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Searching for unknowns in Flesquieres Hill Cemetery


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Ferguson73uk

Hello All.

 

I am looking for the possible reburial location of a Tank Corps officer who was killed on 20 November 1917. Try as I might, I cannot see a way of producing a list of unknowns on the CWGC site, specifically in Flesquieres Hill British Cemetery. I know the map reference of his initial burial but want to search the concentration returns for that map reference. Is there a quicker way than going through every burial - named and unnamed - in that cemetery please? Any advice gratefully accepted.

Jonathan

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thetrenchrat22

Hi, 

 

 

Have a look through this thread, 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

That cemetery does have both GRRF and COG-BR documents, as per this example, thus a ZIP File can be created:

 

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/336899/kaye,-/

 

Is there still an interest in that for this cemetery? I have posted many times that if anyone wants a cemetery done, just let me know. You can expedite the process by finding me any ONE burial that has a COG-BR report as shown in this example.

 

Richard from Canada

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The ZIP Files are now here:

 

Flesquieres Hill British Cemetery

 

I have not gone through them yet, but will later - there are 4 Canadians in here. There are also a lot of small cemeteries that were concentrated to this site so I will fetch their TMC (Trench Map Coordinates) from the COG-BR documents and/or the David Avery List (DAL).

 

Note that there are SPEC-EXH (Special Exhumation) documents in the GRRF and COG-BR files. I have not separated them at this time.

 

Looks like there may be some good candidates, such as the RAF man in 4.E.9, died 24 September 1918. However there were many casualties that day as part of the allied preparations for the attack on the Hindenburg Line (Henshaw page 224). He has a SPEC-EXH showing his initial burial in Abancourt 51a.M.26.d.7.0.

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Plenty of EFx (effects file/reports), Location Sheet LS (e.g. CDEW/LS/7/9037) , Enquiry Prefix file series (SL 26/12710) etc.), X/Y files, R.U. files and an SSP 4995 Burial report reference from German sources. EFx mostly in the COG-BR and the other references in the GRRF.

 

For my glossary explaining the above references (and more) click below:

https://warrecordsrevealed.com/graves-registration-commission-directorate-of-graves-registration-enquiries-i-w-g-c-record-glossary/

 

For the regiments/corps/services covered by the Prefixes (AA, CCM etc) click below:

https://warrecordsrevealed.com/key-to-ww-1-imperial-war-grave-commission-enquiry-file-prefixes-aa-ccm-cdew-hlg-ph-sl-ww/

 

Best

 

 

Justin

Edited by Justinth
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From the CWGC site to check coordinates against the DAL and COG-BR: (I put them in the list format so they are easier to work with)

 

Quote

Flesquieres village was attacked by the 51st (Highland) Division, with tanks, on the 20th November 1917, in the Battle of Cambrai, but held for a time by a German officer with a few men; it was captured on the 21st. It was lost in the later stages of the battle, and retaken on the 27th September 1918, by the 3rd Division.

  • Flesquieres Hill Cemetery was originally made by the 2nd Division, in 1918, behind a German cemetery ("Flesquieres Soldiers' Cemetery No.2"); but the German graves were removed after the Armistice to FLESQUIERES COMMUNAL CEMETERY GERMAN EXTENSION (which in its turn was removed, with 583 graves, in 1924).
  • Plots III-VIII were created on the site of the German cemetery (must be COG-BR 2149220 57c.K.23.b.5.3) and in them were reburied 688 British soldiers from the battlefields of Havrincourt, Flesquieres, Marcoing and Masnieres and from a few other burial grounds, including:-
  • ABANCOURT COMMUNAL CEMETERY GERMAN EXTENSION (Nord) ( COG-BR 2149197 51a.M.26.d.7.0), in which 38 British soldiers and four men of the Chinese Labour Corps were buried in 1917-18. (The four Chinese burials were re-buried in Ayette Indian and Chinese Cemetery).
  • HAVRINCOURT COMMUNAL CEMETERY (COG-BR 2149211 57c.K.28.b.80.95), from which four British soldiers were taken to Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension and three to Flesquieres.
  • HAYNECOURT GERMAN CEMETERY (COG-BR 2149299 51b.X.16.a.2.3), on the South side of the village, from which eight British graves were removed to Flesquieres and two to H.A.C. Cemetery, Ecoust-St. Mein, and 138 German to other cemeteries.
  • MASNIERES-CREVECOEUR ROAD CEMETERY, CREVECOEUR SUR-L'ESCAUT (DAL 57b.G.28.d.9.6), where 13 New Zealand soldiers and seven of the Devons were buried in October, 1918.
  • MASNIERES GERMAN CEMETERY (DAL 57b.G.32.b.2.2), South of Masnieres, used by the New Zealand Division for eleven burials in October, 1918.
  • RIBECOURT CHURCHYARD (must be COG-BR 2149218 57c.L.30.c.x.x also some 57c.L.30.a), in which four Canadian, one Australian and three British soldiers were buried in 1916-1917. See also COG-BR 2149304 which has four other known Canadians from October 1916 - is it the same place as it is listed as 57c.L.25.d.1.6..
  • 63RD DIVISION CEMETERY (COG-BR 2149274 57c.R.9.c.3.3), between MARCOING and Villers-Plouich, made by the Royal Naval Division at the end of 1917, which contained 41 graves.

