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laughton

Captain KILBY VC

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laughton

If I started to answer this in the GET SQUARED! post that topic would get lost. I have a lot of information on that area and can be of assistance. Maybe the Moderators can move Martin's post over to this topic, or just let it carry on from here, as I have copied it below.

Martin Feledziak wrote:

A very interesting subject and I do not wish to de-rail it by posting this very slightly off topic post in the middle of your good work but it does relate to map co-ordinates and much the same maps you are using.

It relates to the re-location of Captain KILBY VC from where he was originally buried alongside the canal during the opening days of the battle of Loos and where he, and others in his assault party, remained for 14 years.

In 1929 he was moved to Arras Road Cemetery.

Looking at the concentration Burial return the original map ref appears correct taking into account that they were using the 36C map - ( 44a.A.16.c.60.55. )

but the handwritten co ordinates for the re-burial ( 51b.A.16.b.85.20 ) appear to be part way between Arras Road Cemetery and Nine Elms Cemetery.

So slightly out by 300 yards or so.

I do not know if this information helps to confirm your current findings.

Kilby.jpg

I will return in a minute with the details.

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laughton

We have marked out all the Canadian Battalion Burial Grounds in this area that were concentrated into Nine Elms Military Cemetery and the Arras Road Cemetery. I wanted to check to make sure it was not the OLD Arras Road Cemetery coordinates that had been incorrectly used. That was not the case, as it was known as CA26 (C=Canada A=1st Division 26=burial ground) which is south of the Arras Road Cemetery. The old Arras Road Cemetery was concentrated into Nine Elms.

It would appear to me it is just a clerical error that has been carried forward from the start of the site. I checked a lot of the GRRF and COG-BR documents and I see a number where the "b" was a "d" and a few where the "85" appeared to be a "35" (probably a bad Underwood key!). It may have been the proposed site and it was moved south before the concentrations started.

Most of the cemeteries we researched in this area were 1st Division (CA#) and since Arras Road Cemetery was made by the 2nd Infantry Brigade, we should check to see if there was an identified burial ground with those coordinates. It is on a trench line, at a junction, so a logical place. I will have a look at the War Diary for that period and see what it has, plus a check on Nine Elms COG-BR to see if there are grid references.

Here is what we had plotted for the area to date. This is all part of a big submission that went to the CWGC yesterday, as we believe we have found CA40 which is a mass burial site for the 16th Canadian Infantry Battalion.A lot of the cemeteries in the area were moved in April and May 1917 as a result of the German shelling of the area.

The correct location for Arras Road to match the GPS is at 51b.A.16.d.65.20 so it is more than just one displaced number.

Have you addressed your question with the CWGC?

h6cnzhta82eofy56g.jpg

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Martin Feledziak

Greetings Richard.

I have always enjoyed maps and plans but always find great war maps difficult to understand so your PDF is very useful helping to explain the various issues.

I only posted the Kilby example as I spent some time trying to work out where he had been moved to. I input the handwritten co-ordinates into the trench map converter only to find the indicator had plotted a spot by the side of the road and not actually in Arras Road Cemetery.

But I did locate the correct location a few minutes later.

In this example there is no real problem as the new burial ground is also identified by name.
so I have not reported to the CWGC.

I am an avid user of Google earth and find it very useful and just perfect for plotting and displaying data like your example above.

Keep up the good work

Martin

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Martin Feledziak

Since we opened a tab for him I think it would be fitting to outline the circumstances:-

Arthur Forbes Gordon KILBY

He fell on September 25th 1915, on the La Bassee Canal, while in command of the company on the extreme left flank of the armies engaged at the Battle of Loos. His company was detailed to attack the railway triangle redoubt, a position of great strength immediately to the south of La Bassee. He had studied the ground carefully and was placed in charge of the operations at his own request. They had to advance down a narrow tow-path and along a railway embankment, which was exposed to fire in front and behind. Owing to a series of mishaps, the preparations for the assault had not been adequately carried out, but, as Captain Kilby saw, it had to be undertaken at all costs in order to protect the left flank of the advancing forces from enfilade fire (where gunfire is directed down the length, rather than across the breadth, of the line). The battalion accordingly went forward. Captain Kilby fell wounded as soon as he was over the parapet, but got up again and cheered his men on in the face of the fiercest fire until they reached the enemy’s position. Here he was again shot down and his foot blown off; but he continued to use his rifle to the end.

