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Remembered Today:

Captain, Essex Regiment: Villers Hill British Cemetery 7.D.12


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The Captain is identified here and was found on the northeast corner of Peiziere about 5,000 yards southwest of Villers-Guislain. Logic tells me, that he likely fell in the Battle of Cambrai and so would be one of the three Captains on the Cambrai Memorial, Louveral. Can we identify which of the 1st, 8th and 9th Battalions of the Essex Regiment were in that area? A list of all the UNKNOWN ESSEX CAPTAINS follows the COG-BR. Someone with knowledge of the Essex Regiment can probably better eliminate any of the other candidates. The online war diaries appear to be here but they are intentionally distorted?

 

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_q=Essex+Regiment&discoveryCustomSearch=true&_cr1=WO+95&_col=200&_hb=tna

 

Perhaps we are spoilt here in Canada! Drat, they are also on the Ancestry.ca site (http://search.ancestry.ca/search/db.aspx?dbid=60779) but to see the image requires the world subscription!

 

doc2630894.JPG

 

Updated List: I am now using this list in this post to mark which Captains have been checked against their location. They will be marked RED when that step is complete.

Richard (9 February 2018)

 

surname forename initials death rank regiment unit memorial
OWEN REGINALD FRANK LEEAR R F L 23-04-17 Captain Essex Regiment 1st Bn. ARRAS MEMORIAL
MASON DOUGLAS HOWARD D H 28-04-17 Captain Essex Regiment 13th Bn. ARRAS MEMORIAL
RITSON CLAUDE WILSON C W 28-04-17 Captain Essex Regiment 13th Bn. ARRAS MEMORIAL
HICKSON REGINALD DAVIES R D 30-04-17 Captain Essex Regiment 9th Bn. ARRAS MEMORIAL
O'HALLORAN SYLVESTER NORTH EAST S N E 09-08-17 Captain Essex Regiment 2nd Bn. ARRAS MEMORIAL
WILLMOTT JOHN HERBERT VICTOR J H V 28-03-18 Captain Essex Regiment 3rd Bn. ARRAS MEMORIAL
CROOME WILLIAM HARDMAN W H 30-11-17 Captain Essex Regiment 8th Bn. CAMBRAI MEMORIAL, LOUVERVAL
GRANT ARCH A 30-11-17 Captain Essex Regiment 1st Bn. CAMBRAI MEMORIAL, LOUVERVAL
SIEVERS NOWELL JOHNSTONE N J 30-11-17 Captain Essex Regiment 9th Bn. CAMBRAI MEMORIAL, LOUVERVAL
DAVIES GEOFFREY BOISSELIER G B 26-09-15 Captain Essex Regiment 11th Bn. LOOS MEMORIAL
GRIGGS HORACE EDWARD H E 05-10-15 Captain Essex Regiment 9th Bn. LOOS MEMORIAL
WATTS HENRY LEONARD H L 20-10-15 Captain Essex Regiment 9th Bn. LOOS MEMORIAL
LINFORD IVOR HUTCHISON I H 21-03-18 Captain Essex Regiment 10th Bn. POZIERES MEMORIAL
PEAKE HENRY ARTHUR WYATT H A W 03-07-16 Captain Essex Regiment 3rd Bn. attd. 9th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
KENNEFICK EDWARD HAMERTON E H 08-07-16 Captain Essex Regiment 9th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
REEVE GILFRID MONTIER G M 08-07-16 Captain Essex Regiment 12th Bn. attd. 9th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
BARTLETT HERBERT CLAUDE H C 15-09-16 Captain Essex Regiment 11th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
RIDLEY CHRISTOPHER MELLOR C M 31-10-16 Captain Essex Regiment 10th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
CHARRINGTON EDWIN MILWARD E M 13-11-16 Captain Essex Regiment 3rd Bn. attd. 13th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
CLARKE JOHN JAMES GORDON J J G 28-04-17 Captain Essex Regiment 13th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
HARVEY PHILLIP PARMENTER P P 08-08-18 Captain Essex Regiment "A" Coy. 10th Bn. VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL
DAVY WILLIAM REGINALD W R 21-08-18 Captain Essex Regiment 7th Bn. VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL
Edited by laughton
Marking Captains RED if location now checked below.
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  • 2 weeks later...

   This can be cracked with the use of War Diaries and the Trench Map-thingy that I don't have (and would be too stupid to use anyway).  I have looked at the officer files for  all 3-or rather,

 

ARCH GRANT    WO339/3118

 

NOWELL JOHNSTONE SIEVERS  WO 339/11451

 

      I cannot trace an officer file for Captain William Hardman Croome. Perhaps someone else could have a bash at this. However, Croome was a Clerk at the Colonial Office and they pulled strings to find out what had happened,so there are copies of letters at  Correspondence    CO323/759/63.  This is a mis-filing as the folder relating to Croome is not at p. 63 but starts at p.580. This and  the fact that his officer file is missing may have precluded identification in the early 1920s.

