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Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension: Case #1 - Royal Warwickshire Serjeant

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Follow-up on a case from this topic: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/276032-romeries-communal-cemetery-extension/


:poppy:2511069 - Serjeant of the Warwick Regiment - only Serjeant Arthur Lake #888 of the 10th Battalion is missing in that period (same Bn as Sgt. Butler in the cemetery)


ERROR - see below that Butler was killed on the 21st, reference to the 27th is a transcription error


There is no date on the COG-BR so one of the first steps is to establish the likely date of the casualty. What other Warwick's are in this cemetery? They set the date from 13 October 1918 to 27 October 1918. For the period 1 October 1918 to 1 December 1918 there are fourteen (14) Serjeants lost in the regiment but only Serjeant Lake is has no known grave (CWGC Link). You have to go back to 27 September 1918 to pick up Serjeant Arnold Ernest Jackson #14/1487 of the 14th Battalion on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. That does not change if you go back to even June 1918. To be safe, it is necessary to check on Serjeant Charles Holden #9055 of the 1st Battalion, missing 9 August 1918 and listed on the Loos Memorial. If the database is correct, to be on the Loos Memorial he must have fallen "in the area from the River Lys to the old southern boundary of the First Army, east and west of Grenay".


surname initials death rank Warwicks # Romeries CCE
BUTLER H 27/10/1918 Serjeant 10th Bn. '1206' V. E. 13.
GREEN A E 21/10/1918 Private 10th Bn. '50766' VI. E. 4.
MAYNARD T A 21/10/1918 Private 10th Bn. '5800' IV. D. 20.
SOPER E W 20/10/1918 Private 10th Bn. '28108' IV. E. 1.
STANLEY F 19/10/1918 Private 10th Bn. '57816' II. C. 14.
WARD G A 21/10/1918 Private 10th Bn. '42875' VI. E. 3.
BERRY J 13/10/1918 Private 16th Bn. '260428' III. C. 2.
BROWN W T 20/10/1918 Private 16th Bn. '35835' V. D. 14.
COLE F W 14/10/1918 Private 16th Bn. '43452' III. A. 2.
HALL W 14/10/1918 Private 16th Bn. '48428' III. A. 7.
McFARLAND E J 19/10/1918 Private 16th Bn. '32820' II. E. 8.
STONE G 20/10/1918 Private 16th Bn. '33230' V. D. 15.
THOMPSON R K 14/10/1918 Private 16th Bn. '263022' III. A. 6.


From the LLT we have the following unit affiliations for the Royal Warwickshire Regiment:


  • 10th (Service) Battalion, 57th Brigade, 19th (Western) Division
  • 14th (Service) Battalion (1st Birmingham),  13th Brigade, 5th Division (on 5 October 1918 - Pioneer Battalion, 5th Division)
  • 16th (Service) Battalion (3rd Birmingham), 13th Brigade, 5th Division


The coordinates for the recoveries were all in the same general area of Solesmes 57b.E.1 and to the north Romeries 51a.W.21-22. The remains of the Unknown Serjeant were recovered further south than the area where the rest were recovered, close to Ovillers. That opens up the question as to whether the remains are those of a different Serjeant?


  • Unknown Serjeant believed to be Lake, based on the dates, recovered at 57b.E.23.a.10.25
    • that places him on the northwest edge of Ovillers, 4,500 yards southeast of Solesmes
    • I don't see anyone else on the COG-BR documents from 57b.E.23 although there are many from 57b.E.25 (BRIASTRE-SOLESMES ROAD MILITARY CEMETERY)
    • E23 and E25 are 4,500 yards apart
  • Serjeant Butler killed on the 27th, a week after 21st, the same day as Serjeant Lake, recovered at 51a.W.7.a.4.4 
    • the sector immediately to the north of the Unknown Serjeant COG-BR 2511086)
    • that is about 3,200 yards northwest of Romeries, east of Haussy
  • Privates Ward and Green killed on the 21st (same day as Serjeant Lake) recovered at 51a.Q.25.d.8.2 (COG-BR 2511099)
    • that location is another 2,200 yards due north of where Serjeant Butler was recovered
  • Privates Maynard and Soper recovered at 51a.V.11.b.8.3 (COG-BR 2511075)
    • that location appears to be within the village of Haussy about 1,500 yards west of Serjeant Butler


