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Remembered Today:

Edgar Whitaker 231coy MGC Died near Cambrai 1917


Nipper Alan

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I'm hoping for help please. Read on. It's gripping.

Private Edgar Whitaker enlisted at Batley, died on  23-11-1917 and is remembered on  panel 12 & 13 at Cambrai Memorial.

CWGC record him as 58301  Machine Gun Corps (Infantry). Remembered at Cambrai, France.

SDWG records him as 58301 Machine Gun Corps  kia France & Flanders  (Formerly 29910 KOYLI).

His Soldier's Effects record his place of death as Palestine.

The local Batley News of December 1917 wrote that he died while he was serving with the Egyptian Exped. Force which he joined in May 1917. The article added that he had seen much fighting in Palestine.

His MIC and WWI Service Medal & Award Roll  show only his MGC number 58301.

He was awarded the British & Victory medals.

As best I understand 231st Coy MGC were formed in Grantham, embarked 24 April 1917, joined 75th Division in Egypt 13 August 1917. Moved into No 75 Bn, MGC on 3 May 1918.

I turned to Find My Past and searched for Edgar Whitaker of Batley. The search turned up a single sheet of paper of the "burnt paper" type.There was no description of the document.It is very faint but It has six names on it. All the surnames began with "W". All were MGC men and all had died. The manuscript line for Edgar included his place of birth, date of death, his two service numbers, KOYLI, place of death "F&F" (which I took to be France & Flanders) and then, in the end column  "231 Coy" . 

What am I to make of all this? Did he breath his last in Egypt, Palestine or France? Was, as I believe, the 231st MGC in Egypt/Palestine for the duration? Why/how can it be that he is remembered at Cambrai but, as far as I can see, not in Egypt/Palestine.

It all seems a bit odd.

 

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7 hours ago, Mark1959 said:

Can you post a link to the FMP doc?

Hello Mark,

I tried this with a colleague yesterday who wasn't an FMP member and he couldn't access it....but here goes.....

 

https://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=GBM%2FWO363-4%2F007392455%2F00256&parentid=GBM%2FWO363-4%2FSUPP%2F460120

 

Thanks for commenting.

His name and details are fifth on the list.

Edited by Nipper Alan
To make clearer.
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It works with FMP subscribers...very confusing!

Perhaps Fold3/WFA Pension records can solve the conundrum but I don't have a sub for that

 

George

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1 hour ago, George Rayner said:

It works with FMP subscribers...very confusing!

Perhaps Fold3/WFA Pension records can solve the conundrum but I don't have a sub for that

 

George

Hello George

Thank you. I'm a member of The Western Front Association so I get to see the pension ledger records via Fold 3..Sadly  Edgar's records there don't tell us anymore about his service or place of death. I did learn that his mum was awarded a pension as a dependant.

It's a conundrum for sure.

 

Alan

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So is it a CWGC error?

 

George

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31 minutes ago, George Rayner said:

So is it a CWGC error?

 

George

It would seem so from what I can see.

 

Craig

 

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Interesting one. Looking at  the CWGC records there are 25 MGC (Infantry) died on 23/11/1917 these show up as being all different companies. Mostly in France/Belgium but also several from middle east - two of which (156 Coy) are buried at Jerusalem War Cemetery. In the case of Whitaker as he's remembered on a memorial and not a burial so obviously the body was not recovered (or more likely original gravesite lost). The location of 231Coy on that date, the contemporary newspaper report and his soldiers effect records all point to him dying in Palestine. Presumably the (local) newspaper report is based on information from the family - and they would have known he was in the middle east. 

The alphabetical list appears to be a draft copy page of a Service Return - which are ledgers submitted of every regiment's casualties, also it states "Killed in Action". His place of death is noted as FF (France/Flanders) so may be a clerical error stemming from here. The best option is to look up the war diary for 231 Coy for that date. As he would appear to be their only casualty on that date - even if not named maybe note one other rank killed in action.

As for the CWGC it may well (likely be) an error but due to information they were provided with at the time and that has carried over into SDGW. There are 13 MGC casualties from 23/11/197 on the Cambrai Memorial and all (including Edgar) have identified Companies. If they were to believe he was KiA on that date in France but had no known grave he has been placed on the Cambrai memorial.  

Edited by david murdoch
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I don't seem able to find the diary for 231st on Ancestry. Any clues to pin it down please?

 

George

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41 minutes ago, George Rayner said:

I don't seem able to find the diary for 231st on Ancestry. Any clues to pin it down please?

 

George

They would have the diary for any time in the Middle East.

Craig

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29 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

They would have the diary for any time in the Middle East.