Attempts over several nights failed to locate his body, but he was in fact buried by the enemy, together with one of his subalterns and thirteen men. His Commanding Officer wrote to Kilby’s father: “A cross which the Germans have erected on the tow-path just below the embankment redoubt…… has a big wreath of flowers, which partly obscures the inscription, but I am afraid there can be no doubt that it is meant for your son and Williams, who was also missing. About a week ago the Germans erected a big cross between brick stacks and the Canal, inscribed: For King and Fatherland – Lieut. Kilby and Lieut. Hall, who died like heroes. It is very gratifying to know that even our enemies recognise the superb heroism of that attack. If ever men died like heroes, they did”. The German regimental commander, whose position he had assaulted, also wrote in high appreciation of his valour.

The grave was eventually lost and Kilby’s body was not found again until February 1929. He was re-buried in the Arras Road Cemetery, Roclincourt.

He received the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross.

I have copied just the relevant information from a full report to be found here.

http://www.winchestercollegeatwar.com/archive/arthur-forbes-gordon-kilby/

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Martin Feledziak

So could there be a new puzzle.

The College report above indicates that Kilby his subaltern and 13 men were buried by the German defenders. They even placed a cross and named Kilby and Hall as brave fighters. There is also mention of a man called Williams also listed as missing by the commanding officer.

We can see that Kilby and one unknown soldier were transferred from the original burial site on the canal tow path.

Is it possible that there are still 13 men at rest at the original site ?

Just a thought

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Martin Feledziak

Here is a Burial return for D M Williams 2nd South Staffs. Cabaret Rouge cemetery.

He died on 25th September 1915.

post-103138-0-47434100-1458147381_thumb.

This is a rough location taken from the map ref on Burial Return. 44a.A15.d.95.65.

post-103138-0-59995100-1458147388_thumb.

Lt David Marmaduke WILLIAMS, 2nd Bn, South Staffordshire Regiment, Killed 25th September 1915, age 25

He was mentioned as missing at the same time as Arthur KILBY. The map above is the canal above Auchy - near Loos.

Not sure when he was found and not sure if he had been buried and lost in a shell hole or buried by soldiers.

But he was found and transferred to Cabaret Rouge near to Vimy ridge.

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Martin Feledziak

Here is the map for Captain KILBY

so both were found along the canal tow path.

post-103138-0-42695300-1458150916_thumb.

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Martin Feledziak

The below is from The History of the Second Division 1914-1918 by Everard Wyrall.

It lists Lieut. B. Hall next to the name of Kilby.

post-103138-0-68217800-1458227424_thumb.

Th below is from the Commonwealth war graves web pages.

post-103138-0-74662700-1458227437_thumb.

I am going to wager that Bruce was the subaltern buried alongside Kilby and the 13 others.

(as recorded by the Germans on their makeshift tribute.)

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Martin Feledziak

From Winchester College

 

http://www.winchestercollegeatwar.com/archive/arthur-forbes-gordon-kilby/

 

"Attempts over several nights failed to locate his body, but he was in fact buried by the enemy, together with one of his subalterns and thirteen men.   His Commanding Officer wrote to Kilby’s father:   “A cross which the Germans have erected on the tow-path just below the embankment redoubt…… has a big wreath of flowers, which partly obscures the inscription, but I am afraid there can be no doubt that it is meant for your son and Williams, who was also missing.  

 

About a week ago the Germans erected a big cross between brick stacks and the Canal, inscribed:  For King and Fatherland – Lieut. Kilby and Lieut. Hall, who died like heroes.   It is very gratifying to know that even our enemies recognise the superb heroism of that attack.   If ever men died like heroes, they did”.   The German regimental commander, whose position he had assaulted, also wrote in high appreciation of his valour.

 

The grave was eventually lost and Kilby’s body was not found again until February 1929.  He was re-buried in the Arras Road Cemetery, Roclincourt."

 

NOTES :-

 

The account does not identify the commanding officer who wrote to Kilby's father. It does not include the actual inscription on the cross hidden by the big wreath of flowers.

Also there is no indication where the information about Kilby being buried with one of his subalterns and thirteen men came from. 

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Martin Feledziak

From reading the history of the 2nd Division I have the following understanding of just this tiny bit for 25th September 1915.

Any incorrect assumptions are down to me.

 

At the time of his death KILBY was the commander of C Company. Together with A and B companies this made up the 2nd Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment.

They were brigaded together with 1st Kings Liverpool regiment and these were to be the attacking elements from the 6th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Division for the first part of the attack.

 

I have copied the main paragraphs from the history of the 2nd Division.

 

" Meanwhile C Company on the left had advanced with superb gallantry along the tow-path. Most of the men of this company were badly gassed before leaving our front-line trench, and on going forward were met by a murderous fire from both sides of the canal. Many of them actually reached the German wire, which was only a few yards in front of the hostile trenches. A most gallant attempt to support this attack was made by Second-Lieut. D. M. WILLIAMS, who pushed forward a machine gun close in rear of the assaulting line  He succeeded in establishing it in position on the railway embankment, where he kept the gun in action until all the team were killed except himself and one other man—he himself being wounded. The 5th Brigade north of the canal had been unable to get forward,and we were thus exposed to concentrated rifle and machine-gun fire at very close range.


