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Wickham30

L/Corp Ephraim Shortman, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry

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Wickham30

This post is dedicated to my research on Lance Corp Ephraim Shortman of the 1st Bttn, the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry: who died on 31st March 1916 at Kut Almara, Mesopotamia. I wonder if anyone can throw some light on further areas of possible research.

I first heard about Ephraim Shortman (or “Eve” as my family called him) long ago from my mother. Eve was born in the village of Bitton nr Bristol on 19th Aug 1891. My mother referred to him as her “uncle Eve”, although he was (if anything) technically an “in-law” by relation. There still remains some mystery about his exact connections, but he definitely had a relationship with a great aunt of mine, who bore a child by him – presumably around the beginning of WW1. She died shortly after the child’s birth, and of course Eve’s death came soon after. I have (to date) been unable to find my grt aunt’s death certif. or birth/death of their child, though a picture of it still exists. Rumour has it that the child died during the flu epidemic of 1918. Signs of a scandal covered up?? I’ve assumed that I may be alone in remembering his Eve’s existence today.

The Family Story: My mother said she was told that Eve had been killed “fighting the Turks” at a place called “Kut”. My grandparents had heard that his body was recovered from an entanglement of barbed wire, and that he’d probably lay wounded in the entanglement and desiccated under the hot sun. The Turks were also described as being a “very cruel enemy” (I wonder if the Turks have heard that of the British too?). Anyway, when I began researching Eve, I soon located a picture of him and clear refs from war casualty records.

He is the man seated in the photo below. I don’t know the ID of the other soldier. As a sepia photo, I assume their jackets would’ve been Red in real life. I think the cap badges are recognisably of the Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. I assume he was a private soldier at the time of the photo, but was a lance corporal when he died.

His name is found on the following link in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:

http://www.cwgc.org/cwgcinternet/SearchRes...y&nationality=6

This gives his rank as L/Corp, service no: 9731, 1st Bn., Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. I understand this Bn was part of the expeditionary force sent to “Mesopotamia” in 1915. The “Mesopotamian campaign” seems little written about historically, but the “siege of Kut Al mara in particular ended in British military disaster. Details on “The Long Long Trail” verify that the siege ended with the surrender of British forces to the Turks on 29 April 1916 and Eve’s death was recorded approx one month before on 31st Mar 1916.

After surrendering at Kut, pitifully few of the British prisoners taken survived their captivity to return home again. So with this in mind, I’ve wondered how many British military records from the siege actually survived. I suppose any war diaries of the battle would’ve been taken by the Turks and lost? Eve’s date of death seems convincingly “accurate” to me, but I’ve assumed the details of his death (caught in barbed wire etc.) cannot be verified. I assume his actual grave site is unknown. This is just about the sum of information I have on Eve. Can anybody suggest any other leads for further research about Eve?

Anyway, I hope all this is of interest.

Richard

post-7912-1136499407.jpg

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tombowcock

Hi Richard,

Not a lot I can add military wise as I'm not knowledgeable on his regiment.

The 1901 census shows him living in St George, Bristol.

Frederick A Shortman - Head - M - 29 - Labourer at chemical works - Born Bristol St George

Alice Shortman - Wife - M - 29 - Born Warmley, Gloucester

Ephraim Shortman - S - 9 - Born Bitton

Stanley Shortman - S - 5 - Born Warmley

If you drop me a mail I'll send a copy of the census image to you.

Cheers

James

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Guest Simon Bull

Richard

I cannot help you I am afraid, but I just wanted to say I found this very interesting and look forward to hearing more about Eve as you discover more.

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Wickham30

Thanks Simon & James. Also, thanks James for looking up E.Shortman on 1901 census – but I’ve already got this info.

It was the 1901 info that led me to find Eve’s birth certif. The village of Bitton today has a WW1 memorial of its local casualties in its church grave yard, but the name of E.Shortman is not amongst them. But as the 1901 census reveals, Eve & his family moved into Bristol early on in his youth, and it was in this local neighbourhood that some years later he met my grandfather’s oldest sister – Selvey Curnock living nearby. Eve Shortman also signed up for the army in Bristol and possibly before WW1 began. Perhaps a young guy in uniform - keen about his regiment etc. - was too much to resist for Selvey? It also seems to me that Selvey’s younger brother Jack (my grandfather - picture in my Avatar) – might have got on well with Eve and certainly bore no grudge against him? Both “old contemptibles” together I suppose.

