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Casualty Clearance


Spree Farm
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Hi,

Long story but I have been researching the location of my GGF Wilfred Lomas 10 DLI  KIA 16/12/1917 near Pollcappelle. Body was lost, however, I believe I have found his and 6 other graves of 10 DLI killed during this period, I just have to prove it beyond doubt.

I am looking for specific information on the pathway that wounded soldiers would have been removed from both Virile and Spree Farm in December 1917. (9th - 20th).  Would there be any records on who passed down the casualty line. 

I trying to establish the feeder routes to Oxford Road and Nine Elms Cemeteries as they contain DLI soldiers who are buried there and died of wounds around the time Wilfred was killed.  Diary records show they were at Virile or Spree Farms.

I know that the Division was supported by 42nd, 43rd and 44th Field Ambulance but know very little on how they operated.

Thanks

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If you have to prove your theory beyond doubt I assume you're aiming at getting CWGC to accept an ID for some/all of the DLI men?

This will mean more than dotting every 'i' and crossing every 't'. 

Working out a clearance route is one thing, placing named men for CWGC is another.

You're going to have to check through a raft of diaries. You'd need the infantry background for battalion, brigade & division. Then the field ambulance diaries and associated 14th Division ADMS and DDMS for VIII Corps.

I note Nine Elms was the location for two CCSs at this time but none at Oxford road, have to establish if a likely medical unit was there.

As it happens VIII Corps DDMS has a Medical Situation sheet dated 16/12/17 which places the FAs at (all Sheet 28):

Prison, Ypres. Corps Main Dressing Station.

43FA at Vlamertinge.

42FA at ADS Bridge House C.24.a.3.6 & at collecting posts C.28.b.3.7 & C.27.d.2.2.

44FA at Red House G.5.d.7.3

Anyone buried at Nine Elms must have been evacuated to a CCS there. The likelihood of finding names in these diaries is almost impossible.

You can add Ambulance Train & Motor Ambulance Convoys being involved as well.

On a positive note at least the DDMS VIII Corps says that seriously wounded are to be sent to 44 CCS at Nine Elms. That gives you a clearance route from 14th Division's front line to Nine Elms in one simple statement.

TEW

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Sorry, you say they were KIA near Poelcappelle. Evacuating wounded to Nine Elms is straight forward but that would mean they DOW there. Do their Soldiers' Effects state KIA? Do any have service records?

If they are KIA then burial near Poelcappelle is more likely and maybe later concentrations are an option.

TEW

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Service records for Wilfred Lomas survive and state KiA, no burial detail but some personal items were recovered and sent to next of kin 6 months later.

Where do you think they may be buried?

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I thought the suspected burials are at Nine Elms not far from Poperinghe or Oxford Road near Wieltje. The latter has more plausibility as a collecting station and the relevant ADS.

Still sounds more they'd be DOW rather than KIA unless they died on the way?

TEW

 

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1 hour ago, jay dubaya said:

Service records for Wilfred Lomas survive and state KiA, no burial detail but some personal items were recovered and sent to next of kin 6 months later.

Where do you think they may be buried?

To answer the above questions.

As I said this is a long story  but to answer the interesting tones of some of the responses,  Yes I do know what I am doing and I have done my research and I now need the help of some more experienced people to direct my research.

Before I am asked I have had my research analysed by historical people at Durham University and they  believe my information is accurate, I just need more information to clarify. I have also have been working with CWGC on this subject.

Yes, I have all the military details of Wilfred and the information from my still alive mother (80) that there was a letter from the early 1920, that was still in the family along with his belongings until the death of my grandfather in 1972, that informed the family that he was exhumed and reburied in Poelcappelle.  

During the last three years I have trawled through over 10,000 exhumation records so far and I have recorded every grid references and details of the exhumation provided, combine this with DLI and Divisional diary records plus other information gathered, I have narrowed the information down to burials in two cemeteries, Poelcappelle and Passchendael New British Cemetery and an area less than 500 yards square metres of body recovery. Each exhumation record recorded states UBS - Durham Light Infantry recovered from initial burial sites, and in some case also contained the named dead of members of 10th Bn DLI. All these were in the area of deployment in the given time period.

