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Help with Royal Warwickshire ancestors


RobM

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Hi, 

 

I've been researching my ancestry (like many with time on their hands these days). Being a Brummie, I have a few relatives that (unsurprisingly) served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in the Great War. I have 3 who I don't know much on, beyond the available documents on Fold3. I wondered if any of you learned fellows can shed a bit more light for me?

 

Francis Henry Powell- apparently attested into the Royal Warwicks' 13th Battalion, number 16885 on 21st Feb 1916. His papers then say he went to the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force on 7th June 1916 (not much time for training it seems). I think only the 9th Battalion went to that front, but went from Egypt in February 1916, so Powell must have been sent as a replacement? I'm guessing he changed battalion therefore, at some point- but I can't be certain? Any ideas?

 

Gilbert George Statham - I can't find his papers (burnt docs I presume), but is given to have a Royal Warwickshire number of 14399 and latterly a 55th Company Machine Gun Corps number of 5257, which is on his grave (KIA 14th July 1917, buried Dickebusch New Military Cemetary Extension). I'd love to know when he joined, which Warwicks battalion, when he transferred to the MGC (55th Coy was in 18th Eastern Div, I think), actions he was in etc. 

 

Sydney Arthur Powell - attested 2nd Dec 1915, number 15856 into 3rd Warwicks I think. His papers seem to mention 10th Battalion also. He was moved on promotion to Sargeant in September 1916 to the 15th Battalion. He seems to have been wounded 3 times (26th Oct 1917, 29th June 1918 and again 31st Oct 1918- though by then he must have moved battalion again, as the 15th were broken up and used to bring the 14th and 16th up to strength). As with the others, any info on where or what he was doing would be fantastic. 

 

I also have a 4th Warwick in my family - a Fred Foster, No 966. I have no attestation papers, but he joined the 15th Battalion and was killed in an abortive trench raid on the night of 22/23 May 1916. This is very well documented at length in Terry Carter's book on the Birmingham Pals- naming Foster's participation. He's buried in Fambourg D'Amens Cemetary. 

 

Any assistance with adding more info on these relatives would be gratefully appreciated. 

 

Many thanks for your kind assistance. 

 

Regards

Rob Martin

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I think the MEF was the Mediterranean rather than "Mesopotamia" Expeditionary Force.

You've obviously got some info on each of them of them so may I ask where you have looked. You mention Fold3 , have you searched the main Ancestry site? Currently the National Archive is free to search/download (digitised archive only) during lockdown where you may find the appropriate war diaries to tell you their day to day movements. Local newspapers sometimes, if the soldier was killed, commisioned or decorated, may hold some brief detail and if your lucky a photograph.

 

Simon

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The only ones I can help you with are Sydney Arthur Powell and Fred Foster. Even then only generally. What I can say is that the 15th Royal Warwickshire (2nd Birmingham Pals) that Sydney joins in September is in a bad way and becoming a shadow of its former tight nit group. Certainly the idea of being Birmingham's 'Pets' is no longer so amusing for they are in serious need of men and indeed NCO's (D Company in particular it appears though the battalion had already suffered the following deaths. 47 in July and 29 in August. Then on the 3rd September they take another 59 (An abortive assault on Falfemont Farm). Note - this does not include the many who died of wounds on a subsequent day or indeed the wounded - of which they lost c.100 men on just one day in July).

 

(Do you have a precise date for when he joined? If you do I can provide more information - such as where they were each day that month after he joins.)

 

As to Fred I think you mean Fambourg D'Amiens Cemetary. Beyond that I too would recommend Terry Carter's indeed excellent book so anything I have in addition would be minimal (Mostly I have some prissy detail stuff on the battalion's recruitment and training).

 

P

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Francis Henry Powell - conscripted 7th February 1916 posted to 3rd Bn, basic training was twelve weeks.

 

As you say posted to the 9th Battalion and remained with them in Mesopotamia to 1January 1919 then to Salonica (Britforce) until 23 October 1919.