The war diary of the 10th Battalion is a bit out of order. October 1918 starts at page 447 of 517 and then ends up back at Operation Michael in March 1918 (war diary page 507 of 517). Here are the locations from the war diary, starting with the first casualty on the list on Saturday 19 October 1918:

  • 19th at St. Aubert preparing for the attack and moved to assembly position at Haussy 51a.V.12
  • 20th in the front line to capture high ground east of the River Selle (runs north-south through the middle of Haussy)
  • 21st consolidating positions, intermittent shelling with gas
  • 22nd very quiet but mentions heavy E.A. in the morning - thought that was "Enemy Artillery" probably "Enemy Aircraft"
  • 23rd relieved by the 11th Suffolk Regiment and our now in Avesnes 57a.J.24 - that is well to the east
  • on the 27th at Cauroir 57b.b9 which is a long way west on the immediate east of Cambrai 57b.A.10 - they appear to be training


So how did Serjeant Butler die on 27 October 1918? HE DID NOT - I suspected it was a transcription error and it was! Soldier's Effects show 21 October 1918. I don't think a day goes by anymore with finding another CWGC transcription error (sent in to CWGC). Same on the UK Soldier's Died. That also shows Butler as a Corporal and his MIC shows him as an "Acting Serjeant".


For later reference, if needed, the war diary of the 16th Royal Warwickshire Battalion is here: page 858 of 929. Noticed that while trying to find the 14th Battalion. Finally found that 14th (Service) Battalion, September 1918 (war diary page 527 of 561). It was here that Serjeant Arnold Ernest Jackson #14/1487 was serving when killed on 27 September 1918 (if not a transcription error). On the 25th they moved up to Metz en Couture 57c.Q.19  from Haplincourt 57c.O.3, which places them just south of Havrincourt Wood, so well out of the area where the Unknown Serjeant was recovered. They assembled at Dead Man's Corner 57c.Q.23.c.7.3, just west of Gouzeaucourt Wood.


I will have to come back to this after a "head clearing", as I need to find out why the unknown Sergeant is at Ovillers and not with the others. Clearly it was not Serjeant Jackson

Edited by laughton
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Following the protocol, I checked for any Serjeants missing in France that had a "Secondary Regiment" affiliation to the Warwickshire Regiment. There were three (CWGC Link). Only Thomas had no known grave, listed on the Arras Memorial for 28 April 1917 - so he is not a candidate.


Only Lake and Jackson are listed as missing Warwickshire Serjeants on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial (CWGC Link), which covers all areas from 8 August 1918 onward. That is the most likely date for the Unknown Serjeant but we have to be sure it was not at another time.




The remains were found east of Cambrai, so it is possible it is a Serjeant from December 1917 on the six (6) Cambrai Memorial (CWGC Link). They were all 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division.



forename death Bn #
BROWNING WILLIAM JAMES 5/12/1917 2nd/6th Bn. '202629'
COOPER STANLEY GEORGE 3/12/1917 2nd/5th Bn. '200720'
FAULKNER ZACHARIAH 3/12/1917 2nd/6th Bn. '241411'
GARDENER WILLIAM 6/12/1917 2nd/8th Bn. '307437'
JAMES JOHN 3/12/1917 2nd/5th Bn. '266468'
PATTIE ALEX 5/12/1917 2nd/7th Bn.



The 2nd/5th was in the trenches at La Vacquerie 57c.R.15 (war diary page 241 of 269) so nowhere near the area where the remains were recovered. The other battalions were all in the same vicinity.


That is in the general area where Serjeant Jackson of the 14th Battalion went missing but not where Serjeant Lake was at the time of his death.


Map 57c is to the west of map 57b shown here. The remains are in 57BNE just south and east of Solesmes, which shows at the top-centre of the NE sector.


The question still remains - why were the remains at 57b E.23? Next stop, the 57th Field Ambulance - was he taken southeast wounded?

