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michaeldr

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Diane,

many thanks for coming in on this

I will certainly pass your information on to the RFA Association

who have expressed an interest in this man's grave

Thanks again, both to you and to your friend

Michael

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My thanks to Dick Flory who has been able to add the following detail to the story of the RGA men;

from "The Times", 21 February 1922, page 9, under "Imperial and Foreign News Items:"

"While crossing a ford of the Jordon, some mules of the 1st Pack Battery, stationed at Jenin, got out of hand and caused nine men to be drowned. Eight bodies were recovered and have been buried with military honours at Haifa."

I repeat my previous request in post #24 above;

it would be very helpful if someone could read the plaque which appears to mention where on the Jordan this terrible accident occurred.

Thanks again for your support

Michael

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  • 4 weeks later...

post-7789-1191798391.jpgMichael!

I've just received this photo from a local "digger" who took it in an old Protestant (small) cemetery in Yafo/Jaffa. Among some clergy, merchant and diplomats tombs of the 19th century, there is this headstone (?). Google did not reveal any detail about this (important) figure. He was probably present here due the war with Muhamad Ali and Ibrahim Pasha. Could you see if there are more details about the officer?

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Brig.-Gen. Edward Thomas Michell, CB, RA

In Gibraltar until 1810 and then detached to command a guerrilla division in the Sierra de Ronda; present at the capture of Ronda, combats of El Brosque and of Bornos, night attack and capture of Arcos.

Commanded the artillery with the force occuppying Tarifa in 1810-11-12; engaged in all the affairs and operations at Tarifa, Vejer, Casas Viejas, Alcala, Medina, Sidonia and the battle of Barros.

Especially mentioned in Napier's History "as having distinguished himself by his talent and enterprise and by skilful management of the Artillery at the the final defence of Tarifa in December 1811.

In 1812 present at the assault and capture of the Salamanca forts, at the battle of Salamanca, and combat of Castrejon.

Served in the Netherlands from Dec 1813 to May 1814, at capture of Merxem, bombardment of Antwerp and in the night attack on Bergen-op-Zoom (severely wounded and distinguished himself by extinguishing the fuze of a shell thrown by the enemy into the center of a wagon of ammunition.

From Aug 1839 to Nov 1840 he was British Commissioner with the Spanish armies (Knight of the Spanish Order of Charles III, and of San Fernando, and Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic.

Appointed a Brigadier General and commander of British Forces in Syria on 27 October 1840 and was present at the action of Medjdel, 15 Jan 1841.

General Michell died at Jaffa on 24 Jan 1841 and a monument was erected there to his memory by the officers who had served under him in Spain and Syria.

Source: List of officers of the Royal Regiment of Artillery from the year 1716 to the year 1899, Royal Artillery Institution, 1900.

Regards. Dick Flory

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Brig.-Gen. Edward Thomas Michell, CB, RA

In Gibraltar until 1810 and then detached to command a guerrilla division in the Sierra de Ronda; present at the capture of Ronda, combats of El Brosque and of Bornos, night attack and capture of Arcos.

Commanded the artillery with the force occuppying Tarifa in 1810-11-12; engaged in all the affairs and operations at Tarifa, Vejer, Casas Viejas, Alcala, Medina, Sidonia and the battle of Barros.

Especially mentioned in Napier's History "as having distinguished himself by his talent and enterprise and by skilful management of the Artillery at the the final defence of Tarifa in December 1811.

In 1812 present at the assault and capture of the Salamanca forts, at the battle of Salamanca, and combat of Castrejon.

Served in the Netherlands from Dec 1813 to May 1814, at capture of Merxem, bombardment of Antwerp and in the night attack on Bergen-op-Zoom (severely wounded and distinguished himself by extinguishing the fuze of a shell thrown by the enemy into the center of a wagon of ammunition.

From Aug 1839 to Nov 1840 he was British Commissioner with the Spanish armies (Knight of the Spanish Order of Charles III, and of San Fernando, and Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic.

Appointed a Brigadier General and commander of British Forces in Syria on 27 October 1840 and was present at the action of Medjdel, 15 Jan 1841.

General Michell died at Jaffa on 24 Jan 1841 and a monument was erected there to his memory by the officers who had served under him in Spain and Syria.

Source: List of officers of the Royal Regiment of Artillery from the year 1716 to the year 1899, Royal Artillery Institution, 1900.