It was during this attack on the Embankment Redoubt that Captain A. F. G. Kilby of C Company of the South Stafford's won for the 2nd Division the first of the three Victoria Crosses gained by the Division during the Battle of Loos. The company had, by his own request and on account of the gallantry which he had displayed on many occasions, been placed under the command of Captain Kilby " The company charged along the narrow tow-path, headed by Captain Kilby, who, though wounded at the outset, continued to lead his men right up to the enemy wire under a devastating machine-gun fire and a shower of bombs. Here he was shot down,but although his foot had been blown off, he continued to cheer on his men and to use a rifle."  After the battle Captain Kilby was reported " wounded and missing," and later his death was presumed.

 

The 2nd Division's casualties during the fighting on 25th September (the first day of the Battle of Loos) were, in killed, wounded, and missing : officers 91 ;  other ranks 2,234.

The battalions which suffered most severely in other ranks killed, wounded, and missing were : 1st Middlesex, 439 ; 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 319; 2nd South Staffords, 280; 1st Queen's (Royal West Surrey), 270 ; 2nd Highland Light Infantry, 252 ; and 1st King's, 202.

 

 

Edited by Martin Feledziak

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Martin Feledziak

Compare the above with this account from IR16, The Unit exactly opposite the South Staffords. This kindly translated by Forum member JWK.

 

 

The Regimental History of IR16, published in Berlin in 1927, describes the day in more detail:

25 september 1915:

 

“Deserters and prisoners had predicted a large English attack for the 25th September. With flat-shooting trench guns [“flachschießenden Grabenkanonen”] the enemy had damaged our barbed wire and forward defences quite badly, and at places it was completely destroyed.

So we could not ignore anymore the possibility of an imminent attack by the enemy.

I and II Battalion were in the front trenches, III Battalion was scheduled to relieve I Battalion in the early morning hours. [of the 25th]

 

A remarkable calm opened the day. III Battalion started the relief of I Battalion, when all of a sudden, at 0645 in the morning, thick yellowish clouds rolled over our trenches, covering everything in an impenetrable mist. Gas alarm !

Everybody grabs their gas mask, and sets fire to the lightly flammable remains of the forward defences. In no time the defences are covered in flames. An imposing sight!

 

The grenades of the enemy land behind the trenches, thus allowing our brave defenders to regroup in the front trenches, shielded by the burning defences, and wait for the things to come.

Some men were considerably overcome by the gas, and here and there the commanders had to be inventive in order to keep their companies together .

 

After about 45 minutes , with the gas clouds slowly dispersing, the English get out of their trenches, and find themselves immediately under cataclysmic [“verheerendes”] machinegun- and artillery fire. They cannot advance, and retreat to their trenches suffering many casualties.

 

Am Prellbock it comes to fierce hand grenade-battles, but in the end we were victorious.

 

No Englishman has reached our trenches. 

 

Edited by Martin Feledziak
to highlight the fires in both accounts

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Martin Feledziak

Again from the history of the second division :-

 

Such was the terrain in front of the Stafford's when at 6.30 a.m.the order was given for the three companies to scale the parapet and assault the enemy's trenches. What followed after the gas had been projected with disastrous effects is very clearly told in the Battalion Diary : " Many were so badly gassed as to be incapable of advancing, whilst all suffered more or less." Thus the assault was launched under conditions " such as," in the words of the brigadier, " would have demoralised any but the staunchest and most highly disciplined troops."

Immediately the gas was projected the enemy lighted fires at intervals of a few yards all along the first-line parapets."


" To deal with the right attack (A Company) first : As the signal for the assault was given, our men . . . rushed gallantly forward, only to be met by cross-fire from concealed machine guns
and heavy rifle fire from the German front-line trench, the enemy evidently being quite unaffected by the gas. A and B Companies were held up on the edge of the crater nearest to their parapet and were unable to advance.

 

I have added rough positions for the 3 South Staffs Companies prior to them falling back behind their lines.

 

50222124_2nddivision.JPG.6e0710898c2aeaea04550404c416b135.JPG

 

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Martin Feledziak

Here I have added parts of squares 15 and 16 of map 36c NW ( this map was later refered to as map 44a

 

I have added the approximate sites where the bodies of WILLIAMS and KILBY were recovered  a long time after the war ened. In KILBY,s case 1929.

 

The location where KILBY was found is most logical given the circumstances as already read.

 

 

 

Plots..JPG.76a6a426effdc6a5c960de548c63158e.JPG

 

 

Edited by Martin Feledziak

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Martin Feledziak

This is a screen print from my manipulation of data from the CWGC.