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October 1918 -  19th Division Royal Medical Corps, 57 Field Ambulance War Diary


Appears they are in  Avesnes 57a.J.24 where they set up an ADS (war diary page 389 of 418). Reference made to the attack at 10 am on 20 October. There is a set up at St. Aubert 51a.U.18 or is it at the St. Aubert Farm at 57b.N.12?. They set up a new ADS at Haussy 51a.V.12. There is a reference to evacuating wounded to the Field Ambulance of the 61st Division?


Nothing appears to be where the remains were recovered at 57b.E.23.


Is it possible he was taken POW and died in German hands? Not on the ICRC list, although there are 2 other Arthur Lakes.


He is an elusive Serjeant!


I also looked at the others from the 10th Battalion that were dead during that period (CWGC Link) but none of those have map coordinates.

Edited by laughton
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There are two (2) cemeteries on the DAL that are at the Ovillers location 57b.E.23-24 (not to be confused with Ovillers-la-Boisselle 57d.X.8).

  • Ovillers Civil Cemetery Extension, Solesmes 57b.E.24.c.45.30
  • Ovillers New Communal Cemetery, Solesmes 57b.E.23.b.4.1

There are both marked on the McMaster map [Solesmes] 57b.NE Enemy Organization, which tells me that this was in German held territory in late September 1918, possibly into the period of October 1918. That raises the question as to whether the Germans did bury the Unknown Serjeant but did not list him as they did not know who he was. They may have known nothing about him, thus he would not be on an ICRC list. The Serjeant was recovered at 57b.E.23.a.10.25 which is to the west of the new communal cemetery (still in existence at 50° 9'52.45"N 3°33'20.05"E). I doubt they would have exhumed the remains if he was within the cemetery, which contains 61 known Great War men (2619479-2619484). They don't say if they moved the Germans. They are mainly from the 3rd week of October 1918, so the correct time. One is from the 64th Field Ambulance, which was south of there at Inchy 57b.J.22.


A lot of the men there are 1st Wiltshire with 6th Leicestershire, so that is 110th Brigade, 21st Division, which is also home to the 64th Field Ambulance. The Leicestershire diary was easy to locate and it tells of the attack on 23 October 1918 with the other units named (war diary page 144 of 159). They are moving northeast from Inchy 57b.J.22 through Amerval 57b.K.4 in a direct line to Ovillers, where they gained their objective east of the village (Vendegies-au-Bois 57b.F.8).


There are fourteen (14) Serjeants missing from the period October 20th to 25th but none are of the 110th Brigade that was in the immediate area, however Lake is on that list (CWGC Link). Lake was on the 21st, perhaps while the area was still in German control. The British units passing through may have found him and buried him, but what was he doing there? The 110th Brigade record tells of the advance and the positions to be taken, confirming they were taking German held areas at Ovillers (war diary page 647 of 760). Considerable opposition was found at the Red Line through Ovillers.


I had checked Serjeant Butler's Soldiers Effects file but not Serjeant Lake #888. I should have done that some time age! It tells me he died of wounds. Also in the UK Soldiers Died in the Great War but the primary reference may be the same. That means he was at a Field Ambulance or Casualty Clearing Station, now I have to find out which one. Were all the units moving northeast like the 110th Brigade and he was wounded some time earlier when passing through the area? They were at Cambrai until 16 October 1918 (war diary page 453 0f 517), so they had to be moving from west to east. Looking again, they billeted at St. Aubert which is northeast at 51a.U.18. They then went into the front line on the 18th going into position at Haussy 51a.V.12 on the 19th, so they are northwest of Romeries. Second Lieutenant Miller was wounded - where did they take him and did he survive (yes)? Captain Hewett died of wounds and is buried at the Cambrai East Military Cemetery (no concentration report). No. 30 Casualty Clearing Station was posted there in October 1918. Would they not have taken Serjeant Lake there as well?

