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Sapper EDWARD RICHARD CROSSLAND 459192 Royal Engineers = Very vague date of death


Matlock1418

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This man caught my eye as his date of death is rather vague at CWGC:

Sapper EDWARD RICHARD CROSSLAND, 459192
Royal Engineers  447th Field Coy.

Died Between 02 June 1918 and 02 September 1918
23 years old
Commemorated at: SOISSONS MEMORIAL, France

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/725850/EDWARD RICHARD CROSSLAND

 

Whilst familiar with a relatively commonly occurring range of a few days at CWGC three months seems an especially wide window for his date of death.

Rather naturally one starts to think of him being amongst the 'missing' or possibly a PoW but usually there is a more refined date of death, so ???

 

His Dependant's pension card repeats this three month window for his death and appears to identify him as having been a PoW and dying therein.

481929149_CROSSLANDER459192(1).png.9794ecaa4681278e688f22c057cb987e.png

Image courtesy of WFA/Fold3 - with thanks

 

However ICRC PoW records seem to indicate only an enquiry about his situation and nothing regarding his possible captivity [no PA references] - so was he a PoW?  It looks like he may have been, but where held?

1397317670_CROSSLANDER459192(2).png.4f4ec5bfd04ba4780c26dbb3b95265eb.png

Image courtesy of ICRC - with thanks

 

So folks = Can you please help me out with any information you can glean regarding his: 

= Service

= Capture & Camp( s) [if he was captured]

= Death

= Burial [if he was buried at any time]

= Commemoration?

And, of course, anything else about him that you may wish to share with the wider world.

In hope, TIA.

:-) M

 

EditTo perhaps assist and to hopefully avoid unhelpful duplication [I don't want to waste your time - rather to speed you]

- MIC for a 1914-15 trio is as Edward R CROSSLAND and has the additional RE No. of 1224, France, 27.8.1915 [and Died 2-9-1918 recorded thereon]

- SDGW records as KiA, 2-9-1918

- Soldier's Effects records as PoW, Germany, 2-9-1918

But of course these may be feeding off the tail end of CWGC for a date - so ???

 

 

Edited by Matlock1418
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1397317670_CROSSLANDER459192(2).png.4f4e

If he was captured at Rancourt on 27th May 1918 then his fate may well have been similar to that of this chap; http://lwf.it.ox.ac.uk/s/lest-we-forget/item/1791

He was captured May 27 1918 at Rancourt. (Rancourt is a small village on the main N17 road between Bapaume and Peronne) .
As a POW he worked behind enemy lines and was injured there by our own fire. He died on August 20 1918 from a broken leg and a haemorrhage. John died in a German field hospital for officers, formerly a convent. He was buried the next day.

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3 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

This man caught my eye as his date of death is rather vague at CWGC:

Sapper EDWARD RICHARD CROSSLAND, 459192
Royal Engineers  447th Field Coy.

Died Between 02 June 1918 and 02 September 1918

 

3 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

1397317670_CROSSLANDER459192(2).png.4f4ec5bfd04ba4780c26dbb3b95265eb.png

Image courtesy of ICRC - with thanks

 

Battalion War Diary

 

27th May 1918

Extremely heavy bombardment with gas-shell + H.E. commenced by the enemy at 1.0 a.m. along the whole of the IX Corps front and also the French front from CHEMIN DES DAMES to SOISSONS.  Powerful attack by infantry supported by tanks, launched at 11.0 am. With the exception of one or two wounded who were evacuated early, only two men – L/Cpl CHIDGEY and Spr HEWITT – returned by order from CRAONNE, the whole of the remaining officers + men being presumed either killed or taken prisoners, though no definitive news could be obtained.

All back area -  villages, roads, bridges, etc. – shelled with large calibre long-range guns. Transport withdrawn from MUSCOURT at 11.0 am. – the enemy having by that time crossed the AISNE at MAIZY. One mule killed + 2 men and 3 horses wounded by shell fire in withdrawal. Transport proceeded via BASLIEUX – FISMES – St. GILLES – DRAVEGNY to COHAN, where accommodation was obtained for the night.

 

Part of the entry for the 30th May 1918.

Estimate of Casualties sent to the CRE – no rolls or records being available, having fallen into the hands of the enemy.

 

On the 1st June there was a meeting for the OC’s and the CRE of the Engineers and Pioneers of the 50th Northumbrian Division to re-organise what they had left pending the arrival of fresh drafts. The changes were implemented on the 2nd June 1918. This may well have been a formal roll call on that day, at which Edward Crossland would have been formally recorded missing.

