Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
laughton

Tank #9394 - name these two men!

Recommended Posts

johntaylor

Hi, I've just picked up on this interesting discussion.  Having spent several years trying to trace the crewmen of Deborah, I can confirm that without a crew list this is a complicated and often frustrating business.

 

In this case, our research team were in contact with the descendants of Private Alfred Tabor, who came from the same village as the family of one of Deborah's crew, Joseph Cheverton.  They had a fascinating series of letters and photographs, including one from the tank commander Lieut W Molloy, which states that Henry Tyman was also killed in his tank.  My colleague Rob Kirk wrote an article about this which appeared in the Stand To! Bulletin in 2009, and I've attached a copy as it contains some fascinating background about the action.

 

John

Tabor-1.jpg

Tabor-2.jpg

Edited by johntaylor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dgibson150

John

 

Thanks for posting the article. It is certainly fascinating.

 

I had managed to get copies of the Molloy and Warren letters via the Tynan family,  but the Johnson/Herbert/Chaplain letters were new to me. Would it be possible to have a higher resolution scan of the first page, for clearer photographs?

 

David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johntaylor

David, could you please PM me with your email address and I'll send a scan.

 

All the best, John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dgibson150

Many thanks John. Will do.

 

David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

Maybe someday we will find a list, perhaps just coincidental.

 

Much like this list that popped out today when researching another topic. Here it is for some future researcher who Googles the name:

 

Appendix A - "C" Battalion, Tank Corps No. 9 Company 37th Infantry Brigade November 1917

War Diary (page 209 of 784) - that shows the crew commanders, crew number and manufacturer number of the tank

  • Carnation
  • Cherubie
  • Conviviality
  • Coquette II
  • Chili II
  • Conqueror II
  • Ceaser
  • Cleopatra
  • Chaperon
  • Consort II
  • Chanticleer
  • Crusader II
  • Cayenne
  • Comet II

 

There is a map that shows their route (page 226 of 784).

Edited by laughton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton
On 29/01/2018 at 15:57, laughton said:

 

I based this on the numbers given for the tanks. This would go to 26 with the addition of Private Farrin. I did assume the MIA were KIA. Thanks for letting me know about that man! It did not show up on the battalion search and so we need to let CWGC know to update his page - but we need the confirmation to send them.

 

So now I am out by 1 as I only have 25 from the Tank Count, bu I may have missed one.

 

Tank Company OR KIA KIA MIA TOTAL
9406 B 1   1
9064 B 2 3 5
9049 A/B 1   1
9347 A/B 1   1
9321 A/B 0 1 1
9394 C 2   2
9073 C 1   1
9021 C 2   2
9025 B 0 2 2
9434 C + OIC 2   2
9337 C 1   1
9339 C + OIC 2   2
9408 C 4   4
Total   19 6 25

 

 

 

@dgibson150

 

I will have to come back to this and look at the details, but while I was looking for something else in the Bouchoir British Cemetery, I came across unknown casualties from the tank corps. On this COG-BR page there is a Serjeant from Tank #9025 and then 2 men for Tank #9021. This would be for the battle on 23 July 1918.

 

There are no Serjeants of the Tank Corps missing at that time! None from the 20th to 25th, none in July at all.

 

The closest we have is Lance Corporal Brown #91390 (CWGC Link) 9th Battalion Tank Corps KIA 23 July 1918. Had he received a field promotion?

 

As in the other case, if we can derive the names of the two men lost in Tank #9021 then we can have a Special Memorial C at the Bouchoir New British Cemetery and remove them from the Soissons Memorial. There are only two names on the above list for that tank, so we now know where they are buried. I wonder if the CWGC would add the Tank # to the headstones?

 

doc2253191.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dgibson150

Tank #9025 was in the B Company so-called "detached section" assisting the 87e RI, ie Section 5, led by 2/Lt E Mecredy. From the Battle History Sheet Summary casualties were 1 OR wounded and 2 OR missing. It was knocked out at 9.30 am at the same time as #9394. The map reference of the original grave is to the east of Wood 2493.

 

Tank #9021 was a C Company tank which was also knocked out at 9.30 am and whose casualties were 2 OR killed and 4 OR wounded. The map reference of the original graves is just to the north of Sauvillers Wood, very close to the original graves of the two crew members of #9394.

