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mithrandir1967

How do I find details of where field hospitals were?

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mithrandir1967

If I wanted to find details of field hospitals or forward casualty clearing stations do I need to look at RAMC war diaries or the war diaries of the unit which the soldier served in? My question relates to the hospitals/FCCS which would have taken soldiers who were wounded on 27th-28th March 1918 in the 7bn Suffolk Regiment fighting at Albert. I am after the co-ordinates of where the hospitals/FCCS were sited before they were over run by the Germans (and hence might find a clue where causalities were buried before being concentrated to a cemetery. 

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TEW

Locations of the CCSs can be found on The Long Long Trail, but note, it is based on a letter sent to the BRC from Ministry of Pensions which has proved less than accurate. The letter says it's an index to the locations for Hospitals and CCS but I've never checked the Hospital Locations.

 

This thread has links to the four volumes of "Medical History of the War". Takes some reading through but lots of details and is searchable, either as an online reader or as a downloaded pdf.

 

I would also suggest that the 7/Suffolks 27-28 March 1918 had a specific casualty evacuation process laid down in orders. The Medical Services diary for the 12th Division is available for £3.45 from TNA.  It is also available on ancestry if you have subscription, March 1918 starts here. You could use a UK library for ancestry and it's free but the above link won't work.

 

There will also be 3 diaries for the 36th, 37th 38th Field ambulances who would be manning various aid posts and carrying out the evacuation. Any/all of those diaries may have useful information. Both at TNA and ancestry.

 

In many cases the cemeteries that grew up beside the CCSs and Hospitals are still present. If the man was concentrated to another cemetery his concentration sheet should have an original burial location.

 

TEW

 

 

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mithrandir1967

TEW

 

many thanks. I am a member of Ancestry so I shall look online. The soldier, my great uncle, has no known grave, but having gone through the concentration records in the cemetery where we know his colleagues ended up, and looking at the war diaries of the 7bn, the information in the medical diaries will allow me to triangulate and, hopefully, on the balance of probabilities, show where he was treated, died and temporarily buried. I am under no illusions that we will find the actual grave he is in, but we could be able to narrow it down to a "small" number of UBS. Even that is far more information than my great grandmother had, believing that his body was lost forever. Thanks again. 

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mithrandir1967

Thanks again and I have had a quick skim of the information - it will require some study. However on first reading it would seem to me that he never made it to a CCS. Would the process have been that he was taken from the front line by stretcher bearers perhaps to a field ambulance and given first aid? If he does there then he would have been buried there? We're stretcher bearers part of the battalion and field ambulances part of the RAMC? 

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TEW

These things do require a lot of input to work out where all the aid posts were at any given time and who was manning them. Then you have to have clear picture of what circumstances the men died in eg attacking enemy positions or randomly shelled. From what I saw in the ADMS diary they only arrived in the La Bouvirere area on the 24th March.

 

The other aspect is during this period the enemy were over-running allied positions, I did spot references to CCSs that had been rapidly pulled back so it seems quite possible the location of a forward aid post set up at 6am was over-run by 3pm. The ADMS diary mentions that various HQs were moving about rapidly.

 

Lots of diaries to read I know but the one for 35 Infantry Brigade has a narrative of operations 24th-28th March 1918.

 

Very difficult to make suggestions without knowing what sort of wounds they had, how serious and how far they were from any medical help. This could range from receiving no help at all to stretcher bearers trying to clear the ground of wounded to their designated collecting station/RAP.

 

The normal structure of a field ambulance would include a bearer section which was run by RAMC but used infantry, cooks, etc as stretcher bearers. They would also man the RAPs, ADS and operate the evacuation process by a series of relay posts. The specifics of who did what varies and was usually dictated by the Deputy Director Medical Services with some choices made by the Assistant Director Medical Services (diary in previous link). The DDMS diary (15 Corps) is not available via ancestry but could be bought for £3.45 from TNA for all of 1918.

 

36 Field Ambulance diary from 24/3/1918.

 

37 Field Ambulance diary from 24/3/1918. includes some plans of MDS etc

 

38 Field Ambulance Diary from 24/3/1918

 

Without looking at the 3 FA diaries it's impossible to say how they were being used, they may have assigned a field ambulance to an infantry brigade in which case they would man the forward posts, evacuate to relay posts and could be manning an ADS/walking wounded station. OR one FA could be manning forward areas another doing the evacuation and another at the ADS.

 

At a worst case scenario it may be that some of these men died where they fell and were not even buried by allied troops.

 

Are you looking at all the concentration sheets for one particular cemetery? If so have you managed to get all the concentration sheets for that cemetery.

 

Which cemetery?

 

Can you give his name and number?

 

Hope you've found a decent map to plot out all the locations?

 

TEW

 

 

 

 

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Chris_Baker

I usually find that the best diary for details of the various medical facilities at any time is that of the Assistant Director of Medical Services of the Division concerned.

