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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Ernest Fredrick Collins Middlesex Regiment / 1/19th Londons


Beckierosie1984

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Hi all,

 

Newby to this great sight here!

 

I am a History university student based in Devon, writing a piece on local history which also effects the greater world.

For my assignment I am writing about my Great Uncle 3x removed, who, fought and died in the Great War and is buried in Montigny in France.

 

Does anyone know how I can find perhaps old letters, memoirs etc? or does anyone else have a relative that served alongside mine by any chance?

 

I have consulted family, Ancestry and local archives to no avail!

 

Any help would be greatly received,

 

Many thanks in advance

 

Beckie Reed

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Beckie

 

Welcome to the site.  Personal information/reminiscences such as you list are perhaps the hardest to find and certainly, as you have seen, don't turn up on line.  Have you got the basics of his service to underpin his story - his medal record for example which shows he started overseas with the Hampshire Regiment before the Middlesex and then the attachment to 19 London Regiment.  (This movement between regiments would make the personal side that much more difficult coupled with the difficulty of knowing when he moved regiments as his war record seems not to have survived the bombing in WW2 when 60% or so of them were lost.)  The fact that had served no more than a year when he was killed (and may have fibbed about his age when he joined up) and left his effects to his father Daniel..  The war diary of 19 Londons which would show where 19 London were fighting when he was killed is also part of his story.    Perhaps you have all this or prefer to concentrate on the search for more personal info?

Personal history does indeed affect the greater world.

 

Max

 

Middle name is given as Frederick in records.

 

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welcome to the forum

local papers are about the only chance you have and thats slim

 

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Good evening Max,

 

Thank you so much for responding to my post! I am entirely grateful for your time.

The little information that I have managed to obtain comes mostly, from a book written by local historians in Tavistock, Devon.

My uncle (living) who is Ernest's great-great nephew has conducted some basic genealogy for our family, however hard he seems to have tried his research conclusions appear to be low-level.

I have managed to obtain some basic info regarding Ernest, including his burial location, grave inscription, and a grave registration form which indicates his change from his initial battalion to the Londons which is where I have hit knowledge barriers.

 

My understanding of army battalions is somewhat limited, I struggle to understand why he enlisted in Exeter in Devon and was then posted to the Middlesex reg to then be posted to the voluntary 1/19th londons? Was this coincided with Lord Kitchener's requirements for more troops or is it / was it common practice for a soldier to be posted to a vol regt?

 

Forgive me as my understanding of the British Army then and now is somewhat limited, I myself have served within HM forces but my capacity was that of a Royal Navy Gunner and this excludes me from understanding that vast structure of the British Army. I was unaware that he was active in the Hampshire regt, does that mean that he was posted after his enlistment and then to further regiments before being sent to the Western Front? 

 

I also have not been able to locate any enlistment / medical records which you speak of? I understand that his effects would have been left to my ancestor Daniel, my great-grandmother (Mary-ellen, Ernest's sister) was only 14 years of age when her brother died and therefore, either had little recollection of her brother or as i have been advised by current members of my family that they 'did not talk of the family' back in the day!

 

for my research I initially wanted to approach it from the perspective of a soldier who experienced truly what it was like to defend our great country, however, with what appears to be limited information available to me I may be forced to write from a general perspective. This is not truly what I want to do as I feel that the 'personal' touch has much more to offer. 

 

Again I thank you for your time and any advice for a novice with a desire to keep the memory alive of those who gave their today for our tomorrow, would be greatly received. I attach any documents that I have been able to obtain.

 

Many thanks in advance

 

Beckie  

Collinsfamilycensus1911.jpg

inscription.jpeg

Graveregistrationform.jpeg

COLLINS_ERNEST_FREDERICK (1).pdf

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42 minutes ago, Coldstreamer said:

welcome to the forum

local papers are about the only chance you have and thats slim

 

Hi Coldstreamer, I think this is how I reply, however, forgive me if it is not the correct way.

I have a notification in the Tavistock Gazzette of his death announcement which helps with my research.