 

it is tempting to think that the fourth grave, originally at I33 b, 2.1 is the other missing soldier from #9025, but there was also a detached section B Company tank #9321 knocked out  (also at 9.30 am) in the same area, with one crew member reported missing.

 

Plenty to think about! No ideas though about the names of the casualties.

 

David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

What about a surviving ancestor that has a ptotograph of great grand-dad outside his tank in the war?

 

A social media onslaught may be the solution. What about the British Press? A good time as it nears Remembrance Day 100!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

I just put it out on Twitter:

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dgibson150

I agree that the solution must come from individual family's records/memorabilia. 

 

I looked at Lance Corporal Brown as a possibility for the Serjeant. Brown apparently was unmarried, his father deceased and his mother died in 1920. Where does the memory of him go?

 

It is really disappointing that it seems that the Sauvillers OR fatalities have no surviving service records.

 

David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

Found another one in Bouchoir that says No. 9162 Tank Corps, so I suspect that could be a tank number not a service number, as it does not match anyone in the Tank Corps KIA.

doc2253109.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dgibson150

Tank #9162 was a 4th Battalion  "A" Company tank which was attached to "B" Company for an operation on 10th August 1918. It was knocked out near Parvillers with the loss of all the crew bar one. This information is from the google landships site here. The casualty count on CWGC indicates a lower casualty rate, with only 5 casualties in total on 10 August. Four of these casualties are commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial, namely the OIC of #9162, 2/Lt Leach and privates Newman, Plumridge and Pritchard, who may or may not be from tank #9162.

 

Parvillers is 1-2 km from map reference R 3 b.9.4, so it looks as if the number on the cross is indeed the tank number. I do not have the war diary of the 4th Battalion, so it is difficult to go much further but it seems we have another crew list problem.

 

David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

Maybe not, you are on the cusp of the solution! If we have the dates of these battles, the tank loses and the numbers lost - then maybe we can reconstruct the lists?

 

Amiens, 10th August 1918

4th Battalion with 96th and 97th Brigades, 32nd Division

Quote

The infantry attacked at 10am (W4a) the advance going well at first until the infantry reached the old front line trenches  where they were held up by heavy fire (OH), the tanks passed through the infantry, and led them, some getting well ahead; but they struggled to cross the old overgrown 1916 trenches. Whilst attempting to silence enemy MG fire coming from Parvillers and Demery but they achieved little before(W4a)  six (WMH) tanks were knocked out by direct fire from AT guns (W4a) 9174, 9176, 9184, 9378 were all disabled (W2a); in addition 9162 was hit and KO near Parvillers, only one crewman survived, 2Lt Leach was killed (CWG) and 9338 with its crew disappeared. The tanks were not followed by the infantry (WMH) who were thus unable to advance. The eighth tank rallied and the reserve section was not committed. (W4a)

 

For example, on this date we have the men of the tank corps lost and so we know that one of those missing was in tank 9162. I can not seem to find a definitive answer as to the number of crew in a tank. It appears to be 8 plus. How does that tally with the statement that only one crewman of 9162 survived? At most there are 5 on the list for the 4th Battalion.

 

That means that the man in 3.B.46 is either Leach, Newman, Plumridge or Pritchard, as you have noted in your post. We know that CORPORAL MOSS was recovered from the battlefield (or battlefield cemetery) at 66e.K.36.b.85.90. That is quite different from the other remains recovered at 66e.R.3.b.9.4. 2nd Lt. Asser was recovered at 66e.R.1.a.5.5, closer to where the unknown was recovered. Bayliss recovered at 66e.L.24.d.3.4, which may be a burial site as many are there. That was close to where Lt. Ryrie was found at 66e.L.21.a.7.1, as were many others. 2nd Lt. O'Shea was close to that area at 66e.L.17.a.8.8 but Read in the same unit was found at 66e.L.11.d.5.5. I think we would have to repeat this exercise for each crew and see if we can link them to the known tank commander.

 

Taylor is different, he was recovered in a much different area at 62d.T.17.d.5.5. Wilkinson was found in the same location - clearly a burial site not a random battlefield site. Others, ike Stoddard, appear to be related to a CCS site, as he was recovered from an existing grave at the Dury Hospital cemetery at 62e.R.27.c.95.90.

