797) of Benbow Bn.  As with LIMB, there is nothing in his records (RN and RND) to indicate escape and return. Nevertheless, the evidence of the letter is compelling and they should be added to the list of escapees.

Thank you for finding and posting it.

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horatio2

Digging deeper into the records ..... It is helpful that the two stokers, LIMB and LEESON, both have RN ledger records (as well as RND records). Interestingly, although neither record specifically mentions escape/return, they both have interesting entries at the time in question. Both ratings are temporarily placed on the books of HMS VICTORY VI (training battalions at Crystal Palace) 21 Jul to 18 Aug 1915 (LIMB) and 27 Jul to 17 Aug 1915 (LEESON). These entries could be held to support an escape and return to England in July and a return to Holland on 17/18 August. The latter date ties in with the 20 August newspaper report of two ratings landing on 19 August.

I think we have all the evidence now.

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JWK
3 hours ago, horatio2 said:

Henry LEESON

 

He was not put off by being sent back:

 

On 26th october 1915 the commandant of Timbertown sends a letter (scan 21 in the police archives) to the Head of Police in Rotterdam, advising him that Henry Leeson has retracted his "non-escape" promise, and it is expected he may try to escape again.

 

leeson.jpg.23c106f9d1079ed17b23c45040ab17f5.jpg

 

Archive of letters ends end of 1915, so alas don't know if he ever tried again.

 

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GVC
On 28/02/2020 at 01:42, JWK said:

With reference to your letter of 28 october last I have the honour to send you the portraits of:

J. Limb

H. Leeson

Th. Croft

all from the Benbow Batallion, who, at the time we sent you the portraits of all internees, had escaped, and since have been sent back to my depot, with the help of the English Admirality.

 

The Barnsley Chronicle have forwarded to me a copy of the original article from July 24 1915 in which Thomas Croft describes their escape from Gronignen and I attach a copy.  As mentioned previously, it refers to his fellow escapee as "Joe Lumb" but given other evidence, one presumes it should be Joe Limb.  At one point it mentions them looking up someone in Rotterdam who arranged their transport to England.  The persons name or position is redacted in the article.  I recall reading somewhere that there was someone in Rotterdam secretly helping escapees return to England but have misplaced that reference. Does anyone have any other information about that? Anyway this is Thomas Croft's version of events regarding his escape.

BC 24 July 1915.pdf

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GVC
1 minute ago, GVC said:

 

The Barnsley Chronicle have forwarded to me a copy of the original article from July 24 1915 in which Thomas Croft describes their escape from Gronignen and I attach a copy.  As mentioned previously, it refers to his fellow escapee as "Joe Lumb" but given other evidence, one presumes it should be Joe Limb.  At one point it mentions them looking up someone in Rotterdam who arranged their transport to England.  The persons name or position is redacted in the article.  I recall reading somewhere that there was someone in Rotterdam secretly helping escapees return to England but have misplaced that reference. Does anyone have any other information about that? Anyway this is Thomas Croft's version of events regarding his escape.

BC 24 July 1915.pdf 371.43 kB · 0 downloads

Apologies, it was the Barnsley Archive that forwarded the article not the Chronicle...

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JWK

@GVC

“a somewhat formidable task” indeed to travel from Groningen to the Hague!

Must have taken them quite a few hours.

 

The “SS Kirkall Abbey” would be the “SS Kirkham Abbey

kirkham.jpg.f2893b3e1e4628b9ad7c8637ca50adeb.jpg

 

And they probably escaped on board the “SS Cromer”, which has brought escapees across in at least two earlier instances.

cromer.jpg.5b786779549b399e011a2e2d4bc340e3.jpg

 

 

As regards the helper in Rotterdam:

 

From https://www.wereldoorlog1418.nl/engelsekamp/engelsekamp-deel-09.html

 

Quote

"There was also a strong suspicion against the Englishman W[illiam] Ewens, who lived in Rotterdam. According to the Rotterdam police, he organized an escape route for escaped internees who were on their way to England. However, sufficient evidence for this was not found. But stories from British escapees show that there have indeed been organized escapes like this."

 

 

Edited by JWK

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GVC

Many thanks for that information JWK.  Are you able to translate the term yeel deining for me.  Google translate gives me 'swell 'for deining but nothing for yeel. Thinking it might be something along the lines of rough seas given the strong wind and rain??.  Thanks again it was really great you could provide those newspaper clippings.

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JWK
5 hours ago, GVC said:

Are you able to translate the term yeel deining for me. 

 

Wind NW to N, strong wind, rain, swelling sea

 

That "swelling sea" comes from the 1841 Pocket-dictionary of English navy-terms on Google books

 

When the Cromer sailed the weather was : Wind S, moderate breeze, clear, calm sea.

 

Mr William Ewens was born in Chicester, married, with six kids, and was described as "commercial agent" in the population register, and as "Office employee" in the address book.

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JWK
On 30/03/2020 at 14:35, JWK said:

And they probably escaped on board the “SS Cromer”, which has brought escapees across in at least two earlier instances.

cromer.jpg.5b786779549b399e011a2e2d4bc340e3.jpg

 

 

Maybe some extra info on this rather cryptic newspaper article is needed:

"17 juli v.m.  8.- s. Cromer, Harwich"  means in normal talk :

 

"The Steamship Cromer passed Hook of Holland out to sea at 0800hrs AM on the 17th of July 1915."

 

She probably sailed from Parkkade, Rotterdam (in earlier months that's where she docked)

The SS Kirkham Abbey usually docked at Parkhaven (right next door)

 

Map of Rotterdam in 1915 with Parkkade (circled in centre of the map, Parkhaven is to the left of that), and where this (supposedly!)  escapee-helper mr Ewens lived (circled top left)

Rotterdam.jpg.cf86286260441436f4d03a532d20bfee.jpg

 

Also, as an aside: the agent for Great Eastern Railway ships was the Rotterdam firm Hudig & Pieters, where I worked in the 80's!

 

 

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