 

CWGC only shows 5 men of the 447th as having died on the 27th May 1918, with three on the Soissons memorial, one having been recovered from the battlefield post-war and one found in a German Military Cemetery.

 

So potentially Edward Crossland may not have even survived the day – the start of the period on CWGC may simply reflect the earliest that he missed the roll call and that it was not subsequently possible to account for his death on the 27th May from the testimony of returning PoW’s.

 

This is a scenario that I’m used to coming into contact with for men who probably died in the retreat to Dunkirk or subsequently on the beaches in WW2. Many have a date range that start from the 10th May 1940 and in a few instances go through I believe to the end of the war in Europe.

 

If he did survive and wasn’t wounded then he was probably retained near the front as forced labour, with no reports on his capture or whereabouts being provided by the Germans to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

 

In my experience the survivors of this forced labour had nearly all arrived in camps in Germany & Poland, many in a diseased and exhausted state made worse by malnutrition, by the end of August 1918, which may explain the end date of the period on CWGC. Reports began filtering through to the ICRC at that point of men arriving from the Western Front.

 

 I think it is telling that the update on the ICRC is a “Tel” (Telegram or Telephone) to Frankfurt on the 8th January 1919 – it seems certain the ICRC had heard nothing previously.

 

I tried looking for Crossland and the five men who died on the 27th on the official casualty lists as "missing" to see if other members of the unit could be found and thus anything gleaned from their ICRC records, but seem to have drawn a blank on FMP. There is no casualty list - not even of officers - in the War Diary.

 

Another Field Company of the 50th Division was the 7th. There is a bit more on the fate of some of the men taken prisoner from that company and put to work in this thread.

 

Hope some of that helps.

 

Peter

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5 hours ago, michaeldr said:

If he was captured at Rancourt on 27th May 1918 then his fate may well have been similar to that of this chap;

Just so it is recorded here to help any possible future searches = John Richard Naylor, MGC 67275

 

Thanks Michael,

Hard to say, perhaps. ???

Always seems extra sad if, like seems the case for Naylor, 'blue on blue'.

:-( M

 

2 hours ago, PRC said:

27th May 1918

Extremely heavy bombardment with gas-shell ... ... ...

Thanks Peter,

A very comprehensive post, as always.

As above, hard to say.

There's the mystery - and hence the enquiry.

:-/ M

 

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For so many posts GWF rapidly works miracles from the most meagre of starts and yet I am still struggling here [I'm a bit 'searched-out' at the moment!] and 24hrs later and this post is already sliding off page 1 and into slumber in the quieter pages.

I know we seem already to have covered the most likely potential scenarios above, and I have to say I feel the 27/5 - 2/6/1918 window does seem to me to probably be the most likely period for his death [not the 2/6 - 2/9] - and, without any formal evidence, to me 27/5 appears the most likely date, and certainly seeming not a PoW who got further back in the process, but ... ?

I may be being a little impatient but I do recognise the importance of being on page 1.

So, hopefully with your forbearance, a gentle 'bump' so see if anyone can please offer any more.

Would be delighted to hear more from you on the life and death of Spr. Crossland [for example where did the PoW suggestion come from? OK, it's always a possibility but how did it become so entrenched? - Perhaps just from hope??]

In further hope ...

:-) M

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Peter's research is, as usual, very detailed.

21 hours ago, PRC said:

So potentially Edward Crossland may not have even survived the day – the start of the period on CWGC may simply reflect the earliest that he missed the roll call and that it was not subsequently possible to account for his death on the 27th May from the testimony of returning PoW’s.

I think just as likely he did survive and there was a returning PoW statement saying that he had been seen alive on 2/6/18 by that PoW. Lack of any further sightings meant the CWGC (and Army) put a 3 month bracket on his subsequent death date. The very late enquiry date on ICRC supports this.

 

PoW statements only survive in rare cases and are a fascinating source when they do. FindmyPast has scanned them, I think.

 

I couldn't see a 'missing' list either.

 

Not much help I'm afraid but I didn't want you to feel you were being ignored !

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
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I haven't yet found that FMP statements file but I have run a search on FMP for possible comrades taken PoW.

 

If you limit the record set to    Prisoners Of War 1715-1945  and in kewords put        engineers  447   and year put   1918      you will get 26 results with a couple of duplicates. A test check on a few of these suggests they will give you a good few names and links to ICRC for men of 447 Company that were taken on 27/5/1918.

 

FMP

 

Who knows what that might lead to.

