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laughton

Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery: Case #4 -Lieutenant Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry

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laughton

This is a derivative of this topic for the Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery:

 

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/270903-grand-seraucourt-british-cemetery/

 

Quote

 

On 21/03/2019 at 16:04, laughton said:

COG-BR 2762200 - Lieutenant Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry (CWGC Link has 3)

  • here is the second of the three Lieutenants from that regiment COG-BR 2762230
  • may be a different time as quite different locations 66c.A.22.d.8.3 with my Great Uncle and the other at 66d.R.16.a.2.8, but better check details!
  • here is the third one at the same location as the second COG-BR 2762231 - he is with a Captain in the next grave ( he was identified as Captain B. A. Anderson)
  • none of the Lieutenants are named in that cemetery (CWGC Link) and the Captain sets the date as March 1918
  • I think that points a finger directly at Lieutenant Anthony Hepburn Edwards as the third Lieutenant, also 5th Bn found with the Captain
  • maybe not, the second one on the list was at the same location, so we will need to consult the war diaries
  • now we have a 4th Lieutenant on COG-BR 2762232 - this is getting confusing! He is with Corporal Ralph Reed, also 5th Bn - a large group 66d.R.16.a.2.8

 

There may be a solution to this one, now that I am seeing more details about the retreat and rearguard action and the path that was followed. I also noticed that this is a case with the "Kipling Effect" where they mention Lieutenants that are really Second Lieutenants, often referenced only by "star" not "stars".

 

I have "colour coded" the Lieutenants (or Second Lieutenants) in the quote above and the answers below.

 

Above I noted that there were no Lieutenants named in the cemetery but there are three (3) Second Lieutenants named with Captain Anderson in 3.F.14: (they were not identified on the COG-BR documents but named later in the process)

That means three (3) of the four (4) are now accounted for. leaving only the one on COG-BR 2762200 as an UNKNOWN. Again, although the COG-BR specifically says "Lieut." it is also clear that it only says "Star" not "Stars". When the GRU identified the Captain they clearly said "Stars". Here are the important facts to perhaps arrive at the solution:

  • the three (3) Second Lieutenants that were named above were all found in the 66d.R sector in the Cugny area, so in the retreat and rearguard action
  • if we accept the definition of a "Star" to be a Second Lieutenant, then that is the rank of the Officer listed to be in grave 1.G.8 COG-BR 2762200
  • that one (1) Second Lieutenant, who was not identified to date, was recovered in the Castres area northwest of Grand-Seraucourt at 66c.A.22.d.8.3
  • the LLT map shows they were in the area with the 36th (Ulster) Division on 21 March 1918, in the area of Essigny le Grande
  • if all the Officers lost were from the 5th Battalion (42nd Brigade, 14th [Light] Division) Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, then this is either:
    • Lieutenant Anthony Hepburn Edwards
      • the only Lieutenant of the 5th Battalion missing for that period (list of all three)
      • his date of death is reported as 1 April 1918, which I suspect (not confirmed) is after they left Grand-Seraucourt
    •  Second Lieutenant Fred Micklewright Hughes
      • the 5th Battalion is the only battalion of that regiment in the 14th (Light) Division, the other four (4) missing were all 2nd/4th Battalion (184 Bde/61st Div)
      • that is unlikely as his reported date of death is 23 March 1918, better than the Lieutenant on 1 April 1918 but not confirmed

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laughton

Back after checking the war diary to see who they mentioned

  • 21 March 1918 : (war diary page 261 of 277)
    - front posts lost and all occupants by shell fire
    - retired behind line at Flavy at night, which would be 66d.R.17 (Flavy-le-Martel) so already out of the area
    • Lieutenant Anderson - killed (note: not Captain Anderson), so we do need to check if there was another Captain missing
    • Second Lieutenant Fawcett - killed
    • Lieutenant Theobald - missing
  • 23 March 1918 : (war diary page 262 of 277)
    - they are down near Flavy Station, so as above they are out of the area
    • Second Lieutenant Finlayson - killed
    • Second Lieutenant Hughes - name appears after Finlayson, did they mean he was also killed?
      • he is one of the two candidates for the remains in the post above

So we now have a problem that there is no candidate for this officer. Here are the main issues facing this case, to be resolved later:

