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Remembered Today:

The “Journey's End” Battalion: the 9th East Surrey in the Great Wa


bierast
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Much as it grieves me to see my father's labour of love knocked down to a bargain price, I really must point out that The Journey's End Battalion by Michael Lucas is available from Naval & Military Press for a mere £6.99.

Anyone interested in the East Surreys, the play Journey's End and its genesis, or more broadly in the development of the early 'Kitchener' battalions and their experiences in action really should pick this one up ASAP. As battalion histories go it is one of the most thorough I have ever seen; my own contribution was to unearth and translate the relevant German sources for (most of) the enemy units the 9th ESR encountered, which resulted in some exciting discoveries when compared closely with the British war diaries.

Fans of the play should also note that we will both be at the Surrey History Centre on 24th October for their R.C. Sherriff Study Day. Dad will be talking about the roots of the play in Sherriff's experiences with 9th ESR, while my friend Ian and I will be putting on a small living history display in our respective British and German guises.

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  • 2 months later...

My grandfather was in that battalion, so thank you, I will buy the book.

Pam.

Thankyou, I hope you find it illuminating! Please note that my father also frequents this forum and would certainly be interested to hear about your grandfather's service with the 9th ESR.

Kind regards

Andrew Lucas

www.royalsaxonarmy.co.uk

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The first medals I ever bought were to a chap in the 9th ESR, so I'll be ordering a copy when I get home!

Barrie

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I will look for your father. I have my grandfather's service history and the war diaries, it is fascinating reading.

I've ordered the book and noticed someone is selling one on Amazon for £2,300!

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I'm always pleased to hear from relatives and others with an interest in the battalion, and will help with any information I have. Some more has emerged since I wrote the book.

I'm still hoping that one day I'll find photos including my own great uncles. The first was Private C.Woodbury, of 'D' Company, who served with the battalion 10/1915-10/1918 ( wounded for 3rd time & captured 16/10/18). Unfortunately, almost all I have seen of groups with O.Rs. are post Armistice. The second was 2nd Lt. R. Howship, MC, who served with the battalion in 1919.

Michael

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  • 1 year later...

I have recently discovered (via Ancestry.co.uk) a great, great uncle fought and died with the 9th ESR on the 16.10.1918 shortly after being transferred to them from the 1st some 3 months earlier (from what I can tell from the records. His name was Private John Wardell 8053. Naturally, I have just ordered a copy of the book :)

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  • 10 months later...

Hi Michael, my grandfather Lieut GLG Churcher was in A Company, 9th East Surreys, and was wounded at Lens on 3rd September 1918 during the German trench raid. I have his medals I'm pleased to say.

Churcher GLG Medals 1.jpg

Churcher GLG P GLG LHC.jpg

Churcher GLG O Xmas Menu 1917 1F.jpg

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Churcher GLG O Xmas Menu 1917 1FI.jpg

Churcher GLG O Xmas Menu 1917 1R.jpg

Churcher GLG O Xmas Menu 1917 2FI.jpg

Churcher GLG O Xmas Card 1917 F.jpg

Churcher GLG O Xmas Card 1917 R.jpg

Edited by ghchurcher
typo
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That's great GHC! I see your grandfather was with the battalion from Aug 16 to Feb 18, then again after 6 months in England. Which man is he in the photo, and do you know who the other officer is? I've not seen  this photo before but it looks like the same background as one of 'C' Company officers taken in April 1917. Your grandfather would have known R.C.Sherriff and the officers whom he used as models for 'Journey's End' .

One of my great uncles was a private in 'D' Company'.

Regards,

Michael

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21 hours ago, EastSurrey said:

That's great GHC! I see your grandfather was with the battalion from Aug 16 to Feb 18, then again after 6 months in England. Which man is he in the photo, and do you know who the other officer is? I've not seen  this photo before but it looks like the same background as one of 'C' Company officers taken in April 1917. Your grandfather would have known R.C.Sherriff and the officers whom he used as models for 'Journey's End' .

One of my great uncles was a private in 'D' Company'.