 

Charlie

 

eg from ICRC:

2055248628_GWFCrossman447REPoWexamples.JPG.d5efe1c37b55eed2c37bcddfb38318a4.JPG

 

Edited by charlie962
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18 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

I think just as likely he did survive and there was a returning PoW statement saying that he had been seen alive on 2/6/18 by that PoW. Lack of any further sightings meant the CWGC (and Army) put a 3 month bracket on his subsequent death date. The very late enquiry date on ICRC supports this.

Thanks Charlie,

Another hypothesis/route to explore.

The trouble is that we are all just speculating [and no harm in that]

 

18 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

I didn't want you to feel you were being ignored !

Many thanks I was beginning to think that perhaps I was becoming 'Billy no mates'!

 

6 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

I haven't yet found that FMP statements file but I have run a search on FMP for possible comrades taken PoW.

 

If you limit the record set to    Prisoners Of War 1715-1945  and in kewords put        engineers  447   and year put   1918      you will get 26 results with quite a number of duplicates. A test check on a few of these suggests they will give you a good few names and links to ICRC for men of 447 Company that were taken on 27/5/1918.

A further many, many thanks - PoW certainly aren't my speciality and haven't looked at these sort of records before.

I wonder what they might turn up.

:-) M

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There seem to be 24 different names that come up. Included is Sgt Miles Varey, whose partial service record suggests he was "Co HQ Sgt" ?  and suffered general debility May 1918 from "insufficient food and bad quarters"

 

The fact that there were so many pow survivors from this Company suggests that there will have been at least one who made a statement of a reported sighting of Crossland on 2/6.  That's my view and I'm sticking to it !!

 

charlie

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Fred Iseton's file has this little note which is typical of the sort of source of info. I couldn't see the letter referred to but there may be a copy in another PoW's file ?

 

Courtesy FindmyPast:

1944353007_GWFCrossland447REPoWIsetonLetter.JPG.e18c03e063d9ddce4cbe19aa0bf0ad64.JPG

 

And another tantalising ref in Iseton's file about a report from an escaped PoW of same unit. Once again could be the source ? I wonder when the escape happened....

760758698_GWFCrossland447REPowIsetonnote2.JPG.9fad55931e64ae5ea07bcb0933b0568b.JPG

 

You see how one thing leads to another !!

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Struck lucky, following up that list of 24.

 

Rayson made a statement that has been preserved- here on FindmyPast        Like all these statements, a fascinating read.

You will note that on 2/6 the PoWs were moved from Ramecourt to Craone ....

 

Charlie

 

PS  Rayson escaped on 8/7/18 with Cpl Turner and another comrade and reached Italian lines some 5 days later. Fascinating reading

 

edit-  note the last bit of Rayson's statement: (courtesy FMP and NA)

583652236_GWFCrossland447REPoWRayson.JPG.d8474edcc3258f8abc0f603506d3afea.JPG

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2 hours ago, charlie962 said:

If you limit the record set to    Prisoners Of War 1715-1945  and in kewords put        engineers  447   and year put   1918      you will get 26 results with a couple of duplicates. A test check on a few of these suggests they will give you a good few names and links to ICRC for men of 447 Company that were taken on 27/5/1918.

Charlie,

So just to get this right and to minimise effort & muck ups - look for/against each name on FMP record:

1] ICRC to see if captured on 27-5-1918

2] Then check for a service record

3] Check inside SR for a returning PoW statement - and hope to find Crossland

Is that how it might work?

2 hours ago, charlie962 said:

The fact that there were so many pow survivors from this Company suggests that there will have been at least one who made a statement of a reported sighting of Crossland on 2/6.  That's my view and I'm sticking to it !!

And why not? - certainly has merit based on logic.

Thanks for the examples as handy to see what I might find.

56 minutes ago, jay dubaya said:

Great stuff Charlie... and Matlock thinks he’s becoming Billy no mates ;)

I agree ... - I was beginning to to worry, perhaps! - but rare to be without mates on GWF :-)

 

So back to the first quote herein and my query - never seen a PoW statement in a SR before - Is that the plan I should try?

:-) M

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I have just been doing a local 1918 casualty who died as a POW in Germany- captured with 9th RWF in March 1918, died in an industrial accident in August 1918. Luckily his service file is still extant and on Ancestry.

   The date spread is between when the man was last known to have been alive and when he was known to be dead. Thus, the latter date is when the British Government, via Red Cross usually, became aware he was dead- NOT the date of death,merely the date of notification.  With my man, the German government provided an official death certificate/ coroner's report of the accident that killed him.  Late on in the war, it may be that the German system was creaking. In theory, your man should be listed in the German BMD records.

