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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

RSM - Royal Marine Light Infantry - 1918


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Hi - new to this forum after doing some reserach on a relative of mine James Henry Crouch who enlisted into the Royal Marine Light Infantry 09/02/1917. Service number PO/1781/S


He was KIA on 31/05/1918 and is buried at Forceville in France.


I have obtained a fair bit of history on James and also downloaded the War Diaries from the National Archive.


I am after the name of the RSM who was killed alongside him. I have found this info about the details of their deaths:-


James was batman to the Regimental Sergeant-Major and during the night of 31 May 1918, while they were asleep, both men were killed by a shell. It was James' 34th birthday.

On 28 June 1918 the Western Gazette reported "Mrs JH Crouch, of 14 Gladstone Terrace, St. Michael’s Avenue, has received notification from the Record Office, Royal Naval Division, that her husband, Private James Henry Crouch of the - Royal Marine Battalion, was killed in action on May 31st. Lieutenant F Dean, writing to the bereaved widow states that Private Crouch was instantly killed by a shell on the night of May 31st whilst asleep. He was batman to the sergeant-major, who was also killed at the same time. The Commanding Officer and all ranks joined in sending their sympathy. “Your husband did good work out here,” he concludes, “and died a soldier’s death alongside his master, whom he served faithfully.”


I would like to know where the RSM is buried so I can pay my repects when I go to Forceville on what would be the 100th anniversay of their passing.


Also the term 'batman' - what is this role?


Thanks in advance

Edited by Bez
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I find 2 deaths of men buried in Forceville cemetery who died 31 May 1918.


One was indeed James Henry Crouch but the other was a Lance Corporal Walker, also RMLI in the Royal Naval Division. 


CWGC results at that link. 


I don't believe the Royal Naval Division had RSMs - Sergeant-Majors of Marines, yes - but in any case I've widened the date of death a couple of days in each direction and only found a gunner dead during the same period.


Without the Sergeant-Major's name I'm afraid you're stuck. The letter definitely says it was he who died and not the RMLI oppo?

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Ply/9333 Sgt-Major Frederick Ryland Graham.  


1st RM Bn, RN. RMLI 


died of wounds on 1st June 1918 and buired at Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt


Plot 2, Row E, Grave 26


this is your man, as the Grave Registration Report Form on the CWGC website shows the rank of ‘ RSM ‘, it was changed to Sergt Major by the IWGC as it was then on the headstone schedule 



Edited by thetrenchrat22
Miss wording of the original post
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H2 quoting from the RND Roll of Honour has the following details 


Frederick Rylands GRAHAM MSM, 1/RMLI 
Ply/9333 Regimental Sergeant Major (Acting Sergeant Major/Warrant Officer 1st Class)


That old thread also throws some light on the evolution of the rank

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Frederick GRAHAM was awarded the MSM; announced in the LG two weeks after his death.

The RND did have RSMs in their battalions: frequently a Chief Petty Officer held that position in the naval battalions.

There is an attestation pack for CROUCH at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

Edited by horatio2
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  • 3 years later...

Just to update folks - apologies for the lateness - 2 + years.

Back in 2019 managed to get over to visit James at Forceville and also Frederick Graham at Bagneux and paid my respects.


If anyone travels by motorcycle (as I do) bit of a warning getting down to Bagneux when it has rained for 3 straight days - leave the bike at the top of the track ;)


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