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Remembered Today:

Grandfather's MC and bar


SueRadford
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Good morning all,

I wonder if anyone can help me? My Grandfather was awarded MC and bar for action in Flanders where he went in 1915 aged 19 as a Second Lieutenant in the Gunners after training at Woolwich. The awards were published in the London Gazette on 31st May 1918 (no.30716, p6469) and 11th July 1919 (no.31456, p8983) respectively but I haven't been able to find out why they were awarded. He never spoke about his experiences in the Great War but remained in the Army serving all over the world and in World War 2 before his death in his mid-50s so sadly I never met him. His name was Hugh James Mortimer and I'd be so pleased if someone could point me in the right direction?

Many thanks,

Sue

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The first, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/30716/supplement/6469 was a King's Birthday Honours list, so is likely to have been awarded for general good works, rather than a specific act of gallantry. The work beign done to tag names in Operation War Diary may help reveal a bit more from unit war diaries the bar is in https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/31456/supplement/8983 but this is actually a correction to the original announcement on p6822 that year (originally name and date of original MC given incorrectly), which is at https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/31370/page/6822. Still no citation unfortunately. His battery is given though, so may be able to find a war diary from that.

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His WO389 card shows:

RGA attached HQ 44th (SA) Bde. RGA (South Africa)

MC = 3/6/18

Bar = 3/6/19

TEW

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Thank you so much Tew, Johnboy and David for your speedy replies. I can see he was RGA 129th Heavy Battery but I didn't realise that meant he wasn't a gunner as he was always described as one. How do I contact Operation War Diary please David? And so sorry to sound like a complete idiot Tew, but what is an WO389 card please?

Also for some reason I see "Private" is printed above his photo' which I've just added but as he retired a full Colonel I feel it's selling him somewhat short! Does anyone know how I can change that please as I can't seem to do it through "edit profile" link?

Thanks again,

Sue

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Thanks Graeme - so his first MC was awarded for what David calls "general good works". Now I just need to find out about the second!

Best wishes,

Sue

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Private is your forum rank, as you post more you'll be promoted, artillery are often referred to as gunners, so I'm not quite sure what Johnboy is driving at (other than the fact his rank wouldn't have been gunner, nor was he a member of Arsenal FC).

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I forgot the question about Operation War Diary - the index isn't yet readily available unfortunately, keep an eye on http://talk.operationwardiary.org and/or their Facebook page or blog http://blog.operationwardiary.org

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Private is your forum rank, as you post more you'll be promoted, artillery are often referred to as gunners, so I'm not quite sure what Johnboy is driving at (other than the fact his rank wouldn't have been gunner, nor was he a member of Arsenal FC).

I wasn't 'driving' at anything. Thought it might be useful for a new poster to know the formal name of a regiment. No good searching Regiments on LLT looking for Gunners.

Perhaps you missed this part of the first post?

action in Flanders where he went in 1915 aged 19 as a Second Lieutenant in the Gunners after training at Woolwich.

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I saw that, but as it's perfectly common to refer to someone as a gunner officer and similar I didn't think much too it. Clearly your response, though well-intentioned, confused both the original poster and me!

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Sue,

WO389 is a series s at The National Archives that covers the awards of the Military Cross. There are cards for each man and an alternative version of the Gazette. Graeme has put up his 'WO389 card' in post#6.

His Gazette entries are a little complicated. As David pointed out in post#2 the Gazette entry for his Bar to the MC was mistakenly attributed to Harold James Mortimer and was corrected later.

Gazette for MC Issue 30716 page 6469

Bar to MC issue 31370 page 6822 incorrectly stated to be Harold James Mortimer.

Corrected Bar to MC 31456 page 8983

Hugh James Mortimer's bar to MC does not show up in the advanced copies of the Gazette, it falls short by 2 pages (wo389/8 page 396 of the pdf if anyone else is looking)

TEW

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Thanks David and Tew, I'm not surprised they were confused by two Mortimers with similar christian names! How frustrating that the Gazette doesn't include a citation for his bar to MC. I've spent most of the day searching but keep drawing a blank. My son has just joined the Army so I'm really keen to give him a bit of family history, and I know my elderly mother (only child of "Mort" as he was always called) would love to know more about his heroism.

With best wishes,

Sue

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In my copy of Webb's "Bars to the MC' the bar to Mortimer is listed as no citation - and July 1919 is an honours list, so that is the 'atta boy' award. The first MC was oddly also an honours list award but he does not indicate 'no citation' - a good rule of thumb is awards tpyically appear in the gazette 3 months or so after the actions/recommendation period,which in this case plants it in the middle of the German Michael offensive. Garrison artillery was not especially mobile so the SA brigade diaries might shed some light (if anyone had time to document it in the chaos) but probably did long hard desperate work to save key equipment and men in his battery in the face of the german onslaught.

head to the appendix on page 267 here for a contemporary history of the SA heavy artillery, it should help you gain understanding of his war:http://www.archive.org/stream/historyofsouthaf00buchrich/historyofsouthaf00buchrich_djvu.txt

It is my understanding the South African National Defence Force Archives (sandfdoc@mweb.co.za) hold the records of WWI servicemen. Family members need merely to grant permission for a search, and a copy of the records will be sent free of charge.
http://www.warpath.orbat.com/contributions/0002.htm

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Hi Sue,

The basic rank in Artillery is Gunner if serving the guns. This is equivalent to Private in the Infantry.

Whilst your Grandfather was an officer, as David says, it was common for artillerymen and the wider artillery corps to be referred to as 'gunners' (and still is to this day), no matter the rank.

Not to be confused with the Machine Gun Corps which operated heavy machine guns during the Great War.

Rgds

Tim

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Thank you so much for your replies Scott and Tim. Particular thanks to Scott for dating his first MC to the German Michael offensive and for the link to the South African archive which certainly gives a sense of the horror of that period and the bravery of the men, particularly Major Brydon of the 44th HA brigade who should have been awarded a posthumous VC by all accounts.

Mort's army record shows:

Jan 1916 - Posted to the 21 Heavy Battery RGA in January 1916 for 13 months;

Feb 1917 - 44th HA Group in Feb 1917 (promoted to Lieutenant in July);

March 1918 - 129 Heavy Battery (Acting Capt and 2nd in Command) for 11months before going on into Germany in 1919.

I can't tell you all how grateful I am for all your help. I've got further in 24 hours than I could have imagined possible!

Sue

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  • 4 months later...

I think you are unlucky to find that both the MC and the Bar have no citation. More often that not if the MC is a periodic award (ie New Years or Birthday Honours) rather than an Immediate award you find that the Bar is treated as an immediate award and has a citation, if not in the first LG date then in a follow up LG. There is a collector of Artillery Officers on the British Medal Forum who has a substantial collection of DSOs and MCs to the gunners and he has done much work on tracking down the original recommendations for the periodic awards that would have become the published citations had they been dealt with as an immediate award. There is not one for everyone - but he has found lots !!

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if you are interested his cadet entry in the RMA Woolwich register survives in the Sandhurst archives http://archive.sandhurstcollection.co.uk/view/2118/63832/, as a cadet entering 15 April 1915, commissioned in the 17 Oct 1915 class [of 191 RA and RE officers], aged 18 years, 10 months, 23 days..

I happen to have the RMA Magazine for Aug 1915 which lists him as in Section A at Woolwich [there was a Section A and Section B) .. but sadly no photo or other mention of him while a cadet.

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