   Look on the bright side- it could be worse.  Type in 4th August 1914 on CWGC as the death date and some surprising items come up-eg

 

image.png.9044fdf098e3f3fb7b8019c13e0e551a.png

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@Matlock1418

 

The list of Royal Engineers who were missing that appeared in the War Office & Air Ministry Weekly Casualty dated 23rd July 1918 included:

 

Crossland,

Johnson out of the 5 men recorded as having died on the 27th May 1918 on CWGC

Clay, Eggleton, Varey, Iseton,  Rayson, Whitlie (but not Brassell or Turner) – names from the ICRC records and the returned prisoners reports found by @charlie962 in his posts above.

 

Can’t guarantee they are all 447th Company but should pass the long winter nights quite nicely.

 

449998000_WeeklyCasualtyList(WarOfficeAirMinistry)23July1918page18sourcedFindMyPast.jpg.69a2e8c84585bfcf5b4f4ad649c3256a.jpg

(Image sourced courtesy of FindMyPast).

 

I’ll start you off with the A’s

 

Allsop Driver G W 459081.

447 Company Royal Engineers (Repatriation) https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/5776314/3/2/

 

Angus Acting 2nd Corporal T 459481

Thomas, 447 Company Royal Engineers. Captured 27/05/1918 with shrapnel wounds at Chemin de Dames.

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/2345055/3/2/

 

Armstrong Sapper J E 457742

Missing 27/05/1918 x 2 private enquiries.

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/2131355/3/2/

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/1710282/3/2/

But there is then a repatriation report for an Ernest Armstrong of 447 Company, R.E. filed with them.

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/1175452/3/2/

Under “Ernst” Armstrong there is a card for his capture at the Chemin des Dames on the “21”/05/1918. In a report received by the ICRC in December 1918 it looks like he had arrived at Limburg Camp from the Western Front suffering with Bronchitis. It looks like he died at Heilsberg Camp on the 7th November 1918.

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/4304801/3/2/

 

Askell Sapper J E 459152

John Edward 447 Field Company captured 27/05/1918 Crayonne wounded.

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/3586080/3/2/

 

Atkinson, Sapper J 459225

John, North Field Coy Died 09/11/1918 of Wounds. 3 Cards at one web address.

One for his capture on the 27th May 1918 at Craonne shows his unit as 147 Company, later ones show 447 Company.

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/236668/3/2/

 

Cheers Mate:)

 

Peter

 

 

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5 hours ago, charlie962 said:

Fred Iseton's file has this little note which is typical of the sort of source of info. I couldn't see the letter referred to but there may be a copy in another PoW's file ?

 

Courtesy FindmyPast:

1944353007_GWFCrossland447REPoWIsetonLetter.JPG.e18c03e063d9ddce4cbe19aa0bf0ad64.JPG

Seen a few similar in SR from that FMP list.

Iseton seems to have got a MM shortly after - LG, 6 August 1918, p9241

 

5 hours ago, charlie962 said:

Rayson made a statement that has been preserved- here on FindmyPast        Like all these statements, a fascinating read.

Utterly fascinating.

Cheers.

:-) M

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On 10/12/2020 at 12:43, Matlock1418 said:

This man caught my eye as his date of death is rather vague at CWGC:... ... ... ... ... 

Died Between 02 June 1918 and 02 September 1918

 

As an aside, this sort of thing is alas not at all uncommon in the Egyptian Labour Corps

 

For example:-

SAPPER AYOUS MIKUIEL,

Service Number: 4974,

Regiment & Unit/Ship: Egyptian Labour Corps,

Date of Death: Died Between 04 August 1914 and 31 August 1921

 

These men were recruited using what Allenby (writing to Wilson, 16 April 1919) described as “press-gang methods.” It is unsurprising therefore that to the army, their discipline was always suspect. In 1916 it became difficult to find suitable officers and a scheme was introduced for the training of, and then giving temporary commissions to, senior NCOs.

An “aptitude in the handling of Egyptians” is the euphemism used in 'The Advance of the EEF' and I suspect that the scheme produced temporary gentlemen who were much better at discipline than they were at the paper-work side of the job. Poor or non-existent records result in the sort of thing which you see above.

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18 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

So just to get this right and to minimise effort & muck ups - look for/against each name on FMP record:

1] ICRC to see if captured on 27-5-1918

2] Then check for a service record

3] Check inside SR for a returning PoW statement - and hope to find Crossland

Is that how it might work?

