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Graham Topham

Researching my Great Granddad BMBR William Topham 9375 B72 Brigade Royal Field Artillery

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Graham Topham

Sorry for the long post. I feel as though I have gained all the information that I can from what little is available to me, however I would appreciate it if someone would confirm that I am correct in my assumptions, and/or possibly advise of where to go from here.

 

My great grandad, William Topham, served in WWI, however never spoke about it. He  left my granddad his three medals (1914/15 Star, Victory Medal and MM), his stirrups, and the words 'I went through hell to get those'. 

 

My nephew is getting very interested in history so I thought I would do some research for him. I managed to find the attached medial card on Ancestry, and studied his medals.

 

The MM says: 9375 BMBR W.Topham B.72' BDE: R.F.A

The Victory Medal says: 9375 A.SJT W.Topham R.A

William's MM was mentioned in dispatches on 09/12/1916 (publication date 08/12/1916 Supplement 29854 page 12053)

 

From this information, along with the attached medal card, I assume the following:

William served with LXXII brigade as a bombardier, and landed in France on 09/07/1915. Thanks to the Long Long Trail, I have learned that they were attached to the 15th (Scottish) division and can trace their movements from 1915 until January 1917. At some point in 1916 he was awarded the MM (possibly at the Somme?). The Long Long Trail doesn't have anything on LXXII brigade after January 1917, and the Victory Medal does not have a unit number with the R.A. However, stamped in black on the medal card is RFA330B. I assume this means that in 1917 he/his unit moved to the 330 brigade, and it appears that they were attached to the 66th Division for a while before moving around a bit in 1918 (this has been covered by someone else in another thread on here). It appears he ended the war as an acting sergeant (as per the Victory Medal and the blue writing on the medal card). 

 

My questions are:

1) Are my above assumptions regarding his units and general movements during the war correct?

2) What does the A187 in black, the 12/6/50 in black, and the blue 46136 on the medal card mean?

3) Is there anywhere else anyone can recommend to look for any further information (or the correct information if I am wrong)?

 

Thank you in advance.

 

medical card.png

Edited by Graham Topham

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CorporalPunishment
19 minutes ago, Graham Topham said:

Sorry for the long post. I feel as though I have gained all the information that I can from what little is available to me, however I would appreciate it if someone would confirm that I am correct in my assumptions, and/or possibly advise of where to go from here.

 

My great grandad, William Topham, served in WWI, however never spoke about it. He  left my granddad his three medals (1914/15 Star, Victory Medal and MM), his stirrups, and the words 'I went through hell to get those'. 

 

My nephew is getting very interested in history so I thought I would do some research for him. I managed to find the attached medial card on Ancestry, and studied his medals.

 

The MM says: 9375 BMBR W.Topham B.72' BDE: R.F.A

The Victory Medal says: 9375 A.SJT W.Topham R.A

William's MM was mentioned in dispatches on 09/12/1916 (publication date 08/12/1916 Supplement 29854 page 12053)

 

From this information, along with the attached medal card, I assume the following:

William served with LXXII brigade as a bombardier, and landed in France on 09/07/1915. Thanks to the Long Long Trail, I have learned that they were attached to the 15th (Scottish) division and can trace their movements from 1915 until January 1917. At some point in 1916 he was awarded the MM (possibly at the Somme?). The Long Long Trail doesn't have anything on LXXII brigade after January 1917, and the Victory Medal does not have a unit number with the R.A. However, stamped in black on the medal card is RFA330B. I assume this means that in 1917 he/his unit moved to the 330 brigade, and it appears that they were attached to the 66th Division for a while before moving around a bit in 1918 (this has been covered by someone else in another thread on here). It appears he ended the war as an acting sergeant (as per the Victory Medal and the blue writing on the medal card). 

 

My questions are:

1) Are my above assumptions regarding his units and general movements during the war correct?

2) What does the A187 in black, the 12/6/50 in black, and the blue 46136 on the medal card mean?

3) Is there anywhere else anyone can recommend to look for any further information (or the correct information if I am wrong)?

 

Thank you in advance.

 

medical card.png

It sounds as though you are missing a medal. He would have been awarded the Military Medal, the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 

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daggers

First, welcome to the forum.

Next, the 330B is not a unit but the reference to the Medal Roll, to which the medal index card relates.  It can be found via Ancestry, or possibly Findmypast.

It is not likely to tell you more than you have already.

As far as I know the other numbers are references which no longer relate to surviving papers, but the 12/6/50 could be a date.  Is there anything on the reverse side of the card?

The London Gazette is online and can be searched for the announcement of the MM award, but a detailed citation is unlikely.  More might be found in a local newspaper for where Bdr Topham was living.

You seem to have found most of what can be found, unless there are surviving service papers lurking somewhere.

 

There are some sleuths around the forum who might be able to add more.

