Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Zantvoorde British Cemetery Case #5: Company Serjeant Major, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)


Recommended Posts

This is a child topic of:

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/262948-zantvoorde-british-cemetery/

 

On 27/01/2020 at 07:49, laughton said:

a Company Serjeant Major of the Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) COG-BR 2157847 (7 in Belgium on CWGC)

  • there is one (1) known and buried in this cemetery from 1918
  • there is one (1) on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial: Jennings 11 August 1917 11th Bn, at Hollebeke 28.P.19 (war diary page 231 of 259)
    • same as Ford buried in the cemetery, also at P.19 so it is not Jennings
  • there are three (3) on the Tyne Cot Memorial - to be checked
    • looks like it might be CSM Traill of 1st Bn R.W.K., as Ellis and Gardner are also buried in this cemetery from the same general location
  • it looks as I have to split this off for further research as another CSM of the RWK appears on COG-BR 2157900 at 28.P.27.d.2.9 in with men of the 4th and 10th Battalions
    • see next post, as this man was identified

 

Edited by laughton
added note in red text
Link to post
Share on other sites

The remains of the Company Serjeant Major were concentrated from 28.J.20.b.7.7 into grave 4.B.11. That would appear to be on the grounds of the Herenthage Chateau, just south of the Hooge Gheluvelt road (map [Ypres] 28).

 

An adjustment to the text in the above post, as the 2nd Unknown CSM was identified at some previous point in time as Company Serjeant Major Lamb.

 

When CSM Traill was KIA on 26 October 1917, the battalion was moving from Stirling Castle 28.J.13.d and moved to 28.J.21.b.8.4 (war diary page 145 of 694). That means they were moving in a southeast direction just south in the path of the Hooge-Gheluvelt road. That would take them through the location of the remains at 28.J.20.b.7.7. The reference location is given as the PILL BOX at 28.J.21.b.5.3. I will return later to look at all the details, as there is an extensive entry into the war diary.

 

At the time of the death of CSM Darton on 21 September 1917, the 10th Battalion was near the Hedge Street Tunnels, which appears east of Armagh Wood and is reported to be at 28.I.30.b (war diary page 212 of 369). That places him about 2,500 yards southwest of the spot where the remains of the CSM were recovered, so unlikely to be CSM Darton.

 

CSM Tite with the 7th Battalion was killed on 13 December when the battalion was holding the line near "Baboon Camp" Boesinghe 28.B.5 (war diary page 325 of 358). If that is correct, then they are not his remains.

 

surname forename death Queens RWK # cemetery / memorial research notes
SAUNDERS W B 24/08/1914 1st Bn 'L/4607' HAUTRAGE MILITARY CEMETERY 1.B.12 German Grave 65 45.H.30.d.95.35
DARTON MERVYN JOYCE 21/09/1917 10th Bn. 'G/6742' TYNE COT MEMORIAL 2,500 yards SW at 28.I.30.b
TITE HENRY WILLIAM 13/12/1917 7th Bn. '240807' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Boesinghe 28.B.5, well out of the area
TRAILL WILLIAM 26/10/1917 1st Bn. 'L/8535' TYNE COT MEMORIAL in the immediate area of remains at 28.J.20.b.7.7
WESTON HENRY GERALD 17/11/1915 8th Bn. 'G/9721' VOORMEZEELE ENCLOSURES NO.1 AND NO.2 II.C.16 moved from Enclosure #4
JENNINGS RONALD 11/8/1917 11th Bn. '205167' YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL at Hollebeke 28.P.19 (war diary page 231 of 259)
LAMB W 29/09/1918 10th Bn 'G/8620' ZANTVOORDE BRITISH CEMETERY II.J.15 he was the unknown on COG-BR 2157900
Edited by laughton
TMC correction for Pill Box J.21 not J.11; changed text in red
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...
laughton
Posted (edited)

Covering off some of the additional items of concern to the CWGC in these reports:

  1. There is one (1) Company Serjeant Major with a Secondary Regiment affiliation to the Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) who died during the Great War. CSM Harvey #311194 has a date of death of 4 April 1919 and is buried in the Lille Southern Cemetery in France. The records also show that CSM Bristow #L/6162 was attached to the 7th Bn, Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
     
  2. There were 30 CSM's showing the Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) as the primary regiment (CWGC Link). Of these, five (5) are on memorials in France and four (4) on Memorials in Belgium. One (1) is on the Basra Memorial in Iraq. There are no CSMs of the regiment listed on Special Memorials within any cemetery.

