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Remembered Today:

Captain V. H. Clay, Wiltshire Regiment, Warlencourt British Cemetery 6.F.34 - APPROVED


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Only two (2) Captains of the Wiltshire Regiment on the Thiepval Memorial for 1916:


surname forename death Bn.
HALES, M.C. ARTHUR HOARE 06-07-16 1st Bn


Not as easy when you do not see the war diary on-line but certainly someone has it for these dates. The area is just east of Le Sars. I am assuming that on the 6th of July they are no where near that area, so that would make it Captain Clay of the 2nd Battalion. If the 1st Battalion just entered the line on 4 July 1916 at Thiepval 57d.R.25 they would have no chance of having someone exhumed from 57c.M.18.c.


I would say that makes this Captain Vivian Hastings Clay of the 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment.


There is a story about him here with a map of his location: http://www.fovanthistory.org/vclay.html. If that information is correct, which I have no reason to doubt, then Captain Clay was in 57c.M.24, west of Factory Corner and advancing into 57c.M.18, so that puts him in the right place at the right time!





The attack on GIRD TRENCH 18/19 October 1916. They moved to a position in ADVANCE of the front line during heavy shelling till 3.40 a.m. with C and D Companies forming the 1st wave. A Company were in the 2nd wave. B Company in Support Trench. Captain Clay was with B Company.

3.40 a.m. 19 October 1916 Time of the attack.

C and D companies reached their objective but could not hold it. 8 officers became casualties.

B Company advanced but lost direction. A group under Captain Clay crossed the Sunken Road and entered the German Front Line, bombing their way up a communication trench but were driven back. Regrouping they attacked again but short of bombs they did not take the trench until reinforced by the Cameron Highlanders (9th Division). A block was formed and defended.

The enemy Front Line trench was taken and consolidated. During the reorganisation and consolidation, Captain Clay was killed. His body was never found and he is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.



Edited by laughton
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You can look at the Wiltshire Regt WDs here: http://www.thewardrobe.org.uk/research/war-diaries/search



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  • 4 weeks later...



I am assembling the information to draft a report on this case to the CWGC. I have a faster format that I have used in a large number of reports that makes the process quite simple AND it has the support of the CWGC, as it is based on their standards.


If you have the time, I would like to have you review a draft of the report? That option is open to anyone and all that participate are acknowledged. All I need from participants is their real name, e-mail address (for CWGC direct contact if necessary) and an affiliation (Private Researcher, "X" Research Company, etc.).


Once I have the support information prepared, I just "drag and drop" it into the report sections and write the text. For this one I now have:


Area Map:




Trench Map Details:



War Diary Text of Event:



As always, if someone thinks this is the "WRONG MAN" then I want to hear from them. If there is additional support information, post it hear or send it to me for inclusion.


You can see an example of a completed report that was posted to the GWF here, along with the comments from the CWGC:





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  • 2 weeks later...

Just for the record, as we move on to the reporting phase. Captain Hales is specifically mentioned in the 1st Bn Wiltshire War Diary for July 5th and July 6th 1916 when they are still in the Leipzig Salient. It is shown on a sketch map here: http://www.ww1battlefields.co.uk/somme/thiepval.html . Here is a walking photo tour of the area and then the markings on a trench map. So Captain Hales is excluded http://thebignote.com/2015/09/21/travels-on-the-somme-part-two-the-leipzig-redoubt/ as he is clearly in 57d.R.31.c. Our lost Captain was in 57c.M.18.c.


The war diary reports that Captain Hales was actually killed on 5 July 1916.



