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Remembered Today:

William Barker 4021 Liverpool Regiment 319588 Labour Corps


Robuk88
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Morning guys,

I am doing some research on William Barker who served as 4021 in the Liverpool Regiment it looks as though he was injured and joined the labour corps as 319588. He died while at home his grave is his Liverpool Regiment cap badge and number which i think is unusual as in my experience they bury you as your last serving regiment. According to his medal index card he drowned sadly on the 23rd August 1917. I can't find the account in the British Newspaper Archives i wondered if anyone would have any success in finding this? and what happened?

Any information greatly appreciated.

Thank you
Rob

30850_A000088-01897 (1).jpg

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12 minutes ago, Robuk88 said:

He died while at home his grave is his Liverpool Regiment cap badge and number which i think is unusual as in my experience they bury you as your last serving regiment.

Not at all uncommon to use an earlier unit.

In my opinion Labour Corps alone tended to be used only if it was the only unit served in.

M

Edit:  In many cases also not that uncommon to have both former and later units, along the lines of:

Blankshire Regiment and Labour Corps or Labour Corps, formerly Blankshire Regiment

... as I now similarly see is the case for Barker:  transf. to (319558) Eastern Command Labour Coy Labour Corp https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/370441/william-hector-barker

Edited by Matlock1418
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1 hour ago, Matlock1418 said:

Not at all uncommon to use an earlier unit.

In my opinion Labour Corps alone tended to be used only if it was the only unit served in.

M

Edit:  In many cases also not that uncommon to have both former and later units, along the lines of:

Blankshire Regiment and Labour Corps or Labour Corps, formerly Blankshire Regiment

... as I now similarly see is the case for Barker:  transf. to (319558) Eastern Command Labour Coy Labour Corp https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/370441/william-hector-barker

Just my first time coming across this. Thank you

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It does somewhat seem the Labour Corps was the rather less glamourous and less favourerd child!

I personally would think that "Labour Corps, 567890, formerly Blankshire Regiment, 1234" would be the more logical approach but obviously not done routinely.

I would be very interesed to see the documented logic/explanation for the various options that we now see = Preference of: Unit(s), I/CWGC or family ???

M

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I think its just a logical sense of identity. So and so, joined and served with a particular regiment. He belonged to that regiment and if he was transferred to another for some reason he'll have been absorbed into the family and its identity. The Labour Corps on the other hand was, largely, somewhere for soldiers no longer fit to serve in a "real" regiment, and so far as this case [like so many other] is concerned he still thought of himself as a member of the Liverpool Regiment 

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41 minutes ago, 6RRF said:

I think its just a logical sense of identity. So and so, joined and served with a particular regiment. He belonged to that regiment and if he was transferred to another for some reason he'll have been absorbed into the family and its identity. The Labour Corps on the other hand was, largely, somewhere for soldiers no longer fit to serve in a "real" regiment, and so far as this case [like so many other] is concerned he still thought of himself as a member of the Liverpool Regiment 

I could perhaps kind of see/agree [?] with that sort of line of thought - based on the kudos of the infantry regiment etc., [it s quite a human way of thinking based on perception of status] - but it is illogical [in my opinion any way]

If you die as a Bus Driver you aren't recorded as dying as a Train Driver, even if that was your previous and perceived higher status occupation.

I do think the LC was rather considered the less favoured child and treated as such - in my opinion a real shame as they had a significant role in the war effort, both at home and abroad.

I suspect the status of HS LC was considered even 'lower' still and even less likely to get used if a 'higher' alternative was available.

And yet one must always consider the possiblity of a man serving in many units before the LC - how was one chosen?

The LC as last seems most logical - regardless of its 'status'.

Thus - would love to see the official stance on how such I/CWGC records and inscriptions were arrived at.

M

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Good old 'Liverpool Echo'. Page 2 from 29 Aug 1917. 

 

 

William Barker.jpg

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33 minutes ago, IRC Kevin said:

Good old 'Liverpool Echo'. Page 2 from 29 Aug 1917. 

 

 

William Barker.jpg

You absolute legend. Thank you for finding this.

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Just now, Robuk88 said:

You absolute legend. Thank you for finding this.

You're welcome. There should be an inquest report but can't find papers for Thetford or Norwich (where the inquest would have been held) for that date- so possibly not digitised yet. I'm surprised that the Liverpool papers didn't pick up on the inquest as they're usually quite good at that.