 

surname initials death unit country # cemetery or memorial grave reference
SAUNDERS W B 24/08/1914 1st Bn Belgium 'L/4607' HAUTRAGE MILITARY CEMETERY I. B. 12.
DARTON M J 21/09/1917 10th Bn. Belgium 'G/6742' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.
TITE H W 13/12/1917 7th Bn. Belgium '240807' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.
TRAILL W 26/10/1917 1st Bn. Belgium 'L/8535' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.
WESTON H G 17/11/1915 8th Bn. Belgium 'G/9721' VOORMEZEELE ENCLOSURES NO.1 AND NO.2 II. C. 16.
JENNINGS R 11/8/1917 11th Bn. Belgium '205167' YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL Panel 45 and 47.
LAMB W 29/09/1918 "D" Coy. 10th Bn Belgium 'G/8620' ZANTVOORDE BRITISH CEMETERY II. J. 15.
MARKHAM J T 7/10/1916 1st Bn. attd. 6th Bn. France '424' BANCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY IX. H. 11.
SMITH F C 23/12/1915 "A" Coy. 6th Bn. France 'L/8059' BROWN'S ROAD MILITARY CEMETERY, FESTUBERT II. D. 10.
RANSOME E G 27/07/1916 "B" Coy. 1st Bn. France 'L/4921' CATERPILLAR VALLEY CEMETERY, LONGUEVAL IX. H. 10.
BANDY J T 18/09/1916 10th Bn. France 'G/6843' CORBIE COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION Plot 2. Row E. Grave 21.
GUTTERIDGE J 16/10/1918 8th Bn. France 'G/1324' DELSAUX FARM CEMETERY, BEUGNY II. B. 2.
CROSSLEY F J 9/4/1916 1st Bn. France '5259' FAUBOURG D'AMIENS CEMETERY, ARRAS I. A. 24.
LEVITT G 31/07/1917 11th Bn. France '8569' GODEWAERSVELDE BRITISH CEMETERY I. A. 32.
PENNEY W H 28/10/1914 1st Bn. France 'L/4558' LE TOURET MEMORIAL Panel 30 and 31.
CAMPLIN G A 26/09/1915 8th Bn. France 'G/2711' LOOS MEMORIAL Panel 95 to 97.
VERRALL G T 16/04/1917 8th Bn. France 'S/923' MAROC BRITISH CEMETERY, GRENAY III. C. 11.
WHEELER A 10/6/1917 10th Bn. France '9300' MONT HUON MILITARY CEMETERY, LE TREPORT III. G. 9A.
COE G M 13/09/1916 10th Bn. France 'G/6771' THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Pier and Face 11 C.
GLAZEBROOK S W 22/07/1916 1st Bn. France 'L/8020' THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Pier and Face 11 C.
PEARSON C 1/7/1916 7th Bn. France 'S/1086' THIEPVAL MEMORIAL Pier and Face 11 C.
YOUNG C H A 2/12/1916 "C" Coy. 6th Bn. France '502' WAILLY ORCHARD CEMETERY I. A. 13.
BRISTOW A E 5/9/1916 2nd Bn. (att'd RDF) Greece 'L/6162' STRUMA MILITARY CEMETERY III. E. 2.
BOVIS F 30/10/1918 2nd Bn. Iraq '8438' BAGHDAD (NORTH GATE) WAR CEMETERY XIII. C. 2.
DARLEY R 27/10/1916 2nd Bn. Iraq 'L/6078' BAGHDAD (NORTH GATE) WAR CEMETERY XXI. K. 30.
FLETCHER T 23/09/1916 2nd Bn. Iraq 'L/5752' BAGHDAD (NORTH GATE) WAR CEMETERY XXI. Q. 24.
NEWBROOK E J 7/2/1916 2nd Bn. Iraq 'L/5706' BASRA MEMORIAL Panel 29.
PALMER A W 22/04/1917 2nd/4th Bn. Israel and Palestine (including Gaza) '200090' DEIR EL BELAH WAR CEMETERY A. 132.
PALMER O 17/12/1917 2nd/4th Bn. Israel and Palestine (including Gaza) '203264' JERUSALEM WAR CEMETERY R. 65.
WHITE D U A 8/10/1918 2nd/4th Bn. Israel and Palestine (including Gaza) '200238' RAMLEH WAR CEMETERY CC. 25.
Edited by laughton
typos - I keep forgetting about the PREVIEW option!
Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton
Posted (edited)

For the report, the easy way and then can "drag & drop":

(I wonder if any one has looked for the 2nd Lt. DCLI who is in the grave beside the CSM?)