Regiment. 1st Wiltshire
Location France, Leipzig Salient

Enemy continued shelling. Shortly after mid-day orders were received that the whole Battn was to move into the old enemy trench in the Leipzig Salient with a view to an attack on the enemy 2nd line, which was very strongly held forming the Leipzig Redoubt. The length of line to be attacked was about 600 yards and necessary operation orders were issued. At 4p.m. however the length of objective was changed to 300 yards. Operation orders were issued as follows. C & D Coys were selected to do the assault, C Coy on right and D Coy on our left. B Coy half to form carrying parties, half in support. The attack was carried out in following order Attacking wave of each company, C & D, 3 platoons In support 1 platoon Two platoons of B Coy were carrying parties, one to each attacking Coy. The remaining half Coy of B were in support holding the line of the Quarry. The time originally appointed for the attack was 6p.m., this was afterwards changed to 7p.m. For half min before this, there was an intense artillery bombardment assisted by Stokes Mortars, punctually at 7p.m. our 1st wave advanced to the attack under heavy rifle and machine gun fire. D Coy on the left under Capt R L Knubley reached their objective without heavy casualties, but D Coy on the left were badly cut up by machine gunfire and though they reached their objective were insufficient in numbers to withstand the heavy German Counter attack which followed immediately, and were compelled to withdraw temporarily. The second wave of each Coy consisting of 1 platoon had followed on the first wave at an interval of about 30-40 yards. C Coy on the right were followed by the carrying party of 1 platoon of B Coy. After the trench had been cleared of Germans, all dugouts were bombed immediately and then took in hand the consolidation of the position gained. Barricades were erected in all the communication trenches leading to the German 3rd line and bombing parties posted. In the case of 1 CT the Germans had erected a strong barricade prior to the attack. Two blocks were also built on the left of the captured trench, the second about thirty yards behind the first as a precautionary measure in case retirement became necessary. The men in this attack were magnificent, all showing the greatest coolness and initiative. Officer casualties in this attack were:- D Coy 2nd Lieut Starkey, missing. Lieut Holman, wounded (later died of wounds). C Coy Lieut G W Penruddocke. 2nd Lieut Troughton. Very shortly after the attack commenced the enemy began an intense bombardment chiefly directed on their old front line now occupied by our HQ and support company, especially on that portion of it into which the Russian Sap entered, an underground tunnel from the old British front line excavated before first offensive of July 1st 1916. In this bombardment 1 shell made a direct hit on the trench killing Lieut Colonel W S Brown and wounding RSM Parker and 2nd Lieut Stockbridge the Battn Signalling Officer. Capt A H Hales acting 2nd in Command who was directing the attack from the line of the Quarries having also been killed, Capt R L Knubley took Command of the Battn until the arrival of Capt S S Ogilvie from the B team. Other officers brought up from the B team were 2nd Lieut Sharpe, 2nd Lieut J R Tayler. Prisoners taken during this attack 41. Approx Casualties Killed 20. Missing 22. Wounded 158. Missing believed killed 2. Recommendation for Award 7th Inf Bde. 25th Division. 10th Corps July 5th. For immediate award. 1ar Battn Wiltshire Regt, 7809[4] L/Cpl Victor Wilfred Butler. On 5th July 1916 at Leipzig Salient, L/Cpl Butler displayed greatest devotion to duty. For several hours continuously he carried grenades up to the front line through an intensive barrage. Recommended by S S Ogilvie, Capt. Commanding 1st Wilts Regt. Honour awarded, Military Medal21/7/1916 Recommended (signed)xxxxxxxxxxxxx Brig General. Commanding 7th Brigade. 7th Inf Bde. 25th Division. 10th Corps. July 5th 1916. For immediate award. 1st Battn Wiltshire Regt No 19899 Pte Arthur Wheeler On the evening of July 5th 1916 at Leipzig Salient during an attack on an enemy trench, Pte Wheeler displayed great courage in bringing up his Lewis rifle, under severe fire, to an exposed flank from which he was able to enfilade the German trench inflicting many casualties on the enemy. Recommended by S S Ogilvie Capt. Commanding 1st Wilts Regt. Honour awarded. Military Medal. 21/7/1916. Major General Commanding 25th Division. [signed] xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Brig General Commanding 7th Inf Bde.



Regiment. 1st Wiltshire
Location France, Leipzig Salient
Entry (morning) On the extreme right of the captured trench communication was now opened via an old CT with a Company who were holding the line behind. C & D Coys were relieved about 5a.m. and went back to Tobermory Street reaching there at 7.30a.m. Two Coys of the 3rd Worcestershire Regt took their place in the captured trench and carried on the work of consolidation. In this attack the casualties were roughly as follows:- Killed Colonel W S Brown and Capt A H Hales Missing 2nd Lieut Starkey Wounded Lieut Holman, 2nd Lieut Stockbridge, 2nd Lieut J R Tayler Lieut Penruddocke and 2nd Lieut Troughton. Throughout the day the enemy carried on with intermittent bombing, trench mortars and rifle grenades. Shelling was continuous the whole day, but was not of the same intensive nature as during the attack. In the evening C & D Coys were again brought up into the Leipzig Salient, C Coy taking over from the line they had capture on the night of 5th July. A Coy were placed in the Quarries to relieve the other Coy of 3rd Worcs Regt., D Coy taking the place of A Coy in support. The 2nd Coy of the 3rd Worcs Regt relieved and returned to reserve in the 2nd line of old British trenches.
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My report on Captain Clay, it seems very clear to me. The complete report with all the attachments is here:

http://laughton.ca/reports/Captain Clay Warlencourt British Cemetery Plot 6 Row F Grave 34.pdf