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I believe from the writing that the wounded Second Lieutenant was Francis Claude Miller. I am not sure if and Officer's Record have details about being wounded and where he was treated - let me PING the expert! @voltaire60

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The Assistant Director Medical Services (A.D.M.S.) was at  Avesnes les Aubert o 19 October 1918, which is a different name from what we had in the 10th Bn war diary as Avesnes 57a.J.24 after being in St. Aubert 51a.U.18. A check of the map and there is a separate community called Avesnes-les-Aubert 51a.U.28 about 3,000 yards southwest of St. Aubert. That makes more sense! That is in the sector due north of St. Hilaire 57b.C.6 which is 6,000 yards due west of Solesmes. The Regimental Aid Posts were in 57a.V.11-16 (war diary page 618 of 794) and Haussy 51a.V.12. No mention of anything anywhere near remains recovery site at Ovillers 57b.E.23.


The thought struck me to check my Canadian Maps of the October 1918 action, as they show the locations of the British Armies as well. Nicholson Map 15 shows the dividing line between the First Army and Third Army going northeast through Cambrai and the Third and Fourth Army split just north of Le Cateau 57b.K.34 on the Roman Road to Bavay (off the map). That places the Third Army going right through Ovillers around 25 October 1918.


The attack on 23 October 1918 is recorded in the newspapers as the front between Solesmes and Le Cateau. They stormed Beaurain  57b.E.11 with the assistance of tanks, which places them on the path right through Ovillers. It makes much more sense that the Serjeant recovered here was in that attack on or about 25 October 1918.


Some hunting and I find the 13th Brigade of the 5th Division going through this area in October 1918 with the 14th, 15th and 16th Royal Warwickshire Regiment (see this map war diary page 733 of 991). The LLT tells me the 14th and 15th left in October 1918 and the 16th joined. The 13th Infantry Brigade for October 1918 starts here (war diary page 663 of 991). There were find the reorganization took place on the 3rd to 5th of October 1918, with the 14th going to Pioneers and the 15th absorbed into the Division. The 16th Warwicks were at Clermont Chateau 57b.J.9 (war diary page 655 of 991). That places them to the southwest of Ovillers. On the 13th they withdrew to just east of the Selle River at Briaster 57b.D.24. They were back in the line on the 20th and suffered heavy casualties from M.G. Fire. The map (war diary page 676 of 991) most clearly shows the blue, red, green and brown lines on the direct path to Ovillers. It must have been a Warwick of the 16th Battalion, as they go right through 57b.E.23.a where the remains were recovered. There is a detailed narrative for 11th to 20th October 1918 (war diary page 678 of 991). The 16th Warwicks reported O.R. casualties as 3 killed, 23 wounded and 11 missing.


The CWGC database shows 15 casualties for the 16th Royal Warwickshire Regiment from the 15th to 25th October 1918, none of which are Serjeants. Second Lieutenant Pearson was the only Officer, attached to the 16th Bn from the 4th Bn. There was also a Second Lieutenant Edward Shine lost on the 20th, missing from the CWGC database as he is only listed as 15th Battalion, although he had to be with the 16th by that time. I have added him to the list. The three men in the Romeries CCE were all recovered from the Briastre Military Cemetery. Randall in the Caudry British Cemetery was concentrated from the Caudry German Military Cemetery 57b.J.19.a.9.1.  None of the others have COG-BR documents.


The only ones on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial are Privates. Were any of them promoted and the records are incorrect? According to the Soldier's Effects they were not, so they are off the list, if it was a Serjeant. I checked Lance Serjeants and Corporals as well - no linkage to the unknown.


Do we have another case like last weeks Lance Corporal James O'Hare who was a non-commemoration case?


surname initials death rank # cemetery / memorial recovered
BROWN W T 20/10/1918 Private '35835' ROMERIES COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION 57b.E.25.a.4.7
CHANCE W G 20/10/1918 Private '35252' VIESLY COMMUNAL CEMETERY  
CLARIDGE W 20/10/1918 Private '48261' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL  
IDDON R 20/10/1918 Private '48434' DELSAUX FARM CEMETERY, BEUGNY  
McFARLAND E J 19/10/1918 Private '32820' ROMERIES COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION 57b.J.3.d.90.95
PINK S P 18/10/1918 Private '35993' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL  
RANDLE J T 16/10/1918 Private '992' CAUDRY BRITISH CEMETERY 57b.J.19.a.9.1
STONE G 20/10/1918 Private '33230' ROMERIES COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION 57b.E.25.a.4.7
SYLVESTER S 18/10/1918 Private '35971' VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL  
TUTTY F 20/10/1918 Private '235153' VIESLY COMMUNAL CEMETERY  
SHINE E J 20/10/1918 2nd Lt.   VIESLY COMMUNAL CEMETERY added to list


