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Remembered Today:

South Lancs defence of Loisne


Chris1982

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Trying to find out how my great grandfather Sgnt J W Critchley (241042) won his medals for “gallant conduct” on the 10th of April 1918 at the battle of Loisne….

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from his MiC, he was previously number 3169 with service  in the South Lancs only. France from 06 May 1915.  As such received the  1915 star.  He would have changed service numbers in 1917 when the TF was renumbered. 

Medal roll state service only in the 1/5 Bn so he was likely a  TF man at first glance. By TF I mean a  territorial reservist albeit joining during the war.

He was awarded the Military Medal (MM).

There is a report of him being gassed and wounded in the Bolton  news on 02 July 1915.  

More to come as we tie down the MM.  What do you know about him?

 

 

 

Edited by AndrewSid
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The national  archives has the battalions war diary free to download once you register. The link relevant to you is below.  It will take you a few minutes to register but you can read what your relative experiences all the way from when he arrived  in France in 1915.  

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7354893

you say he received the award for an action on 10 April 1918.  How do you know this?  His unit was in involved in heavy fighting during that period..  MM citations aren’t often found so the diary may represent your best context.

TO ADD -  your fortunate in that his service papers have survived. 26 pages in total.  He volunteered and joined up on the 8 Nov 1914 and was from St Helen’s.  It may be worth a temporary subscription to find my past or ancestry depending on your level of interest.  His papers confirm the MM as stated but does not include a citation as one would expect. 

Edited by AndrewSid
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He has service papers. He enlisted in St Helens in November 1914, disembarked at Havre on 06/05/1915 and was gassed on 04/06/1915. I might be at Bolton Library later this week.

He is also named in the Routine Orders dated 24/05/1918 of the WD of 55 Div Adjutant and Quarter-Master General under Immediate Awards MM S Lancs. His MM card shows 1/5 Bn.

Brian 

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He had a busy war.

After  being gassed on the 4th of June 1915 he quickly returned to duty.  Now a sergeant he was wounded again on 30 Nov 1917 - gun shot wound to, I think the knee.  Again he was back in the front line quickly (06 Jan 1918). He managed a couple of spells of leave back to the UK during his time in France.

Looks like he came back to England on the 18th of Feb 1919 and was discharged from the Army on 04 March 1919. 
 

pages 68 to 87 of the war diary have very detailed accounts of the action in April 1918.  These are by each company and in places by platoon. Establishing what company your relative was in would be very useful but equally very difficult.  His Battalion fought a desperate piecemeal action being rushed to the front line from the reserve.  They fought as separate companies and platoons in many actions over the 3 or 4 day period.  
 

Edited by AndrewSid
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2 hours ago, AndrewSid said:

 

There is a report of him being gassed and wounded in the Bolton  news on 02 July 1915.  

Andrew

The only editions of the Bolton Evening News via FMP are on 01/07 and 05/07. Can you post the report please.

Brian

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Brian,

Bolton Evening News.  I’ve added the top of the page as well as wounding report. Here you go:

A92BD535-0182-4DBA-BFBE-E52C32EC121F.jpeg.a886d7fcc47ff12559a376cf59a372fd.jpeg2BE08D89-5DFC-4FD4-81C9-636331C5AB0C.jpeg.41852eefd4455c5ea2907b132d8d7279.jpeg

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I will wait for Chris to return but quickly add a note regarding his 30 Nov 1917 wounding.  The Battalion in this engagement was largely destroyed.  Around 420 were taken prisoner and 75 killed or died of wounds. Only about 60 at best were left.   

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Not really germane to the original question but John William Critchley (241042, S. Lancs Regt) is listed in the St.Helens Absent Voters List with an address at 44 College Street, St.Helens.  He's only listed in the August 1918 AVL returns, perhaps suggesting he was discharged from the Army prior to the Spring 1919 return.

Edited by Buffnut453
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Andrew

Thanks for posting the OCL from the Bolton Evening News. The 1915 OCLs in the BEN just showed Lancashire Regiments, not necessarily men with Bolton connections. I will be in the library on Thursday so will check it out.

Brian

EDIT. They are the same names that are in the Times OCL 02/07/1915. None of the names from the South Lancs that I checked were from Bolton, they were from St Helens, Prescot and Widnes.

Edited by brianmorris547
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Brain,

The 1/5 landed in France 13 Feb 1915.  As a TF unit they were very much a St Helen’s, Widnes, Stockport and Manchester catchment.  Obviously that would have changed over time as local draft replacements in the early days were replaced by the more regional and then TRB approach.

 

 

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8 hours ago, AndrewSid said:

Brain,

 

Thanks for the compliment. 

Brian

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Good evening gents!

WOW! Thank you all so much for taking time to answer my question and find out so much more information than I have been able to so far! 
 

Andrew to answer you question regarding where I got the date for his MM I have the card that was issued with the medal…..

While clearing out my grandmother’s home my mum came across an old tatty brown envelope and inside were his medals and papers!

