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Jonchery-sur-Vesle British Cemetery: Case #3 - Lieutenant Aviator at Courthiézy


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This is a child of this topic:

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/279064-jonchery-sur-vesle-british-cemetery/

 

This case had an intermediary topic from Trevor to help find and interpret the French trench maps:

Help with Finding a 1918 French Map Reference near Dormans

 

Details will follow here shortly. This creates the linkage between the topics.

 

 

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NOTE: My error to this point in time, as I had them both as Lieutenants! Reginald Arthur James was a Captain not a Lieutenant and the COG-BR 2013871 clearly says "Lieutenant Aviator".

 

These are the components of the initial identification of this as a separate case for the Jonchery-sur-Vesle British Cemetery:

  • Post #2 the likely candidates (Richard)
    Quote

    Looking at the CWGC database, there were three (3) men of the 54th Sqn (who were in this area) that are lost in this time period.

    Fisher on the 21st James and Spence on the 16th

     

    Unless there is another missing aviator at Courthiezy, we may have a new Missing Aviator found! Hang on a minute - how could we separate him from Lieutenant Captain Reginald Arthur James? Both are south of Dorman's. - corrected he was a Captain so off the list

    And there in Trevor's book appears a name that is close to what was written on the COG-BR. In the post above I noted it said something like "Courtiesy" and in Trevor's book for Lieutenant James Hamilton Spence it says COURTHIEZY. I bet it is the place where the remains were found, which would make in Spence. I have updated the map below to show that location just south of Dormans.

     

  • Post #4 can the candidates of 54 Squadron on 16 May 1918 be separated (Trevor)
    Quote

    The Casualty Reports are effectively saying that James and Thompson "were last seen" relatively near the airfield - NOTE - on an earlier raid than Spence's. Then we see that the two pilots were heading up towards Dormans, and that, for example, Lt Thompson subsequently crashed near Courboin, and was killed, and this is 15-20km south of Dormans. Where you see the German claim, potentially listed in my book, against Capt James - note that this is ME - putting a German claim as a possibility, against a British loss. It IS likely. and in the passage of time, one can see that it probably relates to the loss of both James AND Thompson - on that earlier raid, that afternoon.

     

    Then... you have the evening raid, three hours later, up to the same area - on which there is ONE loss - it is Lt Spence, seen going down in flames 4 miles west of Courthiezy - all on his own, and significantly closer to Dormans.

  • From the topic to find the trench map where the remains were recovered
    2005669759_259.0x198.9.jpg.9996d9111a4f4

To that information already collected we can add the casualty cards for the candidates:

  1. Captain James

    Incident

    854480673_5801030000031674-James-cropped.jpg.3d8665b9739192206079f85f4bcc0849.jpg

    Personal

    1793682503_7891630000081546-James2-cropped.jpg.a764852c7823cb8d49f8069b8bff2bb0.jpg

     

  2. Lieutenant Spence

    Incident

    701048668_2841330000011046-Spence1-cropped.jpg.da4675f3485f4f3c504784e0075a672b.jpg

    Personal

    1061622998_5801930000071237-Spence2-cropped.jpg.69066ea6ed3789bfb4c2f7768e4fae1e.jpg

     

 

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  • 1 month later...
laughton

@fetubi

 

Trevor:

 

Just checking in on this case file. This is the one related to your search for the map for Dormans (this topic).

 

I believe we are in agreement that this is Lieutenant Spence.

 

Are you handling this case or do you want me to start it and you add your details? Whatever you wish is fine for me.

 

Richard

Le petit pilote à la recherche de ses camarades

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Richard,

 

You go for it - and I'll help when you need it.  I've got a couple coming to the boil I need to concentrate on now.

 

Trevor

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laughton

I just noticed that the card for Captain Reginald Arthur James had P/W marked on the front. Were they suggesting POW - Prisoner of War?

 

He does have an ICRC file but enquiries came back negative:

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/509634/3/2/

 

The plane number is a match to his casualty card.

C_G1_E_15_01_0047_2488_0.JPG

 

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laughton
Posted (edited)

His other files needed for the report:

last row: Unknown Lieutenant Aviator, DORMANS Courthiézy

doc2013871.JPG

centre of map: Courthiézy, southwest of Dormans2034952203_googleearthtwo.jpg.84d90c6bbd

 

4th entry: Unknown Lieut. Aviatordoc2013811.JPG

2nd entry: An Airman of the Great War

doc2665458.JPG

 

Edited by laughton
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laughton

@fetubi

 

Until this morning I had no idea that the other candidate "Captain Reginald Arthur James" had a Canadian connection. I can tell from his service number #442407 (Service Record) that he originally attested to the 54th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Kootenay British Columbia. Interestingly that places him in the same original battalion as my Great Uncle John Addison Corbett Laughton. From there it appears he went to the 30th Battalion CEF, which was by then a reserve battalion structured to provide reinforcements to the units in the field.

