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Ivor Anderson

Corporal (later Sergeant) Charles Ashton MM, no. 99915, 31st Battery, Royal Field Artillery

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

Corporal (later Sergeant) Charles Ashton, no. 99915, 31st Battery, Royal Field Artillery (35th Brigade). 

A pre-war regular soldier, from Kirton-in-Lindsey in Lincolnshire, who saw service out on the Western Front from 6th October 1914 with:

 

31st Battery, R.F.A. - a Regular Army unit which in 1913 it was serving with XXXVII Brigade, R.F.A., at Woolwich. The other two batteries in the Brigade were the 35th & 55th.

They were all converted into Howitzer batteries and the Brigade was retitled XXXVII (Howitzer) Brigade, R.F.A. and transferred to the 4th Division in Feb 1915, before moving to the 7th Division, where XXXVII Brigade was eventually broken up.

31st (Howitzer) Battery was to serve throughout the remainder of the war with XXXV Bde, R.F.A. 

They were in action at the Somme near Bullecourt in the Ecoust Valley south of Arras in July-August 1917. Near Wytschaete in August 1917 (War Diary).

Then in action in front of Chateau Wood beside Hooge, outside Ypres in October 1917. 

The War Diary of 31st Battery ends in September 1917. On 22nd & 28-30 September the battery was shelled by the enemy and suffered substantial dead & wounded near Verbranden Molen, south of (Zillebeke).

Charles Ashton’s MM was listed in the London Gazette of 28th January 1918 (schedule 135696). It was awarded for action at Passchendaele in late 1917.

Online records state that he was with 7 Div Ammunition Column when he won his MM, yet his MM card & medal say 31st Battery RFA?

His medal card records "7 DAC RFA". The 7 DAC War Diary names 3 MMs awarded in October 1917, but not C. Ashton? 

35 Brigade WD states on 19-10-1917: "Personnel of 35 relieve personnel of 31st battery who proceed to wagon lines".

 

Charles appears to have served in the Police in Leicester after WW1.

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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Ivor Anderson

Charles Ashton's MM Card from the National Archives:

 

s-l1600-39 2.jpg

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charlie962
Posted (edited)

Ivor

There is a Hospital Admission Record On FindmyPast dated Oct 1917, perhaps connected with his MM Award.

It tells us:

 

Gas Shell Wounded Severe,    to Hospital Ship 23/10/17,  35 Bde 31 Bty RFA  age 40  21 yrs service 36 mths with Field Force.  An Old Soldier !

 

From 10 CCs 17/10/17, admitted via No 2 Convoy  18/10/17 to 18th General Hospital, then to Hospital Ship 23/10/17.

On 20th dec 1917 he was at Catterick Military Hospital

 

Does this help you ?

 

He was with a colleague Gas wounded at same time in same unit who followed same evacuation. 94982 Cpl WS Moore.

Moore has a surviving service record, showing he was posted to 7DAC 7/11/16 then next day posted to 35 Bde 8/11/16

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962

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charlie962
7 hours ago, Ivor Anderson said:

Online records state that he was with 7 Div Ammunition Column when he won his MM

which records are these ?

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

Thanks Charlie, That's great! He must have been wounded between 19-22nd October.

Ancestry & Fold3 give 7 DAC as his unit in their version of his MM record.

On 24 Oct 1917 the 7 DAC WD records MMs to 631076 Dvr J Duncan and 34430 Dvr G Mattock. No mention of Ashton or Moore among the named wounded.

Can't see a WD for 31 Battery for October? His medal card gives 7 DAC too (off Ancestry):

 

Screen Shot 2020-05-29 at 22.31.50.png

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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charlie962
42 minutes ago, Ivor Anderson said:

He must have been wounded between 19-22nd October.

not if he'd been sent on by the ccs on 17th oct ? Likely wounding a day or so before ?

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charlie962
45 minutes ago, Ivor Anderson said:

His medal card gives 7 DAC too (off Ancestry):

first entry into theatre with 7 DAC

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Ivor Anderson
7 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

not if he'd been sent on by the ccs on 17th oct ? Likely wounding a day or so before ?

 

Sorry - missed that bit! He is not among the named wounded around that date in the 7 DAC WD. Must have been with 31 battery who have no October WD?