Regards,

Michael

Thanks Michael. He is on the left of the photo. I had always thought the guy on the right was his twin brother Lionel Henry Churcher - but maybe not - and thinking about it probably not, for also appears to be a 9ES officer. I do have another confirmed photo of LHC as attached which on reassessing would seem to confirm it is not him !

 

Churcher LH Photo 1.jpg

Churcher LH O Portrait.jpg

Edited by ghchurcher
typo
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I also have these photos from an album dated 1919. There is another one dated 1920 which includes some OR photos, some name notated. There was I thought one for 1917/18 but I think my uncle had this, and he has since died. I will ask my cousins if they have anything more.

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Thank you for identifying GLGC in a fine picture. He is, like most officers of the battalion at that time, wearing rank badges on his cuffs-unlike his mate. Both are wearing green St. Andrew's crosses on each upper arm,  showing they are with 9th East Surrey, 72nd Brigade, in 24th Division. Above the cross is a star or diamond shape, which was different colours for different companies-e.g. yellow for 'D' Company.

It's nice to see that as well as medals you have one of Pte Edward Cole's Christmas cards and the menu signed by officers present. I can make out a good number of familiar names. Sadly, quite a number never made it to the Armistice, although, on the other hand,  L.C.Thomas survived and eventually made Major General.

Michael

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Thanks also for sharing the 1919 photos. I don't know which battalion your grandfather served with once he recovered from his wounds, in Norfolk and on the Rhine. Do you know? It would add to the interest for others on the Forum.

It would be great if you could track down the 1917-18 photos. Photos pre Armistice of 9/E. Surrey are relatively rare-especially of O.Rs.- with private cameras banned. A number were taken, by presumably local French & Belgian photographers, around March/April 1917 and then again around New Year 1919 with demobilisation of many men imminent. The earliest ones I have personally - found at a postcard fair- that were taken abroad, are only  from summer 1919.

Michael

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The only indication of unit is "52nd Queens" on the first page but not sure that is a Battalion, Brigade, Corps or Division !

In the 1920 album it refers to "52nd (11th Queens) Transport" under one photo. 11th Battalion Queens - East Surreys - a service battalion ? There was certainly a Queens Lamb badge amongst his bits and bobs. I'll scan the other album when I get a moment.

In the photos the officers look from a complete variety of units ?

Edited by ghchurcher
typo
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52nd Queen's would have been a U.K. based  training battalion- probably for young soldiers. It would have been sent to the Rhineland to replace men who were being demobilised and would probably have been absorbed into an existing unit.

The officers, as volunteers to serve on the Rhine, would be drawn from a number of units. A Cheshire Regt.  officer called Andrews wrote about the Rhine Army- 'This was to be composed of Y S Battalions  and officered by blokes like myself, who couldn't think what else to do.' ('Stand To!' no.107 p.53. Andrew had some ex RFC officers in his unit.

Michael

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I was at  a postcard fair in Canterbury today and found the attached. Unfortunately it's a poor quality reproduction of the original photo used for the postcard. It is, however, exactly similar to one in the papers, at Surrey History Centre, of Lt.Col C.A. Clark, who led 9th East Surrey's last stand in March 1918 as a major. It seems, therefore, quite possible it shows the battalion on the move. I think I can see a St. Andrew's cross on at least one upper arm.

Michael

Scan_20180210.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi @EastSurrey.

Very glad to have a chance to say thanks for your excellent book- I supplied several copies to family members (before it was reduced in price! Well worth every penny).

My family’s interest is that our uncle / great uncle Jack Denoon- 27228 L/Cpl JG Denoon of the 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment- died in Haussy on 16th October 1918. 

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Me and my two brothers are going there for the centenary of that unhappy event. I suppose there is no way of finding out any more about him than the information to hand in sources such as your book, the battalion war diary and the relevant volume of Soldiers Died in the Great War? There is more general information, such as that in the Coldstream Guards’ diary, but nothing that I can see on such matters as; when he enlisted (we know the place was Whitehall), when he got to battalion, which company he was in, etc.

My best guess is that he would have been a battle casualty replacement during the rebuilding of the battalion in April following it’s destruction in the Spring Offensive. We have a couple of his letters and in those he refers to one he received in May which is the earliest reference to his service.