  • The location appears to be wrong at 66c.A.22.d.8.3 unless it was an Officer that was wounded (or captured) and died later
  • How do they have the missing Captain as Lieutenant Anderson - was he or was he not a Captain at that time? The CWGC often "bumps" them in the listings.
    • the war diary lists him as a Lieutenant, not a Captain or even an Acting Captain
    • it is more likely that he was in the northern position of 66C.A.22 on 21 March 1918, not south where reported found in 66d.R.16
  • That could mean that the fourth Lieutenant was Lieutenance Anderson and that it is a Captain that is missing.
  • There are no other Captains missing in that period, nor are there any Majors that have might also been "CWGC Bumped"

Maybe I have to go back to the basics at the beginning and account for all of those mentioned in the war diary, as this is getting confusing!
(I will fill in the table with the rest of the details as soon as I check them out)

  • 21 March 1918:
    • moved to battle zone 6.5 am where A & D Coys lose heavily to shell fire
    • enemy at battle zone at 11:30 am
    • front posts lost, with all occupants, having been obliterated by shell fire
    • second line holding in front of H.Q. on Benay 66c H.21 - Essigny 66c.H.8 road (some distance from where remains located)
    • enemy assembling in Lambay Wood 66c.H.15-16 and Essigny all afternoon
    • line abandoned at night and all British Troops retire behind the canal (so did they cross over near where remains recovered?)
  • 22 March 1918:
    • battalion arrives at Petit Detroit 66d.R.29 (so moving west or southwest not northwest towards remains)
    • awaiting orders to move to canal bank
  • 23 March 1918:
    • Line of Canal lost in early morning
    • "B" Coy sent up to reinforce near Flay Station - must be near 66d.R.23 - company entirely overwhelmed
    • battalion fought its way back to Riez de Cugny - Cugny is at 66d.R.20

 

Name Rank Date Reported Details Stated Grave
Anderson Lieutenant 21 March 1918 killed on or before retiring behind canal GSBC 3.F.14
Fawcett Second Lieutenant 21 March 1918 killed on or before retiring behind canal GSBC 4.F.2
Williams Major 21 March 1918 wounded not named on CWGC database  
Traynor Second Lieutenant 21 March 1918 wounded not named on CWGC database  
Baldwin Second Lieutenant 21 March 1918 wounded not named on CWGC database  
Cook Lieutenant 21 March 1918 missing not named on CWGC database  
Collinge

Second Lieutenant

21 March 1918 missing not named on CWGC database  
Theobold

Second Lieutenant

21 March 1918 missing not named on CWGC database GSBC 3.F.4
Sebastian Lieutenant Colonel 23 March 1918

wounded

died

first day! but not named on CWGC database

found him as Hampshire Regiment - St. Sever, Rouen

SSCR B.4.20
Mullis Captain

23 March 1918

wounded not named on CWGC database  
Banks Captain

23 March 1918

missing not named on CWGC database  
Money Lieutenant 23 March 1918 wounded not named on CWGC database  
Creswell Second Lieutenant 23 March 1918 killed not named on CWGC database  
Finlayson Second Lieutenant 23 March 1918 killed not named on CWGC database GSBC 3.F.13
Hughes Second Lieutenant 23 March 1918 not stated missing to date - on Pozieres Memorial  

 

It would appear that everything is point towards Second Lieutenant Fred Micklewright Hughes. He has no details in the war diary, although listed on the 23rd - or did they just discover that he was missing at that time? Honestly, I don't think it can be him or any Officer of the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry, it is outside their area, unless they were wounded or captured and buried by the enemy. He does have a record at the ICRC which offers some explanation, as it reports that he went missing on 21 March 1918, not 23 March 1918. As with many, there was "negatif envoye" as late as 26 June 1918.

 

There were no crosses on the graves where the men were found at 66c.A.22.d.8.3 which suggests it was a battlefield burial site not a recorded cemetery. Whoever this was was found in amongst a number of Royal Irish Rifles.

doc2762200.JPG

 

Trying to track down those on the list with no CWGC entries:

  • Captain D. J. (Delmark) Banks - he does have an ICRC Record and PA26210, appears captured at FLAVY on 23 March 1918
  • Captain Mullis - no records of any sort that I can find

 

If CAPTAIN ANDERSON was really only a LIEUTENANT and "bumped" by the CWGC then he would not have been identified as a Captain. So which Captain could have been mistaken for Lieutenant Anderson? We have accounted for Captain Delmark Banks as a POW of some form, so that leaves only Captain Mullis (or is it Munnis?).

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laughton

Time to take a step back to look at the Divisional and Brigade war diaries to get a better idea about the movements of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry at the time. It is my assumption that the missing Lieutenant wsa of the 5th (Service) Battalion, 42nd Brigade, 14trh (Light) Division. The assumption was based on the map that Chris Baker had in his text on the 36th (Ulster) Division, where were find the Royal Irish Rifles that was home to my Great Uncle and Grandfather, on that same date of 21 March 1918.

