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South Wales Borderers


Lexus
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I am looking for information on George Thomas Marchant, CSM, Service No 44561, South Wales Borderers.  He was killed in action on the 19th of May 1917, from the battalion war diaries I believe in the Third Battle of The Scarpe.

His War Service and Award Rolls card does not show the Theatres of war in he which served.

He is shown to have enlisted in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Service No 22262 before transferring to the South Wales Borderers.

He previously served with the 19th (St Giles and St George's Bloomsbury) Middlesex VRC (Volunteer Rifle Corp) from 1907 to 1908.  In 1908it merged with the 1st Middlesex VRC (Queen Victoria's) to form the 9th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles), George served a further 4 years before taking his discharge on the 5th of April 1912.

Thank you

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His RWF number of 22262 is in the block for the 15th Bn i.e. the 1st London Welsh, RWF

See   https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/royal-welsh-fusiliers/ and scroll down to 15th Bn.

The number indicates enlistment towards the last week of November 1914.

His medal roll shows  Training Reserve 24216 then SWB, 2nd Bn,  44561 indicating he went over with the TR number and was allocated to the SWB at an Infantry Base Depot. The Training Reserve were formed 1 9 1916 so the move overseas comes after that date.

See this for Training Reserve

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/training-reserve/

where you'll see that they were formed in Battalions/Brigades. If you scroll down to 63rd Bn you'll see that it was formed from the 18th &20th Bn RWF at Kinmel Camp.

In the first link above you'll see that the 18th Bn RWF was known as the 2nd London Welsh, RWF.

Interpreting this I'd say that he initially enlisted to the 15th Bn and at some stage,( maybe when they went overseas?) moved to the 18th Bn. The 18th Bn RWF then became 63rd Bn, Training Reserve on 1 9 1916 and he was allocated a Training Reserve number of TR/4/24216. I have researched the numbering allocations of the TR Bns at Kinmel Camp and can confidently say that 24216 is in those allocated to the 63rd Bn.

To ascertain when he went overseas you'll need to research the men either side of his SWB number in the Medal Rolls to pick up a pattern.

 

 

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There were a number of men who were transferred from the East Yorkshire Regiment to the South Wales Borderers on 19 March 1917. There are surviving service records for 45133 Private Fred Drewery, 45145 Private Albert Johnson, 45155 Private John Robert Jones. By definition, Marchant's number of 44561 would have been issued prior to that date. (Marchant's CWGC entry records him serving in the 2nd Battalion within the 29th Division.)

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Bear with me to see see if I have got this right,

Based on his service number 24216 he enlisted in the 15th Battalion, 1st London Welsh, the RWF's towards the end of November 1914.  The 15th Battalion was formed in London on the 20th Oct 1914.  Note that his enlistment place is shown as Holborn, London, I did wonder how a Londoner would end up in a Welsh unit. 

Does this mean that he actually enlisted as distinct from being conscripted?  What does the "/4/" mean in TR/4/24216.

The note in The Long, Long Trail re the 15th Battalion refers to "same as the 13th BN", see below,

13th (Service) Battalion (1st North Wales)
Formed at Rhyl on 3 September 1914 by the Denbigh and Flint TF Associations, but transferred to the Welsh National Executive Committee on 10 October 1914. November 1914 : came under orders of 128th Brigade, 43rd Division at Llandudno. 28 April 1915 : formation became the 113th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division.
Moved to Winchester in August 1915 and
landed in France in December 1915.

Do I interpret this to mean that he was in France with the RWF's in December 1915 and was then posted to the SWB some time after the 1st Nov 1916 with a new service number 44561.

An odd point, George Thomas Marchant is the only SWB I could find buried in the Drury Crucifix Cemetery.  Of the 30 casualties sustained by the SWB on the 19th May 1917 29 are interred in Bay 6 of the Arras Memorial.

Thank you

 

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On 11/10/2021 at 22:26, Keith_history_buff said:

There were a number of men who were transferred from the East Yorkshire Regiment to the South Wales Borderers on 19 March 1917. There are surviving service records for 45133 Private Fred Drewery, 45145 Private Albert Johnson, 45155 Private John Robert Jones. By definition, Marchant's number of 44561 would have been issued prior to that date. (Marchant's CWGC entry records him serving in the 2nd Battalion within the 29th Division.)