 

      CAPTAIN   ARCH GRANT- File adds nothing, save his battalion 1st Essex- where was that on 30th November 1917?

 

       CAPTAIN WILLIAM HARDMAN CROOME

 

                  Croome was  attached to an HQ a little way behind the line.   His widow enclosed several letter extracts to WO,which copied them over to Colonial Office.    Croome was at an advanced HQ, which seems to be about half a mile in front of the village of GOUZEAUCOURT. The Germans appeared suddenly and Croome tried to rescue papers.  He ran with 3 other officers to Gouzeaucourt, described as being half a mile behind the HQ. A shell landed near them , when he was separated from the other officers and by himself in a shell hole  . The other officers asked if he was alright and he shouted back that he was but none of them saw him again after that. (at CO323/759/589) 

    Another extract, from a Captain May(??) of 139 Siege Battery, RGA(at CO 323/759/587)  reports that Croome was one of 3 officers who escaped the German advance. - the account is the same as above.  BUT added is "A thorough search was made for him over the same piece of ground with no result and no trace of him was found which certainly  looks as if he had been wounded and made prisoner"

 

      The last reference is that a signaller said he saw Croome lying on the ground but did not go up to him could say no more  

( Account of Captain Metcalfe???, ADC to General De Lisle)

 

       CAPTAIN NOWELL JOHNSTONE SIEVERS, 9th Bn. Essex Regiment

 

                Officer file shows the following:

i) His servant Private William Charman, 20055, 9th Essex reported that Sievers was killed instantly by a shell which fell close to him at 7.45 am, 30th November 1917.

 

ii)  Confirmed by Captain Scott Murray (?)  H2, 35th Infantry Brigade- says shell landed at his feet

 

iii)  A Captain Bartropp reported that his death was known BEFORE his battalion went into action that day

 

               

           Sievers  was 70" tall.   He had suffered a broken patella of his left knee, caused by GSW at Loos on 18th October 1915. It took several months to repair.

 

            In addition, Sivers had been MID by Sir John French, on 4th January 1916, for " gallant and istinguished service in the field", which is not on CWGC and should be. (Although with the new system it may be there and I am just too stupid to find it)

 

 

     Observations:

 

1)  Capable of being cracked.   For Croome, a straight line between advanced HQ (if location found)  on 30th November 1917  and the village of Gouzeaucourt should help.  The village was captured by the Germans but they were pushed out again the same day. Thus, the report about the ground being serached iindicates that he was on the British side of the line.

 

2)  Where the front line was for 9th Essex should be  capable of being found out.  Sievers must have been killed IN or shortly behind Essex front line. Personally, I think the man was blown to bits and it is unlikely to be him. "Landed at his feet" or " close to him"  appears to be a euphemism that implies blown to pieces.

 

     OK, Chaps-trench maps out, exhumation reports at the ready....

 

 

 

 

 

      

Edited by voltaire60
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There is also a reference to Sievers in "A Wood Called Bourlon".   by William Moore, p.191.   Sievers was killed leading a party of servants and back-area men up to the line to face the German attack. Should help identify the Essex officer.

 

 

 

   a

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    Just to bump this topic a bit.     As well as war diaries, there are accounts of the deaths of all 3 potential captains of the Essex Regiment on 30th November 1917 in the "official" history by J.W.Burroughs, which I have before me.

 

        Grant,1st Essex-  Burroughs, Vol.I, p241 identifies that he was with  Z Company. There is a good detailed map of 1 Essex at Cambrai in this volume.

 

        Sievers, 9th Essex- Burroughs Vol.6, page 80 confirms the story about leading a party of back-area men forward-again, a good map for 9th Essex at Cambrai

 

         Croome, 8th  Essex - Burroughs  Vol.8 p.368-369- confirms other accounts in more detail and lifts an account from the history fo the 29th Division-locates the  HQ where Croome was working. Again, good map in the volume.

 

         Laughton- can you or a kind soul put up the map reference where the unknown captain was found. (with the "X marks the spot") from the Trench Map-gizmo which is unintelligible to an idiot. This looks capable of solving. Accounts of the deaths of each of these 3 men narrow down where they were killed very considerably.

 

 

Edited by voltaire60
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Here is the main area, marking where the remains were recovered (blue arrow and text). The red box shows Gouzeaucourt and the orange box Villers Guislain.

 

hxyt7fyw14lv4b46g.jpg

 

That is quite a distance from Cambrai, well to the northeast in sector 57b.A.10.