 

The assumption may be wrong, as the general area is correct but the remains are in a location where you would expect men of the 36th Division not the 14th Division. That means there was either movement around the area - supporting actions or other, or the remains were found in a burial area or where the German's took the many prisoners of that date. Note also that there is a date conflict of either the 21st or 23rd of March, as some of the ICRC records differ from the war diary records.

 

There remains the possibility as well that the Oxford & Bucks were in this area at another time other than March 1918. My knowledge of the Imperial Army is lacking in that overall area of troop placements during the war. Any assistance in the regard is most appreciated!

 

The location of the war diaries on Ancestry, for those that have access, or for when in a few days I forget where I found them: (starting at point)

  • 5th Battalion (war diary page 261 of 277)
  • 42nd Brigade (war diary page )
    • this may take some work, they are scattered in the collection, nothing is in order
    • layout for February 1918 by Lambay Wood, the correct location (war diary page 381 of 518)
  • 14th Divisional Headquarters
    • starts with Appendix A "Defence Scheme" March 1918 (war diary page 1 of 958), which should describe all the "zones"
    • some nice "combo maps" for the battle, as well as the retreat and rearguard action for the Corps (war diary page 93 of 958)

Le the hunt begin!

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laughton

In the process of starting the hunt for the correct sections of the war diary, I noticed that a page from the 14th Division (war diary page 217 of 958) stated:

Quote

15 February 1918:

The 41st If. Bde. will arrange to hand over to the 36th Division that portion of the line now held by them north of the above boundary as early as possible.

 

That might mean I have to back up in time to see if there was a Lieutenant lost before the exchange of the battle areas? According to the LLT for the14th Division we only need to deal with the 5th (Service) Battalion. During the period from New Years Day 1918 to the start of Operation Michael on 21 March 1918 there were only two men reported lost in the 5th Battalion (CWGC Link). One point that raises, is that I should have remembered that if the loss was prior to 21 March 1918 the UNKNOWNS would be on the Thiepval Memorial not the Pozieres Memorial! Private King #200381 was lost on 3 February 1918 and is buried in the Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery. He was recovered at 66c.H.21.b.8.8 which is just south of Lambay Woods at Benay. Private Farmer #10193 was lost on 18 March 1918 and is named on the Thiepval Memorial.

 

List of Appendices 14th Division March 1918: (war diary page 382 of 958)

  • looks promising "Appendix D - Report on Operations 21st - 31st March"
  • and the next page is the start of the war diary, although not stated on the title page!
  • 21 March 1918 (war diary page 385 of 958) - refers to the appendices for the details, including maps in Appendix N
  • Appendix D finally appears (war diary page 462 of 958)
    • based on reports of pending attack the 5th O&B.L.I. is assigned to the Centre Sector Battle Zone
    • page 2 and 3 are missing so it skips to 10:15 am which I believe is now 21 March 1918 (war diary page 466 of 958)
    • 42nd Brigade H.Q. moved to 66c.G.30.b so we know now not in the area where the remains were recovered
    • then we go back to page 3 which starts on 21 March 1918, reported missing in the text above, then back to page 7
    • the 42nd Brigade is now in Divisional Reserve to the south at Petit Detroit
    • so nothing to indicate that they were ever in the area where the remains were recovered

Next we move on to the 42nd Infantry Brigade War Diary ... to be continued.

 

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laughton

Tricky war diary for the 42nd Infantry Brigade as it is on Ance$try in reverse order.

 

42nd Infantry Brigade March 1918: (war diary page 341 of 518)

  • not much until they report the start of the attack on 21 March 1918 (war diary page 343 of 518)
  • more or less the same story as all the other diaries of this day, foggy and a heavy bombardment
  • battle zone, where 5th Ox & Bucks located, heavily shelled as well as Divisional H.Q. at Les Saules ....?
  • enemy made it to Divisional H.Q. but were driven back
  • all "friendly" guns lost in the battle zone by the personnel escaped
  • Divisional H.Q. moved to Le Fay Farm at 3 pm
  • 10:15 pm all 14th Division troops to withdraw from the forward area
  • next morning, across the canal at Petit Detroit in Divisional Reserve
  • 1 Coy of 5th Ox & Bucks ordered to Flay Station of reinforce the area
  • no casualty list provided - seems much disappeared on 4 April 1918 when Brig, Gen Foster and his Staff Captain were captured
  • Boundaries for the period are in the appendices (war diary page 348 of 518), outside of area where remains recovered
  • generally they are in 66c.H

So no additional assistance from the Division or Brigade war diaries, plus we know it was not an Officer from earlier in the year. We don't know what happened to Second Lieutenant Hughes, the only one that is missing. Perchance is the location given on the COG-BR incorrect or was the identification of an Ox & Bucks Officer incorrect? We are missing Second Lieutenants of the Royal Irish Rifles from the precise area where this Officer was recovered (see: Operation Michael March 1918; Where are they?)