However, I would love to obtain a greater understanding into why he was posted to the places that he was etc?

I am planning on a trip to his grave in France in the next coming months to pay my respects to him, but do you think there is any hope of me obtaining his enlistment records etc?

 

Many many thanks for your time.

 

Regards,

 

Beckie Reed

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3 hours ago, MaxD said:

Beckie

 

Welcome to the site.  Personal information/reminiscences such as you list are perhaps the hardest to find and certainly, as you have seen, don't turn up on line.  Have you got the basics of his service to underpin his story - his medal record for example which shows he started overseas with the Hampshire Regiment before the Middlesex and then the attachment to 19 London Regiment.  (This movement between regiments would make the personal side that much more difficult coupled with the difficulty of knowing when he moved regiments as his war record seems not to have survived the bombing in WW2 when 60% or so of them were lost.)  The fact that had served no more than a year when he was killed (and may have fibbed about his age when he joined up) and left his effects to his father Daniel..  The war diary of 19 Londons which would show where 19 London were fighting when he was killed is also part of his story.    Perhaps you have all this or prefer to concentrate on the search for more personal info?

Personal history does indeed affect the greater world.

 

Max

 

Middle name is given as Frederick in records.

 

furthermore, Max I wonder you mention the war diary of the Londons and his medical records, is this something you can point me in the direction of or am I being naive?

 

:)

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Best of luck with the research. If you have access to Find My Past there are four references including a photo of him at school

4 results
 
 
Last name First name(s) Year Of Birth Year Of Death Year Record set Location  
Collins Ernest Frederick 1900 1918 1914-18 Lives Of The First World War 1914-1918 Great Britain
 
You previously viewed this record.
 
You previously viewed this image.
Collins Ernest Frederick 1918 1918 Soldiers Died In The Great War 1914-1919 Great Britain
 
View transcript.
Collins Ernest Frederick 1900 1918 1918 Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt Of Honour Montigny Communal Cemetery, Somme, France
You previously viewed this record.
Collins Ernest F 1914-20 Britain, Campaign, Gallantry & Long Service Medals & Awards Great Britain
 
View transcript.

https://www.findmypast.co.uk/search/results?sourcecategory=armed+forces+%26+conflict&firstname=ernest+frederick&firstname_variants=true&lastname=collins&soldiernumber=g%2f44651&keywordsplace_proximity=5&sourcecountry=great+britain

 

George

 

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At the National Archives you can download his medal card for £3.50 (or see the preview image for free) at:

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D1889634

 

This shows that he went overseas first with the Hampshire Regiment and later (we don't know when) to the Middlesex.  It was often the case that a man went abroad after training destined for regiment A but once in France was sent to regiment B.   While with the Middlesex there he was attached (on loan if you like) to 19 Londons.  Why was he in these and why did he transfer - because the army said so simply,  He didn't join until 1917 and at that stage men went where they were needed.  While all the London Regiment were Territorial Force units, that only means that pre-war and up to conscription all their people were volunteers, once conscription began in 1916, men went where needed never mind where they came from.

 

I mentioned the war diary of 19 Londons because although we don't know where he was prior to his death, we do know he was with them when he was killed, sadly, we know he was with them when he was killed.  You can download this at the National Archives (£3.50)  https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7354564

 

As well as the records at Findmypast cited above, his medal roll entry and his entry in the Register of Soldiers' Effects are on Ancestry.  The medal roll gave the additional info that he was with 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment overseas first.  Does the uni library computer have access to either site?  Local libraries often do.  I  can give links.  I didn't mention medical records, there aren't any, perhaps it was my mention of the Effects register?

 

I mentioned his age.  I now see his birth was registered in the Dec quarter of 1899 so he would have become 18 towards the end of 1917 (the lower limit for conscription was 18). Chances are he was conscripted rather than volunteered, forget my thought about fibbing about his age!

 

When the storm hits I'll see whether there are other clues to be followed up.

 

Max

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I suggest you look at the Long Long Trail, link top left where there is information on researching a soldier, and will help you to understand the structure of the Army in the Great War.

