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22 hours ago, clk said:

Hi Peter,

 

I hope you don't mind if I continue to comment on your sterling work. Please do say if you do, and I'll butt out.

 

Re George Cyril Smith, Private 15127

J.C.T is probably  I.C.T - "inflamed" or "inter" connective tissue

 

I read it as he died at 6 General Hospital.

Smith.jpg

 

Size of war gratuity indicates service counted from circa September 1914

 

Re Arthur James Lake, Private 17404

 

Soldiers' Effects records that he died on 29th September 1916 at 25 General Hospital, Rouen. So most likely he was wounded at least a few days prior. His outstanding pay/war gratuity was paid to his sister Edith C Sarsby. The amount of the gratuity indicates that service counted from circa December 1914.

 

Regards

Chris

 

 

 

Chris,

 

Absolutely no problem with your help - if I don't come back straight away its either because Mrs C has found me a job to do or because you've got me thinking and looking for more information, (and most likely both :-)

 

George Cyril Smith, Private 15127

Inflammed Connective Tissue makes perfect sense. Your copy of the casualty sheet for is much cleaner to read than mine. What I read as "at 10 Hospital" is more like "at 10.40pm"

All the men in the 5 digit serial numbers starting 15 seem to have enlisted in the second and third weeks of September, going on the attestation papers I've come across so far.

 

Arthur James Lake, Private 17404

There is definitely a chance that Arthur incurred his fatal wounds on the 15th but without any "smoking gun" evidence I didn't want to set the bar too low and claim every "died of wounds" for months as a result of the action on that day. Additionally the 9 casualties incurred the day before are unlikely to have got as far back as Rouen, but they could have done - specialist surgery needed or high volumes hitting the CCS's for example.  

 

(172) Ernest Weavers, Private 14503

Agree that Parish Register entry looks like a good match, although it would have made him 16 on the 1911 census rather than the 17 stated.

 

(173) Robert Carver, Private 14891

 

I think the confusion also carries through to Soldiers Died in the Great War where Robert is recorded as "Killed in Action",

 

Thanks again,

Peter

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  • 2 years later...

Hi PRC

 

Many thanks for all the work you have done, it's much appreciated. These poor men deserve to be remembered! Frederick Rush was my great uncle. Attached is the only picture we have of him, taken when he was working as a gardener at Raveningham Hall before he enlisted. As you can see, the greenhouse at Raveningham Hall is largely unchanged.

 

Regards

Martin Bridge

Frederick Rush.jpg

IMG_6076-1.jpg

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On 05/11/2018 at 16:17, Bayman said:

Hi PRC

 

Many thanks for all the work you have done, it's much appreciated. These poor men deserve to be remembered! Frederick Rush was my great uncle. Attached is the only picture we have of him, taken when he was working as a gardener at Raveningham Hall before he enlisted. As you can see, the greenhouse at Raveningham Hall is largely unchanged.

 

Regards

Martin Bridge

 

Martin,

 

Lovely then and now pictures. I really must get back to updating this project as i have a whole heap of names of the men wounded in this action that I need to make some some sense of.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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Hello Peter

 

Firstly, thank you for all of the interesting research and details you have posted.

 

I have been looking through all of this feed with so much fasination.

 

My great grandmothers uncle was a member of the 9th Norfolk and called Leonard Bond. We have been able to find very little about him and wondered if you had come across his name in any of your research. We believe he died on 18th Oct 1916

 

Many thanks 

 

Katelan

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Hi Katelan,

 

Welcome to the Forum.

 

The Soldiers' Died record for Leonard shows that he enlisted in Norwich, and was "killed in action" on 18th October 1916. That is the same date noted in his CWGC record, and his Soldiers' Effects record. Unfortunately. he doesn't appear to have a surviving service file, so it was probably lost in a fire during WW1. The amount of War Gratuity shown as paid in his Soldiers' Effects record is indicative of 12, or less months overall service.

 

Looking at just the first few hits of men from the Battalion who had numbers near to his 40048 number who do have surviving papers, there appears to be an underlying theme. Whilst they originally enlisted on varying dates, they appear to have served at home with the Reserve Battalion, then being sent overseas (Folkestone to Boulogne), arriving at an Infantry Base Depot, where a couple of weeks later they were transferred to the 9th Battalion and given new 5 digit 400** numbers before being sent to the front.

 

40005 Bussey - transferred to 9/Norfolks 4.9.1916

40021 Norman - transferred to 9/Norfolks 4.9.1916

40048

40050 Bunn - transferred to 9/Norfolks 20.9.1916

40053 Carey - transferred to 9/Norfolks 20.9.1916

 

On Ancestry the Battalion war diary from September 1916 is here, or here at the National Archives.

 

On the 'concentration' sheet in his CWGC records (previously linked), Leonard was exhumed from map reference 57c.N.27.a.2.8 before being moved to his current resting place. His original burial will probably be much closer to where he fell. This link should open up on a map from September 1916 with square N.27 in the centre. You can use the transparency slider to see how it fits in with the modern landscape.

 

The 71 Infantry Brigade HQ war diary is here, or here. The 6 Division HQ (General Staff) diary is here, and here.

 

If you would like an image of his grave stone, it looks like the good folk at British War Graves would be able to send you one, on a free of charge basis.

 

There is good advice on how to research a soldier on the Long, Long Trail.

 

Regards

Chris

 

 

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On 12/11/2018 at 00:33, Katelan said:

My great grandmothers uncle was a member of the 9th Norfolk and called Leonard Bond. We have been able to find very little about him and wondered if you had come across his name in any of your research. We believe he died on 18th Oct 1916.