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mithrandir1967

TEW

 

Many thanks. This is incredibly useful. I have been looking at some of the documents on Ancestry but it will take time to read an collate everything. I have been looking at the cent ration reports for Bouzincourt Ridge Cemetery as that is where identified 7/Suffolks went from that battle. I have all the co-orindates of the identified soldiers and a proportion of the unidentified ones so I can make some assumptions that the UBS are actually Suffolks. I don't have all the co-ordinates of all the UBS as not all the concentration records are on the website so I assume I would have to go to Midenhead to see those. I have the relevant extracts for the war diary for the 7/Suffolks and can plot where they were and how they moved. 

 

My uncle was Pte Thomas Albert Lockwood Sutherland and he was in D company. He is listed in the war diaries on the 26th and 27th are wounded. He died on the 27th (so we are told) and we have both his dog tags. We have no information of how or where he was injured or what he was doing.

 

There are pockets of concentration graves and I am hoping that I can triangulate the units positions, the original burials sites and the site of the RAP or ADS and get some idea where he might have fought, been wounded, been treated, died and maybe reburied. 

 

I have ordered what I hope is a good enough map to plot these things on.

 

I am under no illusions how unlikely all of this is to narrow this down to even 20 graves he might be in given the sheer numbers who were lost and have no known burial site.

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TEW

All the concentration sheets for Bouzincourt Ridge Cemetery are on CWGC's server and it is possible to get all of them in one go. Do you use Mozilla Firefox?

 

There are more maps at MacMaster

 

TEW

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mithrandir1967

Thanks. I use Chrome.

 

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TEW

It's the diary for the 37th FA that's the relevant one. There was a MDS at Bouzincourt and an ADS for the 35th Infantry Brigade set up in HENENCOURT CHATEAU. The ADS was clearing wounded back to the MDS. The dairy specifically says the wounded of the 7/Suffolks were being cleared direct to HENENCOURT via MILLENCOURT and gives a total of 200 ORs admitted and evacuated although a motor ambulance clearing the 7/Suffolks was hit and disabled on the 27th.

 

Later on the 27th the 37th FA received orders to hand over HENENCOURT to the 13th FA of the 4th Australian division and move to CLAIRFAYE. I think they would have cleared all their wounded before handing over.

 

You have a lot of detail in the 7/Suffolks diary, company narratives for this action and to be able to place him in D coy. from the casualty list is a real bonus.

 

However, given the state of confusion as to numbers of dead & missing (still being guessed at on the 28th) and that 96 missing were 'unquestionably killed and lying out in forward positions' coupled with the fact that the line being held by D Coy was not fortified and they had no tools to dig in with suggest all these dead were simply left behind and buried by the advancing enemy.

 

With Sutherland's mention of being wounded that widens the area he may have eventually died in, he may have been cleared to HENENCOURT or only as far as MILLENCOURT or maybe died before reaching either place, although the 200 admitted and evacuated would have been evacuated further back, he could have been in this group?

 

TEW

 

 

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TEW

With Firefox you can download all the concentration sheets in one go - all 85 of them!!

 

Or you can link to http://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc1974197.JPG and manually adjust the JPG number up to 1974280.

 

TEW

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mithrandir1967

TEW

 

Thanks. I had read the same things this afternoon. If he had been evacuated through Millencourt than I would assume that he when he died then he would have had a known grave. It would have been less chaotic and hence more orderly. I still can't understand how we ended up with both dog tags. It does seem more likely that he died in the field and was either buried or his body lost. Equally, however, why was he listed as wounded and not killed or missing?? Fantastic sets of documents including maps. Thank you. 

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johnboy

When his body was found/buried his dog tags would have been removed along with pay book etc. These personal items would have been returned to NOK.

If the body was found again then nearly all means of identification were missing.

Soldiers Effects register on Ancestry might show where he died if he was having treatment. 

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TEW

I wondered about the dog tags and how come they ended up at home, do the have the 45570 number? Perhaps he left those behind after some leave and got a new set. I have a feeling dog tags may have been changed at some point. When he was buried he should have been buried with one and the other removed.

 

As the casualty sheet says wounded that's all you can go on.

 

TEW

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johnboy

When he was buried he should have been buried with one and the other removed.

 

 

 

If a dog tag was buried with the body then we should not have UBS's.

I have always thought that both tags were removed. One went in a bag with other effects and the other was used to tie the bag.

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TEW

Have to agree with that. Sure there was a thread about fibre tags being replaced with alloy? Or the tags in the OP's possession are a former number?

TEW

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mithrandir1967

Couple of questions: you mention the ADMS diary - where is that, as I haven't found it yet? Also you suggest that the advancing Germans might have buried the dead. Are there any German records that might show that? I can find where the RAP was for 7/Suffolks? The concentration records for BOUZINCOURT RIDGE show 15 or show original burials at 57D.W.21.c.1.0. which was some way away  from MILLENCOURT - was there an RAP there?

