Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

The Battle of Flers-Courcelette Sept 15th 1916 - ALFRED JAMES BANYARD


Ian Banyard

Recommended Posts

I am looking for any information on my great uncle ALFRED JAMES BANYARD who fell MIA on the 15th September during The Battle of Flers-Courcelette aged 25. He fought with the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream guards. All information gratefully received.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi @Ian Banyard and welcome to the forum.

All the Coldstream Guards service records should have survived as they were stored in a separate location to the warehouse that burnt down in the Blitz. Unfortunately they are in the process of being transferred from the Guards records office to the National Archive, where I believe the plan is for them to eventually end up on findmypast.It's all a bit uncertain at the moment.

One of the records that is available is his Medal Index Card - literally that, an index card raised by the clerks at the relevant records office in late 1918 \ early 1919 to keep track of the documentation relating to the issue of service medals. It doesn't have any personal details but does tell us he first landed in France on the 9th January 1915, and so qualified for the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

As the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions had been in France since August 1914 and the 4th Battalion didn't go out until August 1915, it would seem he was part of a replacement draft. Unfortunately the British War Medal and the Victory Medal Service Medal Rolls for the Coldstream Guards aren't very detailed, so for now it can only be assumed that all of his service in France & Flanders was with the 1st Battalion. @Jrmh has already pointed you at the location of the 1st Battalion War Diary on the National Archive site and indeed once you set up an account, (no financial details required), they are free to download. If you don't already have an account just click on "sign in" on that webpage and follow the instructions :) Alternatively as they were fighting in France & Flanders, the War Diary is available on Ancestry as part of a subscription.

It will be worthwhile checking the diary to see if a draft turns up in the 2-3 weeks after Alfred landed in France.

A search of the forum will bring up numerous threads about the units taking part in this battle.

His mother, a Mrs Margaret T. Banyard, of 220 Munton Road, New Kent Road, London, would write to the International Committee of the Red Cross, (ICRC), in Geneva asking if they had head anything about her son, who she described as the orderly to a Captain D. Trafford of the 1st Battalion. There is only a very brief summary, a couple of sentences, and the original correspondence has long since been destroyed, but looks like she was officially informed he was missing on the 1st November 1916. Sadly the ICRC would have to write back on the 21st November 1916 that they had heard nothing from the German authorities. https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/1076605/3/2/

Captain Trafford doesn't appear to be amongst the war dead nor does he have a record at the ICRC. Again worth checking the diary, as while Alfred is very unlikely to get a mention, as batman to Captain Trafford it may be possible to establish which company Alfred was with by tracking the officer. Even should you get sight of Alfreds' service record, that level of detail is seldom recorded. In turn knowing the company that will give you a much more targetted search in trying to understand the actions of the day.

Hope that helps,
Peter

Edited by PRC
Typo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ian and a warm welcome to the forum.

Peter has covered the records admirably, and I am assuming that you've found Alfred's records on the CWGC site. I was interested to see that he is buried in front of the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme; I've never seen an identified man from that group. Of the 300 British and Commonwealth burials 239 are unidentified; according to the CWGC site the bodies buried in the cemetery were recovered between December 1931 and March 1932 as part of the construction of the memorial. An equal number of French dead lie alongside.

The concentration record for Alfred show that he was recovered from the area between Ginchy and Lesboefs and gives a map reference and how he was identified. I put the reference into Tmapper.com (the brilliant site for converting trench map references into modern locations, built by the forum's very own @WhiteStarLine ); this shows that Alfred's body was found south south west of the Guards Cemetery at Lesboeufs where many of his comrades are buried.

There are a lot of excellent photos of the cemetery and the memorial on the forum. My favourite is this one by my friend @Marilyne from 2016.

Pete.

