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laughton

Zantvoorde British Cemetery Case #1: Pte. Harry Lewis, 8th Bn Royal Highlanders (Black Watch)

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laughton

This comes as a result of an investigation here:

 

Unknown British Officer, Royal Highlander = Fergusson

 

As always, one case opens another While checking on who died in the 8th Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) I noticed that the list of 44 men included Private Harry Lewis #S/10275. He must have been quite the traveller, as he was buried in Belgium! I checked in on him in the Zantvoorde British Cemetery and noticed that he is one of 10 of the Black Watch buried in that cemetery, but the only one of the 8th Battalion.

 

surname forename initials death rank BW (RH) # grave
AIKMAN   A 29-10-14 Serjeant 1st Bn. 7862' VI. C. 2.
BARRIE   R 26-09-17 Private 4th/5th Bn. '201991' VI. J. 10.
COOPER   W 26-09-17 Private 5th Bn. '202354' II. A. 18.
DOWIE WILLIAM W 27-09-17 Lance Serjeant 4th/5th Bn. '201251' VI. H. 6.
JOHNSTON   A 27-09-17 Private 4th/5th Bn. '202270' III. C. 9.
KEMLO JOHN J 27-09-17 Private 4th/5th Bn. '241010' VI. L. 6.
LEWIS HARRY 14-07-16 Private 8th Bn. 'S/10275' VI. G. 8.
McDONALD   C 31-10-17 Corporal 4th/5th Bn. '200792' I. H. 23.
SCOTT   A 27-09-17 Private 4th/5th Bn. '267269' IV. A. 18.
SMITH   W 29-10-14 Private 1st Bn. '7680' VI. B. 10.

 

His Medal Roll Card does say he was KIA on that date, but that probably came from the IWGC data. I could not find him in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, but I am not sure how complete that list is - not everyone I presume?

 

On the COG-BR it says they made this determination on the basis of a name on a ground sheet. There are many of those cases and they don't hold much water. His number was also changed from 18725 to S/10275.

 

The 8th Bn Royal Highlanders were clearly NOT IN BELGIUM at that time. The details of their location and the others missing are in the Fergusson topic noted at the top of this post.

 

Did someone in the records department not find it odd that of 44 men only 1 had a known burial location and it was in a different country? The CWGC says:

 

Quote

On 30 October 1914, the village of Zantvoorde (now Zandvoorde) was held by the 1st and 2nd Life Guards, numbering between 300 and 400 men. It was bombarded for over an hour with heavy guns and then taken by the 39th German Division and three attached battalions. The whole front of the 3rd Cavalry Division was driven back to the Klein-Zillebeke ridge. The village could not be retaken and remained in German hands until 28 September 1918. The Household Cavalry Memorial, unveiled by Lord Haig in May 1924, stands on the South side of the village at the place where part of the Brigade was annihilated in 1914. Zantvoorde British Cemetery was made after the Armistice when remains were brought in from the battlefields and nearby German cemeteries. Many were those of soldiers who died in the desperate fighting round Zantvoorde, Zillebeke and Gheluvelt in the latter part of October 1914. There are now 1,583 servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 1,135 of the burials are unidentified. Special memorials commemorate 32 soldiers buried in two of the German cemeteries whose graves could not be found on concentration. 

 

doc1840088.JPG

 

doc2157706.JPG

Edited by laughton
changed title to include Case #

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ss002d6252
17 minutes ago, laughton said:

This comes as a result of an investigation here:

 

Unknown British Officer, Royal Highlander = Fergusson

 

As always, one case opens another While checking on who died in the 8th Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) I noticed that the list of 44 men included Private Harry Lewis #S/10275. He must have been quite the traveller, as he was buried in Belgium! I checked in on him in the Zantvoorde British Cemetery and noticed that he is one of 10 of the Black Watch buried in that cemetery, but the only one of the 8th Battalion.

 

surname forename initials death rank BW (RH) # grave
AIKMAN   A 29-10-14 Serjeant 1st Bn. 7862' VI. C. 2.
BARRIE   R 26-09-17 Private 4th/5th Bn. '201991' VI. J. 10.
COOPER   W 26-09-17 Private 5th Bn. '202354' II. A. 18.
DOWIE WILLIAM W 27-09-17 Lance Serjeant 4th/5th Bn. '201251' VI. H. 6.
JOHNSTON   A 27-09-17 Private 4th/5th Bn. '202270' III. C. 9.
KEMLO JOHN J 27-09-17 Private 4th/5th Bn. '241010' VI. L. 6.
LEWIS HARRY 14-07-16 Private 8th Bn. 'S/10275' VI. G. 8.
McDONALD   C 31-10-17 Corporal 4th/5th Bn. '200792' I. H. 23.
SCOTT   A 27-09-17 Private 4th/5th Bn. '267269' IV. A. 18.
SMITH   W 29-10-14 Private 1st Bn. '7680' VI. B. 10.