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charlie962
4 minutes ago, Ivor Anderson said:

He is not among the named wounded around that date in the 7 DAC WD

That is because he was not 7 DAC at this date as the Hospital Admission records show. Battery War Diaries are unfortunately all too rare. Perhaps Brigade diary ?

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

No names in 35 Brigade RFA war diary around those dates. Not even mention of hostile shelling or wounded. Just details of barrages and '31 battery personnel to wagon lines' on 19th. No mention of 31 battery in the 10 days prior to 17th October.

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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charlie962

Yes I  had a look- a bit odd. But I've now found by looking closer at his service record that Moore was wounded (gassed)  on the 17th Oct 1917 and admitted to 3 Australian Field Ambulance and then 10 CCS all in the same day. I strongly suspect the same for Ashton.

 

PS the Hospital ship to UK was Stad Antwerpen.

 

Charlie

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

Thanks Charlie.

That sounds pretty specific, along with his medical/hospital details that you found. It is great to have his age confirmed too.

His MM is in VGC. His story deserves to be recorded. I posted on the BMF MM thread too, but I prefer the format here.

 

Ivor

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

Charles Ashton's MM (schedule 135696) - awarded for action at Passchendaele - wounded mid October 1917 - LG 28-01-1918:

 

DSC_0724.JPG

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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charlie962
Posted (edited)

At the 7 Div CRA level war diary it does say this:

 

1634778657_GWFAshtonCRFA7DivWarDiaryCRAextract1.JPG.959acd49b522104abb59bda6d65005c5.JPG

edit- courtesy NationalArchives via Ancestry

 

I think the Artillery was organising for the big event and Batteries were operating in Groups rather than Brigades. This may mean Brigade Diary is a bit thin on detail ? See again the CRA 7 Div War Diary (here on Ancestery)

 

Charlie

 

 

Edited by charlie962

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

Yes. The 10th Corps Heavy Artillery war diary (WO-95-867-3 in NA) confirms "heavy gas shelling of the battery areas" by the enemy on the 16th & 17th October 1917.

Does 'registration carried out' mean a roll call of personnel or an artillery audit?

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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charlie962
2 minutes ago, Ivor Anderson said:

Does 'registration carried out' mean a roll call of personnel or an artillery audit?

Registration of guns means making sure that when the Guns actually commence their barrage they will hit the right spot. Particularly important when the Battery has just moved. So some preliminary shells are lobbed to test the mathematics and map-reading. Always a bit delicate because you don't want to give the game away as to your target.

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

Aha! Like test ranging. Thanks. So probably at Glencorse Wood - SE of Westhoek and SW of Polygon Wood in October.

31 Battery WD states that Glencorse Wood & Inverness Copse were captured on 20-09-1917.

According to 31 Battery WD: on 23-09-1917 Three  artillerymen were killed near Verbranden-Molen ( and many more wounded):

1) Wheeler Corporal George Robertson 36186 aged 24

2) Gunner George Lamb 150462 aged 32

3) Gunner William Milburn 44758 aged 26

On 28-09-1917 Gunner J Roberts 125273 (RGA) was recorded killed.

 

Glencorse Wood centre left. Map clipping from: https://maps.nls.uk/view/101464912

 

Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 19.28.34.png

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

As Charlie uncovered with the army hospital admission records Charles Ashton was 40 in October 1917 and had 21 years service (enlisted c.1896).

His MM LG entry gave his place of origin as Kirton-in-Lindsey in Lincolnshire, but I can find no record of him around there, either before or after WW1.

 

 

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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charlie962
On 30/05/2020 at 00:49, charlie962 said:

PS the Hospital ship to UK was Stad Antwerpen.

He was on ship 23/10/17

 

Stad Antwerpen's War Diary is one of those that survives. Here at Discovery and free to download.

 

May help colour in a bit ?

 

charlie

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charlie962
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Ivor Anderson said:

MM LG entry gave his place of origin as Kirton-in-Lindsey in Lincolnshire, but I can find no record of him around there

Given that he seems to have been an old soldier with long service I tried looking at 1911 census for military establishments.

 

There were two Charles Ashton but only one was Artillery:

-  being a 37 year old Charles Ashton , Sergeant in the 78th Coy RGA (In Singapore at the time)  born Stratford Essex.