 

Katelan

 

On 12/11/2018 at 13:18, clk said:

The amount of War Gratuity shown as paid in his Soldiers' Effects record is indicative of 12, or less months overall service.

 

Looking at just the first few hits of men from the Battalion who had numbers near to his 40048 number who do have surviving papers, there appears to be an underlying theme. Whilst they originally enlisted on varying dates, they appear to have served at home with the Reserve Battalion, then being sent overseas (Folkestone to Boulogne), arriving at an Infantry Base Depot, where a couple of weeks later they were transferred to the 9th Battalion and given new 5 digit 400** numbers before being sent to the front.

 

40005 Bussey - transferred to 9/Norfolks 4.9.1916

40021 Norman - transferred to 9/Norfolks 4.9.1916

40048

40050 Bunn - transferred to 9/Norfolks 20.9.1916

40053 Carey - transferred to 9/Norfolks 20.9.1916

 

 

Hi Katelan, welcome to the forum and apologies for the delay in getting back to you.

 

Leonard was from the Harleston area, down on the Norfolk\Suffolk border and sadly is one I've not visited. There is an L.Pond recorded on the Harleston War Memorial, but the researcher at the Roll of Honour site couldn't identify a candidate.

http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Norfolk/Harleston.html

 

The Harleston area doesn't seem to crop up in the Norwich based newspapers so I've not come across anything for him. The most likely papers given the location are the Beccles and Bungay newspapers, (both locations are in Suffolk and so old newspapers are held their County Archive), and Diss. The Diss Express in widley available online through subscriptions to the big name genealogy sites or the British Newspaper Archive but there is no guarantee you will find anything. There is nothing held at the Norfolk County online picture archive, Picture Norfolk.

 

I had it in my head that all the 400** batch joined up with the 9th Norfolks after the 15th September 1916 but clearly I've lost the plot as 40005 James John Bussey would die on that day. However I believe Leonard was one of the much needed replacements for the heavy losses suffered on that day.

 

The Battalion C.O. believed they should have been withdrawn from the line and rebuilt - he had to choose new NCO's from his survivors of the action at the Quadrilateral and then place them under fresh inexperienced officers. Instead they were thrown into action again on the 18th October 1916 when Leonard would lose his life.

 

Wednesday 18th October 1916.

Gueudecourt

 

9th Bn, Norfolk Regt (6th Div) captured the north western part of Mild Trench and held it against a German attack at nightfall.

http://forum.irishmilitaryonline.com/showthread.php?t=9058&page=6

 

A private letter from a Lieutenant Cubitt provides more detail:

For 48 hours, with water up to our knees, soaked to the skin, practically no water to drink, and dead

beat, those splendid boys ‘stood to,’ fought, and bombed, and held on. It was glorious to see how when

one man was killed another took his place, and, when he fell, a third man. They were all heroes.

F. Loraine Petrie OBE, The History of the Norfolk Regiment, Vol II 1914-1918, (Norwich: Jarrold and Sons,

Ltd.), p.260.

The War Diary notes there were 248 casualties: 9 officers and 239 ‘other ranks’.

http://www.bunwellhistory.co.uk/World War I Chapter rev 1.pdf

 

18.10.1916 Battalion War Diary

 

Attack launched at 3.40 a.m., part of Mild Trench being successfully occupied.

Casualties 239 O.R and the following Officers

Killed: 2/Lt Page T.S.

Wounded:

…2/Lt Beesley, R.G.G.

…2/Lt Clarke, J.W.

….Capt.Rowell, C.G.S.

…2/Lt Henshall

…2/Lt Cowles, W.R.

…2/Lt Gravestock

 

Missing:

…2/Lt Page, J.C.

…2/Lt Badcock, H.J.

 

(18 O.R. joined for duty).

 

From the Battalion War Diary.

 

Report on Operations on 18th October

……………....by………………….

……Lt.Colonel B.H.L PRIOR…….

Commanding 9th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment.

 

On receipt of Operation Orders to take over the line held by the 18th Inf. Bde. I met the O/C D.L.I. and West Yorks and arranged for guides to meet the Battalion at 18th Inf. Bde.H.Q. at 5 p.m. Only two guides from the D.L.I. were there and relief was delayed three hours pending the arrival of the West Yorks guides. The guides when they did arrive were most indifferent but the relief was effected with one casualty only, by 2 a.m. My distribution had been A.Coy right half front line, C.Coy left half,  D.Coy left flank, bombing posts and sap,  B Company support trenches.

 

I visited the line at day-break and as the line seemed crowded drew out C Coy into RAINBOW TRENCH. I met the G.O.C. in the front line and subsequently returned with him to Bde.H.Q. where the details of the attack were settled subject to orders.

 

On my return I got out written orders for the attack and saw the whole of my Company Commanders and explained my wishes. Orders from the Brigade did not arrive till late which was unfortunate as it precluded my going round the line with my Company Commanders.

 

During the whole of the afternoon the Battalion was subjected to a heavy bombardment at times growing intense and many casualties were sustained. In addition a heavy rain set in making the ground a quagmire. At midnight I again went round the line and found that the positions allotted were not properly taken up. I was engaged for three hours endeavouring to out things straight. The rain had converted the trenches and “No Mans Land” into a quagmire. Although the men had been instructed to cut steps in the parapet to enable them to get out quickly at zero, the clay was so saturated with water that it was most difficult to get out of the trench.