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1 hour ago, IRC Kevin said:

There should be an inquest report but can't find papers for Thetford or Norwich (where the inquest would have been held) for that date

I've got nothing noted for the Norwich Mercury, a twice weekly newspaper for the editions printed on the 25th, 29th August and 1st September.
Ditto the Norfolk Chronicle, a weekly newspaper for the edition of the 31st. There is a note in the records at the County Archive to say the edition of the 24th went missing prior to the filming done in 1995. Normally that wouldn't matter to much, but you don't have too read too many newspapers fron the period to see inquests held and completed the same day as the death and for it to be reported the next day - after which sadly it was old news.
The daily newspapers, the Eastern Daily Press and the Eastern Evening News may have it covered but unfortunately I haven't got as far as August 1917.

None of those titles are online. If no-one else comes up with anything then will take a look next time I'm in the County Archive.

Titles that are online at the likes of the British Newspaper Archive \ FindMyPast and routinely included stories about Thetford are the Diss Express, and the Bury Free Press, both weekly newspapers. Major items \ column fillers may turn up in the Lynn News or the Lynn Advertiser. Given the poor transcription standards on the likes of BNA, which is then replicated on FMP, it may be worthwhile checking out the relevant issues of those titles and having a read through.

Cheers,
Peter

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7 hours ago, PRC said:

I've got nothing noted for the Norwich Mercury, a twice weekly newspaper for the editions printed on the 25th, 29th August and 1st September.
Ditto the Norfolk Chronicle, a weekly newspaper for the edition of the 31st. There is a note in the records at the County Archive to say the edition of the 24th went missing prior to the filming done in 1995. Normally that wouldn't matter to much, but you don't have too read too many newspapers fron the period to see inquests held and completed the same day as the death and for it to be reported the next day - after which sadly it was old news.
The daily newspapers, the Eastern Daily Press and the Eastern Evening News may have it covered but unfortunately I haven't got as far as August 1917.

None of those titles are online. If no-one else comes up with anything then will take a look next time I'm in the County Archive.

Titles that are online at the likes of the British Newspaper Archive \ FindMyPast and routinely included stories about Thetford are the Diss Express, and the Bury Free Press, both weekly newspapers. Major items \ column fillers may turn up in the Lynn News or the Lynn Advertiser. Given the poor transcription standards on the likes of BNA, which is then replicated on FMP, it may be worthwhile checking out the relevant issues of those titles and having a read through.

Cheers,
Peter

Thank you Peter i will give that a try. I didn't even realise that not all newspapers had been digitised onto the BNA database.

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  • 1 month later...
On 06/04/2022 at 07:11, Robuk88 said:

Thank you Peter i will give that a try. I didn't even realise that not all newspapers had been digitised onto the BNA database.

I hadn’t forgotten I said I’d check it out if I got into the local archives, and indeed when I was in the local studies part of the Norwich Central Library about three weeks ago I did take a look.

Firstly I have to say that the reporting at the time and the surviving documents leaves a lot to be desired.

I went in to look at the two main Norwich based papers that circulated widely in Norfolk and North Suffolk – the Eastern Daily Press, (EDP) and it’s stable mate, the Eastern Evening News, (EEN).

The micro-film copy of the EDP for the last weeks of August 1917 was in a dreadful state, with many articles so dark as to be unreadable.

I switched to the EEN as in my experience that consists of roughly 2/3rd articles from that days EDP and 1/3rd articles that would appear in the next days EDP. I did find something, but it was non specific and a column filler in the bottom right hand corner of the page – just about the point where the scanner used loses focus. Here’s my best guess at what it says.

Eastern Evening News, Monday, August 27, 1917.

SOLDIER DROWNED AT EAST WRETHAM

The County Coroner (Mr. R.A. Culley) has received information of the death by drowning at East Wretham of a soldier in a Labour unit. Several men were bathing together on the evening(?) of the 23rd inst., when one of them suddenly disappeared and his body was not discovered until the morning of the 25th inst. An inquiry will be held.

I did check out the rest of the papers for the week, but no mention of the coroners inquest. And from the 1st September 1917 as a result of the national newsprint shortage, the EEN halved the number of pages, so even more likely that something that wouldn’t sell a single extra edition might not make it in – although I did check the first two weeks of September 1917 in case.

So the slightest of leads – a death at East Wretham would certainly be registered in the Thetford District, and we know Private Barker was in the Labour Corps.

Yesterday I got a chance to do some searches on the British Newspaper Archive site at my local branch library, and tried a search for “Wretham” + “drown” reported in the period August 20th to August 31st 1917.

I got one relevant match, but the curse continues – something has been laid  cut across the article, (in the left hand column). I tried altering the contrast, changing brightness and inceasing sharpness, but came to the conclusion that the hints of text that can tantilisingly be seen through the obscuring overlay have nothing to do with the article.

