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Jon6640

11th Royal Warwickshire Regiment

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Jon6640

Good evening I’m looking into the record of a former master at the school where I work, 2Lt John Critchley KIA 11July 1916, I know he originally joined up as a Private with 6th South Staffs, if anyone an help with what the Warwicks were involved with in July (on the Somme as he’s recorded on the Thiepval Memorial) I’d be grateful. 

D9E68F3D-9734-4516-87F2-487A58C0B185.jpeg

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PRC

Downloading the War Diary from the National Archive while they are still free, (you just need to register for an account), would be a good place to start.

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7354114

 

There also used to be a book freely available on line  - The 11th Royal Warwicks in France, 1915-16: (from the Personal Diary of Its Commanding Officer), Charles Collison, but the two reputable sites I'd bookmarked some time ago for it are both no longer available.

 

Even his probate entry in the 1916 Calandar shows him with the 11th Battalion.

https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/Calendar#calendar

 

Except when I went to look for records of the 11th Battalion, and their Division the 37th, they don't appear to fight on the Somme in 1916 until much later.

But there is an explanation buried in the page. The 11th Battalion were part of 112th Brigade and "This brigade was attached to 34th Division between 6 July and 22 August 1916"

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/37th-division/

 

The 34th Division had taken the highest casualties on the 1st July, so presumably the attachment of a Brigade was in part to keep it in the field. The Divison was relieved on the 3rd July, but it was certainly back in the front line near Pozieres on the 14th, I just couldn't find a date for when.

 

A check of the CWGC website for men of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment who died on the 11th July 1916 brings up 19 in total, of which 11 are with the 11th Battalion. A few of those men are buried in known graves.

 

Private 10051 John Aldridge. Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW) shows killed in action. Body recovered post war and now rests at Pozieres Briiish Cemetery, Orvillers-La Boiselle.

When the CWGC website is running properly you should be able to see a Concentration Report, showing the map reference for where his body is found. Always worth looking at the rest of the entries on the report as there may be unknow British Officers recovered nearby.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/588411/J ALDRIDGE/

 

Private 2243 Charles Edwin Booton - SDGW Died of Wounds. CWGC buried Puchvillers British Cemetery. https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/510843/C BOOTON/

Puchevillers is a village on the D11 about 19 kilometres north-east of Amiens.

In June 1916, just before the opening of the Battles of the Somme, the 3rd and 44th Casualty Clearing Stations came to Puchevillers. Plots I to V, and almost the whole of Plot VI were made by those hospitals before the end of March 1917.

https://www.cwgc.org/visit-us/find-cemeteries-memorials/cemetery-details/57401/PUCHEVILLERS BRITISH CEMETERY/

 

Private 8654 Albert Hatton - SDGW Died of Wounds. CWGC buried Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt L-Abbe.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/271197/A HATTON/

Mericourt-l'Abbe is a village approximately 19 kilometres north-east of Amiens and 10 kilometres south-west of Albert. Heilly Station Cemetery is about 2 kilometres south-west of Mericourt-l'Abbe, on the south side of the road to Corbie.

The 36th Casualty Clearing Station was at Heilly from April 1916. It was joined in May by the 38th, and in July by the 2/2nd London, but these hospitals had all moved on by early June 1917. The cemetery was begun in May 1916 and was used by the three medical units until April 1917.

https://www.cwgc.org/visit-us/find-cemeteries-memorials/cemetery-details/27100/HEILLY STATION CEMETERY, MERICOURT-L'ABBE/

 

Private 12177 Thomas Hodson - SDGW Died of Wounds. CWGC - another one who was recoverd from the battlefield post-war and who is now buried at Pozieres.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/589003/T HODSON/

 

Hope that helps,

Peter

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Jon6640

That’s brilliant, I’ve checked the war diary, Critchley was the battalion bombing officer (can anyone elaborate on what this entailed?). They were near Contalmaison, and seem to have been involved in trying to reset the line. 

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PRC

The Long, Long Trail in a piece on the organisation of a Battalion at various points of the war, draws on an official publication of lessons learned from the Somme and talks of each Platoon having a bombing section being led by a Sergeant.

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/definitions-of-units/what-was-a-battalion-of-infantry/

 

However another piece on the organisation of a Battalion at the time of Loos, (September/October 1915) has this " Each battalion at this time had a "platoon" of bombers, consisting of a Battalion Bombing Officer, a Sergeant and 32 other ranks. The importance of using hand grenades in the close-quarter battles that usually took place in trench warfare had increased by this point. Although several patterns of grenades were in existence at the time, the recently introduced Mills Bomb was considered to be the best weapon available. Following the Guards Division's defence of Big Willie, where it was estimated that 3rd Coldstream had used around 5,000 Mills Bombs, the bombers of 46th Division were issued and trained with this type of grenade alone. To assist the bombers in their training, they practised carrying out attacks on dummy trenches that had been constructed near Fouquieres by the Divisional Engineers."

http://www.hellfirecorner.co.uk/Thornton/terriers1.htm

 

To me that sounds like the Somme was a period of transition, with probably the opening battles seeing infantry battalions closer to the Loos set-up. I've checked the 8th Norfolks War Diary as an example and the Bombing Officer and his men seems to have been part of Headquarters on the 1st July 1916 in what appears to be a mobile reserve.

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

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