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John French

Acting Corporal 6320 Harris Thompson, 21st Batt. Machine Gun Corps

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John French

Act./Corp. 6320 Thompson was born August 1896 was killed in action with the MGC on 27/5/18 and subsequently received a war gratuity of £15-0-0.  According to Soldiers Died in the Great War he originally enlisted in Cambridge as Private 18909 in the Suffolk Regiment.  Please could you estimate his enlistment date and establish in which Suffolk's Battalion he served.  His MGC medal roll indicates he was only eligible for the Victory and British War Medals - is it possible to estimate his embarkation date to France?

Thanks

John

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charlie962
Posted (edited)

This link on FindmyPast will answer some of your questions Railwaymen died in the Great War

 

Note that he was reported wounded in the Casualty List 1/5/1917 as a Pte in the MGC.

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962

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charlie962
Posted (edited)

Some thoughts:

 

He volunteered April 1915 (Near Suffolk nos with surviving Service Records confirm this)

 

The Suffolk Regiment is not mentioned on his MIC so he didn't go overseas with them.

 

This thread suggests the MGC number dates to c Jan 1916, I think

 

Not being eligible for 14/15 Star means he didn't go overseas until after 1/1/16

 

What Division was 21st Bn MGC in ( I think 21st Division)?  Was there a Suffolk Bn in that Div  (I cannot see one)?

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962

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John French

Charlie, thanks for this information. 21st Bn. MGC was attached to 21st Division and it seems there were no Suffolk Bns. in its 3 Brigades (source Wikipedia).  It does seem however that each Brigade's machine gun company 'joined' in March 1916 and was reorganised in 21st Battalion MGC on 24/2/1918.

 

Is the following a reasonable timeline:

 - April 1915 volunteered for Suffolk regiment - basic training in UK, though not posted to France despite being 19 years old in August 1915

 - Oct 1915 Machine Gun Corps founded

 - Q4 1915 Private Harris transferred to MGC (suggested by relatively low serial number with input/training taking approx 3000 per month)

 - 1916 posted to France, possibly with 21st Division

 - May 1917 wounded, but back with 21st Division by April/May 1918

 - 27/5/18 KIA on the Ainse defending against German Spring Offensive

 

Are there any other MGC soldiers with similar serial numbers to refine the time he embarked for France?

 

John

 

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charlie962
Posted (edited)

John,

Possibilities include:

Having joined the Suffolks (do look at near service numbers to give a clue as to initial posting), he might perhaps have done some machine gun training with them before being trf'd to MGC.

 

I'm not an expert on MGC Nos but I understand that Bn machine gunners were trfd to MGC when it was formed. I get the impression he will have joined MGC Jan 1916 and gone to France a couple of months afterwards but that's just my guess !

 

When a man was wounded, if light and a quick return then usually returned to same unit. But if serious and a long recovery often posted to a different unit on return.

 

Difficult to find similar MGC nos that are useful. A 6300 series was also used by the Guards MGC in 1918.

However 6319 Frederick William Gooding was Norfolk Regt 21022 then MGC 6319. But his Service Filie, which survives, doesn't show the actual trf date from Norfolks (enlisted 3/9/15) to MGC.  Having been at Felixstow after joining I note that he moved to Grantham 1/1/16 and this might be the date he trf'd to MGC, to go to their Training Centre at Beltham Park (edit- yes, see next post for Chippendale) ? He went overseas 16/6/16 and was already with 124 MG Coy. 124 MGCoy was with 41st Div that went overseas May 1916.

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962

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charlie962
Posted (edited)

John,

Here'sanother man:

 

Chippendale, William Pearson,

Enlisted KOR Lancs K/18979  25/6/15

Trf'd to MGC 1/1/16, at Grantham, renimbered 6352.

To BEF France 7/2/16

Posted to 50 Coy MGC 8/2/16

 

So with the 2 results I've quoted ( there will be others)  it is clear there were a number of infantrymen posted from other Regiments to join the MGC at Grantham on 1/1/16. Depending on their qualifications they then were posted to France a few weeks later and some were allocated to MG Coys on arrival in France. So I suspect you cannot deduce to which Coy Harris Thompson was posted, nor say exactly when he went overseas, although it could be as early as Feb 1916.

 

Incidentally this is the link to 21 Bn MGC War Diary at National Archives from 3/18-3/19 which may or may not help ?

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962

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charlie962

I must stop looking at these service records. Just when a pattern seems to emerge I find :-

 

Daglish John Robert

Originally Durham LI (after a hiccup of fraudulent enlistment)

Attached to MGC Grantham 29/11/15

Transferred to MGC 30/11/15  (and presumably allocated no 6356)

To France 8/2/16. Initially with 52 MG Coy

 

Charlie

 

 

 

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John French

Charlie, I think you have provided enough data for me to conclude that Pte. 6320 Thompson enlisted Suffolks April 1915 and was probably transferred to MGC training at Grantham on 1/1/16 (coincident with 6319 Gooding and 6352 Chippendale). Transfer to France would be around Feb 1916 - assignment to Brigade not recorded.

 

I have found a few other Suffolk enlistments on Ancestry (as I was unable to refine the search to focus around adjacent serial numbers and got 2 million records) as follows;

18778 Bryenton enlisted 30/3/15 to 1st Suffolk 3/10/15

19620 Pye enlisted 11/12/15 to 10th Suffolk and embarked 8/4/16

This is broadly consistent with above hypothesis.

 

Thanks also for 21 Btn MGC war diaries, which should add details to the defensive action in which Pvt Thompson died.

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charlie962
13 minutes ago, John French said:

I have found a few other Suffolk enlistments on Ancestry (as I was unable to refine the search

FindmyPast is so much easier for this exercise:

18902 Taplin, Walter        26/4/15       

18905 Bailey, Albert        26/4/15

18907 Tomlinson, Ernest 26/4/15

18909 Thompson, Harris     .......

18917 Thomas, Guy        27/4/15

 

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