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Interesting Officer Trio


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Hi All

I picked up an interesting officer trio today to a guy who lived half a mile away from me. In researching him I have a couple of questions which members may be able to help me with. The trio was awarded to LT WILLIAM HARVEY SPARGO RAF. The 1915 star is named to him as a private in the Rhodesia Reg, the BWM is named Lieut W. H. Spargo RAF, the Victory  named Lieut W.H. Spargo. I've checked his MIC which states that he was commissioned as a 2nd Lt into the 8th Batt Liverpool Reg he was made POW in 1916 and repatriated in 1917 after which he presumably joined the RFC/RAF, he died in 1930.

I have two questions from the research

1- Would it be normal to release an Officer POW while the war was still very much on.

2- I have a copy of the 1918 RAF officers list and he isn't in it, could he have left before the RFC became the RAF, or was he just attached to the RAF from the 8th Liverpools and never an actual member. If anyone can give me any info on his RFC/RAF service, I'd be grateful. I see on his mic that he didn't receive his BWM until 1927.

The group came with  WW2 Burma star group, which is probably his sons.

 

Cheers

Graham

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Promenade

Hi Graham

 

Hopefully you will find the following of interest. Note I have him listed as Willam Henry Spargo.

 

Promenade

 

William Henry Spargo was born in Kimberley Cape Colony South Africa on 21/2/90 the son of William Charles and Christina Wilhelmina Spargo. He was educated at St George's Grammar School South Africa. Before the war he lived at Gadzmia S Rhodesia and was an amalgamator in the gold mining industry. He enlisted in the 1st Rhodesian Regt (No 1 Coy) in September 1914 as a Private being discharged 31/7/15 on the disbanding of the Regiment having seen service in the S. African rebellion of 1914 and the German West African Campaign. He enlisted as No 6369 in the Inns of Court OTC. At the time of his application for commission his father (a mining engineer) was living at 210, Longmarket St, Cape Town. He was taken prisoner at Guillemont 8/8/16 whilst serving with 'C' Coy 8 KLR and admitted to St Quentin Hospital, Gottingen and Constance Hospital. He had a fractured elbow (the result of enemy artillery fire) which ultimately resulted in the amputation of his left arm on 14/8/16. He was subsequently interned at Muren Switzerland 13/12/16 where he underwent another operation on 9/1/17. He was repatriated to the UK (Le Havre to Southampton) 8/9/17 and at this time gave his address as c/o Mrs Turner, 'Southfield' Eccleston Park, Prescot and served in the RAF until 1919 when he joined the Civil Service as a Clerical Officer. He died 17/6/30 at 24 Orchard Rd, Wallasey - described as a clerk in the Official Receivers office and an Army Pensioner.

 

KILLED/WOUNDED/CAPTURED DURING THE 3RD ATTACK TO TAKE GUILLEMONT 8/8/16

 

Extracted from 1/8 KLR War Diary

Bronfay Farm

 

Monday 7/8/16
Battalion marches to the trenches and relieves 1/9 KLR. Relief complete by 10.30pm.  Lieutenant JP Castle wounded.

Trenches

 

Tuesday 8/8/16
Battalion attack object to consolidate on the far side of the village of Guillemont. At 4.14am Battalion commences to follow up barrage.
The Battalion appears to have advanced over the first line trenches without much loss and into the village. Owing to the attacks of the Battalions on the right and left not being able to be pushed home the enemy were able to make a strong attack on the North Lancs Regt holding the German front line trench. The attack was so strong that the North Lancs Regt had to retire from the trenches and the Battalion was thus left in a position in the village with Germans on their front flank and rear. Communication was cut off and a heavy barrage of Machine Gun fire was put on the ground between our assembly trenches and the German front line by the enemy. From information received from two men of ‘D’ Company who came in early this morning ‘D’ and ‘B’ Companies who formed the left reached their objective and commenced to dig in. The enemy then opened a heavy Machine Gun fire on them from all sides and they were given the order to retire by Captain Murphy OC ‘D’ Company. ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies who were on the right, no information received and could not be seen owing to the mist and smoke of our barrage and also smoke bombs of the enemy. German reinforcements seemed to come from Ginchy. The Battalion appears to have inflicted a certain amount of loss on the Germans by bombing dug-outs and by Lewis Gun fire on reinforcements coming from Ginchy. Gas and tear shells were used by the Germans.
CASUALTIES
Wounded : Captain GH Chamberlain
Missing : Captain AH Meadows (reported killed), 2nd Lieutenant NN Levene, Lieutenant  RH Gordon (reported wounded), 2nd Lieutenant JS Sharpe (reported wounded), Captain EM Murphy (reported wounded), Lieutenant W Duncan (reported gassed), 2nd Lieutenant CBJ Collison, 2nd Lieutenant H Whiteside, 2nd Lieutenant R Burrow, 2nd Lieutenant WDH Lilley, 2nd Lieutenant JA Sisson, 2nd Lieutenant WH Spargo, 2nd Lieutenant W Tipping and 10 Other Ranks killed, 47 wounded and 502 missing.

