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Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery: Case #2 - Two (2) Unknown British Officers (Airmen)


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This is a derivative of this topic for the Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery:

 

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/270903-grand-seraucourt-british-cemetery/

 

The information we have there for the two (2) Officers/Airmen in graves 6.J.13 and 6.J.14  who were recovered from the FONTAINE-UTERTE COMMUNAL CEMETERY GERMAN EXTENSION 62b.O.3.a.3.4 is:

 

COG-BR 2762298 tells us that the two airmen were recovered from German Graves No. 10 and 11.

They both have crosses on their graves with the date of 30 April 1917. Both Officers are reported to have:

  • Officer's Khaki
  • Flying Boots
  • Cross

The additional effects of each Officer differ.

There are other Flying Officers now in Grand-Seraucourt, also exhumed from this cemetery.

click to enlarge:

doc2762298.JPG

 

The Fontaine-Uterte Communal Cemetery is clearly marked on McMaster Map [St. Quentin] 62b. It is approximately 11,000 yards northeast of St. Quentin. IN January 1918 the UKNA trench map FONSOMMES 2A [wo297_1538] shows this area as German controlled.There were an abundance of German Huts to the east of the village.

 

As noted in the parent topic, GRRF 2005752 lists them as UBO with no mention of airmen.

 

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Luc has already added to the topic on the parent page: (Davidson was 19th Sqdn. and Kay was 56th Sqd.) See below, the CWGC list is only RFC not RNAS!

 

Quote

There are only 2 airman on the Arras Flying services for that date:

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/746719/davidson,-donald-alastair-leslie/

Capt DAL Davidson, B1562 SPAD, Blown to pieces in air on offensive patrol Lens-Le Forest-Fontaine-Noreuil.

Lens is to far north and can be excluded.

 

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1575038/kay,-maurice-alfred/ 

2Lt MA Kay, A4866 SE5, Brought down and burst into flames on impact nr Villiers on offensive patrol.

There's a claim from Edmund Nathanael (Jasta 5) for A4866 E of Fresnoy (this is NE of Fontaine Uterte) and a possible candidate..

 

There is a great deal of information on page 85 of Trevor Henshaw's significant work on "The Sky THeir Battlefield II". Trevor reports that there were 319 air crew lost in April 1917, 264 had been taken prisoner or killed east of the lines. We do not know if the two Officers that were recovered were killed in an air battle and buried that day, or if they were POWs that died on that day. It appears that was an important day in air history, as Trevor notes that the 3 FE2d's of 57 Squadron lost that day were the first early morning victims of the "Flying Circus", carrying out its first operation.

 

The CWGC lists 56 men on the Arras Flying Services Memorial for April 1917. Something is wrong with the CWGC list, as the first thing that I noticed is that the list does not contain Flight Lieutenant J J Malone of 3 Naval Squadron (MIA then KIA)? I had not noticed this before, as I had to switch the search from "Air Force" to "Navy" to pick up the four (4) men of the RNAS (CWGC Link). That list also includes CUZNER of 8 Naval Squadron, not listed in Trevor's book for the 30th. Trevor's "Name Index" (page 311) has him KIA on the 29th. I already had him marked in the book as he was CANADIAN! As with Malone, he was listed as MIA and then KIA. The location Billy-Montigny is at 36c.O.27, Henin-Lietard 36c.O.29, and Courrieres 36c.I.35. Now the question is, were these two men that were MIA also POW's? I can't see the Germans taking them that far away.

 

 

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Here is the initial list for all of those in April on the AFSM, just to see if there are any MIA POW together - nothing really jumps to the top of the list.