 

iudzoevcp2g643a6g.jpg

 

The question to start is always "which battle"? Given that in 1916 I suspect they were all the area of Thiepval around sector 57d.R.25, that would eliminate any Essex men - but we do need to be able to state where the Essex Regiments were in the summer and fall of 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. For Canadian units, I know that information, but not for the British. The British are all reported north and east of Thiepval in the late fall of 1916. If this is all true, then he is not one of those listed on the Thiepval Memorial. 

 

Captain Linford, on the Pozieres Memorial is less likely a candidate, as that relates to the period of March-April 1918 when the British were driven back to the west, so further away from the remains area. The Captains on the Arras and Loos Memorial are likewise eliminated, the action was too far away. By August 1918, the march was to the northeast in the advance to Mons. The overall area where Gouzeaucourt and Cambrai is located is marked below on Google Earth:

 

y5bh7cj4d5p9c5u6g.jpg

 

Can we relate these areas to Burrow's "Official History"? Ah, I see there is some detail on the web site where I found this link! It says they based the information on the Burrow's text for the web site:

  1. GRANT 1st Bn.: The 1st Essex moved a few miles to the town of Marcoing but fighting continued  with German resistance building thanks to explosive and gas shelling and aircraft attacks.Counter attacks by the Germans continued with 1st Essex now dug in south of Marcoing to help protect the British flank.The commander of Y Company, Captain D F Hobday was mortally wounded but still gallantly charged the enemy forcing some Germans to a temporary retreat.During the fighting the Adjutant, Captain Goddard was wounded with Lieutenant A J Miles taking over. Z Company suffered when Captain A Grant was killed and 2nd Lieut Cremer was injured.
     

  2. CROOME 8th Bn.: nothing found
     

  3. SIEVERS 9th Bn.: nothing found

 

Captain Grant would appear to be off the list, as Marcoing is at Sector 57c.L.22 which places him midway between Gouzeaucourt and Cambrai, and the remains were found south of Gouzeaucourt.

 

Can we place the other two?

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   I will try to get the Burrows maps copied and scanned across to you later today. Apologies that I am not on top of the Trench May-thingy.  Did you say that you have the War Diaries?  If not, then I will try to get the Brigade and Divisional ones for Croome.    It turns out that Croome may have had local connections to where I live, hence my anxiety to get this done ahead of the centenary. Sievers was Australian and a distinguished intellectual from New College, Oxford-which would be a good bit of news for that college. The words spoken about him by his contemporary, Harold Laski are still resoundingly poignant.

 

     For Croome, the location of the quarry that was the Brigade headquarters is the key.

 

       For Sievers, the War Diary and Burrow map should locate a small zone.   

 

            Be in touch-Thansk for the trench map-thingy

 

Mike

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Sorry, no, I do not have the war diaries.

 

Watch for any mention of Morgan Post, Proctor Post and what appears to be a Prince Reserve trench. At this time on November 20, 1917, the German trenches were west of Villers-Guislain, and apparently down into Linnet Valley and Thrush Valley, heading towards Peizere. That would suggest death was due to artillery or that the body was taken back to 57c.X.25 for burial. The British and German front lines would have been the closest in Sector 57c.X.20 where Plane and Poplar trenches are shown (thick blue line).

 

59fpzc0zy0w1hmp6g.jpg

Edited by laughton
Polar Trench = Poplar Trench
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OK-I will try to get the War Diaries as well. Either way, Croome or  Sievers, this man can be identified. Thank you for putting all this stuff up.   Was there any exhumation report subsequently?  The fact that Sievers would  have  had a knitted left patella  break-Would that be enough to put up to CWGC to justify exhumation if it comes to a straight choice of the two???    Documentation can be scanned and copied over to you  over here and sent over to you- Just say what you want.  This man deserves the dignity of his identity being restored to him

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Exhumations are absolutely forbidden from within a CWGC cemetery.

 

I have not seen any exhumation reports, but that does not mean they do not exist. The trick is to find one that had an exhumation, thus providing the starting point for the search. I will look to see if they identified any on the COG-BR list by exhumation.

 

Nothing found, but I did notice another Unknown Captain in the same area (one square up on the trench map 57c.X.19). In 7.D.3 COG-BR 2630909. A Northumberland Fusilier. He is not identified on the GRRF 2060445 either. Same for the HD-SCHD 2750652. Coincidentally, that is the same headstone list as our Essex Captain and both are changed as SOLDIER on the left and then CAPTAIN on the right - not sure what that means, but it looks like they are just standardizing the way the headstones are labelled. I will have to see if anyone has been looking for him to date (nothing for that cemetery on the CWGC list).

