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Remembered Today:

6/7th Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers 15th September 1916


Paul Milne

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I am researching a relative, Private Edward Johanning (SN 23130) who served in the Royal Scots Fusiliers and was killed in action 15/09/16 apparently in the battle of the Somme (?).  He was posted to RSF 3rd Battalion on 26/03/16, 1st Battalion on 04/07/16, 6th/7th on 01/09/16.  I have review the War Diary for the period around 15/09/16 and cannot find any reference to any casualties, the Battalion were apparently in reserve during the attack on Martinpuich, principally tasked with improving trench works and handling German prisoners.  I have seen casualties mentioned in other war diaries, usually named officers and unnamed other ranks, are casualties omitted from some war diaries?

Interestingly, his father was born in Germany in 1853 before moving to Dundee Scotland, becoming a successful businessman.

Thanks in advance.

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He is named in the Official Casualty List in The Scotsman 12/10/1916 under Killed - RSF.

BNL via FMP

Brian

EDIT: Checked the names. All were 6/7 Bn k in a 14 or 15/09/1916. Charles Currie and David Templeman have papers in WO 363. The B 103 forms for both just record k in a 

001.JPG

Edited by brianmorris547
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Thanks Brian, thats very interesting.  It confirms his KIA wasn't a one off with a total of 9 killed and the Battalion were more involved than the War Diary suggests.  I will have another look at the entries for 14th and 15th September 1916, but pretty sure there wasn't mention of any action.  The only death mentioned was that of a German prisoner killed by shellfire, it's a bit strange that his death was mentioned but not the 9 RSF soldiers.  Forgive my ignorance but BNL via FMP?

Thanks,

Paul

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Paul

British Newspaper Library which I get via Findmypast. Forum rules require us to acknowledge the source of any images we post.

There is more information in the War Diary of 45 Infantry Brigade (15 Div). On Ancestry via the Browse box under Various (Infantry Brigades) - 15 Div. 

I wondered if those mentioned in the OCL might have been attached to the 15 Div Trench Mortar Batteries or Machine Gun Unit but those War Diaries did not show anything.

Brian

EDIT The Scotsman only shows the names of Scottish Soldiers. The full list of names will be shown in the OCL in The Times, which I no longer have access to.

Edited by brianmorris547
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Thanks, I will follow up these leads.

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14 hours ago, Paul Milne said:

was killed in action 15/09/16 apparently in the battle of the Somme (?).

He and his comrades were killed at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette when the Division captured Martinpuich assisted by tanks which were used for the first time.  Two attached to each of the two attacking Divisions.  As you say a (famous) phase of the Battle of the Somme.

As Brian has noted his Battalion was in Brigade Reserve for the attack (WO95/1942/1-5).  In effect this meant that as the attacking battalions moved forward the reserve battalion moved into their jumping off positions as described in the war diary.  You will have noted in the Brigade war diary the Battalion was, by the time of relief, in the front line behind other battalions of the Brigade who had dug a forward trench in the village.

The Brigade diary notes theses positions were the subject of enemy artillery barrage noting on the 15th that the fire concentated on the village and "made supply very difficult".  In spite of the relatively rapid progress by the Division it was not by any means an easy victory. On the day your relative died the Brigade suffered a total of 93 killed,559 wounded and 159 missing.  Evidently the Battalions of the Brigade submitted reports to enable these figures to be calculated.  There are definitely pages missing from the 6/7 diary you will have noted it jumps from Appendix II cover sheet to October. The Appendix is referenced in the text.

The tanks were filmed by Malins from the position of the Scottish Rifles and appear in the first few frames of this video.

 

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Thanks for this new detail, very much appreciated.  This clears up the problem I had trying to reconcile the death(s) from the 6/7 RSF War Diary.  It does seem strange that the Battalions own diary does not cover the events you note above, there is a lot of detail from the 15th/16th September, down to which company was in which trench, what they were undertaking, etc.  I will now have a look at the Brigade Diary for the same period.  

I was wondering if his direct German heritage was unusual for a front line soldier? His father was born in Germany in 1853, was married in Edinburgh in 1877, and was a successful Chemical Merchant, he seems to have avoided interment under the Aliens Restriction Order possibly as he would be over military age in 1914.

Paul

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Thanks, I have found his Attestation, postings, medal record, widows pension, etc.  I was really keen to narrow down where he died, and think I now have a fair bit thanks to previous responses above.

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Here is the battle in John Buchan's History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers which provides a slightly wider perspective on the battle.

William6-7RSF15.92341.jpg.3274f6a29f2826b583267e57814ffc3e.jpg

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On 17/01/2024 at 13:31, brianmorris547 said:

He is named in the Official Casualty List in The Scotsman 12/10/1916 under Killed - RSF.

BNL via FMP

Brian

EDIT: Checked the names. All were 6/7 Bn k in a 14 or 15/09/1916. Charles Currie and David Templeman have papers in WO 363. The B 103 forms for both just record k in a 

001.JPG

My research on Charles CURRIE, Pte 19914, is here:

Larkhall War Memorial - CURRIE, Charles - Pte 19914 6/7th RSF

Kindest Regards.

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Many thanks for the additional information.  So unless killed by shellfire during the morning, with the 6/7th RSF moving forward 3pm, it would seem he'd was killed in that advance.

Paul

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Five of those on the OCL are named on the Thiepval Memorial - R Hyslop, E Johanning, W Lawson, W McFarlane and D Templeman. W Baird and R Fowler are buried in Flatiron Copse Mametz, J Best and G McInstry are buried in Adanac Cem Miramont and G Currie is buried in Caterpillar Valley. So it seems that some bodies were never found, which might suggest shelling.

The reason I thought that some may have been attached to the Trench Mortar Batteries is Routine Order dated 13/10/1916 in the WD of 15 Div A&QMG which shows, under Honours and Rewards, DCM 13287 Cpl J Noble 6/7 RSF att 45 TMB and 11232 Pte M Rae 6/7 RSF att 45 TMB as well as two MMs (not att to the TMB) 16257 Pte H Robinson 6/7 RSF and 11187 Pte G Murray 6/7 RSF.

Brian

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Spent some time going through the the John Buchan History of the RSF extract, the 6/7 RSF War Diary for the 15th September, and the associated map appendix referenced (15th Div Map No 8A, 1:10,000, 13/9/16).  The Diary for the 15th September gives the disposition of Companies A/B/C/D from 06:20 to midnight.  It would appear that 6/7 RSF were mostly in support, carrying supplies (SAA(?), Bombs, Rations, Water, Etc.) or moving prisoners.  At 15:00 15 Div attacked POSH ALLEY and 6/7 RSF moved forward to occupy TANGLE TRENCH (~100m from southern edge of Martinpuich) B&C Companies and HAM TRENCH (~250m south of TANGLE) A&D Companies after vacated by 6 Camerons.  The Diary finishes the 15th by reporting heavy shelling on TANGLE TRENCH and occasional shelling on HAM,.   So I believe that my relative was likely in B or C Company and KIA due to shelling of TANGLE TRENCH between 19:00 and 00:00.  With his name on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme, his body was not found, commensurate with the result of impact of shellfire.  One final question on this conclusion, the following January (1917) his widow received the following personal effects; Pocket Book, Photos, Post Card and Letters.  Were these items left behind when soldiers went forward?

Thanks for all the help!

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