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june bartlett

Hello I'm new to this forum (and a female who does not know much about the great war, so please forgive me if I come across as ignorant)!

 

I am trying to find out how my Grandfather who deserted the British Army in 1917 (he was in the 158th Hull Heavy Battery) ended up at the Castle in Cape Town (would that have been possible)?.  I have a marriage certificate where he used a pseudonym "Selby" stating his occupation as "Soldier" and his address as The Castle in 1920.

 

I am attaching a screenshot of an Army Record showing he was injured - but can anyone explain this clipping - it seems to say "he was invalided" and then next to it says "SA" - would that mean South Africa?

 

Is there any diary that would show the movements of the 158 HHB through East Africa from 1914 to 1917 as I would love to track my grandfather's movements at that time, I can't find any record of the brigade being in South Africa during 1917.

 

Many thanks to anyone who can enlighten me.

Deserted 1917.JPG

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Ron Clifton

Hello June, and welcome to the Forum!

 

There is a partial War Diary for 158 Heavy Battery in the National Archives at Kew, in this file:

WO 95/5314 158 Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery 1916 Jan. - Apr.  
but it has not been digitised so a personal visit to Kew may be necessary. The battery was equipped with four 5-inch howitzers.

 

The posting to "Dep" i.e. the local base depot, in July 1916 was probably on account of illness or wounding. His transfer to 38 Brigade HQ may be mentioned in their War Diary which is in the same file, but War Diaries rarely mention individuals by name other than officers. Numbers of casualties each day are nearly always given, and the location of the unit, with a short description of its activities, is given on each day.

 

Many of the troops in East Africa were from South Africa so it is likely that Cape Town was used as the local "home base". This would explain his detention there.

 

Good luck!

 

Ron

Edited by Ron Clifton

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corisande

June

 

You would need to put details of his name, age and  pseudonym for us to try to help you in the particular , rather than the general

 

Basically the more info you can give, the more clues there are to work with

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clk

Hi June,

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

I think that the diary that Ron referred to has now been digitalised and is available (£3.50) from the National Archives - link

 

Regards

Chris

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Ron Clifton

Chris

 

Thanks for the correction! I'm never quite sure which of the War Diaries other than France have been digitised: I understood that the original funding had been used up but perhaps they found some more!

 

Ron

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SteveE
1 hour ago, june bartlett said:

can anyone explain this clipping - it seems to say "he was invalided" and then next to it says "SA" - would that mean South Africa?

Hi June, welcome to the forum.

 

"Invalided SA" does indeed mean that he was invalided back to South Africa from East Africa.  East Africa was a terrible campaign for the men and sickness (Malaria, Dysentery, Blackwater etc.) was rife, there weren't many (any?) soldiers who didn't suffer 'sickness' at some point during the campaign.  Medical facilities were set up in South Africa, initially at the Cape (Wynberg & Maitland) and later also at Durban and, as the South African climate was considered to be far more conducive to a soldier's recovery from sickness, men were regularly invalided there rather than retaining the soldier in East Africa.

 

Once discharged from hospital in South Africa, if a soldier was considered fit enough for Garrison Duty then he was stationed at the Castle, Cape Town, the local garrison, until such time as he was deemed either fit enough for further active service in East Africa or to be returned back to the UK.  From my own research into another unit that served in East Africa it was at this point that a good number of men chose to 'desert' from the British forces, some joined South African forces, a couple joined the Australians and others "disappeared into the wind" so to speak.

 

As has been suggested by others above, if you can let us have more details then we may be able to put further "meat on the bone".

 

It may also be worth your while getting hold of a copy of Rupert Drake's "The Road to Lindi: Hull Boys in Africa: The 1st (Hull) Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery in East Africa and France 1914–1919", Brighton: Reveille Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-908336-56-9.  Roop is also a member on this forum (member name: KONDOA) and may be able to help further?

 

Regards

 

Steve

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june bartlett

Thank you so much for this information Steve.  I have spent countless hours "googling" the subject and never managed to find this information.  I did come across "The Road to Lindi" during my search and will definitely order a copy.  I also found some fascinating accounts of life in East Africa during WW1  - "The Journals of Dan Fewster" it is a diary and also copies of letters to his family

 

Many thanks for your help.

 

Regards

 

June

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june bartlett

I have been to the National Archives in Kew where I found quite a lot of information about my grandfather, William Balshaw, enlisting in 1914 but I was not aware there is a diary of the 158 Heavy Battery in the Archives.  I am going to see if I can access the digital copy.

 

Thanks so much.

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SteveE
23 hours ago, june bartlett said:

I am trying to find out how my Grandfather who deserted the British Army in 1917 (he was in the 158th Hull Heavy Battery) ended up at the Castle in Cape Town (would that have been possible)?.  I have a marriage certificate where he used a pseudonym "Selby" stating his occupation as "Soldier" and his address as The Castle in 1920.

June

 

The fact that you have a 1920 document stating he's a soldier and gives an address as The Castle, Cape Town suggests to me the possibility that after he deserted from the 158th Hull Heavy Battery that he enlisted with the South Africans under a different name.

 

Apart from his name, William Balshaw, do you have any service numbers etc. for him that could aid us in furthering the amount of information possibly available?

 

Steve   

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corisande
1 hour ago, SteveE said:

Apart from his name, William Balshaw, do you have any service numbers etc. for him that could aid us in furthering the amount of information possibly available?

 

I asked for more personal info in post #3 above, and the OP chose to ignore it, so I would assume they don't want that avenue explored

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corisande

The 1920 marriage quoted in OP is certainly in Cape Town. But the OP must have good grounds for knowing that William Selby in the marriage document and William Balshaw (her grandfather) are in fact the same man.

 

The marriage document says little else about him

 

In other words there are documents somewhere that substantiate that they are one and the same man. And we cannot really get anywhere without knowing

 

marriage.jpg.44fcc0825d369251896a16d835cb7978.jpg

 

 

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