 

I went over the top from the front to the support lines in which was the second wave and could only make the slowest progress, each shell-hole had become a slimy sticky obstacle. I knew then that it would be impossible for the advance to be carried out under the barrage, i.e. that however willing, it was a physical impossibility for the troops to advance at the rate fixed. The G.O.C.  had placed a Company of 1st Leicestershires at my disposal for the attack but I decided not to use them for the following reason:-

The attack determined upon could not be carried out on the lines planned in the weather conditions existing. It must either fail totally or partially or succeed because the enemy was suffering equally from the adverse conditions prevailing.

 

It was of course not within my province to postpone the attack, other troops being involved in the assault and I could not communicate with the G.O.C. because I had to go round and personally see to things that would not have been necessary had my Coy. Commanders been more experienced and better trained. I therefore decided not to put the Coy of Leicestershires into the assault but hold them in hand so that if the assault failed I should have sufficient troops to hold the line against counter attack.

 

At zero the assault was launched but in the circumstances described the troops were not immediately under the barrage at the start and could not keep up with it, as a result when half way across the Bosche had opened up extremely fierce gun and M.G.fire. Two platoons of the right Coy lost direction and went over to the right, the centre Coy inclined too much to the left. Despite heavy losses parties of the first line succeeded in entering the Bosche trenches and if it had been possible for the second wave to have moved up promptly, the whole line would I think have been captured and consolidated. The second wave were slow, lost direction and only a few joined up with the first wave the remainder returning to SHINE TRENCH.

 

After the assault had been launched, I returned to Battalion Headquarters but after waiting a long time and receiving no information I went up to SHINE TRENCH  to make a personal reconnaissance. On my way I received the first and only message sent from the front during the whole day. This was from 2/Lieut. Cubitt and was to the effect that his platoon had made their objective but was flanked by Bosche on both sides and was short of bombs and ammunition. I at once organized a bomb carrying party. This was taken out by 2/Lieut. Blackwell who throughout the whole operations shewed extraordinary gallantry and fine leadership; the Bosche were cleared out and junction was established with 2/ Lieut.Cubitt’s platoon. This was in the West end of MILD TRENCH and 2/Lieut. Blackwell at once took over command and organized this trench for defence and establishing a  junction with the 2nd Hants Regt. at the Sunken Road. 

 

During the whole day this captured trench was subjected to heavy bombardment and M.G. fire and at nightfall was counter-attacked by the Bosche in two waves under a heavy barrage, The assault was checked by two Lewis Guns and by the Garrison throwing out hand grenades. Their rifles were choked with mud and the men had nothing dry and clean left to clean them with. Twice during the day this trench and SHINE TRENCH were heavily bombarded by what appeared to be our own Artillery.

 

I could get no definite information as to what had happened on the Right and Centre but it appeared that though the Boche position had been entered in several places the attack as a whole had failed on this part of the front. Men of the Right, Centre and second wave Companies were scattered promiscuously along SHINE TRENCH and I gave orders for their re-organisation and removal to the support and RAINBOW Trenches. This was effectually carried out and the front line re-established as follows:-

SHINE TRENCH “A” and “C” Companies 1st Leicestershire Regt

MILD TRENCH and supporting saps “D” Company 9th Norfolk Regt

Support Trench “C”Company 9th Norfolk Regt

RAINBOW TRENCH “A” and “B”Companies 9th Norfolk Regt.
 

Two platoons of my Right Company undoubtedly got into CLOUDY TRENCH North of the Suffolk Regt. line but I have not been able to find what happened to them.

 

Another platoon of the Centre Company also reached the Boche line and late in the evening it was reported to me that some of them had been seen in the Boche Trench. I detailed a party under 2nd Lieut. DYE to try and get in touch with this platoon but on leaving the trench the Boche put up such a big machine gun fire that I ordered the platoon to withdraw and ordered 2nd Lieut. Blackwell to send out a strong patrol after dark to ascertain if this party was in fact in MILD TRENCH. 2nd Lieut. BLACKWELL took over this patrol and went upwards of one hundred yards along MILD TRENCH without seeing any signs of this party. He also noted that on this frontage the Bosche had apparently evacuated the trench. The relief of the line by the 1st Worcester Regt. was effected by 12.30 a.m.

 

I should like to bring the following facts to your notice:-

I took over the command of this Regiment on the first instant on their coming out of the trenches. The Battalion had lost 20 Officers in the attack on the Quadrilateral and in addition to the Adjutant, Q.M,. L.G. Officer and Transport Officer had only five Company Officers left. Of these, three were badly shaken. The Battalion had been converted into two provisional Companies under the command of Major LATHAM, now Commanding the Suffolk Regt. and two days previously Major LEWIS of the Leicester Regt. had joined as second in command. The Regiment suffered to the extent of four hundred and seventy casualties at the QUADRILATERAL and had been filled up with drafts, many of whom were little trained.

 

I had therefore to entirely reform the Unit, find Company Commanders and Officers and make new N.C.O.’s throughout the unit. I carried this out to the best of my ability. On the 5th October a batch of 9 Officers arrived and subsequently other Officer drafts came in. With one exception they were all Second Lieutenants and I had therefore to pick out three Company Commanders from 2nd Lieutenants. While I have the greatest admiration for the way these Officers endeavoured to carry out their duties I am bound to say that they had not sufficient training or experience to at once assume command of Companies in the field. On taking over the trenches I found that I had to see into matters and carry out work which the Company Commanders, had they the necessary training, would have relieved me of.