 

https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc2157665.JPG

doc2157665.JPG

https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc2157847.JPG

doc2157847.JPG

https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc1867450.JPG

doc1867450.JPG

 

McMaster Map Ypres [28]

1769206440_McMasterMap-marked.jpg.60b8f71f68bac7fdd0cb3dda0f04bde3.jpg

 

UKNA Trench Map 8A

2082921174_w0297_07448A28NE3Gheluvelt05-12-1917-marked.jpg.aca5d01c4eec30380de405ebf13a80e0.jpg

Edited by laughton
editing images for report
Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton
Posted (edited)
On 27/01/2020 at 09:26, laughton said:

I will return later to look at all the details, as there is an extensive entry into the war diary.

 

The war diary of the 1st Battalion of the Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), for 24 October 1917, reports that the Battalion Headquarters took over a Pill Box at 28.J.14.d.95.35 (war diary page 144 of 694). This places them just north of the Hooge-Gheluvelt road (aka Menin Road) and due-north of the Herenthage Chateau on the south side of the road, within 500 yards of where the remains were recovered at 28.J.20.b.7.7.

 

The 25th was reported to be a quiet day, the only casualties being reported as 7 OR's wounded. The Battalion HQ, along with a Regimental Aid Post, moved to a small Pill Box to the southeast along the road to 28.J.21.b.5.3 (war diary page 145 of 694). During the evening hours, the bulk of the men then started to move east from their base at Stirling Castle. This movement would have taken them past the Herenthage Chateau, only if they were on the south side of the road. (Note: reading on you will see that one group got misplaced and did go south of the road, where the casualties occured.)

 

The activity started to pick up at 4 am on the 26th, as B and D Coy took up assembly positions in the rear at about 28.J.21.b.8.4. The artillery barrage passed over their heads to come down just behind the British front line trenches. Shortly after, the battalion suffered their first casualties of the day when the enemy put down a barrage of artillery and machine gun fire. Captain G. W. Press, commanding D Coy was killed at about 7 am. The Captain's remains were not recovered, thus he too is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial Tyne Cot Memorial.

 

The Germans were still holding a group of Pill Boxes abutting the Menin Road at 28.J.21.d.80.75. Attempts to capture the Pill Boxes failed and Second Lieutenant R. D. Lovelace was killed, his remains not knowingly recovered.

 

The German move west was underway by 5:15 pm and were reported to be advancing in large numbers (war diary page 147 of 694). A number of other British regiments (Gordons, Devons, R W Fusiliers) were now joining the Royal West Kent Regiment in anticipation of a major counter-attack. Great effort was then put into cleaning the mud from the rifles.

 

The 1st Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), was relieved in the line and moved to Bedford House on 27 October 1917, having executed the attack under what was described as "extremely unfavourable conditions". The war diary reports there were 335 casualties within the OR's, along with the two officers reported killed and a number wounded. 

 

The CWGC database records 116 dead of the battalion for 26 October 1917, of which 72 are named on the Tyne Cot Memorial. Thirty-one (31) of the men are now buried in Hooge Crater Cemetery, the majority of which appear to have come from  28.J.22.a, more or less the objective line. Ten (10) are now in known graves in the Tyne Cot Cemetery, also concentrated from sector 28.J.22.a.

 

The appendices (war diary page 164 of 494) tell us that there was a Regimental Aid Post at 28.J.20.b.95.15, in the vicinity of where the CSM remains were recovered. (Note: this may have changed later - see page 191 of 694 - appears to have moved to 28.J.21.a.5.5 page 196 of 694). Cemeteries identified and reported in the war diary for the divisional area were Valley Cottage, Sanctuary Wood and Bedford House. I believe this is the first case where I have read that the orders stated that:

Quote

"The green identity disc will always be left on the bodies and buried with them. The red identity disc will be removed and placed with the personal effects"

 

The appendices (MO5) provides a map detailing the front line. objective line and the Divisional and Brigade boundaries (war diary page 169 of 694). This would suggest that the majority of the men found buried in sector 28.J.22.a were those that reached the objective. The Unknown CSM was found well behind the front lines at 28.J.20.b.7.7. (Note: we find out later what happened and how he ended up in that location.)

