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Remembered Today:

RNVR help needed with semi-illegible diary?


Turner

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I'm guessing this kind of thing - a tiny book with miniscule writing, usually in pencil - is typical for the day. Trouble is my eyesight is dreadful at the best of times so I'm wondering if anyone has experience of deciphering such documents using software or other enhancement tools, or is at least familiar with the extremely neat but sometimes hard to read script? In the hope that someone can help, I've scanned the first few pages at 600dpi which should hopefully allow for a decent degree of magnification.

The content is almost certainly mundane in the extreme to some people, but from the parts I can make out, some of it relates to leave taken in France at some point, although dates are unclear.

The author is a my wife's grandfather: R6137 J.P. Cassidy, RNVR. Born in Rockferry, Cheshire, family mythology says he served in the army, and he claimed to have been gassed, but his sole surviving service medal clearly bears the details above, so one explanation is the story was a cover for his Woodbine habit.... :)

Any help or advice much appreciated - I intend to scan the rest of it before it deteriorates any further so may post more on here if anyone is interested?

 

 

Pages 1 and 2.jpg

Pages 3 and 4.jpg

Pages 5 and 6.jpg

Pages 7 and 8.jpg

Pages 9 and 10.jpg

Pages 11 and 12.jpg

Pages 13 and 14.jpg

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Well I must say, now that I've scanned it and seen it on a larger screen, from the small scraps I can read, there seems to be some credibility to his story, but what on earth would RNVR personnel be doing in a land war?

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Hi, this looks fascinating and the high quality scans should make it quite possible to decipher. The first pages are technical notes relating to his work as a signaller, but the more interesting part starts on the fourth page which is headed "Just a few notes on my experiences in France". He gives his name as Signaller J. P. Cassidy, Hawke Batt[alion] D Company, Royal Naval Division, France.

The RND battalions were named after famous admirals and you might find it useful to download the War Diary of Hawke Bn: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7355471

This should give more context for the places and events he mentions.

All the best, John

 

Edited by johntaylor
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From his RND Record Card it appears his BEF RND service was in Hawke Battalion which he joined on 7 April 1918. He was sent to 38th Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) on 19 June 1918 (unspecified) and discharged back to duty on 24 June. The Hawkes were out of the line in training at RUBEMPRE during this period so gassing seems unlikely.

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D7264930

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The Hawke war dairy shows that the battalion was in the line at ENGLEBELMER when he joined, on 7 April 1918, with a reinforcement draft of 265 other ranks from England. The war diary notes that these men were kept behind the front line in the transport lines, probably at the nearby village of VARENNES.

Edited by horatio2
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Yes I just managed to download that.....I hear what you say about the unit being on training, but according to his service card he joined Army Reserve on 11 December 1915, and although the date of the diary notes is not known, there is reference to the use of gas in the pages I have posted? What might he have been doing between 1915 and 1917 before appearing in Hawke?

JP Cassidy ADM-339-1-6173.pdf

Edited by Turner
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From joining the Army Reserve on 11 December 1915 until, called forward (mobilised) for the RNVR for RND on 25 August 1917 he would have been at home following his civilian occupation in Liverpool. He may have witnessed the use of gas in his time with Hawke Bn but his record shows no evidence of his being affected.

Edited by horatio2
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1 minute ago, horatio2 said:

From joining the Army Reserve on 11 December 1915 until, called forward (mobilised) for the RNVR for RND on 25 August 1917 he would have beebn at home following his civilian occupation in Liverpool. He may have witnessed the use of gas in his time with Hawke Bn but his record shows no evidence of his being affected.

...so it was the ciggies after all...Capstan Full Strength as it turns out, not Woodbines. But thanks for the clarification, very helpful.

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You may be interested to know that Able Seaman CASSIDY was one of just under 7,000 RNVR ratings who, similarly, entered the RND from the Army Reserve.

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28 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

You may be interested to know that Able Seaman CASSIDY was one of just under 7,000 RNVR ratings who, similarly, entered the RND from the Army Reserve.

Interesting - I had noted a site called Friends of the RND but assumed it wasn't interested in the RNVR...further investigation needed!

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So the next fourteen pages of this little book. If this is overkill, or the post needs moving, happy to oblige as required.

 

Edit: uploading error so will resubmit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Turner
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Hi, I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss his story about being gassed. His service record show he received medical treatment in June 1918 from 149th Field Ambulance and Casualty Clearing Station:

image.png.6db52f2c8838089d9623de5044dacedb.png

The record shows two dates (i.e. 18 and 28 June) which is a little confusing. The War Diary shows Hawke Bn were in training on 18 June, but on 28 June they were subject to shelling and five 'other ranks' were wounded (there were also 13 sick with fever, abbreviated P.U.O). Gas isn't specifically mentioned in the War Diary but could have been used.

image.png.7433f5274f0d3dacf815fa9e4312dc2d.png

The answer to this should lie in your diary, as he will be sure to say what happened to him and when. Personally I would be very interested to see the rest of the scans and we should be able to tell more.

All the best, John

Edited by johntaylor
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There's also a history of Hawke Bn available online - you could start on page 196 when he arrived, i.e. in April 1918: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.127312/page/n203/mode/2up

John

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The training status of out-of-the-line Hawke Bn when he was sent to 1149 FA and 38 CCS has already been covered, however 

39 minutes ago, johntaylor said:

The record shows two dates (i.e. 18 and 28 June) which is a little confusing.

The later date (28 June) is the date on which the HAWKE 50 report was received by the RND Record Office in London. 28 June has no relevance to the dates we are concerned with: to 149 FA (18 June) >>> 38 CCS (19 June) >>> to duty HAWKE (24 Jun). Five days of medical attention would have been a relatively minor affair.

It is noteworthy that Hawke Bn suffered no battle deaths between 25 May and 30 Jun. The months of May, June and July were described in "The Hawke Battalion" (p.200) as "...just weeks spent in marking time."

It is also worth noting that on 24 June, the day Cassidy arrived back with Hawke Bn, the war diary notes that an officer and twelve other ranks were sent to 149 FA with pyrexia of unknown origin (PUO - fever). There were more pUOs to 149 FA is following days so there was probably a bug in circulation in the battalion.

Edited by horatio2
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Hi, this discounts any link to the casualties on 28 June. It will be interesting to see what explanation he gives in the diary when we see the rest of the scans.

John

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Thanks for posting the scans, they are pure gold and I very much look forward to reading more pages from the diary in due course.

MB

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Absolutely fascinating - thank you!

sJ

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