Given that that I cannot yet find any other DLI Bn that was deployed to the area narrows it down somewhat. 

Yes, I have service records or part of for the people I am looking for and I have also been in contact with 3 families whose relatives were also killed at this time who have provide information.

The 10th Bn War diaries it indicates that Wilfred was probably killed between 0730 and 0800 or 1900 and 1930, although there could be the option that he was killed by machine gun fire as there was a position less than 50 metre away. It is irrelevant how he died, only the location is and the subsequent burial is. 

The two at Oxford Road, maybe they arrive dead and died at Spree Farm through shell fire as report killed on the 15th/16th December, then move to a collection point and forwarded for burial. The same goes for Nine Elms Cemeteries, which could be the feeder from track No 6 and Virile Farm.

So, I am looking for the 16 or so wounded that were evacuated during this period to try and prove they were from the same company as Wilfred or a secondary company that also had casualties during this period.

Hope this helps

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Records from New Passhendaele Cemetery

Passendale New Cemetery.PNG

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4 hours ago, TEW said:

If you have to prove your theory beyond doubt I assume you're aiming at getting CWGC to accept an ID for some/all of the DLI men?

This will mean more than dotting every 'i' and crossing every 't'. 

Working out a clearance route is one thing, placing named men for CWGC is another.

You're going to have to check through a raft of diaries. You'd need the infantry background for battalion, brigade & division. Then the field ambulance diaries and associated 14th Division ADMS and DDMS for VIII Corps.

I note Nine Elms was the location for two CCSs at this time but none at Oxford road, have to establish if a likely medical unit was there.

As it happens VIII Corps DDMS has a Medical Situation sheet dated 16/12/17 which places the FAs at (all Sheet 28):

Prison, Ypres. Corps Main Dressing Station.

43FA at Vlamertinge.

42FA at ADS Bridge House C.24.a.3.6 & at collecting posts C.28.b.3.7 & C.27.d.2.2.

44FA at Red House G.5.d.7.3

Anyone buried at Nine Elms must have been evacuated to a CCS there. The likelihood of finding names in these diaries is almost impossible.

You can add Ambulance Train & Motor Ambulance Convoys being involved as well.

On a positive note at least the DDMS VIII Corps says that seriously wounded are to be sent to 44 CCS at Nine Elms. That gives you a clearance route from 14th Division's front line to Nine Elms in one simple statement.

TEW

Need to digest this. I am working on 'why would the take some of the dead back so far behind the line and others they left'! Rational says they were wounded and died either on route or at detestation 

39 minutes ago, TEW said:

I thought the suspected burials are at Nine Elms not far from Poperinghe or Oxford Road near Wieltje. The latter has more plausibility as a collecting station and the relevant ADS.

Still sounds more they'd be DOW rather than KIA unless they died on the way?

TEW

 

agreed

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3 hours ago, TEW said:

Sorry, you say they were KIA near Poelcappelle. Evacuating wounded to Nine Elms is straight forward but that would mean they DOW there. Do their Soldiers' Effects state KIA? Do any have service records?

If they are KIA then burial near Poelcappelle is more likely and maybe later concentrations are an option.

TEW

Concentrations went either to Poelcappelle or later recoveries to New Passchendael Cemetery, there was one taken to Tyne Cot, but his recovery exhumation grid reference seems so far out to where the Bn was located. Understandable, reading the body recovery process after the war.

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29 minutes ago, Spree Farm said:

there was a letter from the early 1920, that was still in the family along with his belongings until the death of my grandfather in 1972, that informed the family that he was exhumed and reburied in Poelcappelle.

Can I assume this letter is now lost? Was it an official letter from IWGC or a personal letter from a comrade? 
The letter may appear to infer the IWGC knew they had exhumed Wilfred’s remains but subsequently lost them when reinterred at Poelcapplle. 