 

MO21, the Operational Order of 24 October 1917, reports that the 1st Objective (Red Line) is from 28.J.22.b.42.70 to b.15.00 and the 2nd Objective is 28.J.22.b.45.70 to b.75.25. It would appear that this is what is shown on the map MO22b (war diary page 211 of 694).

 

The Regimental Aid Posts were set at:

  • 28.J.21.a.5.5
  • 28.J.14.d.9.4 (that is very close to the Brigade HQ at 28.J.14.d.95.35)
  • 28.J.15.d.5.3
  • 28.J.14.b.8.3
  • 28.J.13.d.5.1

MO23 depicts the hand-written but detailed Report on Operations from the 24th to 26th (war diary page 213 of 694). B & D Coys were at the front lines in 28.J.22.a and A & C Coys were in the trenches at Sterling Castle. It was from the Sterling Castle area that it is reported that the Platoon Officers and NCOs reconnoitered the routes to the assembly trenches to be occupied the night of the 25th - 26th. The war diary reports casualties from the heavy shell fire at that time.

 

AND HERE LIES THE INFORMATION THAT WE NEEDED! We now have the CSM misplaced south of the road and not moving forward and he is a casualty! That was CSM Traill.

 

On 25 October 1917 (war diary page 214 of 694)

Quote

In accordance with orders issued to Bn Commander, C Coy moved forward from STIRLING CASTLE at about 8 pm and dug in assembly position about J.21.b.4.5. A Coy should have done likewise but orders apparently miscarried [matters yet to be investigated] and the Coy did not move from STIRLING CASTLE till 1:30 am 26 Oct. and even one platoon did not come forward from that place an so took no place in the operations.

 

On 26 October 1917: (war diary page 215 of 694)

Quote

At zero hour the assembly Coys B & D moved forward to the attack. A Coy at the same time moving forward to occupy the line held by B & D Coys from night of 24th to morning of 26th. Reports indicated that A Coy moved rather too much S (south). This was due to the fact that all Officers and CSM became casualties.

 

The large number of missing, is reported (war diary page 219 of 694) to be due to:

  1. Heavy shelling which must have buried many men.
  2. Conditions of ground which made it impossible to search ground properly for dead and wounded.
  3. Complete lack of information from two assaulting Coys after zero hour.

It was estimate about 20 % of the missing were POWs.

 

We now have CSM Traill of A Coy misplaced to the south of the road and missing. That is why he was not amongst the dead recovered from the 28.J.22.a location at the Red or Blue Line Objectives. His remains were recovered from exactly where they should have been when he was misplaced. Note that the two Officers killed were not ones that were with CSM Traille, which although not recovered, were reported to be in operations east of the Front Line and at the location of the Objectives.

 

Here are the Officers and NCOs on the CWGC database for 25-26 October 1917, showing all were lost on the 26th:

 

surname initials rank # cemetery or memorial reference  
PRESS G W Captain   TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108. O.C. D Coy
LOVELACE R D W Second Lieutenant   TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108. at front line Pill Boxes
TRAILL W Company Serjeant Major 'L/8535' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
BROWN H S Serjeant 'TF/241011' HOOGE CRATER CEMETERY VIII. L. 4. D Coy 28.J.22.a.3.4
COUSINS W W Serjeant 'L/6563' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
FALKNER R G G Serjeant 'L/10229' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
FOX F G Serjeant 'G/24666' HOOGE CRATER CEMETERY VII. J. 14. 28.J.22.a.1.6
TUMBER E D Serjeant 'S/9071' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
WARD C W A Serjeant 'L/10003' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
BEAGLEY F Corporal 'S/7889' TYNE COT CEMETERY LI. B. 4. 28.J.22.a.40.05
BRITTON F Corporal '240926' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
HONEYSETT S Corporal 'G/4877' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
TARRING L W Corporal 'TF/240734' HOOGE CRATER CEMETERY IX. C. 12. 28.J.22.a.0.5
WOOD W Corporal 'G/23855' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
HOSKINS H J Lance Corporal 'G/1671' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
PARKER S Lance Corporal '241344' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
PEARSON W F Lance Corporal 'G/16617' HOOGE CRATER CEMETERY VIA. E. 11. 28.J.22.a.4.0
PERKINS J H Lance Corporal 'G/25917' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
RANDALL C E Lance Corporal '241163' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
RUSSELL J E Lance Corporal '206364' TYNE COT CEMETERY LV. B. 4. 28.J.22.a.32.20
SPACKMAN A Lance Corporal 'S/1854' HOOGE CRATER CEMETERY IX. H. 9. 28.J.22.a.2.5
WOOLF C H Lance Corporal '241027' TYNE COT MEMORIAL Panel 106 to 108.  
Edited by laughton
correction of memorial name
Link to post
Share on other sites

