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Locating remains of Pte. Arthur Roy Chatwin, NZ Cycling Battalion, killed in action Marfaux France, 23 July 1918


RubyJones
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Thank you very much for this wonderful forum.

I am hoping to find the remains of my great uncle, Pte. Arthur Roy Chatwin (also known as Roy Arthur Chatwin), who was killed in action on 23 July 1918 in Marfaux France.  He has no known grave.  He was in the NZ Cycling Battalion. Reg No. 10779.

https://ndhadeliver.natlib.govt.nz/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE11179812

The co-ordinates which are recorded on his personnel file are:  Buried Ville de Jonchery Sur Vesle 1.2000 219.64.269.80.  With the help of a friend, I have been able to plot these co-ordinates on a map and have visited this location.  It is in a field on someone's farm. 

I'm wondering where to from here.  Could his remains still be buried in the field or is it possible that they are in an "unknown" grave?

I would be most appreciative of any help you can give me.

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Welcome to the forum.

First thing to do is check where the others of his regiment are buried who died at the same time.

Also have a look at this topic: 

Hope this helps,

Luc.

 

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Welcome to the forum Ruby.

There are several unknown NZCC buried at Marfaux British Cemetery along with several other named NZCC who died on the same date. I have the complete set of burial returns for this cemetery and note that some NZCC may be buried as Unknown British soldiers. When I have the time later I will cross reference the burial coordinates with those shown in Arthur’s service record.

J

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17 hours ago, LDT006 said:

Welcome to the forum.

First thing to do is check where the others of his regiment are buried who died at the same time.

Also have a look at this topic: 

Hope this helps,

Luc.

 

 

12 hours ago, jay dubaya said:

Welcome to the forum Ruby.

There are several unknown NZCC buried at Marfaux British Cemetery along with several other named NZCC who died on the same date. I have the complete set of burial returns for this cemetery and note that some NZCC may be buried as Unknown British soldiers. When I have the time later I will cross reference the burial coordinates with those shown in Arthur’s service record.

J

Thank you both very much for your welcome and help.

I have checked the other identified soldiers in the regiment who died on the same day and all but three (who later died from their injuries) are buried at Marfaux.

 I note that there is a case for missing  Private McLaughlin. 

I look forward to any further assistance you maybe able to offer.  

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@RubyJones I had typed up my reply to post this evening, I had almost posted it a few hours ago but just one last check has changed almost everything I had typed, so here with an ammended version.

You’ve clearly done lots of research already Ruby and it’s good to hear that you’ve visited the spot where your great uncle fought to his last. Sadly Richard passed away last year and during the interim period I’ve heard nothing of the McLoughlin case he submitted to the CWGC. However his previous legwork with this battalion and this cemetery has been of great value… thanks for that Richard 😉

Having looked through the Concentration of Graves Burial Report (CoGBR) and the Grave Registration Report Form (GRRF) for the cemetery I note four UBS NZCC buried amongst them at III.B.4, III.F.7, VIII.J.4 and IX.A.9 – the latter being identified by Richard as the candidate for McLoughlin and perhaps you have paid your respects at these four graves. I also note that those NZCC who now have no known grave all appear to have been named on a single cross in the cemetery memorial plot, this being removed and a permanent memorial erected to those named. There is some suggestion that a grave marker of some description may have been found for each individual but after investigation at its location no body or further evidence was found.

Having access to the individual service records we can extract the burial information recorded at the time and cross reference this with the exhumation and reburial information recorded by the IWGC. In most, if not all cases there are conflicting coordinates and in some cases a different format using a different map, furthermore there are anomalies that may appear to be transcription errors of the time. I have attempted to illustrate this below, included are Griffith and Rowland who were both KiA on 23/07/1918 and were at the time of their deaths attached to the NZCC –

(black text extracted from CWGC, red text extracted from individual service records)

Named and known NZCC graves

Foulds - VII.B.10 - 220.2.270 x 271.314 – 220.5 x 270.4   hair – dark brown, teeth - fair

Griffith (att) – I.A.15 – 269.10 x 231.45 – 221.600 x 269.160  

Grindrod – IV.E.3 - 221.0 x 270.8 – 219.9 x 270.75   hair – fair, teeth - ? plate

Johnson – III.B.3 - north of A in Marfaux – 220.725 x 270.450   hair – black, teeth -