D

Edited by daggers

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Graham Topham
7 minutes ago, CorporalPunishment said:

It sounds as though you are missing a medal. He would have been awarded the Military Medal, the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 

 

Interessingly I do have a British War medal - but it does not belong to William! He must have swapped it accidentally with someone else - this one belongs to a Whitney of the RNR

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Graham Topham
7 minutes ago, daggers said:

First, welcome to the forum.

Next, the 330B is not a unit but the reference to the Medal Roll, to which the medal index card relates.  It can be found via Ancestry, or possibly Findmypast.

It is not likely to tell you more than you have already.

As far as I know the other numbers are references which no longer relate to surviving papers, but the 12/6/50 could be a date.  Is there anything on the reverse side of the card?

The London Gazette is online and can be searched for the announcement of the MM award, but a detailed citation is unlikely.  More might be found in a local newspaper for where Bdr Topham was living.

You seem to have found most of what can be found, unless there are surviving service papers lurking somewhere.

 

There are some sleuths around the forum who might be able to add more.

D

Thank you for your reply, there is nothing on the back of the card. 

 

If the 330B does not stand for the 330brigade, is there anyway I can find what happened to LXXII brigade after January 1917? The Long Long Trail says it became an Army Brigade of the RFA but I am having trouble finding much else about that, or how to research that unit.  

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daggers

Army Brigades were not under their former Divisions,but under a Corps or an Army, and seem to have been used as a kind of fire brigade, moved to wherever needed.

 

They should have kept a war diary detailing movements and actions but not often recognisable as the battles were not given official names until later.

 

The diary for LXII Brigade may be digitised and available via Ancestry, perhaps as 52 Brigade; not many Other Ranks are named but Bdr Topham’s MM may show up.

Here again, others with more expertise should be able to offer more.

 

By the way, you can reply without quoting the previous stuff.

Adding your gt-granddad’s rank and RFA to the subject line or tags will catch the eyes of the Gunner experts.

D

Edited by daggers

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kenf48

It looks as though he was one of 16 men awarded the Military Medal in the month of October 1916.  Frustratingly this is the only month where the names of those who received 'Honours and Rewards' are not listed in the war diary.  However, even where the names are listed there is no reference to the citation or action which led to the award.

 

The war diary for the period 1915 July - December 1916 can be downloaded from TNA http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7352770

or is on Ancestry if you subscribe here

 

The diary records the Brigade was reorganised at the end of this period.

 

There is a second diary, which has not been digitised and cover the deployment of 72 Brigade RFA to Italy, whether or not he accompanied them or was transferred elsewhere we don't know.  http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C4557358

 

Ken 

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Graham Topham

Thanks so much for your replies.

 

Ken - those links are so helpful! I can see that the 72RFA brigade did go to Italy as you said. A previous page on the Longlongtrail said “The brigade left the division and became an Army Brigade RFA on 20 January 1917.” So I thought this was a dead end until I thought maybe the RFA300B on the medal card mean 330 brigade. But another page on the Longlongtrail and your national archive link does indeed mention that they went to Italy! This rings a bell about a rare story my granddad told me where William didn’t rate Italian soldiers (or any others other than British or German), that I had forgotten - so it adds up. 

 

Would you you be able to link/point at any other diaries, scanned or not, or recommend any books that may be of use? If not, thank you so much for the links and info you have already provided, the 1915/16 one on ancestry is amazing. 

 

 

Edited by Graham Topham

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Mark1959

Re the annotations on the MIC. These are purely clerical. A187 is a roll number. There were 100s and 100s of rolls. So A187 would be a ref to show you which physical roll actually RFA330B or RFA/1 was on the shelf at the Army Medal Office. You will note the 1950 date is in the same handwriting and pen as the A187. This tells me they received an enquiry in 1950 and looked up the roll. It was standard practice at the AMO to stamp or write the date of the enquiry on the card. One supposition maybe the medal was missing in 1950 and they checked his entitlement for some reason.

One or two MICs have been published on the forum where I know the stamp/writing was mine. 

Somewhere at Kew there will be a roll which gives the conversion between the code for the roll e.g. RFA330B and A187. So the process to get the roll was take the code (RFA330B) off the MIC and look up in this intermediate roll the number of the roll against it (A187) then go to that roll on the shelf. The page number then giving you where to look in that roll for the entry. All useless now of course.

So in the end these codes tell us nothing about his service. 

Edited by Mark1959

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kenf48
8 hours ago, Graham Topham said:

 

Would you you be able to link/point at any other diaries, scanned or not, or recommend any books that may be of use? If not, thank you so much for the links and info you have already provided, the 1915/16 one on ancestry is amazing. 

 

 

 

There are a couple of books on the British Army in Italy e.g. Allies are a tiresome lor I’ve not read it but the Wolverhampton studies have a good reputation.  You could always get them through inter library loan.  As you have Ancestry membership if you are quick access to Fold 3 is free this weekend and if you search military books >Italy there is a copy of 'With the Guns in Italy' written by an RGA officer.  Don't know if this link will work.

 

As noted above if you add his name and RFA to the title you will attract the gunnery experts who are very knowledgeable as to individual units.

