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Remembered Today:

William Punshon, ASC - T/980 4th Northumbrian (Howitzer) Brigade


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KernelPanic

William Punshon (T/980), a Territorial Force volunteer, enlisted on November 19 1914 into the No. 1 Coy. ASC, Northumbrian Divisional Train at the Elm Grove Drill Hall in Gateshead. He was part of a group of about 20 other TF volunteers in the range T/949 – T/1000 that I’ve been able to trace who enlisted in Gateshead in late November 1914. Of those who went to France in April 1915, the majority went with the main Divisional Train contingent that arrived on April 17th according to their WD.

 

Rather than arriving in France with the Divisional Train (April 17th), his service record shows that he arrived in France on April 21st 1915. This date coincides with the 4th Northumbrian (Howitzer) Brigade, to which he was attached. It's documented in their WD and in the service records of virtually all the men I can find who were in this Brigade in April 1915.

 

The reason for my interest in William Punshon is that I’m trying to track my great grandfather’s movements in 1915. Although my GGF's service record is gone, his number (T/977) is very close to Punshon’s. He enlisted in Gateshead the day after Punshon, and arrived in France on the same day as Punshon. So my assumption is that my GGF was also attached to the 4th Howitzer Brigade. The two of them are the only members of this Gateshead November TF enlistment group who arrived on April 21st. My GGF's BWM and VM medal roll has him in the 50th Divisional Train, so he ended his overseas service with them.

 

My question is how long might Punshon have been attached to the Howitzer Brigade once in Flanders? Although I can find no specific reference in his service record to his detachment from them until October, 1915 (to the Divisional Ammn, Column), reports for a hospital stay in late May are from the ‘OC No. 1 Coy’, which I’m assuming (maybe incorrectly) refers to the No. 1 Coy of the Divisional Train. Might he already have been re-attached to the DT by this point, despite the lack of a record? Was his 'home' unit responsible for record keeping during his detachment?

 

I’d like to get some idea from all this of how long my GGF’s possible attachment to the Howitzer Brigade may have lasted. I’m assuming—again, maybe incorrectly—that it was at least for the duration of 2nd Ypres, i.e. until the end of May. I also realize that triangulating from nearby soldiers is always challenging, particularly for the ASC.

 

Thanks in advance for any opinions

 

Image courtesy of FindMyPast/National Archives

Punshon T980.jpg

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ianjonesncl

The Order of Battle of Field Artillery (Howitzer) Brigade (Two Batteries, each with 4 5-inch B.L. Howitzers) British Territorial Division

http://www.314th.org/Nafziger-Collection-of-Orders-of-Battle/915BQAP.pdf

shows the following ASC Drivers attached;

Headquarters - 1 x Driver ASC 

Battery - 3 Drivers ASC

Ammunition Column - 2 Drivers ASC

 

What is your grandfathers surname ? 

 

I have access to some of the 4th Northumbrian (Howitzer) Brigades records

 

Ian

 

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KernelPanic

His name was Walter Mason. He was a miner from Chester-le-Street with working experience with horses. William Punshon was a blacksmith from Gateshead. So my guess is that both were familiar working with horses.

 

By the looks of things from the Nafziger OoB, there were only about 10 ASC Drivers attached to the Brigade, so not many.

 

Thanks!

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ianjonesncl

I have just checked the papers and unfortunately a nominal role is only for the 4th Durham Battery which was based at South Shields.

 

I can see no Dvr Mason W. or Dvr Punshon W. 

 

It may also be the nominal role only lists RFA personnel.

 

The  4th Northumbrian (Howitzer) Brigade consisted of a Headquarters, two howitzer batteries, and up till 1916 a Brigade Ammunition Column. The HQ and 4th Durham Battery were based in South Shields. The 5th Durham Battery were based in Hebburn. The Brigade Ammunition Column was split between South Shields and Hebburn.

 

 

 

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Ron Clifton

Most major units such as infantry battalions, cavalry regiments and artillery brigades had a small number of ASC Drivers attached. They drove wagons known as the "1st Line Transport" - mostly baggage and certain supplies. It is not impossible that these drivers were provided by the Divisional Train, although borne on the establishments of their units (for pay and rations purposes) rather than as within their Trains.

 

Ron

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KernelPanic
On 13/10/2020 at 05:08, ianjonesncl said:

I have just checked the papers and unfortunately a nominal role is only for the 4th Durham Battery which was based at South Shields.

 

I can see no Dvr Mason W. or Dvr Punshon W. 

 

It may also be the nominal role only lists RFA personnel.

 

The  4th Northumbrian (Howitzer) Brigade consisted of a Headquarters, two howitzer batteries, and up till 1916 a Brigade Ammunition Column. The HQ and 4th Durham Battery were based in South Shields. The 5th Durham Battery were based in Hebburn. The Brigade Ammunition Column was split between South Shields and Hebburn.