UBS NZCC - III.B.4 – 220.725 x 270.450 (see Perry below)

McLoed – III.F.6 -260.67 x 269.85 – 220.450 x 269.975   hair – dark, teeth -

UBS NZCC – III.F.7 – 220.450 x 269.975

Mills – IV.B.5 - 221.2.270 x 271.4.5 – Soissons 100000 sh22 4.K 83 x 02   hair – black, teeth -  

Rowland (att) – I.A.14 – 221.65 x 269.10 – 221.600 x 269.160

Smith – II.I.9 - 219.67 x 269.80 – 220.0 x 269.9   hair – brown, teeth - fair

UBS NZCC – VIII.J.4 – 217.8 x 268.4

UBS NZCC – IX.A.9 – JSV 100000 sh22 4.K.80 x 0? (candidate for McLoughlin)

 

Named on memorial

Baker - 219.67 x 269.80   hair – light brown, teeth - bad

Chatwin - 219.64 x 269.80   hair – auburn, teeth – upper plate lower good

Kloth - 221.2.270 x 271.4.5   hair – light sandy, teeth - good

Lindsay - 221.0 x 270.8   hair – brown, teeth - good

Matthews - 220.20 x 270.02   hair – brown, teeth - good

McLoughlin - 221.2.270 x 271.4.5 (see UBS IX.A.9 above)   hair – brown, teeth - fit

Newman - 219.95 x 270.02   hair – brown, teeth -

Perry - north of A in Marfaux (see UBS III.B.4 found with Johnson above)   hair – dark brown, teeth - fair

Smith - 221.2 x 271.4.5   hair – light brown, teeth - ???

Turner - 220.10 x 270.00   hair – dark brown, teeth - denture

 

As I’m sure you will see the two sets of coordinates are somewhat unreliable with those that have a named grave and searching the CoGBRs has proved fruitless in its return for the missing six graves. There are several UBS recovered from similar coordinates in the vicinity where Chatwin was purportedly buried but with no further evidence of ID or regimental particulars the search comes to an end.

Having read through Richard’s report regarding the UBS found with a shaving brush marked AM and the probability of it being McLoughlin, the following may be a spanner in the works for this case since it hinges on the brush being in McLoughlin’s possession when he was recovered. Another example of a NZCC soldier also being recovered with a named personal item was Mills

I  have looked at all those with named graves and how it was determined each grave was named. One in particular stands out – Mills recovered from sh22.4.K.83 x 02 on 25th August 1924 – No cross marked the grave, NZCC numerals and collar badges… this man had red hair, upper false teeth and a hair comb marked H Mills. Whilst there is no doubt that the brush belonged to H Mills it certainly wasn’t with him when he was recovered – Mills had black hair and although there is no comment regarding his teeth the entry or dash in his service record may suggest they were fine. Having looked through all 16 sets of service records the soldier buried as Mills can only be one other soldier, there was only red head amongst them, Arthur Roy Chatwin’s service record notes his auburn hair and an upper dental plate.

I believe there may be enough evidence for a case to be submitted to the CWGC with this one although I do have some reservations. 

 

Jon

Edited by jay dubaya
amendment of date
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On 17/09/2021 at 10:36, RubyJones said:

 

Thank you both very much for your welcome and help.

I have checked the other identified soldiers in the regiment who died on the same day and all but three (who later died from their injuries) are buried at Marfaux.

 I note that there is a case for missing  Private McLaughlin. 

I look forward to any further assistance you maybe able to offer.  

Hi Jay

Thank you so very much for all this work you have done for me.  You are amazing!  I'm also very grateful for all the work Richard did too.

Your news is certainly very promising.  How do we take the next step with CWGC?  What are your reservations? 

3838AAA9-8F07-4EA9-843B-419199F3C77F_1_201_a.jpeg

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It's always nice to put a face to the name so thanks for posting an image of Arthur. Having a personal description from his service record have you thought about having the image colourised? There are several forum members who may be happy and willing to do this for you.

I understand that to proceed with this case it may scupper Richard's case he submitted for McLoughlin. As the Chatwin case may expose - it cannot be proved that a personal inscribed brush was in possession of its owner when remains were recovered. If it can be accepted that Arthur Chatwin was recovered with Henry Mills’s hair comb then it must be accepted that McLoughlin may not have been in possession of his shaving brush – there is at least one other candidate for this UBS looking at relevant dental records and for this reason alone I think the case for McLoughlin may be dismissed.