A report has been drafted and announced as available for review:

 

http://tinyurl.com/CSM-Traill

 

Quote

The bulk of the 1st Battalion was moving east on the north side of the Menin Road, which does not place them in the immediate vicinity of where the remains of the CSM were recovered. How the CSM ended up south of the Menin Road, precisely where the remains were recovered, is recorded in detail in the following quotes from the war diary (Attachments # 7d & 7c):

  • On 25 October 1917 (war diary page 214 of 694):
    “In accordance with orders issued to Bn Commander, “C” Coy moved forward from STIRLING CASTLE at about 8 pm and dug in assembly position about J.21.b.4.5. “A” Coy should have done likewise but orders apparently miscarried [matters yet to be investigated] and the Coy did not move from STIRLING CASTLE till 1:30 am 26 Oct. and even one platoon did not come forward from that place an so took no place in the operations.”
     
  • On 26 October 1917: (war diary page 215 of 694):
    At zero hour the assembly Coys “B” & “D” moved forward to the attack. “A” Coy at the same time moving forward to occupy the line held by “B” & “D” Coys from night of 24th to morning of 26th. Reports indicated that “A” Coy moved rather too much S (south)This was due to the fact that all Officers and CSM became casualties.

We now have CSM Traill of “A” Coy misplaced to the south of the road and missing. That is why he was not amongst the dead recovered from the 28.J.22.a location at the Red or Blue Line Objectives. His remains were recovered from exactly where they should have been when he was misplaced. Note that the two Officers killed were not ones that were with CSM Traill, which although not recovered, were reported to be in operations east of the Front Line and at the location of the Objectives. The Officer casualties with CSM Traill were wounded but not killed.


The importance of the misplacement of the men of “A” Coy became a critical issue when it was noted that the majority of the men of the battalion, that fell that day, were recovered in Sector 28.J.22.a. They were where they should have been and not where the misplaced CSM and other Officers were located.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Muerrisch

Some humann interest regarding CSM on the list, HG Weston, a good friend of Frank Richards, author of Old Soldiers Never Die

 

 

Henry Gerald Weston: gentleman ranker, rogue and patriot

 

 

Bought himself out

Weston was educated above the contemporary norm. He was born in 1878 in Guildford, the son of Dr Weston (later of Thornlea, Morland Road, Croydon). He served in the ranks of 2nd Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers (RWF) for 11 years and 275 days before purchasing his discharge. The fee to purchase discharge was £18. The circumstances of his discharge are not known, but most Terms of Engagement or Extension culminated after 12 or 13 years if they had not already done so, and we may surmise his expensive departure (about £800 in current terms) was a fairly urgent or pressing matter.

 

Gerald (he appears to have preferred this name) was a friend of Victor Ward, (the subject of a previous essay in this series) and a drinking companion of the famous private soldier and author Frank Richards. The friendship with Ward continued after Weston left the army, and it is through this and Ward’s magpie collecting instincts that the roguish ‘Gerald’ of Richards’s Old Soldier Sahib can be identified.

 

Crime and punishment

Nothing is known of his early career, and he arrived in China with a draft for 2nd RWF too late to receive the campaign medal for defeating the Boxers. However, he figures in a posed photograph (Figure 1) which might have caused uproar about the ‘licentious soldiery’ had it been published. Weston is seen assisting a corporal in a looting expedition. He was soon appointed lance corporal and was a member of the Regimental Corporals’ Club in China. However, he deserted (according to Richards) after the Pekin expedition and masqueraded as a Lieutenant St Clair of the United States Army. He eventually (and after a period of adventure told inimitably by Richards) gave himself up to a Royal Welch Fusiliers officer in Shanghai, and was tried and sentenced by District Court Martial to six months imprisonment. He continued to soldier afterwards but appears not to have learned his lesson, again posing as an officer (British this time) and seemingly aided by a subaltern of 2nd RWF who, according to Richards, had a South African Campaign DSO and who was made to leave the Regiment in disgrace. Richards did not name the officer but the prime suspect, indeed the only one to fit the outline, is 2nd Lt. H. de Bere Edwards.