1549772290_MarilynesThiepvalMemorial2016.jpg.7c96fdd73ddd248684c9ea3ba5c75e5d.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you @Jrmh @PRC and @Fattyowlsfor your quick responses, generosity and detailed research, much appreciated. I just returned from the remembrance service at our local church and felt so much more enlightened this year. I also learned from this forum that my grandfather George Edward Banyard born 1901 at the age of 16 joined the Buffs and was wounded in action a year later attacking a quadrilateral near St Quentin. He rejoined his Battalion 3 months later after a spell in Rouen hospital. I can only guess he joined up to avenge his brother as he never spoke about his experiences in both wars. It’s not easy to remember when the men who returned held their memories and suffering in silence. It’s so important for my son’s and grandson’s generation that we have this information and research available. Feeling very proud and thankful today. Bless you all. - Ian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My pleasure Ian, especially today of all days.

Something else occured to me while I was looking through the CWGC records. Alfred is recorded as private in some records but as Guardsman in at least one other; if I remember correctly the change happened just after the war between his death and identification. Looking again at the map I can see that his recovery site is roughly between the cemetery and the Memorial to the Guards Division which is just down the road towards Ginchy. I know an ex guardsman and the area is still of special significance to them.

Pete.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a reference to 1 Coldstreams, together with an associated map in Trevor Pidgeon's excellent The Tanks at Flers.  Although, as can be seen from the title of the book, it concentrates on the actions of the tanks (not very positive experience in the case of the Guards), it often has some information on the associated infantry and the maps are very good.

Reg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, PRC said:

It will be worthwhile checking the diary to see if a draft turns up in the 2-3 weeks after Alfred landed in France.

Just realised I've had cause to download the 1st Coldstreams War diary for August 1914 to July 1915 myself. Checking that out the entries are usually very spartan, but from what I can see:-

19th January 1915. While out of the line at Bethune, the 1st Battalion was joined by two (named officers) and 166 other ranks.

There is a bit more about the tanks involvement in supporting the Guards attack here: https://sites.google.com/site/landships/home/narratives/1916/15-september-1916-supporting-guards-division

I've more knowledge about the 6th Division, (which included the 9th Norfolk). In the attacks by both Divisions, 100 yard wide lanes across No-Mans land were spared the preceding barrage in order not to churn up the ground further, intending to allow the tanks a straight run at the German trenches. When said tanks failed to turn up or rapidly broke down it left the infantry assaulting either an untouched defensive line or caught in a cross fire between the unharmed parts of the German lines. For some Divisions it would be a long while before they would be anywhere near comfortable going into action with tanks again.

Regards
Peter

 

Edited by PRC
Typo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Goof afternoon, gang! 

@Ian Banyard: welcome to the forum !! You are at the right place for information and lots of friends!

@Fattyowls: thanks for the compliment on the pic... 

@Jrmh: "Ancestry free military records this weekend"???????

M.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sadly only four of the nine tanks allocated to the Guards Division got into action; the remainder either ditched on route to their starting point or failed mechanically before they crossed the British Front Line. 

However two of those four tanks advanced on the right flank of 1 Coldm Gds and reached their first objective, this was the German trench system known as the Triangle which is just to the south of the site of the Guards Memorial . 

The Male tank Campania (crew number C17 and commanded by 2Lt Jack Clarke) then was ordered to return to its starting point . The tank was badly scarred by shrapnel and small arms and the vision blocks were damaged; the crews was however unhurt. The tank's driver Leonard Viner wrote a 3 page letter dated 18 Sep 16 (checked by John Clarke) in which he states that the tank was hit by shrapnel and bullets and the prisms were broken. The C18 crew was tired but unhurt, he also reports that two infantrymen were bought back in the tank –one of whom was shot in the jaw

The female tank, known as Casa (crew number C18 and whose skipper was Victor Smith) drove east of the Triangle and ended up in 6th Division's area.   There he supported a small group of Leicesters but had to withdraw as the engine bearings were starting to seize due to lack of lubrication  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ian,

It would appear that Alfred enlisted in Canning Town on 13th September 1914.

image.png.a7950692562ef84385137bb5d049fc6d.png

image.png.490eb4606f03d5f64cbdda8cced741ef.png
Images sourced from Findmypast

As Peter has already said the medal rolls appear to indicate that Alfred disembarked in France on 9th January 1915 as a reinforcement.