Thanks Keith, in looking at his CWGC entry it appears that he was not originally buried in the Drury Crucifix Cemetery and when he was his identity was unknown. There is a map reference of where he and a number of other USB's were found - 51B O 3. c. 19,  not sure what the "O" means.  See the attached file, he is the 5th line down. Another point of interest is that his will is dated the 3rd of May 1917, 14 days before he died.

Drury Crucifix Cemetery - 19200304 - Interrment Record.JPG

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image.png.bb450da7d69446dbd60ee66c74aef5c2.png

Hi @Lexus, his body was exhumed from the position shown in the NW corner.  If you click to enlarge, you can spot Drury Crucifix Cemetery in the SE corner.  The letter 'O' was one of the main subdivisions of a trench map, which used letters A-X.

image.png.27b9a8e7e008aca02a2888e24123da65.png

 

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There is a surviving service record on FindMyPast for 44558 David Edwards. This will record the date that he was allocated his service number in the South Wales Borderers. 44567 Owen Williams died on 4 February 1917, so clearly the number was issued prior to that date.

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Hi Keith,

Thanks for both of those posts, every bit of information helps.  The SWB's went into the trenches to the east of Monchy le Preaux on the 14th of May 1917 and were in action on the night of the 19th however they did not advance as far as your marker.  The units in action with the SWB;s on that night were the Inniskillings and the KOSB.

Of the units mentioned on the burial card only the SWB's were in action up to the 19th so the others must have been KIA at a later date or collected from other areas.  I have checked 2 other websites for SWB casualties and there is only one record of an SWB in Drury so where the two SWB USB's are is unclear.

The attached image contains a snip from map 51B SW dated the 4th of March 1917 which I have morphed with your image so the location of Marchant's remains were in the right general area but the fact that he was still id'd as a USB as late as 1920 suggests that he was not recovered on the date of his death.  The SWB were relieved on the 20th of May and after a week in reserve they were in the trenches again from the 29th of May to the 2nd of June but with little action.  Casualties had been heavy, 4 officers and 112 men had gone over the top, only 61 got back.  I will check the war diaries for any mention of missing OR's.  The fact that the remains of the other SWB's recorded as being killed on the 19th are in the Arras Memorial with no grave suggests that events may have overtaken any recovery options.

Re the map reference on the card, 51B O 3 c 19,  the 51B is correct but if the "O" is a segment of trench we are in the dark as to an exact location.  Is it possible there was a small cemetery there?

The yellow image is the battalion position on the 20th of May.

Regards

Frank

 

Overlay - GTM.jpg

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On 14/10/2021 at 08:08, Lexus said:

Bear with me to see see if I have got this right,

Based on his service number 24216 he enlisted in the 15th Battalion, 1st London Welsh, the RWF's towards the end of November 1914.  The 15th Battalion was formed in London on the 20th Oct 1914.  Note that his enlistment place is shown as Holborn, London, I did wonder how a Londoner would end up in a Welsh unit. 

Does this mean that he actually enlisted as distinct from being conscripted?  What does the "/4/" mean in TR/4/24216.

The note in The Long, Long Trail re the 15th Battalion refers to "same as the 13th BN", see below,

13th (Service) Battalion (1st North Wales)
Formed at Rhyl on 3 September 1914 by the Denbigh and Flint TF Associations, but transferred to the Welsh National Executive Committee on 10 October 1914. November 1914 : came under orders of 128th Brigade, 43rd Division at Llandudno. 28 April 1915 : formation became the 113th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division.
Moved to Winchester in August 1915 and
landed in France in December 1915.

Do I interpret this to mean that he was in France with the RWF's in December 1915 and was then posted to the SWB some time after the 1st Nov 1916 with a new service number 44561.

An odd point, George Thomas Marchant is the only SWB I could find buried in the Drury Crucifix Cemetery.  Of the 30 casualties sustained by the SWB on the 19th May 1917 29 are interred in Bay 6 of the Arras Memorial.

Thank you

 

Frank

Sorry about the delay.

His RWF number was 22262 (the one you found in the Soldiers Died Great War database) and that number gives the enlistment date in 1914.

Conscription started in 1916 so he was enlisted voluntarily.