A few years ago I carried out (with what I considered at the time) an exhaustive search through the GRO for - i) a birth of Eve & Selvey’s child, and - ii) the death of my grt aunt Selvey. I found nothing! Perhaps with the availability of the 1837 online index - I should try again. Family rumour has it that “my side” (the Curnocks) were disappointed with their daughter Selvey pregnancy and after her death left the care of the child to Eve’s family (his parents?).

I was thinking that as L/Corp E.Shortman died for his country but had a dependent child at home (assuming that even this can be verified), the army may’ve awarded some kind of pension or allowance for its care. Although the child probably did die shortly after, there may be some official record of allowances surviving?

I’m glad this story has been of some interest. Above all, I’m glad that both Eve & Selvey’s short and tragic lives have not been forgotten.

Rich

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cockney tone

Rich,

like Simon cannot help you but find your account interesting, thank you for sharing it, knowing little that went on at Kut i look forward to any updates

Regards,

Scottie.

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Guest roguish_rogue

Argh! I'm so frustrated. I am a living relative of Ephraim; through a fairly complicated set of family circumstances he is (in effect) my great Uncle. I only recently started recording the family tree and came across is medal records; with the centenary of his death this year I have been trying to find out more of his story. My Uncle Kenneth Shortman (his nephew) died in the last couple of years and he would have known the whole story - I wished I'd had the chance to ask him. My mother is still alive but her recollection is very shaky. Her father Fred was Emphraim's little brother; but sadly Fred died when she was 11; so any of the stories will likely be second hand from other relatives; I will read her the original post Richard provided and see if it jogs any memories. Thank you for providing the information you have - I did not have any photos of 'Eve' so it's wonderful to see this one.

 

Incidentally, when I was trying to piece the circumstances of his death together, I wondered if he died as a result of the Battle of Dujaila, as it was the closest offensive to his death in late March (if indeed that date is correct). There is a fantastic read here:  http://www.new.dli.ernet.in/handle/2015/156399  - an officer in the Oxford and Bucks light infantry's account of how the Mespotomia campaign unfolded. I know Ephraim had served in France prior to being stationed in the middle east and was intrigued how he travelled/what he would have seen so that account is a fascinating insight from someone in the same regiment. It must have been an incredible eye-opener from a boy from a back water. The family home was in St George in Bristol, the census records show he was working as a cellarman 5 years prior to his death. I don't recollect any mention of a child though, that is a new intrigue. I do know he was very loved and missed; my mum has said previously that Fred had often mentioned his big brother with love.

 

 

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johntanner

Register of soldiers effects gives a date of death of 31 March 1916.

 

Qualifying date for 14/15 star is 5 December 1914, with Mesopotamia being the first theatre of war served in, which doesn'tsuggest prior service in France, as this is the date the Bn. landed at Basra, having sailed from Bombay.

 

He is listed in the Bn. history as died of disease during the siege of Kut, date of death 31 March 1916.

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johntanner

His number suggests he enlisted in mid-1912.

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Lois Kos

I am working on the Shortman Family History - Ephraim Shortman was a relative of mine through his father, Frederick Albert Shortman.  His brother, Thomas James Shortman was my great grandfather.  Looking to connect with anyone who is interested.  Looking for more information this family line.

 

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charlie962
On 22/12/2016 at 08:51, johntanner said:

Register of soldiers effects gives a date of death of 31 March 1916.

'Soldiers Effects' actually give date of death as between 1st and 31st March 1916. So exact date was not known. CWGC have picked the end date for their database. It may be that postwar discussion with survivors enabled a more precise date to be determined but if his service record has not survived and it is not noted in the Bn History we won't know?  All records were destroyed by the garrison when they surrendered. But casualty lists were being sent out by wireless from Kut during the seige.

 

Most of those who died during the seige were buried in Kut War Cmty but not, apparently, Shortman who is just commemorated on Basra memorial with no known grave.

 

Welcome to the forum, Lois!

 

Charlie

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Lois Kos

Thank you for the information.  Most helpful.  Are you related to Ephraim?

 

 

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charlie962

no relation, just interested in OBLI at Kut;

Charlie

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