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Remembered Today:

Sapper John Edwin Burt


GordB
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Hi,

 

I'm needing some help following a relative.

 

Sapper John Edwin Burt was a sapper in the Royal Engineers 1st Wessex Field Company.

 

From the information in the Silver War Badge Transcription below I know when he enlisted and when he was discharged. I also know that he was wounded in action by a sniper in Salonika and eventually returned to England.

 

I am, not surprisingly, trying to find out some stuff on him but have hit a few roadblocks.

 

He had another regimental number: (T)1218... does that mean he was in a territorial force before the Royal Engineers 1st Wessex Field Company? If so which one? Or does that mean he switched units?

 

I'm PRETTY sure he was in the 27th Division but I'm not 100% sure.

 

Based on when he enlisted where would he have done his training? The one article (attached below) said he served in France... any idea where and what battles? When was the unit moved to Greece? When exactly when he was hurt? I'd like to read an extract of his injury from the Regimental War Diary but I A) don't know EXACTLY when he was shot (I THINK it was in November) and B ) don't know if it's been digitized.

 

Any other information or leads to where I can find the information is always helpful too!!

 

Would the sappers have had a forward combat role when John was fighting?

 

I have attached a picture of John as well as two newspaper clippings from the Bath Chronicle along with his medal index card.

 

Any help you wonderful people can offer is appreciated!!

 

Silver War Badge Roll Transcription

First name(s) John Edwin
Last name Burt
Service number 504268
Rank Sapper
Badge number 304613
Enlistment date 28-Dec-1914
Discharge date 10-Jan-1918
Regiment/unit Royal Engineers 1st Wessex Fld Co
Cause of discharge Army Order II of 10th Aug. 1917 Para. 2 (b) (i) Wounds
Whether served overseas Yes
Badge date of issue 22-Jan-1918
Age on discharge 22
Record set Silver War Badge Roll 1914-1920
Category Military Service & Conflict
Subcategory First World War
Collections from England, United Kingdom

Sapper John Edwin Burt - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 19 Jan 1918.jpg

British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 Record for John Edwin Burt.jpg

John Edwin Burt - Bath Chronicle Sat., 19 Jan 1918.jpg

John Edwin Burt - Bath Chronicle Sat., Nov 18, 1916.jpg

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GordB

 

He was a territorial from the outset, his four figure number was his original. one. In January 1917the TF was renumbered hence 504268. At the same time the units were also renamed in this case 1st Wessex became 500 (Wessex) Field Company. His six figure number was allocated to this unit. 

 

You are correct in thinking the unit served with 27th Division.

 

TR

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Hi GordB,

 

Like his MIC, his 14/15 Star medal roll record shows that John arrived in theatre (1) on 24th October 1915. The war diary for 1/1 Wessex FC (here on Ancestry or here from the National Archives) shows that they first arrived in France on 22nd December 1914. On 7th November 1915 it notes "new draft of 24 men arrive from base". I suspect that John would have been one of those men. That diary ends 31st December 1915 with the FC in Marseilles. The rest of their war service is in a diary that hasn't been digitalised yet - see here.

 

14 hours ago, GordB said:

I...don't know EXACTLY when he was shot (I THINK it was in November)

 

Mid/late November 1916 would seem likely. John appears in casualty lists published in the Western Daily Press on 5th December 1916, and the Bristol and Exeter Journal and Western Advertiser. on 6th December 1916. It might be worth looking to see if the other RE wounded on the lists have some surviving service papers. If they do, there maybe a degree of commonality (say within a day or so) of when they were wounded.

 

Given the newspaper report you posted says that the hospital ship was torpedoed, and the time frame, I wonder if a post on the 'ships and navies' sub forum might be worthwhile. If the ship can be identified the National Archives holds several diaries available for download. Whilst I guess that it wouldn't mention John, at least it should give you part of his evacuation chain.

 

Regards

Chris

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18 hours ago, Terry_Reeves said:

GordB

 

He was a territorial from the outset, his four figure number was his original. one. In January 1917the TF was renumbered hence 504268. At the same time the units were also renamed in this case 1st Wessex became 500 (Wessex) Field Company. His six figure number was allocated to this unit. 

 

You are correct in thinking the unit served with 27th Division.

 

TR

Thanks!!

Appreciate the help.

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4 hours ago, clk said:

Hi GordB,

 

Like his MIC, his 14/15 Star medal roll record shows that John arrived in theatre (1) on 24th October 1915. The war diary for 1/1 Wessex FC (here on Ancestry or here from the National Archives) shows that they first arrived in France on 22nd December 1914. On 7th November 1915 it notes "new draft of 24 men arrive from base". I suspect that John would have been one of those men. That diary ends 31st December 1915 with the FC in Marseilles. The rest of their war service is in a diary that hasn't been digitalised yet - see here.