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3 hours ago, laughton said:

Exhumations are absolutely forbidden from within a CWGC cemetery.

 

I have not seen any exhumation reports, but that does not mean they do not exist. The trick is to find one that had an exhumation, thus providing the starting point for the search. I will look to see if they identified any on the COG-BR list by exhumation.

 

Nothing found, but I did notice another Unknown Captain in the same area (one square up on the trench map 57c.X.19). In 7.D.3 COG-BR 2630909. A Northumberland Fusilier. He is not identified on the GRRF 2060445 either. Same for the HD-SCHD 2750652. Coincidentally, that is the same headstone list as our Essex Captain and both are changed as SOLDIER on the left and then CAPTAIN on the right - not sure what that means, but it looks like they are just standardizing the way the headstones are labelled. I will have to see if anyone has been looking for him to date (nothing for that cemetery on the CWGC list).

 

    Thanks-anything else I can have a crack at re the Essex Captain?   Or wait and see if it comes down to a clear front-runner.

      How do we stand for unknown Captains of the Northumberland Fusiliers?

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  • 3 months later...

Now that I have access to the war diaries I can reopen this case.

 

First thing I need to do is check on Captain John Herbert Victor Willmott, 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, attached to the 2nd Battalion. I have recently found that a number of men on the Arras Memorial were found in this area as well. 

 

WO 95/1505/1 28 March 1918 (page 371 of 524) They were in Arras on the front line. Lieutenant (not Captain) Wilmott is mentioned by name as missing and presumed killed. The junction of Harry and Chili trenches is at 51b.H.5.85.15. That takes him off the list.

 

Next on the list is Captain Arch Grant, 30 November 1917 with 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Brigade, 37th Division WO 95/2537/1 - ah but that is 1918-1919. Must be still in 88th Brigade, 29th Division as per LLT. That is WO 95/2309/1 (page 120 of 135), so near Marcoing 57c.L.22. Captain Grant was commanding Z Coy when he was killed (page 121 of 135). That places him about 14,000 yards north of where the remains were found. For now, he is off the list.

 

More to follow ...

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Captain William Hardman Croome was attached to General HQ, 29th Division. He is listed as 8th Bn. Essex Regiment. All of those appear to be Cyclist battalions. The only Essex Regiment listed under the 29th Division was the 1st Battalion. I will have to put him ON HOLD until I find that information.

 

Captain Ivor Hutchison Linford of the 10th Battalion is listed on the Pozieres Memorial for 21 March 1918. That war diary pleasantly appeared as I was searching for another and March refers to their being a "Narrative of Operations" for the 21st to 26th (page 617 of 739).  The general pages of the diary note that a "Prepare for Attack" was issued on 20 March 1918 (page 620 of 739). The barrage opened the next morning, shelling Ly Fontain and Regimy (my TMC 66c.N.13/14). Ly Fontaine is to the northeast (my TMC 66c.N.31.d). That takes him off the list for anyone located at 57c.X.25.

 

Captain Noel Johnstone Sievers, another of the group of 30 November 1917, was with the 9th (Service) Battalion. LLT tells us 35th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division. WO 95/1851/3 confirms that, so an easy find (page 616 of 834). The death of Captain Sievers is listed as "missing believed killed" (page 620 of 834). The enemy was coming down Bleak Trench and the Hindenburg Front Line. There are two (2) Bleak Trenches, but since it says the enemy was seen "making for Gonnelieu" then we know it is the one at 57c.R.28.c/d. This places them about 7,000 yards northeast of where the remains of the Unknown Captain were recovered near Peziere.

 

Captain Phillip Parmenter Harvey as 10th(Service) Battalion, 53rd Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division. An easy war diary find for August 1918 (page 686 of 739). Here we find that the battalion moved off to the assembly position of 7 August 1918 at 62d.J.23.b/d, moving into Sector K on the following day. This is in the Corbie area, a long way from where the remains were located.

 

Captain Sylvester North East O'Halloran (an interesting name!) was 2nd Battalion Essex, 12th Brigade, 4th Division WO 95/1505/1 and lost on 9 August 1917. That day saw a large raid on the enemy front line. Captain O'Halloran is one of the officers reported as killed (page 296 of 524). It is unclear if his remains were with those that were recovered from the battlefield on the 10th. They had been at "Wilderness Camp", where was that? The general location references suggest they were northwest of Arras and southwest of Lens.

 

I am not progressing very well with this search! Apparently I need to learn a bit more about where the various Divisions were in specific periods.I know that well for the Canadian Corps but these British boys seem to be everywhere.

