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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Three men possibly reburied but only one name on headstone

Mark Hone

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I am currently writing a detailed obituary of Sergeant Roger Smith MM of 16th Manchesters (1st Manchester Pals) who was killed on 15th October 1916, for our centenary roll of honour. According to the battalion War Diary, Sgt. Smith was in command of an isolated post consisting of himself and two other men which was destroyed by shellfire. After the shelling stopped a patrol sent out to check on the post found the remains of three men but could not separately identify them.  'They gathered together what they could find and buried them.' However, Roger Smith has an individual, identified headstone at Warlencourt Cemetery (VIII.J.49). He is not buried alongside any other men from 16th Battalion. Checking the documentation on the CWGC website his original grave was discovered at 57.c.M.35.c.2.6, a point between Contalmaison and Flers just north east of High Wood. His date of death on the burial return is given as 14th October but this has subsequently been corrected to 15th on the CWGC database.  There is no mention on the concentration document of anyone else found at the same location at the same time. If the War Diary entry is correct it would seem highly likely to me that the grave contains the remains of three men, not just Roger Smith. However, on another burial return it transpires that 6777 Private J. McElhinney of 16th Manchesters was found buried in the same grid square. His date of death is also given as 14th October, as it remains on the CWGC database.  He too is buried in Warlencourt (VIII.G.48). Was McElhinney killed at the same time and if so how did they separately identify his body?  Who was the third ( and possibly the second) man from the post that was destroyed by shellfire? The most likely candidates are Privates 35593 Alfred Keegan and 27468 Fred Curry who are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial with dates of death 15th October 1916. 

 I would be interested in the views of other Forum Pals. 

Edited by Mark Hone
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