As always, comments are not only welcome but appreciated! If you wish to do a review of the report and have your name included in the final attachment, include your name, affiliation and e-mail address. If you believe we have the WRONG GUY then please let me know right away.






This report pertains to an investigation of the identification of the burial location of a member of the Commonwealth Forces, during the Great War 1914-1921.






CWGC Commemorations Section

Commonwealth War Graves Commission
2 Marlow Road

Maidenhead, Berkshire

SL6 7DX United Kingdom

Email: commemorations@cwgc.org





Report Date: 28 December 2016



Reason for Submission: (“X” means purpose of the report)




Casualty Identification:




Burial Information:




Confirmed Identity


Burial Location Identified


Most Probable Identity



Grave Stone Correction



Questionable Identity



Grave Records Correction


Incorrect Identity



Request for CWGC Details











Supporting Documents: (# refers to attachment number; “I” information provided)



Casualty Identification:




Burial Information:




Clay, Vivian Hastings


Warlencourt British Cemetery



2nd Bn., Wiltshire Regiment


Pas de Calais, France




Plot 6 Row F Grave 34


Death 18 October 1916



COG-BR  9 August 1920


Graves Registration Report


War Diary Extract(s)


Concentration of Grave


Casualty Card



Exhumation Report



Grave Stone Photograph



Headstone Register



Grave Stone Inscription



Area Map(s)


Memorial Inscription/Photo



Trench Map(s)


Reporting and Review


Possible Candidates List







Summary of Findings:




The Graves Registration Report form for Warlencourt British Cemetery Plot 6 Row F Grave 34 lists a Captain of the Wiltshire Regiment.



A review of the entire candidate list of Captains of the Wiltshire Regiment from the Great War made it extremely clear that the only person that this can be is Captain Vivian Hastings Clay of the 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment. Evaluations of the timelines and locations of other candidates provide positive proof of these findings.






Details of Findings:



The findings are conclusive that the remains in Plot 6 Row F Grave 34 at the Warlencourt British Cemetery are those of Captain Vivian Hastings Clay of the 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment.



The findings are based on the following:



1.    The Grave Registration Report Form (GRRF) notes that there was an exhumation of a Captain of the Wilts Regiment into Plot 6 Row F Grave 34 at the Warlencourt British Cemetery (Attachment #1).

2.    The Concentration of Graves (Exhumations and Reburials) Burial Return (COG-BR) provides a direct reference to the location of the exhumation at 57c.M.18.c (Attachment #2).

3.    An extract of the McMaster 57c Map shows us that the remains were found approximately 1,500 yards northwest of Factory Corner and 2,800 yards due east of Le Sars (Attachment #3). This area is in the direct path of the movement of the 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment on 18 October 1916.

4.    A Period Trench Map of the specific area shows the movement of the 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment through 57c.M.24 to 57c.M.18 where the remains of the Captain were located (Attachment #4). The unit would have crossed GIRD Support Trench and GIRD Trench, to the west of Factory Corner.

5.    The CWGC Database records two (2) Captains of the Wiltshire Regiment, missing in the Great War of 1914-1918, who are listed on the Thiepval Memorial. There are an additional three (3) Captains recorded on the Pozieres Memorial (Attachment #5). For action on the Somme, the Thiepval Memorial relates to men with no known grave for the period up to 20 March 1918 and the Pozieres Memorial is for the period from 21 March 1918 to August 1918.

We know from the historical references that the only time the Wiltshire Regiment was in the Somme area near Le Sars, where the remains were recovered at 57c.M.18.c, was in October 1916. It was at this time when Captain Clay was killed and lost. In July 1916, the unit was in the Somme area near Thiepval at 57d.R.31, when Captain A. H. Hales was killed and lost. Captains A. O. Clayton, W. B Bristow and H. H. Martyn were lost in July 1918, near Villers St. Christophe, a considerable distance to the south in sector 66d.K.9.b. Five (5) other Captains of the Wiltshire Regiment, killed in action in the Somme, are buried in known graves.



