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12859 George William Davis - 3rd Bn. Royal Fusiliers/3rd Bn. London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) confusion?


William Henry
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Picking up on the comment by @Charlie962 in the Thomas Reginald Deadman thread that "that 2 RF was not the same as 2 London"  now seems the time to ask this question about something I spotted last week.

Thinking vaguely about a future project on the 3rd Royal Fusiliers – my grandfather’s battalion – I downloaded a list of their dead from the CWGC site and noticed that their first man (supposedly) killed was 12859 Private George William Davis, who died 23rd December 1914 and is buried in Merville Communal Cemetery (details via CWGC link below):

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/538787/george-william-davis/

The other records on the CWGC site, such as the CWGC Grave Registration Report Form, all show him as a member of the 3rd Royal Fusiliers, or just of the Royal Fusiliers, with no mention of another Unit or Regiment, as does his Medal Index Card (attached, courtesy The National Archives).

But this can’t be right, because the 3rd RF War Diary entry for December 23rd shows the Battalion to be disembarking at Devonport from H.M.T. Galeka, having returned from India. The Battalion did not embark for France until January 18th 1915.  The Register of Soldiers Effects (attached, courtesy Ancestry) also suggests that something is amiss, again showing him as a 3rd Royal Fusilier but also throwing the Meerut Division into the picture – but the 3rd Royal Fusiliers formed part of 28th Division.

Soldiers Died in the Great War (screenshot attached, courtesy Ancestry) may give us the answer, recording him as a member of the 3rd Battalion London Regiment – which takes us back to @Charlie962’s quote.

To add to any confusion, the 3rd Royal Fusilier with the number 12859 is also called Davis with no e.

Is Private Davis therefore a 3rd Royal Fusilier (it doesn’t look like it to me), have the CWGC buried him as a member of the wrong Regiment or am I not understanding what I’m seeing? - (this is the likeliest answer)

Medal Index Card.png

Register of Soldiers Effects.png

SDGW.png

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12 minutes ago, William Henry said:

3rd Royal Fusiliers – my grandfather’s battalion – I downloaded a list of their dead from the CWGC site and noticed that their first man (supposedly) killed was 12859 Private George William Davis, who died 23rd December 1914 and is buried in Merville Communal Cemetery

12 minutes ago, William Henry said:

But this can’t be right, because the 3rd RF War Diary entry for December 23rd shows the Battalion to be disembarking at Devonport from H.M.T. Galeka, having returned from India.

A puzzle but the records above say Died ... so not necessarily "Killed"

Furthermore the Soldier's Effects entry is No 7 Clg Hosp, Merville

A further Pension Index Card at WFA/Fold3 as DAVIS, George William, 12859, 3RF, also records Died in Hospital - Mother recorded as: Mrs Mary Ann BEVAN, Littleton Panell, Wiltshire [as per CWGC]

And there is a MIC for 1914 Star trio entitlement for DAVIS, George, 12859, 1/R. Fus. [Date of entry: 26.9.14 / Died 23.12.14] - Mrs Mary Ann BEVAN, Littleton Panell, Wiltshire claimed

M

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The Soldiers Effects entry shows him as Meerut Signal Company of Indian Expeditionary Force A. Thus I think he was attached to this other unit and it is that diary you need to follow. Perhaps they went in advance eg to set up communications?

The Signal Companies, particularly for the Indian contingents, often had infantry signallers attached.

Charlie 

"Divisional Signal Company | The National Archives" https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7356111

Looking closely at that Soldier's Effects entry, you can see the original unit was Meerut Signal Co and the words "3rd RL Fus a"  (a as in attached) have been inserted later.

 

Edited by charlie962
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30 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

What do you think of this ICRC card?

"Prisoners of the First World War | International Committee of the Red Cross - Details about the person" https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/3235994/3/2/

That's a puzzle too - "Missing since Dec 22nd" = ???

Other records have "Died in hospital" and a known grave.

M

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10 hours ago, William Henry said:

Register of Soldiers Effects.png

 

1.  Casualty Clearing Stations were originally called Casualty Clearing Hospitals or just Clearing Hospitals. The 'Hospital' part was dropped in early 1915 due to the UK general public believing that these were fully equipped hospitals well away from the front line.

No. 7 Clearing Hospital, in the Jesuit School at Merville, was criticised when inspected in Dec 14 and Jan 15:

1063965182_7CHMerville.jpg.9ca44ba071c16d189894a506136f7eb8.jpg

Edit

From this thread:

JP

Edited by helpjpl
to add link
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Thank you all, suddenly there's a lot going on.

3 hours ago, charlie962 said:

Looking closely at that Soldier's Effects entry, you can see the original unit was Meerut Signal Co and the words "3rd RL Fus a"  (a as in attached) have been inserted later.

 

I missed the a(ttached) on Soldiers' Effects - the 3rd RF was in India, so George William Davis was (it seems) attached to the Meerut Division while out there and went to France with it, leaving the Battalion before it sailed for Devonport.

