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Bedford House Cemetery 2nd Life Guards UBS


jay dubaya
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I fear that I’m missing something obvious here as it appears far too simple to have been missed before and I would therefore welcome some direction.

 

Bedford House Cemetery, Enclosure 4, Plot 14, Row C, Grave 1 contains the remains of an UBS of the 2nd Life Guards whose body was exhumed from map sheet 28.I.5.a.9.1 around July 1921, he was identified by ‘(S. Major) 3 Chevrons, Crown and numeral’, this information is contained on the CoG report, I believe ‘numeral’ relates to his shoulder title of a separate 2 over  LG, the report also notes ‘nil effects forwarded to base’. The BR report sees him buried as 2nd Life Guards UBS followed by S/Maj?  Yet no rank is inscribed on his headstone.

 

So why was he buried without his rank?

 

Corporal of Horse is an unusual rank reserved for the Household Cavalry and observed by 3 Chevrons surmounted by a Crown.  The officer in charge of the exhumation (perhaps a pre-war civilian with a hostilities only commission) appears to have misidentified the rank as Sgt Major. The rank of Sergeant does not exist in the Household Cavalry and as a result documents seem to suggest this soldier has slipped through the identification process, not only of his rank but of his name.

 

During hostilities the 2nd Life Guards lost 12 soldiers that held the rank of Corporal of Horse, 8 of them have known graves the remaining 4 are remembered at the Menin Gate.  3 casualties date to 31st October 1914, when 2 Squadrons were in the front line around the east of Zanvoorde.  Notes in the war diary would suggest they were cut off in their forward positions (map sheet 28.P.3.a.b.d).  The remaining Corporal of Horse was killed in action on 13th May 1915. The war diary notes for that day the trenches held by the regiment in ‘I.6 (a and b) and I.5.b’ these coordinates are referenced also to sheet 28.  This is very close to where the above UBS was exhumed and wrongly identified as a Sgt. Major.  Could this grave actually be 2216 Corporal of Horse Charles Edward Dean, 2nd Life Guards, killed in action 13th May 1915?

 

Jon

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A lot of similarities with the RHG case. I wasn't aware that service records for the Household Cavalry were now available.The file held for CoH Dean has thrown further light on this case and in particular his burial, on his Military History Sheet is written 'killed in action 13/5/15 and buried by the 1st R. Dragoons near Railway Clump' and then written in a different hand 'Potijze Rd NE of Ypres'. The WD for the 1st RD notes that they were relieved by the KRR at midnight on the 13th, the 1st RD then marched back to their original dugouts on a line NE of railway and E of road in I.11.b and I.5.d behind the trenches lost by 7th Cav Bde. Sometime between  2pm and 9pm on the 14 the WD states 'We buried Lieut Hobson and 8 men 2nd Life Guards in front of our trenches'.

CWGC records 14 casualties for the 2nd Life Guards on the 13th May 1915, 1 Lieut, 1 2/Lieut, 2 CoH, 1 Cpl, 2 L/Cpl and 7 Troopers. CoH Marsh (identified by disc, titles and chevrons. ) and L/Cpl Butler (identified by disc and numerals) are the only two with known graves. I have slowly started to check the CoG reports for Cement House and Bedford House and so far I have 3 UBS 2nd LG (recovered from 28.I.6.a.1.2) buried close to CoH Marsh (recovered from 28.I.6.05.20) and 1 UBS 2nd LG next to L/Cpl Butler (both recovered from 28.I.5.a.9.1).

A slight anomaly appears on the CoG report for Bedford House E4 14.C.9, body found with disc, 9460 Pte CF Fittis, 2nd DLI  recovered from 28.I.5.a.9.1 and now buried as an UBS. I'm struggling to identify this soldier at present.

I believe there is a strong probability that CoH Charles Edward Dean is buried in Bedford House Cemetery, Enclosure 4, Plot 14, Row C, Grave 1.

 

Jon

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After ironing out the anomaly of Pte Fittis mentioned above, he would appear to be Pte 4/9660 Charles Frederick Fittis, 2nd DLI, discharged (para XVI) 29th June 1918. The WD for the 2nd DLI places them in trenches at Potijze throughout June and early July 1915 and again late September through to November 1915 when it is noted that the battalion is in trenches 'south of Crump Farm', this farm appears around 28.I.5.a.9.5 very close to where the the 2nd LG UBS was exhumed. The body that was recovered with the disc recorded as  '9460 Pte CF Fittis, 2nd DLI' was found at the same location as the 2nd LG UBS (28.I.5.a.9.1). Only one 2nd DLI casualty from the above date ranges appears to have no known grave so it gives some suggestion that the grave at Bedford House E4 14.C.9 may be that of another 2nd LG. 

