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Remembered Today:

Unknown CSM: Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery - stumped?


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This one has me stumped!


There is an UNKNOWN CSM of the ROYAL SUSSEX REGIMENT in grave 3.H.24 found at 51b.I.32.c.O.3. From the area, I thought it would be in August 1918 during the 2nd Battle of Arras, a place where we find many Canadians.


There is another of the same regiment in grave 4.C.12 found at 51b.H.36.b.8.5 so that suggests they were close to each other, moving eastward just north of Monchy-le-Preux. It also suggests that the GRU got the regimental identification correct - or made the same mistake twice? Another one in 8.J.26 found at 51b.O.3.a.1.8 so there are probably more.


I found one (1) CSM of the regiment on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, (CSM E. N. Venn), but the 7th Battalion not in the area where the remains were found at the time of his death (August 1918). The same applies to CSM Barnard, listed on the Arras Memorial (April 1917).


I checked the regiments that I know were in and around the Canadians at that time but none of them have a NKG CSM either:

  • 1st Rifle Brigade
  • 2nd Essex
  • 2nd Lancs Fus
  • 1st Somerset LI
  • 1st Royal Warwick
  • 2nd W. RID (West Riding?)


That list may not be correct, as Nicholson Map 12 shows them but says 33rd British Infantry Brigade, 4th British Division. That does not match on the Long, Long Trail?


These are the two pages from the CWGC:





Edited by laughton
added 1st Royal Warwicks and 2nd W RID
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These are the only CSMs on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial for the 2nd Battle of Arras in August-September 1918.


surname initials death regiment unit #
BOYD T 25-08-18 Royal Marine Light Infantry 1st R.M. Bn. R.N. Div. 'PLY/12524'
GILBERT J M 27-08-18 Welsh Regiment 13th Bn. '23881'
LINAY P H 02-09-18 Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) 52nd Bn. '56059'
PATTERSON H E 24-08-18 Rifle Brigade 13th Bn. 'S/4086'
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  • 3 months later...

Lessons learned have now taught me not to assume that a missing British soldier might have anything to do with the time period that a Canadian soldier may have been missing. That means I have to step back and look at all the missing Company Serjeant Majors of the Royal Sussex Regiment.


Recent topics also take this back to the question of the identification of a CSM (warrant officer class 2 - large crown on lower sleeve) versus what was previously the two Colour Serjeants (crown over 3 chevrons), one of which became a CSM and the other a CQS (Company Quartermaster Serjeant). If I don't have this correct "yet", I don't mind anyone clearing my confusion!


In the summary table, I have included the five (5) Company Serjeant Majors and the one (1) Company Quartermaster Serjeant that are missing in France. We are looking for someone with remains found at 51b.I.32.c.O.3.  Just to be sure I was on the correct map, I checked the Canadian (Pte. C. W. Hatfield #734477, Royal Canadian Regiment) and confirmed that he was killed just east of Monchy-le-Preux. The sector I.32 would be Keeling Copse, on the west side of Hatchet Wood and Bois du Sart.


Looks like I "struck-out" even with this expanded search :angry2:


surname initials death RSR CSM # cemetery or memorial Research Comments
BARNARD F 12-04-17 9th Bn. 'L/10145' ARRAS MEMORIAL Bois-en-Hache NW Givenchy 36c.S.2.b
FRY F S 25-09-15 2nd Bn. 'L/5733' LOOS MEMORIAL Hulluch 36c.H.13 N of Lens
STEVENS E 03-09-16 11th Bn. 'SD/640' THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Beaumont-Hamel Sector 57d.Q.11
COLEMAN W T 03-09-16 12th Bn. 'SD/568' THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Beaumont Hamel Sector 57d.Q.9
VENN E N 09-08-18 7th Bn. 'L/9049' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL Vicinity Senlis 57d.V.11, NW Albert
surname initials death RSR CQS # cemetery or memorial Research Comments
ROBBINS W 25-11-17 7th Bn. 'L/5857' CAMBRAI MEMORIAL, LOUVERVAL NE Gonnelieu at 57c.R.22.b


The war diaries for the Royal Sussex Regiment are available at the website of the West Sussex County Council.


There are a total of 98 men of the Royal Sussex Regiment on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. There are none identified in the Vis-en-Artois Cemetery, although there are a number of the regiment in the cemetery as UNKNOWNS. There were two (2) Serjeants of the 16th Battalion missing in September 1918, Herbert Dixon Chatfield on the 2nd and Albert Edward Beal on the 21st. On September 2nd the battalion was near Hem Wood (62c.B.26) and on the 21st near Templeux Switch (62c.F.28). The 21st was a bad day for the 16th (Sussex Yeomanry) Battalion.


