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laughton

Lieutenant, Royal Munster Fusiliers

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laughton

There is an UNKNOWN LIEUTENANT of the Royal Munster Fusiliers buried in Plot 2 Row H Grave 1 at the Ste. Emilie Valley Cemetery, Villers-Faucon. Please note the error in the trench map coordinates where it says 52c instead of 62c. There is no map 52c.

 

There is also no grave known as 2.H.1 but GRRF 2044423 does show an unknown British Lieutenant of the RMF in 1.H.15. Lance Corporal Hold, listed in 1.H.14 on the same COG-BR is on the GRRF immediately above the RMF Lieutenant. The Cemetery Plan confirms there is no such grave.

 

The CWGC tells the history of this cemetery as follows:

Quote

Villers-Faucon was captured by the 5th Cavalry Division on 27 March 1917, lost on 22 March 1918, and retaken by the III Corps on 7 September 1918. On the site of this cemetery at the Armistice, there were three large graves of Commonwealth soldiers buried by the Germans, which now form part of Plot I. The remainder of the cemetery is composed almost entirely of graves brought in from an older cemetery of the same name or from the battlefields. A large proportion of these concentrated graves were those of soldiers of the 16th (Irish) Division who died in March 1918. Ste. Emilie Valley Cemetery contains 513 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. 222 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 21 casualties believed to be buried among them.

 

The cemetery will be familiar to those following the case of Captain Crofton, 6th Bn. Connaught Rangers, as that case is "on hold" as we try to determine if that unknown officer could be 2nd Lt. H. V. Moore, who has a Special Memorial "B" (believed to be buried) in the Ste. Emilie Valley Cemetery. He was a Connaught Ranger as well but attached to the 48th Trench Mortar Battery. There may be a coincidental important link between these two cases, as the war diary (page 27 of 69 Feb-May 1918) of the 2nd Bn RMF refers to a 2nd Lt. J. F. Nash, who was also attached to the 48th TMB. This may enable us to pinpoint the location of 2nd Lt. Moore, thus confirming Crofton.

 

There are only two (2) Lieutenants of the RMF missing in this period, both on 21 March 1918, thus listed on the Pozieres Memorial:

 

 

The two war diaries allow us to separate these two Lieutenants, placing Lt. Kidd near Epehy (62c.E.6 & 62c.F.1) and Lt. Donnelly near Ste. Emilie (62c.E.24 & 62c.F.19). That is a separation distance of approximately 2,000 yards. The main German assault was coming from the area of Lempire (62c.F.15), north west to Epehy and south west to Ste. Emilie.  It was just outside Lempire that Captain Crofton of the 6th Bn. CR met the enemy in Ronssoy Woods (62c.F.15). These are the applicable war diaries for those with Ancestry access:

 

  • 1st Battalion (Lieutenant Donnelly) - near Ste. Emilie facing the Germans from Lempire to the north east
  • 2nd Battalion (Lieutenant Kidd) - near Malassie Farm (62.F2.c.5.0) between Epehy and Lempire

 

The remains were found at 62c.F.19.c.5.3 on the south east border of St. Emilie. That would suggest that the remains recovered are more likely to be those of Lieutenant Gilbert Donnelly. What I have yet to determine is whether that location was a battlefield burial site or the site of the original St. Emilie cemetery that is referenced in the CWGC history. COG-BR 2044514 suggests that the location of the original cemetery was at 62c.F.19.c.3.2, whereas COG-BR 2044517 suggests a location closer to the community at 62c.E.24.c.9.3. The importance of this relates to whether the remains were found on the battlefield, which would eliminate Lt. Kidd. If they were from an old cemetery, then we would need to determine if Lt. Kidd did originally have a known burial location.

 

doc2044523.JPG

 

cvfadrfco998zaz6g.jpg

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laughton

The following is relevant information that I could extract from the war diaries of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, Royal Munster Fusiliers. The “Long, Long Trail” tells us that the 1st Battalion was in the 47th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division, whereas the 2nd Battalion was in the 48th Brigade, having been transferred to the 16th (Irish) Division on 3 February 1918. The results of the March 1918 events would lead to the 1st Battalion absorbing the surplus troops from the 2nd Battalion on 19 April 1918, after the 2nd Battalion was reduced to cadre.

