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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

1914 9th Lancer casualty

jay dubaya

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I’ve taken the liberty of starting a new thread with this one, the original OP can be found here

At dusk on 11th October 1914 the 9th Lancers were within ¼ mile from Merville having arrived via St. Venant to the west. Here they manned the line between Caudescure and Vierhouck where fighting took place throughout the night and into the following day.

There appears to be 2 dead from this action, both killed in action. Regimental records note their burial locations –

Pte 1956 Rupert Oliver Sarbach (Ploegsteert Memorial) – buried crossroads near Roussel Farm north of Merville

Pte 107 Tom Redhouse (Special Memorial, Merville CCE) – buried at Vierhouck north of Merville



There is some confusion regarding the recovery location of the Memorial Cross for Redhouse. The CoG-BR for Merville CCE records the location this was recovered from as (36a) L.21.b.4.6 although no body was recovered. Redhouse doesn’t have a marked grave here but a Special Memorial ‘Believed to be buried here’. The map reference was questioned by the IWGC on 18th March 1937 annotating the reference as K? (21.b.4.6). Neither of these map references are near Vierhouck. L.21. being around 2.5 miles south-east and K.21 being around 2 miles south west of Vierhouck, in my opinion ‘buried at Vierhouck’ would suggest K.11 or K.12. However, I think it can be agreed that the location of the Memorial Cross was probably recovered from K and not L. Whilst there are several registered and unregistered graves concentrated and reburied as UBS from these locations, there is nothing to suggest any of these or other UBS concentrated to Merville CCE was a Cavalryman, the CoG-BR are very scant regarding ‘effects’ detail.

The CoG-BRs appear to have further anomalies with this error of K and L. The original war time graves in the communal cemetery were adjusted (on paper?) during the post Armistice concentration, here too the cemetery is noted on 2 CoG-BRs as having been in L and not K. These errors may suggest an over-zealous typist as some have been overtyped, sadly this has rendered any searches with the CoG-BRs for this cemetery very difficult.

I find no graves were concentrated from K.8 into this cemetery, but 3 named graves were recovered from L.8.c. I also noted that all squares around K.8. appeared in the CoG-BR, the registered graves marked in blue pencil must be somewhere…

Extending the search reveals 14 sets of remains were recovered from K.8 and were concentrated to Aval Wood MC around a mile north of Caudescure - in this instance there are 3 registered graves recorded for K.8.c (note the Body Density map) 2 UBS and 1 named. Again, the K and L error has crept into the CoG-BR here – the 2 typed letters over-stamp each other making it very difficult to decipher which may be correct. Several of the recoveries were named and were casualties of 1918. It has been possible using relevant war diaries to strongly suggest these soldiers became casualties in K and not L.

Sadly it now gets muddier… 36a.K.8.c.4.0 appears on the south side of the crossroads near Halt Corner. A cross and body was recovered from this location on 28th August 1919 – 5122 Pte JD Smith 9/QR Lancs – no effects nor other ID is noted. I can find no soldier with these details, the number may belong to Pte 5122 Joseph William Soper, 9th Lancers – KiA 1st November 1914 (although some documents say 31st October) and buried in trenches at Messines, he is now remembered at the Menin Gate. The nearest name match I can find is Pte 21 Harry Oswald Smith, 9th Lancers – died on or about 29th/30th October 1914 and now remembered at La Touret Memorial. On 29th the regiment moved back to Vielle Chapelle and billets at Neuve Eglise after being in action at Neuve Chapelle the previous day, on 30th the regiment took over trenches in front of Messines. I cannot see why either of these 2 soldiers would have a cross near Roussel Farm some 2 miles north west of Merville – Messines is around 15 miles north east and Neuve Chappele around 10 miles south west from this location.

I suspect that since the IWGC could find no matching details for those recorded on the CoG-BR this soldier is now buried as an UBS at Aval Wood MC. Potentially this may be the final resting place of Robert Oliver Sarbach but proving this may now be impossible. There is also a probability that Redhouse may too be buried here.

Doc 1967813 needs to show that the map reference is indeed the K that I speculate.

If so, the location of K.8.c.4.0 fits with Sarbach 'buried crossroads near Roussel Farm'. 

But, the name and number don't match anyone, not to mention the 9th (Queen's Royal) Lancs. 

Personally I don't think this will ruffle too many papers, there's not much merit around the name and number of the casualty, there's no effects to identify an individual nor regiment - although I do think there's merit in slips of regimental titles and over zealous typists.

Was the correction of the map reference for Redhouse signed off by an old comrade in the know and now working for the IWGC? - I can't make out the flowery signature.

Over to you...




(doc 2027325 - image courtesy of CWGC)



(doc 1967813 - image courtesy of CWGC)

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