Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

laughton

Royal Irish Regiment - 2 Lieutenants

Recommended Posts

laughton

There are two (2) UNKNOWN Lieutenants of the Royal Irish Regiment in the Cabaret British Cemetery, Plot 7 Row K and Graves 4 and 6.

 

Prior to the fall of this year I was primarily hunting for Canadian Unknowns but the others seemed to be everywhere. Now that I can get the British War Diaries on Ancestry.ca I can start to take a look at those that are immediately obvious. I am certain that if a project like this was "Crowd Sourced", we would turn up hundreds of cases in short order. On this side of the pond, I have always thought it would be a great project for a team of Master's Candidates in Military History at one of the universities. Someone doing a combined degree in Computer Science and History would be most excellent!! The missing link now is that the CWGC only lists the KNOWN SOLDIERS. Imagine if they had ALL THE GRAVES, even if it was UNKNOWN and in the database they also had the trench map coordinates for the remains. The rest would be child's play!

 

Based on the others of the regiment in this cemetery (Doyle, Morrissey, Roberts), also found in Fournes German Cemetery, it would appear they are 2nd Battalion and the date is 15 October 1914 to 25 October 1914. I have not looked at the war diary yet, but will do that shortly.

 

There are only two (2) Lieutenants of this regiment on the Le Touret Memorial,  both for 20 October 1914 (CWGC LINK):

 

  • David Patrick Laing
  • Archibald Maurice Stratford Tandy

 

doc2113062.JPG

 

 

Edited by laughton
Laing not Lang or Land.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

The war diary tells us that on 19 October 1914 the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment was at Le Riez (there are 3 of them) and some were advancing to Le Plouich 36.N.28. During the afternoon they attacked and seized Le Pilly 36.T.5. There at 9 pm Lieutenant Laing with a machine gun detachment went back to the outskirts of Herlies 36.T.4 to fetch rations. Details and a sketch of the attack is noted to be in Appendices 24 and 25. If you are looking at that sketch, take note that it has SOUTH at the top and NORTH at the bottom, so the attack was from Le Riez in the north to Le Pilly in the south.

 

Still at Le Pilly on the 20th, the war diary reports little evidence of what occurred on that day. Reference is made to Appendices 26, 27,28 and 29. The next page is 24 October 1916, then it jumps to November, December and January. Following that the war diary goes back to the missing appendices, where Laing and Tandy are reported missing in the action of the 19-20 October 1914. The regiment is also missing 3 Captains and 2 other Lieutenants. The sketch is next, followed by a field nominal roll (incorrectly dated October 1915). Laing is a Lieutenant in Battalion H.Q. and Tandy a Lieutenant in "A" Coy.

 

The ICRC Archives have an information request for Lt. Tandy, but no indication that he was ever a POW. There was no record found for Lt. Laing.

 

The remains of both Lieutenants were found in the Fournes German Cemetery at 36.O.31.d.8.2, which is approximately 2,500 yards from where the two Lieutenants were killed in the attack on Le Pilly.

 

I do not think there is any doubt that these two Lieutenants are David Patrick Laing and Archibald Maurice Stratford Tandy. Should the CWGC agree, they would have Special Memorial C Headstones "Buried near this spot", listing alphabetically Land in 7.K.4 and Tandy in 7.K.6.

 

There are also two (2) 2nd Lieutenants of the 2nd Battalion and two (2) of the 3rd Battalion, attached to the 2nd Battalion on the Le Touret Memorial for that day and battle (CWGC Link). One of those is in Plot 7 Row K Grave 14. We can't tell if the other 2nd Lieutenant is in 7.K.13 as they also lost Captain Knox, also listed on Le Touret as missing. No Majors were killed.  In total the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment lost 157 men on the 19-20 October 1914 in France, 145 of which are on the Le Touret Memorial. A number of those, but certainly not all, are in the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, having arrived there by way of the Fournes German Cemetery.

 

2ngdey7igvadblr6g.jpg

Edited by laughton
Laing not Lang or Land.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60

      The service file for Laing is interesting.  His father, Sinclair Laing, 5 Mount Ephraim Road, Tunbridge Wells made numerous enquiries and some reports were forwarded from War Office from news coming from British POWs in Gremany

 

28 th November 1914-   Reports from survivors to family were that he was last seen with Lt. Jackson, when they were surrounded by the enemy  (Could Laing and Jackson be the 2 officers together??)