The following is not a verbatim transcription and may contain errors related to my interpretation of what some hazy parts of the 1st Battalion war diary appeared to report. The purpose of this review was to determine if there was any information to suggest separation of the remains of Lieutenants Donnelly and Kidd at their time of death. I have also added trench map coordinates (TMC) and my comments to the summary.

 

1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers (RMF) - Lieutenant Donnelly

 

The war diary of the 1st Battalion (47th Brigade, 16th “Irish” Division) is difficult to read, as it is handwritten and the ink is very faded in parts. Enhancing the text allows me to create a summary of events:

  • At 4:30 am on 21 March 1918 the battalion took up their battle positions in the posts around Ste. Emilie (so that is in the vicinity of TMC 62c.E.24.a). There were a number of casualties from the gas and shelling.
  • It appears to say that around 11 am, the battalion received information that the enemy had occupied Lempire (TMC 62c.F.16.a) and Basse-Boulogne (TMC 62c.F.22.a). The battalion was to counter-attack, along with the Connaught Rangers. It appears to say that they were to hold the BROWN LINE (no coordinates provided) in anticipation of the enemy’s expected advance.
  • At 5 pm the enemy did attack in great force and continued to do so until 9 pm, after which the enemy fell back and it remained quiet the remainder of the night.
  • At 5 am on the 22nd the enemy artillery bombardment continued. At 6 am the enemy attacked in great force, which continued to 11 am. Heavy casualties are reported, but I cannot make out whether that was to the RMF or the enemy, or both.
  • The RMF started to a fall back at 11 am, company by company, as they covered their retirement. It appears the enemy had reached Roisel (TMC 62c.K.16).
  • At 3 pm on the 22nd it appears the enemy was coming around the right of the RMF, at which time orders came from Division that the whole line was to fall back to the GREEN LINE at Tincourt (TMC 62c.J.23). They had suffered heavy casualties and were now in reserve at Tincourt.Wood. The battalion strength was now 7 Officers and 450 men, out of 24 Officers and 950 men on the morning of 21 March 1918.
  • Appendix 1 of the war diary gives the casualties for the period 21-22 March 1918, where it reports Lieutenant Donnelly and 2nd Lieutenant Fullin (5th Bn. attd. 1st Bn.) killed, both of which are listed on the Pozieres Memorial. In addition, there were 3 Captains wounded and 3 missing, along with 3 Second Lieutenants wounded and 2 missing. It would appear Donnelly was the only Lieutenant casualty.

 

2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers (RMF) - Lieutenant Kidd

 

Fortunately this document, although handwritten, is very clear for the 2nd Battalion (48th Brigade, 16th “Irish” Division). It is also fortunate that the diary for the 21st onward is available, as the 1st to 20th March 1918 is missing. This is the summary of the main points:

