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Remembered Today:

54th Divisional Artillery War Diaries


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Does anyone know the WO95/xxxxx numbers for the above Division, a relative of mine (J.Q.Sandall Grn 876002) I've found out died in Egypt 30/12/1917, thing is he drowned! Trying to research how?

any assistance appreciated



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Welcome to the Forum,

The Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects (Ancestry) states that he drowned whilst serving with 270th Brigade RFA.
The best diary to target would be this one - https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C4557795
However, you will need to go to the National Archives to view it, as is the case with all Egypt/Palestine diaries.

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3 hours ago, mikem said:

Does anyone know the WO95/xxxxx numbers for the above Division, a relative of mine (J.Q.Sandall Grn 876002) I've found out died in Egypt 30/12/1917, thing is he drowned!

Hi @mikem and welcome to the forum :)

Not sure if the War Diary will help. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission shows that 876002 Gunner John Quinton Sandall is rememberd on the Chatby Memorial, which is in Egypt.https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/1439061/john-quinton-sandall/

Their associated webpage for that memorial gives some background to those commemorated there - "The Chatby Memorial stands at the eastern end of the Alexandria (Chatby) War Memorial Cemetery and commemorates almost 1,000 Commonwealth servicemen who died during the First World War and have no other grave but the sea. Many of them were lost when hospital ships or transports were sunk in the Mediterranean, sailing to or from Alexandria. Others died of wounds or sickness while aboard such vessels and were buried at sea. More than 700 of those commemorated on the memorial died when the following vessels were topedoed or mined. - (list includes) HT "Aragon" - torpedoed and sunk 30 December 1917, entering the port of Alexandria, with the loss of 380 officers and men of the Commonwealth forces. HT "Osmanieh" - struck by a mine 31 December 1917, entering the port of Alexandria, with the loss of 76 officers and men of the Commonwealth forces." https://www.cwgc.org/visit-us/find-cemeteries-memorials/cemetery-details/142020/chatby-memorial/

The only other man of 270th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery who died on the same day is 891397 Driver Stamford Ernest Dines, and he too is remembered on the Chatby Memorial. https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/1438549/stamford-ernest-dines/

The website wrecksite.eu has them both aboard HT Aragon, although I don't know how much research has gone into that. https://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?134801

The roll of honour website states the same thing in connection with the Great Yarmouth civic memorial - forum member @midshipmanrayley I believe was involved in preparing that. http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Norfolk/GtYarmouth_WW1_S.html

A local newspaper report otherwise might be your best chance of a confirmation. However, as far as I'm aware the Yarmouth newspapers available online at the likes of the British Newspaper Archive currently only go up until 1916, but there are \ were micro-filmed coies of the later years at Great Yarmouth Library, as well as at the County Archive at County Hall.

I keep meaning to go back and take some better quality pictures of the Great Yarmouth memorial panels - unfortunately the only ones I have are from 2012 when I had a very early digital camera.



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Surprisingly this like others can take a soldiers life the same at a bullet or a bomb.

Leaning to swim was not a big idea in that time as it is for us

There's some blokes I show but only a small number of the many more more;

GIBSON    Benjamin Digby    Dr    Capt    5 FAB    RMO to Bearer Div A Sect/ 2 LHFA 1-16 to RMO RHQ/9 LHR 8-16 awarded MID - reason not stated shown recom - for his work recovering wounded at Bir el Abd 9-8-16 reported drowned accident while bathing in sea on the beach at Hod Masgid buried at El Arish Cemetery by chaplain Clarke reburied Kantara War Memorial Cemetery Egypt (RMO 1Co/RAGA South Head CMF) cousin Brig Gen Meredith

HAYWARD    Horace Railton    421    Pte    9 LHR    C Sqn bugler mentioned for his bombing work with Pte Pennycuik and Sutor at Walkers Ridge 3-6-15 reported WIA 27-8-15 hand shrapnel in attack at Hill 60 shown WIA 2-9-15 arrived 16 CCS evac to Murdos 2-9-15 evac to (King George) hosp London UK 9-15 (G) to AIF HQ London 5-16 awarded the Royal Humane Society's Bronze Medal for attempting to save a boy age 7 from drowning who fell into the Thames from the steps at the end of Westminster Bridge London 22-8-16 to Sgt 1-17 to 65Bn Windmill Hill UK 6-17 revert L/Cpl 7-17 qual Physical & bayonet courses 9-17 rtn T/Cpl Admin AIF HQ London 5-18 to L/Sgt 6-18 to hosp (bronchitis) 12-18 RTA MU invalided married Laura Winser at Bromley UK sept 1916

FORRESTER    James    612    Pte    DNE    CSqn/9 LHR to A Sqn disch underage 17 relist Gnr 107Bty/23 FAB (22008) tos 28Bty/23 FAB 12-16 to 30Bty/8 FAB 1-17 WIA 23-4-17 back shrapnel reported by shell which killed Sgt Murray near Ypres recom Royal Humane society Medal awarded MSM - for his actions rescuing a drowning man at Glisy near Amiens 25-6-18 F&B 

JACKSON    George Cannings    1032    Pte    9 LHR    6R Tos 8-15 WIA 7-8-15 L/hand bomb at the Nek evac to St Andrews hosp Malta 8-15 to (Military) hosp Hampstead UK 9-15 (G) rtn 3-16 to hosp (amputated finger) 3-16 to 3 LHTR 5-16 to Arty Dtls 5-16 to AATD UK 6-16 tos Gnr 51Bty/13 FAB 8-16 Mentioned in Corps Orders - for rescuing two men drowning in the Somme Canal F&B to AIF depots (4 com) UK 1-19 to NME UK book selling 4-19 

