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Dickie66

106th Field Coy

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Dickie66

Hello, I'm new here. I am sure that this is a familiar request for expert knowledge, but here goes.

 

My Great Grandfather was killed at the Somme, 10.07.16. I am doing my best to locate where he may have met his fate. His body was never found, his name is on the Thiepval Memorial. I have visited the battlefields and have done as much research as I can manage on my own. He was a sapper, so his movements are difficult to track, but what I do know is this, mainly gathered from the the Royal Engineers war diary at Chatham:

 

Frederick Rowley

Sapper, Royal Engineers.

106th Field Coy

Date of death: 10.07.1916

Service number: 58862

 

14.03.16

Military exercises at Tincques

 

01.04.1916

The headquarters of the 106th (where this war diary was written perhaps?) at Tincques. Three sections of the 106th were employed under the 46th division and affiliated to the 138 brigade at Talus des Zouaves.

 

01.05.1916 – end of May

The company requested to the 75th Brigade, working in the Neuville-Saint-Vaast.

 

01.06.1916

The three sections employed in the trenches in front of Neuville Si Yaast, handed them over to the 2/2 Highland Field Co and returned back to billets at Ecoivres on 02.06.1916.

 

02.06.1916

Night – The company marched from Encoivres to Villers-Brulin.

 

09.06.1916

With the 75th Brigade again lead by divisional commander Major General Bambridge

 

12.06.1916

Left Tincques Station by train to Langueau (maybe Langue) – Amiens

 

13.06.1916

Marched from Langueau to Senlis

3rd and 4th sections marched to Aveluy Wood making dug outs and 4 small bridges

 

01.07.1916 – 04.07.1916

In Senlis, orders to leave on the night of 1st July for Aveluy Wood with 75 Brigade who were attacking trenches south of Thiepval Wood the next morning. Attack did not succeed, remained in the wood until 04.07.1916 then back to billets in Auelum (not sure if this is spelt correctly?).

 

09.07.1916 – 12.07.1916

The company were working at clearing communications in La Boiselle and between Las Boiselle and Ovillers.

 

08.07.1916

Left Aveluy Wood with 25th Division for Usna Redoubt

 

09.07.1916 – 10.07.1916

Out with 75th Brigade

 

 

What I would ideally like to achieve is find, as close as possible, his location and associated information, as to when he was killed, then return and pay my respects.

 

I know it's a big ask, but I know that there are many folk here that know far more than me and may have information that may help.

 

Thanks. 

 

 

 

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jonbem

Hi and welcome to the forum

That area was to put it mildly, quite well blown up!

As the next to last diary quote mentions USNA

(There was an Usna Ridge and Usna Valley)

then a Mcmaster search brings

Results for search Usna

Place Map Sheet # Map Squares
Usna Valley 57dSE4 W24

 

There are several maps to pick from to see if you can find the info you need, scroll down the list on

http://lt1.mcmaster.ca/ww1/wrz4mp.php?grid=57d

 

regards

Jon

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brianmorris547

The War Diary of 75 Infantry Brigade is available on Ancestry. If you browse Various Infantry Brigades - 25 Division - Piece 2248/1-3. Pages 351 to 356 / 479 have 75 IB Orders 58 and 59 and 25 Div Order 90. The 75 IB orders have one section of 106 Field Co RE attached to 8 Border Regt and gives details of positions to be attacked. The role of the RE was to assist in consolidating any ground gained. If you need any help finding this please ask.

In between Albert and La Boiselle to the left of the road was Usna Hill and to the right was Tara Hill. I could not find any maps in the Brigade or Division War Diaries but this map shows the general area.

Brian

https://maps.nls.uk/view/101464801

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sotonmate

Adding to Brian's post I have seen where the main activity undertaken once an enemy trench has been taken was to reverse the parados ( front lip of the trench) so as to protect the occupants, likely an important RE Field Company function.

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Dickie66

Thank you all for your interest, advice and knowledge. I'll continue to dig the facts – thanks again.

 

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brianmorris547

In the WD of 25 Division HQ (Piece 2223/1) pages 98/534 onwards deal with 10/07/1916 but there is some doubt as to whether 8 Border Regt put in an attack. On p 149 there is a "stiff note" from the Divisional Commander to 75 Infantry Brigade asking for an explanation as to why no attack was made. 

Brian

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Dickie66

Thanks, Brian. I guess the plot thickens. 