 

The men behaved extremely well in the most trying circumstances. The majority had not been under shell fire before and were called upon to make an attack after a very heavy bombardment and whilst they were wet and cold and the ground was a perfect morass. The behaviour of “D” Company was exceptionally fine. They were under constant shell fire, machine fire and rifle fire during the entire time they were up but every time I visited them they were cheerful. The Bosche came out three times against them, once the serious counter-attack under barrage already referred to, but each time they repulsed him.

 

I should like to draw attention to the fact that the drafts now sent out from home do not appear to have adequate instruction in the value of the rifle. I noticed, not only in the case of my own unit, but also in the case of the two Leicester Companies attached to me, that they made no real attempt to shoot the Bosche though there were ample opportunities. On the other hand the Bosche snipers obtained complete mastery and killed a number of our men without any adequate retaliation.

 

While I deeply regret the failure of the attack on the right and centre, I am certain from the spirit shown by Officers and men that had weather conditions been favourable they would have been successful. At the same time the failure is partly due to the fact that the Company Commanders, while trying their best, had neither the experience nor the training to adequately organize and lead their Companies in the field. Moreover they had not had a sufficient opportunity of getting to know their N.C.O.’s and men.

 

(The 71st Brigade War Diary then contains a memo from both the Brigade Commander and the Divisional Commander around the failures of attacks made on the 12th, 18th and 19th on these trenches and broadly comes to the same conclusions as Lieutenant Colonel Prior. The Divisional Commander in particular points out to those higher up the command structure the short-sightedness of being forced to close down the Divisional Schools on moving to the Somme front because of lack of suitable accommodation as these would have addressed a number of the issues being raised.)

 

Compare the report written at the time by Colonel Prior with a subsequent narrative provided by him.

 

From the diary of Lieutenant-Colonel B.H.L. Prior, D.S.O. commanding 9th Battalion Norfolk Regiment.

 

(When I downloaded the 9th Battalion War Diary from the National Archive I was surprised to find the second part of the 1915 – 1916 section consisted of this diary. It takes the form of a narrative rather than a dated diary so it’s not always clear what events the Colonel is relating to. However prior to the attack he mentions giving instructions to a Subaltern Page of A Company and that said officer was subsequently killed. The death of a Second Lieutenant John Canler Page of the 9th Battalion is recorded on the 18th October 1916. Lt Col Prior presumably took over following the wounded of Lt Col Bradshaw in the attack on the Quadrilateral on the 15th September.)

 

(Extract)

I wish I could give some idea of the sector but words fail me completely. Battalion headquarters was placed in Rainbow Trench, at least it had at one time been a trench but was so blasted by shell fire that very little of the original line was left. The front line was located in Shell Trench and between the two there was no continuous communication trench. Our left flank was entirely open and rested on a road leading from Gueudecourt. Immediately behind us was the valley in front of the village of Gueudecourt, the ground rising sharply as it crossed Rainbow Trench and forming a ridge, the front line (Shine Trench) being on the far or enemy side of the ridge. From the front line the ground was fairly level but sloping slightly away until it rose again to the Bapaume – Le Transloy road. Le Transloy when I first saw it was a charming little red-roofed village standing amongst trees and scarcely touched by shell fire. One could follow quite clearly the road to Bapaume, past another small village and in the extreme left distance one could just see the spre of a church which was reported to be in Bapaume itself. When eventually these places fell into our hands they were entirely ruined.

 

The valley between Rainbow Trench and Gueudecourt was a dreadful place. It was under enemy observation and kept under almost continuous hostile shell fire, whilst from the left flank the Boche machine guns were able to enfilade the greater portion of the valley. There were no communication trenches and the passage of the valley was always a perilous and unpleasant undertaking. There was not a dug-out in the sector allotted to the battalion and battalion headquarters were installed in a short shaft, probably the beginning of a dug-out, the opening of which faced towards the enemy and was altogether an undesirable place.

 

Early the next morning I met the Brigadier and went round the line with him. I had previously found the men far too crowded in the trenches and had accordingly taken out a complete company and made a fresh distribution in depth. The Brigadier said we would probably have to make an attack the next morning. I therefore suggested to him that if it were the case of taking the Boche trench in front the immediate conditions were most favourable, there being a haze which prevented observation for more than 50 or 60 yards and I asked permission to take the men over then and there. He was half inclined to concur with my suggestion but decided against it owing to the difficulties of letting our artillery know in time. I pointed out to him the scratch nature of the unit and asked him, whatever was decided, to try and prevent the battalion being called upon to make an attack in the dark. I was then and still am strongly of the opinion that as a general rule only very highly trained and organized troops can carry out a successful attack in darkness.

 

The Brigadier was also in favour of a daylight attack and later urged this at a conference of the Corps and Divisional Commanders, but without effect. I met the Corps Commander (Lord Cavan) and the Divisional Commander at Brigade Headquarters later in the day and then learnt that the battalion was to co-operate with a larger attack on our left flank and that the attack would be made before dawn on the following morning. Owing to the open left flank which I have already referred to, the task allotted to the battalion was one of great difficulty since it had to maintain its flank defences until the troops on the left had made good their ground and then co-operate with their advances and this in pitch darkness!

 

Leaving Brigade Headquarters in a halo of weeping gas shells, which the Prince of Wales, who had accompanied Lord Cavan, was successfully dodging, though his eyes and those of everyone else in the neighbourhood were streaming, I cogitated this problem on my way back to battalion headquarters. The trenches and shell holes very speedily became knee-deep in liquid mud and the sides of the trenches so slippery that it was often a physical impossibility to get on top. Add to this a night of the most intense blackness and one gets but a faint glimmering of the difficulties of getting men unused to trench warfare into their assembly positions.

