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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

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Dear All


Researching Major, (later acting Lieut. Col) Henry William Laws, (he was the subject of a thread back in 2008 - thanks for your help Michaeldr) but I cannot find the relevant war diaries for his service.


He was a mining engineer with a great deal of international experience - Australia,India, America, Nigeria etc but in 1914, aged 38, he went to war as follows:


Sept 1914 – volunteer driver with car for transportation purposes, made Hon. 2nd Lieut. Royal Naval Div. – Antwerp Expedition. 

Feb 1915 to Egypt. 

April 1915 to Gallipoli. 

May/June 1915 appointed Staff Officer for Mining, 8th Army Corps. 

Aug 1915 transferred as Lieut. RNVR and formed 8th Corps Mining Company. 

Sept 1915 awarded DSO. 

Oct 1915  promoted to temp. Major, antedated to Aug ‘15, and transferred to General List. 

April 1916 appointed to command 254 Coy RE and transferred to RE. 

June 1916 relinguished commission. 

Dec  1916 recommissioned as Major RE and appointed to command 250 Coy RE. 

April 1917 appointed Controller of Mines, 3rd Army.  His headquarters were at Dickebusch and he was particularly involved with the Wytschaete series of mines.  Afterwards in full control of the 3rd Army front under General Byng??  Promoted Acting Lieut. Colonel.


I am in contact with his granddaughter who would like to know a little more about him, and in particular,his experiences with the 1917 Wytschaete series of mines. His headquarters were at Dickebusche - not far from the place where my own great uncle met his death on 31 July 1917.  Henry survived the war. 


Please can anyone help with the war diary/ies - because I can't find the right 'trigger' to get to them on Ancestry, although I can find them via TNA:


WO 95/551/4

 Army Troops.  250 Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers


  WO 95/488/9
  Army Troops. 254 Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers


(Is it really a case of scrolling through anything between 5,000 and 250,000 entries on the Ancestry list, to find what you want?)


Many thanks







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I always find that locating them on the National Archives Discovery search engine, noting down the piece number (e.g. WO 95/551/4) and then searching in War Diaries with the "551" in the "Keyword" box will find them if they are on Ancestry yet. As Terry notes these are not yet, so that trick doesn't work in this case!


They are digitised and available on the Discovery catalogue for download so they will likely be part of one of the next updates on Ancestry.




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Thanks Steve,


I will note that advice and put these diaries on the back burner, unless the granddaughter would like them downloaded from TNA.


I will also remember the advice for the other war diaries.


Many thanks once again



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I once read the book "Beneath Flanders Fields-The Tunnellers War 1914-1918" (ISBN 1-86227-237-9)  probably by now in most Libraries, and made sketchy notes about where 250 TC were described as operating, but no dates. My scratchings are : " Messines. Bois Qarante. Grande Bois ". Might be worth a look to see if it is adequate for your needs.

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