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Remembered Today:

Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery, Haucourt


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It was here in the fall of 2014 that my UNKNOWN PROJECT started, as I tried to find one (1) missing man 0f the 58th Canadian Infantry Battalion named on the Legion Plaque in Massey, Ontario. It was a small favour for the local Legion and I never knew that this simple task would grow as it did. The origins are here:

 

Massey Ontario War Dead

 

That initial work led to the first of two finds, the first of which has yet to be reviewed by the CWGC even though it was submitted in December 2014. The Canadian Cases go to the bottom of the list!

 

Unknown Soldier: Jenkins, M. J. F421 V-A-12

 

The third case was reviewed by the CWGC, as it was taken as an appeal case and bumped up the process. Despite the work of several different research teams working on this project, the CWGC refuses to budge. We all know it is Lieutenant Soule in this grave, there is no other alternative. Even worse, they agreed to change it to an Unknown Officer 3rd Canadian Division and Lieutenant Soule is the only one missing!

 

Unknown Lieutenant: Soule F421 X-E-13 Stone to be Changed

 

One of things done differently about this project in 2014 was the re-creation of the database for the cemetery so that an EXCEL spreadsheet records every grave in the cemetery, known or unknown. It was an intense project, but seen as the only way of ever finding the missing man of the 58th Battalion. The spreadsheet is here:

 

Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery, Haucourt EXCEL SPREADSHEET DOWNLOAD

 

There are a number of TABS in the spreadsheet, the following being an example of what is shown after each Plot, Row and Grave was separated so they could be searched.

 

s7ib4k1t87e5b1g6g.jpg

 

As with the other cemeteries under study, the CWGC documents were collected and put into ZIP Files:

(these files were all replaced on 5 March 2020 as I found that the ZIP file folders were not complete)

 

This is what the CWGC has to say about the cemetery, to which I will add the Trench Map Coordinates (TMC) for the major concentration cemeteries and battlefield locations. It was the need today to mark all the graves that came from PELVES CANADIAN CEMETERY that made me realize that this information for Vis-en-Artois was now needed and ready to share. I have only looked at this cemetery to date for Canadian Soldiers but there should be an abundance of British and Australian here as well. The Australians were on the north flank of the Canadians during the major period here in August 1918.
 

Quote

Vis-En-Artois and Haucourt were taken by the Canadian Corps on 27 August 1918. The cemetery was begun immediately afterwards and was used by fighting units and field ambulances until the middle of October. It consisted originally of 430 graves (in Plots I and II) of which 297 were Canadian and 55 belonged to the 2nd Duke of Wellington's Regiment. It was increased after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from the battlefields of April-June 1917, August and September 1918, and from the smaller cemeteries in the neighbourhood, including:-
 

  • BOIS-DU-SART BRITISH CEMETERY, PELVES 51b.I.33.d.2.3, at the North-Western angle of the Bois-du-Sart, which contained the graves of ten soldiers and airmen from the United Kingdom and nine soldiers from Canada who fell in August and September 1918.
  • DURY GERMAN CEMETERY was on the South-East side of Dury village, a little South of the road to Saudemont. It contained the graves of four British and 49 German soldiers.
  • ECOURT-ST. QUENTIN GERMAN CEMETERY on the East side of the road to Lecluse. It contained the graves of 16 soldiers from the United Kingdom.
  • ETAING COMMUNAL CEMETERY GERMAN EXTENSION, which contained the graves of six soldiers and airmen from the United Kingdom, who fell in 1917 and 1918, 331 German soldiers (including some who fell in August 1914), and two Russian prisoners.
  • LECLUSE GERMAN CEMETERY, on the West side of the village, contained the graves of 476 German soldiers, eleven soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in 1917, and one Russian prisoner.
    • DAL has a Lecluse Crucifix Cemetery at 51b.P.6.0.2
    • on COG-BR 2060906 51b.J.36.d.0.5
       
  • MONCHY QUARRY CEMETERY was in a quarry 800 metres South-East of Monchy-le-Preux. It contained the graves of 22 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in July 1917.
     
  • PELVES CANADIAN CEMETERY 51b.I.32.d.4.5, nearly 1.6 kilometres due South of the village, contained the graves of 39 soldiers from Canada who fell in August and September 1918.
    • shown on a number of COG-BR documents as 51b.I.32.d.4.5
    • also shown on a number of Canadian Casualty Records as 51b.I.33.a.5.5
       
  • PELVES COMMUNAL CEMETERY GERMAN EXTENSION, which contained the graves of two soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in 1917.
     
