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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Corporal 4127 Alfred Matthews


HTSCF Fareham

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I'm looking for a bit of help with this chap who was with 4th Field Company, Australian Engineers and was KiA on 20/06/1917, buried Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery.

 

The detail that I am missing is exactly where and how he lost his life. Frustratingly the War Diary for 4th Field Company, Australian Engineers has not been digitised, so am looking for someone who might have access to other reference material.

 

Thanks!

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Hi, you do realise you are looking for an Australian soldier's records in the United Kingdom National Archives?

 

image.png.6cb02149c966a333bb8634f148145ed0.png

 

The unit war diary is digitised - visit https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1347238 - they were working around Steenwerck so it roughly ties in.

 

You want the Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War - AWM4 Subclass 14/23 - 4th Field Company, Australian Engineers.  It is light on for detail, to say the least.  If you want more detail, I find the higher headquarters is generally much better, so try his parent brigade diary.

 

Note he had 2 regimental numbers - I have the book on the 19th Battalion if you need any earlier detail.

 

Alfred MATTHEWS

 

Regimental number 1364
Religion Church of England
Occupation Linesman
Address 49 Gosport Street, Fareham
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 37
Next of kin Mother, Mrs Matthews, 49 Gosport Street, Fareham
Enlistment date 2 March 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll 1 March 1915
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 19th Battalion, D Company
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT Ceramic on 25 June 1915
Regimental number from Nominal Roll 4127
Rank from Nominal Roll Corporal
Unit from Nominal Roll 4th Field Company Engineers
Fate Killed in Action 20 June 1917

 

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12 hours ago, WhiteStarLine said:

Hi, you do realise you are looking for an Australian soldier's records in the United Kingdom National Archives?

 

image.png.6cb02149c966a333bb8634f148145ed0.png

 

The unit war diary is digitised - visit https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1347238 - they were working around Steenwerck so it roughly ties in.

 

You want the Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War - AWM4 Subclass 14/23 - 4th Field Company, Australian Engineers.  It is light on for detail, to say the least.  If you want more detail, I find the higher headquarters is generally much better, so try his parent brigade diary.

 

Note he had 2 regimental numbers - I have the book on the 19th Battalion if you need any earlier detail.

 

Alfred MATTHEWS

 

Regimental number 1364
Religion Church of England
Occupation Linesman
Address 49 Gosport Street, Fareham
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 37
Next of kin Mother, Mrs Matthews, 49 Gosport Street, Fareham
Enlistment date 2 March 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll 1 March 1915
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 19th Battalion, D Company
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT Ceramic on 25 June 1915
Regimental number from Nominal Roll 4127
Rank from Nominal Roll Corporal
Unit from Nominal Roll 4th Field Company Engineers
Fate Killed in Action 20 June 1917

 

 

Ahh, thanks for that. What a wally I've been!

 

You mention the "Higher Headquarters". Where would I find that diary please?

11 hours ago, sadbrewer said:

Just to add, he was reported as gassed in The Scotsman, November 30th 1915.

Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive. 

 

 

Screenshot_20200428-133954.jpg

 

Thanks sadbrewer, I had seen this.

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5 hours ago, HTSCF Fareham said:

the "Higher Headquarters". Where would I find that diary please?

Sorry, I really should have explained myself better, as all too often we assume a familiarity with military jargon that is unfair on newer members.

 

Every unit is part of something bigger.  An infantry section is part of a platoon that is part of a company that is part of a battalion that is part of a brigade etc etc.  So if we can't find much detail in the unit war diary, it's often a good assumption that the parent unit knew where its subordinate was.  So in your case, the field company was under command of a division (or for the pedants, attached to, or in support of the division).  Go to the 4th Divisional Engineers and their unit war diary covers their 3 subordinates - 4th, 12th and 13th Field Companies.

 

They have 42 pages for June 1917, including locations, maps, honours & awards (couldn't see his name!), casualties to mid-June and other details such as the location of each stores dump and a report on the Bangalore torpedo for wire cutting.

 

image.png.0ad75d869a3fc8ba3e28a86c9d0d30b8.png

 

To give you an insight, here is the Divisional Engineer HQ at Westhof Farm (in blue at the bottom-left), some of the engineering dumps in green and the location of where the Messines mines were detonated as a reference to the German locations.  So the field engineers covered quite a bit of ground.

 

image.png.f33fc0c14b6faf782f4ea8978873e485.png

 

image.png.9bfb4776b88c7a5be91460593e20be9b.png

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1 hour ago, WhiteStarLine said:

Sorry, I really should have explained myself better, as all too often we assume a familiarity with military jargon that is unfair on newer members.

 

Many thanks for this detailed explanation. You are quite correct in that one hears all the jargon, but may not understand the nuances of the command structure.

 

It amazes me that Australia can provide all the war diaries and service records in a clear and easily searchable format (and for free), whereas the UK hides them away and charges for everything (Covid charging relaxing aside).

 

Thanks again!

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