 

The war diary for the Battalion is currently free from TNA if you register - it is in two parts

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/47235d2b40c44c06ab2ad28e4d9b2b3e

 

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/76e8130d4ba64edc8fbe5f2d2d9c8ebc

(The Mesop. diaries are not on Ancestry)

Britforce was  part of the British intervention in the Caucasus, essentially garrisoned at Baku, to control the Azerbaijani oilfields

 

There is an excellent summary of the 9th Battalion on this thread

 

 

Ken

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pte Statham enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the 20th August 1915, no more than a couple of days later than that.  He was posted to one of the Reserve Battalions, either the 3rd or 4th, both were stationed on the Isle of Wight.

 

On 1st January he, and around half a dozen others from the Warwicks, were posted to the MGC.   (14349/5256 was posted to the BEF on 24 February 1916.). The Corps was formed in October 1915, and began numbering at 3000, initially active service machine gunners serving in the infantry battalions were posted into the Corps.  5257 is a very early number.

 

The men would have gone to the MGC Base Depot at Camiers before being posted to an active service Company.

 

The war diary can be viewed on Ancestry,here

or at TNA https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/browse/r/h/C4555202

The diary is unusual in that other ranks are mentioned by name. Pte Statham’s death by shellfire, and burial are recorded.

 

Ken

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14 hours ago, mancpal said:

I think the MEF was the Mediterranean rather than "Mesopotamia" Expeditionary Force.

You've obviously got some info on each of them of them so may I ask where you have looked. You mention Fold3 , have you searched the main Ancestry site? Currently the National Archive is free to search/download (digitised archive only) during lockdown where you may find the appropriate war diaries to tell you their day to day movements. Local newspapers sometimes, if the soldier was killed, commisioned or decorated, may hold some brief detail and if your lucky a photograph.

 

Simon

Thanks Simon, 

 

The service record does carry a very legible stamp saying "Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force" in full, rather than "M.E.F" or any abbreviation that might be misconstrued, so I'm fairly confident on that element.

 

His medal roll only has the usual 'Squeak and Wilfred' on, so I don't think he was especially decorated. He doesn't appear to have been commissioned, and certainly not killed- so I suspect he didn't make the papers. 

 

I will have a go on the National Archives for war diaries though, following other info here. 

 

Thanks heaps for your advice. 

 

Regards

Rob

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13 hours ago, Polar Bear said:

The only ones I can help you with are Sydney Arthur Powell and Fred Foster. Even then only generally. What I can say is that the 15th Royal Warwickshire (2nd Birmingham Pals) that Sydney joins in September is in a bad way and becoming a shadow of its former tight nit group. Certainly the idea of being Birmingham's 'Pets' is no longer so amusing for they are in serious need of men and indeed NCO's (D Company in particular it appears though the battalion had already suffered the following deaths. 47 in July and 29 in August. Then on the 3rd September they take another 59 (An abortive assault on Falfemont Farm). Note - this does not include the many who died of wounds on a subsequent day or indeed the wounded - of which they lost c.100 men on just one day in July).

 

(Do you have a precise date for when he joined? If you do I can provide more information - such as where they were each day that month after he joins.)

 

As to Fred I think you mean Fambourg D'Amiens Cemetary. Beyond that I too would recommend Terry Carter's indeed excellent book so anything I have in addition would be minimal (Mostly I have some prissy detail stuff on the battalion's recruitment and training).

 

P

Thanks heaps, 

 

Sidney Arthur Powell dates his attestation declaration on 2nd Dec 1915. He's then stated on his service page to have "Joined at 2nd Dec 1915" when his service is calculated from. Thereafter there's quite a lot of dates, clearly appointments and then formalisation of promotions to Cpl and then later Sgt. He ships to France 12th July 1916- but otherwise it's horribly faded and most unclear. 

 

Have a look yourself if you can, maybe you can decipher it a bit more? His traffic through various battallion postings would be vital to say where he was with what unit and when...