 

Never before nor since have I experienced so bad a bombardment. I have known a more intense shelling but never one so continuous and so accurate. On going round the trenches I was dismayed to find how backward the companies were with their arrangements. I could not find the commander of C Company but his men had not yet received their instructions. B Company had not yet moved into their positions in the front lines nor could I find, with the exception of D Coy, that any arrangements had been made to collect and bring up rations. From this time onwards until the actual zero hour I had a nightmare of a time pushing men into their positions, telling officers and n.c.o.’s what I wanted them to do and so forth. The front line trench was very narrow with steep sides and full of thick clinging mud. Time was getting away and to my consternation I found that instead of B Coy being in touch with A there was a big gap between them. I saw Hartshall and Page, a subaltern in A Coy, who was subsequently killed and they agreed to mutually extend so as to join up.  I could not find the company commander of C. I found, however, a platoon of his men, under a sergeant, explained the position and told the sergeant to give my orders to the company commander.

 

I had arranged that all reports should be sent back to battalion headquarters and therefore made my way back there as the hour approached. I had barely got back, dead tired, drenched to the skin and plastered with mud from head to toe than the guns opened. Then came that long and dreary wait which to all commanding officers must be the most trying time of all. After waiting a long and anxious time during which if I had no good news at least I had had no bad, though as is usual on these occasions there were all sorts of rumours of fearful disasters percolating, I determined to go up the line and see for myself what had happened. Just as I was starting I met a runner from B coy, with a report that they had gained their objective and though counter-attacked had driven the Boche out of the trench and had been holding it since. The runner informed me that B Coy were in touch with the Hampshires on their left but their right was open the attack there having failed. I went on and saw Blackwell, reported the situation to him and told him to organize a party from his company, reinforce B Coy and take command of the position. I then went along the line and here the news was not so good. The right of B and A Companies had apparently failed. There were stragglers of both companies who had got back to our original front line but they could say very little beyond the fact that in the darkness they had missed their direction, got caught in the Boche barrage and those who were not killed or wounded had eventually got back to their own line.

 

I went over to the H.Q. of the 9th Suffolks who were on my right to enquire whether they knew anything. Col. Latham said he had had a report that at dawn fully a platoon of A Coy were seen beyond their objective and much to the right of it, in fact in front of his battalion line and still advancing. This gave me hope that after all A Coy might also have succeeded, but my obvious duty was first to see that the know success was consolidated and firmly held. I then went back to battalion H.Q. to report such information as I had gathered to the Brigade. I then went along the left flank, got the direction of the trench we had captured and went over.

 

The garrison holding the trench were in the best of spirits, despite many casualties. They had been heavily shelled, sniped at and machine-gunned and at least once seriously counterattacked. Blackwell had put in a block on his right flank. On his left was the Gueudecourt road on the other side of which were the Hampshires. The Boche was quite close in front and we could spadefuls of earth coming up from a trench not more than 80 yards or so on our front. I directed him to make a reconnaissance to his right flank as soon as he could reasonably do so and in the meantime to use every available man to dig back a communication trench to join up with one I had already started from our old front line.

 

I got back safely taking one man with me to act as a guide to the relieving troops who were expected to come up that night. As it was getting dusk I made my last tour of the front line and any hope of the success of A Coy became dissipated. Looking over the top I could see a number of Boches sitting on the parados of the trench I hoped our men were occupying. They were within close range and easy targets but no one was firing on them. The 1st Leicester subaltern from whom I asked for an explanation gave as an excuse that he had no snipers and it is a fact that after so long a period of trench warfare the troops had come to look on the rifle as a specialist’s weapon. Though I am no great shot I borrowed a rifle and accounted for two Boche in two shots. My success was quite enough for the Leicesters and they started blazing away merrily but alas Fritz was soon under cover.

 

Shortly afterwards a Boche aeroplane came very low over our lines and just before sunset the enemy put down a very heavy bombardment accompanied by very heavy and remarkably accurate machine-gun fire and rifle fire. We expected an attack but it died down and later on we had a comparatively calm night for the relief which was duly affected. Although we had not been shelled this day with the same intensity as on the previous day, the enemy had all day kept up a pretty consistent fire and again a remarkably correct one. Both the Leicesters and ourselves had a number of casualties from this shell fire.

 

The failure of the attack on our right I put down to the following causes:-

First and foremost the troops were largely composed of new drafts, with officers and n.c.os they did not know and were, I think, totally unfitted for a night operation, secondly, three of the four company commanders had never had experience of this onerous position in trench warfare. Through this lack of knowledge and experience much valuable time was wasted which should have been employed in systematically organizing their companies for attack and as a consequence, in the end, a large proportion of the ranks under them did not know the role they had to play.

Thirdly though the rations came up to the dump, some companies failed to draw them, or if drawn failed to get them issued.

Fourthly the attacking line companies failed to get out of the trenches quickly enough to fill the gap.

 

However, these causes of failure could be boiled down to one word, inexperience. When the circumstances are recalled under which the battalion was reformed and replenished with officers, n.c.o.’s and men, the marvel is that they should have gained even a partial success. The battalion was relieved by the 2nd Worcester Regiment and the relief, in view of the chaotic state of the trenches was an unusually lengthy one. I never knew quite how I got out and down to the transport for I was just about as dead beat as any mortal man could be.

 

 

 

 

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Peter 
George Douglas was my Great Uncle, he die on the 16th September 1916. Sorry to say and let you know, the transcribed diary of Dennis Douglas (George’s brother) is a piece I did for an English course I was doing via adult education ! It’s a work of fiction based on facts of the engagement and Dennis and George’s service records. Think it’s best to remove, to save future family researchers going on a wild goose chase: 

Great site and keep up the good work.