  • RUMAUCOURT GERMAN CEMETERY, on the Southern edge of the village, which contained the graves of 21 soldiers from the United Kingdom and six from Australia.
  • SAILLY-EN-OSTREVENT COMMUNAL CEMETERY, which was destroyed by shell-fire, contained the graves of three soldiers from the United Kingdom (two of which were recovered).
     
  • VIS-EN-ARTOIS COMMUNAL CEMETERY GERMAN EXTENSION, which was very badly shelled, contained the graves of 621 German soldiers, 14 from the United Kingdom, eight French and five Russian.

The cemetery now contains 2,369 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 1,458 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to eight casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate four soldiers buried in other cemeteries whose graves could not be found on concentration. 

 

Large burial areas:

  • COG-BR 2060573: 51b.I.32.c.3.2
  • COG-BR 2060582 51b.O.1.b.4.8 with crosses - look up W. T. Gates RCR
  • COG-BR 2060597 51b.I.32.d.4.5 is a large burial area for P.P.C.L.I., R.C.R. etc. and may be associated with Long Trench or a burial area, appears all with crosses
    • sorry, that is Pelves Canadian Cemetery in the list above
  • COG-BR 2060618 51b.O.7.b.9.0
  • COG-BR 2060647 51b.O.17.d.9.4
  • COG-BR 2060660 51b.O.2.d.9.8
  • COG-BR 2060826 51b.O.9.a.4.5 several pages of mainly Canadians shown buried at 51b.O.3.c.9.1 on casualty reports
    • close by mixed in with these are men at 51b.O.9.d.5.6 which for Fraser #2383479 is listed as as Row A Grave 13 51b.O.9.b.8.1 so a cemetery for sure

 

If you downloaded the ZIP FILES at any time prior to 5 March 2020 you need to scrap the old copies and download the new ones. There was a batch of the raw files that had not been included in the ZIP files so I dumped all those and made a new set. That may provide some of the information still missing above.

Edited by laughton
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Some of the UNKNOWNS listed in this cemetery: (some of the forms unreadable)