               
surname forename death regiment squadron plane status location
BONNER PERCY 02-04-17 RFC 13th Sqdn. 5841 KIA France ne Arras
POWELL PATRICK JOHN GORDON 02-04-17 RFC 13th Sqdn. 5841 KIA  
BRANDON EDGAR THOMAS COLIN 03-04-17 RFC 11th Sqdn.      
O'BEIRNE JOHN INGRAM MULLANNIFFE 03-04-17 RFC 25th Sqdn.      
HUME RONALD 06-04-17 RFC 20th Sqdn. A6358 KIA Belgium
SMITH ROLAND 06-04-17 RFC 20th Sqdn. A6358 KIA  
HIGGINBOTTOM FREDERICK 06-04-17 RFC 23rd Sqdn.      
BROWN ARTHUR ROBERTS 06-04-17 RFC 2nd Sqdn. 5834 KIA France Givenchy
WHITAKER VICTOR JOHN 06-04-17 RFC 2nd Sqdn. 5834 KIA  
ALBAN CLIFTON FREDERICK 06-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn. A3206 KIA  
BARRIE VINCENT NORMAN 06-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn. A3206 KIA with Bailey real name Alban
DAY WILLIAM LEONARD 06-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn. A3421 DOW Perpper POW near Bois Bernard
LANGRIDGE ERNEST FRANK 06-04-17 RFC 8th Sqdn.      
WOOD ERNEST 06-04-17 RFC        
JENNINGS ALEXANDER 07-04-17 RFC 29th Sqdn. A6692 KIA not together
MUIR JAMES HUNTER 07-04-17 RFC 29th Sqdn. A6755 KIA  
SMART GEORGE ORME 07-04-17 RFC 60th Sqdn.      
CANTLE LEONARD HEATH 08-04-17 RFC 43rd Sqdn.      
STEWART GEORGE 11-04-17 RFC 13th Sqdn.      
LOVELL LESLIE GRAHAM 11-04-17 RFC 48th Sqdn.      
KITCHIN FRANCIS LESLIE 11-04-17 RFC 4th Sqdn.      
TOPHAM MICHAEL 13-04-17 RFC 27th Sqdn.      
SELBEY ROBERT EDWARD 13-04-17 RFC 57th Sqdn A1950 KIA  
GILLESPIE GORDON WOOD 13-04-17 RFC 57th Sqdn. A1950 KIA  
BOYD PHILIP BENTINCK 13-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn.      
HODGSON GEORGE BAILEY 13-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn.      
HORNE HERBERT GEORGE MCMILLAN 13-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn.      
MORRIS CHARLES HERBERT 13-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn.      
ORMEROD ANDREW 13-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn.      
RAY PHILIP OLIPHANT 13-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn.      
STUART JAMES MAITLAND 13-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn.      
TANFIELD ARTHUR HORACE 13-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn.      
WOOD MAURICE HERBERT 13-04-17 RFC 59th Sqdn.      
CAPPER EDWARD WALTER 14-04-17 RFC 19th Sqdn.      
MORRISON NORMAN WALTER 14-04-17 RFC 25th Sqdn.      
CHAPMAN LEWIS CARLTON 16-04-17 RFC 60th Sqdn. B1523 MIA POW DOW Gavrelle
ROBERTSON DAVID NORMAN 16-04-17 RFC 60th Sqdn. B1501 POW DOW NKG Pelves
SADLER FERREBEE 21-04-17 RFC 29th Sqdn.      
HESKETH JAMES ERNEST BYTHEWAY 22-04-17 RFC 11th Sqdn.      
JOHNSTON ALFRED ROY 24-04-17 RFC 20th Sqdn.      
MATTHEWS FRANK ARTHUR 24-04-17 RFC 9th Sqdn.      
DARNELL CHARLES VERDON 25-04-17 RFC 25th Sqdn.      
CLIFFORD WILLIAM JAMES 25-04-17 RFC 48th Sqdn. A3352 MIA KIA Roeux
TOMKIES HENRY LEA 25-04-17 RFC 48th Sqdn. A3352 MIA KIA  
ALLAN LAWSON ELLIS 26-04-17 RFC 5th Sqdn. A2806 MIA KIA Gavrelle
HOPE HUMPHRY BRIAN THOMASSON 26-04-17 RFC 5th Sqdn. A2806 MIA KIA  
CROKER FREDERICK REGINALD 27-04-17 RFC 2nd Sqdn. 2713 MIA KIA  
STONIER WILLIAM JOHN 27-04-17 RFC 2nd Sqdn. 2713 MIA KIA man fell out
FOLLIT REGINALD WILLIAM 28-04-17 RFC 13th Sqdn.      
DAVIES DAVID EVAN 29-04-17 RFC 12th Sqdn.      
BEEBEE ALFRED 29-04-17 RFC 18th Sqdn. 4898 MIA KIA sw Inchy 5th Army area
STEAD GEORGE 29-04-17 RFC 18th Sqdn. 4898 MIA KIA  
APPLIN RICHARD 29-04-17 RFC 19th Sqdn.      
BREWIS JOHN ARTHUR GARDNER 29-04-17 RFC 40th Sqdn.      
DAVIDSON DONALD ALASTAIR LESLIE 30-04-17 RFC 19th Sqdn.      
KAY MAURICE ALFRED 30-04-17 RFC 56th Sqdn.      
WALTER ERIC BLOUNT JACKSON 24-04-17 RNAS 8 (Naval) Sqdn.      
BENNETT SAMUEL LOWE 29-04-17 RNAS 3 (Naval) Sqdn. A6160 KIA Elincourt
MALONE JOHN JOSEPH 30-04-17 RNAS 3 (Naval) Sqdn. N6175 KIA Rumaucourt w Cambrai
CUZNER ALBERT EDWARD 30-04-17 RNAS 8 (Naval) Sqdn. N5463   s Henin-Lietard 36c.O.29

 

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In the wee hours of the morning it dawned on me that there was good evidence staring me in the face and I had not considered that information. The Fontaine Uterte Communal German Cemetery Extension has a large number of concentrated graves and many of those are known. That would suggest that the immediate questions are:

  • How many of these men, if any, were POWs and have records at the ICRC that tell us how they arrived in that area?
  • Were any of these men wounded, subsequently treated at a German medical facility and thereafter DOW?
  • Were any of the regiments, in which the known men served, in the area (including front lines) at the time of their deaths?
  • Were the regiments in the area at any time during the war?
  • Is there a record of the German Burial lists for this cemetery in the archives anywhere?