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CoG report (2163479) detailing the original burial location and effects found. Also note the details of Pte Fittis

 

doc2163479.JPG.9ab53608b07dcf559ac9056b745ecbb4.JPG

 

GR report (1809534) showing a confusion regarding rank over 2 years later

 

doc1809534.JPG.a286bd3bcf3a59af64ea5e05fad41cfe.JPG

 

The grave in question at Bedford House.

 

1795613885_UBS2ndLifeGuards-bedfordhouseE4P14RcG1-CoHCEDean.JPG.6fd8efc0bc95bb841cbcba4b1a73e346.JPG

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CWGC data for 2nd LG, CoH who died in Belgium can be found here

 

CWGC data for 2nd LG who fell on the 13th May 1915 can be found here

 

CoH Marsh appears to have been recorded at the Menin Gate until late 1939 when his body was located with his disc and re-interred at Cement House, shortly afterwards the remains of 3 UBS 2nd LG, most likely killed on the 13th May 1915 were re-interred a few graves away. (CoG reports 2364121 and 2364122)

 

doc2364121.JPG.0efdeb9c49e1efbdb5c7c745fed405bb.JPG

 

doc2364122.JPG.58312cc7cbd52b309ebd63c0d22e1b57.JPG

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CoH Dean's burial details from his service file held at the National Archives (WO 400/105/2216)

 

717792200_WO4001052216.jpg.71be10eaac5ba5624b26ef822aa45f0e.jpg

 

The relevant page from the ward diary of the 1st Royal Dragoons (NA ref WO 95/1153/1)

 

43112_1153_1-00088.jpg.acf24856c31fddc8f11aac48f7e7059e.jpg

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Extract from the war diary of the 7th Cavalry Bde (NA WO 95/1142/1)

 

43849_1142_1-00362.jpg.09849dfb240e3a6dee34c88423937464.jpg

 

Relevant trench map extract from Sheet 28 showing square I.5 and I.6

615501185_sheet28I5and6.jpg.d599dc8cb2bfcaae7e98873eae2c0e84.jpg

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The three 2nd Life Guards, Corporal of Horse casualties from 31st October 1914 whose graves were subsequently lost and are now remembered at the Menin Gate. 2420 Robert Arthur More, 2460 Walter Christie Stevenson and 2515 Claude Wells. 

 

Extracts from the 2nd Life Guards War Diary (NA WO 95/1152/2)

 

43112_1155_0-00170.jpg.ac69439e66e3167af271e665d7df1f6a.jpg

43112_1155_0-00171.jpg.b320a516e39a40b596e849aa520cdbcc.jpg43112_1155_0-00172.jpg.97f926afade87f3a0aa0d75f8fb747c3.jpg

43112_1155_0-00173.jpg.8d01928b95732a3344775ad9cbf8c6a8.jpg

 

Zanvoorde is almost 7 km to the south east of the line held by the 2nd Life Guards on the 13th May 1915. I believe it to be highly unlikely that any of the three Corporal of Horse killed in the fight on the 31st October 1914 would have been exhumed east of Potijze.

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The 1st Life Guards were also in the fight on the 13th May 1915 and also took their share of the casualties. Only one 1st Life Guards, Corporal of Horse has no known grave for this period, 2326 John Coates was killed in action on that day, he has no known grave and is remembered at the Menin Gate. 

From what I understand the two battalions wore a brass shoulder title that comprised of a separate '1' or '2' over  'LG', the cap badge carried the word 'first' or 'second' and the buttons differed slightly in design and again carried a  '1' or '2', although neither of the latter two items are mentioned on the CoG report as having been found with the remains at 28.I.5.a.9.1 but the officer in charge was confident that the remains belonged to a 2nd Life Guard. I assume the brass numeral '2' was evident on the remains since no other regimental identification is noted other than what we understand is the shoulder title.

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So I'm assuming here that the identification of 'Corporal Major' was a crown above two chevrons, which if so suggests that a crown above three chevrons was identified by some GRUs as Sergeant Major which we know anyway from ‘(S. Major) 3 Chevrons, Crown and numeral’ (CoG report 2163479 shown above). If that is the case here then there is a probability of only one of three (edit: four - depending on how the LG rank badged their Lance Corporals and Corporals) soldiers that were laid to rest in Plot 6 Row D grave 9. Also interesting to note the identification of 2nd Life Guards by 'badge' although I suppose this could relate to cap badge or shoulder badge, I haven't checked what other terminology is used for identification through this particular set of CoG reports. 