However, the remains recovered with a hair comb marked H Mills clearly wasn’t a black haired man with what may be described as good/fair teeth. The CoGBR gives two personal features as ID neither of which could apply to Mills and as the research shows, it can only be one other man who died that day with the NZCC.

My reservations come from a name being removed from a headstone in exchange for another. Unlike giving a name to the marked grave of an UBS this case removes a name that has been there for nearly 100 years and where family may have paid their respects. This is the third case I have researched where this may be the outcome and I doubt it will be the last, the difference with this case is that a direct descendant is now aware and involved.

I'm more than happy to gather and collate the evidence and put forward to the CWGC via their online submission form if you wish me to proceed, however, you may wish to do this as you are a direct descendant of Arthur, I would be happy to guide you if you choose to proceed with this yourself. Either way I believe there is a strong case for amendment to headstone, memorial and records.

 

Jon

 

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Hi Jon

I'd love to have the image colourised.  You can clearly see that Arthur had auburn hair.

I imagine it would have been very easy for possessions to become jumbled under those circumstances.  I note your reservations regarding the name change of a headstone.

I would like to proceed with putting a case forward to the CWGC.  Which way do you think is the best way to proceed?  I am happy for you to collate and submit on my behalf and equally happy to submit myself with your guidance.  Does the CWGC look more favourably on cases submitted by direct descendants?

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My reservations come from a name being removed from a headstone in exchange for another. Unlike giving a name to the marked grave of an UBS this case removes a name that has been there for nearly 100 years and where family may have paid their respects.

In May 2014, i came across a grave in Fosse 7 Cemetery in France, which contained the details S/4957 Pte Andrew Thomson Maclean, 10th Battalion Gordon Highlanders, 25th September 1915 and then in July 2014, when the CWGC released the Grave Registration Report Forms, Burial Returns etc.  The GRRF for the said grave, showed S/4357 Pte James Mclean, 10th Gordon Highlanders, 23rd September 1915. 

Whilst talking to a colleague about his Great Uncle James Mclean, i found that his name was only added to the Le Touret Memorial in France in 2000, after being brought to the attention of the CWGC in 1998. 

when we saw the GRRF in July 2014 and seen the details of James Mclean on it , i slowly researched both Men and the action of the 23rd September 1915 of the 10th Gordon Highlanders.  The graves 1 to 7 in Row B, was clearly a trench grave as the men died in a dug-out.  So it seemed strange that someone who died two days later, would be buried among'st them.  James and Andrew were both members of the Machine Gun Section.  Both service records had not survived the bombings of the second world war.  but it was found in the Times Newspapers that Andrew Maclean had been reported killed but a couple of weeks later he was reported 'previously reported killed, now reported missing.'  in the same issue James Mclean was reported killed. 

in 2017, i submitted a report to the CWGC with the backing of the Nephew, Great Nephew and in March 2019 we received news that the CWGC, National Army Museum (who look at the British Army Cases) and JCCC (Joint Casualty Compassionate Center) accepted my findings that the grave, was the grave of James Mclean and not Andrew Thomson Maclean, sadly the nephew had died before we received the news.

Whilst looking for information on both men, it did cross my mind that if the case was accepted, that a name would be removed from a headstone and another one would be placed in its place.  However, the evidence i had collected, showed that James Mclean was buried in that grave and not Andrew Thomson Maclean.  But the CWGC showed the parnets of Andrew Thomson Maclean had choosen an inscription for the headstone, so did they visit the grave, i will never know 

i would say yes, in submitting a case as they evidence is clear that Pte Chatwin had Red Hair and upper false teeth, where Pte Mills had black hair and no false teeth.  

i think that you will need to send the case direct to the New Zealand Army as i know that the cases involving Australian soldiers are submitted to the Australian Army, who then say yes or no.  If you contact the Fallen Diggers, they may be able to tell, who to send the case to in New Zealand.  

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Thanks for that post trenchrat, it is reassuring that other researchers have been in the same position regarding the removal of names from headstones. I shall collate the evidence and primarily approach the New Zealand authorities with this case.

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Jay,

very nice work and convincing evidence.