Married 1902 to Emily, children RoseCaroline, Charles, Gldys May and Florence Louise. who are on the later census pages

 

Problem- 3 years older, from Essex not Lincoln, and already a Sgt in 1911 but a Bdr in 1914.

 

Just one further point I want to check is that there were a host of transfers from RGA to RFA in 1915 that resulted in 90000 series numbers being issued to these men. Could be something there ?  my confusion

Edit  Alternatively he was one of those time expired men reenlisted Aug/Sep 1914 and allocated a 99900 number but somehow comes under continuous service- I'm thinking out loud I'm afraid and just making notes to follow up !

 

Charlie

 

edit update:

Looking at near 99900 numbers they were issued in 1914 to men signing up for 1 year Special Reserve in the RFRA. There's are several service files for near numbers that show old gunners with long service retiring just befor Aug 1914 and signing up to this Scheme.

But because Ashton was, say, still in the old RGA Reserve under his RGA number in Aug 1914, when he signs up to RFRA he is automatically issued with a new number.

 

One for @David Porter to comment if he would be so kind ?

 

 

EDIT EDIT  Further Update.

I've found the Service record for the Essex Sergeant on the 1911 Census. He seems to have had continuous service through WW1, remaining RGA under his original number 5917 and no  overseas WW1 service, retiring 1920. So not your man-  Sorry !!

 

Edited by charlie962

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

This is the only Charles Ashton I can find with a connection to Kirton-in-Lindsey. He was living at 3 Gainsthorpe Road in 1939 with his wife Sarah. He was a coal trimmer, but working in the nearby cement works. His DOB is given as 8 December 1880.

On the 1881 Census a 3 month old Charles Henry Ashton was living with his parents George & Catherine in the village of Minting (NW of Horncastle). His place of birth was given as Minting. The birth was registered in Horncastle area in Q1 1881. In 1891 the family were living in South Thoresby (NE of Horncastle) and Charles was 10. I cannot see this Charles on the 1901 or 1911 censuses? He is a few years too young to be 40 in 1917. Our man entered France on 6-10-1914 with 7th DAC.

 

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 08.16.24.png

Edited by Ivor Anderson
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Matlock1418
On 29/05/2020 at 13:46, Ivor Anderson said:

Charles appears to have served in the Police in Leicester after WW1.

My Great, Great Uncle Bill was a policeman [Boom, boom! ;-)] in another nearby county, and as a pre-war regular and reservist briefly did some Home Service in the army at the start of the war [training recruits - probably doing drill!] and although not directly comparable [and I know Leicestershire is probably classed as East Midlands] there is a MILITARY HISTORY SOCIETY OF THE WEST MIDLANDS POLICE http://www.militaryhistorysociety.com 

They may perhaps [?] be able to furnish a wider lead to another source as they happily for me did for my GGU [some info on his non-military police career e.g. a Descriptive Register - essentially a summary of police service pre- and post-war].

You might however just turn up something new of interest about Charles Ashton's police service post-war [or perhaps even more].

Good luck.

:-) M

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, charlie962 said:
On 29/05/2020 at 23:49, charlie962 said:

PS the Hospital ship to UK was Stad Antwerpen.

He was on ship 23/10/17

Thanks Matlock. I'll keep the police possibility in mind. His BWM & VM were sold online last year with a Leicester City police tag.

Eventually managed to download the Stad Antwerpen WD. No names as expected - only troop numbers & sailing times (7465 patients carried during Oct. 17).

Entries for 23-10-1917:

 

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 12.36.53.png

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 12.37.14.png

Edited by Ivor Anderson
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David Porter
Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, charlie962 said:

Looking at near 99900 numbers they were issued in 1914

 

In fact they were issued in mid to late October 1893, early September 1914 and April 21 - 24, 1915.

You can certainly disregard the last period as he went to France in October 1914.

The one problem here is that I have seen older soldiers get to retain their previous number if they had been discharged for less than a year.

So he could either be re-enlisting in September 1914 or have continuous service from 1893.

With 21 years service claimed in 1917 it is more likely to be the former, but serving on a new number having been discharged more than one year.

 

There are others on the Hospital Admission Register for October 1917 from 35th Brigade RFA that claim 20 years service, but with quite different numbers.

Worth another look.

 

Back to you @charlie962 to see if you can add anything else. 

Edited by David Porter

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