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Etaples


doogal

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Hi All,

A general question that will hopefully bring out some interesting details.

I've read many war diaries when whole battalions went to France and more or less marched off the boat and off up the line.

I've also read service records with drafts always going through base depot (Etaples or equivalent), doing two weeks, and being posted from an Infantry Base Depot at Etaples to a Battalion.

For new drafts or for soldiers returning from the UK after injury or leave would Depot have been a certainty, and would a minimum amount of time been allotted?

My initial reason for asking is that in December 1917, my Gt Grandfather returned to France, to Etaples. Here, on what appears to be arrival, he was posted to the 8th Duke of Wellington's Regiment. However, this was only for about a week. He was then posted to the 2/5th Battalion as an acting L/cpl. His service records do not make it clear whether he actually got up the line with the 8th Dukes, and I wonder if he actually left the Depot at all, and was rather just re-allocated. However, his medal roll entry includes the 8th, whilst the service record itself gives no indication that he left Etaples at all for either the 2/5th or the 8th. (We know he did because he was KIA with the 2/5th in March of 1918.)

To have been active in both battalions, he would have had to arrive at Etaples from the UK, been posted, gone up to Belgium for a few days with the 8th, and then at the end of a week gone down to near Arras (I think) to join the 2/5th. It seems unlikely.

There it is. Not a vital question, but hopefully will generate some interest in how things were done in relation to Etaples and postings.

regards

doogal

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Yorkshire Regiment drafts always seem to have joined the various battalions "from the base, Havre" according to war diaries I have seen.

Bob.

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Doogal

From what I have read, a mixture. Units tended to be deployed staright from their landing port to a formation or holding area, before being deployed foward. Individuals or groups of indviduals were sent through Etaples after 1916 for training; that said, when demand for re-inforcements was heavy, drafts were posted straight to unit (and not always to the unit they were initally allocated)

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Regarding the 1918 reorganisation of the British Expeditionary Force.

In the 147th Infantry Brigade the 1st 5th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, was broken up and the men sent to other Duke of Wellington’s Regiment battalions. Two hundred and sixty men were sent to the 1st 4th Battalion, and remained in the 147th Brigade in the 49th West Riding Division. But the majority were sent to the 2nd 5th Battalion, in the 186th Infantry Brigade in the 62nd West Riding Division.

The 8th Battalion that had been in Gallipoli in 1915 with the 11th Northern Division, was also broken up, and sent eighty men to the 1st 4th Battalion, bringing it up to strength for the first time since August 1917.

Looks like some went to the 2nd 5th as well.

Can I have the date of death?

Tony.

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Hi Tony

23348 Acting Lance Corporal (Unpaid) William Cawthorne (see avatar)

West Riding Regiment - 2nd, 8th & 2/5th (5th)

KIA 27th March 1918 serving with the 2/5th.

I understand that the 2/5th were Huddersfield, and the CWGC casualty list bears this out. 25th, 26th & 27th was a bad week for Huddersfield in terms of casualties.

William was from Shipley. Not a good week for him either! :(

Although the official name had been changed to the 5th, 2/5th seems to stubbornly persist until after the Spring Offensive - my guess is until enough new drafts replaced those still calling themselves 2/5th.

Have you much information on the 2/5th at this time?

regards

doogal

Regarding the 1918 reorganisation of the British Expeditionary Force.

In the 147th Infantry Brigade the 1st 5th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, was broken up and the men sent to other Duke of Wellington’s Regiment battalions.  Two hundred and sixty men were sent to the 1st 4th Battalion, and remained in the 147th Brigade in the 49th West Riding Division.  But the majority were sent to the 2nd 5th Battalion, in the 186th Infantry Brigade in the 62nd West Riding Division.

The 8th Battalion that had been in Gallipoli in 1915 with the 11th Northern Division, was also broken up, and sent eighty men to the 1st 4th Battalion, bringing it up to strength for the first time since August 1917.  

Looks like some went to the 2nd 5th as well.

Can I have the date of death?