Two (2) other Captains of the Wiltshire Regiment are on other memorials that are not related to action in the Somme. For historical reference, Captain T. S. Frederic was KIA on 24 March 1918 and is named on the Arras Memorial. Captain F. Priestley was KIA 27 May 1918 and is named on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial.


6.    The Wiltshire Regiment War Diaries provide the confirmation of the location of the men that could have been near 57c.M.18.c in the Somme battles of 1916 (Attachment #6). Only Captain Clay was killed in that area. Captain Hale was
killed earlier in July 1916 near the Liepzig Salient at 57d.R.31.c.




Action Required:



The “Investigative Report” has been prepared in accordance with the procedures and criteria set out by the CWGC, should they wish to make any changes to the commemoration details (Attachment #7).



The evidence is clear that the remains were found in the precise area where Captain Vivian Hastings Clay of the 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment was killed in action on 18 October 1918. Captain Clay was the only man killed at that location that has no known grave. Captain A. H. Hales, although killed in 1916, was not in that location.


Edited by laughton
updated link to download report
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  • 3 months later...
  • Admin

Visited the grave today, I have a photo but the light wasn't great.

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  • 6 months later...

   The officer file for Captain Vivian Clay, at WO 339/47991, contains nothing on his death.  His RAMC medical MT478 records that he was 73"  tall, if that is of any help

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  • 11 months later...

From: Commemorations [mailto:Commemorations@cwgc.org]
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2018 11:55 AM
To: rlaughton@laughton.ca
Subject: CWGC Identification Case 352 - Captain Vivian Hastings Clay


Dear Mr Laughton,


I’m very pleased to be able to tell you that we have completed the CWGC review of your Identification Case 352 for Captain Vivian Hastings Clay. We believe your submission has strong merit and foundations which indicate that an accurate change is believed possible. As such, the case has been sent to the Service Authorities for further investigation. Subject to that assessment they will then go to the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre for final adjudication.


Thank you for your shared commitment to ensuring correct and fitting commemoration of those who served.


Kind regards,


Catherine Long

Commemorations Officer


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

2 Marlow Road




United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1628 634221


Website: www.cwgc.org



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  • 10 months later...

From: Bowers, Tracey C2 (DBS-JCCC Commem SO2)
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 7:21 AM
To: rlaughton@laughton.ca
Subject: 20190910_ID 352 Capt Clay


Good Afternoon Richard,


I am writing to you to give you an update on the case you submitted to the CWGC who, following an initial review, forwarded the case to JCCC and National Army Museum (NAM) in Jun 2019. The case has now been researched and reviewed by the adjudication unit at the NAM and sits with JCCC for the final decision as the Authority in all rededication cases.


I hope to have a decision within the next couple of months and thank you for submitting the case.


Kind regards




Tracey Bowers

SO2 Commemorations



Edited by laughton
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  • 3 months later...

It would be nice to be able to attend, but alas it is a far away place from Milton Ontario and Rhode Island New York!



From: Barron, Rosemary D (DBS-JCCC Commem2 SO3)
Sent: Monday, January 6, 2020 6:37 AM
To: rlaughton; timmct
Subject: ID 352 - Clay




I am pleased to inform you that ID Case 352, for Captain Vivian Hastings Clay, has been successful. A rededication service is now being planned for the week commencing 28 September 2020. I hope that you may be able to attend.


I will be back in touch nearer the time, but if you have any questions in the meantime, please do let me know.




Rosie Barron


Miss R E Barron  | SO3 Commemorations and Licencing | Joint Casualty & Compassionate Centre | Innsworth House | Imjin Barracks | Gloucester | GL3 1HW |


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Richard and Tim 


Well Done and congratulations 



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Yes, a thorough job and no doubt exhausting, well done!

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Just reading this… great news!!!

Well done to all involved!!



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Fantastic that the grave of Captain Vivian Hastings Clay is now acknowledged, especially for his family.

Congratulations to you and Tim, no doubt an incredibly rewarding journey. Great news!

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  • Admin

If only the dedication service was the week before, I would have been able to attend. I've visited his unknown headstone, and the memorial in Wiltshire where he is commemorated. Fantastic work to get him remembered. 


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  • 2 years later...
  • Admin

The rededication service for Captain Clay is to be held on 21st June. I will be attending. 

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