  • COG-BR 2060574 an unknown British Captain at 51b.O.13.c.0.9 on the road to Vis-en-Artois
  • COG-BR 2060577 which has to be a Canadian, probably PPCLI as has an address c/o KELSO 44 Sherbrooke St, Montreal (Canada)
  • COG-BR 2060579 another Captain at 51b.I.32 and the rest is not legible
  • COG-BR 2060585 CSM Sussex Regiment - looked probable but washed out under investigation
    • CSM Venn on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, 7th Bn. - August 1918
      • not him, they were in the Behencourt area 62d
    • also check CSM Barnard on the Arras Memorial 9th Bn. - added 6 March 1997 - where was he before that time? - April 1917
      • not him, they were up between Vimy and Lens at 36c.S.2
    • checked all other forms of "Serjeant Majors" and nothing for any combination
    • no other Sussex men in the Vis-en-Artois cemetery
    • no Sussex CSMs with that as a Secondary Regiment
  • :poppy:COG-BR 2060587 Corporal R.C.R. but I must have looked at that before but no sign that I did?
    • maybe because there are two (2) for late August 1918 (CWGC Link)
    • is the other one in this cemetery as well - apparent;y not, checked the GRRF documents as well
    • maybe another case where he will show up in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery - it has a lot of concentrations! will be 51b.I. or 51b.O. series
    • they were both killed by shrapnel on the Cambrai Road near Monchy-le-Preux and neither has a reference burial (Barlow and Lycett)
  • COG-BR 2060587 Two Unknown British Officers beside each other found in 51b.I.32.c - see Michaels Post #4 should read 51b.I.31.d.5.1
    • Middlesex Regiment
    • Black Watch - now just a soldier
  • COG-BR 2060589 Unknown RFC Officer 51b.I.32.d.4.5, Trevor may already be aware of this one but best to check @fetubi
    • see also COG-BR 2060662 where they found Captain Bunbury 64th Sqn. 31 August 1918 very close to this location
    • Bunbury was at 51b.I.33.d.2.3 which is the Bois-du-Sart Cemetery
  • :poppy:COG-BR 2060604 is interesting, a Telephone Operator on the west outskirts of Monchy-le-Preux 51b.N.6.b.9.7, can't be that many
    • did someone have an H.Q. at that location that was hit by artillery?
    • two (2) others on that page from the same general area but no unit affiliation - check elsewhere
  • :poppy:COG-BR 2060621 an Unknown P.P.C.L.I. in Pelves Canadian Cemetery
    • check if there is a list of all those buried there, or check the casualty records for one known buried there but missing 
    • there are fourteen (14) on the Vimy Memorial for this period, including Jenkins in the next entry, so not too many to check
  • :poppy::poppy:COG-BR 2060626 Grave 5.A.12 is Lance Corporal Morgan Jones Jenkins, my first I.D. case from December 2014
  • COG-BR 2060637 a shot in the dark for "Rapin", not sure if followed by "P." or "?"
    • C. Rapson of the Tank Corps is missing 29 September 1918 
  • COG-BR 2060648 an Unknown Aviator 51b.O.24.b.2.9 who was reburied on 13 June 1919 so better check if SPEC-EXH report for @fetubi
  • COG-BR 2060655 20th Bn CEF recovered at 51b.O.22.a.9.9 the west edge of Vis-en-Artois
    • Private Belford was killed at the bridge on the approach to Vis-en-Artois on 29 August 1918 (Casualty Report)
    • the others would need to be checked as well - looks like too many to separate just one
    • it would appear from the War Diary 27-28 August 1918 that they were in that area from the 27th and the casualties were on the 27th & 28th 
  • COG-BR 2060820 not a common find, an Unknown Officer of the Newfoundland Regiment
    • three from the regiment are in this cemetery for 14 April 1917 (CWGC Link)
    • Captain Roswell, Lieutenants Holloway and Outerbridge and four (4) Second Lieutenants are on the Beaumont-Hamel Memorial for that day
    • there is no specific rank given so not solvable - too bad!
  • COG-BR 2060903 listed above to match to the Vis-en-Artois Communal Cemetery German Extension at 51b.O.16.d.5.1
    • check if any of the 14 British are mentioned by name and then check that against the ICRC records
    • in other cases the ICRC records have led to a list of the men buried in the original graves, this Sergeant was buried in Grave 29.d
    • it says he was on a "G.B. List" (German Burial List), the rest of them are on the pages that follow COG-BR 2060904 & COG-BR 2060905
    • the only one identified I see is Flight Lieutenant James Percy White RNAS 4 March 1917 - I did not find him on the ICRC database
  • COG-BR 2060906 Graves 136 and 137 two unknown aviators and several known on the following pages for @fetubi 
    • the one in 137 is linked to the "East Surrey Regiment" of which I only see one but at a much different date than the others (CWGC Link)
    • I have not yet checked Trevor's book to see where he was
  • COG-BR 2060912 two (2) British Officers from April 1917, so check on Wardley & Edwards in the same location, same page, to see if on ICRC lists 
    • more on the following pages
  • COG-BR 2060918 another German Cemetery to check knowns and unknowns on the ICRC lists, if they exist for this location
  • :poppy:COG-BR 2060840 a strange case of a Canadian buried 3 December 1918 but there is nobody missing at any time from 12 November 1918
    • at 51b.K.2.b.9.6 so south of Douai - who was out there
    • it may be that all they know is that this is when they buried him as the COG-BR is dated 12 February 1929
    • nope, must be his burial date as there was a cross on the grave - perhaps a Canadian airman?
    • only one Canadian on the Vimy Memorial December 1918 but CFC 22 December 1918, none applicable from November 1918 
  • :poppy::poppy:COG-BR 2060803

 

There are a number of Canadians from the Royal Canadian Regiment that are unknown for 31 August 1918. There are actually none missing on that date but 21 are on the Vimy Memorial for that period in late August 1918. A number of them are in this cemetery, dated 31-8-18.

Edited by laughton
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On 04/03/2020 at 16:06, laughton said:

:poppy:COG-BR 2060621 an Unknown P.P.C.L.I. in Pelves Canadian Cemetery

  • check if there is a list of all those buried there, or check the casualty records for one known buried there but missing 
  • there are fourteen (14) on the Vimy Memorial for this period, including Jenkins in the next entry, so not too many to check

 

Unfortunately, none of them actually say that they were buried in the Pelves Canadian Cemetery. 

 

The Pelves Canadian Cemetery is located at 51b.I,32.d.4.5 which would suggest that Sergeant Henry Marshall Stanley Bredin #487522 is probably one of those buried in the cemetery. We cannot separate them by dates on the burial cross records, as we know from many of the others that were identified that the date on the cross may be the burial date as it is not the date of death.

 

Private Edgar Allen Mitchell #2265517 is an oddball in the case as he served as Bertram Phillips #2265517. The casualty card for Bertram Phillips says he served with the 21st Infantry Battalion. He was 8 years with the Royal Navy before the war and joined up as a Signals man before transfer to the 6th & 7th Reserve Battalions (both are listed) which fed the P.P.C.L.I. with reinforcements. He was taken on strength with the P.P.C.L.I. in April 1918 but was transferred to the 21st Battalion on 5 June 1918. That is what is reported in his service record, he was with the 21st Battalion when killed in action on 27 August 1918. The CWGC and CVWM have been notified.

