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Remembered Today:

laughton

REJECTED: Lt. P. W. Battersby & Capt. W. W. Fitzherbert RFC: Messines Ridge British Cemetery 4.E.38 & 39

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voltaire60

A couple of subsequent thoughts:

 

1)  Richard-  I think your ID is most likely correct. BUT- CWGC are,in effect, telling you to go away and check it from the available primary sources as they list.  I suspect that they were not prepared to accept "Sky Their Battlefield" as it is a secondary source (no matter how well researched) and thus would not swing the balance your way.You may have been closer than you think.

   I will check the squadron records-operations book,etc. - that may do the trick if there is a contemporary report of the Germans dropping a message. Part of the problem may be the M.S.3 Cas specifically asked the recipients of the letters saying that the Germans had dropped a message  should not be discussed elsewhere. Don't  want to admit the beastly Hun did something gentlemanly do we?   What I failed also to do was to have both officer files out at the same time-as I have not noted if the references to the german messages come from the same officer and/or are on the same reference-which may show  that a canister message was for 2 names not one.

 

2)  To me, the clincher-this has been nagging at me- is that although the marker with the bodies is "Unknown", the date is specific.  A lost or replaced cross would not have a replacement with a specific date would it???

   

I will try to look at squadron records next week.   

 

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LDT006
8 hours ago, laughton said:

A thought came to me, perhaps a note about air activity from one of the ground units. I see the 36th AIF was in the area at the time. I will start there and see how it goes. The Aussies were very good at recording air activity.

 

 

My memory is letting me down............ I did research air battles during late July 1917 and have some of the Australian war diaries on my PC. They are indeed very good for reporting air activity and this is why I downloaded them a long time ago.

 

Extract from page 17 (summary for July 7th, 1917) from the Intelligence, Headquarters 2nd ANZAC Corps, July 1917https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1347582

 

164228254_ExtractfromAussieintelligencereport7-7-17.jpg.1af32595f8ffba291d01eca9fb803a7e.jpg

 

This is a perfect match for Fitzherbert and Battersby, the time and location are spot on. Please note the 1 hour time difference: 11am British time = 12 (noon) German time. The location is "near (U.29.b) Pont Rouge".

They state that it was "reported" but by who? I checked the war diaries for the 36th Bn. without result. The 7th Australian Field Artillery Brigade reports 2 unknown planes falling in flames but at 5 pm. In my case it were the artillery observers who reported it. Becstar might find more.

 

Luc.

 

Edited by LDT006

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Becstar

 

Have had a look through some Aussie War Diaries and taken note of what may (or may not) be relevant. Who saw what happen is certainly dependent on which Division/Brigade/Battalions were close at the time, as can be seen written below, taken from the several different War Diaries (4th Infantry Brigade of the 4th Australian Division were quite close, as the Diaries reveal).  Battalion unit diaries looked at so far provide little if no information, I’ll keep looking though & add further information if found).

 

 
4th Australian Infantry Brigade, July 1917, page 22
 
(from 6am, 7th July to 6am, 8th July 1917)
Aircraft: Great activity throughout the day, and many combats took place. About 11am, two machines were seen to fall at approx U29.c.1.3. One we identified as ours, but the other we could not make sure of. 
At 6pm, 2 others came down in flames well behind enemy lines. Both of these we think were ours. At 11:15pm, some of our planes were heard crossing to enemy’s lines, returning at 1:30am.
 
 
4th Australian Division, General Staff,  Headquarters, Part 1, July 1917, page 29
 
(from 6am, 7th July to 6am, 8th July 1917)
Aircraft: Our aeroplanes were very active yesterday [in reference to 7th July 1917], and many combats took place. An enemy plane rammed one of ours which crashed at U.29.c.9.8.  About the same time an enemy plane was brought down. [There's a time reference, maybe 'from 12am', is hard to decipher the writing, maybe someone can have a look]. At 5:30pm, 5 of our planes met an enemy patrol. Two planes came down in flames of which one was ours, and one a German.
 
 
 
(For 24 hours ending 6am, 8 July 1917]
Aircraft: Active. Our planes flew over enemy lines on several occasions. Several encounters took place and 2 planes came down in flames and one driven down. It is not certain whether these were ours or enemy planes or where they came down as they were some distance north.
 
 
3rd Australian Division 
7 July 1917 repeats the above (11th Infantry Brigade) statement.

 

Edited by Becstar

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laughton

Good stuff!

 

I think it says "11 am.12 am", in line with what Luc wrote about the British-German time difference.

 

Interesting that it refers to the plane being rammed. Even though the TMC are a a bit different (minor) it has to be the same event.

 

I found some great information on the Aerodrome Forum and have asked for their assistance. They have Dostlers claim #14 as a DH4 so I am hoping they have authoritative evidence as to the change.