I suppose he couldn’t have arrived much after April as he surely wouldn’t have had time to get promoted? I don’t know what the timescale for promotion was in WW1, pretty quick I expect, especially in the circumstances of 9 ESR? 

Anyway for now I seem to have ground to a halt and would appreciate any pointers you might be kind enough to throw my way.

 

 

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Hello, J.L., thanks for supporting the book! With the new film of 'Journey's End', P&S decided at the last minute to reprint it in paperback!

I was in correspondence with a lady back in 2015, who was Jack Denoon's niece. I advised her that unfortunately his service records appear to have been lost in the Blitz. My best guess, from his service number and age,  was that he was enlisted in 1917 and reached France and 9th East Surrey early in 1918, very likely, as you surmise,  when the battalion was being rebuilt after it was all but destroyed in March 1918. Many men, including veterans, did not want any sort of promotion, so a keen young man might be relatively quickly promoted. In addition to sources you already mention, I can only think of a possible obituary in a local paper, and the register of soldiers' effects on Ancestry. With the latter, I don't have an Ancestry subscription, so can't check if he has any sort of record. If he has, it may be possible to work out his length of service. He is listed among the dead in the war diary's casualty list for October, rather than the missing, so there was no doubt about his death and therefore no request for information to the Red Cross. I visited Haussy some years ago, and it is well worth a visit- much of it looking, I guess, not so different to its appearance in 1918. My great uncle, Pte. Charlie Woodbury, was captured there with 'D' Company. With his service records lost, my initial key to establishing his military career, in some detail, was a piece in his local paper when he was reported missing.

Michael

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Michael, thanks for that. Your correspondent might well have been my mother, sorry if I'm duplicating her questions! The local paper's a good shout, I shall certainly try there. 

I've got a feeling that Jack was one of the early casualties- killed at the same time as 2nd Lieutenants Taylor and Goddard. His body was relocated to Romeries Communal Cemetery later but he was initially buried just West of Haussy, his field grave was one which had a cross placed on it. My theory is that the relatively few early casualties would have been sent back across the river with the prisoners of war and processed relatively quickly.

 

 

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No need for an apology! I assume the casualty list was made up at the end of the month, by which time various missing men had turned up, or their bodies had been recovered, when the village was recaptured. Lt. Col. Cameron visited Haussy on 28 October and 4 missing (including Lt. Williams)  along with the bodies of some dead were found. Goddard is buried at Romeries, but Taylor's grave does not seem to have been identified.  Forster Taylor  is an interesting case. According to his WO339 file at the National Archives, he seems to have been  an Australian who lost his commission in the Leicestershire Regt. for going AWOL.  After service in the ranks of the Queen's he was commissioned again in November 1917, in the East Surrey Regt. Gordon Goddard, just like Sherriff, was an insurance clerk, who had come from the Artists' Rifles. Lt. Arthur Williams in his WO374 file left a vivid account of hiding from the Germans in Haussy.

Michael

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The battalion did have some characters! I was interested to read in your book of the CO’s colourful past. I wonder whether a desire for some sort of redemption for his financial transgressions might have led him to be overly keen in getting his battalion into action?

I know he was doing his job as a professional soldier and for the greater good but I can’t help feeling that if he hadn’t found somewhere to cross the river my great uncle might have lived to Armistice Day. 

Funny how we still feel the ripples from stones thrown in the water a century ago.

 

 

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On ‎10‎/‎02‎/‎2018 at 19:18, EastSurrey said:

I was at  a postcard fair in Canterbury today and found the attached. Unfortunately it's a poor quality reproduction of the original photo used for the postcard. It is, however, exactly similar to one in the papers, at Surrey History Centre, of Lt.Col C.A. Clark, who led 9th East Surrey's last stand in March 1918 as a major. It seems, therefore, quite possible it shows the battalion on the move. I think I can see a St. Andrew's cross on at least one upper arm.

Michael

Scan_20180210.jpg

This is Maricourt 7 September 1916 Q 58336

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Thanks for that, stripeyman. 9th East Surrey had  just came out of Delville Wood at that time, and was in a camp on the Albert-Amiens road. It entrained at Dernancourt at midday on 7/9. It seems, therefore it can't be my East Surrey  battalion in the picture.

Michael

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