 

Prior to the start of the Great War, his attestation papers shows that he served for 7 months in the 102nd Regiment of the Canadian Militia, known as the "Rocky Mountain Rangers". That is another link to my background, as he would have known my maternal grandfather (Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy). Grandfather Captain Kennedy served in the 102nd Militia and transferred to the 30th CEF, the same path as Captain James. My grandfather was captured on the opening day Operation Michael 21 March 1918 and served out the rest of the war as a "Guest of the Kaiser".

 

Reginald Arthur James (full service record) left the 30th Bn CEF in January 1916 to accept a Commission in the 5th Middlesex Regiment of the British Army, as is noted on his CWGC record. There is no indication in his Canadian record that he later served in the Royal Air Force. That came to light when I noticed that he was recorded on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (this record). The date of death is incorrect there, which I will get corrected. His name appears on the War Memorial in Nelson, British Columbia.

 

His casualty card says he was last seen over Rozoy, due north of Reims. Your book (pg. 190) then refers to two camel claims south of Dormans - F. Hemer. That would be Hemer's claims 13 and 14. If I read your information correctly, Lieutenant Spence was hit by low ground fire, so the 2nd Hemer claim is for Lieutenant Thompson. Do we know what happened to Lieutenant Thompson?

 

This all started because I needed to confirm that Reginald Arthur James was in fact a Captain at the time of his death and that he was not subject to a posthumous promotion. I doubt that as his casualty card says Captain but best to be positive. You can never rely on the CWGC records as they often "bump them up". The London Gazette has him as a probational Second Lieutenant on 27 January 1916. I did not find him after that date.

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29th Squadron was also in the area, D469 DH9 with Lt HGS Phipson and 2Lt NCL Auster

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/573830/auster,-/ 

Both are buried at Dormans French National Cemetery.

 

@fetubi FYI:

There are 3 unknown officer - airman buried there in graves B4, B15 and B16. 

https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc2254165.JPG

https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc2254167.JPG

 

@laughton These were recovered from the area around Dormans and might need further investigation.

 

Regards,

Luc.

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laughton
Posted (edited)

Great work Luc!  There are COG-BR documents for them as well - just back from the farm, will post them shortly.

 

New: With the number of aviateurs in this area, now known to also be in this cemetery, I think we need to account for all of them before there is a submission to the CWGC about any particular case. For sure, the CWGC will say - "you have not proven it is not Mr. X"! I have put the ZIP files in a folder for the Dormans French National Cemetery.

 

They run from https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc1996164.JPG to https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc1996170.JPG.

 

click to enlarge thumbnail:

164

doc1996164.JPG

165

doc1996165.JPG

166

doc1996166.JPG

167

doc1996167.JPG

168

doc1996168.JPG

169

doc1996169.JPG

170

doc1996170.JPG


I will go fetch the map as well. done - see below. now I have to add B15 & B16 locations - not done

 

Here is the airman in B4, B18 and B19 - quite a bit of detail:

I just realized that means there are five (5) in the cemetery as the ones Luc mentioned were in B15 and B16. I will add them to the table!

:o - it appears, now that I have the GRRF documents, that B18 and B19 were identified. I have inserted the details in the table below. They were initially named as Aitken and Melbourne who are in Plot 10.

 

B4

 

Dormans 1/20000 260.1 x 206.1 (that is south of Troissy and east of Vassy)

a) Turnberry Ayrchire & Adjudent Aviateur

  • that seems to be related to a location in Scotland Turnbury & Ayrshire in the Firth of Clyde
  • did he come from there or is that where the uniform was made?

b) Officers Uniform RAF & Black Tie. Maker's name: McBirney & Milne, 433 Strand W.C., 83 Coventry St. W.