 

I cannot explain the location of Private Peter McLaughlin to the southeast of Haucourt, when he was reported killed on 26 August 1918. That is well outside the area where the PPCLI were in operation on that date. It was not until the 29th or 30th that the units advanced to this location. The 2nd Battalion, West Riding Regiment was in that location on the 29th-30th.

 

There are thirty-four (34) known P.P.C.L.I. buried in the Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery for that period (CWGC Link). 

 

We already know that Lance Corporal Morgan Jones Jenkins #475898 was not buried there (5.A.12), as he had wandered off towards the enemy lines after they had passed through Jigsaw Wood. He was recovered at 51b.I.23.d.6.2 to the northeast of the woods, which agrees with that report. The Jenkin's has been reported to the CWGC.

 

The P.P.C.L.I. unknowns are in Graves 4.I.8 and 4.G.15:

 

4.I.8 COG-BR 2060597

doc2060597.JPG

4.G.15 COG-BR 2060621

doc2060621.JPG

 

surname forename death rank # casualty report
BANDUR ROBERT ELMER 26/08/1918 Sergeant '210125' KIA Monchy - NRB
BOURGET THEODOR 26/08/1918 Private '121468' KIA Monchy - MG fire-  NRB
BREDIN HENRY MARSHALL STANLEY 28/08/1918 Sergeant '487522' MG fire at Jigsaw Wood 51b.I.32.d.6.7
CARTER JOHN ALBERT 26/08/1918 Private '240561' KIA vicinity of Pelves (that is at 51b.I.27)
HOLLERON GEORGE 26/08/1918 Private '814545' KIA MG fire vicinity of Pelves
HUGHES WILLIAM 26/08/1918 Private '633168' near Cambrai Road south of Pelves
JENKINS MORGAN JONES 28/08/1918 Lance Corporal '475898' Jigsaw Wood area 51b.I.23.d.6.2 - already found
MILLER JOHN FREDERICK 26/08/1918 Private '23688' MG fire north of Monchy NRB
MITCHELL EDGAR ALBERT 27/08/1918 Private '2265517' served as Bertram Phillips - west of Vis-en-Artois
McLAUGHLIN PETER 26/08/1918 Private '2595843' MG fire southeast Haucourt - NRB 51b.O.24
PEEL DAVID REID 26/08/1918 Private '270173' northeast Monchy bullet to head - NRB
SHUTTLEWORTH ROY EUGENE 26/08/1918 Private '2193332' northeast Monchy where he was a sniper - NRB
STEWART EDWARD M 26/08/1918 Private '445711' E-13 only - NRB
WALDRON PERCY VICTOR 26/08/1918 Private '246255' E-13 only - NRB
Edited by laughton
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COG-BR 2060587 

Two Unknown British Officers beside each other found in 51b.I.32.c

Firstly, how have you "arrived at"  51b.1.32.c  from 31.d.5.1. as shown on the document... what am  I missing.

And then.

They decided on reburial that the Black Watch exhumation was soldier rather than officer, although a closer look of the exhumation document does seem to show a change of mind. In any event he has been buried as UBS, next to the Middlesex officer.

Of which there appear to be two only missing and commemorated as such at Vis en Artois.. Major Richard Francis Montague Buller, 7th attached 8th Bn, Middx Regt. died 24 August 1918

                                                                                                                                       2nd Lt William Edward Smith, MC, Middx. Regiment, attd. 1st/13th Kensington Bn. died 29 August 1918

 

City of London in the Great War,  partly available on Google Books, has Buller killed in action at Croisilles.

It is a pity that the report on Smith does not mention an MC ribbon. Although I have not found the original MC announcement, The Platoon: An Infantryman on the Western Front 1916–18, Google Books, has Smith was awarded the MC for a raid on 1 June 1918.

This is cited in the Supplement of 16 September, 1918. Page 11017, awarded when 2nd Lt., and mentioned in the Supplement of 24 August 1918, Lt. W. E. Smith, M.C., to be actg. Capt.whilst commanding a Co., from 29th June to 12th July 1918. 

The book adds that Smith had been granted a Regular commision in the Middlesex before his death but had elected to remain with 13th London for the duration.

Supplement 26 June 1918. Midd'x R.— 2nd Lt. William Edward Smith, from London R., Terr. Force. 19th Oct.1917.

The book also mentions his death and the action around it.

