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Remembered Today:

Mystery RFA officer reinforcement from Mudros


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While at Suvla Bay, the War Diary of 58 Bde RFA reported on 27 September 1915 that four 2nd Lieutenants were due to arrive as reinforcements from Mudros.  I can account for three of them (all of whom are named with two initials for their forenames) but am struggling with the fourth.  He is just named as "C Whitney" with just the one initial. This is also his only appearance in the War Diary.


There are no officers in the WO338 lists who have a single forename beginning with C.  I've found though four possible candidates with two forenames where one of them starts with a C:


  • Lt Cyril Underwood Whitney, RAMC.  (I wondered if they were getting a new MO, but it's not him, since his first entry into a theatre of war was not until 1918);
  • 2/Lt Charles Brook Whitney of the General List, but there is no MIC for him so I presume he didn't serve abroad?;
  • Arthur Cyril Whitney where neither his rank nor unit is given, but I can also find no MIC for him, so again presume he didn't serve abroad?; and
  • 2/Lt John Cecil Whitney, RFA.


This last officer looks the most likely.  He appears to have been a member of the Whitney family of Auckland, NZ, who had set up and were running the Colonial Ammunition Company making small arms ammunition.  John Cecil Whitney arrived in Egypt on 3 June 1915 as a Private in the NZ forces (according to his MIC) and was commissioned into the RFA the next day (according to the London Gazette).  A little over two years later he relinquished his commission on 26 Jun 1917 on his appointment to the NZ Forces.  I can't find a service record for him at TNA.


Has anyone else come across John Cecil Whitney and be able to help confirm or deny whether he might be the mystery reinforcement from Mudros?


Here are all the Whitneys in the WO338 lists:





Many thanks,



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Hi David


You may already have seen John Cecil Whitney's NZ record through Archway, if not the link is http://ndhadeliver.natlib.govt.nz/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE20808373


There is also a smaller 3 page file at http://ndhadeliver.natlib.govt.nz/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE10401890


I couldn't see any reference to 58th Brigade, in his file but please check.


I have a reference to a J.C. Whitney in the 59th Brigade RFA War Diary. He arrived 13th October and was evacuated on 12th December with another Officer and 32 Other Ranks. It is a pretty good chance that this is the same chap, perhaps his appointment was changed to a different Brigade before he left Mudros. My thoughts were that it was John Cecil Whiney from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who joined 59th Brigade as he was the only fit I could find, however if you find anything more I be grateful if you would let me know.


Kind regards


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Hi Alan,


that's fantastic.  Thank you.  I had found the short version, but not the longer version which has some interesting details. 


With so many transfers of officers between 58 and 59 Bdes at Suvla, and Whitney's fleeting reference in 58 Bde War Diaries I did wonder whether he had fallen ill (and so been evacuated) or whether he had been re-allocated to 59 Bde. From your evidence, the latter looks the most probable outcome.


I'll certainly let you know what, if anything, more I should discover,


all best wishes,



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Just to follow up on this - and again with many thanks to alantwo - what I have found out about John Cecil Whitney suggests the following:


2/Lt C Whitney was reported on 27 Sep 1915 as a reinforcement for 58 Bde who was to join them at Suvla Bay from Mudros.  This is very likely the New Zealander John Cecil Whitney who was born on 3 Mar 1892 in Remuera, Auckland, the son of Cecil Arthur and Mary Ellen Whitney.  He attended King's College, Auckland where he served in their cadet force for 5 years and then served for 18 months in the NZ Territorial Force’s Auckland Signal Company before being commissioned as a 2/Lt into the NZ Territorial Force's Garrison Artillery Division on 16 Sep 1912.  He worked as an engineer in his father’s company, Colonial Ammunition Company Ltd of Mt Eden, Auckland which was responsible for the manufacture of small arms ammunition for the New Zealand Government.  In 1913 he was granted two years' leave of absence to go to the UK for training.  He was due to sail on the SS "Maheno" to Sydney where he was to board the SS "Malwa" for the UK.  After war was declared he enlisted in the British section of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in London on 5 Oct 1914 as a Private with service number E/174 and embarked for Egypt on 12 Dec 1914, arriving there on 23 Dec 1914 where he transferred to the ASC on 28 Dec 1914 and then on 11 Jan 1915 he became a despatch rider in the Otago Mounted Rifles with a new service number 9/174A.  He transferred to the RFA in Egypt when he was commissioned as 2/Lt on 4 Jun 1915.  As previously mentioned, he probably joined 58 Bde at Suvla Bay in late September or early October 1915 but did not appear to stay with the unit long because he was posted to and joined 59 Bde RFA on 13 Oct 1915.  He was still serving with 59 Bde in January 1917 when a cable was sent to London from New Zealand asking that he be recalled to New Zealand for essential war work on munitions.  He therefore reported to NZEF HQ in London on 3 Mar 1917 and attended a course at the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich to learn about the manufacture of the Mark VII bullet.  He relinquished his commission in the RFA on 26 Jun 1917 on his appointment to the NZ Forces before sailing from Plymouth in June 1917 on the SS "Arawa", arriving back in New Zealand on 25 Sep 1917 and starting back at work at the Colonial Ammunition Company the following day.  He settled back in Auckland, living in Victoria Avenue, Remuera.  Since he played no further part in the military he officially resigned his commission from the NZ Garrison Artillery on 4 Jun 1918.   On 17 Jul 1918 he married Gladys Torrance Culling in Auckland.  Gladys died in 1953.  John appears to have re-married because he sailed to the UK for a 7 month business trip and holiday with a Mrs T P Whitney who had been born on 12 Mar 1900.  They arrived in London on the SS “Orsova” on 11 Apr 1955. John Whitney died in Auckland on 6 May 1976, aged 84.



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8 minutes ago, daggers said:

 Colourful story!

Indeed!  And his father wasn't averse to pulling the odd string for his son.  When John was having difficulty in 1913 being granted leave from the NZ Territorial Force, his father wrote to the GOC asking if he could help.  The GOC issued an order instructing that John be granted leave.  And when John was recalled in early 1917, the same appears to have happened to one of his brothers and a third man all to work at the family company for the important job of producing munitions.

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