We already know where the documents are for the men found in this cemetery:

Quote

FONTAINE-UTERTE COMMUNAL CEMETERY GERMAN EXTENSION 62b.O.3.a.3.4 (500 German; 23 British, March 1917-March 1918).

 

Here is the list, shown as the grave in GSBC and the original German grave number in (brackets)

 

COG-BR 2762297 - all on a German Burial List

  • 6.J.5 (2) SYLVESTER #3122 25/5/17
  • 6.J.6 (3) WILKINSON #22708 19/4/17
  • 6.J.7 (4) DEAR #203459 25/4/17
  • 6.J.8 RHODES #50438 29/4/17
  • 6.J.9 (6) BARNES #25245 19/5/17
  • 6.J.10 (7) THOMAS #203756 9/5/17
  • 6.J.11 (8) BONE #35308 1/5/17
  • 6.J.12 (9) KING #45754 30/4/17
    • unfortunately no ICRC PA as he is the last one before our two unknown aviators

COG-BR 2762298

  • 6.J.13 (10) UNKNOWN UBO AVIATOR #1 30/4/17
  • 6.J.14 (11) UNKNOWN UBO AVIATOR #2 30/4/7
  • 6.J.15 (16) UBO LIEUT - 2/Lt. W. J. BORTHISTLE RFC 29/1/18 - TH page 142 MIA/KIA 25 Sqn, combat St. Quentin 62b.T.14
  • 6.J.16 (17) UBO CAPT. - Capt. A. G. WHITEHEAD RFC 29/1/18 - with Borthistle
  • 6.J.17 (18) UB AVIATOR - 2/Lt. J. F. PERKINS 8/3/18 - TH page 147 27 Sqn,  combat nw Fresnoy Le Grand (62b NW4 Ramicourt) 62b.I.18
  • 6.J.18 (19) UB AVIATOR - Lieut. R. G. FOLEY 8/3/18 - with Perkins
  • 7.A.2 (23) Major C. T. A. ROBERTSON 1/5 Gordons 23/3/18 - on German Burial List
    • ICRC PA28275 appears to have been identified by dog tags by Sanitary Company, no mention of POW
    • 61st (2nd South MIdland) Division 183 Brigade (March 1918 war diary page 237 of 582)
    • withdrew to Voyennes during the night of 22/23, then to fall back to Nesle 66d NW - all Officers already dead by this time
    • on 21st enemy advancing through Gricourt 62b.M.21.a.c (nw of Cambrai) m- no surviving officers
    • listed as wounded and prisoner (war diary page 244 of 582) - Acting Major
    • a number of others wounded and prisoner, or just prisoner

COG-BR 2762339

  • 7.E.5 (149) Pte. C. STEWART #S/17077 21/3/18 5th Gordon Highlanders (must be 1st/5th with Major Robertson in 7.A.2)
    • ICRC PA29816 shown as 3 Gordon Highlanders (reserve unit) so probably sent to 1st/5th
    • Pay Book sent in from Sanitary Coy (see also Major Robertson - same company)
    • maybe someone knows if the German Sanitary Companies "cleaned up" the battlefields?
  • 7.E.6 (153) Pte. E. E. MEARS #265704 26/3/18 2/5 Gloucesters
    • German Burial List & German Dossier
    • he is on the same list as Janes in 7.E.9 below ICRC PA25455
    • also on PA28080
  • 7.E.7 (156) UBS
  • 7.E.8 (157) BTB
  • 7.E.9 (159) Pte. W. S. Janes #71218 26/3/18 89th Machine Gun Corps
    • listed on ICRC in with "James" group of names ICRC PA25455
    • shot through stomach DOW Field Dressing Station at Croix-Fonsomme 62b.O.5
    • on German List of 13/5/18

COG-BR 2762340

  • 8.E.1 (183) Pte W. SMITH #36285 2 King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

COG-BR 2762341

  • 7.E.3 (?) no cross 2/Lt. A V Cosgrove 25/9/18 27 Sqn RAF (Canadian) - TH page 225 MIA/KIA combat w BOHAIN 62b.D.22
  • 7.E.4 (?) no cross 2/Lt. S. G. Read 25/9/18 27 Sqn RAF - with Cosgrove
Edited by laughton
continuing entries ....
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So far these are the closest to the area and date of death and most buried here seem to have arrived shortly after their death, either from the battlefield sanitation or from the dressing station:

 

BENNETT SAMUEL LOWE 29-04-17 RNAS 3 (Naval) Sqdn.A6160 KIA Elincourt 57b.U.3

MALONE JOHN JOSEPH 30-04-17 RNAS 3 (Naval) Sqdn.N6175 KIA Rumaucourt w Cambrai 51b.Q.26


That does mean that they were both in the hands of the Germans, so logical candidates. Bennett is close to the area, Malone is further away.