 

Regards

Rob

 

Thanks Rob

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11 hours ago, kenf48 said:

Pte Statham enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the 20th August 1915, no more than a couple of days later than that.  He was posted to one of the Reserve Battalions, either the 3rd or 4th, both were stationed on the Isle of Wight.

 

On 1st January he, and around half a dozen others from the Warwicks, were posted to the MGC.   (14349/5256 was posted to the BEF on 24 February 1916.). The Corps was formed in October 1915, and began numbering at 3000, initially active service machine gunners serving in the infantry battalions were posted into the Corps.  5257 is a very early number.

 

The men would have gone to the MGC Base Depot at Camiers before being posted to an active service Company.

 

The war diary can be viewed on Ancestry,here

or at TNA https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/browse/r/h/C4555202

The diary is unusual in that other ranks are mentioned by name. Pte Statham’s death by shellfire, and burial are recorded.

 

Ken

Brilliant work Ken. 

 

I honestly don't know how you summoned those dates, given the lack of service papers. 

 

I'm gonna get that war diary right away!

 

Thanks ever so much!

 

Regards

Rob

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13 hours ago, kenf48 said:

Francis Henry Powell - conscripted 7th February 1916 posted to 3rd Bn, basic training was twelve weeks.

 

As you say posted to the 9th Battalion and remained with them in Mesopotamia to 1January 1919 then to Salonica (Britforce) until 23 October 1919.

 

The war diary for the Battalion is currently free from TNA if you register - it is in two parts

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/47235d2b40c44c06ab2ad28e4d9b2b3e

 

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/76e8130d4ba64edc8fbe5f2d2d9c8ebc

(The Mesop. diaries are not on Ancestry)

Britforce was  part of the British intervention in the Caucasus, essentially garrisoned at Baku, to control the Azerbaijani oilfields

 

There is an excellent summary of the 9th Battalion on this thread

 

 

Ken

 

Hi Ken, 

Thanks for your help once again, Ken.

 

Just set up an account with TNA and cracked on with the downloading. 

 

I admit I've yet to read though them, but according to the titles, there's a big gap in the timeline for  the 9th Batt. Royal Warwicks' war diary. The first volume is Feb 1916 - Feb 1917, the second volume starts Sept 1917 - Nov 1918. What might have happened to the volume that covered March 1917 to Aug 1917 inclusive? 

 

Regards

Rob

 

13 hours ago, kenf48 said:

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, RobM said:

What might have happened to the volume that covered March 1917 to Aug 1917 inclusive? 

 

In 103 years, your guess is as good as mine.

 

Seriously, documents get lost or misfiled. This was the copy lodged at TNA. The relevant pages may have been mislaid when the Official History was written; or lost in theatre, in short I don't know. 

 

It is however always worth looking at the next level war diary, i.e.39 Brigade

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_q=39+brigade&discoveryCustomSearch=true&_cr1=WO+95&_col=200&_hb=tna

 

You may want to start by downloading the missing months.  The TNA have imposed a 'fair dealing' limit on these downloads. It's relatively high, I think 50 in a week but there is a thread on the forum about it.

 

Ken

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5 minutes ago, kenf48 said:

 

In 103 years, your guess is as good as mine.

 

Seriously, documents get lost or misfiled. This was the copy lodged at TNA. The relevant pages may have been mislaid when the Official History was written; or lost in theatre, in short I don't know. 

 

It is however always worth looking at the next level war diary, i.e.39 Brigade

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_q=39+brigade&discoveryCustomSearch=true&_cr1=WO+95&_col=200&_hb=tna

 

You may want to start by downloading the missing months.  The TNA have imposed a 'fair dealing' limit on these downloads. It's relatively high, I think 50 in a week but there is a thread on the forum about it.

 

Ken

Thanks Ken, 

 

I thought so. 

 

There appears a huge chunk missing from  the 15th Battalion Royal Warwicks also. Grr!

