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Remembered Today:

Officer 47th Div. Engineers


Gogargirl
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Can anyone please guide me in researching my grandfather’s TF activities in the Great War? Here’s what I have so far:

Name: William Craufurd Cooper

Jan 1900: commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, RE (LG)

Mar 1901: Longmoor Barracks, Hants., subaltern 60th Field Co. RE (census)

Feb 1903: Lieutenant (LG)

Jan 1909: Captain (LG)

Sep 1911: appointed adjutant 2nd London Divisional Royal Engineers (LG)

Dec 1915: vacates the appointment of adjutant London Divisional Engineers (LG)

Dec 1918: Acting Lt. Col. (LG)

From his medal roll index card: qualifying date western theatre - 15 Mar 1915: Capt. and Adjt. 47 Div. Engineers. Group of three. Present Situation – Maj. RE. C.S.M.E. Chatham. Forwards nominal roll of officers Jan 1919.

I’d like to find out which brigade/battalion/company he was with, as I’m assuming he wasn’t the adjutant for the whole division? I’d also like to know what he did after relinquishing the adjutant’s appointment and when he was promoted to Major, as I can’t find this in the LG. Will looking for him in WO374 provide this sort of information, as I think he left the army in 1920? Grateful for a steer please.

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Hello gogargirl

Divisional engineers consisted of three Field Companies and a Signal Company, so roughly the same size as an infantry battalion and as adjutant his duties would have been similar to those of an infantry adjutant.

As the chief staff officer to the divisional Commander Royal Engineers, or CRE, you may find facts about his activities in the War Diary of the CRE 47th Division, which I think has been digitised and made available online through www.nationalarchives.gov.uk. in fact, as adjutant, he probably wrote the diary!

And yes, if you can find his file in WO374, that should give you a lot more information about his career in WW1.

Good luck,

Ron

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In fact, as adjutant, he probably wrote the diary!

Ron - bless you! Thank you so much!

Yes, he did write the diary - or goodly chunks of it. I've yet to read it carefully, but I'm hooked. It is very emotional to read his words and see his writing; to see the plans and notes and wonder if he was grateful for his Woolwich training or if he felt the world (and war) had moved on in the years since he was commissioned. It may be my imagination, but I swear his writing is shakier and more urgent when passing on the signal from CRE to all units that the enemy is using gas.

The next puzzle is that he leaves to take command of the 76th Field Company RE in January 1916, where he also writes the war diary. Six weeks later the writing changes: he is sent to hospital - with no reason noted - and he doesn't return to the 76th. I know he is somewhere there, and I'll find him.

One question: is there any source to identify the code names of locations used in the diaries? 'Winchester' 'Bond Street' etc.?

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They are probably names of trenches or trench systems. There is a fairly recent book called "Rats Alley", by Peter Chasseaud, which may help you. Your local library may have a copy, or you could buy one on Amazon or similar sites.

Clearly it is too late to give you the standard health warning: "Great War research is addictive and can seriously reduce the amount of your free time"!

Ron

Edit: Amazon says "currently unobtainable".

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