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331 Siege Battery


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Anyone know anything about either 331 SB RGA or 69 Bde RGA?

Mike

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Mike wrote:

Anyone know anything about either 331 SB RGA or 69 Bde RGA?

Mike: 331 Siege Battery, RGA went out to the Western Front with four 6" Howitzers (26cwt) on 15 May 1917 and joined 18 Heavy Artillery Group (HAG) on 24 May 1917. It transferred to I Corps Heavy Artillery on 29 July 1917 and stayed with it until 10 July 1917. It joined 89 HAG on 13 Jul 17 and 76 HAG on 7 Sep 17. On 27 Sep 17 it joined 69 Brigade, RGA and served with it until the end of the war. The only portion of the 331 Siege Battery, RGA War Diary that is available is the War Diary for October 1917 which is at WO95/474. The HAG/Brigade war diaries available are:

18 HAG: WO95/540

89 HAG: WO95/480

76 HAG: WO95/477

69 HAG: WO95/474

Regards. Dick

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Mike,

Not a lot more to add to that really other than 331(Siege)Bty,R.G.A. was formed at Prees Heath on 12th December 1916, along with thirteen other Siege Batteries and was disbanded 1919.

In November 1918 it was still with serving 69th(Howitzer)Bde, 4th Army, armed with 4x 6inch Howitzers.

The 69th(Howitzer)Bde in November 1918 was made up of;-

238th(Siege)Bty,R.G.A. formed 12/8/1916 at Sheerness(4x - 6inch Howitzers).

291st(Siege)Bty,R.G.A. formed 1/11/1916 at Weymouth(6x - 6inch Howitzers).

331st(Siege)Bty,R.G.A. formed 12/12/16 at Prees Heath(4x - 6inch Howitzers).

126th(Siege)Bty,R.G.A. formed 8/4/1916 at Sheerness(6x - 8inch Howitzers).

Sorry it's not much, but every little helps.

Regards,

Graham.

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Dick/Graham

Thank you both for your informative replies. I am interested in a casualty from 331 Siege Battery, S/Sgt Frank White who was killed by shell fire on 3/11/1917. He is buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery.

I hope to find out more about the movements of this SB at this time and the information you have provided is a great starting point.

A trip to Kew me thinks!

thanks again

Mike S

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For a moment I thought I was going to be of some help, but reading the dates and places I fear not. However, my grandfather was in 291SB from 29/12/1917 to the end of the war and my father has managed to trace the movements of the battery from 10/01/1918 until the end of the war from the war diary of 69 Brigade in the PRO (Ref WO95/474 as quoted by Dick above) and various other sources. However, all this took place in the March retreat, Villers- Bret area, then the advance from April onwards,St Quentin canal etc. I also have quite a few photos taken about the time of the armistice and shortly afterwards - groups standing on the ruins of Albert Cathedral, 6inch hows "on parade" at Beauval Nov 1918, various officers billets in Oct and Nov 1918 etc. If any of this info is of any use to you in your research please let me know. Otherwise - good luck in your research!

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It seems that in October and November, 1917, 69 H.A.G. (Heavy Artillery Group) was attached to the Canadian Corps in support of the latter's operations against Passchendaele. For at least part of that time, 69 H.A.G. formed part of the Reinforcement Group for Counter Battery work. There was a northern group and and southern group so I presume the reinforcement group covered both as need arose.

You can get a flavour for the operations at this time by browsing the diaries and attachments of the Commander, Royal Artillery, Canadian Corps here . There is not much specifically relating to 69 H.A.G. (although they are mentioned once or twice). You might also try the diary of the Canadian Corps Heay Artillery here .

These do not mention individual units much, but there is stuff like artillery orders and barrage tables which you might find interesting.

Hope this is useful.

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331 SB were attached to 69th HAG commanded by Lt Col W Corrie.

8 Corps artillery was devided into Counter Battery Groups and Siege Groups. The Siege Groups comprising of a Double Northen Group and a Double Southern Group.

331SB/69 HAG were part of the Double Southern Group designated P & X groups, 331 SB were X4 within X group with the call sign "C.L." The 4x 6" Hows were located at C30c 25.05 with 3 guns having an effective average range of 9,300 yds the 4th 10,000 yds

Stuart

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essdee,

Pardon my ignorance but can you explain "The 4x 6" Hows were located at C30c 25.05 ". Dad and I came across many of these "grid references"? but could not locate them on modern maps or find old maps with grids like this - or am I barking up completely the wrong tree??

Thanks

Phil

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Mike a PS

I forgot to mention 8 Corps, which I mention, had taken over from the Canadian Corps HA on the 18th Nov.

The extract I quoted from was from the 8 Corps HA diary, it was however from a report passed onto 8 Corps from the Canadians on transfer of the HA.

8 Corps diary for the 18th " Location list of Groups & Batteries is attached "

It is actually titled "Canadian Corps Heavy Artillery Location Report". Because it was passed to the incomming Corps Commander you may not find a copy in the Canadian Corps diary for the 3rd Nov.

Stuart

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Phil W

The map reference is a 'trench map' refence.

