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Remembered Today:

Marfaux British Cemetery: Case #1 - New Zealand Cyclist (McLaughlin)


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Marfaux British Cemetery


It was uncovered from the new set of COG-BR documents and there is primary and secondary evidence.


COG-BR 2303038: Unknown New Zealand Soldier of the Cyclist Battalion (says Corps) with the initials "A.M."

  • two (2) men with those initials match, 1 known in this cemetery and 1 on the memorial in the cemetery (CWGC Link)
  • :poppy:so this is Private Albert James McLaughlin #10047
  • they dropped the details on the GRRF 2328988 and the HD-SCHD 2695316 so never followed up on the case
  • I will have to check the New Zealand records to see if there is confirmation by way of the two sets of false teeth
    • here is his record
    • some good evidence as admitted to hospital 19 July 1918 when accidentally broke his dental plate (fell of his bicycle)
    • his personal report of the accident (page 21 of 39) says he broke his dentures, so he had a full set
    • during his attestation medical his teeth are stated as "fit" - guess they did not know they were false!
    • died 23 July 1918 and buried the following day, burial location specified (page 3 of 39)
      Jonchery-sur-Vesle, multiple numbers 220 221.2 270 271.4.5 ??
Edited by laughton
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3 minutes ago, laughton said:

during his attestation medical his teeth are stated as "fit" - guess they did not know they were false!

Or are they saying that the false teeth fit properly?

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:D good point!


Some details from his record:


2086493495_Annotation2020-04-11091415.jpg.1e23de97f78eeca7e7b159a0b226f787.jpg 441702401_Annotation2020-04-11091726.jpg.7bea53ec77b6ceab32b13ae45acbbaac.jpg
1822235431_Annotation2020-04-11091609.jpg.6e8ffdcea0e1634d57182dbec30037e4.jpg 1888949398_Annotation2020-04-11091652.jpg.091d21c0a1a0c150b99623be8d6d5504.jpg


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The loss of Private McLaughlin is mentioned in the battalion history (pages 72 and 73), the text of which follows the map. The remains were recovered at SOISSONS 22 4.K. 80 x 04 which is precisely at Marfaux, the village the cyclists attacked on 30 May 1918.


No question now, those are the remains of Private McLaughlin.


There are sixteen NZ cyclists in the CWGC database for 23 July 1918. Of these six (6) are in the Marfaux cemetery and ten (10) unknown and on the memorial.

I will return later and mark the recovery location of those buried in the cemetery - they are on the French map coordinate system.





During the forenoon Major Evans and the Senior Officers went out with the G.O.C. of the 186th Brigade (Brig. Gen. Burnett) to look over some ground where the Battalion was to operate next day, and returned later with the news that the Battalion would move up to the assembly trenches that night and attack and capture the village of Marfaux at 6 a.m. next morning During the interval preparations were made. Cycles could not be used so were parked under cover from view, and at 11 p.m. that night the Battalion (less transport) moved off, arriving at and occupying the assembly trenches at 2 a.m.

Battalion Headquarters were established at a village named Pourcy, some 600 yards in rear, where Major Evans directed operations.


Marfaux, the Battalion's objective, is a small village on the right bank of the River ARDRE, and marks the limit of the enemy's advance on the 3rd of June, 1918. The capture of this village was attempted on the previous Saturday, but the troops on reaching the village had to retire under heavy fire, as it was untenable. A distance of 800 to 1,000 yards separated the assembly trenches from the village. Our force for the attack consisted of the Battalion and a small company of the 24th Hampshires, making a total of 340 all ranks.

During the remainder of the morning until zero hour there was intermittent shelling by the enemy and gas towards daybreak.


At 6 a.m. a creeping barrage was put down by the British, French and Italian Batteries, and the advance started in two waves. Our boys advanced under cover of the barrage and the first objective was reached on time but not before several casualties had occurred. The ground 300 yards in front of the objective sloped down from a crest which afforded no cover whatever. Enemy machine gunners took advantage of this and swept the ground with bullets until they were finally overtaken by the barrage and either dislodged or killed.

The village was "mopped up" and a number of prisoners, including a German doctor and Captain, were found in dugouts, who surrendered freely. In the dressing station were found two wounded British, who had been there since Saturday, and several wounded Germans.


In the meanwhile the second wave of the advance passed through the first and arrived at their objective line 300 yards in front of the village and consolidated in record time. A visual signal station was established at a point from which "all objectives taken" was sent back to Battalion Headquarters. The first wave, after mopping up the village, "dug in" 100 yards in rear of the first line in support.


So ended the battle of Marfaux. Our boys had done their job well, showing that dash and determination so well known of Colonial troops.

During the operation we captured 9 enemy Machine Guns and re-captured several French and our own Lewis Guns, a battery of 75's, and numerous souvenirs.


