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asdarley

American awards to Brits?

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asdarley

One of the family members  Sapper 45627 Herbert Hooley R.E. 80th Field Coy served alongside US troops . The 107th Infantry Regiment at the battle of Bellicourt Tunnel.

Family legend has it that he received an award during this action .  My question is : Would the US issue an award to a non American?   I fear 'tis but a myth!

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ss002d6252
8 minutes ago, asdarley said:

One of the family members  Sapper 45627 Herbert Hooley R.E. 80th Field Coy served alongside US troops . The 107th Infantry Regiment at the battle of Bellicourt Tunnel.

Family legend has it that he received an award during this action .  My question is : Would the US issue an award to a non American?   I fear 'tis but a myth!

Other nations did, it will be interesting to discover if the US did.


Craig

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WhiteStarLine

Hi, I think it hinges on your family's definition of 'alongside'.  The 107th was under the command of the Australia Corps for this operation and were very mixed up with the Australian 3rd and 5th Division in the chaotic times as they breached the Hindenburg Line and finally arrived on the objective spanning Bony and the Bellicourt Tunnel.  My grandfather, a RE Sapper, took 2 or 3 photographs of the tunnel and the empty canal.

  • If you mean by 'alongside' that he met up with US troops at the Tunnel, I have no doubt.  They swarmed in from everywhere to see the extensive defences that could shelter 20,000 and to see for themselves if the rumour was true that the Germans boiled down their own corpses for fat (untrue, but a lucky hit demolished a cookhouse inside the tunnel and the cooking vats were impregnated with remains).
  • The British units (32nd and 46th Divisions) were on the right of the Australians.  However, the 107th was with the left forward division (3rd Division AIF) and would have been closer to Bony than Bellicourt during the actual fighting.
  • If a British sapper was attached to an American unit, it is probably in the American records, together with the award itself.

383984370_Bellicourt-TunnelEntranceLater.jpg.2240d6ad3ee00ac9357bbb69451759a2.jpg

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4thGordons

British awards were certainly given to Americans - (as were French/Belgian etc) so one might assume there was a reciprocal arrangement but to be honest, until your question, I don't recall reading mention of it. As Craig says it will be interesting to discover. I will reexamine my 33rd Div (AEF) records (also served with/amongst Australians at Hamel and alongside the British (Chipilly) so there may be records there (of presentations if not awards) although I suspect such awards may have been determined at a higher level.

I have only looked at them occasionally but doesn't the the London Gazette have mention of Foreign decorations awarded to British personnel? Perhaps someone familiar would know?

Chris

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ForeignGong

Hi

I have a database of over 80,000 names of gazetted and non gazetted foreign awards for WW1 up to 1925 and sorry I don't have Herbert Hooley 45627 on it.

This does not mean he didn't get something as I don't say my list is 100%.

 

I have the following as being gazetted

Distinguished Service Cross 15

Distinguished Service Cross180

Navy Cross 23

Any USA award is very rare.

 

If you do find the authority for an award to Herbert can I ask that you let me know so I can add him to my database.

Thanks

Peter

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asdarley

Thank you all. Always grateful for replies and useful information and hints received. 

 

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asdarley

The information I have regarding 80th Field Coy at Bellincourt is that they were part of a British support force  It consisted of 2 coy Bedfordshire Rgt, B Coy 18th Btn MG Corps and the 80th Field Coy RE

They were supporting the US 107th Regiment.  Who ran into severe difficulties. A 75% casualty rate  is mentioned.  The situation deteriorated to the extent that the British support units became the front line.

The above information is taken  from       The Battle of Bellicourt Tunnel: Tommies, Diggers and Doughboys on the Hindenburg Line, 1918  by   Dale Blair

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WhiteStarLine
15 hours ago, asdarley said:

part of a British support force  It consisted of 2 coy Bedfordshire Rgt, B Coy 18th Btn MG Corps and the 80th Field Coy RE

I'm pleasantly surprised to see that this family story is gaining credibility.

 

The 27th, as part of the Australian Corps, were on the left hand side, with the Australian 3rd Division (my grandfather's unit) behind them.  The 27th, through inexperience, failed to clear dugouts and as they moved forward, the experienced German soldiers emerged from tunnels and dugouts and with their machine guns resumed defending the Hindenburg Line.  The 27th reached Bony, Guoy and Le Catelet but were widely dispersed and units and sub units separated from each other.  It was common for more experienced soldiers to step forward informally and assume local command so he may well have done this.  The Australians gave an award to polar explorer and battlefield photographer Herbert Wilkins, who took command of a group of American soldiers who had lost their officers and stayed in command until help arrived.

 

I downloaded the history of the 107th Regiment and read through the relevant section.  There is a detailed account of the action, totalling 30 pages, plus maps and photographs, a nominal roll, casualty list and a full list of honours and awards.  Well worth a look.  No mention of any attached British units, but that doesn't mean anything.  By the way, the American war cemetery, with entrance to the building setup to look like a typical American lounge with open fire, is very touching.  Digressing a little, standing on an abandoned tank, Joseph Cook, the Australian Minister for the Navy and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, watched the 5th Division attack Bellicourt, until shellfire persauded them to drop into a nearby trench system, where they eat sandwiches with waiting Australian troops.

 

Here is one of the dugouts he passed, photographed by my grandfather.  Zooming in to the LHS entrance shows a chalked message 'SAFE 11th Field Coy'.  While this is written by the 11th AIF Field Company, it shows the kind of work the 80th would have done.  Clearing a dugout that held 40 men and may have been booby-trapped would have been very dangerous work.  One of the battalions my grandfather supported marched from Doignt with 600 men and 4 days later just 80 of them returned on the train.  The sights Sapper Hooley saw are reflected in my grandfather's journal:

Quote

"it gets impressed on you that a body is only a body"

 

 

image.png.4b4dfe556111414e6986e0070493fa18.png

463715037_HindenburgLinefirestepenhanced.jpg.ea2b2f90d1cfcb7d76f45f07444deea9.jpg

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