2AE869D8-70BE-4154-A18C-66E5BE67FDAB.png

912976DF-EAF5-471B-B095-A74044DB2B18.png

5DE0EF4E-E3C9-4709-AFF1-4D7FEBB70C08.jpeg

6AC063E1-8D2A-470A-97C3-09C91B9DEA55.png

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21 minutes ago, Chris1982 said:

Good evening gents!

WOW! Thank you all so much for taking time to answer my question and find out so much more information than I have been able to so far! 
 

Andrew to answer you question regarding where I got the date for his MM I have the card that was issued with the medal…..

While clearing out my grandmother’s home my mum came across an old tatty brown envelope and inside were his medals and papers!

2AE869D8-70BE-4154-A18C-66E5BE67FDAB.png

912976DF-EAF5-471B-B095-A74044DB2B18.png

5DE0EF4E-E3C9-4709-AFF1-4D7FEBB70C08.jpeg

6AC063E1-8D2A-470A-97C3-09C91B9DEA55.png

 

Hi Chris,

What a trove of family history you have there.  I have a number of relatives who served in the 1/5th South Lancs Regt as well as other St.Helens-based Territorial Force units within the 55th (West Lancs) Division (e.g. 1/3rd West Lancs Field Ambulance, 1st West Lancs Field Company, RE, and the 55th Div Signals Company). One relative with the Field Ambulance was awarded the MM at 3rd Ypres.  Sadly, I don't have any medals for any of them...but I do have some photos.  As a St.Helens lad myself, I feel an affinity for all these men.  

Kind regards,
Mark

 

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Chris,

 A truly amazing find. New ribbons are very cheap as would be getting them framed. They should look like this (see pic) 

its fair to say the date of award is very specific now. There were a handful on men recorded  later in the war diary as having won the MM or DCM over those few days in April.  Only a couple are named earlier in the diary.  As such we are unlikely to know his specific act or acts.  I will go back and look again and narrow it down.  

How he got through the events of the November action is of note.  His wounding shows he was there and as a SNCO he would likely have been with his platoon.  Even the HQ was overrun and lost along with the CO. Perhaps his platoon was the reserve platoon left looking after the transport.  Regardless, the event must have been terrible.  His entire unit gone. 
 

I think the metal  item between the medals in the photo is a wound stripe.  These were worn on the arm after an official wounding.  I think he should have had two. You can see it in the photo of him seated. 
 

His service papers exist as mentioned so it may be worth a temporary  subscription so you can retrieve them. 
 

E82D94FE-0271-4489-AEE7-0608699DBEDC.jpeg.ed5d356dbe03d2fc11c4209e129041ec.jpeg

Edited by AndrewSid
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This map of dispositions on 09/04/1918 is in the WD of 166 Infantry Brigade. Courtesy TNA WO 95/2928. Full map can be seen on Ancestry Piece 2928 p 732/733.

Brian

166 IB.jpg

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I was intrigued by the same question posed by @AndrewSid above: how did John Critchley avoid being killed/captured when the 1/5th South Lancs was annihilated as an operational unit in November 1917.

His service record shows he enlisted on 8 November 1914 and confirms his address as 44 College Street, St.Helens (as per the Absent Voter List record cited previously).  His enlistment date suggests he was a volunteer rather than a conscript.  He was 19 yrs and 3 months old at the time of his enlistment, was 5ft 7in tall, and his peacetime occupation was carter.  He embarked for France on 7 May 1915.

He went up and down the ranks a bit: 18 Sep 1915 promoted to L/Cpl; 8 May 1916 Cpl; 10 Aug 1917 appointed L/Sgt (Paid); 22 Sep 1917 appointed Acting Sgt (Paid); 10 Nov 1917 confirmed in rank of Sgt; 3 Aug 1918 reverted to Rifleman at his own request.  He was discharged as a Rifleman at Prees Heath on 18 Feb 1919.

Thus Critchley was a substantive Sgt when the 1/5th South Lancs was wiped out on 30 Nov 1917.  His medical record survives and shows a gunshot wound to his right knee on 30 Nov 1917, rejoining his battalion on 25 Jan 1918.  He perhaps was wounded early in the engagement of 30 Nov 1917 as the unit War Diary notes that no officers or men emerged once the battalion was surrounded.  One record notes he was wounded on 29 Nov 1917 so perhaps he missed the events of 30 Jan entirely...but there's no mention of any engagements on 29 Nov in the War Diary.  

One of my great-uncles, Robert Henry Ellison, was also a Sgt in the 1/5th South Lancs, having enlisted before the Great War.  My great uncle was captured on 30 Nov 1917 and I can't help wondering if he and John Critchley knew each other.  

I have another great-uncle who also served in the 1/5th South Lancs who missed the events of 30 Nov 1917 because he'd been admitted to 72 Field Ambulance for scabies on 26 Nov.  

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The photo of John Critchley is hard to make out but he appears to be wearing his MM ribbon, together with the wound stripe and Sgt rank.  I'm wondering if it was taken during a period of UK leave that's identified in his records, 6-20 Mar 1918?

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