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Kathryn Steeman

John Smith RHA Gnr 39257

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MaxD

Sling Barracks and Bulford lie about a mile in a straight line from where I am sitting, I know the area intimately!  By coincidence, 4 RIFLES who are the descendants of the Rifle Brigade in which brother John Smith served are now stationed in Bulford, not Sling though which is a large empty space now!

 

Back to the documents:

On the casualty form, “casualty” means an event or occurrence that is to be recorded – see the list in column c, it includes casualties!

His first unit and the events on the conduct sheet were in England while training with 163 Brigade Royal Field Artillery.

First entries show him going to France in Jan 1916.

27 May 1916 he is posted to D Battery 157 Brigade RFA in a reorganisation

19 Jan to 2 Feb 1917 he is in 1st South African Field Ambulance (a mini hospital) with bronchitis - this type of unit was not necessarily static, it went where the division went.

9 Feb 1917 granted leave to 15 Feb 1917

Hospital in UK with bronchitis on leave, gets back to his unit in France on 15 Mar 1917

14 Jul 1917 another hospital admission - diagnosis PUO (pyrexia unknown origin – fever, cause not yet established)  This was No2 General Hospital in Le Havre.

Next line shows he went to No 4 Convalescent Depot (can't find it) after hospital and then when better to a base depot (Le Havre I believe) on 3 August 1917.

On 18 August 1917 he is posted from the base depot to 24 Divisional Ammunition Column (an artillery unit responsible for carting ammunition about the battlefield).

He is there for a month and then posted to D Battery 107 Brigade RFA on 10 Sep 1917

Feb 1918 granted leave 13-27 Feb 1918

29 July 1918 admitted to No 61 Field Ambulance with DAH – there are a number of medical terms abbreviated to DAH, don’t know which one this was.   Again a unit which was not static

Sent to No 5 Convalescent Hospital (Cayeux) and then on to a base depot when better on 4 Sep 1918

In October 1918 he is in 40 Stationary Hospital (Harfleur) followed by another convalescent spell with a problem with his femur.  Can’t quite read the scrawl.

November 1918 he is 285 Brigade.

His record does not, as is very common, record each and every move .

He finished his service in 285 Brigade in Feb 1919.

 

Max

 

 

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MBrockway

There was apparently also a POW camp at Ockendon.

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Kathryn Steeman

Thanks so much Max and Mark. The bit about the camps having a "Kiwi" connection is a nice surprise. Sorry my geography is pretty bad. The camps you mention that are near you Max, which direction from East End London are they?? just so I can go on the maps on FMP and see the area. My my, George Walter Smith was one continual sick puppy! Mind you the conditions were not great and of course there were no antibiotics yet! It was the secondary cause of chest infections that killed most in Flu outbreak after WW1!!   Am still reading the RB diaries.

 

Cheers

 

Kathryn in NZ

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MaxD

The Kiwi connection with Bulford is still strong.  The local primary school is called Kiwi Primary and the large kiwi cut in the chalk hills above Bulford is carefully maintained.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulford_Kiwi

 

On any map of England search "Bulford" and it is bound to appear.  Lots of images on Google.  Google earth pic attached, my house towards the bottom left1407791245_Screenshot(8).png.e70b5651b46b1639e9c604b4b043bd60.png

 

 

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Kathryn Steeman

Thanks so much Max! fantastic photo and the bit about the local primary school being called Kiwi primary is amazing. Is it a large school or a small local school? I remember reading a newspaper article about the carved Kiwi ages ago but couldn't remember where it was. The area looks a nice place to live, lots of fields and green spaces!

 

Cheers

 

Kathryn in NZ

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MaxD

I think we are getting a bit far off the Great War and the Smith brothers, I'll reply in a message to you!

 

Max

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MBrockway
On 17/06/2018 at 08:55, Kathryn Steeman said:

Sorry my geography is pretty bad. The camps you mention that are near you Max, which direction from East End London are they?? j

 

Kathryn in NZ

 

On 16/06/2018 at 14:16, MBrockway said:

 

Ockendon is in Essex on the outer fringes of London.  I'm unsure of exactly which military facility the service record refers to.  There was a large RA presence at Purfleet to the south and some KRRC and RB Reserve training battalions were at Belhus Park just to the west in 1915.

 

 

The 'East End' is the area of Inner London immediately to the east of the City of London and radiating outwards from there.

 

South Ockendon, Purfleet and Belhus Park are relatively close together and some 13 miles due east of Stepney in the East End.

 

All are easily located on Google Maps.

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Kathryn Steeman

Thanks for that Mark, I am very familiar with East End area names, Stepney, Bethnal Green, Limehouse, Shoreditch, Hoxton,Bow,Poplar as they are appearing on a lot of the birth certs and census forms I am looking at to trace my family.Good to know the name of some of the military facilities near by.

 

Cheers

 

Kathryn in NZ

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Kathryn Steeman

Hi everyone, I have been reading the 2nd Rifle brigade's war diary and have come across the term " Woolley Bears" in reference to what was being either fired at them or fired at the enemy.What does this mean??? Am also wondering if wound to my grandfather's foot may not be as dramatic as he made out to be, as he said he was shot in heel of foot. In war diary July 14th 1915 the record of that day had a comment " In the trenches one man killed by rifle fire and four wounded by accidental explosion of a hand grenade", would sound better if wound was from enemy and not because someone was a bit "butter fingers" with hand grenade! Hmm who knows

 

Cheers

 

Kathryn in NZ

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charlie962

There are several mentions in old threads on this forum such as the above

Edited by charlie962

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stiletto_33853

Kathryn,

As requested by pm the 2nd RB letter to the Chronicle 1908.