I have pictures of both George abc Dennis if you would like copies ?

all the best

steve  Andrews  

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On 19/11/2020 at 23:25, Stevedrews said:

Sorry to say and let you know, the transcribed diary of Dennis Douglas (George’s brother) is a piece I did for an English course I was doing via adult education ! It’s a work of fiction based on facts of the engagement and Dennis and George’s service records. Think it’s best to remove, to save future family researchers going on a wild goose chase: 

 

Hi Steve and welcome to the forum.

 

Thank you for taking the time to let me know - I've crossed through the relevant bit in the entry for George Douglas rather than deleted it altogether. (That way your post will still make sense :)

 

So I take it that Dennis Douglas was service number 16107 and with the 9th Battalion at Flers-Courcellette, having gone out with the Battalion when it first deployed overseas on the 30th August 1915.  I see he received a GSW to his right leg on the 15th September 1916.

 

1407138725_DennisDouglas16107NorfolksCasualtyFormActiveServicePage1sourcedFMP.jpg.028bc6983a043d684ed34c6c3914123b.jpg

(Source:FindMyPast)

 

Sadly I also note that after a spell in the UK he was posted back out to France as part of a draft to the 8th Battalion and was killed in action with them on the 11th August 1917.

He has no known grave and he is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

 

It doesn't look like the International Committee received a missing person enquiry for either of the brothers.

 

I always love to put a face to a name - I take it the pictures of Dennis and George are the ones you have posted here https://cawstonheritage.co.uk/files/original/8cf53ad2a29b7cb38548322c92cb5d70.pdf

 

Cheers,

Peter

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Hi Peter 

Looked at the site earlier and yes a great way of sorting it. 
Funnily enough I was going to post their pictures the other night but it got late and I kept nodding off !!!! 
As you say putting a faces to the names is the icing on the cake. I found the pictures via Kevin Douglas a few years back, another Great Nephew of the brothers. It was wonderful (and sad) to see these faces after all the years of research and talking to my Father about them. There is a better picture of Dennis and the family resemblance is uncanny !!! You are right with Dennis’s service, hard to believe what he must of went through and then return to it !!!! He is commemorated on the Menin gate. One day I will get to both memorials and pay my respects. I had the stroke of luck of finding Dick Raynor early in my quest. His 8th Battalion research is amazing and he also had details for George. With his details I am also hoping to visit where both of them fought and fell. I expect the memorial visits to be moving but to think of all those lost Norfolk lads still laying to rest out there is quite unbelievable. Your records for the 15th September 1916 brings that home, with so many of their names on the Thiepval tablets. 
keep up the great work, all the best

Steve Andrews 

4CA5C9ED-5E66-4617-AE95-5A91158EBB1E.jpeg

0384A798-5736-48D5-9218-D7138A5B8C92.jpeg

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3 hours ago, PRC said:

It doesn't look like the International Committee received a missing person enquiry for either of the brothers.

Haven’t heard of this ? Presume the enquiry would have been made by next of kin ? Dick did think there was something in the local paper about, I think Dennis and his early joining up !!! 
Steve A 

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3 hours ago, Stevedrews said:

Haven’t heard of this ? Presume the enquiry would have been made by next of kin ? Dick did think there was something in the local paper about, I think Dennis and his early joining up !!! 

 

Not just the family but girlfriends and friends, as well as former Employers, Regimental Associations \ County Service support organisations, British Red Cross, etc, etc. Of course if the fate of the individual was pretty much known at the time - there wasn't always going to be something left to bury or the body was not practically recoverable - then unofficially this information may have already been passed on to the next of kin and so no enquiry was necessary. Even then some families refused to accept that a loved one was gone.

 

When researching a man with no known grave, or even one that was recovered from the battlefield postwar the ICRC website is always worth a check, even if the indexing can drive you mad !

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/

(FindMyPast also includes an indexed version in their subscription service but so far I've not seen any advantage in looking via that route).

 

The only thing I've come across so far in the local press for either of them is a very brief entry in the Births, Marriages and Deaths column in the edition of the Norwich Mercury dated Saturday, September 1st, 1917.

 

DOUGLAS. – Reported missing September 15th, 1916, now reported killed same date, Private George Dennis Douglas (Norfolks), aged 19.

 

So seems like he was officially regarded as missing for nearly a year before being formally regarded by the Army as Killed in Action. There is some paperwork that may firm up the date when the Army came to that conclusion. The Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, (available on Ancestry only), will confirm when the balance of his pay was sent out to his next of kin or legatee - that won't have happened until he was formally accepted as dead. It also looks like there may be pension papers for George and Dennis relating to a claim, (and possibly payment), of a Dependants Pension. This was a financial dependancy - so if the two sons were making an allowance from their pay to either of their parents then there was grounds for a Dependants Pension. The paperwork was rescued from the Ministry of Pensions and so are administrative control documents but can show when a pension was awarded and when it was awarded from. Transcripts are available on Ancestry, with scans of the original documents on Ancestrys' US sister site Fold3, (which requires a separate transcription).

 

3 hours ago, Stevedrews said:

With his details I am also hoping to visit where both of them fought and fell. I expect the memorial visits to be moving but to think of all those lost Norfolk lads still laying to rest out there is quite unbelievable. Your records for the 15th September 1916 brings that home, with so many of their names on the Thiepval tablets. 