 

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12 minutes ago, RobM said:

There appears a huge chunk missing from  the 15th Battalion Royal Warwicks also. Grr!

 

Which bit are you after - hopefully you are aware that from November 1917 to April 1918 they were in Italy and so the War Diary is not digitised anywhere.

 

Otherwise there may still be a problem with the individual Battaion War Diaries of the 5th Division. One of the first ones I downloaded from the National Archives when these first became available was the 1st Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, in 15th Brigade, 5th Division. I was told it was broken up in five parts. In fact one of the five was 6th Kings Liverpool Regiment for August 1914 to December 1915, and another was the 6th Cheshire and 1st Dorsets for the same period. I advised the National Archives but never heard anything back. As the downloads are free at the moment might be worthwhile checking out the other Battalions of the 14th Brigade to see if the ones you after have snuck in - particularly of you can find them on Ancestry, which at least means they exists in a digital format!

 

Or go for the Brigade Copy, which is probably simpler :)

 

Cheers,

Peter

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4 hours ago, PRC said:

 

Which bit are you after - hopefully you are aware that from November 1917 to April 1918 they were in Italy and so the War Diary is not digitised anywhere.

 

Otherwise there may still be a problem with the individual Battaion War Diaries of the 5th Division. One of the first ones I downloaded from the National Archives when these first became available was the 1st Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, in 15th Brigade, 5th Division. I was told it was broken up in five parts. In fact one of the five was 6th Kings Liverpool Regiment for August 1914 to December 1915, and another was the 6th Cheshire and 1st Dorsets for the same period. I advised the National Archives but never heard anything back. As the downloads are free at the moment might be worthwhile checking out the other Battalions of the 14th Brigade to see if the ones you after have snuck in - particularly of you can find them on Ancestry, which at least means they exists in a digital format!

 

Or go for the Brigade Copy, which is probably simpler :)

 

Cheers,

Peter

Ah, that's exactly the period. I was hoping to get the Italy perspective, but not, it would seem..

 

Thanks

 

Regards

Rob

 

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5257 G Statham MGC ,was one of a hundred soldiers who were sent to hospital in Perth....reported in The Perthshire Constitutional September 6th, 1916.

 He was looked after in The Royal Infirmary.

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19 hours ago, sadbrewer said:

From The Birmingham Daily Post, June 10th, 1916.

Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive. 

 

Screenshot_20200521-213543.jpg

Wow, that's a find. Thanks!

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20 hours ago, sadbrewer said:

5257 G Statham MGC ,was one of a hundred soldiers who were sent to hospital in Perth....reported in The Perthshire Constitutional September 6th, 1916.

 He was looked after in The Royal Infirmary.

Thanks for that tip. 

 

Whilst the war diary is highly detailed and usually recites hospital admissions and returns arriving back, even down to the Privates (helpfully the writer uses block caps for places and surnames in the narrative), I can't spot him being wounded or returning. I presume it would have been serious for him to be shipped back to Blighty, so I've searched long way out either side of 6th Sept 1916. Sadly I can't spot Statham anywhere.

 

Regards

Rob

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4 minutes ago, RobM said:

Thanks for that tip. 

 

Whilst the war diary is highly detailed and usually recites hospital admissions and returns arriving back, even down to the Privates (helpfully the writer uses block caps for places and surnames in the narrative), I can't spot him being wounded or returning. I presume it would have been serious for him to be shipped back to Blighty, so I've searched long way out either side of 6th Sept 1916. Sadly I can't spot Statham anywhere.

 

Regards

Rob

 

It is always possible he was not posted to 55 Company when first posted to the BEF. 

 

The soldier previously mention 5256 Powell was posted to 59 Company which was formed at Grantham and 'marched off Belton Park on the 23 February 1916 ' (War Diary)

 

On Ancestry here

TNA https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7353109

 

It's quite possible Pte Statham was posted to 55 Company from the Base Depot in France.

 

Ken

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