...or wouldn't as I can find F&F, & Gallipoli but not ME

 

George

Edited by George Rayner
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9 minutes ago, George Rayner said:

...or wouldn't as I can find F&F, & Gallipoli but not ME

 

George

Sorry !! They wouldn't have the diary - I shouldn't try to be doing three things at once when I'm posting.


Craig

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It's good practice! Keeps the mind flexible

 

George

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 Seeing this casualty for 231st Coy on 24/11/1917. Sgt James Presdee MM KiA,  Palestine. Killed by a piece of shrapnel. Noting his circumstances of death and burial in the link below. On CWGC he's listed on Jerusalem Memorial - likely grave lost as well. So most likely Edgar is also lost battlefield burial, but who should be on the Jerusalem Memorial rather than Cambrai.

http://www.malvernremembers.org.uk/ww1-profiles/james-presdee

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5 hours ago, david murdoch said:

Interesting one. Looking at  the CWGC records there are 25 MGC (Infantry) died on 23/11/1917 these show up as being all different companies. Mostly in France/Belgium but also several from middle east - two of which (156 Coy) are buried at Jerusalem War Cemetery. In the case of Whitaker as he's remembered on a memorial and not a burial so obviously the body was not recovered (or more likely original gravesite lost). The location of 231Coy on that date, the contemporary newspaper report and his soldiers effect records all point to him dying in Palestine. Presumably the (local) newspaper report is based on information from the family - and they would have known he was in the middle east. 

The alphabetical list appears to be a draft copy page of a Service Return - which are ledgers submitted of every regiment's casualties, also it states "Killed in Action". His place of death is noted as FF (France/Flanders) so may be a clerical error stemming from here. The best option is to look up the war diary for 231 Coy for that date. As he would appear to be their only casualty on that date - even if not named maybe note one other rank killed in action.

As for the CWGC it may well (likely be) an error but due to information they were provided with at the time and that has carried over into SDGW. There are 13 MGC casualties from 23/11/197 on the Cambrai Memorial and all (including Edgar) have identified Companies. If they were to believe he was KiA on that date in France but had no known grave he has been placed on the Cambrai memorial.  

David Thank you. Thought provoking and very helpful. I did try to find the 231 Coy War Diaries on Ancestry but they have only seem to have the European theatres. Following your response I thought I would also try The National Archives but they don't appear to have them either. In any event I took a leaf out of your book and did some searching on CWGC. Thanks for the tip. I searched for Machine Gun Corps & Unit 231st without any date restriction. It gave me five names.....three died in November 1917 ( Edgar Whitaker on 23/11/1917 & two other men on 24/11/1917),one in December 1917 & one in April 1918. Only Edgar was remembered in France (Cambrai). The other four 231st MGC lads were at Jerusalem (2 - both on Panel 53 & kia 24/11/1917)) and  Ramleh (2  Dec 1917 & April 1918). As you said the evidence pointed to Edgar losing his life in Palestine and this seems to confirm that the 231st were indeed there at that time. So assuming Edgar was indeed in the 231st MGC (Infantry) then he should have been remembered at Jerusalem. I suppose an e mail to CWGC wouldn't be amiss. Thank you for the advice. Alan

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4 hours ago, david murdoch said:

 Seeing this casualty for 231st Coy on 24/11/1917. Sgt James Presdee MM KiA,  Palestine. Killed by a piece of shrapnel. Noting his circumstances of death and burial in the link below. On CWGC he's listed on Jerusalem Memorial - likely grave lost as well. So most likely Edgar is also lost battlefield burial, but who should be on the Jerusalem Memorial rather than Cambrai.

http://www.malvernremembers.org.uk/ww1-profiles/james-presdee

David, This is a great find - the link from Malvern. Thank you. As you say....a likely lost grave which was most probably the same fate for Edgar.

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7 hours ago, George Rayner said:

It's good practice! Keeps the mind flexible

 

George

Aye. That's what I need. a flexible mind. Thanks for your contributions George and Craig. Isn't this Forum just brilliant.

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13 hours ago, ss002d6252 said:

The soldiers effects record states Palestine as place of death.

 

231 MG company were out in the middle east in 1917.

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/machine-gun-corps-in-the-first-world-war/the-companies-and-battalions-of-the-machine-gun-corps/

 

Craig

Thanks  for these finds Craig. I see you have an interest in 6th DLI. This is one of 319 Ossett men who lost their lives in WWI. We have a few DLI lads. This is one of them I wrote with colleages way back when....  http://ossett.net/WW1/Charles_H_Derry.html

 

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