  • The long expected enemy offensive started on Thursday 12 March 1918. The 2nd Bn RMF was occupying a series of positions between Epéhy (TMC 62c.F1 and Malassise Farm (62c.F.2.c.5.0). The main line, Ridge Reserve North ran from Malassise Farm to Tetard Wood to the northwest (TMC 62c.F.2.a.8.4). This is clearly shown on the trench map extract. The strong points were in Room Trench to the northeast (TMC 62c.F.2.c to 62c.F.3.a).
  • Lieutenant W. S. Kidd was the “D” Coy Commander, holding a portion of the Ridge Reserve North, with portions of B” and “C” Coys.
  • The enemy bombardment started at 4:30 am, with gas shells on the British batteries and ordinary heavy shells on the trenches. It lasted for 6 hours during which a heavy while fog hung over the British positions (also believed to have been written for the 1st Battalion).
  • The right battalion of the brigade (48th) was outflanked leaving the 2nd Battalion’s right flank exposed, allowing the enemy to attack Malassise Farm from the right rear.
  • The fog had cleared by 11 am but it would appear the enemy had taken the farm and gained possession of Ridge Reserve North at that location. The enemy bombed down the trench (to the northwest) clearing out the British garrison.
  • The enemy infantry was reported advancing past Lempire along the Lempire-Epéhy road, attacking the 2nd Bn, HQ at 6 pm (which had been moved to 500 yds southwest of Epéhy around noon that day).
  • 3 Officers and 50 men held the railway cutting southeast of Epéhy, which was pounded by trench mortars, allowing the enemy to close in on the remnants of the 2nd Battalion. As darkness came the battalion retired to Epéhy.
  • On Friday 22 March 1918, orders came through for all Irish troops (I assume they mean the 16th “Irish” Division) to withdraw to Tincourt. Battalion strength had been reduced from 629 to 200.
  • Lieutenant Kidd was one of two Lieutenants reported missing after the action, along with Major Hartigan and three 2nd Lieutenants. Lieutenant Cahill and two 2nd Lieutenants were reported killed. One 2nd Lieutenant was wounded and missing and the C.O and Adjutant were both wounded (Lt. Col. Ireland and Capt. Waldegrave).
  • It is at this point that there is the report of 2nd Lt. Doorley, with a few of his men returned from their “strong point” (see above). He was accompanied by 2nd Lt. Nash, also of the 2nd Battalion RMF but attached to the 48th Trench Mortar Battery (the mentioned link to the case of Captain Crofton, 6th Bn. Conestoga Rangers). It is reported that 2nd Lt. Nash lost his gun and his team in the attack. That may mean that this was also the location of 2nd Lieutenant Moore (6th CR attd. 48th TMB), believed to be buried in the Ste. Emilie Valley Cemetery (see this post).
  • During the night of the 22nd-23rd March 1918, the battalion took up a position behind the woods at Tincourt (TMC given as 62c.J.17.b and 62c.J.18.a – I added the “J” which was missing in the war diary).
  • There is a typewritten report of 13 April 1918 attached to the 2nd Battalion war diary of March 1918. It tells of how the 2nd Munsters “ceased to exist”. It is initialled by “M.M.H”, which would be Major M. M. Hartigan, previously reported missing and now telling of his capture. He inadvertently entered a trench occupied by the Germans, which he thought was still held by his men. Lt. H. G. Wheelan and 2nd Lt. P. J. Denahy (my correction on the name) were also taken prisoner. Here the Major reports that Lieutenant W. S. Kidd was severely wounded and taken prisoner.

 

A check on the International Committee of the Red Cross (link) confirms the situation of Lt. Kidd. Perhaps of importance, those documents refer to “Lieut. (Acting Capt.) Royal Munster Fusiliers”. Would that mean that Lieutenant Kidd would have been wearing “three stars” when recovered, not “2 stars on tunic sleeve” as reported in the concentration document?

 

The fact that the Germans held Lt. Kidd as some point prior to his death raises the question as to whether he would have been in the German part of the St. Emilie Valley Cemetery. You will recall the CWGC reported that “there were three large graves of Commonwealth soldiers buried by the Germans, which now form part of Plot I”. A review of the GRRF documents shows Plot 1 contains the following men of the RMF (xth Bn.):

  • 1.A.13 McMahon 6714 (1st), Neill 18188 (2nd “C”), Gooch 10463 (1st)
  • 1.C.7: Darcy 5095 (1st)
  • 1.C.12: Hanlon 4061 (1st), Cooney 4149
  • 1.D.5: O’Brien 4017 (1st)
  • 1.F.5: O’Reilly 3329 (1st)
  • 1.F.6: Walsh 5969 (1st)
  • 1.F.10: UNKNOWN
  • 1.H.2: Shaw 15206 (1st)
  • 1.H.5: Copeland 5108 (1st)
  • 1.H.15: UNKNOWN LIEUTENANT “R. M. Fus.”