 

 

Mid/late November 1916 would seem likely. John appears in casualty lists published in the Western Daily Press on 5th December 1916, and the Bristol and Exeter Journal and Western Advertiser. on 6th December 1916. It might be worth looking to see if the other RE wounded on the lists have some surviving service papers. If they do, there maybe a degree of commonality (say within a day or so) of when they were wounded.

 

Given the newspaper report you posted says that the hospital ship was torpedoed, and the time frame, I wonder if a post on the 'ships and navies' sub forum might be worthwhile. If the ship can be identified the National Archives holds several diaries available for download. Whilst I guess that it wouldn't mention John, at least it should give you part of his evacuation chain.

 

Regards

Chris

Thanks Chris!

A few clarifying questions if you don't mind?

 

You said "John arrived in theatre (1) on 24th October 1915. The war diary for 1/1 Wessex FC shows that they first arrived in France on 22nd December 1914."

What dies arrived in theatre mean? Also, where would that mean if not in France?

 

You also said "On 7th November 1915 it notes "new draft of 24 men arrive from base". I suspect that John would have been one of those men."

So the order would be they arrived in theatre (whatever that means... see above) in October 1915... in November he went to the front(?) and then in December they went to France? I'm just trying to get a timeline and understand it.

 

As for the ship, I was able to find out he was on the HMHS Dover Castle, which was sunk near Malta.

Thanks for your help and patience.

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GordB

The first newspaper article says that he got shot early in 1916. I have written down all the 1916 RE wounded from the Times Official Casualty Lists but he is not named up to 31/03/1916. There was a 13501 2/Cpl J Burt on 08/01/1916 but he is not your man. 1218 Spr J Burt is named in the Times OCL 05/12/1916 under RE wounded. The Times gave the towns or cities where the men were from (I believe from next of kin details). There were 13 names on the list. I made a note that most were from Bath. Also in this OCL are 1404 Spr G Cook, 1058 Spr W Hall and 1178 Spr G Morley. Those three men are named on a partial casualty list that I posted onto the thread that I started, see "Royal Engineers Sick and Wounded 1916" in Soldiers Forum, post number 8. The Units for W Hall and G Morley are shown as RE 1 Wessex FC and 1404 G (not D) Cook as 2/1 Wessex FC.

Brian

Edited by brianmorris547
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  • Admin
Quote

You said "John arrived in theatre (1) on 24th October 1915. The war diary for 1/1 Wessex FC shows that they first arrived in France on 22nd December 1914."

What dies arrived in theatre mean? Also, where would that mean if not in France?

 

You also said "On 7th November 1915 it notes "new draft of 24 men arrive from base". I suspect that John would have been one of those men."

So the order would be they arrived in theatre (whatever that means... see above) in October 1915... in November he went to the front(?) and then in December they went to France? I'm just trying to get a timeline and understand it.

In theatre in this case means he arrived in France- the unit had gone before him and he was a reinforcement draft.

 

The unit arrived in France 22 Dec 1914
John arrived 24 Oct 1915
A draft of men reached the unit 7 Nov 1915

 

Craig

Edited by ss002d6252
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  • Admin

I think the query was more basic.

 

'Theatre' = 'theatre of war', a military term for an area where armed conflict takes place.  

There were seven operational theatres of war in the Great War, these were subdivided and each was given a code on the medal index cards.

http://www.1914-1918.net/soldiers/theatrecodes.html

 

Ken

 

 

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Hi,

 

A couple of observations...

 

3 hours ago, brianmorris547 said:

The first newspaper article says that he got shot early in 1916

 

In that article it says that he spent 5 months in hospital in Salonika, followed by 8 months in Malta before being torpedoed - i.e. a total of about 13 months. I understand that HMHS Dover Castle was sunk in May 1917, which would imply that he was wounded circa April 1916.

 

9 hours ago, clk said:

John appears in casualty lists published in the Western Daily Press on 5th December 1916...It might be worth looking to see if the other RE wounded on the lists have some surviving service papers. If they do, there maybe a degree of commonality (say within a day or so) of when they were wounded.

 

Doing that exercise, I found papers for 1404 Cook, and 1227 Horwood. Both were previously 2/1 Wessex FC, before serving as 1/1 Wessex FC men. Cook appears to have been wounded 2nd October 1916, and Horwood on the 3rd October. Another man who appears in the newspapers casualty list is 504 West. He appears on one of those partial casualty lists on FMP as a 1/Wessex FC man admitted (place missing) on 1st October 1916.

 

Regards

Chris

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44 minutes ago, clk said:

In that article it says that he spent 5 months in hospital in Salonika, followed by 8 months in Malta before being torpedoed - i.e. a total of about 13 months. I understand that HMHS Dover Castle was sunk in May 1917, which would imply that he was wounded circa April 1916.

Hmmmmm..... The HMHS Dover Castle is the only hospital ship that I could find that was torpedoed within the vicinity of Malta in 1917 but that doesn't work with Jack being shot in November.

