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laughton

Unknown Australian "Buried Near this Spot" at Pozieres

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laughton

22 June 2019 Update Notice:

The content of this topic has changed since it was first created. What started out as a possible "Buried Near this Spot" has now expanded to include the identification of one other man at the same location, for which the grave is known. Thus we are now dealing with two Australian men buried in the Serre Road Cemetery No.2 :

 

 

We do know that Private Wilkinson is in Plot 21 Row F Grave 16 but we do not know whether Lance Corporal Fraser's remains are in Plot 21 or Plot 22. It is more likely he is in Plot 21 as there are identification clues for all the men buried in Plot 22. Further investigation is ongoing!

 

Not exactly sure how the CWGC would handle this type of situation. To me, one of these gravestones should be changed to a "Special Memorial C - Buried near this spot".

 

Eleven (11) Australian Soldiers were found near Pozieres at 57d.X.5.b.22.24. I almost gave it up until I realized that it was no "A.5" but "X.5" so just a bad key on the typewriter. These are related to action around 25-26 July 1916. The corresponding McMaster Map is [Albert] 57d.

 

Included within the grave with the 11 bodies was a disc marked "W. Fraser". He is one of four (4) that are missing during the war (CWGC Link).

 

Is it coincidence that there was a Lance Corporal William Fraser #3746 missing and dated 26 July 1916? He was with the 1st Australian Pioneers and they were most definitely at that location on that date.

 

It would be a requirement, if this was to go further, to prove that it was not one of the other three that are missing. I have not taken that step at this time.

 

doc2618677.JPG

 

This is the rest of them on the prior page, from which we can get the date:

 

doc2618676.JPG

 

And the corresponding war diary, not from Ancestry, so we can post it here:

 

5084560.JPG

 

Edited by laughton
added update notice at top of post 22 June 2019

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laughton
21 hours ago, laughton said:

It would be a requirement, if this was to go further, to prove that it was not one of the other three that are missing. I have not taken that step at this time.

 

Private FRASER, WILLIAM

Service Number 3687

Died 05/07/1916

25th Bn. 7th Brigade 2nd Division
Australian Infantry, A.I.F.

 

I am having trouble with Private William Fraser #3687 as the 25th Battalion (2nd Division, 7th Brigade) was still in Belgium at Red Lodge on 5 July 1916 (war diary link). The number of men killed on that date in the 25th Battalion was not large and they are listed by name (i.e. Pte William Ford), which does not include William Fraser #3687, although his number and affiliation is correct (Embarkation Roll). They did not arrive at the Brickfields at Albert (57d.W.22) until 26 July 1916. The man that are killed on that date from the 25th Battalion are buried in Belgium. THey made their first attack in France on the night of 28 July 1916 near Pozieres.

 

If the date of his death is reported incorrectly, it is possible that he was in the correct area where the remains were found, but a week after the other men buried in the same grave. I will get in touch with Dennis Frank at Fallen Diggers in Australia and see if he can help me out.

Private FRASER, WALTER

Service Number 6809

Died 19/05/1918

Aged 33

22nd Bn. 6th Brigade 2nd Division
Australian Infantry, A.I.F.

 

Private Walter Fraser was in the vicinity of the Heilly Chateau at 62d.K.7.a.3.0 so he is excluded by date and location (war diary link).

Private FRASER, WILLIAM GEORGE

Service Number 6017

Died 11/04/1917

Aged 25

15th Bn. 4th Brigade 4th Division
Australian Infantry, A.I.F.

 

Private William George Fraser  was near Noreuil at 57c.C.10.c.1.2 so he too is excluded by date and location (war diary link).

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spof

Richard

 

Try 3746 William Fraser of the 1st Pioneer Battalion.

 

His Red Cross Wounded & Missing file shows him being killed on the 26th near Pozieres as does the Roll of Honour circular completed by his mother.

 

I'm having problems accesing his service record at the moment but if you go to the Australian Archives Recordsearch and select Namesearch you should be able to find him when their servers start responding again.

