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Remembered Today:

Frederick Dennis Best killed in action 21st March 1918


howe2010

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I wonder if anyone can throw any light on how my great uncle Gunner Frederick Dennis Best died in the great war.

He was in the North Staffords Prince of Wales Regiment 5th Battalion Reg. No. 201855. Killed in action 21/3/18

 

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21/3/18 was the start of the great German offensive on the Western Front. A massive bombardment, positions overrun. The Kaisers Battle by Martin Middlebrook will give you a good idea of what happened.

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According to ICRC record he was in "C" company North Staffs.

If you haven't aready looked the war diary would give you a general picture. (A free download from the National Archives after registering a free account).

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7355185

 

image.png.0d0859ae2eeacd443739aae3fb81dd0d.png

 

Tim

Edited by Woodnbits
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Where do you get Gunner from, which would suggest Artillery? CWGC says Private Frederick Best, 201855, 2/5 North Staffs. Remembered on the North Staffs panels, Arras memorial.

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Many thanks for all the replies. The word gunner is on his grave in Stoke, i suppose it is in his memory as he would be buried in France.

 

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Wonder if he'd had previous service in the artillery, or might have been a Lewis Gunner? His  remains are somewhere in France, he has no known grave. 

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He is listed on the CWGC as 2/5 Battalion North Staffs which is an infantry Bn as already stated. By that stage in the war I thought the lewis gunners were embedded in the Battalions with heavy MGs with the Machine Gun Battalions and of course Arty with the gunners.  Michelle will know more.  I rather suspect he may have joined as a gunner and like so so many moved across to the infantry as required by the service.  As a Lewis gunner he would have been with infantry and shared the risks.

The “negatif Envoye”  is the reply from the Red Cross saying they have no record of him as a POW.  Many family members wrote to them through official channels to see if their loved one was a POW.  In this case his mother.  As the german offensive swept west many thousands of men were simply unaccounted for, often until the end of the war that November.  

Your very lucky to have the Company.  From that you can see what happened not only to his Bn but also to the likely 150 or so men in his rifle company.  The war diaries are free from the national archive site.  I would recommend you download it.  His battalion was part of the 176th brigade within 59 Div.  His unit was completely overrun on the morning of the 21st, including the HQ.  22 officers and 539 men unaccounted for - many no doubt POW.  In essence probably the vast majority of his unit were lost in the morning.  This was not uncommon.  There was no one to write an account in the war diary of any depth on how the battle went -  a new major seems to have done the diary at months end.  You will have to look elsewhere for details on the battle, there are some good books on the Spring offensive.   I will try myself in a book I have but google will tell you a fair bit. 

Do you have any old photos or more info for us here to go on?

 Here is his MIC.  

E22128EC-3E7C-489F-88B4-D04F2A3E553E.jpeg.fb5acf27ff497d52cf1206af084a81f1.jpeg

Edited by AndrewSid
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19 hours ago, AndrewSid said:

He is listed on the CWGC as 2/5 Battalion North Staffs 

 

According to The Long, Long Trail 2/5 Battalion ceased to exist on 06 February 1918 when it was absorbed into 1/5 Battalion.

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/the-prince-of-waless-north-staffordshire-regiment/

Does that mean Frederick Best was actually with 1/5 Battalion when he was KIA on 21 March 1918 ?

If so, the attached thread may be of interest.

See Colin W Taylor's post of 14 December 2012:

JP

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He would have been 1/5 North Staffs at the time of his death.  War diary recognises they absorbed the 2/5th Bn in the January.  

Ive read that casualties on the 21st for the Bn were 93 OR and 9 officers killed on the 21st itself.

 

Officers killed on 21st include the below but are further listed in the thread linked above:

Capt E N B H Soame, Capt T A Hogg, Capt A Cotterill, 

KIA 22nd March  Capt H H Caffyn

Cpt M Settle -  died in Dec 1918 after time as a POW  - He was OC C Coy on the 21st with C Coy in reserve.

 

Edited by AndrewSid
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You may be interested to read this article, courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive. If you're interested in the wider genealogy I would take a subscription to the Archive, the Best's of York Street keep the courts very busy from 1907 until after WW2.

 

Snap 2021-08-26 at 14.41.49.png

 

From 1919.

 

Snap 2021-08-26 at 15.00.17.png

Edited by sadbrewer
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Hello 

There is a post war battalion history available to download here

 

https://www.midlandshistoricaldata.org/JournalRan5?p=10

 

I have a brief essay on the this battalion’s action on 21 March 1918. If you pm me your email address I’ll send it to you. I may also have a spreadsheet showing casualties that might include Frederick Best. 

 

Richard

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On 21/08/2021 at 15:49, Michelle Young said:

Where do you get Gunner from, which would suggest Artillery? CWGC says Private Frederick Best, 201855, 2/5 North Staffs. Remembered on the North Staffs panels, Arras memorial.

I too have couple of local Infantry soldiers who are mentioned in the local papers as "Gunners" but recorded in the CWGC etc. as "Pte"  Certainly in my cases this is more to do with the kudos of qualifying as a badged Lewis Gunner, likely told in lost etters home, being innocently misinterpreted by the relatives.  

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