CAREY    Leslie Harry    1098    Pte    9 LHR    8R tos B Sqn 10-15 (G) accidently drowned in sea at Deir el Bellah while swimming caught in rip with Gnr Jacobs HAC buried Deir El Belah War Cemetery Palestine (DCo/81 IR (Wakefield) CMF 18 months) 

LEATCH    Alfred Thomas    1175    Pte    02 LHR    8R to Rear Dtls 10-15 to Murdos 11-15 (G) tos B Sqn C Troop 1-16 (Lt Percy Woodyatt's Troop) att WFF 1-16 DoA 3-3-16 accident while on patrol drowned when horse and rider fell off bridge during a night move at Bahr Yusaf canal Tukh el Keeil body recovered at Ezbet Sidhoum 7-3-16 buried by Chaplain Gordon at Minia War Memorial Cemetery Egypt

HOLLINGS    Willy    1245    Pte    10 LHR    9R Tos 2-16 reported recom award - for his actions at Magdhaba 23-12-16 to groom to Lt Cox escort (Sqn) duty DMC HQ 8-17 accidently drowned while bathing in Orontes river near Homs buried Beirut British War Cemetery Syria

HERD    David Birrell    1377    Pte    02 LHR    11R Tos B Sqn 1-16 att WFF to T/Cpl 1 LHTR 3-16 to A/Sgt 5-16 reported found drowned in Nile had no money or ID suicide or murder buried Cairo War Memorial Cemetery Egypt brothers Rupert 13 LHR DoA and Leonard 3 DAC

KAADEN    Franz Leslie    1518    Pte    8 LHR    12R to Gnr 48Bty/12 FAB 4-16 to 24 FAB 6-16 to 43Bty/11 FAB 1-17 WIA 5-4-18 face, L/shoulder & leg shell at Dernancourt F&B married Mary Cowan at Durham UK 6-2-19 died in Australia drowned with wife when boat capsized at Chelsea body not recovered AKA Kadden brother Robert 6Bn KIA 

DERRETT    Walter    1539    Pte    6 LHR    12R Tos 12-15 disch 26-10-16 MU suicided by drowning in Myrtle Creek at Rappville NSW buried next to creek in a lonley grave (Boer War 4 QIB (331) & Sgt 5 QIB (492)

DOWNEY    Charles Ernest    1543    Pte    12 LHR    6R tos B Sqn 3-16 (B) accidently drowned at Minia in Upper Egypt cause not stated buried Minia War Memorial Cemetery Egypt brother Alfred died in Australia


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It may be a co-incidence that Sandall and Dines were drowned on the same date as the loss of the Hired Transport, S.S. Aragon, as the question would be what were they doing aboard?

Aragon was bringing out reinforcements from the UK. The Medal Index Cards for both Sandall and Dines shows both of them to have received the Victory Medal as well as the British War Medal, indicating that they had actually served in a Theatre of War, (although only at some point or or after the 1st January 1916, so no service at Gallipoli).

If they were coming out for the first time and had not formally entered a Theatre of War then my understanding is that they would only have qualified for the British War Medal - certainly that is a scenario I've come across with Norfolks who died with the sinking of H.T. Royal Edward in August 1915 as it journeyed between Alexandria and Mudros.

However the criteria of what constituted that Theatre of War may have changed by December 1917, so that can't be treated as a definative.

I'm not sure if the hospital facilities at Malta were being used by the wounded and sick from Egypt and Palestine were concerned. I suspect it is unlikely the Aragon picked up any additional passengers there but it can't be ruled out.

The Soldiers Died in the Great War entry for Dines and Sandall both show them as died at sea. Again not sure if too much can be read into that, although it would certainly cover the circumstances of those who died in the sinking of the Aragon.

The Soldiers Died in the Great War website shows Dines as born and enlisted Peterborough, but frustratingly he isn't mentioned on the Peterborough in the Great War website.

The search continues....


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Posted (edited)

to all who have replied it is greatly appreciated and solves why he drowned, but, as PRC says, not what he was doing on the Aragon! although the Wrecksite states she was carrying circa 2500 troops. With regards to the Victory Medal they both recieved, when the 54th went to Gallipoli their artillery went to France  attached to the 33rd Division, rejoining thte 54th at Cairo in February 1916.

Again thank you all for your contributions



Edited by mikem
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From the Yarmouth Independent, March 30, 1918


Image courtesy Findmypast/British Newspaper Archive

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41 minutes ago, mikem said:

With regards to the Victory Medal they both recieved, when the 54th went to Gallipoli their artillery went to France  attached to the 33rd Division

They went in November 1915 so if either man was with them he would have qualified for the 1914/15 Star.

There is a possibility they joined up with them there in those few brief weeks from the 1st January 1916 up until when they departed for Egypt, but more likely they caught up with their unit - if indeed  they were serving at that time with the 270th Brigade - after it arrived in Egypt.

The MiC for Sandall has his old four digit Territorial Force service number, 2434, but that for Dines only has his six digit 1917 number. Both men have numbers drawn from the block allocated to the 270th Brigade renumbering, so seems likely they were with the Brigade then. https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/renumbering-of-the-territorial-force-in-1917/renumbering-of-the-tf-artillery-in-1917/



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