Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

354 Siege Battery, RGA


Mangoman

Recommended Posts

I am having no luck in locating the War Diary for the above in the NA and wonder if anyone can give me some information on where this man met his death on 30th November 1917? Many thanks,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the village of Gonnelieu  "meanwhile, nearby at Gonnelieu stood the remnants of 36th Infantry Brigade ; three field batteries, 377, 379,  and C Battery  63 Brigade RFA, were in action on the NW of the village  and 500 yards away stood A and B  Batteries 63 Brigade , 25th Heavy Battery (four 60 pounders) and 354th Siege Battery (  four six inch howitzers) stood together inside the village " from History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. Western Front  1914-18 by Gen Sir martin Farndale, KCB

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

354 Siege Battery were allocated to 21 Heavy Artillery Group (Brigade)  21 November to 1 December 1917. There is a (small) chance that the war diary ***:https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/4c0f98704bc54a3e913aef3f0903f131

may at least refer to enemy shelling

 

Max

 

*** PS - Don't bother with the war diary!  It is one sheet for the whole of November and effectively says "we took part in operations during the months in support of....."

Edited by MaxD
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you very much gentlemen for your insight into the 354th Battery. Much appreciated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From a typewritten manuscript titled 354 Siege Battery,RGA by Major A E Nicolls, the battery commander:

 

"At the beginning of the attack the Battery moved forward to a position in the southern part of the village of Gonnelieu in a farm yard. Here the Battery was attached to the 21st Brigade, RGA, Colonel Hardcastle, DSO commanding. The roads around the position were continually harassed but until the Hun counter-offensive on November 30th very few casualties were suffered. About 6.30 am on that day a very heavy barrage was put down on the village and many casualties were inflicted, several dug-outs receiving direct hits. As soon as the enemy barrage lifted and while the Battery was still under what cover was possible, German infantry appeared on the road behind the guns. A number of men managed to get away but all men who still remained in dug-outs or under cover were either taken prisoner or killed. A field battery near turned their guns on the Battery position now completely in the hands of the enemy."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

I am particularly interest as to what happened to the 354th Siege Battery on 20th November 1917 as this is the day that Gunner George Britton 158412 is recorded as being killed in action. Any information that you may have would make a great addition to this man's War service that I am researching.

Edited by Mangoman
Added man's name
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Mangoman said:

I am particularly interest as to what happened to the 354th Siege Battery on 20th November 1917

 

I think a typo has crept in the date here - 30 November 1917.

 

Max

 

PS  It is of note that there are four men from 354 Battery commemorated on the CWGC site, all on the Cambrai memorial, which would add up with men being killed in dugouts or by the enemy as they advanced to take the position and their bodies not recovered.

 

Worth looking at this earlier post.

 

Edited by MaxD
PS
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry for the typo, it should of course read 30th November 1917.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 years later...

30th November 1917

 

About 6:30 am a very heavy barrage was put down upon the surrounding country.  Quite early on one of our dugouts were blown in several of our men being severely wounded. Air activity became very great. Colonel Brighton is presumed to have died the wounded men were taken out after considerable difficulty they had roofed their dugout with a large iron gate with sand bags on top and this had collapsed upon them.  Bombardier Read went to the dressing station under very heavy shell fire to the dressing secured a motor ambulance and after being dressed the wounded were got away.

 

Second Lieutenant W.J. Davies was shortly afterwards severely wounded.  Everyone remained under the best cover that was available.  Communications were quickly broken and no word came through to us of what was going on.  About 9:30 am the heavy shelling ceased, although a few shells were still falling about.  As we could not get into action owing to the communications being cut most men remained under cover, as has already been explained, most of the men were in the enclosing of the farmyard, and it was impossible to see what was going on around us.  The Officer Commanding was also there and about this time we went out into the road to see how in citers stood, but came running back immediately shouting to the men to get rifles as the Germans were upon us very few rifles were however available and as we were in danger of being absolutely overwhelmed, he gave the order for us to run for our lives.  A number of men got away immediately many others however who were still remaining under cover had not heard the orders and were still ignorant of what was going on. These men were eventually taken out by 2nd Lieutenant Hacking and mostly got into safety.  This officer was taken prisoner, but succeeded in getting away.  Second Lieutenant W.F. Greenfield was also made a prisoner then too succeeded in escaping, he also assisted in getting the men out.  The Sergeant Major and the Sergeants had secured large deep dugout for their accommodation some days previously.  This dugout was about 200 yards from the battery position and it appears that during a slackening of the barrage a number of men had run to this dugout for shelter.  