The Soldier's Effects database threw me for a loop as they are listed as SerGeants not SerJeants, of which there are 119 listed for 1918 (this link). That narrows down to sixteen (16) for October 1918, including Company Serjeant Majors and duplicates.

  • I added CSM to the table if so shown
  • added battalion as searched
  • Beaufoy is an error as he is 8th Bn Royal Berkshire Regiment
  • all but Lake had known burial sites in a CWGC cemetery

I have about run out of ideas for this case! It has to be someone that was in the 14th-16th Battalions at this time, not Lake of the 10th. I expect we will find him somewhere else!


View Record Name Death Date Death Place Regiment

Regimental Number

View Images
View Record Arthur Lake - 10th MEMORIAL 21 Oct 1918 France Royal Warwickshire Regiment 888 mag_m.gif
View Record Alfred Arthur Robotham - CSM 24 Oct 1918 France Royal Warwickshire Regiment 240759 mag_m.gif
View Record Sidney George Merrick- CSM 6 Oct 1918 France or Belgium Royal Warwickshire Regiment 305020 mag_m.gif
View Record Ernest Robert D C M Freeman - CSM 23 Oct 1918 France or Belgium Royal Warwickshire Regiment 8657 mag_m.gif
View Record Arthur Atkinson - 1st/8th 6 Oct 1918 France Royal Warwickshire Regiment 305333 mag_m.gif
View Record Charles Alfred Waghorn - 1st/8th 5 Oct 1918 France or Belgium Royal Warwickshire Regiment 325101 mag_m.gif
View Record Thomas John Williams - 2nd/7th 24 Oct 1918 France or Belgium Royal Warwickshire Regiment 325155 mag_m.gif
View Record James Henry Cureton - 1st/8th 8 Oct 1918 France or Belgium Royal Warwickshire Regiment 305007 mag_m.gif
View Record John Samuel Poulton - 2nd/6th 25 Oct 1918 France Royal Warwickshire Regiment 15206 mag_m.gif
View Record Arthur Beaufoy - CSM Berkshire 23 Oct 1918 France Royal Warwickshire Regiment 14559 mag_m.gif
View Record Hubert James Brain - 14th 8 Oct 1918 France Royal Warwickshire Regiment 9257 mag_m.gif
View Record Cecil James Oliver - 2nd/6th 24 Oct 1918 France Royal Warwickshire Regiment 17040 mag_m.gif
View Record Arthur Lake - duplicate 21 Oct 1918 France Royal Warwickshire Regiment 888 mag_m.gif
View Record Sidney George Merrick - duplicate 6 Oct 1918 France or Belgium Royal Warwickshire Regiment 305020 mag_m.gif
View Record Cecil James Oliver - duplicate 24 Oct 1918 France Royal Warwickshire Regiment 17040 mag_m.gif
View Record Joseph James Keeling - 1st 25 Oct 1918 France Royal Warwickshire Regiment 23214 mag_m.gif


Map depicting the advance of the 16th Royal Warwickshire Battalion in October 1918 in the area where the remains were recovered and not where the 10th Battalion and Serjeant Lake were located.




Edited by laughton
added marked up map
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According to his officer file at Kew, he was wounded serving with  4th attached  10th. Royal Warwickshires,  He was wounded on 20th October 1918 at Haussey. No indication of where treated but first medical board is at 4th Southern General Hospital, Hyde Park Section, Plymouth 11th November 1918. He was embarked for England from Boulogne to Dover on 24th October 1918.

    I will post the rest of his details of his military service- why he left RNAS is a hoot.-on a separate thread

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