 

Andy

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stiletto_33853

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Kathryn Steeman

Thanks Charlie and Andy! The Woolley Bears was such an interesting term just had to find out what it was. ( Had visions first off of knitted teddys being thrown at each other in the trench! sorry just what first popped in head when read!) The great surprise at receiving the " New telescopic attachment" to rifles and the clarity it gave was a joy to read, as we take things like that today for granted. Even the periscopes they received to use would have made life a little easier and less deadly than having to pop your head up for a looksie!

 

So from the attached letter the ship HT Rewa went back to England at the beginning of the year, therefore it may possibly be the one that brought John Smith to India later that year??

 

Cheers

 

Kathryn in NZ

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stiletto_33853

Hi Kathryn

I think the Record of the 2nd Battalion, not the letter, might help you. The Rifle Brigade, as I am sure happened in other regiments also, had a habit of moving men around, i.e if the 1st were coming back home but the 3rd was on it's way out to a similar station the 1st might leave 80 soldiers at say Aden, Malta or wherever to be picked up by the 3rd on it's way out to it's station. The men coming home were usually those that were nearly time expired or going to the reserve.

For example re. the "Rewa" on 15th March four Sergeants, 59 Riflemen and 2 boys joined the battalion from the 1st & 4th battalions; 1 Rifleman accidentally killed on board R. T. Rewa on 28th February 1908.

On 1st October there was an exchange between Lieut. A. H. Vivian to 4th battalion and 2nd Lt. R. T. Fellowes from 3rd battalion to 2nd battalion sanctioned. One Sergeant, 2 Corporals and 40 Riflemen embarked at Karachi on H. T. Rohilla for England, to discharge, reserve etc.

15th October, a draft of 1 Sergeant, I Corporal, 100 Riflemen and 3 boys joined the battalion from the 1st battalion. 

It is possible, only possible, that John Smith was destined, for arguments sake, for the 1st, was with the 1st for a month or so and was part of the 15th October draft to the 2nd. I am afraid that the lack of a service record really hurts us to plot his movements accurately.

 

Andy

Edited by stiletto_33853

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stiletto_33853

2nd RB record for 1908

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Kathryn Steeman

Wow thanks for that Andy,that is so interesting!  I am up to July 1915 in war diary and it has mention of instructions being given about use of respirators for gas attacks and other lectures given by MO. Yes it is disappointing not to have service record but all the info you have supplied so far has been so helpful and adds depth and knowledge as to what he was possibly doing.

 

I really appreciate the Chronicle info!

 

Cheers

 

Kathryn in NZ

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stiletto_33853

The 2nd had a bit of a discipline problem in June and July 15 after being virtually wiped out at Neuve Chapelle and the once again destroyed at Fromelles on May 9th, less than two months later. You will see in the diary, and also from soldiers records that a lot of men from the other regular battalions (1st to 4th) were transferred into the 2nd to bring them up to strength. There were a few Court Martials for drunkeness along with other records showing the discontent, however this goes beyond John's time with the 2nd. Lt. - Col. Stephens (CO) was promoted during the Fromelles fiasco to Brig. - Gen., I am sure the 2nd RB missed him during being rebuilt once again.

 

Andy

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Kathryn Steeman

Yes I saw all the tallies of wounded and dead in May , so many that I was amazed my grandfather made it through. The additions of men from other units was quite numerous as you say.I saw the records for court martials as I looked through some of these originally looking for John Smith. Mind you what some saw and experienced it is no wonder some turn to drink as mental health was not something that was known a lot about.Some that were court martialled for deserting probably were suffering from shell shock or the likes. Hindsight is a grand thing but at the time the effects of trauma on the individual was not totally understood, sad really. It does help if the men have a CO whom they know and like, mind you there were so many deaths in the officers as well that promotions for junior officers would have been rapid whether they were ready for it or not!

Really enjoying the brigade letters from pre WW1 , are you able to submit some more??

 

Cheers

 

Kathryn in NZ

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Kathryn Steeman

Sorry forgot to ask before what the difference is between Sargent-Major, Colour Sargent and Sargent?? Is it just seniority or you get promoted for the amount of years of service/ good conduct ??  Just curiosity again , sorry.

 

Cheers

 

Kathryn in NZ

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stiletto_33853

1909 letter

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stiletto_33853

1909 Record

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Kathryn Steeman

Thank you so much Andy, these are as always most interesting!! I am so lucky to have access to such great information.

 

Many Thanks!

 

Cheers

Kathryn in NZ

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MaxD

Just to gladden the hearts of the black button mafia who inhabit these shores, I report a very fine concert by the Band and Bugle of The Rifles last night, blurred pic attached.  While Private John Smith may have recognised the uniforms he may well have been a tad surprised by the immaculate flute solo by a pregnant Lance Corporal.

 

Max

 

Rifles.jpg

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MBrockway

Nice one Max. Thanks for posting.

 

I saw the Band & Bugles of The Rifles myself at the Edinburgh Tattoo a couple of summer back - tremendous!

 

Mark

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stiletto_33853

Kathryn,

1910 Letter and record.

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