Tony.

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Yorkshire Regiment drafts always seem to have joined the various battalions "from the base, Havre" according to war diaries I have seen.

Bob.

Now this bit is interesting - earlier on in my gt grandfather's details, when he first went to France, it notes Etaples. However, I had not considered that the next time round he went to Havre. I shall re-check this bit and see if this makes sense - I don't have his records to hand.

regards

doogal

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Have you much information on the 2/5th at this time?

At the moment just the bit in the History of the 62nd Division, plus some very similar information in the West Riding Territorials in the Great War. I would expect there will be more to come, three Holmfirth men were killed on that date.

It seems the 186th Brigadier ordered the 5th Koyli from the 187th to counter attack with two tanks and the commander of that battalion Major Watson, was killed and awarded a Victoria Cross. So there may be useful information in accounts of that, or maybe not.

In case you haven’t seen it the extract from the History of the 62nd Division:

“On the right of the Divisional front Brigadier-General Burnett's Brigade (186th) closed with the enemy in bombing contests. The old system of trenches south of and running through Rossignol Wood was a constant source of trouble, for about 12-30 p.m; the right Company (D) of the 5th Duke of Wellington's Regt. was attacked, both from across the open and along the old trenches. The attack in the open was easily driven off by rifle and Lewis-gun fire, but the bombing attack up the trenches was very persistent and difficult to hold. To add to the difficulty there was a shortage of bombs. D Company established a block in the trench running south and so kept the enemy back, but he had filtered into Rossignol Wood and from there two snipers got to work on the flanks of the Battalion. During the afternoon several demonstrations by the enemy against the 5th Battalion were broken up by Lewis-gun and artillery fire. But; “about 7 p.m.,” states the narrative of the 5th Duke of Wellington's Regt., the Battalion on our right was seen to be bombed out of its position by the enemy and our right flank again became completely exposed.”

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“On the right of the Divisional front Brigadier-General Burnett's Brigade (186th) closed with the enemy in bombing contests. The old system of trenches south of and running through Rossignol Wood was a constant source of trouble, for about 12-30 p.m; the right Company (D) of the 5th Duke of Wellington's Regt. was attacked, both from across the open and along the old trenches.  The attack in the open was easily driven off by rifle and Lewis-gun fire, but the bombing attack up the trenches was very persistent and difficult to hold. To add to the difficulty there was a shortage of bombs.  D Company established a block in the trench running south and so kept the enemy back, but he had filtered into Rossignol Wood and from there two snipers got to work on the flanks of the Battalion. During the afternoon several demonstrations by the enemy against the 5th Battalion were broken up by Lewis-gun and artillery fire. But; “about 7 p.m.,” states the narrative of the 5th Duke of Wellington's Regt., the Battalion on our right was seen to be bombed out of its position by the enemy and our right flank again became completely exposed.”

Hi Tony,

Check out the war diary I posted in the Documents section, as this looks like it has been derived from the diary - at points word for word. (nothing wrong with that)

My current task is to work out what Coy my gt grandfather was in. Probably not possible, but you never know. The other companies got a bad mauling that day, and I have a few notes related to that, as it appears the diary for that day was written only from the perspective of D company.

BTW, do you have the names of the two men to hand?

regards

doogal

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I see what you mean about word for word in places.

The men who were killed were:

Willie Earnshaw, a Private (240891), 2nd 5th Battalion, and, same brigade different battalion, Walter Booth Bray a Private (23585), 2nd 7th Battalion.

A Third man was with 108th Brigade Headquarters, Royal Artillery.

Tony.

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I see what you mean about word for word in places.

The men who were killed were:

Willie Earnshaw, a Private (240891), 2nd 5th Battalion, and, same brigade different battalion, Walter Booth Bray a Private (23585), 2nd 7th Battalion. 

A Third man was with 108th Brigade Headquarters, Royal Artillery.

Tony.

Willie Earnshaw is on the Arras Memorial to the missing. I believe many of the missing from this battalion who fought between 25th and 30th March 1918 are buried in Gommecourt British Cemetery No2.

