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Philb-c

Document interpretation ?

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Philb-c

I have in my possession a small hand written document returned to the next of kin of IWJ CLACK (see below) but I am at a loss as to some of the content and wonder if anyone could shed any light on it ? 

The document reads as follows:

 

GS 17164
DA 22968

Infantry Record Office, Hounslow.

On the Battlefield at Carnoy - about 3/4 mile North East of church at Carnoy 2 1/4 miles East of Fricourt - 3 1/4 miles East south East of Albert - on the right of the Mountain Road - the most advanced of the mass - ref to map sheet 62c sqr A8a

i/c Infantry Records Hounslow

I W J Clack

 

What I would like to ascertain, if you are able to assist, is the purpose of the document but specifically the interpretation of "GS 17164" and "DA 22968" ?

Private CLACK served with “D company, 7th battalion, The Queen’s” and was killed on 1st July 1916.

Untitled-9 copy.jpg

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AOK4

It's "Montauban Road", not "Mountain Road".

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BillyH

It is a burial report. His body was probably buried at or near the battlefield at the co-ordinates given on your document, and in November 1919 his body was exhumed as part of the post war concentration efforts and re-buried in Dantzig Alley Cemetery.

The co-ordinates given are very close to those on the CWGC concentration document below.

The two numbers at top of page are probably just army references, the GS may stand for General Service? but more expert opinions may follow shortly!

 

BillyH.

gwf.JPG.bb1ca12cc7c641093fc576708474ecf5.JPG

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Philb-c

"It is a burial report" ....

That was my initial thought but I then came of the opinion it didn't show his service number (G/3137).

It also looked to me like CLACK had actually signed it (and the signature does share similar characteristics to another document in my possession) ?

I acknowledge that the map co-ordinates are "close" to each other - but not the same.

I also theorised that "1716" could be 1st July 1916 (doesn't account for "4") and if the "DA" stood for Dantzig Alley.

"The most advanced of the mass" is a strange phrase ?

I also couldn't imagine how it came to be in the possession of his next of kin ?

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Philb-c

To clarify, the document is probably noting the discovery of Pvt Clack's body "on the battlefield at Carnoy" in July 1916 followed by the approximate location it was found.
"The most advanced of the mass" is still unknown ?
The map co-ordinate stating where he was subsequently buried (a more accurate map ref was subsequently given in 1919 when he was exhumed) ?
Looking at the handwritten document, "GS 17164" the "S" has a line through it and the subsequent exhumation document for "type of cross" G.R.U (Graves Registration Unit) "G" or "S" - Pvt Clack is a "G".
"17164" I think denotes the date of his death (1st July 1916) but the "4" remains unknown.
"DA 22968" could possibly be the grave location ref in the "old/original" Dantzig Alley cemetery (see pic) prior to re-burial in the new (existing) Dantzig Alley cemetery ?
It's still a mystery why his next of kin would have the paper though ?

dantzig-alley-archive_orig.jpg

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John Milner

I think that your handwritten document is a reply from the IRO Hounslow to a request by IWJ Clack's nok for the location of his death, and as said above the numbers are administrative references.

 

John

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tootrock

Could "the most advanced of the mass" mean that of the mass of bodies found at that location his was the one nearesr the enemy positions?

 

Martin

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Philb-c
8 minutes ago, tootrock said:

Could "the most advanced of the mass" mean that of the mass of bodies found at that location his was the one nearesr the enemy positions?

 

Martin

Sounds logical to me

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MaxD
Posted (edited)

There were 81 West Surreys killed on 1 July 1916 and initially buried in more or less the same location.  Rather macabre but perhaps "the most advanced..." refers to the state of decomposition?  It will also be noted that the concentration sheet has other hieroglyphics - 111, 101, 6/1520 - all of which meant something at the time but can quite safely be ignored.  Like the 17164 (which looks to me like 1716 then a space and then 4) and which others have, correctly I'd say, characterised as admin references of the time, can also be safely ignored as "meaning" nothing.  The "G" is just one of many notations (see other concentration reports for that cemetery) relating to the work of the GRU.  It was normal for the G/ prefix to be sometimes omitted from a man's number (as it is on most of the concentration reports). 

Max

Edited by MaxD

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Philb-c

Unfortunately the Queen's West Surreys war diaries for the first half of July 1916 have not survived so it's looking doubtful if any more light can be thrown on this. 

Enquiries to the CWGC produced nothing (although they did want a copy for their records) and enquiries to regimental and/or military bodies failed to get any response whatsoever.

"perhaps "the most advanced..." refers to the state of decomposition?" - that thought crossed my mind too but I didn't like to say. 

 

Interesting never-the-less that "IWJ CLACK" looks like a signature and (if it was a record of him being found and then buried) his service number is not included ?

 

It even crossed my mind that Pvt CLACK could have been scouting ahead and just writing down where he was / how far he got and "the most advanced of the mass" could refer to the German's position ?

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Michelle Young

I read it as Clack is I/C infantry records  Hounslow. 

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Philb-c
1 hour ago, Michelle Young said:

I read it as Clack is I/C infantry records  Hounslow. 

This gets more confusing/complicated and I'm now chatting with the IWM in an attempt to solve it (it's not critical by any means, I just don't like loose ends  LOL).

Interesting to note as an aside, IWM feature the name (but nothing else) of IWJ CLACK on their website ?

Can anyone say if "Infantry Records, Hounslow" concentrated in any particular field during WW1 (was it deceased soldiers or everything ?)