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LDT006
On 30/11/2019 at 12:32, Becstar said:

 

4th Australian Division, General Staff,  Headquarters, Part 1, July 1917, page 29

 
(from 6am, 7th July to 6am, 8th July 1917)
Aircraft: Our aeroplanes were very active yesterday [in reference to 7th July 1917], and many combats took place. An enemy plane rammed one of ours which crashed at U.29.c.9.8.  About the same time an enemy plane was brought down. [There's a time reference, maybe 'from 12am', is hard to decipher the writing, maybe someone can have a look]. At 5:30pm, 5 of our planes met an enemy patrol. Two planes came down in flames of which one was ours, and one a German.

 

That time reference seems like "11.12 a.m." to me, so 12 minutes past 11 a.m.

 

Is there something in the Australian documents to find which German regiments were at Pont Rouge?

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voltaire60

I was a little concerned  that there was a possibility that a pair of other RFC casualties for the same day  might have been misidentified-hich might lead to a lot more work.

Luckily,  there are only 11 RFC casualties for 7th July 1917-and 5 of those are  within UK.   4 are for France (including our 2)  and 2 for Belgium.  Of the other casualties, no 2 are from the same squadron-which-to my simple mind-very greatly shortens the odds on Battersby and Fitzherebert being the 2 unknowns. 

   I will have a look at the officer files for the other  Arras names this week-  my best guess is that one of the other will be the Sopwith reported in DAZ.

Working it backward from the-luckily-limited stock of names for 7th July 1917 does very much strengthen your case-but a trawl of the primary sources for other names will not do any harm.

Hope that helps

 

Pip,pip

Mike :wub:

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laughton

Great work and thanks Mike!

 

If you find something solid, the CWGC will need a COPY of the document (or pages). Some do with cameras. some not. If you need me to send you some e-dollars for that I can do that quickly. Maybe that has to be e-pounds? If you have a camera, even on your phone, that is fine as well.

 

I suspect that it will come back that there are no additional details, as unlike the ground troops, there was nobody else with them.

 

We have a lead on the German Aviation Historian who researched all these cases in the 1930's - Dr. Bock I think was his name. That is likely the key (this post)

Quote

I would not get too distracted by the seeming contradiction between the claim for a ‘Sopwith’ and the ‘adjusted’ claim for a DH4. The ‘adjustment’ to ‘DH4’ was not wartime, but in last 50 years by researcher Dr Bock, who ‘adjusted’ many of the types claimed in his ‘secondary’ listings of German victories; made with an eye to British casualty reports – well meaning, but the source of much confusion when he gets it wrong. The contemporary WW1 German documents give Dostler’s #14 as being a ‘Sopwith’. 

 

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voltaire60

Cost is not a problem- The problem is that I am decidedly Luddite in my approach to modern technology(which is why Bill Gates sleeps so well-I am not a threat).  But let's see what is there. Re-reading the response from CWGC seems-to me-to suggest that we must do the plod of the files,as they suggest- I suspect it would set a bad precedent if secondary works were accepted as gospel- after all, we have had the spectacle on GWF of a popular author about the lives of subalterns on the Western Front being outed for inventing his main character.  So, plod followed by plod should get there..

     But let's see where the files take us. The stuff from Oz war diaries is good and adds contemporary colour.  

Richard- did you have anything on the concentration.exhumation descriptions? As I said, Fitzherbert had previously been badly wounded on the Somme.    

 

   I will try to see the files on Thursday

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laughton
5 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

Richard- did you have anything on the concentration.exhumation descriptions? As I said, Fitzherbert had previously been badly wounded on the Somme.    

 

Nothing additional. That would usually be on the Special Exhumation Report and I did not see any for this case. Here is an example of one I picked randomly, if you have not seen one of those reports before (example SPEC EXH 2023602).

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Matlock1418
24 minutes ago, laughton said:

Special Exhumation Report and I did not see any for this case. Here is an example of one I picked randomly, if you have not seen one of those reports before (example SPEC EXH 2023602).

Thank you for this useful SER example - not seen one of these before but now know what to look out for and perhaps ask about.

:-) M

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voltaire60

Richard-  is it likely that CWGC would bend a bit on Special Exhumation if  it were a shortcoming in their original  researches that they either did not do a report, or that they have subsequently lost it?

   It matters as I can get the details of Fitzherbert's 1916 injuries from his file, which might give a scintilla more chance of ID.

 

Just a thought....:wub:

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laughton

If one assumed that they crashed, I doubt that anything that was in injury would come from the crash or be masked by the effects of the crash. 

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laughton

Just a reference posting to items the CWGC wanted us to search:

 

History of 55 Squadron, R.A.F -  AIR 1/153/15/121/3 (A.H.B. Reference 15/121/3)

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C4082063

 

Air combat reports: 55 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, July 1917

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D7155849

(this one has been digitized and can be purchased for £3.50 - Trevor probably already has this document.)

 

Mike is already searching the Officer Service Records so I did not check further on those two items. How blessed we are in Canada that they no longer charge a fee for people to search and retrieve the archived information.

 

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