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Remembered Today:

Zantvoorde British Cemetery Case #2: Captain Royal Berkshire Regiment 1914 (CWGC #394)


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This case was added by Richard/dickaren from the Zantvoorde British Cemetery Topic where the rest of the cases are listed.



dickaren wrote:




Add unknown captain Royal Berks in 5.J.15. Only one unknown for 1914 on the Menin Gate-Oliver Steele 25.10.14

Good hunting



Here is the COG-BR page with that information: (Grave 5.J.15)



Edited by laughton
mark as closed as someone already submitted this case
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According to the GRRF 2157696 this man was not identified at the time.


There is no Captain of the Royal Berkshire Regiment listed by the CWGC on their database for this cemetery (CWGC Link). As "RIchard/dickaren" has pointed out. the only Captain of the Royal Berkshire Regiment for 1914 is Captain Oliver Steele (1st Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Division). He was KIA 25 October 1914 and in named on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.


The war diary on Ance$try under the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment) 2nd Division starts in January 1916 after they were transferred to the 99th Infantry Brigade (war diary page 1 of 330). Something strange here, as war diary page 23 of 330 it goes back to February 1915? That might be an error in the year and that is 1916?

  • Brigade HQ. Aug-Dec 1914 (page 1 of 940) is under 2nd Division, Various Brigades

There are a number of references to the Berkshires that places them west of Zonnebeke 28.D.28 on the 23rd of the month, quite a bit north of where the remains were found at 28.J.36.c.7.5, which is southeast of Gheluvelt. Possible that the area is a German cemetery - not sure at this point. Luc will know for sure!


Teh Berks & Kings were ordered to get ready to advance and were later on the Becelaere Road (28.J.18), in very close proximity to the Germans. The Berks were holding the same road on the 25th, so now they are to the northeast of Gheluvelt (McMaster Map 28), still 3,000 yards due north of where the remains were recovered. The B.H.Q. is noted as being at the cross-roads, 3/4 miles northeast of Westhoek (Eksternest).


The war diary reports (page 89 of 940) that 1 Berk's Officer and 16 others killed.


Then I remembered, the transcription of the war diaries are also in the Wardrobe where there is direct reference to the death of Captain Steele being killed by a "big shell". Does that rais a question as to whether his "identifiable remains" could have ever been recovered?



Heavily shelled all day. A German battery was observed by some men in one of D Coys trenches about 800yds NE of 5th Kilometre stone on ZONNEBECK-BECELARE road. Fire was at once opened on the gun detachments, who tried to bring up the teams and get the guns away. This they had to abandon as most of the horses were shot. Eventually, during the rest of the day, they managed to manhandle 5 of the guns away with heavy casualties. During the afternoon the French attack on our left advanced to within 200 yards of the remaining gun and limbers. After dark a party of the regiment was sent out and they successfully manhandled the gun in. At dawn one trench of D coy, at right angles to the ZONNEBECK-BECELARE road discovered a German trench running along that road and about 5 yards from them. Some Germans attempted to run back during the morning and all were shot. At dusk, the remainder, about 70, surrendered and a German officer was taken prisoner during the evening. Capt O Steele, who had rendered very valuable assistance during yesterdays attack and today was killed by a big shell. 2/Lieuts Battye and Gross were wounded and 2/Lieut Searles went sick. [There Is a good sketch map of the trench layout on page 26]


The day-to-day entries for the war diary are on this list. There is a reference to Captain Steele's actions on the 24th, the day before his death:



At 9am the Battn suddenly received orders to move to drive some Germans out of woods E of ESKTERNEST who had broken through 22 Bde. This was already being done by the 5th Bde, and so we were ordered to take over the trenches of 22nd Bde. Before this was completed we received orders to attack. Firing Line. On right D Coy under Captain Steele and connecting up with Kings. On left B Coy under Captain Lucas and connecting up with French division. Supports: C Coy in rear of D Coy. A Coy in rear of B Coy. The attack began at 3.30pm under heavy rifle and shell fire, and it was 6pm when the ridge of the ZONNEBECK - BECELARE was captured. Coys then entrenched through the night. Capt Quarry, Lt Nicholson Lt Hanbury-Sparrow and 2/Lt Warner were wounded. The whole attack was very well carried out and the men behaved splendidly.