 

The above list shows that all the named men of the RMF, except Private Neill, are listed by the CWGC as being of the 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers. The GRRF 2044144 lists that McMahon, Neill and Gooch were all buried together (with 9 others) and that the RMF boys were all 1st Battalion. That raises the question as to whether Private Neill was really 2nd Battalion. Logical theory would suggest that the group buried by the Germans was all 1st Battalion, all taken and buried by the Germans after the battle near Ste. Emilie. The corollary to that theory would be that the “Unknown Lieutenant” was Lieutenant Gilbert Donnelly.

 

Perhaps it is time to see if we can locate Lieutenant / Acting Captain Kidd in one of the other nearby cemeteries, closer to Epéhy.

Edited by laughton
typo

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voltaire60

 Hi- I had a chance to look at the officer files for both Donnelly and Kidd at The National Archives, Kew yesterday.  Both are useful-the report for Donnelly below is the only useful information in the file-but it gives a very precise location from a reliable witness.  Hope that helps

 

      The information for Kidd is much more extensive-and I will post that in a little while, to keep the posts as separate as possible. I think it is possible to crack both these officers.

    Best wishes

 

Mike

   V60

 

     PS-   I should add that for both Kidd and Donnelly it appears that a number of men of RMF were interviewed on return from Germany as POWs. I have not had a chance to look at the debrief reports on returning POWs in WO 161 to see what there is for RMF-especially the named witnesses for these officers-a but I am happy to do so if it will possibly add to confirm identification

 

LIEUTENANT GILBERT DONNELLY, ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS      WO 339/ 47043

  File contains statement by Micahel Dooley, 7313, Sergeant RMF,  dated 13th March 1919

     (Statement was made on 28th January 1919)

 

    “I  actually saw Lieut. G.Donnelly, Royal Munster Fusiliers, dead about 400 yards in front of St.Emily on the 21st March 1918. On the Ephy and Dronsoi Front on 21st March 1918, as we were holding the 3rd Line (Brown Line) and Lieut. Donnelly who was at the time commanding my company was shot through the head and killed . I knew Lieut. Donnelly well-as a prisoner of war I was one of the party detailed to bury the dead and saw him buried close to St.Emily.

 

(Another note of no consequence from another man, says Lieut Donnellly was about 5’7”, dark complexion and was known as “Charlie Chaplin”)

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voltaire60

   Below is the guts of the officer file for Lt W.S.Kidd-which is very informative. It suggests that he died in the British lines, at the RMF position on 21st March 1918-which should be identifiable with some precision. Statements suggest strongly that his body was not subsequently moved but buried pretty much where he died.   I do not know if exhumation reports or concentration reports exist for either/both of these officers (Have not looked as yet)  but the info. may help. Info. for both Kidd and Donnelly  gives pretty precise locations for burial, so I am hopeful these officers may be cracked. Kidd seems the more likely.  I will have a go at WO161 on my next visit to Kew,as it is a series I have not much used.

     Let me know if any clarification is needed or any other possible look-ups that might assist with this. The original docs. in the files can be photographed if required for CWGC

 

   Pip,pip

         Mike

Voltaire 60

 

CAPTAIN  W.S. KIDD, ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS          WO339/ 26515

 

   He is listed in Captain Ainsworth’s List of POWs- as wounded and POW. Authority for this was information from Major  M.M. Hartigan, RMF, also  POW. Date of report not given.

   Query note from Casualties Branch attached, asking for more details to confirm, dated, 31st July 1918

Place of death given in file as Malassia Farm, near Epehy.

Statements in file   from:

 

PRIVATE  VAUGHAN, 2nd ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS,  signed off at 30th January 1919.

“On the 21st March 1918 I saw Capt. Kidd before the enemy attacked. When I next saw him he was lying wounded in the head. He spoke to me and told me to go forward with the Company

    After I was captured I was working behind the German lines and I saw Capt. Kidd lying dead, his boots and breeches had been taken off. I rolled an oil cloth and blanket around him and buried him”

  Statement given at the Special Military Surgical Hospital, Blackrock-signed off by officer witness.