There are now over 900, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, over one-third are unidentified and special memorials are erected to five officers and men from the United Kingdom and two from New Zealand, known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of three men of the R.N.D., buried at the end of 1917 in the 63rd Division Cemetery, Marcoing, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery covers an area of 3,797 square metres.

 

Candidates: (Keep in mind these are just "shots in the dark" to see if there are any likely candidates!)
 

  1. The RAF Officer mention above (COG-BR 2149203 SPEC-EXH 2149205) initially in grave 580 now in 4.E.9 - there may be an old list for the cemetery?
  2. A second RAF Officer initially in grave 472 from September 1918 now in 4.E.17 so we may have a 2 man crew (SPEC EXH 2149208) - 2 unknown Newfoundlanders on the page and it looks like one known.
  3. Unknown Lance Corporal of the Essex Regiment in 8.A.5 from Ribecourt on 31.12.19 at 57b.G.26.a.4.6 (COG-BR 2149229 GRRF 2254450) - would need to get a fix on a date. Check for others in the cemetery.
  4. Unknown British Corporal West Yorks / Leed Rifles with bombers badge 7.B.10 (COG-BR 2149238 GRRF 2254442)
  5. Unknown Officer (no rank) Gordon Highlanders 7.G.7 (COG-BR 2149239) - see two KNOWN of 1st Gordons bottom that page (16 Gordons in that cemetery and 9 of the 1st Battalion  - but he could be from one of the others)
  6. Unknown Serjeant of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps in 7.H.1 (COG-BR 2149249)close to Pte. Pyrke #36626 of the same regiment - 10th Bn 21 November 1917. Only ONE (1) on the Cambrai Memorial for 30 November 1917 - Serjeant Smith R/3159.
  7. Unknown 2nd Lieutenant of the Notts & Derby's in 7.H.13 (COG-BR 2149252 GRRF 2254448)
  8. Unknown Serjeant Royal Fusiliers (9th Division) in 8.G.15 (COG-br 2149255) - I don't see any in the 9th Division , must mean Bn.? Carey is on the same page from the 2nd Battalion 22 November 1917. Ten (1) Serjeants on the Cambrai Memorial but only Serjeant Johnson #8393 is from the 9th Battalion. Keep in mind these are just "shots in the dark" to see if there are any likely candidates!
  9. Lance Corporal of the 1st Gordon Highlanders with a Military Medal in 6.B.7 (COG-BR 2149264). He was identified by that Clark #888. That helps with #5 above. I have made that mistake before, not checking to see if the man was identified.
  10. Unknown British 2nd Lieutenant (COG-BR 2149273) in 5.B.27 - see also Note 7 if related?
  11. Check the UBO from the 63rd Naval Division that was changed from Boys (COG-BR 2149274). Looks like 30 December 1917 for the Drake Battalion lads in this group (CWGC Link). Looks like at least 2 Lieutenants and 3 Sub-Lieutenants on the Thiepval Memorial so no hope (CWGC Link).
  12. Unknown Officer RAF in 4.B.14 found at 57b.G.18.b.3.5 but not enough detail (COG-BR 2149294). He is about 6,000 yards due south of Cambrai and 2,500 yards east of Rumilly (McMaster Map Cambrai 57b). There is another Unknown Officer in 4.B.12 but no reference to RAF. The lad in 4.B.13 is wearing a JERKIN, as was the RAF Officer in 4.B.14 - but he was carrying linesmen's pliers. Coincidence?