 

surname initials rank unit # cemetery or memorial grave
ASSER L E Second Lieutenant 5th Bn.   BOUCHOIR NEW BRITISH CEMETERY III. E. 133.
BAYLISS T Private 5th Bn. '305364' BOUCHOIR NEW BRITISH CEMETERY III. D. 85.
MOSS W Corporal 4th Bn. '200897' BOUCHOIR NEW BRITISH CEMETERY III. C. 77.
RYRIE A Lieutenant 6th Bn.   BOUCHOIR NEW BRITISH CEMETERY V. D. 9.
TAYLOR J Private 13th Bn. '305220' BOUCHOIR NEW BRITISH CEMETERY VI. B. 32.
WILKINSON B J Private 2nd Bn. '305978' BOUCHOIR NEW BRITISH CEMETERY VI. A. 30.
O'SHEA D T Second Lieutenant 14th Bn.   FOUQUESCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY I. F. 1.
READ H Serjeant 14th Bn. '200430' FOUQUESCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY II. D. 1.
JEFFERIES S S Second Lieutenant 8th Bn.   HEATH CEMETERY, HARBONNIERES III. A. 6.
ELMS A J Private 5th Bn. '306430' MEZIERES COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION B. 9.
GIBBONS J Private 10th Bn. '112916' PERNOIS BRITISH CEMETERY, HALLOY-LES-PERNOIS IV. A. 16.
MALLETT J H Private 10th Bn. '306161' PERNOIS BRITISH CEMETERY, HALLOY-LES-PERNOIS IV. A. 5.
RILEY J S Captain 1st Bn.   ROSIERES COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION III. F. 24.
SMITH W F Private "C" Bn. '94933' VILLERS-BRETONNEUX MILITARY CEMETERY VIA. B. 1.
STODDARD H Private 5th Bn. '308709' VILLERS-BRETONNEUX MILITARY CEMETERY VIA. B. 18.
BALE T W Second Lieutenant 13th Bn.   VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
BARTLE J H Serjeant 10th Bn. '111222' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
FELLOWS A J Private 13th Bn. '305436' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
GRAHAM J C Private 10th Bn. '110044' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
LEACH S Second Lieutenant 4th Bn.   VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
NEWMAN B Private 4th Bn. '305811' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
PERKINS W Private 5th Bn. '112864' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
PLUMRIDGE H W Private 4th Bn. '95711' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
POWELL W H Private 13th Bn. '301560' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
PRITCHARD A Private 4th Bn. '306413' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
ROBERTS F Private 13th Bn. '308699' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
SCOTT H V Private 1st Bn. '76594' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
STORER C H Private 13th Bn. '301904' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
TAYLOR C B Private 13th Bn. '306420' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
WALKER D B Lance Corporal 10th Bn. '110041' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Panel 11.
MOONIE J Private 14th Bn. '305086' WARVILLERS CHURCHYARD EXTENSION A. 6.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johntaylor

Hi, I’ve just picked up on the fact that this discussion has moved on from 9th Tank Bn (about which I don’t know much) to 4th Tank Bn (about which I know a lot more).

 

Richard, well done for spotting the reference to Tank No. 9162 and we know a good deal about this because the Battle History Sheets were preserved by the battalion commander, Lt-Col Louis Henshall, and are now in the Imperial War Museum. The details confirm your conclusion that the man in Grave 3.B.46 at Bouchoir New British Cemetery was either Leach, Newman, Plumridge or Pritchard.

 

We know this tank took part in the initial attack by A Company on August 8, commanded by 2nd Lieut Sidney Leach, with no casualties. It was destroyed two days later while attached to B Company, and the Battle History Sheet says “all the crew” became casualties. The Sheet contains a detailed account by one of the crewmen, Pte J. Goddard. He names the other crew members as 2/Lt S. Leach, Sgt A. Carter, Pte J. Woods, Pte A. Pritchard, Pte B. Newman, and Pte H. Plumridge (i.e. a total crew of seven). More details on them are below.

 

He tells how a their tank reached its objective well ahead of the infantry when a shell penetrated the left-hand sponson wounding Leach, Carter and Woods. A second shell set the tank on fire, and the rest of the crew evacuated the tank. “What happened to Ptes Newman, Pritchard and Plumridge after this I cannot say as they disappeared in the trenches around the Tank.” He crawled back through the enemy front-line and reported to the Canadians who were holding our front-line. “I asked if any assistance could be obtained to fetch 2/Lt Leach & Pte Woods who were unable to walk. They refused this owing to the severity of the enemy M.G. fire.” He was told to go back and report to his battalion. The location of the tank is given as L.32.b. central.