Regards. Dick Flory

Great! Did a great service for me.

Another source I found – in an old encyclopedia – give the following story about General Michell:

"When in the vicinity of Majdal it was raining. Michell went to sleep wearing wet clothes, got sick and died after brought back to Jaffa"/

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am very pleased to share some great news

We are nearly there!

Mr. Robert Key MP has passed on to me a letter which he received from Mr. Derek Twigg MP, the responsible minister in this case.

Dated 29th September, Mr. Twigg writes

"I am pleased to be able to inform you that, in addition to the 31 graves already maintained in this cemetery, it has been agreed that the four Service graves and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary grave, highlighted by ... will in future be maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), on behalf of the Ministry of Defence."

Mr. Twigg concludes by saying that "I trust that my reply will reassure ... that the sacrifices of all those who served HM Armed Forces and died in the service of their country, irrespective of where or when they fell, will continue to be remembered and honoured with pride and gratitude."

remembered and honoured with pride and gratitude -

Boy First Class, Victor Elliot Thompson, of HMS Delhi, died 31st May 1936

ERA 4th Class, Kenneth Earnest Dryden, of HMS Delhi, died 20th September 1936

Spr. 1856462 A. Ruder of 42nd A.T. Coy. R.E., died 4th February 1922

Mjr. Lawrence Campbell Victor Hardwick RAMC, died 10th December 1921

and

Seaman Shi Zheng Di of RFA War Sudra, died 1936/7

(recorded on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Roll of Honour as See A Tin)

My thanks to the CWGC for recognising the problem here as soon as it was pointed out to them, and for their prompt proposal of a solution

My thanks to Mr. Robert Key MP without whose help this matter would not have proceeded so quickly

Thanks also to Mr. Peter Atkinson MP who, at the personal invitation of my father, also recently joined our strength

And thanks to my Pals on the GWF, especially to Chris Baker for allowing me this space and the opportunity to garner research and support

We have had one small hiccup, in so far as approval has not yet been received an behalf of the nine artillery men.

The problem seems to be a misunderstanding about the use of the word 'memorial' to describe the monument erected here.

The MoD in a "long standing policy of successive Governments" does not care for "memorials and associated projects" which are NOT grave markers.

In short, the MoD think of this as a 'memorial' not associated with particular graves.

It is possible that, innocently enough, I have contributed to this situation in so far as I have myself used the word memorial,

when it appears that instead "common-headstone" or "joint-grave-marker" or some such formula should have been used.

I have replied to Mr. Key and enclosed a copy of the 1934 letter from the Acting Staff Captain, British Troops in Palestine, Headquarters, Jerusalem

and I have asked him to pass it on to Mr. Twigg, drawing his attention to the second paragraph which refers to the 'memorial' and "the graves of the nine gunners and drivers of the 1st Pack Battery, R.A., ... at Haifa..."

I have also mentioned Dick Flory's find of a report in The Times which mentions the burial with military honours at Haifa.

When the MoD see this then I am confident that approval for the care of the graves of the nine artillery men will also follow.

Thanks again for all your help and support on this

Michael

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  • 3 years later...

From a previous post - "...it has been agreed that the four Service graves and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary grave, highlighted by ... will in future be maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), on behalf of the Ministry of Defence."

The grave of the RFA seaman has been smartened up, with new kerbing, a concrete slab on the grave itself and gravel chippings placed around it instead of the untidy leaf litter

 

[edit July 2017 - following the removal of the Photobucket service I am trying to replace missing photographs in this thread

Alas, not all have been recoverable] 

 

The headstone of the Sapper has also been attended to. It is no longer propped up by two rocks, but is now firmly in place. What they seem to have done is to take the old headstone and trim it down to that portion with the carved inscription, and then place this remainder in a new concrete/aggregate frame. The result is a new headstone, but with the original inscription and presumably with enough stone beneath ground level to allow it to be securely anchored in place. The effect OK and the stone looks well.

 

[edit July 2017 - following the removal of the Photobucket service I am trying to replace missing photographs in this thread

Alas, not all have been recoverable] 

 

Please also see this post which begs for help at Kew which might resolve the question of the 1st Pack Battery graves: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=159620

Thank you

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  • 1 month later...

Quote from post No. 31 above

"We have had one small hiccup, in so far as approval has not yet been received an behalf of the nine artillery men.

The problem seems to be a misunderstanding about the use of the word 'memorial' to describe the monument erected here.