 

This of course now questions the grave of 2nd Life Guards Corporal of Horse Ellison who was originally identified as a Corporal Major and not a Sergeant Major.

 

doc2128355.JPG.e84024c6ca9a27e81ed3847cc2772efc.JPG

Edited by jay dubaya
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My head is spinning! :thumbsup: Great stuff. Good work on sorting out the case of Pte. Fittis. I wonder how his disk ended up with another soldier?

 

In summary, who do you think is where?

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I believe there is a very strong probability that COH 2216 Dean, 2nd Life Guards was laid to rest at Bedford House Enclosure No.4, Plot 14, Row C, Grave 1 as a 2nd Life Guard UBS (whats interesting is Richard Stiles would probably have identified the rank and thus a name).

 

Based on the evidence I have presented on CoH 2216 Dean it now casts a doubt over the identity of the soldier buried in CoH 2405 Ellison's grave at Harlebeke NBC. Ellison was identified by 'chevrons and crown' but the amount of chevrons is not noted, the crucial word in identification here is 'Corporal'. The CoG report initially states 'Corporal Major' and the Special Exhumation report states 'Corporals Chevrons' so it is my belief the soldier was found with two chevrons. Richard Stiles believing the rank of Corporal Major does not exist amends the the rank to 'Corporal of Horse' and all evidence that he has access to at the time suggests that it can only be one man CoH 2405 Ellison, indeed all evidence today would suggest the same, but I believe the soldier found was a Corporal of the 2nd Life Guards and not a Corporal of Horse. Early suggestion would point to Corporal 2731 Dean (not to be confused with CoH 2216 Dean). My assumption here relates to the GRU recovering 2 chevrons (Corporal) with the remains, had they found 3 chevrons would the CoG report not have stated Sergeant Major? and the Special  Exhumation report stated 'Sergeants chevrons? I need to look further into this particular case of which I see forum member Laughton has already touched on.

 

Regarding Pte Fittis and his identity disc, we perhaps have assumed it was found on the remains as opposed to very close to the remains - close enough to believe it belonged with the remains, alas no further means of identification are noted on the CoG report. Perhaps Pte Fittis became detached from his disc when he was wounded although he may still have been in the line in June 1915. There are two Court Marshall papers detailed on Fold3 (C. Fittis, DLI, 26th April 1915, Armentieres. and CF Fittis, DLI, 9th June 1915,Ypres) alas I have no access to Fold3, but I say it's likely to be the same soldier. As this presents little to no evidence on the above case I shall leave it here.

 

Edited by jay dubaya
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Well done.

I expect you have worked out by now that "numerals" on a shoulder title includes all manner of numbers AND letters.

In passing, until the creation of Warrant Officer Class II in May 1915, a company sergeant major and his counterparts in other regiments/ corps EXCEPT the Household Cavalry wore his old badge of 3 chevrons with crown above. Thus a CoH could so easily be logged as a sgt major until the changes bedded in. Post war, the exhumation staff should have known better, but to err is human ...........

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Like you have mentioned previously Grumpy and which if I may reiterate here 'I have no difficulty in understanding/ forgiving sketchy information from the Graves parties .......... I could not have begun to do their job, let alone diligently'.

 

The Kipling case has been at the back of my mind throughout the piece of research, there can be only one way to make a positive identification so many years after the event and we all know this will should never happen. But what becomes of cases like this? Do I submit my findings to the CWGC? Would the CWGC make this information available? I must admit I feel some guilt publicly posting that a soldier in a particular known grave probably isn't the soldier whose name appears on the headstone.

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To add another piece to this I have now searched those soldiers who died whilst known to be attached to the 2nd Life Guards during May 1915. There are 4 soldiers and all are now remembered at the Menin Gate. L/Cpl More, 13th Hussars,13/05/15. Pte Hancock, 3rd Dragoon Guards ,13/05/15. Pte O'Brien, 21st Lancers, 13/05/15 and Pte Oram, 18th Hussars, 14/05/15. It's highly probable none of these 4 soldiers would be identified as a ‘(S. Major) 3 Chevrons, Crown and numeral’ even if badged as a Life Guard. I have started another thread regarding how soldiers were badged whilst attached to other regiments.

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My understanding is that, in general, attached = no change of badges, posted = eventual change of badges etc as circumstances allow. They had better things to do than fuss over badges, even assuming that the QM held a stock.

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  • 2 years later...

Just noticed that this case has been submitted to the CWGC. I hope it has the legs to change the current commemoration... if it does the grave of Ellison at Harlebeke would become an UBS, I haven’t yet found a probable candidate for this grave... but it’s certainly not Ellison. 
Anyone know who submitted the case?

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