 

B15

 

Dormans 1/20000 209.2 x 267.3

Unknown English Aviateur 18/6/18

  • three (3) missing for that date but not anywhere near this area
  • Nicholson & Leight at Neuville-St.Vaast 51b.A.3 and Mulroy at Aveluy Wood 57d.W.14

No rank badge found but an Officer

 

B16

 

Dormans 1/20000 209.0 x 267.3

Unknown British Aviateur

Officer Rank Badge - ring on sleeve

Regimental buttons of Royal Highlanders (so one of these 8 men on CWGC)

  • Dickie DH9 D5684 Observer 107th Sqn. 18 July 1918 - looks like northwest of Reims?
    • Captain (Pilot) was R. E. Dubber, a Canadian - also missing
  • Skinner Sopwith F1 Camel B7357 Pilot 46th Sqn. 3 May 1918 - combat over DON?
    • okay found that, way up north in Lille sector, area of 36.G.25

 

B18

 

Dormans 1/20000 260 x 203 (My note: not a Pilot wing as expected in other posts)

Officers Uniform & Observers Wing

See note above - identified as Second Lieutenant N. C. L. Auster, 27th Sqdn. 16 July 1918 -TSTB says 15th

N.C.L. = Norman Conway Littlewood

 

B19

 

Dormans 1/20000 260 x 203 (that is at Vassy which is southeast of Dormans)

Officers Uniform & RFC Badge

Lieutenant Stars

Uniform by Pope & Bradley

Piece of Aircraft - Highbury Aircraft Coy. (could be Hichbury? - hunted and only found one clue to Spencer)

See note above - identified as Lieutenant H. G. S. Phipson, 27th Sqdn. 16 July 1918-TSTB says 15th

 

 

Other Aimen Dormans.jpg

 

Edited by laughton
added map and updates
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Richard, Just picking up something - about the location listed on James' Cas Rep. His, and two other Cas Reps submitted that day from 54 Squadron mention "ROZAY" - which I strongly suspect/agree, is wrong, and is much more likely "ROZOY"(as per The Sky Their Battlefield II) - and in particular Rozoy-Bellevalle (any place called "Rozay" isn't mentioned in any of the other thousands of records I have, other than the three (erroneous) mentions that day by the chap typing up those three 54 Sqn Cas Reps).  The place name then got corrected to Rozoy in the Casualty Book record in AIR1

 

Rozoy-Bellevalle also turns up close to Courboin, where Thompson's crashed aircraft that day was then recovered from. It all suggests this is the area, rather than "north of Reims" - more like south-west of that city.  And Thompson was wounded in the legs and taken to hospital, as I note - nothing more is on record about him.

 

And James is noted as Capt on his Casualty Report.

 

I'm struggling, as usual, to come up to speed on some of this!  So I will post this, and go back to closely reading yours and Luc's words of wisdom.

 

Trevor

Placenames.jpg

Edited by fetubi
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20 hours ago, LDT006 said:

29th Squadron was also in the area, D469 DH9 with Lt HGS Phipson and 2Lt NCL Auster

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/573830/auster,-/ 

Both are buried at Dormans French National Cemetery.

 

@fetubi FYI:

There are 3 unknown officer - airman buried there in graves B4, B15 and B16. 

https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc2254165.JPG

https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc2254167.JPG

 

@laughton These were recovered from the area around Dormans and might need further investigation.

 

Regards,

Luc.

Luc, Many thanks for these - small point, they were a 27 Squadron crew. I know all of these, and as per my Notes in my on-going text, I feel I worked out as much as I could about them.  These are my current notes, with information I have added, since publication, in blue

D469         DH9                     27 Sqn

**Low Strafe MARNE Area, B last seen seDORMANS MIA (Lt HGS Phipson SA. KIA/2Lt NCL Auster KIA) left 4-15pm, believed to be two of the unidentified airmen in the DORMANS Mil C – doc 1996169 – which notes FIVE unknown airmen there. They seem to replace identities of Melbourne & Aitken from 16th July from 49Sqn below, doc2254167, who remain listed there as well.  There appears to be another single Unk Airman there, mentioning Turnberry: doc1996169  

 

and the 49 Sqn crew, mentioned, that were lost that next day, 16th,

 

B9335       DH9                     49 Sqn

**B MARNE BRIDGES MIA (2Lt J Aitken Irl. KIA/Sgt SW Melbourne KIA) left 3-50pm, identified 1923 as both being in DORMANS Mil C  [?'Bristol' claim combat neSOILLY Ltn E Bormann JaB] Δ

Cheers, Trevor

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laughton

My error - I did not notice that the men in B18 and B19 had been identified. I have amended the table in my post.

