Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

53rd Brigade RFA Somme


johnnie

Recommended Posts

Dear All,

 

Do any members have the war diary for the 53rd Brigade RFA for July 1916? I'm trying to find out what the unit were up to around the 18th July when a local chap, George Alfred Gay, died of wounds.

 

I think the unit was part of the 9th Division, so I assume the unit was involved in the actions for the Bazentine Ridge, but it would be great to find out more.

 

Any help would be great,

 

Johnnie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Johnnie

 

It was indeed in 9th (Scottish) Division, and its War Diary is in this file:

WO 95/1753 53 Brigade Royal Field Artillery 1915 Sept. - 1916 Sept.  
 

You can download it from their website, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk for about £3.50. War Diaries rarely mention men by name other than officers but the location of the unit, with a brief description of its activities, including numbers of casualties, is usually given for each day. As he died of wounds, you may have to go back a bit from 18 July.

 

Ron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great stuff.

 

I'm guessing he was wounded in something like a German barrage on the emplacements, but I was hoping the War Diary might confirm.

 

Johnnie 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Johnnie,

 

The diary doesn't note anything specific. There is a general comment "From July 16 until the Brigade was withdrawn [the night of July 27/28],  batteries & Brigade H.Q. were subjected at intervals to heavy but unaimed fire by all natures of guns & Howitzers".

 

On July 16th the batteries had moved to "positions in the open on N, slopes of the valley between Longueval and Montauban facing N.E. in the direction of Guinchy.". "When no operations were in progress, continual fire was kept on country E & N.E. of Delville Wood by one battery at a time firing at the rate of 40 rounds per hour day & night.".

 

Regards

Chris

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Johnnie,

 

I researched Dvr 27716 George Gay some years ago as an ansetor of mine also died on 18th July 1916 whilst serving with 'C' Bty of the 53rd Bde. George was serving with 'B' Bty when he died of wounds (Gas) at the 5th CCS based at Corbie. The war diaries for the 9th Divisional Artillery are lacking in content for this period but scanning through the 9th CRA, 50th, 51st, 52nd and 53rd diaries there is something that may throw some light on when George was gassed (possibly mustard gas). Contained in the diary of the 51st Bde entry for 18th July 'enemy barraged Montauban with gas shells'. The entry in the 52nd Bde diary for 31st July lists ORs casualties, there are 2 entries for 18th, both 'wounded gas poisoning'. And 2 telegrams in the appendages of the CRA diary one dated 20th July the other undated  make reference to mustard gas around Longueval.

From the 53rd Bde diary 16th July 'Batteries moved into positions in the open on N slopes of the valley between Longueval and Montauban facing NE in the direction of Guinchy. Brigade HQ moved to a quarry at NW corner of Bernafay Wood'. There is no further change of positions upto the deaths of Dvr Gay and Gnr Woodhouse. The body of Gnr Woodhouse being recovered post war from S22.d.2.9 which is around 250yrds west of Quarry Cemetery and ties in to the likely location for the 53rd Bde guns.

 

Jon

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More confirmation here from the South African Inf Bde Diary entry for 17th July

'During the night enemy shelled MONTAUBAN with poison shells. At periods the shelling was intense. Several men gassed, transport on roads much knocked about.'

 

And an interesting entry for 18th July in the 27th FA WD,

'Gassed Cases are arriving pretty freely since early morning. It appears that the GERMANS started a barrage of gas shells – a new variety it seems – the patients describing them as like “thousands of “dud” shells” i.e. almost noiseless, falling about them. The effect is not immediate – this is important – therefore many men did not put on their smoke helmets. After about 15-30 mins however, the effect was very palpable and the usual signs were noticed. Several cases arrived collapsed – and died in the ambulance. Of the others those “cyanotic or blue” cases were sent to CCS as soon as possible in accordance with “Preliminary NOTE on Treatment of GASSES Cases” Drawn up by the Committee of Consultants dd 18th May 1916

I circulated all the MO’s as to whether they were in possession of this pamphlet and informed them it could be seen in any office. Also we had a conference as to the necessity and suitability for evacuation of cases. We all agreed that the instructions are quite definitive on the subject. A French Dr. – DOCTEUR R. PEVRON – aide mayor – Mission Francaise GHQ called to see me and to examine some of the patients. He was greatly interested. He thinks the gas is probably Oxychlorine + Carbonal (Phosgene) or Chloroforminate + Methyl Chlor (Palite). Also he says patients ought not to move about for 48 hours.'

One could assume that George had been diagnosed as a 'cyanotic or blue case' before being transferred down the line to the 5th CCS at Corbie.

 

Jon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...