 

Where did the planes go down?



 

Edited by laughton
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Not to be forgotten is the one aviator that Luc @LDT006 first pointed out:

  • KAY MAURICE ALFRED 30-4-117 RFC 56 Sqdn. down in flames ne Fresnoy, recorded as NKG (No Known Grave)

I missed the fact that Luc was probably talking about Fresnoy le-Grand at 62b.I.18 which is close to where the remains were recovered. There are many places with FRESNOY in the name, this one does not show on the McMaster Map Index. Kay is on page 85 of Trevor's book and noted as being on an OP (Offensive Patrol) VITRY - VILLERS, seen shot down crash in flames near VILLERS, flames MIA. He was later recorded as KIA, but no body was recovered. He has an ICRC file, however it only reports that there was no news as to his whereabouts.

 

Unlike Bennett, the Casualty Card for Kay does not record that his death was reported:

Could the "Villers" location be the one reported as Faubg de Villers at 62b.R.17? Does "Vitry" refer to Vitry-en-Artois at 51b.J.2?

 

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8 hours ago, laughton said:

I missed the fact that Luc was probably talking about Fresnoy le-Grand at 62b.I.18 which is close to where the remains were recovered. There are many places with FRESNOY in the name,

 

 

Fresnoy-le-Grand was indeed the place that I meant and is just NE to Fontaine Uterte.

 

The other named locations are difficult because there are also many places in France with that name in it.

The closest Villers that I can find is Villers-Outreaux.

There's also Villers-Guislain and Villers-Faucon a bit further away

Other Villers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villers

My data has "Villiers" but that could be a typo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villiers

Vitry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitry

 

Are there exhumation reports for these graves? If so the medical data in the officer files might give a clue.

 

Hope this helps,

Luc.

 

PS: I didn't receive an email notification for your "@LDT006" ping in the post above, this worked in the past. Maybe Trevor didn't receive one neither?

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13 hours ago, LDT006 said:

PS: I didn't receive an email notification for your "@LDT006" ping in the post above, this worked in the past. Maybe Trevor didn't receive one neither?

 

Okay, good to know. I will test it again now and if it fails I will let the Admins know there is a problem. I can come back and delete this post later.

@laughton

@LDT006

@fetubi

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Beginning to look into this.  I've been reading a detailed description of events that day (30th), as regards Lt MA Kay of 56 Sqn, in a Combat Report of Lt JO Leach, who was one of two others in the patrol that day.  In particular, this confirms the fighting was up right near Douai, and the two places Vitry and Villers have to be Vitry-en-Artois and Villers-au-Tertre.  This feels quite remote from these graves.  Note that my possible tie-up with a German claim by Nathanael of Jasta 5 is just that - a possible claim that ties up - in the absence of any other in the vicinity that day.  I now don't think it is relevant.  This is further compounded by Lt Leach's rather detailed description of Lt Kay's end - as he states that BOTH Lt Kay AND his German adversary crashed in flames.  So next it will be a matter of seeing if there is a German airman's death on this day to add information.  

I would then make the following observation: Lt Kay died in his aircraft, as mentioned, seen crash in flames.  The rather full description of (unburnt) airmen's apparel on the Concentration Form also doesn't corroborate with Lt Kay.

My final comment also refers to the uniforms mentioned on the Form - would airmen wounded a few days or a day earlier be in full flying kit with boots and silk tie?  Doesn't quite feel right.  The fact is - they're two airmen, and now we need to find who they are.

 

Trevor

 

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The only (single) NKG Airman I can see any sort of case for, is from six days earlier - when 9 Sqn RFC lost three aircraft in a bombing raid on Busigny Station.  One man crashed in or very near St Quentin (taken POW), then Lt CL Graves was hit by AA and killed - his grave was found in Joncourt CC in 1925, and then there was the third pilot, 2Lt Matthews who was also hit by AA and has no known grave.  All these locations are within a short few km of Fontaine-Uterte.  These two airmen were seen going down in flames - which doesn't square with the descriptions of airmen in "untouched" uniform.  Nothing else is coming out of my searches so far.

 

Trevor

 

Edited by fetubi
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