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laughton
Posted (edited)

The details regarding the location of the airmen found in B15 and B16 has been moved to a separate topic. What is important in those findings is that they were not the pilot found at Courthiézy.

 

See here:

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/280327-dormans-french-national-cemetery-case-1-unknown-aviators-b15-and-b16/

Edited by laughton
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laughton

@fetubi

 

Need some help on this aspect of the case. The CWGC will ask us to check for every unknown airman to make sure there was not another in this area that was missing. Logic told us what time period we should be checking but could it be at some other time?

 

All the "known" burials in this cemetery (Jonchery-sur-Vesle British Cemetery ) are between 18 May 1918 and 9 August 1918. To the best of my knowledge, the air action started to be significant in this area on 15 July 1918. If that is the correct time period, these are the candidates from the AFSM - but could there be others?

 

2075753578_ExcelSpreadsheetImage.jpg.aa65d7fe41ac011857d778a9b630733c.jpg

 

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Every single NKG in my records, in the vicinity of Dormans, shows up as being lost in July 1918.

 

All I can offer is what I already state in my book, and that you have extracted, for each of the individuals above. These are "the facts" as we know them - which makes excluding them very difficult, unless one has a date or more specific location etc.

 

Trevor

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laughton

Great!

This case inspired me to start reading your book in detail, instead just "LOOK UPS" .

Fascinating to follow all the historical text entries. Now at page 95 "Battle of Messines".

I should have done this year's ago.

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I put what I know about their general locations (if specifics not known) on a Google Earth map.

Can we find where the others are located - such as Dickie, Dubber & Symons who were well separated.

Same for Armstrong, Cotton & Lewis.

  • they do not have a separate topic, yet

Is there anything special about the "Black Tie" and reference to an Adjutant for the B4 Unknown?

 

251118003_GEAllPlacesonTable-marked.jpg.d3f7f93ef056a08c8085cef61c7f1b4c.jpg

 

I looked at all the cemeteries in the Vicinity of FISMES, where Armstrong, Cotton and Lewis may have been (see: CWGC list). Although there were a number of airmen in those cemeteries, they were all from the Second World War. The Great War casualties were all from 1914. Most of the cemeteries were small. The exception to that list is the cemetery investigated here - Jonchery-sur-Vesle British Cemetery. It has many Great War casualties that we have already covered.

 

For others I looked at the cemeteries near CUISLES and CHAUMUZY (see CWGC list). I have not previously looked at this cemetery, which is noted as having about 30 of 100 Great War casualties unidentified:

This one has maybe 200 of 400 unknown from May-July 1918, so a definite must to investigate:

 

Edited by laughton
added possible Dubber & Dickie to map; added cemeteries at end
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  • 2 weeks later...

I should have also included the details concerning Second Lieutenant Thomas Emerson Babbitt, the third candidate who was also lost in the vicinity of Dormans. He was excluded because he was a Second Lieutenant, a parallel to the exclusion Reginald Arthur James who was a Captain. The COG-BR is clear that the aviator was a Lieutenant.

 

Will the CWGC or ASB say that we need more evidence that it was not the Captain or Second Lieutenant and that they made a mistake in noting the rank? Our secondary evidence is of course the direct reference to Courthiézy on the record for Lieutenant Spence.

 

Here is the Casualty Record for Babbitt:

 

1172501896_58911300000614762ndLieutenantBabbitt-cropped.jpg.381313c127353861c3eb695e81bf59de.jpg

 

Trevor's research notes that Babbitt was in combat with 5 Pfalz near SOILLY, which is about 2 km (1.3 mi) northeast of Courthiézy. It is an additional 2 km northeast to reach Dormans.

 

He was a Second Lieutenant and not reported over Courthiézy, as was Spence. Will that be questioned - yes! ASB questions everything!

 

Courthiezy-Soilly-Dormans.jpg.c0be6a88b8ede2a2173a53ee6ace608d.jpg

 

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Working on the second draft of the report but I see there is some question about where I placed a few of the airmen on the table in post #14.

  • ANDERSON - where is Neuilly & Grisolles?
  • IRVINE - I had him in Nanteuil which is up north and now in Chateau Thierry?

Need to confirm (find) those locations and adjust the details.

 

Updated: 

 

GRISOLLES sure enough it does exist (49° 8'27.95"N 3°21'27.57"E). It is on the road going southeast from NEUILLY-SAINT-FRONT ( 49°10'14.99"N 3°15'44.18"E).

Edited by laughton
answered
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The final report has been submitted.

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