Just to check a final item before closing this file, there were eight (8) casualties of the Sussex Yeomanry (as this was a cavalry action to some extent) in France during the war. The four (4) on the Thiepval Memorial are privates.


In my first post in this topic, I made this comment:


There is another of the same regiment in grave 4.C.12 found at 51b.H.36.b.8.5 so that suggests they were close to each other, moving eastward just north of Monchy-le-Preux. It also suggests that the GRU got the regimental identification correct - or made the same mistake twice? Another one in 8.J.26 found at 51b.O.3.a.1.8 so there are probably more.


How is it that there were this many of the Royal Sussex that were in the area of Keeling Copse / Bois du Sart and when was that? Perhaps if we can tie down which battalion was in that area, and when, then we can attack this case from that angle. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of the regiment would have an idea?


It has to be someone from one of these battalions, the only once with men on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. I will check to see where they were at those times and insert that information:


Battalion Date Men Research Comments
2nd Sep-18 30 Vadencourt or Pontruet 62b.K.36 & M.10?
7th Aug-18 37 see above Vicinity Senlis 57d.V.11, NW Albert
8th Aug-Sept-18 2 Henencourt 57d.V.27 then Ronssoy 62c.F.24
9th Sept-Nov-18 5 no war diary?
11th Sep-18 1 must be attached, 11th was at sea on 21st - yes 16th
16th Sep-18 22 Hem Wood on 2nd 62c.B.26 then Templeux Switch 62c.F.28
2nd TMB Oct-18 1 not sure where to look him up?


No indication of anyone in Sector 51b.I.32 unless it is one of the two missing?


Edited by laughton
fixed typos
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I would take a look at 17th Bn and see if there's anything in their diary that may help - this is from April/May 1917.

EDIT: 17th Royal Sussex don't seem to have been in France until 1918 so presumably a typo in the book ?
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fBS-BAAAQBAJ&pg=PA92&lpg=PA92&dq=royal+sussex+keeling+copse&source=bl&ots=b7kpVK8QzG&sig=xjBqzBZiqBKOHj_e4UlI6pn7fYQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjz8JzL_9zZAhWmJsAKHZ6xCgsQ6AEIQzAD#v=onepage&q=royal sussex keeling copse&f=false


Edited by ss002d6252
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Thanks Craig! So my little mind thinks that 17th in error would be 1st/7th, but it turns out it was just the 7th (Service) Battalion.


Yes, they were in the area in 11 April 1917 at Feuchy Chapel, which is 51b.N3.b.8.1 which is about 3,200 yards to the SW (page 119 of 216). On the 25th they were at RAILWAY TRIANGLE, in sector 51b.H.19, which is 3,200 yards to the NW. Looks like a lot of working parties, but not pioneers.


On 2 May 1917 they were at BAYONET Trench, located at 51b.H.30.d, so now only 2,000 yards away from the remains. Looks like this is the place and battalion we need to check further!


There are no CSM's on the Arras Memorial for this period. There are two (2) Serjeants lost on 9 April 1917,  two (2) Corporals on 3 May 1917, and eight (8) Lance Corporals the same date. The rest were privates.


If it was one of them, we would never be able to tell which one - unless one had received a field promotion. Could a "warrant officer class 2" be presented in the field?


surname forename death rank 7th Bn. RSR #
AUSTIN HARRY JAMES 09-04-17 Serjeant 7th Bn. 'G/772'
BEALE ALFRED WILLIAM 09-04-17 Serjeant 7th Bn. 'G/931'
FRENCH ERNEST WILLIAM 03-05-17 Corporal 7th Bn. 'G/1046'
BARNES ERNEST 03-05-17 Corporal 7th Bn. 'SD/1253'
FLECKNOE FREDERICK GEORGE CARRICK 03-05-17 Lance Corporal 7th Bn. 'G/18026'
PALMER PERCY ALEXANDER 03-05-17 Lance Corporal 7th Bn. 'G/17517'
RICHARDSON WILLIAM HENRY 03-05-17 Lance Corporal 7th Bn. 'G/8138'
SAVAGE CHARLES ROBERT 03-05-17 Lance Corporal 7th Bn. 'G/5114'
AMES HARMAN HERBERT 03-05-17 Lance Corporal 7th Bn. 'G/20408'
CHUNN ERLING VICTOR 03-05-17 Lance Corporal 7th Bn. 'SD/2646'
MILSTED WILLIAM WALTER 03-05-17 Lance Corporal 7th Bn. 'G/20213'
DUFFIELD OSCAR SYDNEY 03-05-17 Lance Corporal "C" Coy. 7th Bn. 'G/3252'
Edited by laughton
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