Trenches
Wednesday 9/8/16
Battalion relieved by 1/5 North Lancs Regt. Casualties nil. Lieutenant JF Smith and 2nd Lieutenant GA La Mothe report for duty.

 

The following is transcribed from the Regimental History by Everard Wyrall:-

Orders had already been issued for the third attack on Guillemont to take place on the 8th August.
The 55th Division, on the right, and the 2nd Division, on the left (XIII Corps), in co operation with the XX French Corps, on the right of the 55th Division, were to attack the enemy: the orders stated that the British divisions "will take Guillemont."
Of the former division the 165th Brigade was to attack on the right and the 164th Brigade on the left, the boundary between the two brigades being a line running east and west through the end of the orchard at the southern extremities of the village. The 166th Brigade was to be in reserve in bivouacs in the Citadel area, but to be prepared to lend assistance if required. The dividing line between the 55th and 2nd Divisions was the road (Brompton Road) running from north east to south west on the northern exits of Guillemont and just south of the railway; the station was to be captured by the 2nd Division.
The whole area of the British attack extended from the cross roads north of Hardecourt (where touch was to be obtained with the French) as far north as "Z.Z." trenches, which lay between Waterlot Farm and the south eastern corner of Delville Wood.
"Zero" hour was fixed for 4.20 a.m.
The attack was to be preceded by a heavy bombardment lasting seventeen hours, from 9 a.m. on 7th August to "Zero" hour, with only one break, between 9 p.m. on 7th and 12 midnight, while the troops were moving into their assembly positions.  .  .  .
The 164th Brigade was to attack on a two battalion front, i.e., 1/4th Royal Lancs. On the right, and 1/8th (Irish) Battalion, King's Regiment (Lieut.Colonel E. A. Fagan) on the left. The objective allotted to the former battalion was the southern half of Guillemont, the Guillemont - Trônes Wood road being the northern boundary; the Liverpool Irish were to attack the northern end of the village, from the latter boundary to the southern boundary of the 6th Brigade, which has already been described. . . .
Some idea of the terrible existence led in the trenches in front of Guillemont, even before the attack was made, may be gathered from the story of the 1/8th King's Diary during those first few days of August. The battalion, as already related, had gone into the line in the forward trenches east of Trônes Wood on the night of 30th/31st July. Their casualties during the relief have already been given. On the 1st six more other ranks were killed and four more officers (Capt. J. A. Roche and Second Lieuts. A. D. Homer, A. Prescot and B. Clothier) and thirty five other ranks were wounded. . . . .
With the 1/4th Loyal Lancs. On their right, the 1/8th (Irish) Battalion advanced to the attack at "Zero" hour; it will be remembered that the objective of the 1/8th King's was the northern portion of Guillemont as far as the railway station.
The advance appears to have made good headway, passing over the first German line without serious loss and into the village. The Battalion Diary then states that "owing to the attacks by the battalions on right and left not being able to be pushed home, the enemy were able to make a strong attack on the North Lancs. Regiment holding the German front line trench. The attack was so strong that the North Lancs. Had to retire from the trenches and the battalion (1/8th King's) was thus left in position in the village with Germans on their front, flank and rear. Communication was cut off and a heavy barrage of machine gun fire put over the ground between our assembly trenches and the German front line by the enemy. From information received from two men of `D' Company who came in early this morning (9th), `D' and `B' Companies, who formed the left, reached their objective and commenced to dig in. The enemy then opened a heavy machine gun fire on them from all sides and they were given the order to retire by Capt. Murphy, O.C., `D' Company. `A' and `B', (it is possible that ‘C’ is meant here and not `B'), who were on the right, no information received and could not be seen owing to the mist and smoke of our barrage and smoke bombs of the enemy. German reinforcements appeared to come from Ginchy. The battalion appears to have inflicted a certain amount of loss on the Germans by bombing dug outs and by Lewis gun fire on reinforcements coming from Ginchy. Gas and tear shells were used by the Germans."
Then follows another awful list of casualties: Capt. A. H. Meadows, Lieut. R. H. Gordon and Second Lieuts. N. N. Leven, G. S. Sharpe and W. Tipping and ten other ranks had been killed; Capts. C. A. Chamberlain, E. M. Murphy, Lieut. W. Duncan (gassed) and Second Lieuts. C. B. J. Collison, H. Whiteside, R. Burrow, J. A. Sisson, W. H. Spargo and 47 other ranks wounded - 502 other ranks were missing. Second Lieut. W. H. D. Lilley, who was reported missing, was wounded and died in German hands on 11th August.
A message to Brigade Headquarters from the C.O., 1/8th King's, timed 8.25 a.m., indicates the predicament of that battalion: "Have no information from my battalion and unable to report situation. Can see my men with my glasses manoeuvring on north western crest of village. Have sent runners but these did not return. Have sent officer to 1st King's Liverpool Regiment to get touch. He brings back report from subaltern of that battalion stating that his battalion is badly cut up and the Germans are re occupying their front line."
It will be seen, however, that the C.O. of the 1/8th was not quite accurate when he stated that there were no troops on his left, for the senior battalion of the Regiment - the 1st King's - had also penetrated into Guillemont. . . .
An official diary, which describes what happened to the 164th Brigade, states: "As soon as they had got into the village (1/8th King's) it appears that the enemy came up out of the ground below them and cut them off entirely by means of machine guns. This is practically what happened on the previous attack on Guillemont on the 30th July, and it is possible that the village is an underground warren of passages in which the garrison is immune from shellfire, and from which they can emerge with their machine guns after the attacking infantry has passed over."

