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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

No 5 Spec Bde, RE - Seeking 1916 diaries

Stephen Nulty

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Does anybody have access to the above, please. I looked on Ancestry but couldn't see them, so am hopeful that they may be in somebody's collection

I am hoping to find details from 100 years ago today, 25/04/1916, when 4 men of the unit were killed. They lie in adjacent graves at Calais Southern Cemetery.

Pioneers Harding, Hayes, Purton and Ward

Grateful for any pointers

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Hi Stephen,

My Ancestry has run out so cannot confirm the below, but the nearest I could find was


From here


(Please double check before spending any cash !!!!)

If you put 95/120 or 95/120/1 in the Keyword search box, will Ancestry find them ???



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Cheers Graeme

Can't find any of those in Ancestry, I;m afraid, but grateful for the TNA link as that was (as usual) eluding me.

Doesn't look a like a link to No 5 is there, though. From what I can figure out, they were working with Stokes Mortars and I am wondering of they fell victim to an accident or something similar

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Top man, Mr Clarke


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It might be that they were employed at the Special Factory Section at Coulogne on the outskirts of Calais. The factory was alongside the St Omer Canal, adjacent to the Rue d' Amerique on present day maps. The opposite tow path is appropriately named Rue du Gaz. The factory, at the time of take over, was owned by a French company, originally perfumiers, who had converted the factory to producing phosgene for use in the dye and leather industry. To cut a long story short,problems with production in the Britain led to the factory in France being taken over, with cooperation from the French, by the Ministry of Munitions in 1916 and manned by civilian workers from the UK. Problems occurred at the factory which lead to 200 men from the Special Brigade manning the factory from March 1916, initially on a temporary basis, which would become permanent. As well as filling cylinders, a production line was later opened for the filling of 4 inch Stokes mortar bombs.


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Thanks Terry, that's very useful background information and explains why they were there

Graeme has found reference to an explosion in a bomb-making marquee on the day in question, with a report of 5 men being killed.

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