I have tried multiple times searching but cannot come up with an actual contact - just general WW1 websites. 

1 hour ago, Michelle Young said:

I read it as Clack is I/C infantry records  Hounslow. 

So do you think it's a signature too  ?

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David_Underdown

Hounslow was probably the Infantry Records Office covering the West Surreys (along with various other nearby regiments)

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Philb-c

Purely out of interest and without being facetious, has anyone seen a document (basically scrap of paper) like this before, or is this something quite rare ?

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MaxD
Posted (edited)

 

The war diary of 7 West Surreys WO 95/2051 does survive and is on Ancestry at;  https://www.ancestry.co.uk/interactive/60779/43112_2051_0-00000?backurl=&ssrc=&backlabel=Return#?imageId=43112_2051_0-00182

(I July 1916 at the link) and includes two detailed accounts of the action on 1 Jul 1916.

 

 

The location described in the note is pretty much where the original burials were.

 

Hounslow was No 2 Infantry Record Office, some of the regiments it dealt with can be picked up from here:  https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_q=infantry+record+office+hounslow   I would doubt very much that Private Clack even knew of the existence of the records office at Hounslow never mind being moved to write to them.

 

Max

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by MaxD

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Philb-c

Nice find.
Even The Queen's Royal Surrey website only starts the 7th Battalion diary from 13th July 1916 - preceeded by "page missing".

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Philb-c

Having now plotted the location as per the description (see attached) it is now apparent as to how vague it is to pinpoint an exact position.
To lay this matter to rest (so to speak), can anyone clarify matters by plotting the two references: "62C Sqr A8a" and "62C.A.8.b.3.2" ?   

Location.jpg

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MaxD
Posted (edited)

Square A 8 is at the top left

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=15&lat=49.9939&lon=2.7719&layers=101465281&right=BingHyb

 

Square A 8 a is the west (top left) quadrant of A 8

 

Square A 8 b is the east (top right) quadrant, then measure 3/10th east (to the right) of figure 8 and 2/10th north (up)

 

This last by the way is not a pinpoint but a small square 50x50 yds within a large square.  On the present day image the rectangular field "on the right of the Montauban road" (which is off the map to the north east) falls at the grid reference.

 

Max

Edited by MaxD

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David_Underdown
Posted (edited)

Or this version directly overlays the trench map on the modern mapping https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=14&lat=49.9907&lon=2.7547&layers=101465287&b=11 - whichever the grid ref is NE (or more accurately NNE) of Carnoy: you've plotted NW in your version above (I've done similar before).  It seems to be the distance from Albert that is wildly inaccurate.  I wonder if at some point a 5 has been miscopied as a 3?

Montauban-de-Picardie is NNE of Carnoy so the road linking them would logically be the Montauban Road described above.

Edited by David_Underdown

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Philb-c

You chaps are soooo helpful.

 

Thank you  :)

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Philb-c

My East West cock-up aside (LOL), it just goes to show how inaccurate estimates of distances and/or transcription errors (including mine) later prove to be such a headache for later researchers !

 

My sincere thanks to you all, what nice people.

 

Phil

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TEW

Was about to add something but John in post #6 has said it. The note relates to where he died not where he was originally buried?

Also wondered if Mass was Man but it still makes no sense. Perhaps it means - he died 'here' the most advanced of the mass (of British troops). As John said, it's for his NOK to know where he fell adding that he was 'right up front'.

Brigade diary may be worth a shot, often find Btn. narratives in Brigade diaries which could tie down how far they got.

According to Middlebrook 18th division took all their early objectives and had reached the Montauban Rd by midday. 7/Queens encountering the Chained German Machine gunner on the way!

Battalion diary for June may give the objectives for 1/7/16.

TEW

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MaxD
7 hours ago, TEW said:

Battalion diary for June may give the objectives for 1/7/16

 

I looked at that earlier.  The first objective was a line in squares A 3 c to A 2 d (about 1000 yds north of the location under discussion) followed by a second objective, Montauban Alley) on the map sheet above.  After the whole day's fighting,, the diary records the second objective attained.

Significantly, on 2 July the battalion were relieved (from the map sheet above) and moved back to Back trench (A2 d to A 3 c).  Bn HQ was set up "50 yds west of the junction of Back trench and the Carnoy-Montauban road".  This I suggest is where the battalion gathered their fallen and interred them just a little south of the Bn HQ position.

 

Max

 

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TEW

Now that I've found a map the text description to me is square A.8.b.

His concentration sheet gives A.8.b 3.2. Squares A.8.b/c/d are all on right of Montauban-Carnoy road. So, not certain it is where he fell or where he was buried but they may be almost the same place. Montauban Road Cemetery was at A.8.a.8.4 which is also on right side of same road. I have a density map that for A.8 shows; a-10, b-57 c&d-7 combined but NB body density maps are a snapshot of bodies retrieved to a specific date.

The document is unusual. It almost seems to me to be a draft for a clerk to type up a proper letter for the enquiring NOK. Whoever was I/C Records Hounslow didn't sign it. How the NOK ended up receiving the note is another matter. Perhaps the clerk sent it by mistake.

Oh, now further confused. The sheet has what I see as TWJ Clack but concentration sheet has W Clock. Is there a another man GS/17164 that died?

TEW

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TEW

There is a T Clack 10632 2nd Wilts 30th Division. Died 10/7/16 buried Daours.

TEW

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