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headgardener

An interesting aspect of the trio is the slight difference in naming of the BWM & VM. It's a spilt issue - the star and VM being issued in respect of his army service, and the BWM issued in respect of his RAF service. I would assume that after being repatriated he served as aircrew in an RAF Home Defence squadron which caused him to qualify for the BWM. 

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An odd thing is that the report of him being transferred from his POW camp in Germany to Switzerland indicated that he has lost an arm, which probably explains his early repatriation but a bit of a surprise that he reenlisted with such a handicap.

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headgardener
34 minutes ago, ajsmith said:

An odd thing is that the report of him being transferred from his POW camp in Germany to Switzerland indicated that he has lost an arm, which probably explains his early repatriation but a bit of a surprise that he reenlisted with such a handicap.

 

Actually, he didn’t have to re-enlist as he wasn’t discharged. A lot of them continued serving despite being repatriated having lost eyes or limbs. They seem to have ended up in administrative roles as I understand that there was an undertaking that, having been repatriated, they wouldn’t be employed actively against the other side. I looked at this chap’s AIR 76 and it shows his medical grade as C1, and he became an Equipment Officer in the RAF.

What I’m slightly puzzled by is the fact that he got his split entitlement (BWM named to him as an RAF officer, as per my previous post) despite him not appearing to serve in that capacity in a theatre of war. Having said that, his AIR 76 is clearly annotated “service considered for the award of war medals” (or something like that - it’s the usual statement indicating that the man would receive campaign medal(s). I must have missed something relating to his service - maybe someone could advise on this?

Edited by headgardener
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Thanks for the info everyone, between you you've answered every question I had on the chap. Going to see the church he was married in 1918 later

Cheers

Graham

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