 

PRINTED FORM- EVIDENCE AS TO OFFICERS OR MEN ON MISSING LISTS

       Information from 4394 Private T.-------(name unclear), RMF (A Forum member will identify from service number)

     Seen dead at Malssia Farm. Stripped naked. His eye glasses were on him. Date given as 22nd March 1918

    Signed off at 3rd February 1919

 

LETTER FROM 18199 SERGEANT KERRIGAN, RMF,   (D Company, 2RMF)

     Kidd was killed by a shell at about 11 a.m. on 21st March 1918

 

LETTER FROM MAJOR M.M.HARTIGAN

    States that his information about Kidd is based on conversations with German officers after he was captured, from which he presumed that Kidd  had been mortally wounded  and probably died on the field, 21st March 1918.

      Letter signed off at 27th January 1919.

PRINTED (INK DUPLICATOR)  SHEET OF UPDATES ON MISSING OFFICERS

    Information from 6276 Private J. Bateman, 2 RMF- saw dead body of Capt. Kidd lying on the roadway at Malassia Farm.. Kidd was not disfigured but his boots and a portion of his clothing had been taken.

      Information dated 16th January 1919.

 

PRIVATE R.VAUGHAN

    “Lt Kidd was killed early in the morning of Mar 22nd at Molassia Farm, near Ephy, being hit by a sniper’s bullet. I saw him fall. Later I was  taken prisoner and formed one of the burying party some 12 or 14 days after on the ground. I helped bury his body on the spot where he fell”

   Statement dated 21st December 1918

 

[Ainsworth’s List is identified as that by Captain W.S.Ainsworth, 15th Sherwood Foresters, at Scheveningen,Holland, of 21st April 1918]

 

 

 

 

Edited by voltaire60
spelllin as ussul

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voltaire60

 There are 2 cards for Kidd on ICRC Prisoners, both listing "Negatif Envoye", the second being of 27th May 1918- which accounts for the Casualties Branch query re. info (unreliable) from Major Hartigan,RMF

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laughton

Great work Mike!

 

The fact that you have information confirming the burial location for each of the two officers seals the case.

 

If you can obtain copies of the documents that provides the evidence you have noted above then I believe we can go forward with a report to the CWGC.

 

Although it is disappointing when a case has to be dropped, it makes it all worthwhile when ones like this come to fruition!

 

:D :D :D

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laughton

I have received a message that there is new information on Lieutenant Donnelly, however I do not at present have access to that information.

 

All we have at present is the information noted above that shows:

  • Lieutenant (Captain Kidd) at the Malassise Farm near Epehy (my TMC 62c.F.2.d.2.0)
  • Lieutenant Donnelly buried close to St. Emilie (my TMC 62c.F.19.a)

You will recall the remains were recovered at 62c.F.19.c.5.3 which is about 600 yards south of St Emilie.

 

As such, the evidence points to Lieutenant Donnelly, but with new information available (but not to me), not much I can do at the present.

Edited by laughton

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laughton

Just to link the two topics, I had not previously noticed that DONNELLY was missing in the title:

 

 

 

It would appear that he is the GREAT UNCLE of two (2) GWF members.

 

This case has been temporarily put on "hold" as another GWF member has reported that information is available, but that it cannot be put in writing at this time. I do not know what the "additional information" relates to relative to this case.

 

The earlier topic on Lieutenant Donnelly was of considerable value, as it contained a link to a site about the Royal Dublin Fusiliers at the same time (by GWF Member corisande). The LLT tells us that the 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers had been transferred to the 48th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division on 19 October 1917, thus alongside the 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers

 

That website has an excellent drawing showing the BROWN LINE.

 

http://www.dublin-fusiliers.com/battaliions/1-batt/campaigns/1918-kaisers.html

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laughton

Trapped by my own neglect.

 

The case for Lieutenant Donnelly had already been presented to the CWGC. I have no additional information as to whether the prior report dealt with the same issue of the separation of the burial locations for Lieutenant Donnelly versus A/Captain (or Lieutenant) Kidd. Although the Pozieres Memorial lists them both as Lieutenants, there was evidence that Lieutenant Kidd may have been wearing Captain's insignia and thus was excluded as a candidate, leaving only Lieutenant Donnelly. Here we felt it was important to exclude A/Captain Kidd by separation of the burial locations.