 

Notes:
 

  1. Canadian in 3.A.2, William Morrison 43rd Battalion 10-10-16 (COG-BR 2149220) from RIBECOURT
  2. Unknown British Officer 3.D.5 (COG-BR 2149228) from another area of RIbecourt.
  3. Unknown British Officer in 8.C.10 - R.B.? Royal Berkshire?
  4. A lot of the UNKNOWN lads from Newfoundland which will now show on a CWGC search as Canadians.
  5. Canadian (not British) of the Fort Garry Horse in 6.A.13 (COG-BR 2149258). I can tell when they were in the area. Captain Campbell of the FGH is on the next page for 20 November 1917.
  6. There is mention of a sketch of graves of men of the Tank Corps (maybe) on COG-BR 2149273.
  7. The two Airmen of the 83 Squadron (COG-BR 2149299) were identified as Drabble and Rawley.
  8. Two more UBS CANADIAN, 10th Bn. at 51b.X.11.a-b.
  9. They did not find a body under the cross of Canadian Cpl. Crampain found at 51b.X.22.a.7.3. He is on the Vimy Memorial. Died 29th or 30th of September 1918. He might be one of the UCS in that cemetery? To be checked.
  10. I did not pick up the coordinates for the two cemeteries at MASNIERES, so I will need to take another look. Nope, not there, inserted the coordinates taken from the DAL (David Avery List). Someday another researcher will be trying to figure out the DAL code and where it came from!

 

That is the end of the first run through the COG-BR documents. Certainly there were Tank Corps men but I did not see specific mention of a Tank Corps Officer - but many Unknown Officers.

Edited by laughton
added TMC from DAL
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This is a fascinating thread and I'm learning a lot about the CWGC records which promises to be very useful in my own research.

 

However, at risk of reigniting an old debate, but I have to challenge the statement that Flesquières was "held for a time by a German officer with a few men".  This seems to hark back to the trench myth of the lone German artillery officer who stayed by his gun and knocked out tank after tank until he was killed at his post.  This was initially given credence by General Haig to explain the setback at Flesquières, and then sustained by German propagandists during the 1930s, but is now generally - I think I can say universally - discredited.

 

It's true that the German forces holding the village were very small, and it was certainly a desperate last-ditch defence, but they were made up of survivors from the 84th Infantry Regiment and two Landwehr regiments, plus reinforcements from 27th Reserve Infantry Regiment, plus assorted other units and of course the artillery.  Many officers became casualties but there were enough left to maintain control of the situation and eventually make an orderly withdrawal during the night.

 

Also just to add that Flesquières remained in British hands at the end of the battle, and was held as a salient until retaken by the Germans in the Spring offensive in March 1918.

 

Sorry to butt in, and I don't want to derail the discussion about the cemetery which is much more revealing.

 

John

Edited by johntaylor
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John:

 

That wording is a direct quote from what is on the CWGC site. I have challenged a few things in the past but the CWGC has told me that the Cemetery Registers are based on WHAT WAS WRITTEN AT THE TIME THE CEMETERY WAS OPENED and that could have been in the early 1920's to 1930's - granted there are still new cemeteries opening in our era (Fromelles).

 

I doubt that they would change the wording but you can always ask. Email to:

 

CWGC Enquiry Support Team (enquiries@cwgc.org)

 

I only use the information to find out what cemeteries were concentrated to the named cemetery and to get a general idea of what was happening in the area at the time.

 

Richard of Canada

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John:

 

That wording is a direct quote from what is on the CWGC site. I have challenged a few things in the past but the CWGC has told me that the Cemetery Registers are based on WHAT WAS WRITTEN AT THE TIME THE CEMETERY WAS OPENED and that could have been in the early 1920's to 1930's - granted there are still new cemeteries opening in our era (Fromelles).