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laughton

It appears that I unintentionally dropped Lieutenant Anthony Hepburn Edwards from the second part of the investigation, as his reported date of death was 1 April 1918.

 

If I check the records for him, he is not listed as a casualty on that date (war diary page 265 of 277). I went back into March to see if I missed him, as he may have been wounded and died later, or missing as a prisoner. He is not listed. He does exist on the UKNA database as a Lieutenant with the Oxford & Bucks. He also has a record on the ICRC database noting that he was missing in April 1918 but all reports are "negatif envoye".

 

There are no casualties listed until 4 April 1918, by which time they have moved to Hamelet (I assume the one near Corbie so 62d.Q.6) and then move east to the front line at Hamel (again there are more than one - this is 62d.P.10). There is one (1) Second Lieutenant reported killed and four (4) Second Lieutenants wounded. Major Arthur Maxwell Labouchere is also reported wounded and missing. His remains were recovered from the Valenciennes Communal Cemetery German Extension, German Grave #1581 (COG-BR 2056933).

 

Second Lieutenant Selman was reported killed on 4 April 1918 (war diary page 265 of 277) but he appears not to exist, initially not with the Oxford & Bucks, now not anywhere. There are six (6) Selman's on the CWGC database for France but none of them are officers. There are four (4) Selman Officers on the UKNA database, none listed with the Oxford & Bucks. There are no "Salman" or "Solmon" anywhere from that regiment. There was a 1915 casualty for a Second Lieutenant Clifford Salman but nothing for Solman. I even tried wildcard names that were based on "*man" and there is nothing.

 

These are all of the Officers of the 5th Oxford & Bucks listed by the CWGC as lost in France during the Great War. SELMAN is not on this list. There is no indication that the battalion was ever in the area where the remains were recovered, other than in March-April 1918. The three that are not accounted for are now:

  • Lieutenant A H Edwards - listed as a casualty for 1 April 1918 by CWGC but no record of him as a casualty in the war diary
  • Second Lieutenant F M Hughes - tagged on to the end of the casualty list for 23 March 1918 with no other details
  • Second Lieutenant ?? Selman - as far as I can tell he does not exist, other than the report in the war diary that he is a casualty
    • found him - see next post, his name is SELLMAN

 