 

Glen

 

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laughton

Glen:

 

That is the fellow I pinpointed in my first post on this topic. In the second post I am just doing the due diligence to eliminate the others and I can not resolve William Fraser #3687.

 

Richard

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DennisF73

Spof is correct he was killed in Flers on the 5th of November.

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laughton

Okay, thanks! I will send in a correction to the CWGC independent of the other Fraser find (done). That places him just west of Le Sars in 57c.M.17, an area well known from our earlier work on Lieutenant Eaves (maps and details here).

 

That takes him off the list, as he was not in the area where the remains were recovered and the date does not match.

 

So in the end all the "Other Fraser's" are off the list and our man is Lance Corporal William Fraser #3746.

4921437.JPG

Edited by laughton
sent to CWGC "done"

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laughton

Checked today to make sure none of the candidates are on a SPECIAL MEMORIAL - negative (CWGC Link).

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laughton

There were a few other interesting leads on the two COG-BR documents for this group, one of which had some linkage that @Becstar may be able to sort out, if there is a "relationship" between the two men.

 

The man in 21.F.16 had a disc that was marked 4333 and was found at the same location. There was only one of the five Australians, with that number, that were lost in France (CWGC Link). His name was Private Edward Henry Wilkinson #4333 who killed at the correct time of 24 July 1916 and is listed as missing on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial. The 2nd Battalion was at that location. Battalion H.Q. was at 57d.X.4.c.5.2, near the main road on the SE entrance to the village of Pozieres (war diary page 6 of 20). As the COG-BR depicts (2nd form in 1st post) the man was somehow linked to a T. Hunter #505 of the 10th Bn A.I.F. This Serjeant (Thomas) was alive a the time of Wilkinson's death, but dead on 31 July 1916 in Northamptonshire. U.K (Service Record). That record (page 5) show he was wounded on the 25th (G.S.W. Back) and invalided to England. It could be that his kit, with his groundsheet, was left behind and used in the burial of Private Wilkinson. This is why you never use a groundsheet to identify a set of remains!

 

If you read further in that war diary, you will see one of the most fascinating stories that I have seen in a war diary, complete with very artistic sketches. It starts on page 14 of 20 and here are the pages in what is reported as an extract from Brigadier General Nevill Smyth's Battle Diary (AWM Link to Smyth). Note that the main part of the story is about the RUNNER from the 2nd Battalion (Wilkinson's unit) and they are on the southeast entrance to the Village of Pozieres:

 

5087532.JPG 5087536.JPG
5087534.JPG 5087535.JPG
5087536.JPG

Here are some of the trench map coordinates to go along with the story:

  • the "X" is near a place marked as "Gibraltar" which the index tells us is at 57d.X.4.c.7.4
  • the "Windmill" in the upper right corner of the sketch is 57d.R.35.c.9.3, so in the sector directly about 57d.X.5
  • I have yet to place the church
  • the burial location where the group of men were found is about 800 yards due south of the windmill, due east of the centre of the village, about where it says "not to scale"

The 1st Brigade Commander sent out 2 runners to the front line at the church ruins. Reinforcements had to run the gauntlet at the point where the "X" is marked.

 

It was about here 30 Australians and Germans were killed. Both runners were killed, but the 2nd held up the message as he fell. That message was picked up by the next group and successfully delivered.

 

It was clear the man was a runner from the 2nd Battalion, as he wore the violet and green insignia and a red band as a runner.

 

Sleeves of the 1st Brigade men were rolled up above the elbow so they could be recognized at night.

 

Are these men in the Pozieres British Cemetery the men that are referenced in this story?

 

Do we now know that two of the men were Fraser and Wilkinson?

Edited by laughton
correct Fraser/Wilkinson links

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Howard

< I have yet to place the church >

 

This is part of an undated 1:5000 map (basemap dated just 1916) marked "Secret No. 10". Full map here.