 

Edited by michaelpi
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On 04/03/2020 at 16:06, laughton said:

:poppy:COG-BR 2060840 a strange case of a Canadian buried 3 December 1918 but there is nobody missing at any time from 12 November 1918

  • at 51b.K.2.b.9.6 so south of Douai - who was out there
  • it may be that all they know is that this is when they buried him as the COG-BR is dated 12 February 1929
  • nope, must be his burial date as there was a cross on the grave - perhaps a Canadian airman?
  • only one Canadian on the Vimy Memorial December 1918 but CFC 22 December 1918, none applicable from November 1918 

 

doc2060840.JPG

 

I had never looked at the details of this area prior to this time, but sure enough it is in the direct path of the 1st Canadian Division around 17 October 1918 during the "Final Advance". You can see this on the left border of Nicholson Map #15, to the south of Douai. You will see a small village called "Ferin" which is at 51b.E.27, which is the sub-sector that abuts 51b.K.2 where the remains were recovered. The remains were recovered from the west side of the Canal de Sensee, about 700 yards southwest of Ferin.

 

The Nicholson map shows the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade in that specific location, starting on 14 October 1918. There were 479 Canadian casualties in France between October 10th and 18th, 1918, of which twenty-six (26) are named on the Vimy Memorial as missing.

 

Strangely, the CWGC results do not show any men missing from the 2nd Infantry Brigade during that period. All if the missing men of the 1st Canadian Division are in the 3rd Infantry Brigade, five (5) of which were with the 13th Bn killed on the 10th and two (2) in the 15th Battalion killed on the 12th. There were sixteen (16) from the 2nd Division, one (1) from the 3rd Division and two (2) from the 4th Division (killed on the 18th).

 

The only man with near to a close date to the action at Ferin was Private Weeks #123344 of the 18th Battalion (4th Brigade, 2nd Division). He died of wounds at No. 10 CFA (SW Back & Farm on E-13). The 2nd Division was well to the southeast of the area where the remains were recovered.

 

Although not shown on the map, the war diary of the 13th Battalion (3rd Brigade, 1st Division) reports that the 15th and 16th Battalions were on a direct approach to the Canal de Sensee at Ferin  on 12 October 1918. The 15th Battalion lost two (2) men that day that were not recovered (Kelly #22884 and White #35319). Three were reported killed in the war diary that day during the advance. White's E-13 confirms he was killed in action that day but that it was impossible to remove the body at the time his platoon moved. It was reported to be at 51b.E.19.d.65.15, which places him 700 yards northwest of where the remains were recovered. Kelly's COD places him in the same vicinity at Corbehen (Corbenham) 51b.E.19 when struck by an enemy bullet. Neither body was knowingly recovered.

 

I have sent this off to Breg. Gen. (ret'd) Greg Young who runs the 15th Battalion Memorial Project. He has all the individual battalion level records for each man of the battalion that are not available anywhere else. That might answer the question!

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1 hour ago, michaelpi said:

Firstly, how have you "arrived at"  51b.1.32.c  from 31.d.5.1. as shown on the document... what am  I missing.

And then.

They decided on reburial that the Black Watch exhumation was soldier rather than officer, although a closer look of the exhumation document does seem to show a change of mind. In any event he has been buried as UBS, next to the Middlesex officer.

 

You are absolutely correct! :oops:

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5 hours ago, laughton said:

You are absolutely correct! :oops:

 

Well I didn't wish to sound accusatory, my original reads that way now.

I did think that I was missing something, particularly as 31.d. 5.1, if that's what it is, is in the middle of a large town in Belgium.

Could you say what 31d/31.d.5.1. should be?  Is there a larger map reference I am missing? Thank you.

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Yes, it is Sheet 28 so the reference is 28.I.31.d.5.1 for the first man and 28.I.31.d.9.1 for the second.

 

If you are not fully literate on trench maps, which I sure was not when I started, then you may wish to read an article I penned - it explains it all with examples:

 

Get Squared! Use a Trench Map (March 2016)

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Hi Richard,

The first - doc2060589 - Thomson and the Unk was taken to be Thomson and Turnbull, by CWGC later on - a 12 Sqn BE2e crew lost on 25th April 1917.

Others to follow, if poss.

Trevor

 

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Me again. doc2060648 - I know about this one also - 1 mile east of Vis en Artois - but have not been able to place him.

 

And the final one - doc2060906 - I'd seen this too, and wondered about a particular crew - but the Observer is a 1AM - I'll have another look. I take it that the "HUSTER" reference is "ULSTER" - or am I missing something?

 

Cheers again,

 

Trevor

 

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