 

I doubt that they would change the wording but you can always ask. Email to:

 

CWGC Enquiry Support Team (enquiries@cwgc.org)

 

I only use the information to find out what cemeteries were concentrated to the named cemetery and to get a general idea of what was happening in the area at the time.

 

The only one I see worthy of pursuit at this time is:

 

Unknown Serjeant of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps in 7.H.1 (COG-BR 2149249) close to Pte. Pyrke #36626 of the same regiment - 10th Bn 21 November 1917. Only ONE (1) on the Cambrai Memorial for 30 November 1917 - Serjeant Smith R/3159.

 

Richard of Canada

 

doc2149249.JPG

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You're absolutely right - this obviously reflects the view at the time, and I'm not sure there's much point in trying to get them to change it now.  There are plenty of books where this is discussed at length, including my own.

 

Thanks for the feedback, John

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I had a reply typed and I lost it when I went to answer another question! Yikes!

 

The COG-BR information shown above is incorrect where it says at the top of the "Map Reference" column that it is "57c". This is clearly  map "57b" (McMaster Map Link). We know this because the war diary tells us (page 280 of 752) that "B" Coy sent out a patrol on the 20th to the Cambrai Road at (57b) "G.26.B.3.5", which is just south of Masnieres. They later marched to the area where the remains were recovered at G.32.d and the Battalion HQ was at 57b.G.32.b.1.1. There are also numerous references to them being at "las Rues des Vignes" on 21 November 1917, which can be found at 57b.M.4.c.7.3 (war diary page 283 of 752).

 

On that basis, I believe that the men on that COG-BR were at or about here:

 

MASNIERES GERMAN CEMETERY (DAL 57b.G.32.b.2.2), South of Masnieres, used by the New Zealand Division for eleven burials in October, 1918.

 

The large number of references to remains recovered in 57c.K and 57c.L are in the adjoining squares on the immediate left (west) of 57b.G. A number of the New Zealand lads were at 57b.G.32.b.1.2 shown on COG-BR 2149250. There is also the reference to the German cross at 57b.G.27.a.8.4 (COG-BR 2149258).

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On 17/07/2018 at 14:44, laughton said:

Unknown Serjeant of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps in 7.H.1 (COG-BR 2149249) close to Pte. Pyrke #36626 of the same regiment - 10th Bn 21 November 1917. Only ONE (1) on the Cambrai Memorial for 30 November 1917 - Serjeant Smith R/3159.

 

Checking on this case to see if worth pursuing. There are eight (8) Serjeants of the K.R.R.C. on the Cambrai Memorial, including Smith of the 10th Battalion. It would be necessary to determine if any of the other battalions were in the same area, which if true, ends this case.

 

All of them are in either the 10th, 11th or 12th Service Battalions. Appears there is a good chance they were all in the area as two are in the same Brigade and all in the same Division.

  • 10th: 59th Bde. 20th (Light) Division
  • 11th: 59th Bde. 20th (Light) Division
  • 12th: 60th Bde. 20th (Light) Division

It did not take too long to find out that they were in the same area on 30 November 1917, as the war diary of the 10th Bn on the 29th (war diary page 286 of 752) says "12th Division on right, 11th K.R.R.C. on left". On the 30th it is reported that the German attack came from the direction of high ground south of Masnieres (TMC 57b.G.26). The remains were found in the adjoining sector to the south (57b.G.32).

 

surname forename death K.R.R.C. #
EDWARDS LESLIE JACK 20-11-17 11th Bn. 'R/2474'
FOULDING, MM FRED 30-11-17 11th Bn. 'R/897'
GARNER ARTHUR 02-12-17 12th Bn. 'Y/1506'
HIGH HARRY EDWARD 20-11-17 11th Bn. '12019'
INGRAM CHARLES 30-11-17 11th Bn. 'R/1986'
RICHARDSON LEONARD SMITH 30-11-17 11th Bn. 'R/1668'
SMITH JOHN D'ARCY LEONARD 30-11-17 10th Bn. 'R/3159'
THOMAS, MM NORMAN 30-11-17 11th Bn. 'R/3758'

 

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