 

Here is an interesting one! Captain William Reginald Davy, 7th Battalion Essex but attached to the 10th Battalion Tank Corps. That solves the problem of trying to figure out if he is 1st/7th or 2nd/7th. He paid the ultimate sacrifice on 21 August 1918, the opening day of the Battle of Bapaume. That makes it 2 Brigade Tank Corps WO 95/103/1. I have yet to find any TANK WAR DIARIES, so if someone else has found them, please let me know. Thanks to those that directed me to the Tank Histories in the topic about Tank #9394. From the text "Tanks in the great war, 1914-1918", it would appear that the units were shuffled on 21 August 1918 (page 251 or 309 of 398). The 10th Battalion Mark IV tanks were in the 1st Tank Brigade in the 3rd Army area, IVth Corps. They were to attack on the line Beaucouirt-sur-Anere - Moyenneville (57c.A.4), (to drive the enemy across the Arras-Bapaume Road.  This has him well away from where the remains were found, I think! I really need to find the war diary to pin him down exactly.

 

Edited by laughton
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Croome was a staff officer?   So battalion locations mean nothing. His nominal battalion was a reserve in England-he was in France. I think if we concentrate on where the man was, rather than his notional battalion, all should be well.

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Laughton

 

I recently presented a case to the CWGC regarding an unidentified grave of a private from the Tank Corps. The war diaries don't appear to be available on Ancestry at this moment. You will need to contact the Tank Museum or the National Archives in London where they are located at wo95/100 to 115.

 

 

Mick

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https://www.ancestry.co.uk/interactive/60779/43112_1614_0-00000?backurl=https%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.co.uk%2fsearch%2fdb.aspx%3fdbid%3d60779%26path%3d&ssrc=&backlabel=ReturnBrowsing#?imageId=43112_1614_0-00549In this next step, I am going to check the Captains based on the battalion from within the Ance$try list, so I am not jumping around all the war diaries. I am fearful what will happen when I get to the end of checking everyone on the list and none were in the area of 57c.X.25. These are in the order that they are listed on Ance$try in the drop-down menu. The title of the battalion is linked to that entry.

 

Total List = 22 men

 

The list is now complete, I will return here to edit this post and add the details. (completed)

 

9th (Service) Battalion, 25th Infantry Brigade, 12th Division (7 men)

  • SIEVERS NOWELL JOHNSTONE N J 30-11-17 Captain Essex Regiment 9th Bn. CAMBRAI MEMORIAL, LOUVERVAL
    • already checked above, Captain Sievers is listed as "missing believed killed" (page 620 of 834)
    • near Bleak Trench , enemy making for Gonnelieu (my TMC 57c.R.28.c/d)
    • this places them about 7,000 yards northeast of where the remains of the Unknown Captain were recovered near Peziere
  • HICKSON REGINALD DAVIES R D 30-04-17 Captain Essex Regiment 9th Bn. ARRAS MEMORIAL

    • Unit moved into Arras(51b.H) on 24 April 1917 (page 457 of 834)

    • A & D Coys attached Rifle Trench at 3 am on 30 April 1917, for which there is a separate report (page 467 of 834)

    • Captain Hickson was in charge of the attack but was wounded by "friendly fire" when a shell fell short and he was wounded

    • Captain Hickson, M.C. died of wounds on that day - so odd that he has no known grave?

  • GRIGGS HORACE EDWARD H E 05-10-15 Captain Essex Regiment 9th Bn. LOOS MEMORIAL

    •  War Diary (page 31 of 834) - vicinity of Loos by Chalk Pit 36c.H.19/25

    • burial location noted as 36c.G.24.d.95.10, so should look for him there!!

    • shot in the head by rifle bullet - snipers reported active

  • WATTS HENRY LEONARD H L 20-10-15 Captain Essex Regiment 9th Bn.LOOS MEMORIAL

    • near Vermelles 36c.G.8 at the Quarries

    • Watts was reported killed on the 19th, which is reported at 9 am (page 36 of 834)

    • that was a "friendly fire" death, when one of the artillery shells fell short - poor man

  • KENNEFICK EDWARD HAMERTON E H 08-07-16 Captain Essex Regiment 9th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

    • The unit is a Ovillers (My TMC 57c.X.8) (see also Captain Reeve below)

    • War Diary (page 266 of 834) but it is on the next page and the 9th when Kennefick is reported dead (the only Officer - not so, see Reeve below)

    • There is a separate report of the operations for 7th - 9th of July 1917 (page 286 of 834)

  • REEVE GILFRID MONTIER G M 08-07-16 Captain Essex Regiment 12th Bn. attd. 9th Bn.THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

    • see Captain Kenefick above, as they were killed on the same day, so also at Ovillers (My TMC 57c.X.8

    • he was killed by a bomb (page 288 of 834), along with Major Ryan

    • The war diary reports 1 Officer killed and 2 missing and believed killed, perhaps Kennefick and Reeve?

