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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

'O' Bty, 86th Bde, Royal field Artillery - Movements


jo_hankey

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I'm trying to trace any information relating to my relative, Joseph Cook, Service number: 13228.

 

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission he was part of 'O' Bty, 86th Bde, Royal field Artillery and died on 29th September 1918. He was originally buried at St Emilie British Cemetery before being relocated to Templeux-Le-Guerard British Cemetery.

 

I'd like to find out any history relating to Joseph, i.e. enlistment dates, medals, what his movements would have been, where he may have died as I'd like to go visit his War grave on the 100 year anniversary and if possible any places he may have fought/died.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

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Hello Jo, and welcome to the Forum!

 

86th Brigade RFA did not have an "O" Battery. It had two separate batteries designated "D" at different times, and from January 1917 the brigade became an Army Field Artillery Brigade, forming part of a general pool no longer associated with a particular division.

 

You can find the War Diary online at the National Archives in these files:

WO 95/2067 86 Brigade Royal Field Artillery 1915 July - 1916 Dec.  
WO 95/456 86 Army Field Artillery Brigade 1917 Jan. - 1919 Apr.  
 

They can be downloaded from the Kew website, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk for about £3.50 each. You may need to add a suffix such as /1, /2 etc as there are two or more diaries in each file. If you have access to Ancestry you may be able to get it free.

War Diaries rarely mention individuals by name other than officers, but numbers of casualties each day are nearly always given, and the location of the unit, with a short description of its activities, is given on each day.

 

Good hunting!

 

Ron

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There is a small mistake on the CWGC detail.  86 Brigade didn't have an O Battery, the Soldiers Effects register has his battery as D - probably a misreading/typo.  His detailed service record appears to have been among the 60% or so of Great War records lost in WW2 bombing. 

His service number and gratuity suggest he enlisted right at the beginning of the war in September 1914.  He arrived in France on 17 July 1915 which coincides nicely with the arrival date of 86 Brigade in France so we don't know for sure whether he served throughout in the same battery it does look likely.

 

More on war diaries in a mo.

 

Max. 

 

Simultaneous posting with Ron above!  Just the little extra about dates.

Edited by MaxD
Behind the game!
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There were some battery swaps in May 1916: D Battery 86 Bde changed places with A Battery 89 Bde. This was part of a general reorganisation to give most brigades one battery of 4.5-inch howitzers, rather than grouping them in separate brigades. So I would guess that he was originally in A/89, which moved to become D/86.

 

Ron

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Just to complicate matters a little, the concentration documents list his battery as C battery which in some of the documents has been completely messed up and rendered as AFA C/86 Bde, corrected to RFA C/86 Bde.  Understandable as he was originally buried among a large number of Australians.

 

I think I have the last diary in my library somewhere - I'll have a look.  Meanwhile Jo if you have Ancestry, the first diary Ron lists is on there.

 

Max

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Thank you both so much, this has been a helpful start. I did wonder why there was no mention of 'O' battery anywhere.

 

I did notice the error on the concentration document, as it also refers to him as private F Cook, along with some of the grave registration documents. However as far as I can see he was a gunner then serjeant?

 

I found a medal index card with a qualifying date of 17/7/15 which is as you mentioned above. It has a victory and british medal with RFA/125B - 4947, and a 15 star RFA/1AB - B61. Would the medal rolls contain any more information?

 

Sorry to ask so many questions!!

Thanks again!

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As Ron has indicated, soldiers' names are rarely mentioned and in this case that holds true.

 

The war diary records that in late September 1918, the brigade was in support of the attack on the Hindenburg Line by 27th and 30th American Divisions and the British III Corps towards the village of Bellicourt.

 Referring to the map/image at this link:

Deleted - wrong map - see later post.

 

The medal rolls simply are the RFA rolls with his name, no more information.  He began the war as a Gunner (private soldier rank in the Royal Artillery) and progressed up the ranks to Sergeant (3 stripes).

 

Max

Edited by MaxD
My stupidity
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Wow that's great thank you. was that from the second war diary? Is the cemetery in the map Meaulte British Cemetery? I had took from the CWGC that he was first buried in Ste Emilie British Cemetery, Villers-Faucon. Which looking on a map appears to be quite a distance away (approx 35-40 km). Would it be normal to move them that far for his initial burial?

 

Given his documents were destroyed in WW2, would this mean there is no way of finding out his age, DOB etc? As the only thing I know is that there is a memorial in Pontypool with his name on.

 

Thanks again and sorry for all the questions!

Jo

 

 

doc2052796.JPG 

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Jo

 

My sincere apologies.  In my haste I have referenced the wrong map, I should have done a better job of checking what I was showing you.  Back in a moment after I modify my earlier post hopefully before to many GWF pals fall about laughing at my idiocy.

 

Max

 

 

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This link!!!;

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=13&lat=49.9837&lon=3.1323&layers=101465290&right=BingHyb

 

The battery positions were in square F 23 (to the right of the old map) somewhere near the present day D 58 road the Rue Winston Churchill.

The initial burial place was in St Emilie (see the top of the other concentration sheet) which was in square E 24 (to the left) - no longer there but about where the Ferme de Loeuilly is today.

Templeux le Guerard cemetery is in square L3 on the D 406 clearly visible on the image to the south east of the village.

 

Google Earth search on Ronssoy and then adjust to see the upside down triangle with Templeux le Guerard at the bottom and Ronssoy and St Emilie at the top two points.  That should enable you to relate the battery position in the fields just to the east of Ronssoy and the other locations .

 

A clue to who he was is that his father is named as John in the Effects Register.  There are no other clues in the military records - local newspapers to Pontypool?

 

Hope ti makes more sense now and apologies again.  Not what you should get from this forum!

 

Don't worry about the number of questions!

 

Max

 

 

 

 

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A marked image showing the location of the first burial place, the area of the guns and the final resting place.  The guns were describe as being "in battle positions" so I would expect them to have been deployed along the line of the road.  The diary doesn't give detailed positions.

 

 

 

 

86 Brigade.jpg

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Thank you very much! Now I know a bit more I can start planning my trip. He was my great granddads brother I believe and I know little about that generation of the family. I think I'll have to join ancestry properly to research into him a little more. 

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