 

15th March 1915-  WO forwards report from german officer prisoner that Lt Laing was seen in charge of a machine gun in a house at Le Prilly,which was holding them up. Laing was directing fire from an upper window. The MG was causing much trouble and when it's location was identified, it was promptly shelled and building blown to pieces, causing several British fatalities.- House blown to pieces with first artillery shot

 

    Report relayed by Capotain (?), 2RIR, Princes Hospital, Boulogne, 6th February 1915

 

June 1915-  WO forwards 2 letters from British POWs.  Corporal Doyle-  5th June 1915- Laing had been hit in stomach during attack and Doyle had bandaged him

 

 

Service file for Tandy shows he was not with Laing when killed.

    A letter in his service file from Captain J.A.Smethwick.  Was with him when unit attacked in the morning. Killed by bullet through neck- paralysed and died instantly.

       Smethwick was writing from POW camp at Crefeld, 18th December 1914.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wexflyer

So, three completely different accounts of how Lt. Laing died...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
11 hours ago, Wexflyer said:

So, three completely different accounts of how Lt. Laing died...

 

     Yes-  War is not noted for accurate reporting. Particularly by those involved. 

          Accounts that Laing had been seen with another officer, Jackson, are consistent with the  the  account of Corporal Doyle.  Accounts from British survivors are from those who were not captured- thus, a time lag when anybody still in the British lines had seen him. Doyle was captured-and, as a Regular, his identification of  Laing and his death is both near contemporaneous and given from captivity in Germany. Doyle had further said that he knew the exact map reference where Laing had died but could not give it, as a POW, for obvious reasons-The file gives no evidence that Doyle was chased after the war for his information.

     The alleged German account is the unreliable one- That a German officer could identify someone from a sufficient distance away that it needed shelfire to blast it-and someone he did not know either- is not credible.

Edited by voltaire60

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
micks

Buried in grave I.J.18 at Rue - Petillon Military Cemetery is another Lieutenant from the Royal Irish Regiment who was originally buried at 36.T.5.a.60.85.  ( Le Pilly )

 

The issue of miss identification has arisen so many times that for my part I would not present a report to the CWGC where the linchpin for the case is the rank.

 

Mick

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

It appears this case now goes into the HOLD or ABANDON folder, unless additional information comes to the surface.

 

Mick's reference to the 3rd Lieutenant (unknown) in Rue-Petillon certainly kills this case. That is supported by the presence of Pte Dempsey,

on the same COG-BR that was KIA 19 October 1914, recovered at the same location. Since only two (2) Lieutenants are named on the Le Touret Memorial, that means that one of the rank identifications is incorrect. It appears that the two in Cabaret Rouge were identified by "stars" (shoulder?) in Rue-Petillon by a "badge" (cuff?).

 

doc2148525.JPG

 

I am missing something here with Jackson, who is that? I don't see a missing Jackson?

 

On 12/7/2017 at 15:47, voltaire60 said:

28 th November 1914-   Reports from survivors to family were that he was last seen with Lt. Jackson, when they were surrounded by the enemy  (Could Laing and Jackson be the 2 officers together??)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60

   Hi- I quoted the officer file- the Jackson  last seen with Laing was a survivor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

It would appear that the only way this case could ever be resolved would be if there was additional information from the Fournes German Cemetery. If this is the same cemetery, it appears to still be in existence (YouTube v=G8IkglmyDig)

 

A note about that day was found on this site: http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armyunits/britishinfantry/rir.htm

Quote

2nd Battalion at La Bassee, 20th Oct 1914

The 2nd battalion, stationed at Devonport in August 1914, were in the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division. They landed at Boulogne on 14th Aug and were to spend the whole war in France and Flanders. The battalion was virtually destroyed near Le Pilly during the battle of La Bassee on 20th Oct 1914. Many of them were taken prisoner but a German officer later reported that hardly an unwounded man of the 2nd Royal Irish survived, whilst several hundred, all dead, were found in the main trench. Those that survived were transferred as Army Troops to Lines of Communication. The reconstituted battalion was put into the 12th Brigade of the 4th Division in March 1915, then the 11th Brigade, 4th Div, then the 22nd brigade, 7th Div and finally in Oct 1916, the 49th Brigade of the 16th Div.

 

In the case of the Lieutenant in the Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, I assume that reference to the "Badge of Rank" meant something like this: (Wikipedia - Officer insignia of rank as worn on the sleeves in the World War I period)

 

Would that be the same for the two that were found in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery? Did they wear stars anywhere else than on the cuff in October 1914?

 

220px-British_officer_rank_ww1.pnglt.jpg

 

 

Edited by laughton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
micks

Laughton

 

There is something of a grey area here.