 

As well as potentially the Friendly Fire Incident, one of the things that drew my attention to the losses of the 15th September 1916 was how none of the bodies seem to have been recovered from the battlefield either at the time or subsequently. This was not just post-war but there was also a major effort to clear the battlefield both in the last months of 1916 and then in the spring of 1917 when the front-line was several miles further east.

 

The way that this stands out can be illustrated by looking at the 56 men of the 8th Battalion who died alongside Dennis on the 11th August 1917. Looking through those I find:-

 

Lance Corporal 17020 W J N Best was recovered from the battlefield in 1921 and moved to Tyne Cot British Cemetery. He was identified from his discs when he was found at map reference Sheet 28 N.E.  J.14.c.5.5.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/461928/

(For comparison, Tyne Cot British Cemetery is shown as being at map reference Sheet 28 N.E.  D.17.a.00.25)

 

Private 20355 W. Hampston was recovered from the battlefield post-war, most likely in 1920, and moved to Tyne Cot British Cemetery. He was identified from his discs when he was found at map reference Sheet 28 N.E.  J.14.c.00.78

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/463041/#&gid=2&pid=1

 

Private 24153 W J Ottoway was recovered from the battlefield early in 1919, (reburied April 1919) and moved to Hooge Crater Cemetery. Effects were found with the body that allowed for identification but their nature is not described. He was found at map reference Sheet 28 J.14.c.1.9

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/458980/

 

Sergeant 43538 R. Page was recovered from the battlefield and moved to Tyne Cot British Cemetery in October 1920. He was identified from his paybook. He was found at map reference Sheet 28 J.14.c.2.9

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/464191/#&gid=2&pid=1

 

Private 29333 Fred James Pye was recovered from the battlefield in 1926 and moved to Divisional Collecting Post Cemetery Extension. Originally an unknown British Soldier, Norfolk Regiment, he was identified from his watch, cigarette case and match box. He was found at map reference Sheet 28 J.13.d.9.9 along with another unknown soldier of the Norfolk Regiment who despite being found with the initials C.A. and the service number 1760 inscribed on a knife handle and mess tin remained unidentified.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/480887/

 

Lance Corporal 29978 A.B. Seaman was recovered from the battlefield in 1921 and moved to Tyne Cot British Cemetery. He was identified from his discs when he was found at map reference Sheet 28 N.E.  J.14.a.5.5.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/464560/

 

Private 19833 Arthur John Snowley from recovered from the battlefield in March 1919 and initially identified as a New Zealander. He was moved to Hooge Crater Cemetery. Effects were found with the body that allowed a correct identification to be made. He was recovered from map reference J.13.a.5.3

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/459338/

 

Private 16189 John Able Thompson was recovered from the battlefield in 1921 and moved to Tyne Cot British Cemetery. He was identified from his discs when he was found at map reference Sheet 28 N.E.  J.14.a.5.6.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/464901/

 

Private 14334 Clement Sidney Wall was recovered from the battlefield in October 1924 and moved to Railway Dugouts Burial Ground. He was identified from correspondence and a comb marked "14334". He was found at map reference Sheet 28 J.14.a.20.48

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/490874/#&gid=2&pid=1

 

If you look on the linked Commonwealth War Graves Commission webpage for each of those individuals and scroll down you will come to some original documents. Most of the information posted above comes from the "Concentration Report" and where necessary I've cross checked against the "Grave Registration Report". From the Concentration Report you will see all were in unmarked locations, many with both discs still attached so not buried by either site and the grave marker subsequently lost, and all of the reports have unknown British Soldiers recovered nearby, some of them Unknown British Soldiers of the Norfolk Regiment. They remain soldiers known only to God. One may or may not be Dennis.

 

If you're not already aware of it there is an appendix report in the 8th Battalion War Diary for August 1917 titled "“A Short Narrative describing the part played by the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment in the Ypres Operations between the 10th and 17th August 1917.” The part covering the 10th & 11th August 1917 is liberally peppered with map references, many of which may seem familiar after looking at the above. Thus on going into the line the orders from Brigade included "That the JARGON TRENCH line as far as J.14.a.5.6 - the strong point J.14.a.3.2 - and thence to J.13.d.9.9 (The YPRES - MENIN ROAD exclusive), was to held at all costs." and "On receipt of these orders, the Commanding Officer at once moved up to the forward Battalion Headquarters, situated in the TUNNEL at the bend in the YPRES - MENIN Road. On arrival he found that the O.C of the 6th Royal Berkshire Regiment had been brought up in short time previously by a guide of the 54th Infantry Brigade, had commenced to take over the JARGON TRENCH Line as far South as J.14.a.5.6 and had sent  on “A” Company of the 8th Norfolk Regt., to endeavour to take over the strongpoint at J.14.a.3.2 and the switch trench between this strong point and JARGON Trench at J.14.a.5.6. "

 

The Norfolk Regiment names on Panel 4 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial can be seen here https://norfolkinworldwar1.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/image-5.jpg

 

Trench Maps can be found at the National Library of Scotland and there are programs like tmapper that can map those original references to moden day locations. It may be worthwhile raising a separate thread to get the attention of those on the forum who are much whizzier with that side of things, and also those who are working on trying to get the CWGC to accept identifications for the unknown soldiers.

 

Hope that is of interest,

Peter

 

Edited by PRC
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Wow, very interesting and adds so much more detail and knowledge. Your time and effort is very much appreciated. I’m currently up to my eyes in WWII RAF research but will revisit this in detail when time permits. Especially when planning my visit when things get back to ... 