Our casualties were high. Among the officers were:



  • 2nd Lieut. Griffith, D.C.
  • 2nd Lieut. Rowland, A.E.M.


  • Captain Richards, A.H.
  • 2nd Lieut. Greville, R.H.
  • 2nd Lieut. Wylie, L.T.

Among the other ranks, the following were killed, or subsequently died of wounds received:—

  • Sergeant    Matthews, F.C., M.M.
  • Lance Sergeant    Foulds, C.R.
  • Lance Corporals    Foote, P.A. and Grindrod, C.PAGE 73
  • Privates    Baker, F.    Chatwin, R. A.
  • Hannan, F.    Johnson, H. J.
  • Kloth, A. R.    Lindsay, H. J.
  • McLaughlin, A. J.    McLeod, A. R.
  • Mills, H.    Newman, L. A.
  • Perry, A. J.    Sunmiss, F. A. H.
  • Smith, A. E.    Smith, F. W. T.
  • Turner, R. H.    

and about 70 men wounded.


Edited by laughton
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Point of interest! There was another New Zealand Cyclist with the initials "A. M." also lost that day. His name is beside McLaughlin in the list above. Fortunately he was identified by his disc (COG-BR 2329137) or this case would be a lot different! Then it might have been a case of dentures or not.


Here is where they found the men that have identified graves in the Marfaux British Cemetery (CWGC Link):

  • JSV is for the map "Jonchery-sur-Vesle"
  • they are all basically at 220 x 270 on that map
  • that is the coordinates for Marfaux so the same as SOISSONS 22 4.K. 80 x 04
surname initials rank # grave location identified by
FOULDS G R Lance Serjeant '10807' VII. B. 10. JSV 220.5 x 270.4 disc and rifle cover
GRINDROD C Lance Corporal '10819' IV. E. 3. JSV 219.9 x 270.75 inscription on cross
JOHNSON H J Private '59654' III. B. 3. JSV 220.725 x 270.450 disc and titles
MILLS H Private '28511' IV. BB. 5. Soissons 22 4.K 83 x 02 red hair, upper false teeth, identified by name on comb
McLEOD A R Private '51865' III. F. 6. JSV 220.450 x 269.975 disc
SMITH A E Private '13120' II. I. 9. JSV 220.0 x 269.9

disc and titles




If the dates of casualties is extended to cover the period July 20th to 31st, there are no additional casualties in the battlefield (CWGC Link). The four (4) additional casualties were all centered around medical facilities away from the battlefield at Marfaux.


Edited by laughton
added medical casualty note and link
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  • 1 month later...

To tie up some loose ends in preparation for a report on this case, these are the other NZ Cyclists that were lost in that period. A check of the Cyclist History tells us that they did not arrive in the Reims Sector until Friday 19 July 1918 (Chapter XVII) after which they were in the Somme Sector no later that 22 August 1918 (Chapter XXVIII).


There were two (2) burials at the hospital facilities in Rouen and one (1) at Terlincthun, which was a concentration from the Epernay French National Cemetery at Epernay. All of the dead on either the Marfaux (New Zealand) Memorial or buried in the Marfaux British Cemetery are dated 23 July 1918.


surname initials death rank regiment # cemetery or memorial
BAKER F 23/07/1918 Private New Zealand Cyclist Battalion '45181' MARFAUX (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL
CHATWIN A R 23/07/1918 Private New Zealand Cyclist Battalion '10779' MARFAUX (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL
KLOTH A R 23/07/1918 Private New Zealand Cyclist Battalion '10851' MARFAUX (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL
LINDSAY H J 23/07/1918 Private New Zealand Cyclist Battalion '13/3129' MARFAUX (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL
MATTHEWS F C 23/07/1918 Serjeant New Zealand Cyclist Battalion '10731' MARFAUX (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL
McLAUGHLIN A J 23/07/1918 Private New Zealand Cyclist Battalion '10047' MARFAUX (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL
NEWMAN L A 23/07/1918 Private New Zealand Cyclist Battalion '18891' MARFAUX (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL
PERRY A J 23/07/1918 Private New Zealand Cyclist Battalion '25/456' MARFAUX (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL
SMITH F W T 23/07/1918 Private New Zealand Cyclist Battalion '46397' MARFAUX (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL
TURNER R H 23/07/1918 Private New Zealand Cyclist Battalion '10928' MARFAUX (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL


This is the concentration report that provides the details for Private Albert James McLaughlin, noted in red above. The primary items used in the identification were:

  • identified as a New Zealand Cyclist
  • the location of the remains were the same as all the others with known burials in the cemetery at JSV 220 x 270 or SOISSONS 22 4.K. 80 x 04
  • the initials "A. M." on the personal grooming gear (shaving brush)
  • the presence of the double denture plate.


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