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Hi,

 

It does seem to be a bit of a head scratcher at the moment.

 

11 minutes ago, GordB said:

Hmmmmm..... The HMHS Dover Castle is the only hospital ship that I could find that was torpedoed within the vicinity of Malta in 1917 but that doesn't work with Jack being shot in November.

 

...or even possibly being shot/wounded in October 1916. Out of interest, what was the date/s of the newspaper articles you posted?

 

Regards

Chris

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The first, and longer, article was from the Bath Chronicle dated Sat., 19 Jan 1918 but that doesn't help much as to when he was shot.

 

The second article was from the Bath Chronicle dated Sat., Nov 18, 1916. So that might help some as it states his mother is still awaiting further word on his condition after she got a post card from Jack saying he was wounded. Also, as of this article he is still in the hospital at Salonika.

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17 hours ago, clk said:

 

Doing that exercise, I found papers for 1404 Cook, and 1227 Horwood. Both were previously 2/1 Wessex FC, before serving as 1/1 Wessex FC men. Cook appears to have been wounded 2nd October 1916, and Horwood on the 3rd October. Another man who appears in the newspapers casualty list is 504 West. He appears on one of those partial casualty lists on FMP as a 1/Wessex FC man admitted (place missing) on 1st October 1916.

 

Regards

Chris

The full list from the Times OCL RE wounded 05/12/1916 is:

Burke 40785 Cpl T, 

Burt  1218 Spr J,

Cook 1404 Spr G, 

Greenwood 100870 Spr G,

Hall 1058 Spr W,

Hibbert 929 Spr A,

Horwood1227 Spr E,

Morley 1178 Spr G,

Penman 878 Spr H,

Rowe 49462 Sgt W H (Chicago),

Voysey 1927 Spr F,

West 495 Spr R        and

West 504 L/Cpl E

I noted that most were from Bath. I will check service and pension records unless someone beats me to it.

Brian

EDIT: Service Record of Frederick Voysey 519099 (formerly 1927) shows that he too was wounded on 03/10/1916.

Edited by brianmorris547
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Hi,

 

12 hours ago, GordB said:

The first, and longer, article was from the Bath Chronicle dated Sat., 19 Jan 1918 but that doesn't help much as to when he was shot.

 

Ignoring that the article says that John was wounded "early in 1916" what you are left with is:

 

Hospital                          5 months in Salonika

                                       8 months in Malta

                                       (Torpedoed)

                                       3 weeks in Malta

                                       7 weeks in London

Discharged                    " then discharged"

 

If that is correct, it would imply that he spent about 15 months in hospital (+ time at sea) prior to being discharged. His SWB records says that he was discharged in January 1918. Taking away the year and 3 months, would get you back to a wounding date of circa October 1916, and fit in with the dates for Cook and Horwood. 

 

Regards

Chris

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5 hours ago, clk said:

Hi,

 

 

Ignoring that the article says that John was wounded "early in 1916" what you are left with is:

 

Hospital                          5 months in Salonika

                                       8 months in Malta

                                       (Torpedoed)

                                       3 weeks in Malta

                                       7 weeks in London

Discharged                    " then discharged"

 

If that is correct, it would imply that he spent about 15 months in hospital (+ time at sea) prior to being discharged. His SWB records says that he was discharged in January 1918. Taking away the year and 3 months, would get you back to a wounding date of circa October 1916, and fit in with the dates for Cook and Horwood. 

 

Regards

Chris

And going forward with that would mean the ship was the Dover that was sunk near Malta by a German torpedo.

The John was wounded "early in 1916" must have been a typo or mistake on John's part.

 

Thanks Chris and Brian for your help in narrowing the time frame of when he was shot and helping piece together the timeline of his service.

 

You guys are great! Much appreciated.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey guys, me again.


John spent 5 months in a hospital in Salonica... I have been reading the thread on it here from 2005. How could I find out what hospital John was in?

 

 

Edited by GordB
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Hi GordB,

 

In the absence of a surviving service, or hospital record, I don't think that you'll ever be 100% certain. The only observation I'd make is that in the record of 1227 Horwood (per post #9 above) it indicates that he was wounded in his hand on 3rd October 1916, and evacuated by 81 Field Ambulance to 43 General Hospital on the same day. 

 

Regards

Chris

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21 hours ago, clk said:

Hi GordB,

 

In the absence of a surviving service, or hospital record, I don't think that you'll ever be 100% certain. The only observation I'd make is that in the record of 1227 Horwood (per post #9 above) it indicates that he was wounded in his hand on 3rd October 1916, and evacuated by 81 Field Ambulance to 43 General Hospital on the same day. 

 

Regards

Chris

Thanks Chris.

Do hospital records exist separately or would they be with the soldiers personal files?

John's were destroyed.

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