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Is this the uniform of The Royal Field Artillery?


Peter1

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post-8382-1129325677.jpgHello everyone.

I am a new member and also new to researching family who have military service so apologies if my question is obvious or lengthy!

I am currently researching my family tree and whilst visiting an Aunt I was given some family photos. I was told that this man was my grandmothers father and his name was John Stewart. I was told that he died whilst in active service during WW1, as did three of his wife's brothers.

I checked with the C.W.G.C. (excellent site!) to find a probable match and one possibility was Sergeant John Stewart, MM, 93rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery who died on 22nd April 1918. Before I go off researching the wrong person is there anyone who could help identify the uniform in the photo?

My Aunt said that he was in the D.L.I. (but I noticed John is wearing spurs) and he may have been promoted after the photo was taken. I do know his wife's name was Margaret and he lived in Sunderland in the early 1900's.

Grateful for any help.

Peter.

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Hello, Peter.

Welcome to the Forum.

There are not any distinguishing badges or insignia that I can see, but the Bandolier and spurs are consistent with the RFA. However, it could also be another one of the mounted units (Army Service Corps, for example).

If you ask for a serach on the Soldiers Died in the Great War CD-Rom (SDGW), it could also tell us where he was born, resident and enlisted. Asking for a check on any in the Durham L.I. or resident Sunderland wouldn't go amiss either...

36421 John Stewart's MM was announced in the London Gazette of 12th June 1918. There was usual about a 3 month delay between winning the medal and it being in the Gazette, so it is probably tied in with the German Offensive of late March and April 1918:

36421 Sjt. J. Stewart R.F.A. (Castletown).

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...&selHonourType=

No citations are published for MMs. Local papers are the best bet to discover times and places. They may also help you tie in this John Stewart to you ancestor. Larger libraries often have local papers on microfilm.

As for whether he is you John Stewart, it seems a good bet at the moment.

Regards,

Steve.

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Hello Steve,

Many thanks for your very helpful reply. After reading advice on this forum and The Long, Long Trail, I went to my local library to see if they knew of the CD you mentioned , Soldiers Died in the Great War.

To my great surprise , they had a copy which was kept under the desk and library users had to request it. Some of the library staff did not even know it was there!

A search revealed ; 36421, Sergt., John Stewart. Royal Field Artillery,

Died of Wounds, France & Flanders 22/04/18. Born : Gateshead, Enlisted Sunderland. MM " I could not find an alternative probable match. Although I did manage to find all three of his wife's brothers and they had all been in the D.L.I. under the surname of Boggon, which is a more unusual name to research. I was also given a photo of two of these brothers, although I now know the names of the two men, I do not know who is who on the photo. I did not know about John's birth in Gateshead so will follow that up.

Thanks for the info on The London Gazette, I had tried searching for him there before my initial post but I was obviously not searching correctly as I could not find him, so thanks for that. Your reference to Castetown is interesting as I know Castetown to be a district of Sunderland and an older family member has suggested that they may have lived in Castletown.

I went back to the C.W.G.C site and went through over 300 J Stewarts to see if there was a better match but could not find one.

My Father in Law served with the Royal Artillery after WW2 and had several friends with the D.L.I, he said that unless he could be corrected, the D.L.I did not wear spurs. So it looks as though John Stewart on the Photo and Serjeant John Stewart RFA , may be one and the same. I have tried to gain access to archive local newspaper reports for that period but think that they may only be available by a visit to Sunderland. Do you think your reference to his death being part of the German offensive of March/April 1918 may indicate that he was awarded the MM shortly before, or at the time of his death?

I also checked with National Archives and (after reading The Long Long Trails, "Interpreting medal cards") Johns medal card showed his qualifying date to be 22.7.15, which I take to be the date he disembarked in France. It gives his sevice No. but only refers to RFA, no Brigade or Battery No. There is no address or next of kin mentioned either.

I am determined to keep trying as I believe the memory of these four men should be kept alive and given the honour that they deserve. I did not know anything about them until very recently. I fully understand from other family research that some older family members did not talk about their relatives and as youngsters we were not encouraged or had the desire at the time to ask.

Regards.

Peter.

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Peter,

Judging by John Stewart's qualifying date (yes, the date he disembarked into France) he would have arrived with 20th Division, which was the home for the War of 93rd Brigade as listed on CWGC.CWGC also lists him as "A" Battery, worth remembering, as it's the equivalent of an Infantry Company.