 

Ken 

 

 

 

Edited by kenf48

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Graham Topham
On ‎08‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 15:07, Mark1959 said:

Re the annotations on the MIC. These are purely clerical. A187 is a roll number. There were 100s and 100s of rolls. So A187 would be a ref to show you which physical roll actually RFA330B or RFA/1 was on the shelf at the Army Medal Office. You will note the 1950 date is in the same handwriting and pen as the A187. This tells me they received an enquiry in 1950 and looked up the roll. It was standard practice at the AMO to stamp or write the date of the enquiry on the card. One supposition maybe the medal was missing in 1950 and they checked his entitlement for some reason.

One or two MICs have been published on the forum where I know the stamp/writing was mine. 

Somewhere at Kew there will be a roll which gives the conversion between the code for the roll e.g. RFA330B and A187. So the process to get the roll was take the code (RFA330B) off the MIC and look up in this intermediate roll the number of the roll against it (A187) then go to that roll on the shelf. The page number then giving you where to look in that roll for the entry. All useless now of course.

So in the end these codes tell us nothing about his service. 

 

Thanks so much for this detailed information - it really helped me to understand the medal card.

 

On ‎07‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 21:11, kenf48 said:

It looks as though he was one of 16 men awarded the Military Medal in the month of October 1916.  Frustratingly this is the only month where the names of those who received 'Honours and Rewards' are not listed in the war diary.  However, even where the names are listed there is no reference to the citation or action which led to the award.

 

The war diary for the period 1915 July - December 1916 can be downloaded from TNA http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7352770

or is on Ancestry if you subscribe here

 

The diary records the Brigade was reorganised at the end of this period.

 

There is a second diary, which has not been digitised and cover the deployment of 72 Brigade RFA to Italy, whether or not he accompanied them or was transferred elsewhere we don't know.  http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C4557358

 

Ken 

Ken, I have managed to find his service records (on fold3.com) that state when he signed up and also contain letters regarding him receiving his MM, although there is nothing on what he did to be awarded the medal. His active service report states 27/10/16 awarded military medal, but then later mentions 21/10/16. (attached). So it appears you are right about October - although I cant see anything of note that happened in the unit diary. Also in a later letter of his, he writes 'I, the undermentioned, was awarded the Military medal in Sept 1916 according to the entry on my B64 (pay book)' (attached). Could it be that William didn't even know what he did to be awarded it? Or that that unit didn't even know the date? The active service report also states 29/12/16 as a date the medal was awarded (initially I thought maybe this was when he was presented with it), but his letter dated 1919 implies he hadn't had it yet.

 

If you have any interesting insights into this, or can make any interesting details out of the attachments (I find it hard to read the handwriting on the service report) it would be appreciated.

 

Similarly if anyone has any info on where 72nd brigade went in 1917 and 1918 (other than the Italian Front) that would be amazing, although another user on this forum has kindly offered to provide a summary soon.

 

 

 

letter.png

service card 1.png

service card 2.png

Edited by Graham Topham

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Graham Topham
On 07/11/2018 at 21:11, kenf48 said:

It looks as though he was one of 16 men awarded the Military Medal in the month of October 1916.  Frustratingly this is the only month where the names of those who received 'Honours and Rewards' are not listed in the war diary.  However, even where the names are listed there is no reference to the citation or action which led to the award.

 

The war diary for the period 1915 July - December 1916 can be downloaded from TNA http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7352770

or is on Ancestry if you subscribe here

 

The diary records the Brigade was reorganised at the end of this period.

 

There is a second diary, which has not been digitised and cover the deployment of 72 Brigade RFA to Italy, whether or not he accompanied them or was transferred elsewhere we don't know.  http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C4557358

 

Ken 

Hi Ken,

 

I have since downloaded all the 72Bde diaries (including the Italian one by requesting the pages from Kew for an increased fee). Much of this would have been impossible without your previous help, for which I thank you. Are you aware of any other diaries that may be useful? Would the ammunition column's diary add any details, or would there be any officer's diaries at Kew? I often struggle finding what I require on their website, would you be aware of any that exist?

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rflory

I have checked A Short History of the 72nd Brigade RFA 1914-1919 for the period 15 May 1916 to December 1919 but could find no mention of his MM.

 

Regards, Dick Flory

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Graham Topham
1 minute ago, rflory said:

I have checked A Short History of the 72nd Brigade RFA 1914-1919 for the period 15 May 1916 to December 1919 but could find no mention of his MM.

 

Regards, Dick Flory

 

Thank you for your help Dick, as always. Do you have any suggestions of any other diaries or books that may fill any gaps or give any additional information on the unit, other than the official diary and the book you mentioned?

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travers61

I'm not sure if is covered in his service records on Fold 3, but I believe that when the inscription on his MM says "9375 BMBR W.Topham B.72' BDE: R.F.A" this means he was in B Battery of 72 Brigade.

 

I only mention this as the war diaries could give movements/actions of individual batteries within the brigade.

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