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Remembered Today:

10901 Pte. John Henry Towers, Leicestershire Regiment, Croix De Guerre


James Towers

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Good evening all, 

I was just wondering if anyone knew anything about researching information regarding the Croix De Guerre. 

My Great-Grandfather was awarded the Croix De Guerre with a 'Bronze Palm'  and his name appears in the 1st May 1917 'Supplement to the London Gazette'. Interestingly enough, one of only two photo's we have of him is post-war wearing the medal. (see image).

Any help would be greatly appreciated. 

Many Thanks

10301/10901,JohnHenryTowers.PNG.f1b10b1373762ff7ff740d93be77e5f9.PNG Pte John Henry Towers, Leicestershire Regiment. 

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35 minutes ago, James Towers said:

JohnHenryTowers.PNG.f1b10b1373762ff7ff740d93be77e5f9.PNG Pt

Welcome to GWF

Sorry I've nothing about the CdG

Photo is rather reminiscent of the later pattern of lighter weight cloth and more civilian looking 'Hospital Blues', jacket [shape of lapels] with matching waistcoat, of a recovering soldier.  I would hazard the tie was red.  Perhaps a topic for our member @FROGSMILE for more expert opinion.

From WFA/Fold3 pension records ... He was discharged 10.2.19 with a disability [unspecified] pension award of 22/- pw from 1.2.19 to 12.8.19 [Under the 1918 Royal Warrant this represented an 80% degree of disability award for a pension Class V soldier/Pte]

M

Edited by Matlock1418
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2 minutes ago, Matlock1418 said:

Welcome to GWF

Sorry I've nothing about the CdG

Photo is rather reminiscent of the later pattern of lighter weight cloth and more civilian looking 'Hospital Blues', jacket [shape of lapels] with matching waistcoat, of a recovering soldier.  I would hazard the tie was red.  Perhaps a topic for our member @FROGSMILE for more expert opinion.

From WFA/Fold3 pension records ... He was discharged 10.2.19 with a disability pension award of 22/- pw from 1.2.19 to 12.8.19 [Under the 1918 Royal Warrant this represented an 80% degree of disability award for a pension Class V soldier/Pte]

M

Yes it looks like the later (alternative) pattern of hospital blue. Well spotted Matlock. 

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His entry in the Silver War Badge register shows that he enlisted on the 31st August 1914

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13 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

with a disability [unspecified]

Attached PC shows 'GSW Loin & Back' -- 'Attributable to service'

(Image courtesy of Western Front Association)

Towers, John Henry (10901).jpg

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From the Leicester Chronicle, 5th May 1917

(image courtesy of Find My Past)

Towers_10901.jpg

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17 hours ago, James Towers said:

I was just wondering if anyone knew anything about researching information regarding the Croix De Guerre. 

Unfortunately there is no organised list of citations for the award of foreign decorations and therefore it is very difficult to research.

Often a reference can be found in the relevant war diary but not in this case, for example there is an entry in the 6th Battalion war diary for the 9th February noting the award of a 'Montenegrin medal' to a Pte Cannon for his gallantry in the field whilst a stretcher bearer.

Pte 10901 Towers served in the 6th Battalion  Leicestershire Regiment.  There is a fragment on Find My Past which indicates something happened to him between the 6 February and 20th February 1918, other documents in the series indicate it is probably when he was wounded but it is by no means clear from the fragment.

The other two rank and file listed above each served in different battalions of the Leicestershire Regiment:-

Harry Phipps Martin

77727 RDC 1st Battalion

Formerly 1st Leicester

Served with BEF

9.12.1915  - 18. 9.1916

We can therefore place the action for his award as before that date.

Harry Bray 2404/200333

1/4 Leicestershire regiment

Their war diary states that on the 11th May 1917 "The GOC of the Division presented medals to officers and men of the Brigade... Eight other ranks from this battalion received decorations".

We don't know if Pte Bray was in that number.

The difficulty with foreign awards, unlike British awards is that they passed down the Chain of Command and men were recommended by the C.O. of the Battalion as in the example of Pte Cannon above. He probably showed great courage on many occasions bringing in the wounded but there was no one act which would justify a British award. These awards passed up the chain of command and although recommended they could be denied at any stage of the processor often 'downgraded' to a gallantry card or mention in dispatches.  Even then there are no surviving organised lists of citations for the Military Medal.  Th DCM merited a small pension therefore those records have survived but none of this helps you find out why Pte Towers was awarded the C.de G.