 

The educated caretaker

When the battalion moved to India he went with it and he was appointed in Regimental Orders to be Assistant Caretaker of Historical Buildings, Fort Agra with effect from 22nd August 1906. Richards has this to say of him:

 

‘(the soldier-caretaker) was Lance Corporal Gerald of our D company, and if the whole of India had been combed, no better man could have been found for the job. He knew the whole history of the place from A to Z and had a charming cultured voice for lecturing purposes. I believe that some of the female visitors were more interested in him than what they were in the buildings, and he made quite a lot of money in tips, which he spent right royally in booze ………. He came of a good family and was an old Public School boy. He had studied for the Bar at first, but soon got fed up with that and joined the army in the hope of being granted a commission after two or three years service. In the early days of his soldiering he had been getting a liberal allowance from his people, but this had been cut off after he had been in a few scrapes; it was these scrapes, too, which had prevented him from being recommended for a commission’.

 

 

During his time in India Weston qualified in Higher Urdu, Military Topography, Supply Duties and Machine Gun. Richards also credits him with two certificates in Hindoostani and one in Persian. As to dates, it is difficult to be specific: his regimental number was 4979 which was issued late in 1896 or early 1897 and we know that he qualified neither for the China or South Africa medals. Taking an educated guess, 1896 to 1907 is a reasonable span for his first career in the army. After his expensive farewell to the army, he is next glimpsed a few years later treating about 50 time-expired 2nd RWF men to beer, bread and cheese and pickles at Fort Brockhurst, Gosport. Richards quotes Gerald as saying that he was about to sail from Southampton to take up an important appointment in South Africa. Victor Ward and Gerald were sufficiently close for Ward to have a studio portrait and Christmas card from Gerald in his effects.

 

 

Returned to serve

Like many others, when the Great War broke out Gerald settled his affairs and headed back Home to enlist, leaving a pregnant wife, Ellen Alice, in Christchurch, New Zealand. After leaving his regiment he had served five years in the Australian Army and two years in the New Zealand Army, attaining the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major in the latter. He then worked briefly in Christchurch NZ as an accountant. As to South Africa, Richards is either wrong, or Gerald’s sojourn there was very brief.

 

Gerald must have been pleased with his reception when he enlisted for ‘General Service, Short Service Engagement, Duration of the War’ on 26th August 1915 at Maidstone. He was in the prime of life, a well-spoken and big man, six feet tall, 41-inch chest, weighing 159 lbs., with scarred right breast and right axilla. He was made Acting Sergeant that day, Acting Colour Sergeant three days later, and was posted to the Special Reserve (3rd) battalion of the Royal West Kents, number G 9721, on 1st October. A month later he went to the 8th (Service) battalion, was appointed a Company Sergeant Major and was killed in action on the 17th November 1915 in very unpleasant conditions. The battalion history says:

 

‘Our trenches were towards the bottom of the slope east of St Eloi village, and all water drained into the bottom of the valley. Rain was continuous; there were practically no shelters whatever in the front line, and the trenches were nearly waist deep in water. The enemy whizz-banged our tottering parapets at all hours, and the sniping from the trenches on the high ground was wonderfully accurate. The removal of wounded was a matter of extraordinary difficulty and danger. The rests at Reninghelst between trench tours were rests only in name’,

 

 He left a son, Gerald Norman, born on the 6th November. The tragedy was far from unique but he had had absolutely no need to follow his patriotic instincts and such sacrifice is sad beyond words.

 

His campaign medals eventually went to his widow: the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. She travelled to England in 1916 to stay with the Rev. Maxsted, of Tiltry Vicarage, Dunmow, from where she campaigned for the return of Gerald’s field glasses, ‘a presentation to him before he went away’. She had to fight for her pension ‘or I will be utterly destitute’ and was awarded the princely sum of 19/- a week, to be paid in New Zealand. Company Sergeant Major HG Weston lies in Voormezeele Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, near Ypres. Richards, although knowing nothing of Weston’s further service and sacrifice, wrote him a marvellous epitaph ‘He was a remarkable man in many ways and a perfect gentleman: he never let a comrade down and gamely took whatever medicine was coming to him’.

 

© DE Langley 2007

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...