The CoG-BR posted above infers these 3 DLI graves had been GRU registered unlike those of Dunn and the UBS DLI buried beside him.

I need to do some catch-up with DLI movements in the area and check the casualties for the period. 

 

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The evacuation of 14th Division and the rest of VIII Corps wounded back to Nine Elms is pretty straight forward.

The level of detail you're after will require the front line aspect which can get tricky. The RAPs need to be located, these may be given by medical units or by battalion/brigade diaries.

42 FA are running an ADS at Bridge House near Spree Farm and evacuating along that road into Ypres.

42 FA may well be based at Bridge House but they no doubt have bearer posts or relays working with regimental bearers perhaps up to the RAPs. It's these bearers who brought men back to the Spree Farm area.

I can only suggest starting with 42 FA diary and the 14th Division Assistant Director Medical Services.

It's possible the nine FAs of 3 Divisions across VIII Corps were working as a entity so perhaps you have bearers from another division assisting (more diaries!).

As to why would they take the dead so far back. It's possible that some dead were easier to retrieve than others.

TEW

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, jay dubaya said:

Can I assume this letter is now lost? Was it an official letter from IWGC or a personal letter from a comrade? 
The letter may appear to infer the IWGC knew they had exhumed Wilfred’s remains but subsequently lost them when reinterred at Poelcapplle. 

The CoG-BR posted above infers these 3 DLI graves had been GRU registered unlike those of Dunn and the UBS DLI buried beside him.

I need to do some catch-up with DLI movements in the area and check the casualties for the period. 

 

Unfortunately, it was given to my uncle along with his watch and wallet and lots of other keepsakes when my grandfather died in 1972. He promptly sold them. Yes, it was a letter I am led to believe from CWGC and mum remembers it due to the strange name 'Poelcappelle' and always said he is not at Tyne Cot.

I ask CWGC about the registeration numbers on the graves at PNBC and they said they must be local exhumation numbers. I ask why other graves didn't have such numbers, the reply was they didn't know.

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8 hours ago, TEW said:

The evacuation of 14th Division and the rest of VIII Corps wounded back to Nine Elms is pretty straight forward.

The level of detail you're after will require the front line aspect which can get tricky. The RAPs need to be located, these may be given by medical units or by battalion/brigade diaries.

42 FA are running an ADS at Bridge House near Spree Farm and evacuating along that road into Ypres.

42 FA may well be based at Bridge House but they no doubt have bearer posts or relays working with regimental bearers perhaps up to the RAPs. It's these bearers who brought men back to the Spree Farm area.

I can only suggest starting with 42 FA diary and the 14th Division Assistant Director Medical Services.

It's possible the nine FAs of 3 Divisions across VIII Corps were working as a entity so perhaps you have bearers from another division assisting (more diaries!).

As to why would they take the dead so far back. It's possible that some dead were easier to retrieve than others.

TEW

 

 

 

 

I have been through the Divisional, the BN, the SLI, DCLI and YLI of which I own copies.

I am aware of a field hospital at Spree Farm that belonged to the NZ but not sure if it was there at the time.

 

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I'll devote some time over the weekend

In the mean time there was a dressing station for 14th Division 16/12/17 close to Spree Farm. They call it Bridge House, less than 500 yards to the SW of Spree Farm.

Field Hospitals are much further back, nearer the coastal ports.

TEW

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I have attached a page from Colonel Morant's person dairy where they exchanged the dead with the Germans.

I have also attached a copy of Richard Stafford's Platoon Commanders letter about his death. I believe that one of the graves in PNBS is his. There is no mention of Lt Leveson who is a UBO being recovered so this may indicate it was before his death. 

Dunn, Shaw, UBS DLI and one UBS were recovered from 20.v.29.b.5.5. with two more UBS DLI from 20.v.29.b.5.6. and 20.v.29.b.5.7. This gives me six out of 7 and no mention of a UBO. I have however found a UBO at 20.v.29.b.8.8. which is on the front line. Leveson was shot in the head by sniper.

