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Sidney James Conrad Aikens 23Bn London Regiment Help please


m loebel
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I am looking for clarification regarding my grandfather, the photo attached says 6th (R) Infantry Brigade, 2nd London (R) division and his Medal Roll says 23rd London. I have read here that the 6th were integrated into the 23rd. Can anyone tell me where precisely he fought it just says 1(a) France & Belgium, where he was wounded and what his injuries were? 

He is front right. His name was Sidney James Conrad Aikens born  21st May 1888 in Lambeth, London. Thank you

Sid Aikens 1915 Jan 6th Reg small.jpg

Edited by m loebel
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Welcome to the forum,

 

Thanks for posting the photo. I'm guessing it must have been taken sometime from Nov 1914- May 1915.

Looks like Sidney spent all of 1915 and half of 1916 in UK. He served in France with 1/23rd London from 22nd June 1916, although he didn't reach the battalion until 3rd July 1916 at Bouvigny Woods. He would have then gone to Bully Grenay and Souchez Sector (Vimy) for the rest of the month for a few days of trench warfare before spending much of August marching to and then training at St. Riquier and then Lahoussoye getting ready for his involvement in the later part of the Somme Offensive. He survived the battalion's involvement in the attack at High Wood 15th-16th September but was wounded on 18th September 1916 with a gunshot wound to the left hand (which could actually be caused by rifle, mg or shrapnel fire). The wound was serious enough to warrant his discharge in June 1917.

 

Do you have his service papers which are on Findmypast and should be on Ancestry too?

 

Best regards,

Matthew

 

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Thank you so much that is so helpful, I am away to look at maps to see where everything happened. I will look on the website for historical information. I knew he was wounded and I have lovely sketches and photos of the hospital he convalesced in. He also suffered from shell shock. I had "saved" a certain amount of information on him when I was an Ancestry member thinking I could look at it all later. Now I am no longer a member I can't see any of my saved documents, so I have to wait for the free days but they give limited access. Are you able to see my great grandfather James Aikens born Ireland around 1855, again I can't see the records I saved and if I did I couldn't understand them, I think he signed up in Clonmel and he fought in Egypt and was a Military Policeman.  Many thanks Maureen

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The shell shock would have been from the divisions assault on High Wood and operations in the open ground beyond in the days that followed.

 

My wife's 18 year old Uncle was killed in the same brigade on 16 September and we walked the ground on the 100th anniversary - it is well worth looking into his story from that battle, as the entire 47th Division really went through the grinder over the days they were engaged at High Wood. 

 

Below is the war diary from the day he was wounded - the casualty stats say it all really

01.JPG

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Should have added that I have quite a lot of footage from the recent trip covering the 16 September line of advance (mainly focused on the 22nd Battalion but would also include the 23rd Battalion's line). I have yet to do something with it but once I compile it into the story it will become, if you are particularly interested, I'll pop a link to it on here?

 

No offence taken if not of course, as it is not specifically focused on the 23rd Battalion but the ground they advanced across is covered. 

 

Edit; on reflection, the Starfish Line referred to in the diary is exactly where I was filming and working around so you will be able to see the ground in question, from the wood to the Starfish Line. In my haste, I assumed that they had advanced beyond it over the two days that followed but apparently not ... given their enormous losses, the ground must have been littered with fallen of the division.

Edited by steve fuller
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The diary is very detailed, such a huge loss of lives, no wonder my grandfather was a changed man, I was small when he died at the age of 73. My mother was born in October 1917. I will definitely make a trip to the battleground now that I know where it is. Thank you all for your help Maureen

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Just now, m loebel said:

The diary is very detailed, such a huge loss of lives, no wonder my grandfather was a changed man, I was small when he died at the age of 73. My mother was born in October 1917. I will definitely make a trip to the battleground now that I know where it is. Thank you all for your help Maureen

If you do get over there, I'd be happy to provide maps etc., so you can stand in the correct spots and look along the lines of attack - give me a nudge if needed.

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Steve,

 

Please do post it or send me what photos you can. My grandfather was wounded with 1/23rd on the 16th too. Had tried to get out there for the 'special day' too but the start of school over here meant we had to do our UK trip in July rather than September so no chance to pop over. Glad that you were able to walk the ground, as I'd heard the area was off limits because of the NZ remembrance service with Prince Charles.

 

Given the casualties that 142nd Brigade suffered on the 15th and 16th, I'm amazed that they were able to put up such a good show on the 18th.

 

Best regards,

Matthew

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1 minute ago, westkent78 said:

Please do post it or send me what photos you can. My grandfather was wounded with 1/23rd on the 16th too. Had tried to get out there for the 'special day' too but the start of school over here meant we had to do our UK trip in July rather than September so no chance to pop over. Glad that you were able to walk the ground, as I'd heard the area was off limits because of the NZ remembrance service with Prince Charles.

 

Given the casualties that 142nd Brigade suffered on the 15th and 16th, I'm amazed that they were able to put up such a good show on the 18th.

Will do Matthew. If you dont mind poor sound quality and me 'thinking out loud' on the footage, I'll pop the unedited rushes on YouTube in the coming days?

 

What surprised me was the bowl of ground they advanced into beyond the wood as you don't tend to go that far from the wood unless there's a specific reason, which I had never had before. It was a perfect killing ground with enfilade MG positions to the left and right so, when added to the High Wood task, the division did well to come out at all (without wishing to sound dramatic). 

7 minutes ago, westkent78 said:

Please do post it or send me what photos you can. My grandfather was wounded with 1/23rd on the 16th too.

Oh, I also covered the Souchez ground from pre-Somme if your relative was there too?

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Great. Look forward to seeing it.

 

And some of 1/23rd even made it as far as Eaucourt L'Abbaye on the 16th, if the RFC is to be believed! The Bavarians certainly took some prisoners on the 16th so perhaps they actually did make it that far.

 

It is a shame that the actions on 16th-19th usually get swept up into a footnote to the fall of High Wood and the Tanks at Flers etc. But I suppose there are countless other actions in the war that get similar treatment.

 

Matthew

 

 

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  • spof changed the title to Sidney James Conrad Aikens 23Bn London Regiment Help please

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