 

The Landships site links to this excellent photo, apparently of 9162, showing the damage to the left-hand sponson: https://www.flickr.com/photos/drakegoodman/8383342352/in/set-72157625639179301/

 

From the Battle History Sheet we know the crew was as follows:

  • 2nd Lieut Sidney Leach, listed in the War Diary as “wounded and missing” but now known to have been killed. He had been on the Western Front since November 1915, first as a private in the RAMC and then in the MGC, before being commissioned in September 1917. The War Diary says he joined 4th Tank Bn on March 17, 1918. See attached article from the Liverpool Echo.
  • 200718 Sgt Albert Edward Carter started the war as a driver in the RFA: there is no service record and no mention of him in the CWGC/SDGW, so he obviously survived the battle, and the war.
  • 92793 Pte John Herbert Woods had been wounded in an earlier attack in the Ypres Salient on October 4, 1917. His service record shows he suffered multiple severe shrapnel wounds on August 10, 1918, and was sent back to the UK for treatment. He recovered and survived the war, eventually transferring to 19th Tank Bn.
  • Pte J. Goddard, who wrote the report, does not give any more details about himself. There were only two Tank Corps soldiers with this name and initial, so he was probably 93023 Pte Joseph Goddard, though with no service record it’s hard to be certain. The other man was 110358 John William Goddard, and his service record shows he was promoted in March 1918 to be a corporal in 1st Gun Carrier Company so that rules him out.
  • This leaves three crewmen who we now know were killed: 305811 Pte Bennett Newman, 95711 Pte Herbert William Plumridge, and 306413 Pte Arthur Pritchard. None of their service records have survived and they are all commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, along with 2nd Lieut Leach. Incidentally Pte Newman had served with the Wiltshire Regiment in the Boer War, and had a nine-year old son; his widow died in 1924 at the age of just 39.

So the man buried in 3.B.46 was one of these four, and the man in 3.B.47 could have been one of the others as his body was found nearby. I can’t help thinking that if one of them was 2nd Lieut Leach they would have spotted his officer’s uniform, but of course this is speculation.

 

I’m intrigued by the fact that under “particulars on cross” it says: “No 9162 C. CROSS TANK CORPS”. Firstly it seems a little strange that the cross would record the man’s tank if they didn’t know his name, unless the body was found in or beside the tank. Secondly, what does “C. CROSS” mean? This was said to be the wording on it, rather than a description (which is in the next column). Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but did the cross have some faded writing on it? However none of the men’s names looks anything like “Cross”, so it doesn’t help much.

 

As regards the other member of 4th Tank Bn killed on August 10, this was 21-year old 200897 Corporal William Moss who has a marked grave. The crew list (also in the Henshall papers) shows he was in No. 9440 commanded by 2nd Lieut Albert Gammie – the Battle History Sheet says “my first driver was killed instantaneously by a machine gun bullet. Some delay was caused in replacing casualty.” Of the eight tanks that went into action, 9440 and 9155 were the only ones to return to the RP, though War Diary says seven out of eight were “Direct Hits. To Salvage.”

 

The attached map shows the final location of six of these – from south to north these are 9162, 9184 (marked as 9134 – I think this is a mistake), 9378, 9174, and 9338. 9176 is not marked, and both 9440 and 9155 made it back. 9338 was commanded by 2nd Lieut Frederick Cartmell, who was captured along with his crew of five.

 

I hope this helps to clarify some of the other research – fascinating stuff indeed!

 

John

 

1918_08_20 Liverpool Echo.JPG

Map.JPG

Edited by johntaylor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johntaylor

That certainly seems to have killed the conversation!

 

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

John:

 

I don't think it killed the conversation, I just don't know where it goes from here. I am always looking at these cases to see if I can put a name to someone who is currently an UNKNOWN. I can't see that going any further, but certainly the story of the tank is fascinating. I will go back and put a "tag" in so that someone searching #9162 will find this post.

 

Maybe you should have a new topic that is about the tanks, rather than the unknowns? Not everyone is interested in the topics about finding the lost men.

 

Richard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johntaylor

Hi, the records confirm that this was one of four men, probably one of three an officer's uniform might well have been identified. I accept this is more interesting to a tank historian like me, and sadly doesn't offer a solution to the problem of identifying an unknown soldier.  However I think it all adds to our understanding of the battle, and it was a revelation to me that tank numbers are sometimes recorded on burial records.  I hope you'll keep pointing these out as and when you find them, and we'll keep doing our best to interpret the records!