    • Ryan, Kennefick and Reeve reported "lost" on 8 July 1916 (page 266 of 834)

  • PEAKE HENRY ARTHUR WYATT H A W 03-07-16 Captain Essex Regiment 3rd Bn. attd. 9th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

    • The battalion is at Albert (57d.W.28), well to the west of where the remains were found (8,000 yards)

    • Captain Peake is reported missing at Ovillers & La Boiselle, so "C" Coy had moved into the area of 57d.X.14 (page 264 of 834)

    • There is a report on the operation (Page 273 of 834)

 

10th (Service) Battalion, 53rd Infantry Brigade, 18th Division (3 men)

  • LINFORD IVOR HUTCHISON I H 21-03-18 Captain Essex Regiment 10th Bn.POZIERES MEMORIAL

    • already checked above, refers to their being a "Narrative of Operations" for the 21st to 26th (page 617 of 739)

    • diary note that a "Prepare for Attack" was issued on 20 March 1918 (page 620 of 739)

    • barrage opened the next morning, shelling Ly Fontain and Regimy (my TMC 66c.N.13/14)

    • Ly Fontaine is to the northeast (my TMC 66c.N.31.d)

    • Captain Linford lis listed as "killed" (page 622 of 739)

  • RIDLEY CHRISTOPHER MELLOR C M 31-10-16 Captain Essex Regiment 10th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

    • he was with our Canadian boys in Regina Trench, so at Courcelette (page 309 of 739)

    • killed by a direct hit from a 77mm shell, so unlikely any remains will ever be found

    • he was at the junction with Twenty Three Road so that places him at about 57d.R.23.a

  • HARVEY PHILLIP PARMENTER P P 08-08-18 Captain Essex Regiment "A" Coy. 10th Bn. VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL

    • already checked above. in the Corbie area, a long way from where the remains were located

    • the battalion moved off to the assembly position of 7 August 1918 at 62d.J.23.b/d, moving into Sector K on the following day

 

1st Battalion, 88th Brigade, 29th Division (to January 1918 only - 2 men)

  • OWEN REGINALD FRANK LEEAR R F L 23-04-17 Captain Essex Regiment 1st Bn. ARRAS MEMORIAL

    • he was attached to the 88th Coy Machine Gun Corps, missed that at first, as 1st Bn was in training at Bayencourt (page 81 of 135)

    • LLT  tells us: Joined 29th Division, 21 February 1916, at Suez, Egypt. Moved into No 29 Bn, MGC 15 February 1918.

    • LLT tells us: 88th Infantry Brigade of 29th Division, which leads us finally to April 1917 (page 176 of 349)

    • On 23 April 1917 gained objective No. 2, then moved forward to Cavalry Farm and Shovel Trench (page 184 of 349)
      ** Special Note: the war diary pages are out of sequence (page 183 of 349) should follow not precede page 184

    • Lieutenant (not Captain) Owen is described as a gallant officer was killed after having made a reconnaissance for his gun positions

    • clearly he was nowhere near where the remains of the Essex Captain were found

  • GRANT ARCH A 30-11-17 Captain Essex Regiment 1st Bn. CAMBRAI MEMORIAL, LOUVERVAL

    • already checked above, he was commanding Z Coy when he was killed (page 121 of 135)

    • that places him about 14,000 yards north of where the remains were found

 

13th (Service) Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Division (after transfer - 4 men)

  • RITSON CLAUDE WILSON C W 28-04-17 Captain Essex Regiment 13th Bn. ARRAS MEMORIAL

    • there is a separate appendix on the operations of 28 April 1917

    • this applies to Captains Clark and Mason as well (see below - different memorials?)

    • they are in the line near Roclincourt (51b.A.29.c), first objective is south of Oppy  Village (51b.C.13.a)

    • Ritson and Clarke (both 2nd Lieutenants and Temporary Captains) both listed as killed (page 194 of 377)

    • O.C. "C" Coy

  • CLARKE JOHN JAMES GORDON J J G 28-04-17 Captain Essex Regiment 13th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

    • same as RITSON above

    • O.C. "B" Coy

    • no idea why he is on the Thiepval Memorial, as they were in the Arras Sector not the Somme Sector?

