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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

23rd March 1918


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Remembering Private Harry Forrest of the South Staffordshire Regiment, who died on this day, aged 19 yrs. My Great Uncle, died so young, like so many brave young men.

We should never forget their sacrifice.

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The information I have says 4th Battalion. He is remembered on the Arras Memorial, Bay 6, so I assume his body was not found. I have been unable to discover where he was when killed, only that he was killed in action. I don't think his sister, my paternal Grandmother, ever got over his loss. He was the youngest sibling of the family.




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Hi Jean,


There appears to be a bit of uncertainty between his CWGC record (link) which records his death as being on 24th March 1918, and his Soldiers' Effects record (Ancestry link) which gives a date range of 21st March to 3rd April 1918. May I ask how you know that he died on 23rd March 1918.


1 hour ago, 4harry said:

I have been unable to discover where he was when killed


If we can firm up his date of death, then Battalion and Brigade war diaries should tell us where he probably was when he was killed. Though at the time, the Germans were involved in the initial days of their massive Spring offensive, which resulted in many units withdrawing/moving position.




Edited by clk
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Hi Andy

I don't really have much to go on, except a silk ribbon with his name and date of death (23rd March) which I assume the family would have had printed at the time (?). I had noticed the discrepancy with the dates, the CWGC stating 24th March, but not having access to the Ancestry details, I was unaware of such a wide date range. 



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Hi Jean,


45623 Pte Harry Forrest 4th (Exra Reserve) Battalion South Staffordshire regiment. This is confirmed on the medal roll. He was entitled to the British war medal and Victory medal pair only.

I have a copy of these documents if you like me to forward them to you?


Checking the war diary for the 4th S/Staffs between the dates of the 23rd March and 4th April 1918. Unfortunately this regiment never kept a daily account of those injured or killed like in some other regiments (i'm used to reading the Seaforth Highlander war diarys and they document each day how many men were killed or wounded etc). So there is no mention in the 4th battalion of when he died.

Saying that however I have roughly transcribed the war diary for you - 


March 1-12: In No2 Camp

March 12 to 21: Battalion marched to Ritz camp. Achiet Le Grand

March 21 Noon: The battalion under command of Lt Col C.W.Blackall marched to Fremicourt: "B" Team remained behind and proceeded to Corpsreinforcement camp at Achiet Le Petit.

March 21 11:30pm: Battalion went up and dug in behind the Army line on left of the road between Beugny and Fremicourt.

March 22: Remained in the line during the day.

March 23 3pm: "C" and "D" Companies formed a defensive flank on the left, "A" and "B" remained in their position. At night "C" and "D" Companies returned to support "A" and "B" who were still in the Army Line which has now become the front line.

March 24 2am: Relieved by a battalion of the 62nd Division: retired to a position between Fremicourt and Beugnatre, and dug in there.

March 24 3pm: Reorganised in Sunken Road just N of Railway Line.

March 24 6pm: Took up position in Trench W of Bapaume - Arras Road and just S of Monument.

March 24 8pm: Retired across main road and dug in 400 yards due E of Biefvillers?

March 25 9am: Lt Col. C.W. Blackall Killed. Battalion retired to a line between Grevillers and Biefvillers. retired in afternoon to line which was being dug by 7th Infantry Brigade.

March 25 10pm: Marched back to BucQuoy

March 26 2am: Marched to Gommecourt

March 26 9am: Took up position in Gommecourt Wood facing Hebuterne

March 26 6pm: Took up position near La Brayelle Farm.

March 27 1am: Marched to Coigneux.

March 27 2pm: Marched to Birchvillers.

March 28 8am: Left the Prisoner of War camp and marched to Heilloy near Enaples? Stayed there 2 days.

March 30 1130pm: Marched to Doullens.

March 31 10am: Entrained and travelled to Godevaersvelde. By lorries to Shankshill Camp at Neuve Eglise.

April 1 + 2: Inspection of 7th Infantry Brigade by Gen. Plumer? at 5pm. Battalion moved into the line at Ploegstreet Wood in support of the 10th Cheshires on right and 1st Wiltshires on left of Battaion frontage in front line.


The diary is difficult to read from here but as you can see by the dates in bold. The 4th were in the line from 21st march to 25th so I suspect this is when Harry died. After some travelling they again go back into the line at the start of April. I will see what the 7th brigade diary says and if it will shed more light.


Here is a good link to the Long Long trail webopage which has a wealth of info. It describes the 25th Division (7th Inf Bde - which S/Staffs was a part).



I have a copy of all these documents if you would like a copy send me your email address and I'll send them over.


I have also found on Ancestry that someone has done a family tree and Harry is part of this. (Knight Family tree).


Hope this helps a bit more with the story of your Great Uncle.

All the best





Edited by lee5243
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  • 2 weeks later...

My Great Grandfather served in the 4th Battalion from February 1918 when his battalion (Loyal North Lancs) was disbanded when brigades were reduced from 4 to 3 infantry battalions. His LNL battalion was in 7th Inf Bde with 4 South Staffs, so he along with several others were transferred to this battalion. (235279 Pte Alfred Bromley).


He was killed in action on the 10th April whilst in the front line near Ploegsteert. I am presuming he was in C Coy which was the company in-line at this point, but would like to have this confirmed if possible. The war diary for the 10th April says; 


Enemy attack opened about 3.30 a.m. by heavy shelling of back area with Gas Shell. At 5.30 a.m. he opened his barrage on front and support lines last about an hour, then lengthened to Reserve on about line of GREY FM. ‘C’ Coy in front line wiped out. 2/Lieuts S.K. MOREY & A.P. WALKER missing. No. 6 platoon, ‘B’ Company withdrew to WATCHFUL POST owing to severity of shelling, ordered to re-occupy USEFUL SPOT at all costs, platoons moved forward but were unable to occupy position. Lieut. LAVER wounded and Missing. The Gloucesters on left 10th Cheshires on right having withdrawn. Orders issued to withdraw from WATCHFUL POST.

Battalion withdrawn to Catacombs at 2.0 p.m. order to reoccupy old positions, reoccupied 5.0 p.m. Bosch attacked 7 p.m. GREY FM. GARRISON stood fast, remainder of Bn. Withdrew to Hill 63 position isolated. Bn. Withdrew to NEUVE ENGLISE.


I have done a bit of research in to the officers named. MOREY and WALKER were taken as PoW's, LAVER was missing, he is buried in strand road cemetery, initially an unknown officer, later amended as they were able to work out he was the only Staffs officer killed on that date.

below is a trench map of the immediate area, just north of Ploegsteert Woods.It shows Grey Farm, so you can just see how far the Germans advanced.



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This an "In Memoriam " sub-forum, and your post (as with that preceding it) more properly IMHO belongs in the "Soldiers and their Units" sub-forum.




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  • Admin

Moved to Soldiers 

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