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MaxD
48 minutes ago, Dickie66 said:

I guess the plot thickens.

 

CRE 25 Div diary sheds no real light except on the thickening plot.  Summarised:

7th July Companies (105 and 106) ordered to stand by  for attack on Leipzig salient (by 7 Bde) to help in consolidation, cutting new saps and clearing damaged CT.

8th July Companies ordered to withdraw to Aveluy Wood on relief by 49 Div to await orders.  Further orders -  2 sections from each company to proceed with infantry and take over an area of front line from 32 Div with advanced HQ at USNA HILL.  Remainder to billets in Albert and remain on reserve.

9th July  CRE visited new area of front.  Definite information concerning  these areas becoming increasingly difficult to obtain as divisions succeed one another during general offensive after lapses of a few days.

10th July (CRE visited 6 SWB (Pioneers))

For what it is worth.

Max

 

 

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Dickie66

Thanks, Max. Very grateful. Sorry to be a pain, but CRE is an acronym for what? Also CT (trench, communication something?), and also, whilst I'm broadcasting my ignorance, SWB?

 

Sorry, but thanks.

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Terry_Reeves

Dicke66

 

It stands for Commander, Royal Engineers. The CRE (with some expections)  was responsible for Divisional Royal Engineer Companies.  The CRE ranked as a Lt Colonel and kept their own war diaries.

 

TR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Terry_Reeves

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Ron Clifton
1 hour ago, Dickie66 said:

and also, whilst I'm broadcasting my ignorance, SWB?

Hello Dickie66, and welcome to the Forum!

 

If SWB relates to a unit, it stands for South Wales Borderers. If it relates to a man wounded and discharged from the Army, it stands for Silver War Badge. I suspect the first of these is probably what you need.

 

CT is probably Communication Trench, but sometimes refers to Corps Troops. Again, the first seems more likely in this case.

 

Ron

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MaxD

Dickie66  Sorry to have thrown all the acronyms at you and thanks to Terry and Ron for the timely translations.

 

The aim of looking at the Commander Royal Engineers (CRE)  diary is that the diaries of the one giving the orders can often give additional clues.  In this case a significant clue is that two sections of 106 Field Company (Fd Coy) ,(with the same of 105 Fd Coy) were ordered on 8th July to move forward (from Aveluy Wood) to an area of front line held by 32 Division (Div) with an advanced HQ at Usna Hill.  (Implicit in this is that it would have been the area of the front line where the Royal Engineers of 32 Div were working).

 

In the 106 Fd Coy diary "out with 75 Brigade (Bde)" - 75 Bde was one of 32 Div's bdes.   The transcript you reproduced at the beginning has omitted some detail.  The diary says:

On the night of the 8th, the company left Aveluy Wood where the 25th Divisional RE had concentrated during the  day, for Usna Redoubt, which is opposite Ovilliers (my note -  see map  later) and La Boiselle.  On the nights of 9th and 10th a section was sent out with the 75th Brigade to consolidate captured points but was released as the attacks were not successful (my note -  whether it took place or not is not really relevant to the company) .  During this period, 2 HQ and 2 sections were in billets at Albert and 2 sections bivouacking at Usna Redoubt. On 10th and 11th, assisted by pioneers started opening the communications in La Boiselle to the forward trenches held by 75 Brigade.

The significance of 6 (Battalion) South Wales Borders (6 SWB) is that this was an infantry pioneer battalion tasked to work alongside the RE Fd Coys to do the heavy labouring.  Their diary, confirms they were working on communications trenches "in La Boiselle".  Their diary records men wounded by shelling on 8th 9th and 10th.

 

The map that Brian links to in his post shows the trench lines (in red) so your man was working between the Usna Redoubt and a communication trench (CT) somewhere in La Boiselle (the front line reached on 10 July was near the centre of La Boiselle according to the 32 Div HQ diary).  Very roughly, the CTs are the ones that run south west-north east.

 

The Usna Redoubt ran between the two dots shown on the attached (courtesy NLS Maps and tmapper).

 

The 32 Div RE diaries (particularly 218 Fd Coy) all add up and show the linkage between their companies and those of 25 Div at that time.

 

Hope this helps tie it down a bit closer for you?

 

Max

 

Screenshot (34).png

Edited by MaxD

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brianmorris547

Max

Thank you. 

Brian

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