That is not to diminish the act or acts which prompted the foreign award but merely to understand why they are so difficult to research.  

We can speculate from the timing and comments in the various war diaries praising the conduct of each of the battalions mentioned, the award was for action during the Battle of the Somme but what he did other than showed gallantry in the field to merit the award we are unlikely to discover from official records online.

It may be worth contacting the Royal Leicestershire Regiment who may have memoirs etc. 

https://royalleicestershireregiment.org.uk

 

 

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Towers was reported as Wounded in the Leicester Daily Post of 7/11/16. The heading (courtesy Findmypast) says this:

Leicester_Daily_Post_07_November_1916_0003_Clip.jpg.7974c4ac366aa11da9a3b30b0fc43234.jpg

it is possible this event and his subsequent award are connected. Then again his award may be for continued gallantry over a period.

Note he was again reported wounded in Daily Casualty List April 1918 but this was corrected 22/5/18 to say 'not now wounded'.

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
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Thank you all for the replies, it has been incredibly helpful.

Unfortunately, I believe that the actions that led to the award may be lost to history as my father and his brother are the only surviving members of John's side of the family and he passed 20 years before they were born. Furthermore, my grandfather (John's youngest son) was 7 when John passed and told my father that he never spoke of his experiences during the war. Even so, the information that you all have supplied has been a great help in the mission to learn more about my Great-Grandfather, and I really do appreciate everything. 

Many Thanks all.

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James,

Given the chronology spelt out above there is perhaps one line of enquiry you could follow.  As has been explained such awards are a result of CO nominations in the main.  Perhaps the best we can do is understand when he was wounded in 1916 as they would perhaps suggest the event around the award.  My limited experience was that these foreign awards were given out especially when UK Battalions had had a particularly rough time in terms of actions and casualties.   A sort of morale boost!

So,  when was he wounded?  That requires deduction and analysis from the casualty list. Noting men were listed by Regiment not Battalion ie there could be men from numerous battalions next to each other on the list.  By examining the men killed and wounded (often best to avoid DoW due to unknown date of wounding then death) then by looking at the free CWGC website you can pick out 6th battalion men.  By using Ancestry you can, in  most cases, identify the battalion from the medal roll and with luck find a service record or three that gives you a consistent wounding date. Hopefully supported by CWGC death dates.  So yes,  this is potentially a few hours work to do in full if you fancy it.

Lists are below with the killed  first then wounded from the 7th November 1916 casualty list (courtesy of the Times Archive).

I’ve looked at some of the wounded and they are indeed a mix of battalions but the 6th are dominant amongst them.

BLACK 18272 Wounded between 25-29 September 1916.

BRIDGES 12603 Wounded between 25 -29 September 1916

BURTON 5402 Wounded between 25 -29 September 1916 (later confirmed KIA 25 Sept 1916)

As you can see I only got to B in surnames and found three 6th Battalion men with service records and consistent wounding dates.  

A look at the war diary tells us what happened and in fact they have a detailed two page narrative  of the action at the end of the months report.  The Battalion fought a four day offensive action between the 25th and 29th of September.  Casualties were three officer killed, 9 wounded, 32 other ranks killed, 25 missing (quick CWGC search states 45 KIA suggesting most of the missing were killed) and 141 wounded. 

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7353180

Whilst I wound welcome the views of others I think this is the action in which Towers won his award.

Andy

 

IMG_0600.jpeg.b2246f8e4ccf3131fde52872232494a8.jpeg

 

IMG_0598.jpeg.2a0b395f48324ac28ada0e48f94b0603.jpeg

Edited by AndrewSid
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18 minutes ago, AndrewSid said:

 

Whilst I wound welcome the views of others I think this is the action in which Towers won his award.

 

 

 

Whilst we can’t be certain I would agree it is the most likely action for which he was awarded the decoration.  

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Here's an example of a man awarded the CdG for bravery on several occasions. So keep an open mind. It could be for Towers that the event in which he was wounded was one of several occasions he showed gallant conduct ?

Leicester Mail 21/10/17 courtesy Findmypast 

Leicester_Evening_Mail_21_October_1916_0003_Clip.jpg.e65e9f0fb48472368409e5c7a7340833.jpg

Edited by charlie962
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