MICs for Corps (RFA, RGA, RE, ASC, Labour Corps) very rarely mention any specific unit. Nor do the Medal Rolls, which often do for Infantry. However, we can be reasonably safe in assuming he stayed with 93rd Brigade, apart perhaps for injuries, gassing, etc.

http://www.1914-1918.net/20div.htm

According to the Long, Long Trail 20th Division arrived in France in the few days up to 26-7-1915, which fits exactly with the date John went overseas on the 22nd. From that it looks like John Stewart could well have stayed with 93rd Brigade and 20th Division throughout the War, up until his death.

As you've probably read they were involved near the battle of Loos, at Mount Sorrel, and joined in the Somme in August 1916. 1917 saw Ypres and later the Tank Battle at Cambrai.

20th Division were not in the line on the 21st March 1918, the day on which the German's mounted their offensive. They were in Reserve at Nesle and were rushed into the line at St Quentin on 22-3-1918, fighting at the Somme crossings 24 to 25-3-1918, and in a major battle at Rosieres on the 26th March.

It's always tricky judging what Artillery men won an MM for, whether duty at the guns, or bravery in saving lives when shelled in return, but I would think his MM was won around the end of March.

If someone has the Division history, then it may mention any counter fire against the Brigade's batteries. The War Diary even more so.

Since he died at Etaples, a base depot far from the front line, he would probably have been in one of the General Hospitals there and have been wounded at least a couple of weeks before he died.

While Military Medals, unlike VCs, could not be awarded posthumously and so he would have survived the action in which he won it, it is possible that he was mortally wounded winning it only to die up to a month later. Whether he ever received the medal, who knows?

If his Service Record has survived it may also list his next of kin and dependents so worth a look if you can get to Kew.

Steve.

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Peter,

I would recommend you look at this book, which gives some details and may help you track 93 Bde whereabouts and may give an indication of an action during which your g-grandfather may have earned his MM.

"History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Western Front 1914-18" by General Sie Martin Farndale, KCB. Published in 1986 by The Royal Artillery Institution.

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Hi Martin,

Thanks for the information on the book. I will visit my local library this week to see if they have it, if not can you recommend an outlet that will sell it or do I approach the RA direct? As my Father in Law served with RA he would be very interested himself. I do not think he has a copy as I approached him first regarding John.

Thanks again.

Hello again Steve,

Thanks for the additional information on John and his possible activity in France. The article on the 20th division was certainly very interesting and does make more sense of his situation over there.

I did not know that the MM could not be awarded posthumously

and I have persuaded relatives living near Sunderland to visit the Newspaper archives to see if they can find out more. I have absolutely no idea what happened to John's medals but intend contacting my Aunt this week to see if she knows.

You are obviously very knowledgeable on this subject.

Any member,

I intend to write a new Post with the Photo of Thomas and George Boggon, DLI for any one who is interested.

Regards to all.

Peter.

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Peter

This is a very good website for tracking down out of print and scarce books:- www.abebooks.co.uk

Do a search using "Royal Artillery" and Author "Farndale" and you 'll see what's available and where. It connects you with the bookseller. You will see that General Farndale has written several books covering RA history.

A good military reference library should have a copy.

regards

Martin

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Hello Martin,

Thanks for that. I have added the site to my list of Favourites, I had not heard of it before but can see it is going to be a very useful site.

I am beginning to realise that there is an awful lot that I do not know......

Kind Regards.

Peter.

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Steve,

I have just had word back from my aunt today. She knew that John had been awarded medals of some sort but had never seen them. Her mother had kept the medals and some postcards John had sent back home from France, safely locked away.

On the death of her mother the medals passed onto an uncle, maybe with the postcards .

She informed me that some time ago someone had broken into the uncle's house and stolen Johns Medals.

Words fail me.

Peter.

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  • 13 years later...

Bit of a long shot but is Peter1 still part of this Forum?

 

John Stewart was my Great Great Uncle and I come from Castletown. Just wanting to catch up as I've been looking into John's and his Brother (Charles) service in WW1.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Admin

Peter last visited here in 2008. You could try sending a personal message to him (after you have made two posts) if he's hasn't changed his email address then he should receive it. If he has changed his email address from the one he used to register with the forum, then I'm afraid he won't receive the messages. 

 

Michelle

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Hi Michelle

Thanks for your help - I'm very new to the forum. I'm guessing replying to an existing post doesn't count as a post? I made one ages ago I think so I'll create another one later. If that counts as the second, how do I send a personal message - will there be some notification of how I do this?

Derek

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