The body recovery after the war where Dennis (probably) fell is fascinating stuff. I have other papers (Digital) relating to official details to the next of kin via Steve Smith. As you say I will start a new thread on the brothers in the future adding the extra details. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and I’m so glad my writings have led here.

All the best 

Steve Andrews 

 

 

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3 hours ago, PRC said:

map those original references to modern day locations

PRC has done the hard work and the exhumation locations can be plotted in seconds.  First step is to extract them in this format, using Notepad or similar.

28.J.14.c.5.5,Lance Corporal 17020 W J N Best
28.J.14.a.5.5,Lance Corporal 29978 A.B. Seaman
28.J.14.a.20.48,Private 14334 Clement Sidney Wall
28.J.14.a.5.6,Private 16189 John Able Thompson
28.J.13.a.5.3,Private 19833 Arthur John Snowley
28.J.14.c.00.78,Private 20355 W. Hampston
28.J.14.c.1.9,Private 24153 W J Ottoway
28.J.13.d.9.9,Private 29333 Fred James Pye
28.J.14.c.2.9,Sergeant 43538 R. Page

 

Step 2 is to open tMapper and select the tab Bulk Convert.  Clear the sample and paste in the list above (shown as blue pins).  Optionally change the base map and overlay a National Library of Scotland trench map from the closest date to the action.  I have also chosen the Gazetteer of the Western Front WW1 locations (yellow pins) as it shows some locations such as Jargon Cross Roads (click to enlarge):

image.png.6bf65e1fbc42636fe690bcc0c8e17a0a.png

 

Third step is to click the Utilities (menu top right hand corner).  Select tMap Reports Central, then List of Conversions, to get a modern reference to put into Google Mapa or Excel:

 

image.png.c06cac6df6d72480b8689b88eb91c507.png

 

 

1, "28.J.14.c.5.5", "28", "NE3", "J", 14, "c", 1, 1, -98857, 50212, 50.842365, 2.965570, 7, "Sheet 28.J.14.c.5.5,Lance Corporal 17020 W J N Best"

2, "28.J.14.a.5.5", "28", "NE3", "J", 14, "a", 1, 1, -98857, 50669, 50.846475, 2.965447, 7, "Sheet 28.J.14.a.5.5,Lance Corporal 29978 A.B. Seaman"

3, "28.J.14.a.20.48", "28", "NE3", "J", 14, "a", 0, 0, -98994, 50660, 50.846369, 2.963502, 8, "Sheet 28.J.14.a.20.48,Private 14334 Clement Sidney Wall"

4, "28.J.14.a.5.6", "28", "NE3", "J", 14, "a", 1, 1, -98857, 50715, 50.846886, 2.965435, 7, "Sheet 28.J.14.a.5.6,Private 16189 John Able Thompson"

5, "28.J.13.a.5.3", "28", "NE3", "J", 13, "a", 1, 0, -99771, 50578, 50.845497, 2.952488, 7, "Sheet 28.J.13.a.5.3,Private 19833 Arthur John Snowley"

6, "28.J.14.c.00.78", "28", "NE3", "J", 14, "c", 0, 1, -99086, 50340, 50.843477, 2.962290, 8, "Sheet 28.J.14.c.00.78,Private 20355 W. Hampston"

7, "28.J.14.c.1.9", "28", "NE3", "J", 14, "c", 0, 1, -99040, 50395, 50.843978, 2.962924, 7, "Sheet 28.J.14.c.1.9,Private 24153 W J Ottoway"

8, "28.J.13.d.9.9", "28", "NE3", "J", 13, "d", 1, 1, -99131, 50395, 50.843962, 2.961626, 7, "Sheet 28.J.13.d.9.9,Private 29333 Fred James Pye"

9, "28.J.14.c.2.9", "28", "NE3", "J", 14, "c", 0, 1, -98994, 50395, 50.843986, 2.963573, 7, "Sheet 28.J.14.c.2.9,Sergeant 43538 R. Page"

Edited by WhiteStarLine
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@WhiteStarLine

 

Well I still think it's magic and I thank you for doing the whizzy stuff :)

 

Really appreciated. I assume the bend in the Ypres-Menin Road where the Norfolk Battalion HQ was located was probably near Jackdaw Post.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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Yes, pretty much one and the same.  I show it as in the collection of posts just above the bend (blue pin below).  A Maori battalion wrote about doing works on Jackdaw Post on the Menin Road.  Chasseaud gives it in 28.J.13.b.  The tunnel is shown in the trench map (hard to read but look for the text underneath road on the Menin Road) as going under the road on both sides of the bend.

 

image.png.0eb5eb64c1c5dc7dd80ee6a237cf13e5.png

 

Bear in mind the whole thing was pretty featureless and its a wonder they found anything (1918 photo, IWM), with highlighting from me:

image.png.95ae6dd50c3e9d7ab0f3ff9046e710f6.png

 

 

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This one is from GeoRef at 80% transparency.  Click to enlarge and it shows the bend in the Menin Road at the bottom just before it joins the modern road (I forgot to mark it with a pin but it is a pretty obvious bend).  The other markers are for alignment with the exception of marker on the clear black line as Jackdaw Reserve intersects Menin Road.  The black line continues westward then becomes James Trench north west of Menin Road.  Image is from IWM, June 1917, 

image.png.cb2451e9458d010c182e590e5e54e245.png

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@whitestarliner 
 

Thanks for these, again impressive knowledge and database use. I have some printed maps I got from a researcher years ago. Combined with your details will be great for retracing the brothers journeys, much appreciated. Hope your summer doesn’t get too hot again !!!!

All the best

Steve Andrews 

 

 

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