The CWGC open cases list has 30+ entries for mis-identifications and a number of these have been accepted. A case like this will probably be more difficult to get accepted, the small details will be important. Has the regiment been in the area at another time during the war? There might be others with auburn hair. A similar case was rejected because "it was possible that it was a POW buried there by the Germans at any time during the war....". So you might need to check all on the memorials in the area.

18 hours ago, jay dubaya said:

Thanks for that post trenchrat, it is reassuring that other researchers have been in the same position regarding the removal of names from headstones. I shall collate the evidence and primarily approach the New Zealand authorities with this case.

I believe that you have to submit to CWGC, they will then forward to the relevant army section. It might be best to contact them on how to proceed to avoid losing time.

Luc.

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On 24/09/2021 at 21:36, jay dubaya said:

included are Griffith and Rowland who were both KiA on 23/07/1918 and were at the time of their deaths attached to the NZCC

Where did you find that Griffith was attached? CWGC doesn't show that: https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/309150/DONALD CLIVE GRIFFITH/

Their entry for Rowland is correct: https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/309485/ALBERT EDWARD MACKAY ROWLAND/

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The CoGBR for Griffiths notes the regimental particulars on the cross as ... NZCC,  he is also noted in the NZCC regimental history, but I note the GRRF notes 2nd Entrenching Battalion... his parent unit? 

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From NZCC Regimental History, Chapter XIV Veirstratt, Griffith(s) joined the unit on 8th May 1918.

Quote

Reinforcements to the number of 93 arrived on the 8th inst., also three officers from Infantry Units for attachment, viz., 2nd Lieuts. D. C. Griffiths, R. G. R. Sinclair, and E. Malcolm. The two latter did not remain long, rejoining their units a few days later.

 

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This is then another one, of many, where the CWGC records do not reflect the correct regiment or the one they were attached to.

Is there any progress with the report?

 

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23 hours ago, LDT006 said:

This is then another one, of many, where the CWGC records do not reflect the correct regiment or the one they were attached to.

Is there any progress with the report?

 

Indeed it may appear that way Luc. 
The report is coming along... slowly due to work commitments but I do think I’ve covered all bases

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Hi Jay

Here is the reply from NZDF regarding who to submit the case to ...

We ask that submitters go directly to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the first instance. The Commission commemorates the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two World Wars. Using their extensive archive, the Commission will provide us with any relevant records they hold in the UK and their analysis of them. This will then inform the follow up research that we can carry out using records held here in NZ.

You may already be aware that the Commission has a section on identification cases on its website and a list of completed and ongoing cases at https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/commemorations/open-case-files/

 I have also attached the Commission’s guidance around submitting cases for identification just in case you haven’t already seen it.

 The form for submitting an identification case to the Commission can be found at the following linkhttps://www.cwgc.org/find-records/commemorations/id-case-form/

 

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Thanks for adding that clarification Ruby, I had read the same earlier. The report is taking shape and I’ll keep you up to date with its progress.

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I have concluded the report and it will shortly be completed by adding the relevant attachments and links. This report will have a detremental impact on the McLaughlin case and very likely other similar cases. 

It is clear and conclusive it is not the grave of Henry Mills and the report strongly suggests the IWGC's investigation to reveal a name for an unknown NZCC remains did not go much further than the hair comb, the red hair and upper false teeth were completely overlooked.  There may be some comfort in the hair comb marked H Mills was probably returned to his parents.

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On 26/09/2021 at 22:09, thetrenchrat22 said:

My reservations come from a name being removed from a headstone in exchange for another. Unlike giving a name to the marked grave of an UBS this case removes a name that has been there for nearly 100 years and where family may have paid their respects. 

i think that you will need to send the case direct to the New Zealand Army as i know that the cases involving Australian soldiers are submitted to the Australian Army, who then say yes or no.  If you contact the Fallen Diggers, they may be able to tell, who to send the case to in New Zealand.  

Hi mate

Looks like you have it sorted already,  Fallen Diggers recently submitted a couple of NZ Unknown cases and were told to go straight to the CWGC site rather than any New Zealand Agency. Unlike in Australia where we submit through Unrecovered War Casualties section of the Australian Army who look to see if the case has merit.

We have also submitted a couple of mis-identifications so can well understand your reservations.

Regards

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Thanks for that Andrew.

once the report is complete I shall transfer a copy to my cloud and leave a link here for anyone who’s interested.

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