So any mistakes are all mine..

 

In the search I asked for 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment - Killed on 25th September 1915. I filtered for those with no known grave.

I kept the last four as a guide sample.

 

I am aware there will be many more BUT this is just a quick search of data.

 

data.JPG.fbea52ed656b64e4aecb9905a08925d7.JPG

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Indefatigable

Good Evening

 

Slightly off topic but herewith Captain Kirby's entry in "The Register of the Victoria Cross" revised and enlarged edition published in 1988. Entry number 695 represents his alphabetical entry in the register.

 

image.png.a8dfc38027381fd77b4f94d3bc7f567b.png

 

regards

 

Indefatigable

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Martin Feledziak
19 minutes ago, Indefatigable said:

Captain Kirby's

 

Greetings - not off topic because this is mostly about him.

I am happy that someone is looking !!

 

I have now added the 44A map onto google earth.

 

835985383_44Aongoogleearth.JPG.e6584c8c8be09e9b0fd3851498227a4c.JPG

Edited by Martin Feledziak

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Martin Feledziak

This is with the overlay removed.

 

2026575790_closeup.JPG.1e61f0e24f9d07169c4e54ffa7462b56.JPG

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sadbrewer

A  piece from 1961 I found in the newspaper archive.

 

 

Screenshot_20190814-183341.jpg

Edited by sadbrewer

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JWK

Interesting reconstruction!

The hour difference in time (Germans: attack at 07:30. English: attack at 06:30)  is due to the different times the armies held.

 

As for the German casualties at the Prellbock/Embankment Redoubt:

Fritz Limbach's Company Commander Lt d R Breunig (6th Company) talks of 9 casualties in his letter of 2nd October 1915 (although "only" 8 of 6th Company are listed in the Ehrenliste. Heinrich Mais died later.)

In total the Ehrenliste of IR 16 lists 74 soldiers who died on 24/25th sept or shortly thereafter.

 

casualties.jpg.50228766550315cea9d22c6f7e842f9f.jpg

 

 

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Martin Feledziak
3 hours ago, sadbrewer said:

1961

 

Thanks sadbrewer that is great background information. Although an Extreme pacifist is an unusual term for such activity. 

How sad that someone should do this.

 

11 minutes ago, JWK said:

hour difference

 

That is great JWK - the more I read the more convinced I am that it is a 'glove fit'.

Thanks for that data sheet. Excellent

There is nothing more personal than actually putting real names to an historical event - most impressive.

 

I have started putting my thoughts on this thread to avoid clutter on your one.

 

I never noticed the reference to the lighting fires in the front line. This is clearly identified by the recorder in the 2nd Division report and it is in the IR16 history report.

AND

The defenders were clearly subjected to effects of gas. The recorder in the 2nd Division history considered it ineffectual as an offensive weapon.

 

I have never thought about this before but do you have a German trench map, or diagram which covers Fritz location identifying the Am Prellbock Stellung ?

I remember the pencil drawing which Fritz did but I could never work it out.

 

I have been flipping back and forward between threads today trying to get some sort of order.

 

Is there a 'Skizzie' in the IR16 history. ?

 

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JWK

There's a sketch of the situation at Auchy:

 

The Prellbock/Embankment Redoubt was right at the frontline south of the canal (Top of the "skizze". That straight line left to right is the canal, with south of it the railwayline). North of the canal were the 56'ers (? Have to look it up)

In front of them was a swamp/marshy area, so the only way to get to them was along the "towpath" next to the railwayline.

And that drawing Fritz did in one of his letters was more of an exercise in how trenches were laid out than a depiction of reality. It was only done to show his sisters the trench system in general.

399439009_Seite088.jpg.117baee7155699e39c514e21a5889d54.jpg

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Martin Feledziak
2 minutes ago, JWK said:

Prellbock

 

Yes perfect.

 

I have seen it before but I did not remember. Just the job.

 

it fits exactly. thanks. 

 

 

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Martin Feledziak

So here is the skizzie overlaid on Google Earth.

 

It fits quite nicely with several points which match exactly. The canal appears to have been widened over the years but I imagine this will be the North bank. They were not going to remove possible support to the railway. The size of the modern magga barge would need to be provided for.

 

The canal also has changed course, best seen in post 18 above. 

 

 I assume that these diagrams were made with the aid of arial photographs. It is just too close to the real thing to be a free hand production.

 

JWK what is the notation by Kilby starting Feste....... Is it strong point  something ?

 

1212445169_Prellbrock1.JPG.218b32b6eae56457d9364063265fe633.JPG

 

prellbock.JPG.3da0c2278cd54356c94732f977773da7.JPG

Edited by Martin Feledziak

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