 

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TEW

ADMS diary was in post#2, perhaps it wasn't that clear so try this link.

 

This note in the 7/Suffolks diary suggests to me they did not have the opportunity to retrieve or bury these men. It is also stated elsewhere that they didn't have the tools needed to dig themselves in on the defense line so how would they have time and equipment to bury men?

 

Clipboard01.jpg

 

Not aware of any German records that would show that but I would have thought markers would have been left which either the infantry that retook the area later on or the concentration teams would have found. Sometimes the concentration sheets show that a German marker/cross was present.

 

I think that 57D.W.21.c.1.0. would have been in enemy hands while D Coy were holding the line in W.27, W.21 is just north of W.27. I haven't seen any ref to any Aid Posts in W.21. If the burials in that square are 7/Suffolks you need to double check they didn't previously hold that area or have any logical reason to be there.

 

W.21 & W.27 are on this sheet.

 

TEW

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Gus1914

Hello, Can you see on the CWGC site any Concentration Documents for the entire cemetery or do you have to find individual records for a single soldier...?

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TEW

Gus1914,

 

Yes you can get the whole batch of concentration records for a cemetery assuming they had concentrations.

 

Another forum member has already put a lot of cemetery concentration sheets into pdf files. So, the easiest method is to look at their website to see if the cemetery you're after is already listed.

 

If not, there is a fairly simple way of downloading all the concentration sheets in one go but you do need to be using Firefox not Chrome or IE.

 

Which cemetery? I may be able to look later and see how many sheets there are and if not too many I'll get them.

 

Or if you're feeling a little techy you could follow these instructions, although I only found that I needed Firefox and not a combination of Firefox and Chrome as suggested on the site.

 

TEW

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Gus1914

Thanks TEW, I didn't have a particular cemetery in mind, I just wanted to have a look so I followed the link and downloaded the lot ...  I'm not techy but I will read how to get them as I wouldn't mind the WWII headstone pfd documents for certain cemeteries...

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Old Harry

I am interested in the wounded ORs (128) suffered by the 2nd Bn Royal Berkshire Regiment in attacks on Zenith Trench, near Le Transloy, between 23rd and 28th October 1916. How to I find out which medical facility/facilities they went to in that area for treatment and evacuation?

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TEW

2/Royal Berks were with 8th Division so the start point would be the Assistant Director Medical Services diary for the 8th Division. Which is this one.

 

Or on ancestry here.

 

It appears the 8th Div. ADMS HQs were in Minden Post and were using Main Dressing Station at Bernafay Wood run by 12th Field Ambulance. There was also medical post in Carnoy that changed from a Regimental Aid Post to an Advanced Dressing Station around this time.

 

If your interest is generic for the 128 wounded the issue is that different types of injuries would be treated and evacuated differently. Walking wounded go to the Walking Wounded Collection point which was mid-way between Trones and Bernafay Woods. The ADS in Carnoy and the MDS in Bernafay Wood received the more serious injuries. There was also a railway siding on the south side of Carnoy used for Evacuating wounded back to the Grovetown group of Casualty Clearing Stations.

 

Sometimes distinctions are made that EG Chest Wounds go to X and abdominal wounds go to Y and head wounds to Z.

 

Looking at 2/RBR casualties on CWGC for that period most are on THIEPVAL MEMORIAL with a small number in Bancourt British Cemetery as concentrations. There are a few that were evacuated as far back as the Grovetown CCSs.

 

If you really want to delve into the chain of evacuations you'd need the 8th Div. ADMS diary, the three field ambulance diaries for the 8th Div. ditto for the 12th FA, the Deputy Director Medical Services dairy for 14 Corps and they may well lead you to more diaries.

 

You'd have to have a good understanding of where the battalion was located in that period and what their objectives were in order to deduce which Regimental Aid Post a wounded man should report to (depending on the nature of the injury). A seriously injured man lying out in no man's land could be retrieved by stretcher bearers and could bypass some of the stages and go straight to a CCS.

 

TEW

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Old Harry

Many thanks for such a comprehensive reply. It is most helpful.

 

My interest is not generic but specific, and is a part of the research into my uncle 37322 Pte Frederick Percy Clark, who joined 2nd RBR on 29 Sept 1916. A family photograph of him outside his parents' home shows him with a wound stripe, so my theory is that he was wounded in the October offensive and sent back to UK. After recovery he was then transferred to the 8th Bn.

 

This theory has been reinforced by the 3rd entry in the attached search result on The Genealogists website. Unfortunately my budget won't run to upgrading to the Diamond account, but your details will be of great help when I visit the National Archives.

 

Roy.

 

casualty.jpg

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TEW

It appears that his 'Home Town of Enlistment' was Horton and he's on the Daily List of 1/12/1916. Normally I say 3-4 weeks from injury to appearing on the list, so 28th Oct seems good enough.

 

They only have a transcript anyway, they seem to have a cut off point of 31/10/1916 ! for the original in The Times.

 

TEW

 

 

 

 

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