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Remembered Today:

South Wales Borderers 2nd Bn


Dannemois
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18 soldiers of the South Wales Borderers 2nd Battalion lie in Hawthorn Ridge Cemetery No 2, Auchonvillers, all with a date of death of 1st July 1916; can someone please tell me what action the Borderers were involved in that day.

Regards, Roy

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battle of the Somme - or am I being too obvious?

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The attack at Beaumont Hamel, where the Newfoundland Memorial Park is located. They were in 87th Brigade 29th Division, many men being Gallipoli veterans. The attack was launched against the head of Y Ravine, aiming to capture Station Road 700 yards away in the bottom of the Ravine. The 2nd SWB's formed the left flank of the brigade attack (which was in the centre of the Divisional assault), and they were the first attacking unit. 86th Brigade to their left, R.Inniskillings to their right, and the 1st Border Regiment following them up.

The Hawthorn redoubt mine was blown about 800 yards to their left at 7:20am, and they began to move out into and through the British wire. However, enemy MGs began to open up as they reached the edge of the wire and shrapnel shells landed amongst them. Heavily loaded, and walking steadily downhill towards an enemy who could see them clearly, they suffered heavy casualties. The very few who got as far as the enemy wire were gunned down. Within 20 minutes the battalion had been nearly wiped out.

The tragedy was intensified by the Border Regt. attacking at 8:15 am and suffering the same fate while still negotiating the British wire. At 9:15am the Newfoundlanders appeared as well, and were similarly shot to pieces. Darkness enabled some wounded to be rescued and for other survivors to crawl back from shellholes. The 2nd SWBs lost 15 out of 21 officers engaged, and 384 out of 578 other Ranks engaged (235 being killed or missing). Two Lieutenants commanded the two companies which the battalion now combined out of battle reserve and fit survivors.

Clive

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Thanks Coldstreamer; I knew he was killed at the Somme but thanks for replying


Clive

Many thanks for the very detailed account for which I am very grateful.

Regards, Roy

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Clive

The entry for the award of the MM to Pte 1/11820 Patrick Quinn I located in the Supplement to the London Gazette published 2 June 1916, page 5595 and the same entry was published in Supplement to the Edinburgh Gazette June 5, 1916 page 1021. CWGC says 2nd Bn SWBs while the announcement for the MM says 3rd Bn SWBs. I have tried in vain to find out where and what deed he carried out. Would it be in the war diary?

Regards, Roy

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Roy,

Not straightforward...firstly I note from the 1914-15 Star Rolls that Quinn landed in France January 1915, under 1st SWBs, and indeed the BWM/VIC Rolls simply state he first served with 1st SWB and then with the 2nd SWB. The latter roll is however specifically a "South Wales Borderers (Special Reserve)" roll, so he would indeed have been a 3rd Battalion man before he went out. Killed on 1st July 1916, and MM with LG 3.6.16 noted on the MIC as well. But no clue there as to when he was transferred, and indeed the usual marginal info about Base Depots etc. is minimal to the point of virtual non-existence on that page.

He is listed as no.11820, an MM winner in the Honours & Awards at the back of the Regimental History for WW1 (no battalions given in this roll) , and likewise in their Roll of Honour. Howard Williamson's book on medals notes that LG 3.6.16 was the first ever Gazette to list MM awards after the decoration was created: they were for the Western Front but included many awards for events going back even to 1914, a number being "downgraded" from DCM recommendations. He notes the latest award so far traced for events occurred in April 1916, but that's not conclusive. So he could have earned it any time after he landed, down to about April 1916 or even later, and it would still have appeared in that Gazette.

The 1st SWBs account in the Regt. History (page 216) mentions a time when the unit was in the Loos Salient / some way north of Vimy Ridge, approx. May 1916. During a patrol, Ptes. Quinn and Macaulay were out near the enemy wire when the Germans fired on another patrol from a different unit and wounded a man. They came out through their wire to capture him, but the two SWBs surprised them, driving them off with rifle fire and rescuing the casualty. It says Quinn received an "immediate DCM" and Macaulay a bar to a previous DCM. OK, but - there is no Quinn DCM listed in the Honours and Awards. There is a "15021 Pte. Quicke DCM", however. 11820 P.Quinn MM is in the volume Index, Quicke/Quirk isn't. No sign of a 15021 Quicke in the medal rolls - but there was both a 15021 Patrick Quirk and a 15021 Sgt. Henry James in the SWBs. Quirk was a 1914 Star & bar man who later transferred into the RAMC, but his MIC has no reference to a DCM (that's not conclusive however). I'm inclined to think that maybe this "Quinn" and the "Quicke / Quirk" were all the same man - but not your Quinn. Happy to be corrected on this!! One alternative is to see your Quinn as the one meriting an award for the patrol action, but getting an immediate MM rather than a DCM - or maybe it was for an entirely different event.