His Soldiers Effects record introduces a slight element of uncertainty as to the precise date of his death, as it records it as 'on or since...death presumed'

image.png.b4f10c1019607299fac5cc3f235a8fbe.png
Image sourced from Ancestry

The CWGC records for Alfred have a 'concentration sheet' which show that his body was moved to his current burial place from map reference 57c.T.9.a.0.5 - it is likely to much closer to where he originally fell, and would be interesting to compare to the events/places recorded in the Battalion war diary (previously linked upthread). It might also be worth downloading these war diaries (link/link) as they may give you more context to the events in the Battalion diary (especially in the appendices).

If you put the map reference into this website, it should show you where the body of Alfred was recovered from.

If you would like a decent quality digital image of where Alfred is currently buried (FOC), it looks like the good folk at British War Graves may be able to send you one - link.

Good luck with your research

Regards
Chris

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all again for helping me piece the history of the Banyard brothers. 

Through this site I've now discovered so much about Alfred James the eldest brother who fell at Les Boefs and hs younger brothers William Charles who attested in Nov 1915 Royal Garrison Artillery and the youngest George Edward (my grandfather) who fearlessly attested 13 days after his 16th birthday in 1917 and went to the front with the Queens's Own (Royal West Kent) - Buffs. He was wounded GSW shoulder attacking a quadrangle near St Quentin on the 18th Sep 1918. He passed in 1976 without speaking a word of his experiences in both wars. Thanks for all your kind support and sharing your time and expertise. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The 2nd Bn Irish Guards war diary records map references of the area they held with 1st Bn CG on 15th September. The location of Alfred's remains were recovered from what was at that time the front line. The 1st Bn CG war diary records 26 ORs killed, 218 wounded and 224 missing, the entry noted in the Soldier's Effects Register 'death presumed' suggests Alfred may be one of those missing. His unmarked battlefield grave was exhumed around February 1932 and likely buried at Thiepval the same day, Alfred was identified by his ID disc, shoulder titles, a ring engraved 'JD' and two fountain pens were also recovered.

1501577948_57cT9a05.jpg.1522b10bd0d5c4538b10dcf68eb7c981.jpg

43112_1192_0-00577.jpg.159d55112c7e3105d3855072e949f17b.jpg

(extracts of Guards Division HQ WD - WO 95/1192)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My roll confirms reported missing from 1 coy 1st battalion 

He was one of 31 reported missing for the month of September . no other men reported missing for the next six months

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Ian,i actually bought  online Alfred James 15 Star as a research project,which i still have,when on the Somme i always visit the Anglo French Cemetery to leave a poppy cross on his grave,noticing another left there, i suspect it must have been yourself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...

Hello Ian, It may be irrelevant but there is also a Frederick Joseph BANYARD Service N° 1330 of the Australian Imperial Forces buried in Villers Bretonneux.

Regards

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandfather (41Div) was at Flers - they were repelling a German counter attack

Is there anywhere I could find the exactly which bit of (?) trench ?

(I have the War Diary but again, no exact bit of trench!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Paul in the Somme said:

Hello Ian, It may be irrelevant but there is also a Frederick Joseph BANYARD Service N° 1330 of the Australian Imperial Forces buried in Villers Bretonneux.

Regards

Paul

Thank you Paul, I’ll do some research to see if there’s a link 👍🏻

Link to comment
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, JulianB said:

My grandfather (41Div) was at Flers - they were repelling a German counter attack

Is there anywhere I could find the exactly which bit of (?) trench ?

(I have the War Diary but again, no exact bit of trench!)

You’ve given us scant detail to go on JulianB… Have you looked at the brigade diary?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another little snippet, Frederick Joseph BANYARD Service N° 1330 of the Australian Imperial Forces enlisted in Warracknabeal Victoria Australia but was born in Fulham London, UK.

All details available on the excellent free of charge National Archives of Australia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gfather was Capt of 123 MG Coy

But I still dont know exactly where they were....

I got WD etc but no details   - I think there are other MGCoy either sides - I'll look them up...........

 

I love the chase.........

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
×
×
  • Create New...