 

His Medal Roll Card does say he was KIA on that date, but that probably came from the IWGC data. I could not find him in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, but I am not sure how complete that list is - not everyone I presume?

 

Death details were collated in France at the base and then passed separately to the record office and war office - the IWGC information originated from that copy sent to the records office (as did the medal details) and the soldiers' effects originated from the copy sent to the war office.

 

The soldiers' effects confirms 8th bn, the date of death and KIA but does not note the location on this occasion. If his date of death is wrong then the error would have to have crept in at the base in France or earlier.

 

Quote

I could not find him in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, but I am not sure how complete that list is - not everyone I presume?

De Ruvigny's entry was by submission so is incomplete.

 

Craig

 

Edited by ss002d6252

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ss002d6252

As a double check on the date - using my gratuity calculator :

image.png.aab9897cc46ccc2761d44ca55e1ed410.png

www.wargratuity.uk

 

This does also tie in date wise to when his service number would have been issued

 

#10227 was issued 4 June 1915
#10249 was issued 4 June 1915

but

both men were transferred from the RFA having enlisted there first in Feb 1915 and then later being transferred.

 

Craig

Edited by ss002d6252

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Justinth

It is much more complicated process in terms of how the Graves Registration Commission/Directorate of Graves Registration & Enquiries/Imperial War Graves Commission came to know about/record details in their records. The process is roughly set out below for both the wartime precursors of the Commission and the I.W.G.C. Much more detail including examples and references can be found in the Glossary of articles I put together on WW1 C.W.G.C. records.

 

The Graves Registration Units in France and elsewhere were circulated casualty lists from Third Echelon (the theatre based personnel management function)  and crucially depended on information from Chaplains and Divisional/Corps Burial Officers reporting the graves (see https://warrecordsrevealed.com/chaplains-and-divisional-corps-burial-returns/).  C.B.O.s and D.B.O.s were in place by 1917, see link. Copies of these burial returns went to the D.G.R. & E. in theatre (based by 1917 at Second Echelon) and were then either confirmed or not confirmed by the G.R.U. (depending on whether they were able to register a grave).  In London from August 1916  D.G.R. & E. H.Q. would collate the details from the reports sent in from the G.R.U.s and other sources of reported burials in their Card Index (see Card Index, Enquiries Branch, Standard Letters, Graves Registration Reports, Weekly Reports and SSP Reports/J.K. Lists in the Glossary). The Card Index was begun by the Graves Registration Commission in 1915 (see Glossary articles on Card Indexes and Map References). D.G.R. & E. also received information from the War Office Divisions M.S.3 and M.S. 3T about officer casualties via the King’s List (see entry in my Glossary). The D.G.R. & E. Enquiries and Registration staff would regularly check details with both parts of M.S. 3 and also the War Office division C2 Casualties (custodians of the overall casualty index/responsible for casualty lists) for the other ranks. There remains evidence in the surviving WW1 Enquiry files of correspondence with relatives, serving officers and other parts of the War Office to establish details of casualties burials. Copies of casualty lists from the Record Offices (focused on the dead and missing) were not received by D.G.R. & E. H.Q. London until 1917 (see link for Battalion Ledgers in the Glossary) in the post embedded below (via another embedded post ‘Soldiers Name Query).  Much of the information in the Battalion Ledgers (which survive in their entirety in the C.W.G.C. Archive) was obviously taken from the information being compiled for submission to the Registrar General at the end of the war. There then followed a fascinating history of problems with I.W.G.C. being forced to use Soldiers Died In The Great War and Officers Died In The Great War as the base for the Memorials to the Missing lists (see S.D.G.W., Battalion Ledgers and Memorials to the Missing in the Glossary all of which have lots of information on this). There was also of course a final verification process (see links below in embedded posts) and much work with the Record Offices (including the I.W.G.C. paying for extra staff at the Record Offices) all detailed in the Glossary. Records specifically concerning Canadian casualties (the Canadian Ledgers, see Glossary) and the other Commonwealth countries in terms of the casualty/missing lists provided for the Battalion Ledgers are also discussed in the Glossary.

 

The research on the compilation and verification of the information which we now have via surviving C.W.G.C. records was a fascinating piece of work involving over a year’s work with sources at the C.W.G.C. Archive, the C.W.G.C. online Archive, the I.W.M. and the National Archives.

 

Best

 

 

Justin

 

In case anybody wants to go direct to the Glossary here is the link:

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

 

Edited by Justinth

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laughton

As always Justin you are a wealth of information that very few others (if any) have any knowledge of at this time!

 

You should ask the CWGC if they can put a link to your site on their site where they have the acronyms and abbreviations. It would help a lot of others!

 

Richard

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Justinth

Hi Richard

 

I have been told by the CWGC Archive that there will be a link from their website sometime later in the year. I also told the Archives team that they are free to use the information. I am really happy to share what I have learnt and hope that it is of use to you and others. I am a big fan of the clerks who created the C.W.G.C. WW1 records!