  • MASON DOUGLAS HOWARD D H 28-04-17 Captain Essex Regiment 13th Bn.  ARRAS MEMORIAL

    • Lieutenant D. H. Mason, O.C. "A" Coy is on the missing list (page 195 of 377)

  • CHARRINGTON EDWIN MILWARD E M 13-11-16 Captain Essex Regiment 3rd Bn. attd. 13th Bn. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

    • reported on "Day of Attack" (page 109 of 377), appears to be the Quadrilateral (of which there are many)

    • reference to Cat Tunnel (my TMC 57d.K.35.c), so northwest of Courcelette and west of Miraumont (Battle of Ancre)

    • it was Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) as reported in the casualty list (page 122 of 377)

 

2nd Battalion, 12th Brigade, 4th Division (see LLT note attached to 36th (Ulster) Division for instruction - 2 men)

  • O'HALLORAN SYLVESTER NORTH EAST S N E0 9-08-17 Captain Essex Regiment 2nd Bn.ARRAS MEMORIAL

    • already checked above, general location references suggest they were northwest of Arras and southwest of Lens

    • unable to locate "Wilderness Camp", where they had been in early August

    • Captain O'Halloran is one of the officers reported as killed (page 296 of 524)

    • after the raid we know they returned to Blangy Park (my TMC 51b.G.24.b), 2,000 yards east of Arras

  • WILLMOTT JOHN HERBERT VICTOR J H V 28-03-18 Captain Essex Regiment 3rd Bn. att'd to 2nd Bn. ARRAS MEMORIAL
    • already checked above, (page 374 of 524) they were in Arras on the front line
    • Lieutenant (not Captain) Wilmott is mentioned by name as missing and presumed killed.
    • ** There were TWO (2) WIllmott Officers in the unit: Captain B. C. N. Willmott is reported missing and presumed a POW (confirmed - see here and here - survived the war) whereas Lieutenant J. H. V. Wilmott is reported missing and presumed killed (page 375 of 524). Evidence of NOK indicates they were brothers (Son of the Rev. Herbert Henry Willmott and Lilian Hope Willmott, of Rivenhall Rectory, Witham, Essex)
    • The junction of Harry and Chili trenches is at 51b.H.5.85.15. That takes him off the list

 

8th Battalion (not sure which one, but he was attached GHQ)

  • CROOME WILLIAM HARDMAN W H 30-11-17 Captain Essex Regiment 8th Bn. att'd to GHQ 29th Division CAMBRAI MEMORIAL, LOUVERVAL

    • on 209 November 1917 88th Brigade, 29th Division is at Gouzeaucourt (my TMC 57c.Q.28)

    • on 27th Brigade HQ at Marcoing (TMC 57c.L.22), also site of rest billets, about 13,000 yards north of remains

    • German counterattack on 30th and Brigade HQ moved back to "R.28 Central"

    • note, but lined out, 1 Officer wounded

    • November 20th -30tth, 11 Officers killed and 4 missing (page 196 of 969)

    • ICRC records show 2 cards for Captain Croone (Card 1 and Card 2), the second of which shows him missing at Gouzeaucourt but also notes "Staffordshire Regiment, late of Essex Regiment"

    • that places him the closest of any of the Captains, about 5,000 yards north of the remains, possibly captured or recovered by Germans?

 

11th (Service) Battalion, 71st then 18th Brigade, 6th Division (1 man in 71st and 1 man in 18th)

  • DAVIES GEOFFREY BOISSELIER G B 26-09-15 Captain Essex Regiment 11th Bn. 71st Brigade LOOS MEMORIAL

    • in the vicinity of Hulluch Village (my TMC 36c.H.13), 6,000 yards north of Lens (page 7 of 943)

  • BARTLETT HERBERT CLAUDE H C 15-09-16 Captain Essex Regiment 11th Bn. 18th Brigade, 6th Division THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

    • attack planned on 15th September, 18th Brigade in reserve (page 550 of 637

    • on 14th the brigade concentrates south of Montauban (my TMC 57c.S.27.b/d)

    • held up at the "Quadrilateral" (my TMC 57c.T.15) and the German trench running north from it (page 550 of 637)

    • 18th Brigade to attack that night. 11th Essex from the south but fails as it lost direction

    • 11th Essex in reserve on 16th near Chimpanzee Trench (TMC 62c.a.5), so sector below 57c.S.29, 4,000 yards west of remains

 

10th Battalion Tank Corps (no war diary retrieved at present - 1 man)

  • DAVY WILLIAM REGINALD W R 21-08-18 Captain Essex Regiment 7th Bn. att'd 10th Bn. Tank Corps VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL
    • checked above from texts but not yet from war diary
    • it would appear that the units were shuffled on 21 August 1918 (page 251 or 309 of 398 "Tanks in the great war, 1914-1918")

    • the 10th Battalion Mark IV tanks were in the 1st Tank Brigade in the 3rd Army area, IVth Corps

    • they were to attack on the line Beaucouirt-sur-Anere - Moyenneville (57c.A.4), to drive the enemy across the Arras-Bapaume Road

    • this has him well away from where the remains were found, I think! I really need to find the tank war diary to pin him down exactly.