The 2nd SWBs arrived in France in March 1916. I don't have their actual War Diary nor the 1st SWB one, but they should now be downloadable and maybe about the time of the Gazette (or a little earlier) one or other might refer to the award being made? Sorry I can't be more definite on this one.

Clive

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Clive

Yet again I am indebted to you for a very detailed and full account with reference to Private Quinn. Thank you so much, your time andknowledge is very much appreciated.

Best Regards, Roy

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Dont know if this is any help but ive had a quick look thru the War Diary.

The 2nd Btn landed in France in March 1916 but didnt enter trenches near Englebelmer until 3rd April 1916. During the 6th April the Germans made a large scale raid on the front line which took a couple of hours to fight off. Total Casualties were 5 Officers Wounded, 26 Other Ranks Killed, 21 Missing and 31 Wounded.

On 29th April the Battalion attempted to carry out a raid on the enemies trench at Hawthorn Redoubt but the patrol was spotted and driven off by enemy fire suffering 1 Officer killed, 1 Officer wounded, 3 Other Ranks killed, 5 Missing and 16 Wounded.

The first recorded draft for the battalion was on the 5th May when 76 men joined, 30 being a fresh draft and the remainder being men from hospital in Egypt. The next draft arrives on 11th May, 15 men again from

hospital in Egypt. On 14th May there is a draft of 15 men who join the battalion. There is a 2nd Lt Robinson

who arrives from 3rd battalion with 20 men on 8th June.

Between April and the opening day of the Somme when the battalion attack Beaumont Hamel there is no individual men mentioned by name, no mention of anyone winning the Military Medal and apart from the two raids described above there wasnt any other potential actions where medals could have been won.

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Hi gwentpal

Thanks for the information; short of repeating myself; every piece of information helps to understand what went on at the time and I am grateful to all you guys for your time.

Regards, Roy

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  • 9 months later...

Hi gwentpal

Appreciate it's not your remit but trying to find out added information about Alfred William Cook - 21518 - 5th South Wales Borderers - died 10 April 1918, believe he was a tin worker prior to the war and I'm trying to link him to the Abertillery Memorial.

Best wishes, Stoob

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5th battalion a service battalion formed in Brecon. So men from all over SWB area would be in battalion as it is a K battalion.

5th deployed as Pioneer's. Involved with battle of Anise in 1918, war diary should be accessible at Brecon or N.A..

Edit is it his service record on ancestry?

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Hi Scalyback, thanks for the reply fully appreciated. I'm not on a subscription site at present. I've a CD called Roll of Honour for Monmouthshire Casualties and the information is taken from there. I can only summise he was working in one of the local mines or tin works at the outbreak of war.

COOK, ALFRED WILLIAM - Private 21518 - 5th Battalion South Wales Borderers - died 10th April 1918 - age 25 - born in Overmonnow, Monmouth; enlisted at Brecon, Breconshire, resident of Monmouth; son of Mr. A. W. and Sarah Ann Cook of 7 Gold Wire Lane, Monmouth - commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium - memorial reference:- Panel 65 to 66 also commemorated on the Central Memorial, St. James Square, Monmouth also commemorated on the St. Mary's Church Memorial, Monmouth.

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Strange I've read the name on Tyne cot, might have a picture of the panel tucked away.

if you can't access ancestry I will have a nose in the week(ironically in a mining musuem!)

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Hi Stoob,

South Wales Borderers Medal rolls indicate that Alfred Cook 21518 was originally in the 11th Battalion, enlisting early in 1915; after the battalion was disbanded early in 1918 he was transferred into 5th Battalion.

The number block 20100 to 23500 were allocated to the locally raised battalions from Gwent, the 10th 11th 12th; the majority of the men, probably 75% were Colliers. Although his address in the 1911 census shows him living in the town of Monmouth he may have moved to Abertillery before the outbreak of war. Have you looked at the Absent Voter Lists for Abertillery, they are held in the Gwent Archives at the old steelworks offices in Ebbw Vale.

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Hi gwentpal, - yes I have the 1918 absent voters, he's not on there unfortunately. Many thanks for your previous assistance and time which is fully appreciated.

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