 

Best wishes

 

 

Justin

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Derek Black
4 hours ago, ss002d6252 said:

As a double check on the date - using my gratuity calculator :

image.png.aab9897cc46ccc2761d44ca55e1ed410.png

www.wargratuity.uk

 

This does also tie in date wise to when his service number would have been issued

 

#10227 was issued 4 June 1915
#10249 was issued 4 June 1915

but

both men were transferred from the RFA having enlisted there first in Feb 1915 and then later being transferred.

 

Craig


According to SNWM Lewis was born in London and was formerly of the RFA too, No. 85175

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ss002d6252
1 minute ago, Derek Black said:


According to SNWM Lewis was born in London and was formerly of the RFA too, No. 85175

Thanks, Ties in nicely.

 

Craig

 

 

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laughton

Note that there was a man of the 7th Battalion on the same COG-BR, so if LLT steers me in the correct direction that is the 1/7th (Fife) Battalion which is same as 1/6th (Perthshire) Battalion, so 153rd Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division as well. On the GRRF that was changed to UBS so perhaps they questioned the presence of that unit in Belgium?

 

The war diary confirms that the 1st/7th was at the Canal Bank, Ypres in September 1917 (war diary page 212 of 879) but the canal is in Sector I south of Zillebeke not Sector J south of Gheluvelt. At least he was in the correct country and in the area!

 

Later they were at Siege Camp at 28.B.2 southwest of Elverdinghe.

 

Just to confirm, he was not captured and sent to a Prison Camp in Belgium (ICRC Link). Never leave a stone unturned!

 

NO QUESTION - Lewis is not in a grave in Belgium!

 

 

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laughton

I have been looking for a candidate for who MIGHT be somehow connected to the groundsheet that was interpreted to represent the grave of Private Harry Lewis #S/10275, a man who was most certainly not in Belgium or buried in that country.

 

Running a number of permutations and combinations of names, numbers and locations has led me to this man:

 

Private Richard Sydney Lewis #10715, KIA 30 October 1914, 1st Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers

 

I can see the possibility of the error of the name taken off a groundsheet that has been wrapped around a body in the ground for 6 years. That is a bit more believable, given the time and location of the death, as we know Harry was not there in 1914. Remember, there was no unit designation associated with the remains that were recovered.

  • LEWIS R 10715
  • LEWIS H 10275

Another possibility, also 1st Bn RWF was Private Edwin Lewis: LEWIS E 10719, however my preference is Richard - easier to mix an R and an H.

 

It had to be one of the units that was involved in the battle around Gheluvelt for the remains to have been found at 28.J.27.aa.2.7. Most certainly, the 1st Battalion RWF was there on that date and were more or less annihilated (see this GWF Topic 184197). There is also a good summary on the site of the memorial (this link). The RWF forum also directs you  to a YouTube video of the story (AyybHJwBlZs). Whether or not he was buried in his own groundsheet is another issue. His name is on the list at t=11:27 of the video.

 

There is a file at the ICRC for Richard Sydney Lewis (ICRC 2294172/3/2) which indicates that he was missing (disparu) on the 13th or 22nd of October, so it looks as if his date of death may be incorrect. The one PA file #988 that is not crossed out appears to lead nowhere. The others crossed out suggest that there may have been confusion between Richard Lewis of another regiment i.e. Welsh Guards, Welsh Regiment - see CWGC candidates). His Medal Card states that he was "Presumed Dead" as of 30 October 1914.

 

C_G1_E_15_01_0053_4134_0.JPG

 

The war diary links, for those that have interest and access, are here:

  • October 13th - moved to Thielt and then orders to move to Roulers (page 4 of 734)
  • October 16th - advanced guard of 1st RWF at Zonnebeke (page 5 of 734)
  • October 22nd - war diary reports 37 OR KIA, 80 WIA and 213 MIA (page 12 of 734) - approximated, records lost in action reported
  • October 30th - reported date of death when the enemy attacked the trenches (page 16 of 734; 320 NCO's and OR MIA page 17 of 734)

The records are questionable, for as they state - there were Officers left to complete the war diary. Those that remained (86 OR) were attached to the 2nd Queens.

 

For completeness, I have also ruled out LEWIS J 18795,  a close number (as you recall they changed the "8" to a "0" later), so he is the only one with 4 of the 5 numbers correct versus the initial report. He was KIA 1 April 1918, the only man of the 2nd Battalion Welsh Regiment KIA that day (war diary page 623 of 869).

Edited by laughton
added LEWIS J 18795 in last line

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laughton

A DRAFT of this report is now available for review. If any of the contributors wish to have their name added to the report, please PM the details to put in Attachment #9.

 

http://www.laughton.ca/reports/Private Harry Lewis Zantvoorde British Cemetery Plot 6 Row G Grave 8.pdf

 

If there are any comments, questions or concerns relative to the report, please let me know.

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