surname initials death rank cemetery / memorial grave / reference Recovery Area
HIGGINS D S 9/4/1917 Captain TILLOY BRITISH CEMETERY, TILLOY-LES-MOFFLAINES I. BB. 5. Telegraph Hill 51b.M.12.b.3.3
SPURGE H W 17/09/1917 Captain ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY XXVIII. A. 11.  
ANDERSON B A 21/03/1918 Captain GRAND-SERAUCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY III. F. 14. 66d.R.16.a.2.8
ASHMAN S 3/5/1917 Lieutenant ARRAS MEMORIAL Bay 6 and 7. 51b.D.21 northwest Arras
EDWARDS A H 1/4/1918 Lieutenant POZIERES MEMORIAL Panel 50 and 51.  
WESTON-WEBB H 24/08/1916 Lieutenant THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Pier and Face 10 A and 10 D. Delville Wood 57c.S.18
KNIGHTON G G 30/04/1917 Major BUCQUOY ROAD CEMETERY, FICHEUX I. D. 5. 51b.S.2.b.8.5
LABOUCHERE A M 30/04/1918 Major VALENCIENNES (ST. ROCH) COMMUNAL CEMETERY V. D. 25. German Grave
BULMER J L 3/5/1917 Second Lieutenant ARRAS MEMORIAL Bay 6 and 7. 51b.D.21 northwest Arras
HARPER C C 3/5/1917 Second Lieutenant ARRAS MEMORIAL Bay 6 and 7. 51b.D.21 northwest Arras
HAYNES W C 3/5/1917 Second Lieutenant ARRAS MEMORIAL Bay 6 and 7. 51b.D.21 northwest Arras
SCOTT J H F 9/4/1917 Second Lieutenant TILLOY BRITISH CEMETERY, TILLOY-LES-MOFFLAINES IV. D. 24. Telegraph Hill 51b.M.12.b.3.3
STAMMERS J R 9/4/1917 Second Lieutenant TILLOY BRITISH CEMETERY, TILLOY-LES-MOFFLAINES III. E. 13. Telegraph Hill 51b.M.12.b.3.3
STEVENS J 9/4/1917 Second Lieutenant TILLOY BRITISH CEMETERY, TILLOY-LES-MOFFLAINES III. F. 5. Telegraph Hill 51b.M.12.b.3.3
GRAY G G 10/4/1917 Second Lieutenant WARLINCOURT HALTE BRITISH CEMETERY, SAULTY VIII. B. 4. 51c.U.18.d.7.5
RICHARDS R J 12/5/1917 Second Lieutenant CABARET-ROUGE BRITISH CEMETERY, SOUCHEZ XXIV. AA. 3. German 51b.E.27.c.85.75
FREMANTLE T F H 17/10/1915 Second Lieutenant ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY I. B. 12.  
FAWCETT W 21/03/1918 Second Lieutenant GRAND-SERAUCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY IV. F. 2. 66d.R.16.a.2.8
THEOBALD R J M W 21/03/1918 Second Lieutenant GRAND-SERAUCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY III. F. 4. 66d.R.16.a.2.8
FINLAYSON J 23/03/1918 Second Lieutenant GRAND-SERAUCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY III. F. 13. 66d.R.16.a.2.8
HUGHES F M 23/03/1918 Second Lieutenant POZIERES MEMORIAL Panel 50 and 51.  
BRADLEY G 24/08/1916 Second Lieutenant THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Pier and Face 10 A and 10 D. Delville Wood 57c.S.18
TALBOT N H 24/08/1916 Second Lieutenant THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Pier and Face 10 A and 10 D. Delville Wood 57c.S.18
Edited by laughton
SELMAN = SELLMAN, attached officer

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laughton

With no other options, I did a basic GOOGLE search and came up with this man:

 

Second Lieutenant Edgar Nevil Newmarch Sellman. 3rd Bn., Gloucestershire Regiment. Died 4 April 1918, aged 42. (this site)

 

Going along that path, I followed him to this site where the same name appears but now with the 5th Oxford & Bucks:

Quote

1918 –5th (S) Bn Oxf & Bucks LI - engaged Battle of the Avre. (France)
Driven from position by enemy and lost heavily.
Heavy bombardment opens at 5.25 a.m.
About 8 a.m. Germans attack, employing at least four waves of troops.
Both flanks go;
Battalion forced to evacuate position.
Line taken up south of Vaire.
Casualties:
Killed 2nd Lieut. E. N. N. Sellman,
Wounded; Lieut. C. R. Charsley, 2nd Lieuts. Cliff, Borman, Horncastle, S. Clark, R. N. Addington, Wounded and Missing: Major A. M. Labouchere (died while a prisoner, on the 20th April.—ed.)
Missing: Lieut. L. V. D. Owen,
Other ranks killed, wounded, and missing, about 160.

 

He is in the CWGC database as having a known burial in the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery and there he is listed as "attached 5th Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. He was recovered from 62d.P.11.c.8.8 in a grave with one cross for six (6) men (COG-BR 2059645).

 

That confirms that we had the correct location of the unit near Corbie when they were near Hamel 62d.P.10. It also takes our list back to the original two officers missing:

  • Lieutenant A H Edwards - listed as a casualty for 1 April 1918 by CWGC but no record of him as a casualty in the war diary
  • Second Lieutenant F M Hughes - tagged on to the end of the casualty list for 23 March 1918 with no other details

 

If COG-BR 2762200 is correct that there was only a "Star" not "Stars", then the only option is HUGHES. Remember that all the men listed on this series of COG-BR documents as "Lieutenants" were actually "Second Lieutenants" (the Kipling Effect). The date also makes Hughes the more likely candidate, as he was just tagged on to the end of the list, so we really don't know his date of loss/death.

 

But back where we were, the case can't go forward without arriving at some reason he was found where the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles were located. He would have had to have crossed not only battalion and brigade dividers but divisional lines.

  • wounded or died and buried by the Germans
  • captured by the Germans, then died and buried

 

To answer the question we would need to know if there was a German burial ground at 66c.A.22.d.8.3.

 

66c.A_22.d.8.3.jpg.24069f9d6c70f0dd3dc64061f70efc92.jpg

 

Edited by laughton
updated TMC

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