 

Notes:

  1. There are no men of the 1st Battalion missing after the transfer to the 112th Brigade, 37th Division on 4 February 1918.
  2. Men that were "attached" to another battalion, are so marked. Check CWGC listings to make sure these attachments are correct for all listed. If there is no mention of that Captain in the war diary, then check to make sure that he was not attached to another unit but was not so recorded on the CWGC list.
  3. There is nobody on the list for the 15th Battalion, which LLT tells us did not move to France until May 1918.

 

Edited by laughton
finished entries for all Captains
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I have finished adding all the details for the missing Captains of the Essex Regiment.

 

The only candidate in my mind is Captain William Hardman Croome, missing and the only one in the vicinity of the remains. Although there is an ICRC card, there is no information that he was taken prisoner or recovered and buried by the Germans.

 

A long process and no definite answer at this time.

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SDGW on Ance$try tells me that Captain William Hardman Croome was with the 8th (Cyclist) Battalion (Territorial), Essex Regiment.

 

There is no reference to the Staffordshire Regiment, as shown on the 2nd ICRC card. Is it possible that he was seconded to the Staffs? If so, which one? Perhaps his Officer's Record will clear up this issue. Or is there more detail on the map?

 

Quote

voltaire60 post #4

Croome, 8th  Essex - Burroughs  Vol.8 p.368-369- confirms other accounts in more detail and lifts an account from the history fo the 29th Division-locates the  HQ where Croome was working. Again, good map in the volume.

 

sl4za84d7lr16c66g.jpg

 

I took a look at the details on the period trench map and it shows that the remains were found beside what was a double normal gauge rail line that ran through the burial site. His remains, whoever they are, appear to have been found just to the left of the rail line. My initial thought was that might have been behind enemy lines, but the period trench maps for November 1917 shows the British front line running north-south through 57c.X.29.a/d and the German front line through 57c.X.30.a/c. So the remains were 4,000 yards behind the front lines. Was Croome sent down to Peziere / Epehy on some matter for the HQ? Did he take a train? From a Cyclist Battalion but I would not think a Captain would go for a bike ride?

 

8ikz6xhkzp898376g.jpg

 

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Is the  1/8th Cyclist Battalion  connection a  red herring.  Croome may have been appointed , but died not serve with them in France as the answer below from 2014  has the battalion on English coastal duties and in Ireland.

Similarly the Red Cross cards.  These are not  stating he was a P0W. It seems to me that the family  enquired of the Red  Cross as to whether or not Croome could be traced as a POW as he had been missing since 30 November 1917. The Red Cross couldn't find him, and so on  28 May 1918, they sent a reply in the negative.

On 17 July 1918, his wife places a small ad in The Times, of London. ... he has been missing since 30 November 1917. Could friends of POW in Germany please enquire of him.

As to the Staffs Regiment... is this not a mistake in transmission/ translation from the family to the Red Cross. The family say he is/was on the Staff. The Red Cross assume Staffs Regiment.

 

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I would agree with all of those points, but as always we have to take the facts as presented and present evidence to the CWGC if we do not agree that they are applicable.

 

An interesting addition showed up in the case of WILLMOTT - turns out that on the same day he was killed, his brother in the same unit was reported missing and a POW. That is now confirmed.

 

As to the rank of Captain, please note the following:

 

Reported as Lieutenants not Captains:

  • Owen
  • Mason
  • Willmott

Reported as Lieutenants and Acting or Temporary Captains:

  • Charington
  • Ritson
  • Clarke

I had gone back to this again to check on the dates given that there was a lot of activity in this area during the German Advance of March 1918 (Operation Michael). Epehy shows up on both maps, as it is on the border of the two maps and it is hard to separate Epehy (62c.F.1) from Piexiere (57c.X.25), the neighbouring squares not distinguishable by distance. Epehy is in the northwest of the SECTOR where we have the action related to these two other officers in March 1918:

Given that activity, there is a strong suggestion that this would also be the time that the Essex Captain was lost. The only two Essex Captains in that time period were WILLMOTT and LINFORD, neither of which is in the vicinity of where the remains were lost. CROOME remains as the only candidate that was close.

 

One possibility that remained was that in as much as this man may have been a Lieutenant in a Captain's position, the unknown might also be a Captain in a Major's position (only 5 candidates) on which only Major Clement Ignatius Ryan is on the Thiepval Memorial for 8 July 1916 (9th "Service" Battalion). A quick check tells us it was not him, as he was lost at Ovillers (page 266 of 834) which is in Sector 57d.X.8.

 

Sadly, a lot of effort has gone into this case but there is nothing substantive, at this time, to go forward with a report to the CWGC. Perhaps something will turn up in the future.

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