Campaign medal entitlement starts when a man goes to a theatre of war so the first number on the medal roll will be the number he had when he went abroad. In this case it was the Training Reserve number. They did not have a fighting role so he has then been issued with the SWB number when allocated to a fighting battalion at the Infantry Base Depot. He did not go overseas with 15th RWF in December 1915. He will have gone over some days, possibly a couple of weeks before being allocated the SWB number. When that was can be determined by looking at surviving records around the SWB number. Like Keith has done upthread.

Re  TR/4/

See

The numbering of soldiers of the TR

in the Training Reserve in the link in my previous post.

 

Hywyn

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22 hours ago, Lexus said:

51B is correct but if the "O" is a segment of trench we are in the dark as to an exact location.

Hi Frank, there is a misunderstanding here.  The letter O is a designation for a large map segment, not part of a trench.  Sheet 51b is a 32 x 20 km map divided into squares.  The entire 51b letter O (6,000 x 6,000 yards) is shown below and it is itself divided into 36 numbered squares of 1,000 x 1,000 yards.  These were divided into 500 yard sub squares (a-d) and 19 means 10% of 500 yards from the left of square c and 90% of 500 yards from the bottom.  This gives an area for all of these bodies of 50 x 50 yards.  Allowing for conversion errors it is a reasonably identifiable location.

Now in the 1920s they expected to exhume 3 bodies from O.3.c and 125 closer to Monchy-le-Preux in O.2.d and 176 bodies closer still in O.2.c.  This is where your inaccuracy may lie but it won't be much. O.3.c.1.9 is on the spur at the 100 metre contour - perhaps the bodies were buried on the spur or closer to the crest or near the track?  Exhumations were a grisly task by men who wanted to be home so any recorded trench map reference has to be seen as indicative.

There were no formal concentration cemeteries marked in this area that I have found.  However, if there were at least 42 clearly marked burials here, it must have been a well-known burial spot.

 image.png.6904040737b1298e61652b2626e6f334.png

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On 17/10/2021 at 10:49, Keith_history_buff said:

There is a surviving service record on FindMyPast for 44558 David Edwards.

Unfortunately not, it is merely one of the fragments from Daily Orders on FMP.

There are however, two surviving records (or parts thereof):-

William Hughes 44570
Enlisted ASC 28.6.1915
Transferred Welsh Regiment 14.3.1916 (no number available). These are pencil notes on Army Form B.103 Casualty Form which has survived. Unfortunately neither his Statement of Service nor his medical form which lists previous numbers have not.

Posted to BEF and embarked Southampton 30.12.1916
Landed Le Havre 31.12.1916
To IBD Rouen       1.1.1917
Posted 2 SWB     1.1.1917.
Joined Bn. in Field 11.1.1917.

Also:-

44572 Sussex enlisted 8.3.1915 (London))

Movement as above but shown as joining 2nd Battn on the 17th January 1917
A struck through number 4419?? No unit

Medal Roll shows 24272 TR

Also found Pte 44555 Everitt who was serving with the 10th SWB (although his Medal Roll 48900 KSLI shows 11th Battalion which appears from the SWB Rolls to also be a draft from the TR) when he was admitted on 31 July 1918 to 34 CCS with a dental abscess and his record shows 20 months service with the field force, so December 1916.

 

It therefore seems likely CSM 44561 Marchant was renumbered to the SWB at the IBD at Rouen on the 1st January 1917, joining the 2nd Bn in the field that month.

 

 

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On 17/10/2021 at 20:49, Keith_history_buff said:

There is a surviving service record on FindMyPast for 44558 David Edwards. This will record the date that he was allocated his service number in the South Wales Borderers. 44567 Owen Williams died on 4 February 1917, so clearly the number was issued prior to that date.

 

On 17/10/2021 at 20:49, Keith_history_buff said:

There is a surviving service record on FindMyPast for 44558 David Edwards. This will record the date that he was allocated his service number in the South Wales Borderers. 44567 Owen Williams died on 4 February 1917, so clearly the number was issued prior to that date.

Found 44567 but not 44558

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13 minutes ago, Lexus said:

Found 44567 but not 44558

 I have already noted 44558 Edwards service record has not survived. 

If you are searching on Ancestry it will not show as a record.  Find My Past have organised the records in a different and more accesible way detailing documents where a soldier's name is recorded. 

This means a name will come up in a search on FMP but the original document (subscription required) is merely a 'fragment' where the man is mentioned.  This can be useful for research but not in this case as the 'record' is a fragment of Daily Orders dating from 1918 showing Pte Edwards was discharged from hospital.

 

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