If you post a request for a copy of the square/area I'm sure CROONAERT will post one over to you and even pinpoint the battery with a nice green dot. I think its on the St Julian map.

291 Sb battery were in the same group as 331Sb and were designated X.2 with the call sign "FWD".

The battery was located at C30b 12.60 however the ground strip was at C30a 6.2.

The gunners who were not on the guns retired to a safer location as for the most part the guns were visible to the German artillery. It looks to have been a way of minimising losses.

The diary entries I have end at 18th Dec so I can't say where 291SB was from then on.

Stuart

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Great information chaps - yet more for me to work on!

Thanks one and all

Mike

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Mike

This is from 8 Corps HA diary, as you can see 331sb came out of action. They do not appear again in the Corps diary for Jan Feb 18. It would appear the 69th HAG were transfered into another Corps.

I also have an 8 Corps HAG list from December which I'll dig out and send

Stuart

post-6041-1120840695.jpg

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Stuart,

Quickie for you. All Brigades,R.G.A. became Heavy Artillery Groups around 2/4/1916, although the actual implemetation varied.

A.C.I.238/1918 and a letter(War Office?) of 17/12/1917 redesignated H.A.G.'s as Brigades, again implementation varied.

Finally 331st(Siege)Bty,R.G.A. was to have been redesignated 'D' Bty,R.G.A.('D'/70) as per the "Interim Order of Battle" of 21/5/1919, which was not carried out due to the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919.

Graham.

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Stuart,

Oops should have read 'D' Bty,R.G.A./70th Brigade('D'/70).

Apologies,

Graham.

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  • 4 months later...

My grandfather was in 331 battery from 24th may 1917 until 01 Nov 1918 - in my occasional efforts to find out more I came across this message board and this thread. I have E-mailed a couple of you as I may have some interesting information contained in a diary he kept. I'll be off to Kew and locating that map reference asap.

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  • 5 years later...

Stuart (esdee),

Many thanks for your posts on here and related siege battery threads have been useful in researching the history of 331 SB in which my grandfather A D Macfarlane (116796) served. I know it's been a few years since these posts but if you're still active on here and have the time I would appreciate help with a couple of requests.

The last image cuts off in the middle of the 331 SB entry so the trench map references can't be read. Can you transcribe those?

Also the earlier image of the 8th Corps HA diary in this post is not showing at all, can you provide more details?

Am also interested in your post on the 85th SB thread here which shows a position for 331 SB. Does that correspond to the map references given in this thread?

Thanks

Will

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More generally on 331 SB, the unit is mentioned here in a transcription of a personal diary from a man in 219 Siege Battery. See the entries for Aug 28 and Sep 2.

The diary gives a good feel for an SB along with the accompanying photographs.

Am sure that site is already familiar to some on here via this thread. Thanks to 219sb

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Have tried tracing the location of Maroc which Albert Lewis gave for 331 at the end of August 1917 in the diary mentioned in my previous post.

My best guess is that it is near here.

I am going on what appears to be the only current association with the name Maroc anywhere near Bethune, namely this cemetery. This also ties in with Lewis' earlier mention of Loos which could refer to the nearby Loos-en-Gohelle. Of course he could have been referring to the Loos on the outskirts of Lille.

Maroc is of course Morocco, and I have seen elsewhere the name Cameroon (see this map) for trenches/roads and assume such names were used by the army to refer to the infrastructure created during the war. In this case perhaps Maroc has lived on in the name of the cemetery. Could well be barking up the wrong tree here!

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Phil W

The map reference is a 'trench map' refence.

If you post a request for a copy of the square/area I'm sure CROONAERT will post one over to you and even pinpoint the battery with a nice green dot. I think its on the St Julian map.

Technically speaking it is not a 'trench map' reference, this is a popular misconception. Before WW1 the British Army decided to use squared maps and map square references not gridded maps and map grid references. However, first RGA and then by about 1917 all gun positions were surveyed and had proper coordinates, usually from the local Bearing Picket (BP) provided by RE surveyors. I recommend the Peter Chasseud's book ' Artillery's Astrologers' if you want to understand some of the issues around mapping and survey on the W Front. However, even if they had used gridded maps there would still be a modern challenge (as there is for WW2) due to changes in spheroid, projection and grid origin.

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Will

Attached is a slightly better map than the previous and shows 331 Siege positions for Nov & Dec'17. The missing page you refer to simply confirms 331 Siege along with 69th Brigade RGA are out of the line.

The map refs with regard to 85 Siege are all from the same period and Corps as 331 Siege.

Stuart

post-6041-084149000 1290993028.jpg

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  • 2 years later...

Dear Jack Griffin

I stumbled on this old thread relating to the 331 Siege Battery and I'm very interested in the diary your grandfather kept during his time with that unit. One of the soldiers I am researching died of wounds on 1st May 1918 having served with this battery from its arrival in France on 15th May 1917. I believe you may have posted a small extract from the diary to me a while ago, but I mistakenly thought this referred to a different battery. I have now realised my error and I am wondering if you would get in touch via the Forum emailing system. I tried to contact you using the same method, but this proved impossible.

Regards

Peter Smith

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