 

Morant's diary.PNG

Copy of letter re Richard Stafford.jpg

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These are examples of the records I am chasing. These are from 34th CCS  supporting 2/6 Notts and Derby

Admissionand discharge.PNG

admission entry example.PNG

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My main point of search is in the vicinity of Virile Farm. I had a lead about Westgarth and Spree Farm and I wish to clarify he wasn't sent back down the line at any point and he is where I believe he was killed, which is Poelcappelle.

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7 hours ago, Spree Farm said:

I have attached a page from Colonel Morant's person dairy where they exchanged the dead with the Germans.

 

Morant's diary.PNG

 

This is very interesting. Do you have more details about this diary? I would be most interested to find out whether I can find something about this in the German sources.

Jan

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39 minutes ago, Spree Farm said:

Hi Jan,

His diary is available free on line at Durham at War. This is the link to his diary, Part 15 is where the extract is from - towards the end. 

https://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/material/21/

OMG, there's a drawing of Polderhoek Chateau in there! :w00t: And a short description of his visit in 1919! Amazing stuff (I'm particularly interested in that area as my grandparents were farmers on that bit of land from the late 1930s until the early 1970s and it's the area which I know very well from walking on the fields).

Anyway, that's off-topic. I'll see whether I find anything about this exchange of corpses in the German regimental histories and post it here.

Jan

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There is a lot of stuff about this in the German regimental histories (the note made by Colonel Morton about the 2nd Guard Reserve Division being on the German side is correct).

In RIR 77:

Wie verworren die Linienführung ist, geht daraus hervor, dass bei der Ablösung fünf Mann der 7. Kompanie zu den Engländern gehen. Im gleichen Augenblick nimmt Vizefeldwebel van Rahden (1. Kompanie) zwei Engländer liebevoll in Empfang. Der Gedanke: den Tommies ergeht es ebenso dreckig! ist nur ein magerer Trost, hat aber insofern sein Gutes, als man später gegenseitig einen "Burgfrieden" schließt, d. h. man tut sich nichts, wenn mal jemand aufsteht, um die verrenkten Glieder wieder geradezubiegen.

Hierüber entnehmen wir einem Feldpostbrief des Unteroffiziers Euling (8. Kompanie) Nachstehendes: "... Wir sind zwei Tage vorn gewesen. Der Engländer war dieses Mal sehr friedlich. Es ist gewissermaßen gegenseitige Abmachung der Infanterie, daß nicht geschossen wird. Die Tommies kommen aus den Löchern, schwenken mit den Armen und legen die Hand zum Gruß an den Stahlhelm, den wir kameradschaftlich erwidern. Unsere Vorgänger sind sogar drüben gewesen und haben Zigarren, Zigaretten und Lebensmittel ausgetauscht. Wenngleich solche Visiten auch zu verurteilen sind, so ist die stillschweigende Verständigung, sich gegenseitig nicht zu belästigen, in dieser üblen Lage für beide Teile außerordentlich wertvoll..."

and a bit further:

Am Vormittag des 13. Dezember erscheinen im Vorfelde (12. Kompanie) einige unbewaffnete Engländer mit der Roten-Kreuz-Flagge und liefern die Erkennungsmarke eines gefallenen Deutschen ab, nachdem sie kurz vorher bei einer Feldwache des R.I.R. 91 aus demselben Grunde "vorsprachen". Das Regiment verbietet, sich in Zukunft auf derartige Anbiederungen einzulassen.

RIR 91 doesn't mention any fraternizations in its regimental history. I'll have to check some other units as the division here was relieved every 6 days (because of the horrible living circumstances in the front line).

Jan

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9 hours ago, Spree Farm said:

I ask CWGC about the registeration numbers on the graves at PNBC and they said they must be local exhumation numbers. I ask why other graves didn't have such numbers, the reply was they didn't know.

Those numbers could be numbered crosses erected by Belgians, below is a text that I wrote long ago and an example of a Burial Return sheet where these are mentioned.