 

This case has now been moved to "Report Submitted by Others".

 

I do not know why the information about the previous report was withheld. My apologies to those that spent time on this case due to my neglect.

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voltaire60

Richard-  Your standard of "neglect" is much higher than my standard for scholarship any day of the week.

 

    Does it not have any sense in it to ask CWGC if your materials can be added to the existing claim?

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Dr.Dan

Update RE: Lieutenant Donnelly.

 

Apologies but I am a very infrequent visitor and have only now seen the recent activity on here regarding my great uncle Lieutenant Gilbert Donnelly.

Following lots of vital and very helpful information that came via a heroic member of this forum (jaykayu),  I initially contacted CWGC in July 2014 suggesting that Lieutenant Gilbert Donnellyis buried in Plot 1 Row H Grave 15 at the St. Emilie Valley Cemetery, Villers-Faucon.. A year later I then submitted a very detailed case, once I realised that they didn't look very hard for information themselves. It was a rather prolonged and bureaucratic process (my main role being the catalyst) but the case finally was looked at by the MOD adjudicator in early 2018 ... and accepted! The rededication service will take place on the 101st anniversary of his death and a new grave stone will be installed. The news was initially embargoed by MOD and only circulated to family members.

Edited by Dr.Dan

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laughton

https://www.cwgc.org/learn/news-and-events/events/2019/03/05/12/04/rededication-ceremony-for-lieutenant-gilbert-donnelly

 

Re-dedication 21 March 2019

 

Any photos?

 

 

Edited by laughton
can't spell!

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Dr.Dan
jaykayu

To quote the inscription on his new headstone 'He was lost and now found'.

 

It was a truly special event, well arranged by the CWGC and MOD JCCC. The Donnelly family's contributions to the day were very moving. Thanks to one of them, GWF member Dr.Dan for being 'the catalyst' for both the day and over the previous years.

 

Below is the spot where the Lieutenant Gilbert Donnelly and 12 other soldiers were first buried, before being moved to Sainte Emilie Valley cemetery - which can be seen in the distance.

 

 

 

839428733_20190324_132157crop.jpg.47a234090b68d75967229511dc0a291d.jpg

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Dr.Dan
On 12/01/2018 at 20:47, voltaire60 said:

 

LIEUTENANT GILBERT DONNELLY, ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS      WO 339/ 47043

  File contains statement by Micahel Dooley, 7313, Sergeant RMF,  dated 13th March 1919

     (Statement was made on 28th January 1919)

 

    “I  actually saw Lieut. G.Donnelly, Royal Munster Fusiliers, dead about 400 yards in front of St.Emily on the 21st March 1918. On the Ephy and Dronsoi Front on 21st March 1918, as we were holding the 3rd Line (Brown Line) and Lieut. Donnelly who was at the time commanding my company was shot through the head and killed . I knew Lieut. Donnelly well-as a prisoner of war I was one of the party detailed to bury the dead and saw him buried close to St.Emily.

 

(Another note of no consequence from another man, says Lieut Donnellly was about 5’7”, dark complexion and was known as “Charlie Chaplin”)

 

>>(Another note of no consequence from another man, says Lieut Donnelly was about 5’7”, dark complexion and was known as “Charlie Chaplin”)

 

This description refers to the witness, not to Lieut Donnelly.

 

Edited by Dr.Dan

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Dr.Dan

I may have been the 'the catalyst' but jaykayu was "the genius" and this forum was the medium that allowed us to cross paths.

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voltaire60
On 28/03/2019 at 08:38, Dr.Dan said:

 

>>(Another note of no consequence from another man, says Lieut Donnelly was about 5’7”, dark complexion and was known as “Charlie Chaplin”)

 

This description refers to the witness, not to Lieut Donnelly.

 

 

   I will check at Kew. :wub:

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