 

It shows a church at X.4.a.95.05

 

Howard

Pozieres5K.jpg

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Becstar

Richard, that’s a brilliant read.. quite in awe reading the extract from the ‘battle diary’.

I’ll have to look for a record of a man telling his mates before he died that the bomb in his hand was about to go off (he was shot as he was going to throw it), one of his mates took it from him & threw it.. he saved his mates. I print stuff off like that, things like that just amaze me.

 

Quite late here so I’ll have a look tomorrow to see if I can find any linkage re the above. 

 

 

 

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Becstar
3 hours ago, Howard said:

< I have yet to place the church >

 

This is part of an undated 1:5000 map (basemap dated just 1916) marked "Secret No. 10". Full map here.

 

It shows a church at X.4.a.95.05

 

Howard

Pozieres5K.jpg

 

Brilliant find! Sheesh that’s close to location of remains found. 

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laughton
1 hour ago, Becstar said:

telling his mates before he died that the bomb in his hand

 

He was a runner, he had a note (message) in his hand - or I missed something! Thanks to Howard for the church - can now see it on my trench map but not as clearly.

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Becstar
8 hours ago, laughton said:

 

He was a runner, he had a note (message) in his hand - or I missed something! Thanks to Howard for the church - can now see it on my trench map but not as clearly.

Sorry Richard, I didn’t explain that too well (late night ramble!). The record I came across is a different one. 

I’ll have a look for the record I found about the man with the bomb & post 😄  What you posted is a rare gem, amazing to read. 

Edited by Becstar

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laughton

Thanks Bec, now that makes sense.

 

I have added an update note to the very first post in this topic, almost a year after the topic started. Where does the time go?

 

Now that there are two men known to be in this cemetery, the question becomes "How do we tell if Fraser is in Plot 21 or Plot 22"? As there is some form of clue to the identifications of all of the men in Plot 21 Row F, it would suggest that Lance Corporal Fraser must be in Plot 22 Row A, so it is there that the "one of the markers" should read "Fraser - Buried Near this Spot".

 

Here is what we know about the eleven (11) men that they found in this group, all recovered at 57d.X.5.b.00.24:

 

Plot Row Grave Identification Possible Clues
21 F 13 Unknown Australian

disc # -6-- Orr---

- there are three (3) men that contain both of those requirements (CWGC Link)

- likely candidate Pte. James McEwan Morrison (1st Bn)

- details in Red Cross Wounded and Missing File

- actual date of death not clear 22-25 July

- shot by sniper in shell hole with prisoner in No Man's Land, perhaps buried by shell

21 F 14 #3419 McInerney

identified by disc

- 10th Bn

- no details in his Red Cross Wounded and Missing File

21 F 15 #2120 Clemments

disc

- 9th Bn

- no Red Cross Wounded and Missing File

21 F 16 Unknown

disc #4333

- now our candidate is #4333 Wilkinson (2nd Bn)

- buried by shell in front line trenches as in Red Cross Wounded and Missing File

- with Pte. Colin Hood (2nd Bn), also noted in his Red Cross Wounded and Missing File

21 F 17 Unknown Australian Soldier

Title: -7

If that means "7th Bn." there are 57 of this period, of which:

- 3 in Serre Road Cemetery No. 2

- 8 in Pozieres British Cemetery

- 35 on the Pozieres Memorial

22 A 1 Unknown Australian Soldier

5th Bn. A.I.F., -4---- on mess tin, ignore any reference to groundsheets, 42 candidates

- 6 in Serre Road Cemetery No. 2 (CWGC Link)

- 5 in Pozieres British Cemetery

- 25 men of the 5th Bn. on the Pozieres Memorial with a "4" in number (CWGC Link)

22 A 2 Unknown Australian Soldier  
22 A 3 Unknown Australian Soldier  
22 A 4 Unknown Australian Soldier  
22 A 5 Unknown Australian Soldier  
22 A 6 Unknown Australian Soldier  

 

 

Edited by laughton
added links to RCWM files

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