The MoD in a "long standing policy of successive Governments" does not care for "memorials and associated projects" which are NOT grave markers.

In short, the MoD think of this as a 'memorial' not associated with particular graves ... ... ... ...

I have replied to Mr. Key and enclosed a copy of the 1934 letter from the Acting Staff Captain, British Troops in Palestine, Headquarters, Jerusalem

and I have asked him to pass it on to Mr. Twigg, drawing his attention to the second paragraph which refers to the 'memorial' and "the graves of the nine gunners and drivers of the 1st Pack Battery, R.A., ... at Haifa..."

I have also mentioned Dick Flory's find of a report in The Times which mentions the burial with military honours at Haifa."

I was unable to persuade the MoD that what we have here are graves and they instead relied upon professional advice from another quarter:

Quote 'There, is in his opinion, no doubt that this is a memorial and not a grave, and he cannot see how there could be multiple burials in this spot.' End of quote

[Just how ridiculous this statement is, can be illustrated by giving the dimensions of the plot in front of the remains of the RA Cross; it measures at least 10m X 4.5m]

That was the disappointing, and may I say dispiriting, situation in Jan 2008 when I received a copy of the Minister's letter. However, at that time the MoD did offer to "review this conclusion" based upon any new "more definitive evidence."

A survey of the other burials in this section of the graveyard indicates that following February 1922 there were some 34 other internments here, all of which were placed so as not to encroach upon this plot (which some would have us believe was empty).

Looking for that 'more definitive evidence' has involved a couple of GWF Pals who very kindly did some research at Kew. There was also a morning spent with two friends at the cemetery when (with the Sexton's prior approval) we scraped away the dirt from above the plot and found the remains of a large concrete slab which must have been the original capping of the graves.

However, I am pleased to say that at last we have had a really significant breakthrough which has enabled me to go back to the MoD with what I consider to be 'definitive evidence' of the burial in Haifa (Jaffa Road) Cemetery of the nine Gunners and Drivers of the 1st Pack Battery.

To cut a long story short, what has changed here is that the new Regional Supervisor for the CWGC has a much more positive attitude to this neglected cemetery and its occupants. He has very kindly done some digging in his archives and he has come up with a couple of documents from 1925. The first lists the numbered and named graves of the British servicemen buried in this cemetery up to that date, and the second is a cemetery plan indicating exactly where each of those British servicemen is buried. The nine RA men all appear on the list and the map.

My letter and a copy of the 1925 documents reached the MoD on the 11th, and while I am trying not to count my chickens before the eggs hatch, but I am very hopeful of a positive outcome this time

regards

Michael

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This is a crop of one of the two 1925 documents which were found for us by Mr Paul Price of the CWGC. He and Mr Michael Gottschalk have been a great help in this,and we are all hoping for a happy outcome

5963818806f2c_1stPackBatterygravesitesplan.thumb.JPG.997f02a670715b302d7dcf84207835f7.JPG

596381efc33de_1stPackBatterygravesitesplancrop.jpg.166541c3aa65902e559a2b4991ce19ff.jpg

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Hi Michael,

Well, that is a bit of a breakthrough! Not much ambiguity there re graves versus memorial.

I was unable to persuade the MoD that what we have here are graves and they instead relied upon professional advice from another quarter:

Quote – 'There, is in his opinion, no doubt that this is a memorial and not a grave, and he cannot see how there could be multiple burials in this spot.'

Amateurs 1 - 0 Professional

Well done, Michael. Also Paul Price of the CWGC for uncovering the 1925 documents.

Stuart

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Thanks for your comments Stuart

And thank you again for giving up one of your sessions at Kew to help with this cause

All the best

Michael

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  • 2 weeks later...

As I have done on earlier occasions, I have written to the Member of Parliament for Salisbury (the home of the RA's charities) and asked him to support our request for a review of the Minister's previous decision in this case. Today I have received a very encouraging letter from Mr. John Glen MP, which concludes thus:

"It does indeed seem as though the minister's predecessor was grievously misinformed and I would be happy to write to him and lobby him to ensure that your submission is given all due consideration."

Keeping fingers crossed here and hoping for a happy outcome soon

Michael

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  • 3 months later...

Keeping fingers crossed here and hoping for a happy outcome soon

The Minister's decision is now in, and I regret that it does not provide the 'happy outcome' which I was hoping for.

