Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

LIII (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (9th Divisional Artillery) - Charles Beckwith 95888


Beckwith
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm trying to better understand my great grandfather's service and experience in the Great War, and whilst having his service records  would like to try and understand more of his role and decipher some of his records. It seems he was released, having suffered some unknown impairment, from the Western front in October 1916, back into civilian life as a W class reservist. I'd hazard a guess at shell shock, though it's interesting no detail or reasoning is provided.

I wonder if anyone can assist in the detail of his Army Form B. 103. I'm struggling to make sense of his record after he received his FPNo.1.

Many thanks

 

 

 

B.103.A.jpg

B.103.B.jpg

Impairment.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the Forum,

The next entry is his appointment to Acting Bombardier in place of "Eather" who was promoted. Then his battery (C/53) becomes D/52 on reorganization on May 27, 1916, this is a Howitzer battery with 4.5" guns. He is then promoted to full Bombardier in place of "Lowery" who has been reduced in rank. Then he is sent to England and shortly released for Munitions work but posted to No. 1 Depot RFA (I assume as supernumerary) as he is then transferred for work as a miner. Looks like he never returned to France. 

 

EDIT: Looking at his service record there are two occasions where it stresses that he did NOT suffer impairment.

Beckwith.jpg.e3644ef6dee2e7d70cb7306c7cfd44f0.jpg

Edited by David Porter
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, David Porter said:

Welcome to the Forum,

The next entry is his appointment to Acting Bombardier in place of "Eather" who was promoted. Then his battery (C/53) becomes D/52 on reorganization on May 27, 1916, this is a Howitzer battery with 4.5" guns. He is then promoted to full Bombardier in place of "Lowery" who has been reduced in rank. Then he is sent to England and shortly released for Munitions work but posted to No. 1 Depot RFA (I assume as supernumerary) as he is then transferred for work as a miner. Looks like he never returned to France. 

 

EDIT: Looking at his service record there are two occasions where it stresses that he did NOT suffer impairment.

Beckwith.jpg.e3644ef6dee2e7d70cb7306c7cfd44f0.jpg

Thanks David, thats very interesting and I'd missed that additional note. It strikes me as odd, having limited knowledge, that he would be released mid war as you put it as supernumerary, did that often happen? 

I'm also keen to try and determine where and how his batteries supported the 9th Divisionin the battles at Loos and the Somme. Were 4.5" howitzers engaged in direct fire, were they vulnerable to small arms and counter artillery fire and of course gas? I read of a fellow soldier, Gunner John Devlin 95897 also from C Battery who was killed 19/12/15, who my great grandfather must have known and how that and his wider experience must have impacted him. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Beckwith,

Of the 'W' Reserve the LLT (link) says...

"Introduced in June 1916 by Army Order 203/16 under Section 12 of the recent Military Service Act. This new class of reserve was ‘for all those soldiers whose services are deemed to be more valuable to the country in civil rather than military employment’. Men in these classes were to receive no emoluments from army funds and were not to wear uniform. They were liable at any time to be recalled to the colours. From the time a man was transferred to Class W, until being recalled to the Colours, he was not subject to military discipline.".

His service file appears to show why he left France, and was transferred to the 'W' Reserve for 'more important' civilian wor.

image.png.cd9511300b7289feb4f12020207fefbb.png
Image sourced from Findmypast

After a no cost registration (link) the war diaries for 53 Brigade RFA; 52 Brigade RFA; Commander Royal Artillery - 9 Division; and 9 Division HQ (General Staff) are available as free downloads from the National Archives, and will hopefully give you a flavour of where your great grandfather went, and the events that he was likely to have been involved in, and more of a context to it. They are hereherehere; and here. If needed, there is help on how to read map references here.

Good luck with your research.

Regards
Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some [probably rather basic] quick answers - fuller/better answers may well soon follow from other members more versed in artillery!

On 20/09/2021 at 14:08, Beckwith said:

Were 4.5" howitzers engaged in direct fire

No.  Howitzers were [still are] indirect fire artillery pieces.  The trajectory of their shells arced up and then plunged down so could strike [indirectly] at targets, perhaps on a reverse slope or down into a trench, that a direct fire gun's shells with a much flatter trajectory could not.  I can't say what the enemy were firing back at them [counter-battery] but probably generally further back than field guns would be ranging.

On 20/09/2021 at 14:08, Beckwith said:

were they vulnerable to small arms and counter artillery fire and of course gas?

Yes. SAA seemed possible, perhaps in the case of a big enemy offensive, but shouldn't really have been as howitzers generally sited some distance from the front line [field guns would have been nearer]

Yes. Counter-battery fire by enemy artillery was commonly a very serious hazard and became an increasingly sophisticated part of attack and defence.  As far as I can make out the bigger calibre artillery were usually howitzers but to me references to 'guns' seems commonly mixed in there when to comes to CB fire.  Think it is a matter of terminology and practice that the artillery specialists will be able to explain.

Yes. Gas clouds seemed possible, but probably not that common, as howitzers were not very near the front line so a lower risk than for infantry etc., - probably most typically targeted by gas shells fired by the enemy's artillery as counter-battery fire from them [certainly later in the war this was a big threat for artillery, notably involving mustard gas, and especially when mixed in with High Explosive shells - your GGF will have probably have missed most of this by returning to the UK in 1916]

That's my simple lot.

:-) M

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matlock, many thanks for the input, thats really interesting and helpful. It will be interesting to look at the war diaries, associated wounds and deaths to see what losses can be attributed to for such artillerymen. 

Sadbrewer, I'm not sure this adds a great deal to my questioning. Unfortunate if connected and accurate, but such is life. Perhaps she should have gone to the front?! 🤣

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...