 

All the best, John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark-bryan

Hi guys only just joined the forum I know very little about ww1 but our uncle passed recently and we found some ww1 items which we have donated to the tank museum in bovvington what we have also found and I'm trying to find more info is a picture  of someone called Ernest after reading this post could it be we topliss? The pic has L12 and the numbers 9339 on the side of it the photo was sent to my wife gran which is g m fisher and that's all I know can anyone shed any light on this for me thanks mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

I am not sure what is names and the abbreviations in your post? The tank boys might know if L12 has some significance. Can you post the photograph, or is it already at the museum?

 

9339 is in this post.

 

 

There is an Ernest Edward Topliss #78040, 9th Bn Tank Corps, Royne New British Cemetery 4.F.2: https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc2473665.JPG

His grave was a concentration, as noted at the top of that page. Came from the "La Faloise French Military Cemetery":

doc2326803.JPG

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johntaylor

The photo sounds fascinating Mark, thanks for letting us know about this.  The number was probably I12 rather than L12, as all the tanks in I Battalion would have had crew numbers (and names) beginning with the 9th letter of the alphabet, which is I.

 

Did you make a copy of the photo before you sent it to Bovington?  If so it would be great if you could post it on here.

 

John

 

 

Edited by johntaylor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark-bryan

Hi thanks for the quick replays and sorry john but its definitely a L12 I still have the original pic and will post it on here when I get back home later tomorrow saying that how do I add pics on here

Edited by Mark-bryan
Added more

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton
On 23/05/2017 at 10:16, dgibson150 said:

Iam afraid there is no luxury of crew lists for this battle. The only real detail is a battle history sheet summary in the Brigade papers, which is where the tank serial number data in the google landships site comes from.

 

I have looked at the battle history sheet summary and it shows 6 tanks knocked out after 2 hours in action ie at 9.30 am, 2 hours after the start of phase 2. Four of these were C company, namely 9021,9434,9394 and 9339, the four in the above map, between Sauvillers and St Ribert Woods. From the officer casualties it is obvious that 9339 and 9434 were commanded by Captain Trafford and 2/Lt Hannan, although we don't know which is which.

 

So Trafford had to have been with Ernest Topliss in 9339, those found together at the time of concentration. So Hannan commanded 9434 - we are getting closer!

 

You can email the pictures (and anything else) to me and I will post them if that is easier (rlaughton@cefresearch.ca).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dgibson150

I suspect that the tank photograph of L12 mentioned by Mark was taken in 1919 in Cologne. There are several photographs on the Imperial War Museum site, eg  this.

 

It would be great if Mark's new information could substantiate a link between Topliss and tank #9339. Any other details from the Bovington submission would be very interesting.

 

I assume Richard's logic is that because Trafford and Topliss are on the same burial return in post #44 they must be from the same tank. There are however French records which show that the body of Topliss was retrieved on 24/7/1918 by the Stretcher Bearers of the 272nd Infantry Regiment. Similar French records for Trafford and Hannan show that their bodies were retrieved on 27/7/1918 by the Stretcher Bearers of the 3rd Infantry Division. It seems that Trafford and Hannan remain indistinguishable.

 

David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johntaylor

Hi, there are certainly a number of photos showing tanks with L numbers in Cologne and this may have been one of them. If Ernest was with them then he obviously wasn't killed in 1918, and would have been in 12th Bn rather than 9th Bn. However the Landships website places 9339 in 9th Bn and says it was knocked out in July 1918, as shown above: https://sites.google.com/site/landships/home/lists/mk-v-tanks/9250-9350

 

Mark, it would be fascinating to see the photo(s) plus any other information you have that might help us to identify Ernest.  To attach a photo you just go to the paper-clip symbol at the bottom of the message, and where it says "choose files" you go to the photo on your computer and click on it.  Alternatively Richard can post it for you,

 

All the best, John

Edited by johntaylor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dgibson150

Hi John

 

The link I posted is to a photograph of tank #9339 taken on 22/5/1919. The description says it is a 12th Battalion tank. It was obviously retrieved from the battlefield at Sauvillers around August 1918 and repaired and reissued to the 12th Battalion. The 9th Battalion was part of the Rhine Army until it was disbanded in late 1919, so the repaired tank could have made its way to the 12th Battalion via the 9th Battalion.

 

David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...