 

 

 

 

Ian, Thanks for taking a look. Might I ask what were the dates covered by the records you looked at? 

 

Judging by the way other men in this November 1914 enlistment cohort were assigned to units, these attachments from the Divisional Train probably occurred in the 7-10 days  before they left for France, ie. April 10-16th, 1915.  This means that Punshon (and possibly my GGF) may not have been 'on the books' of the 4th Howitizer until mid-April 1915, just before he arrived in France. 

 

This November Gateshead enlistment cohort I'm looking at seems to be the last ASC recruits into the Divisional Train that went to France with the 50th Division In April 1915. So I'm wondering whether they were last minute 'top ups' so to speak, for other units that needed ASC Drivers? 
 

On 13/10/2020 at 05:50, Ron Clifton said:

Most major units such as infantry battalions, cavalry regiments and artillery brigades had a small number of ASC Drivers attached. They drove wagons known as the "1st Line Transport" - mostly baggage and certain supplies. It is not impossible that these drivers were provided by the Divisional Train, although borne on the establishments of their units (for pay and rations purposes) rather than as within their Trains.

 

Ron

 

Ron, Thanks for the clarification, but what do you mean by "... although borne on the establishments of their units (for pay and rations purposes) rather than as within their Trains."? 

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ianjonesncl
19 minutes ago, KernelPanic said:

 

Ian, Thanks for taking a look. Might I ask what were the dates covered by the records you looked at? 

 

The record was the Muster Roll as on the date of embarkation 20th April 1915. 

 

Being termed a muster roll it may be only the RFA personnel, the attachments may not be recorded for that purpose. 

 

The Centenary Book of the 3rd Durham Volunteer Artillery (the unit designation carried by the South Shields Battery to this day) does record "By he beginning of April [1915] it [the Brigade] was complete in every way for action" This could indicate that all attachments, including ASC, were in place by that time. 

 

Ian

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KernelPanic
On 14/10/2020 at 09:44, ianjonesncl said:

The record was the Muster Roll as on the date of embarkation 20th April 1915. 

 

Being termed a muster roll it may be only the RFA personnel, the attachments may not be recorded for that purpose. 

 

The Centenary Book of the 3rd Durham Volunteer Artillery (the unit designation carried by the South Shields Battery to this day) does record "By he beginning of April [1915] it [the Brigade] was complete in every way for action" This could indicate that all attachments, including ASC, were in place by that time. 

 

Ian

 

Ian, thanks for the clarification and the extra piece in the puzzle re. the completion date for the 4th Howitzer Bgde Muster Roll. 

 

I’ve now looked at dozens of service records for ASC drivers in the 50th Divisional Train. It seems that by November 1914, all the DT Coys were being filled with TF soldiers who had enlisted before WW1 was declared (some as early as 1908), and were then embodied on August 5th. The late November recruits (T/~950 – T/1000) were all placed in the 1st (later 467) Coy., perhaps to complete its muster. As I mentioned in my first post, some these men were the last Divisional recruits who went to France in April 1915. This is consistent with the November 1914 Army List for the 50th Division, if I'm reading it correctly.  

 

Just before departure to France two of these, William Punshon T/980 and Ernest Richardson T/982, were attached to other Divisional Units (respectively, 4th Howitzer and 3rd Field Ambulance). All the others who have records travelled to France with the DT on April 17th. Punshon and Richardson appear to be have been re-attached to the DT around the end of 2nd Ypres. 

 

After considering all this minutiae, I’m going to assume that my GGF’s (T/977) journey was consistent with this pattern. On November 20th 1914 he volunteered in Gateshead into the 1st (HQ) Coy of the DT. In late March 1915 he was attached to the 4th Howitzer Brigade as an ASC Driver for their 1st line transport, and then travelled with them to France. He was re-attached to the 1st Coy of the DT around the end of 2nd Ypres in late May, although the evidence for this is very circumstantial. He then served with the 1st Coy until he was evacuated to England in January 1916. A December 1915 MH106 medical record for the 4th Statiionary Hospital in Arques is consistent --but not unambiguously--with him being in 1st Coy DT at this time. Unfortunately without additional records, I don't think I can go any further to clarify his story in Flanders.

Edited by KernelPanic
typo
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Ron Clifton
On 14/10/2020 at 17:06, KernelPanic said:

 

Ron, Thanks for the clarification, but what do you mean by "... although borne on the establishments of their units (for pay and rations purposes) rather than as within their Trains."? 

It means that they were considered as part of their battalion (etc), and generally administered by it, rather than as part of the division's main ASC unit, the Divisional Train. "On the books", if you like. I hope that this is now clearer.

 

Ron

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KernelPanic
3 hours ago, Ron Clifton said:

It means that they were considered as part of their battalion (etc), and generally administered by it, rather than as part of the division's main ASC unit, the Divisional Train. "On the books", if you like. I hope that this is now clearer.

 

Ron

 

It is. Thank you.

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