Hope this helps,

Luc.

Reconstruction of the area was also done from 1919 onwards. Teams of the Belgian labour corps were clearing the fields from shells and other war material, in the process many bodies  were found and reported to the Belgian graves services. These services then placed a Belgian cross on the grave with a reference number and alerted the British authorities of their find if the remains were deemed to be British, so that these could take the necessary steps for identification and move the remains to one of their cemeteries.

doc1828492.JPG.e2fbc06937bbfa7183ff05d9e189cbaa.JPG

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Re. the 34CCS example you are chasing.

The 34CCS example is part of a 5% sample retained for statistical analysis circa 1973, the rest were destroyed.

Those that exist can be searched via Findmypast but they can be full of original errors. Unless a likely field ambulance book is among those retained (don't think there is) I'm afraid it's a dead end.

TEW

Edited by TEW
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2 hours ago, AOK4 said:

There is a lot of stuff about this in the German regimental histories (the note made by Colonel Morton about the 2nd Guard Reserve Division being on the German side is correct).

In RIR 77:

Wie verworren die Linienführung ist, geht daraus hervor, dass bei der Ablösung fünf Mann der 7. Kompanie zu den Engländern gehen. Im gleichen Augenblick nimmt Vizefeldwebel van Rahden (1. Kompanie) zwei Engländer liebevoll in Empfang. Der Gedanke: den Tommies ergeht es ebenso dreckig! ist nur ein magerer Trost, hat aber insofern sein Gutes, als man später gegenseitig einen "Burgfrieden" schließt, d. h. man tut sich nichts, wenn mal jemand aufsteht, um die verrenkten Glieder wieder geradezubiegen.

Hierüber entnehmen wir einem Feldpostbrief des Unteroffiziers Euling (8. Kompanie) Nachstehendes: "... Wir sind zwei Tage vorn gewesen. Der Engländer war dieses Mal sehr friedlich. Es ist gewissermaßen gegenseitige Abmachung der Infanterie, daß nicht geschossen wird. Die Tommies kommen aus den Löchern, schwenken mit den Armen und legen die Hand zum Gruß an den Stahlhelm, den wir kameradschaftlich erwidern. Unsere Vorgänger sind sogar drüben gewesen und haben Zigarren, Zigaretten und Lebensmittel ausgetauscht. Wenngleich solche Visiten auch zu verurteilen sind, so ist die stillschweigende Verständigung, sich gegenseitig nicht zu belästigen, in dieser üblen Lage für beide Teile außerordentlich wertvoll..."

and a bit further:

Am Vormittag des 13. Dezember erscheinen im Vorfelde (12. Kompanie) einige unbewaffnete Engländer mit der Roten-Kreuz-Flagge und liefern die Erkennungsmarke eines gefallenen Deutschen ab, nachdem sie kurz vorher bei einer Feldwache des R.I.R. 91 aus demselben Grunde "vorsprachen". Das Regiment verbietet, sich in Zukunft auf derartige Anbiederungen einzulassen.

RIR 91 doesn't mention any fraternizations in its regimental history. I'll have to check some other units as the division here was relieved every 6 days (because of the horrible living circumstances in the front line).

Jan

I will get my wife Vicky to translate and repost

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1 hour ago, LDT006 said:

Those numbers could be numbered crosses erected by Belgians, below is a text that I wrote long ago and an example of a Burial Return sheet where these are mentioned.

Hope this helps,

Luc.

Reconstruction of the area was also done from 1919 onwards. Teams of the Belgian labour corps were clearing the fields from shells and other war material, in the process many bodies  were found and reported to the Belgian graves services. These services then placed a Belgian cross on the grave with a reference number and alerted the British authorities of their find if the remains were deemed to be British, so that these could take the necessary steps for identification and move the remains to one of their cemeteries.

doc1828492.JPG.e2fbc06937bbfa7183ff05d9e189cbaa.JPG

Many thanks, Is there a record of these Belgium grave references outside of CWGC?

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