 

Second Lieutenant Davies was still lying wounded at the officer’s quarters.  2nd Lieutenant Hacking made his way to him and he together with 2nd Lieutenant Davies and two men put him on a stretcher and got him away.  The Officer Commanding had made his way to a field battery lying behind us and got this battery to turn their guns on to our own, which had of course fallen into the enemies hands.  This they did and got direct hits on all our four guns! The majority of the officers and men succeeded in getting away safely and partly succeeded in reaching Draincourt (our lorry park) on that day.  Some remained in the bushes fighting with the infantry 2nd Lieutenant H.E. Davis and 2nd Lieutenant Greenfield being among that number.  Others were rounded up at different places and sent on to Draincourt arriving there the next day or two.   After all hope of more coming in was abandoned the roll call revealed about 30 missing including the Sergeant Major and the Sergeants. It became known later that Brigadier Sparks, Gunner Spencer and Overton had been killed and also a few had been wounded in getting away.  It is feared that Gunner Paul and McCormack were also killed, nothing having been heard of them since.  It was eventually learnt that the remainder had been taken prisoners, which included all those who had taken refuge in the Sergeant’s dugout.

 

At Draincourt our A.S.C. Column received us most kindly, doing all that was possible for our comfort, we were of course without anything at all except what we stood up in. Captain Nichols rejoined the battery on December 1st..Time was spent here in refitting and re equipping the men.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome UKSiege. That is an excellent detailed account that expands on the earlier version posted by RFlory ( which is now available on AMOT).

Any clues to the source? 

7 hours ago, UKSiege said:

that Brigadier Sparks

Bombardier surely? 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, This was written by my Great Grandfather who was serving under the 354 Battery Siege Battalion.  You might be right about Bombadier, I retyped his diary and may have not quite understood his writing. I no longer have the original diary (a family member took it a while ago) but I typed it up years ago and still have the account that I typed of the whole time he was serving with the 354 Battery Siege Battalion. I also have photos and medals etc. Not sure what to do with the information but he was very detailed in his descriptions. Sadly, it seems to a point where he spoke of deaths etc in a very offhand manner - like the meal he had that day.

Edited by UKSiege
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you very much for sharing this transcript. If you can post some more that would be excellent- how many pages of type is the diary? Photo of your GGF would be nice to see.

If he hasn't picked this up already, @ororkep finds this sort of thing most useful. 

Charlie 

ps the detail in your transcript, including other names, is particularly valuable to other researchers/families

Edited by charlie962
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Typed up it is 40 pages long from Wednesday 11 October 1916 to the last day on 30th December when they moved to Euskirchen.  It's quite long but I'm happy to share it somehow. Here are a couple of interesting exerpts that relate to the war. (sorry there will be mistakes as it was such a long diary and I just typed fast). I will look for photos. Just going through it trying to make sense of it all. His name was John Greenaway.

6th May

 

Guns and 1st Relief of battery proceeded to position selected for us to take up (N24) Rean billets were established at Blangy Tronville, a mile and a half from the position and the remainder of the battery proceeded there.

 

At the rear of the guns a steep bank sloped downwards tend in this band the B.C. post.  Shelters for the reliefs on duty and cookhouse etc were dug.  Our position was adjacent to those of the other batteries of the brigade.


We had not occupied oar billets at Blangy many days before Fritz started to shell in the immediate vicinity with and H.V. gun. This continued for some days and many casualties were caused, as the village was crowded with troops.  Fortunately our battery was not among the sufferers at this time the officer’s mess.  Battery office etc, were at the rear billets.  Owing to the shelling it was thought advisable to move from here, and a place was selected just outside the village of Glisy billets being dug in a shallow bank.  Shortly after this the officers mess and quarters also Battery office, were moved up to the position and situated in a bank some 200-300 yards from the guns. Work was begun upon the construction of a large dug out in conjunction with our neighbours. Heavy battery.  The amount of firing done either by us of the other batteries of the brigade was not considerable, S.O.S Targets being our principal ones.  Corporate routine orders dated 16th May contained the announcement that Major Nichols was awarded the military cross.

2nd July

 

News received in the battery that out late OFFICER COMMANDING Major A.R. Sergeant Moubray M.C. who had been recently posted to command 200 Siege Battery, had died of wounds received 30th June.

 

Preparation was now going on for a stunt to take place on July 4th on our immediate front between Villers Bretonneux and the Somme.  A large number of tanks passed our position on the way up.

 

 

 

Edited by UKSiege
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just let me know if there is a better way I can send documents. I would love to have it for people to be able to read, and to be able to share the photos and other memorabilia I have found, for historical reference, as it is very detailed.

Edited by UKSiege
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...