I have received from John Glen MP a copy of the Minister's letter of 4th July 2011 which was addressed to him, and I take this opportunity to say how very grateful I am to Mr Glen for his help and support in this matter.

The Minister's letter is too long to quote in full here, however the crux of the matter is covered in his page I, para.s 3 & 4:

"Before the First World War (and during the inter World War years) the burying of the deceased was traditionally a function of the Ship, Regiment or Unit to which they belonged or of the individual's family. No formal assistance was offered by the then Admiralty, War Office or Air Ministry. Our long standing policy is that responsibility for such graves and commemorative markers lies with the owner which in this case is the Royal Artillery. It is customary practice in cemeteries where we have a maintenance responsibility that, when private headstones or memorials become broken or are in an advanced state of decay, for safety reasons, they are removed and not replaced. This does not preclude the owners repairing, restoring, or replacing the markers should they so wish.

Therefore, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) is not able to restore the existing collective commemoration memorial nor can we offer to replace or to mark the individual graves."

So – having now proved that the graves are there after all, what if anything has changed this time around? The Minister's page II, para. 2 refers:

"Notwithstanding the foregoing, as this memorial serves in lieu of a headstone and that we maintain other graves in close proximity, exceptionally in this instance I can accept its maintenance as a charge to MOD. Should the owner, or others, chose to remove the existing block and replace it with individual headstones or a collective headstone marker, I am sure that, with appropriate notice, they could be brought within our normal maintenance regime."

No, this is not the decision which I was hoping for, but nevertheless it is a small step in the right direction.

I have already forwarded copies of the Minister's letter on to interested parties at the RA , the CWGC (Israel), etc., and await their reaction.

As the technical owners of the graves and the remains of the old collective marker, then the next move is up to the RA. When their position on this becomes clear I will post a further up-date.

Thanks again to everyone for their continued support on this

Michael

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  • 9 months later...

Quote from 15JULY2011 above:

I have already forwarded copies of the Minister's letter on to interested parties at the RA , the CWGC (Israel), etc., and await their reaction.

As the technical owners of the graves and the remains of the old collective marker, then the next move is up to the RA. When their position on this becomes clear I will post a further up-date.

It's a long time since October 2006, but at last we are drawing close to seeing our objective achieved.

The Royal Artillery Charitable Fund have many calls upon their resources today, but I am glad to say that even so, they are not prepared to let these men be forgotten.

Since we now know the location of each of the graves, then nine new headstones would have been an ideal solution. Being realistic in these hard times however, I am very pleased to say that while nine headstones cannot be provided, the RACF have nevertheless, agreed in principle to put up a new common marker as a memorial.

This is the proposed design

Haifamemorialinscaleprop-1.jpg

and this is the proposed lettering detail

HaifamemWinklerletteringforaprov14MAY2012.jpg

Our knowledge of the details of the nine Gunners and Drivers have been expanded slightly by further research on the part of 'Tom' – to whom many thanks. I am placing that information below in the hope that someone's future web-search for their relatives may brings them to this thread. Any family member spotting this is most welcome to contact me for photographs or a progress report on the memorial.

Driver J E King 1419548 4 February 1922

- Army Death Indices confirms name as James E King, aged 19, died Cairo, Egypt.

- Born approx 1903

Driver M Lyons 1418270 4 February 1922

- Army Death Indices confirms name as Michael Lyons, aged 23, died Cairo, Egypt.

- Born Approx 1899

Driver W Wilson 1414279 4 February 1922

- Army Death Indices confirms name as William Wilson, aged 23, died Cairo, Egypt.

- Born Approx 1899

Driver N Neathy 1414164 4 February 1922

- Army Death Indices confirms name as Norman Neathey, aged 20, died Cairo, Egypt.

- Name: Norman Neathey, Birth: Apr 1901 - West Ham, Essex, Greater London

- Son of Henry James and Elizabeth Alice Neathey

- Brother to Sidney Morris, Gladys, Lillian Bessie and Clara

- 1911 Family lived at 114 Fanshawe Avenue Barking, whilst Norman was living with his Aunt and Uncle at 18 Lansdown Road Bath.

Gnr H C Park 1419616 4 February 1922

- Army Death Indices confirms name as Herbert C Park, aged 20, died Cairo, Egypt.