 

In 1914 many of the officers in British regiments were wearing cuff rank. But there are some exceptions as well such as the Guards Regiments.

 

After 1914 it became more common to have your rank insignia on the shoulders. However cuff rank was still in use until the end of the war.

 

 

 

Mick

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
On 1/21/2018 at 13:02, laughton said:

In the case of the Lieutenant in the Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, I assume that reference to the "Badge of Rank" meant something like this: (Wikipedia - Officer insignia of rank as worn on the sleeves in the World War I period)

 

Would that be the same for the two that were found in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery? Did they wear stars anywhere else than on the cuff in October 1914?

 

       What I find intriguing about identification is the (almost) assumption that everybody killed was wearing full uniform-and that it survived intact. What remains that were dug up in 1922 or thereabouts were  hardly likely to be up to parade ground inspection at Aldershot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
micks

Voltaire

 

 

This issue has been discussed recently on the forum but it an important one.

 

From reading reports on the recovery process after the war and having conducted extensive research through the burial returns it is evident that there are significant errors. This is why it is important for us to be exceptionally selective in the reports which we submit. If we don't the MoD may be forced to except cases which could be proven to be incorrect at a later date.

 

 

 

Mick

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
5 hours ago, micks said:

Voltaire

 

 

This issue has been discussed recently on the forum but it an important one.

 

From reading reports on the recovery process after the war and having conducted extensive research through the burial returns it is evident that there are significant errors. This is why it is important for us to be exceptionally selective in the reports which we submit. If we don't the MoD may be forced to except cases which could be proven to be incorrect at a later date.

 

 

 

Mick

 

 

 

 

   Hi Mick- This is not intended as a criticism of the efforts in any way-just the reality of the war against the  ideals of the finessed ends of regimental kit and badges. Accounts of bits of body in trees, etc. don't square with  officer kit not being in parade ground order. I realise fully that this makes the process a lot more problematic and the need for groundwork that more problematic still.  Thus, I am always willing to look up the officer files for any potential ID candidate-sometimes they have useful details  which-ironically-can be tracked down and verified more easily in our electronic age of digitised information that by any number of army clerks or GRU teams then. The average plugged-in researcher now has more information through his keyboard available in minutes than the mechanical grind of manual files a century ago.

 

      There is still one more potential source aiding ID and what happened to particular officers-that is, the POW reports in WIO161-which may (although unlikely) contain some details of the actions in which the fellow officers of returning POWs  disappeared. I am not at all sure that these records have been searched and there is still some spadework to do in ascertaining exactly what records have survived. In particular, the returning POW debrief reports seem rather light for officers -and there is the possibility that problem accounts may-just possibly-have been retained.  I have not seen WO 161 materials mentioned in regard to any potential case to MOD  but it is a possible further source.Those officer files that do have enquiries in them show that the military authorities were quite thorough in interviewing wounded men of the same unit and some returning POWs.

   

(My passing interest in this is quite personal. My late father grew up in Devonport between the two wars-and knew casually one of the Royal Marines lost in Operation Frankton-the Cockleshell Raid. Apart from considering that it's leader-Hasler, was a complete liability and not a hero for wasting the lives of his men, Dad also expressed his unease that there were not known graves for most of these men  due to the German policy of Nacht und Nebel. Thus, any help I can chip in by looking at stuff at Kew is a task undertaken willingly) 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
micks

Voltaire

 

No offence was taken. My comment was intended as a warning to us all to conduct this research in the true spirit of historic research and not to be driven by the desire for personal success.

 

Yes, the records contained at Kew are potentially a very important source of information. Although the vast majority of the service records for British offices were weeded out in the 1930's there still are some great finds.

 

In 2015 I presented a case to the CWGC regarding the remains of a Lieutenant of the RAMC who is buried in Hooge Crater Cemetery.I accessed the service recorded of Lieutenant J.G.Butt and was amazed by the content of the document. Photographs, letters from both British and German servicemen who were with him on the 29th October 1914 and which provided evidence of were he was killed. These become very important elements in the case.

 

 

Mick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Loader

It may add to further problems in cases but I seem to recall reading that some officers took to wearing enlisted mens' tunics in the trenches as the Germans were singling them out for snipers due to the cut of their officer uniforms. May not have been many doing thi, don't know but always a possibility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

I can confirm that was the case. My grandfather (26th Northumberland Fusiliers) reported in his letters home that he wore OR kit and carried a Lee Enfield (not his pistol) on many occasions in the trenches. Too many of the officers had been sniped.

Edited by laughton
spelling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×