In the event that the death was at another time than the death of Captain Steele:

  • there are no UNKNOWN Lieutenants for 1914, in the event one had been an acting or temporary Captain (CWGC Link)
  • no Majors, known or unknown
  • total of 103 Royal Berks on Menin Gate for 1914, most around October 25th and November 14th (CWGC Link)

There is evidence of burials by the Germans in the vicinity of the 28.J.36 sector where the remains were recovered. For example, Private Grubb's remains were recovered from the Koelbery Forest German Military Cemetery at 28.K.32.c.4.5, to the east of the sector (COG-BR 1816351). Private Norris was found just south of Zonnebeke at 28.D.28.d.9.2 (COG-BR 1809855). Serjeant Crump was recovered at 28.J.6.a.85.25 the location if the In Der Ster German Military Cemetery (COG-BR 2152672). From these and a few others it appears that if your remains were found it was because they were captured, or at least buried, by the Germans.


So the question remains as to whether there was enough of Captain Stone left to bury and why was it buried so far south of where he was hit by the "big shell"? Was he just wounded - even if severely, and taken by the Germans?


Hopefully Luc can provide some guidance about what was in the vicinity of where the remains were recovered. I will give him a PING (LDT006)!

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There was a German cemetery near 28.J.36.c.7.5 (Kruiseik). There were quite a few British burials there (officially 209 according to a list). It was only created from February 1916 onwards as a concentration cemetery for recovered bodies from field graves within a certain area (Zonnebeke was outside of this area). 28.J.18 was an area which was in German hands since 21 October 1914 and I can't see any Berks in that area on 25 October 1914? I see that they mention the Zonnebeke - Beselare road, which was not within the area for graves to be concentrated to Kruiseik as it belonged to another army corps.



Edited by AOK4
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Thanks Jan, every bit helps.


He is not to be found on the ICRC database.


To cover all areas, I checked on those with the Royal Berkshire Regiment as their secondary regiment. There was only one Captain (Harold Ackroyd, M.C., V.C.) who was attached to the 6th Royal Berks from the RAMC. He has a Special Memorial (Believed to be Buried in this Cemetery) in the Birr Cross Roads Cemetery (27.I.17.a.80.85). KIA 11 November 1917.



An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 4th Sept., 1917, reads as follows

"For most conspicuous bravery. During recent operations Capt. Ackroyd displayed the greatest gallantry and devotion to duty. Utterly regardless of danger, he worked continuously for many hours up and down and in front of the line tending the wounded and saving the lives of officers and men. In so doing he had to move across the open under heavy machine-gun, rifle and shell fire. He carried a wounded officer to a place of safety under very heavy fire. On another occasion he went some way in front of our advanced line and brought in a wounded man under continuous sniping and machine-gun fire. His heroism was the means of saving many lives, and provided a magnificent example of courage, cheerfulness, and determination to the fighting men in whose midst he was carrying out his splendid work. This gallant officer has since been killed in action."


Edited by laughton
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Was checking the CWGC Case List - I should remember to always do that first!! :doh:


There is a submission on the list already for Captain Steele CASE #394.


Anyone know who submitted that and how they dealt with the problem faced here, i.e. hit by a large shell and not in the area at the time?


They must have found a solution?

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probably to late but it might help in the future, this is what I have for Kruiseecke GMC (German cemetery number 80) at 28.J.36.c.7.5:


93 remains were moved to Zandvoorde in August 1920: http://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc1840104.JPG 

71 were moved to Tynecot in March 1921:  http://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc1836550.JPG . Please note that the map reference is wrong: 28.J.36.a.8.5

2 were later found in February 1928 and moved to Sanctuary wood:  http://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc2154201.JPG

30 are on a special Kipling memorial, buried there by the enemy but the graves are lost: http://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc2157717.JPG


Jan already mentioned that it was a concentration cemetery, the Germans reported some names to the ICRC:

PA5767 (first one of a series) 

PA6526 (first one of a series)



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We now know that someone has submitted a report on this case to the CWG (CWGC #394). I do not know who it was but I would be interested to know how they dealt with the issues of:

  • The Captain was reported to have been hit by a "large shell", so is it possible there were any remains?
  • The remains were found in an area, albeit in Belgium close to the remains, that was not where the Royal Berks were situated.

Could he have been wounded and recovered by the Germans? No evidence that I could find.


I have to agree that there are no Lieutenant upgrade options nor are there any Major downgrade options. Could it have been another regiment that had insignia that might have been read as Royal Berks?


Any ideas?

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