 

Findmypast have transcribed the ICRC index cards and the backing sheets and you can use their (FMP's) search facility to sift the data that is not possible to do on ICRC site. FMP seem to have loaded at least the name, number, unit and date of capture. Of course only as good as the original record.

 

You don't need to go to the ICRC site because FMP also have the image. It really is a very useful facility although it is reliant on transcribing records that are often already mistranscribed by ICRC or PoW camps.

 

Another search you could do is :

Select Browse record set Prisoners Of War 1715-1945

Then you put a date in the keyword search (month has been loaded on FMP as 3 letters only) eg in this case "27 may 1918" - use inverted commas- and engineers

 

This will give 390 results with lots of duplicate or triplicate appearances of the same name. I note that the other Field Cos in same Division also lost men that day but this list will at least pick up records where the Field Co number was not noted on ICRC. 

 

Since FMP have also transcribed the names of those whose printed PoW statements have survived (source WO 161/100) , these may get picked up in the same search. But note that Rayson did not get picked up in the 390 results because his date of capture was incomplete.  Note that "WO 161?100" can also be searched as a keyword. Note I find a ? works better than a / symbol which the search doesn't like.

 

Thus always worth repeating the search in with slightly different keywords and combinations.

 

I hope this gives an idea of the sort of PoW searches you can do. Hats off to FMP for the initiative.

 

Charlie

 

 

PS  Harry Johnstone Hogg was a Lieutenant in 447 F Co and was taken prisoner that day. Wouldn't one expect there to be an interview report in his Officer's Service Record ?

1995367215_GWFCrosslandRE447HJHoggICRC.JPG.46ce47ac3b5101d5555de0e2fb6211c6.JPG

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3 hours ago, michaeldr said:

As an aside, this sort of thing is alas not at all uncommon in the Egyptian Labour Corps

A number of British ORs held by the Turks have a considerable death date ranges due to Turkish indifference to the fate of the enemy's ORs (let alone their own) and thus lack of interest in record keeping.

 

Charlie

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1 hour ago, charlie962 said:

A number of British ORs held by the Turks have a considerable death date ranges due to Turkish indifference to the fate of the enemy's ORs (let alone their own) and thus lack of interest in record keeping.

 

Examples would be interesting

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The thread I linked to above on the 7th Field Company, Royal Rngineers, 50th Division included :-

 

The 447th (Northumbrian) Field Company (Major A. G. Rainsford-Hannay) fared even worse. It was in the forward area, on the Craonne Plateau when the bombardment began and was overwhelmed and cut off when the Germans penetrated on the eastern side. Only one man got back during the day to report himself at Headquarters of the C.R.E.

 

Major Gordon Rainsford-Hannay at the ICRC. https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/169877/3/2/

1642962078_PA34926MajorRainsfordHannaysourcedICRC.jpg.02c6937a1f15be0bb6d5ece443b5547e.jpg

(Image courtesy of the International Committee of the Red Cross)

 

Among other officers mentioned in the war diary entries for the start of May 1918.

 

Lieutenant Reay = Lieutenant Robert Henry Reay, Field Company, Northumberland Division, missing 27 May 1918. One of those who enquired after him was Mrs Rainsford-Hannay.

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/63505/3/2/

He is on report PA34420 which also lists a Lieutenant Thomas Ramsay Russell of 447 Company, Royal Engineers, who was also captured at Craonne on the 27th May 1918.

 

Lieutenant Hogg - presumably the Harry Johnstone Hogg found by Harry (edit) Charlie already.

 

Lieutenant Young - Lieutenant Eric William Young, 447 Field Company. https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/791939/3/2/

and https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/2501566/3/2/

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

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On 12/12/2020 at 14:13, michaeldr said:

Examples would be interesting

The examples I have are for men taken prisoner at the fall of Kut. With the long march into captivity there were many left along the way who died days or weeks later from disease and starvation. Actual dates of death thus unknown and no trace of burial. Those who made it to camps were dying in such large numbers in such terrible conditions that there were often men who died without any record being kept. But this is for another thread!

 

Charlie

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On 11/12/2020 at 18:51, voltaire60 said:

Look on the bright side- it could be worse.  Type in 4th August 1914 on CWGC as the death date and some surprising items come up-eg

 

image.png.9044fdf098e3f3fb7b8019c13e0e551a.png

Voltaire,

Thanks.  Yes, even vaguer.

However seems to have spawned its own thread with interesting results.

Perceval's 1915 probate does seem to offer a place and a pretty officially-recognised date for his death as 17 Nov. 1914  [as also found on other medal records - I wonder where originating??]

But that is all another story for the other thread I think.

:-) M

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