On the face of it the ICRC enquiry found by @charlie962 makes no sense, as @Matlock1418 says Davis died in a hospital, so they had a body, and he has a grave - unless there was some breakdown in communication while getting the news back to his mother, who is now Mrs. Beaven - without knowing the date of her re-marriage perhaps she had moved and that had something to do with it, but without wishing to denigrate the place how big could Littleton Panell have been?

As a very provisional conclusion subject to my further investigation, would I be on completely the wrong track to think that George William Davis was a 3rd Royal Fusilier, separated from his Battalion by an attachment, and that it was the compiler of SDGW who confused the 3rd RF with the 3rd London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)?  But wouldn't that mean there are two men in the 3rd RF with the number 12859 (see C. Davis MIC attached, courtesy The National Archives), unless numbers were re-used upon the death of the original holder? - in which case they knew George William Davis was dead and would tell his N of K, so once again why the ICRC enquiry? What a weird coincidence that 12859 Mk.II should also be called - and spelt - Davis.

C Davis 3rd RF MIC.png

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2 minutes ago, William Henry said:

As a very provisional conclusion subject to my further investigation, would I be on completely the wrong track to think that George William Davis was a 3rd Royal Fusilier, separated from his Battalion by an attachment, and that it was the compiler of SDGW who confused the 3rd RF with the 3rd London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)?  

 

What does it say on the actual Medal Roll ?  Ancestry link provided earlier.

View.jpg.e1ebf22714be69f03481483681dee9ae.jpg

JP

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I think he was 3RF, attached Meerut Signals. Possibly an Aug 1907 enlistment on 7/5 basis so still in Colour service when war broke out (further checks on near numbers required). I doubt there were two different men.

SDGW has him as Islington/Hornsea so his mother will have moved, remarried, lost contact whilst he was in India perhaps. But does Signals Diary I linked suggest a scrap on the 22nd?

Charlie

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Hi,

46 minutes ago, helpjpl said:

What does it say on the actual Medal Roll ?

14 Star Roll
image.png.636c48d6119d43a862d4df4a2770429f.png
image.png.41bb717ff141832614fc59b31ba61d77.png

British War & Victory Medals Roll
image.png.b8fdb4beb4fafe63e50cfe8b337e6b57.png
Images sourced from Ancestry

Regards
Chris

Edited by clk
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That L number is indeed an Aug 1907 Regular enlistment 7/5 and thus 3RF would be correct because 3 London's were TF.

Charlie

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Thank you everybody, that explains the apparent (to a complete novice like me) incongruity of a man being buried as a member of a Battalion that wasn't even in the same country as he was when he died.

1 hour ago, charlie962 said:

. But does Signals Diary I linked suggest a scrap on the 22nd?

Charlie

No, not on the 22nd, but there was an action on the 19th when "An attack was carried out in the early morning and some of the enemy's trenches taken.  Later in the day some of the trenches were retaken by the enemy near Fitzhubert" (Festubert?) - but as @Matlock1418said, SDGW says Died, not Killed (or Died of Wounds). As the post made by @helpjpl about Number 7  Clearing Hospital shows, being taken there wouldn't have done much for him.

Apologies also to @helpjpl, I need to get into the Library to look at Ancestry to follow his link to the Medal Roll and it's shut today - and that's one of the lessons learned for me, don't ask a question until I've looked at all the records (blindingly obvious really, but learning from a standing start as I go), so thanks to @clkfor posting it. The other lesson is don't take SDGW as unquestionably correct.

Thank you again to all.

Edited by William Henry
Addition of "Died of Wounds" to reasons not given for death, and Fitzhubert not Fitzherbert
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Just two observations  on the excellent work above, -just speculations,so safety catches off in anticipation of shooting me down;

1)   Died.   I have never found any confusion in the records or SDGW for KIA, DOW and DIED.   Died decidedly means NOT  KIA or DOW.  Unlikely to be an infectious disease as men went to hospitals with separate infectious camps.  Thus, accident  or- I regret to say-  possibly  suicide.  

2)   Would casualty notification  on attachment to the Meerut Division have been routed through  India and back again, which might (it's a speculation) account for the  confusion?   British but attached to Indian- in military terms of tidy minds and files, then neither fish nor fowl.

7CCS records 79 casualties coming in 22nd December  1914, with one death the next day. The burial sheet on CWGC records no other  burial that day at Merville

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Hi,

The war diary for the Meerut Division HQ is available as a free download from the National Archives (link); and the CRE 7 Indian (Meerut) Division - link

Regards
Chris

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8 minutes ago, ALAN MCMAHON said:

Just two observations  on the excellent work above, -just speculations,so safety catches off in anticipation of shooting me down;

1)   Died.   I have never found any confusion in the records or SDGW for KIA, DOW and DIED.   Died decidedly means NOT  KIA or DOW.  Unlikely to be an infectious disease as men went to hospitals with separate infectious camps.  Thus, accident  or- I regret to say-  possibly  suicide.  

 

Sorry Alan, I wasn't clear, I meant SDGW confusion around his Regiment rather than around his cause of death.

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