1645196176_DissExpress-Friday31August1917page8sourcedBNAcrop1.png.75b1d71fcd6d12db06de69b5b706d12f.png

Image courtesy the British Newspaper Archive and appears toward the bottom of the first column on Page 8 of the edition of the Diss Express dated Friday, August 31, 1917. NB – the Diss Express was a weekly newspaper, published on Fridays.

Here’s my best guess at reconstucting the article.

[The] Norfolk County Coroner (Mr. H.R. Culley)
[held an] inquest on Monday at Wretham on the body
[of Willia]m Archibald Baker, a private in the labour
[corps who] was drowned while bathing in Langmere
[on the previ]ous Thursday. The evidence showed that
[Pte. Baker], who had served at the front and been
[????] went to bathe with some companions,
[but got into diffic]ulty in the water. All could swim,
[and it was the int]ention to swim to an island in the
[mere. About] half-way there they encountered
[??????? and althou]gh the deceased attempted to
[???????] so, and disappeared. One
[man tried to dive un]der water to find him, and
[???????????] but without success. On
[???? Constables ??]nes and Finch searched
[and recovered the body] from the weeds on
[Friday. The jury returned a v]erdict of “Accidental
[death.”]

728444191_DissExpress-Friday31August1917page8sourcedBNAcrop2.png.67470724a920fdc90d68948cb7b9b08a.png

I wouldn’t like to say when I’m next going to the Country Archive to see what their micro-filmed  version of the Diss Express has to say, so that’s probably the best I can do.

However to give you some idea of what might have happened here’s anothers coroners inquest on a drowning a Langmere, although this one took place in 1940.

PROBABLY CAUGHT IN WEEDS

How A.B. Was Drowned in Langmere

A verdict of “Death by misadventure”” was returned by the Diss District Coroner (Mr. G.K.Burne) at an inquest held yesterday afternoon at Wretham Rectory on William Arthur John Pike (21), able seaman, who lost his life when bathing in Langmere on Saturday afternoon. Twice during this war Pike had saved his life by swimming, once when his ship was bombed and again when his ship, a destroyer, was torpedoed.

The mother Mrs Dorothy C.J.Pike, of West View, Great Hockham, said her son was home on 14 days leave. He was a good swimmer, but had never been to Langmere before. He was strong and healthy and his war experiences had not affected him.

COSTUME DID NOT FIT

Miss Audrey Constance Smith, of Harling Road, Great Hockham, and she had been walking out with Pike for two years, and she went with him to Langmere. His bathing costume did not fit properly and he merely tied it around him. He said, “I am going to swim across to the island.” She watched him go across and when he was 10 or 15 yards off the island his hands or his legs came up out of the water and he disappeared. She called to some other people, but they did not hear her, and she had to run round to them. A man swam to the island but found no trace of Pike.

Police-Inspector G. Dye, Thetford, said he went to the mere with Police-constable Woods, and Miss Smith pointed out where Pike had disappeared. Police-constable Woods repeatedly dived into the mere, but could not find Pike. A boat and drags were secured, and they dragged the mere until 10.15 that night, recovering the bathing costume, which was inside out, but not the body. They began dragging operations again the following morning and recovered the body again about noon. It was in eight feet of water and Woods dived in and brought it to the surface. Pike had swum about 150 yards and was within 10 yards of land when he disappeared. There was a mass of weed at the spot were the body was recovered, and there were weeds twined round Pike’s wrists. In his opinion death was caused by the weeds dragging him under the water, The water was 15 feet deep in places. It was possible Pike’s costume had slipped down, hampering his leg movements. Police-constable Woods worked very hard, and he did not think they could have recovered the body without his assistance.

POLICE OFFICER COMMENDED

Recording his verdict, the Coroner said it seemed probable that Pike’s bathing costume slipped down and that in reaching down to it he got entangled in the weeds.

Mrs. Pike said she wished to thank the Inspector and Police-constable Woods for the wonderful work they put in.

The Coroner paid a high tribute to Police-constable Woods, who had rendered great assistance at considerable personal risk, and he asked the Inspector to pass on his remarks to the proper quarter.

Pike joined the Navy on leaving the Thetford Grammar School in December, 1934, and had served for two years on the East India Station.

(From the edition of the Eastern Daily Press dated Tuesday, July 7th, 1940.)

Cheers,
Peter

 

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Peter you're a star thank you for this. Such a shame the newspaper has issues with the story we was trying to uncover but it happens. An amazing job you've done there and to try work out what was said and piece together what had happened. I can't thank you enough for this. Survived the front line to die drowning tangled on some weeds what a sad end. Thank you once again.

Rob

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