 

Pte Collins was, as suggested above a conscript and was called up for service shortly after his eighteenth birthday towards the end of 1917.  He would have been posted to the Training Reserve.  Depending on the date he was called up he was probably posted to the 37th Young Soldier Battalion, which became affiliated to the Hampshire Regiment as the 53rd (Young Soldier) Battalion in October 1917 see LLT https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/hampshire-regiment/

 

He was then transferred to the 4th Reserve Battalion Hampshire Regiment, probably in February 1918.  At this stage of the war a soldier could not be posted on active service overseas until he had attained his nineteenth birthday.

 

In March 1918 the Germans launched a major offensive in France which resulted in enormous loss to the BEF, as a consequence the Government agreed men who were age eighteen and a half and had at least six months training in the UK could be posted to the BEF.


Accordingly Pte. Collins appears to have been in a draft of young men who were posted to the BEF on the 3rd April 1918 as a consequence of this political decision.  

The draft from the Hampshires to the Middlesex was renumbered G/44602 to. G/44664 so at least sixty men in the draft.

 

On arrival at the Infantry Base Depot at Calais he was posted to the 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment.  However the following day he was administratively transferred to the Middlesex Regiment and posted to the 1/19 London Regiment. The draft left the IBD the following day and joined the Battalion in the field on the 9th April.  

 

Medals were named to the unit he first entered theatre with, so the 1st Hampshires though he never served in the field with that regiment, he is on the Rolls of the Middlesex Regiment so remained on their strength although attached tot he 1/19 London along with the rest of the draft.  That is why the Middlesex Regiment is shown on the CWGC record you have posted.

 

Very few conscripts have left accounts of their service.  Although the Londons were a TF Unit voluntary enlistment (with as always some exceptions) virtually ceased with the enactment of the first Military Service Act and conscription in March 1916.  As previously noted above men were sent where it was decided they were needed most urgently, before 1918 men could spend weeks at the IBD.  The speed at which they were posted to the field is indicative of the crisis facing the BEF.  The posting of individual soldiers needs to be considered in the wider context.

 

 

Ken

 

 

 

 

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Ken's super expansion and detailed tracking of the start of his service and arrival in France is exactly what I was hoping would come along.

 

The war diary records the number of casualties suffered by the battalion in the period 21-26 March 1918 (referred to by Ken above) as 17 killed, 82 wounded, 9 wounded and missing and 310 missing ( a large number of these were captured).  This is over a third of the battalion effective strength putting into context at battalion level what Ken referred to also.  The battalion were then located near Marcoing, south of Cambrai.

 

On 9th April (vide Ken above) a draft of 3 officers and 646 other ranks (some from the Middlesex) arrived with the battalion, by now at Acheux 34 miles to the west of Marcoing..

 

On 2 Jun 1918 the battalion were near Lavieville, a few miles south of Acheux.  They were "in support" which means not directly in the front line, billeted near Millencourt in what the diary records as good accommodation.  While in support companies were engaged on "work at night in the forward area"  The entry for 2 June is simply "Battalion in support.  Casualties 1 killed 1 wounded".  

 

This bare record of a death, possibly while wielding a shovel and pick to improve a trench line or carrying rations forward from the support area is typical and points up a fact often not appreciated that there didn't have to be a named battle in progress for casualties to result. There was relatively constant artillery fire, on both sides, and when conditions allowed, sniper and mortar fire too.  Those men of 18 London and 20 London listed on the Grave Registration Report killed on the same day were in the same brigade, holding the forward positions in front of 19 Battalion.

 

It would help to put the whole thing in context if you read up on "Operation Michael" which was the German offensive which you could say was what cause Ernest to go to war so young and then the relevant parts of the history of 47 Division to get the bigger picture from April until Jun 1918, looking out for 141 Brigade within the division.

 

Max 

 

 

 

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Gentlemen,

 

I am entirely indebted to you all! Thank you all so much for giving me and my uncle Ernest your time.

 

I will start to investigate all of your information asap!

 

Thank you again, so much.

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