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Samuel (Sam) Hartnell Gunner 311355 Royal Garrison Artillery, 111th Heavy Battery (RGA - TF)


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I am part of a team that is making a documentary about a North East mining village covering 1870-2020.

One of the people we are featuring in the film is Sam Hartnell, he was a professional footballer that was killed in the war on August 21st 1918, aged 21. 

We know quite a bit about Sam's life prior to enlisting, but we don't know anything about his time in the war.

Could anyone be good enough to point us in the direction of any websites or resources that may have information about his unit? We're very new to war research, so we're not fluent on all the acronyms and abbreviations yet!

EDIT: I've attached a PDF with the research we have to date

Many thanks in advance

Sam Hartnell Fact Sheet.pdf

Edited by ChiltonWindlestone
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Just now, jonbem said:

Hi and welcome to the forum

found this

North East War Memorials Project - Every Name A Story Content (newmp.org.uk)



Thanks, Jon. We've seen that and managed to speak to the lady that wrote it. I've attached a PDF with everything we have so far, should have done that at the start!

Sam Hartnell Fact Sheet.pdf

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1 minute ago, jonbem said:

also click the Long Long Trail tab at the top of the page for more info


Amazing! Thank you

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The Register of Soldiers' Effects shows that his outstanding pay and war gratuity went to his mother Sarah. Note that Ancestry has his service number for the Register of Soldiers' Effects indexed incorrectly as 311356, although it is correct in the register. The medal rolls and his medal index card show that he only qualified for the British War and Victory medals, so his first service in a theatre of war was after 31 December 1915.


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Just some observations.

The title of your thread and the corresponding text in your attached document is not quite correct.

His original unit was the Northumbrian (North Riding) Heavy Battery, which was indeed a Territorial Force unit (RGA-TF in your language).

The 111th Heavy Battery was a war raised regular unit, not a Territorial Force (TF) unit.

It is evident that at sometime he must have been transferred from the Northumbrian HB to the 111th HB with whom he was eventually KiA.

The transfer must have occurred in France as the 111th HB were already there (entered France 05/10/1914) before Hartnell enlisted.

His War Gratuity of £14 allows us to predict his enlistment date into the Northumbrian (North Riding) Heavy Battery as August 1915.

He would have been allotted a 3- or 4-digit service number upon enlistment. His number of 311355 would have been allotted to him when the whole of the TF were re-numbered in early 1917. Given that Hartnell has such a number means he was still with the Northumbrian (North Riding) Heavy Battery at that time. In turn, this means he must have been transferred to the 111th HB after circa March 1917.

There were two Heavy Batteries raised in the Northumbrian (North Riding) Heavy Battery force - the 1/1st and 1/2nd. The latter did not serve overseas so he must have been with the 1/1st Northumbrian (North Riding) Heavy Battery, who originally departed for France in 20/04/1915 with 50th Division but were quickly removed on 06/05/1915 to the 13th Brigade Heavy Artillery as Army Troops. Before he went to France it seems likely that he would have done his training with the 1/2nd HB who at the time were part of the Tyne Garrison.

Given that Hartnell enlisted after April 1915 suggests he would have joined the Northumbrian (North Riding) Heavy Battery in France as a re-enforcement - perhaps in a draft with other men within his cohort. His entry into France to join his unit would have been after 01/01/1916 as he did not receive the 1914/1915 Star medal.



EDIT: Having looked at a few surviving service records for men with near 311xxx RGA service numbers, the simplistic assessment I have described above might not be so straightforward. Whilst there is no doubt he joined the Northumbrian (North Riding) Heavy Battery, it is possible he may have been transferred to a different unit before departing for France or he might have been transferred to a different unit (perhaps the 111th HB) at the RGA base depot in France shortly after arriving - hence never actually serving with the 1/1st. I had thought if either of those possibilities occurred he would have been renumbered but other men's records seem to indicate this was not the case.

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The deployments/movements in France for the two relevant Heavy Batteries were:

1/1st Northumbrian (North Riding) Heavy Battery

50th Division: 23/04/1915

13th HAG: 06/05/15

41st HAG: 05/10/15

51st HAG: 12/12/16

41st HAG: 20/03/17

12th HAG: 05/09/17

41st HAG: 22/09/17 and then no further changes

111th Heavy Battery

7th Division: 05/04/14

1st Division: 14/11/14

3rd HAG: 30/01/15

4th HAG: 12/05/15

3rd HAG: 30/05/15

6th HAG: 04/04/16

17th HAG: 22/04/16

12th HAG: 23/03/17

28th HAG: 06/07/17

10th HAG: 08/09/17

28th HAG: 30/09/17

10th HAG: 01/11/17

35th HAG: 23/12/17 and then no further changes

I believe the War Diaries for all of the above units are free to download from the National Archives.




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