Tinkicka Posted 14 June , 2019 Share Posted 14 June , 2019 I am researching the history of my great-uncle - Benjamin Alfred Leyshon Pte. 3823, 3rd Battalion AIF - who was killed in action in France on 21 July 1916. He is listed on the CWGC roll as having no known grave and is remembered on the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.I have come across some inconsistencies in trench map references that I would like to understand a bit more. This started out as part of researching my family history and now has taken my interest for a couple of reasons. I have searched for his name on the Internet (years ago) and came across a website that was researching the 3rd Battalion AIF and it lists his name and that there are no details about his burial. I have now obtained his service record from the National Archives of Australia and have actually discovered that there are burial details contained in his service file. There are two entries relating to his burial. The first is a simple ‘Buried’ with a ‘B1056 Sheet 15’ reference. The second is more interesting and states “Buried Outside Trenches Sh. 57. D.S.W Sq. X.126.96.36.199”. Once again this has a ‘B1056’ reference – which I take to be a battalion burial return form which may no longer be available. (I have a trip to the AWM planned soon with a growing list of questions….) It is this map reference that interests me and hence this query. I have retired now and have a background in aviation and was an aircraft crash investigator for over 20 years, so reading maps is second nature to me. I quickly found all the information on WW1 trench maps from the National Library of Scotland and Macmaster University websites and found that this map reference is highly likely a 1:20000 map reference – there being a compass quadrant in the reference and that there is no number after the compass quadrant. This map reference has me puzzled on a couple of counts: 1. Map 57D SW contains grid squares from M to U only. There are no grid squares listed X.Map 57D SW is to the west of where the 3rd Battalion were located on the date of my great-uncle's death (see below). 2. The format for the reference should be from the X onwards – number/lowercase letter/number/number. It is not in that format – there is what appears to be the number 3 where a lower case letter should be found. I am therefore leaning towards two inconsistencies in the reference. The first is the compass quadrant. It should be SE if the X is correct. I am therefore concluding that this could be a possible transcription error. The second is the number sequence after the X. The ‘3’ could be interpreted as being a ‘B’ but it is not lower case. However, I have found numerous instances where other trench map references on official documents have this letter in upper case. If it is a ‘B’ then the reference makes sense after the ‘X’. Once again a possible transcription error. If I plot this position on a map, I get a position to the south-west of Pozieres, adjacent to the Albert-Bapaume road. If I carry out a check of the position on a 1:40000 scale map as confirmation (removing the inconsistency of the compass quadrant) I get the same position south-west of Pozieres. The Unit War Diary for the 3rd Battalion in July 1916 has them in position to the east of Olivers la-Boisselle preparing to move up to the lines south of Pozieres on the evening of the 19th July. They relieved the 13th KRRC at 0130 on 20 July. They then commenced work on communication trenches and reconnaissance of the front line and the enemy. This took place along the Contalmaison-Pozieres road. This is approximately 450-500 yards south of the Albert-Bapaume road where the map reference is located. On 21 July (the recorded date of his death) they were still carrying out this task. Red Cross files indicate that he was killed, along with two others at 0100 when a high explosive shell landed in their trench. These files seem to indicate he was buried in the rear trenches at that time. What also interests me is that when trying to find burial concentrations from the Contalmaison-Pozieres road location, that I noticed on the Graves Registration Report Form that the map reference for the Pozieres British Cemetery has been typed as 57D.X.9.b.8.8 and someone has crossed out the 8.8 and replaced it with 60.65. This is too close to the reference in my great-uncles service record not to indicate something. Plotting the reference 57D.X.9.b.8.8 places it in a position further along the road closer to Pozieres. I used the tmapper.com and munnin-project websites to project the map reference 57D.X.9.b.6.6 onto up-to-date maps and discovered that they both return a position that is consistent with the current location of the Pozieres British Cemetery. I therefore have the following questions that I would like to put to the collective wisdom and knowledge of the forum: 1. Is my interpretation of the burial reference, with its inconsistencies as indicated above likely to be sound and correct? 2. Is it likely from his service records, that the first burial notation is from when he was buried immediately after he was killed and that the second is a possible indication that he was recovered from the battlefield and buried in the Cemetery on the Albert-Bapaume road (which initial research shows was being used from as early as 1916) sometime later? 3. Would it be likely that if he was buried at the location of the Pozieres British Cemetery early it its use, that during further battles, especially after the 1918 campaign, that any identifying markers to his grave were lost and therefore he could be buried as ‘Unknown Solider’. (My research to date has not located any reference to him on either the burial returns or concentration returns, which is consistent with his current status of ‘no known grave’). 4. If the above are sound conclusions, then could it indicate that he is buried in the Pozieres British Cemetery? I have attached a JPG of the map plotting that I constructed to arrived at my initial conclusions. Apologies for such a long first posting, but coming from an investigative background, once I joined a couple of dots, I could not let it go. I feel that there might be a few more dots in this story to join up……….. Regards, Tinkicka Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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