Have you any company details for him (or any service details for that matter?)

Bray is at Humbercamps - 2/7th seemed to get most of their KIA out, though some are in Gommecourt too.

regards

doogal

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Are these names of any help?

Also on Arras:

BEAUMONT, Private, EDGAR HAMBY, 235241. "A" Coy. 2nd Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). 28th March 1918. Age 22. Son of Joe and Hannah Beaumont, of Wilshaw, Meltham, Huddersfield. Bay 6.

DAVIES, Serjeant, WILLIAM, M M, 240661. 2nd/5th Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). 26th March 1918. Age 23. Son of Mrs. Annie Sadler, of Owlers End Farm, Binn, Marsden, Huddersfield. Bay 6.

HAWKSWORTH, Corporal, HARRY, 240599. 2nd/5th Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). 26th March 1918. Age 31. Husband of Agnes Hallas (formerly Hawksworth), of 38, Longroyd Lane, Longroyd Bridge, Huddersfield. Bay 6.

HEYWOOD, Private, JOSEPH, 241513. 2nd/5th Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). 27th March 1918. Age 33. Son of Mrs. E. Heywood, of 469, Blackmoorfoot Rd., Crosland Moor, Huddersfield. Bay 6.

MANCHESTER, Private, LEONARD, 32158. 2nd/5th Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). 27th March 1918. Age 28. Son of the late James and Hannah Manchester; husband of Hilda Manchester, of New Rd., Meltham, Huddersfield. Bay 6.

MOSLEY, Second Lieutenant, PERCY, 5th Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). 28th March 1918. Age 24. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Mosley, of Yew Tree Villas, Shepley, Huddersfield. Bay 6.

NORTH, Private, JAMES, 242870. 2nd Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). 28th March 1918. Age 34. Husband of Eva Lilian North, of 119, South St., Huddersfield. Bay 6.

ROBINSON, Serjeant, SAM BENSON, 240240. 2nd/5th Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). 29th March 1918. Age 24. Son of Tom and Mary Jane Robinson, of Minton Cottage, Linthwaite, Huddersfield. Bay 6.

SHUTTLEWORTH, Private, HEDLEY, 241097. "B" Coy. 2nd/5th Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). 27th March 1918. Age 32. Son of William and Isabel Shuttleworth, of Chapel Lane Farm, Galgate, Lancaster; husband of Elsie Eliza Jane Bottomley (formerly Shuttleworth, of Badger Hey, Marsden, Huddersfield. Bay 6.

SMITH, Private, WILLIAM, 242019. 2nd/7th Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). 25th March 1918. Age 23. Son of Hannah Smith, of 23, Lockwood Scar, Huddersfield, and the late Herbert Smith. Bay 6.

STANDISH, Lance Corporal, ALFRED, M M, 300077. 2nd/5th Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regi-ment). 29th March 1918. Age 24. Adopted son of Mrs. C. Crawshaw, of 35, School St., Moldgreen, Huddersfield. Bay 6.

regards

doogal

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Just now I have no details beyond name, rank, number, battalion, and date of death, it will be a while before I can do a search through the newspapers and elsewhere for 1918, that sometimes gives companies, or a letter from a mate, etc. I am still busy with the end of 1916 and the beginning of 1917. I don’t recognise any of those names but I have walked down some of those streets. The school on School Street has just been rebuilt.

Tony

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Just now I have no details beyond name, rank, number, battalion, and date of death, it will be a while before I can do a search through the newspapers and elsewhere for 1918, that sometimes gives companies, or a letter from a mate, etc.  I am still busy with the end of 1916 and the beginning of 1917.  I don’t recognise any of those names but I have walked down some of those streets.  The school on School Street has just been rebuilt.

Tony

It sounds like quite a project - Am I right to think it may take longer to complete than the war itself lasted?

regards

doogal

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I think so, I seem to have been nearly finished with 1916 for quite a while now, and I am still finding more.

Tony.

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