- Name: Herbert Charles Park , Birth: Oct 1901 - Poole (To 1958), Dorset

- Son of Charles and Bessie Park

- Brother to Arthur John, Hester Curtis, Edwin Frank and Wilfred George

- 1911 Lived at Bricknowle, Corfe Castle, Dorsetshire

Gnr R A Guest 5096495 4 February 1922

- Army Death Indices confirms name as Ralph A Guest, aged 21, died Cairo, Egypt.

- Name: Ralph Augustus Guest Birth: Oct 1900 - Kings Norton (To 1912), Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire

- Son of Robert and Maude Guest

- Brother to Doris, Robert, William and John

- 1911 Lived at 16 Poplar Road Kings Heath

Driver E G G Oram 1419404 4 February 1922

- Army Death Indices confirms name as Earnest G G Oram, aged 19, died Cairo, Egypt.

- Name: Ernest George G Oram, Birth: Oct 1902 - West Ham, Essex, Greater London

- Son of Ernest and Adline Oram

- Brother to Florence, Violet, Vera and Rose

- 1911 lived at 109 Belmont Park Road, Leyton

Driver F C Watts 1414698 4 February 1922

- Army Death Indices confirms name as Frederick C Watts, aged 21, died Cairo, Egypt.

- Born Approx 1901, Possibly Leytonstone

Driver W H Johnson 1417391 4 February 1922

- Army Death Indices confirms name as William H Johnson, aged 19, died Cairo, Egypt.

- Born Approx 1903, possibly in Brighton.

As nine individual headstones cannot be afforded, it had been hoped that funds could nevertheless be found to mark off the boundaries of the plot with kerb stones and to cover the surface of the plot with gravel. Alas, the current budget of the RACF will not stretch to that, but it may be possible in the future to complete this work.

If any one would like to help out in any way, however small, by making a donation to the RACF, then please see the appeal here http://1914-1918.inv...howtopic=180263

and remember to mark your donation for the '1st Pack Battery Memorial at Haifa'

Thank you for your continued interest

Michael

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  • 2 months later...

2006

5963828af07f6_1stPackBattmemOCT2006.jpg.ac96f68913cdb2818ef63c169279c736.jpg

 

 

2012 - NOT FORGOTTEN

P1020957.jpg

It seems like a long time since October 2006, but on Friday last (10th August 2012) the nine Drivers and Gunners of the 1st Pack Battery, RGA, who drowned 90 years ago, were acknowledged with a new memorial to replace that which time and the elements had worn away.

The new common headstone was generously provided by the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund and the search continues to secure further funding for the rest of the project. In that quest for sponsorship I have contacted a local hi-tech company based in Haifa, who, together with its majority owned UK subsidiary, has a very substantial contract to supply the MoD, and the RA in particular. That letter should land on the CEO's desk any time now, so keep your fingers crossed.

If anyone reading this would also like to support this project, then please see the links here http://1914-1918.inv...howtopic=180263

and please be sure to complete the Message Box to indicate that you are contributing towards the '1st Pack Battery Memorial at Haifa'

In the meantime, I have written to the Minister to remind him of his offer to take this memorial within the MoD's care & maintenance programme.

Thank you all for your continued interest and support for this project

Michael

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  • 1 month later...

... the search continues to secure further funding for the rest of the project. In that quest for sponsorship I have contacted a local hi-tech company based in Haifa, who, together with its majority owned UK subsidiary, has a very substantial contract to supply the MoD, and the RA in particular. That letter should land on the CEO's desk any time now, so keep your fingers crossed.... … … ...

In the meantime, I have written to the Minister to remind him of his offer to take this memorial within the MoD's care & maintenance programme.

UP DATE

A reply has been received from the company in Haifa, and a first meeting should take place in mid-October.

Still keeping the fingers crossed here.

I have also received a reply from the Minister who confirms that

“we will advise the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to add it to their maintenance regime in the cemetery.”

So far, so good.

Thanks again for your continued support

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  • 3 months later...

Diego,

Very many thanks for posting the picture above, and for sending me the aerial view; both shots look very good indeed.

I have replied to your PM and I look forward to hearing how I can help you here.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[edit JULY 2017 - Diego's photograph is no longer available in his above post, however I am pleased to be able to add a copy below]

5963836b14531_e)CloseupbyDiegoMesia.jpg.3ffcfc849e9bcbe1d8827c560dae73e5.jpg

 

As you will see from Diego’s photograph, we have made great progress on the grave plot of the 9 Drivers and Gunners of the 1st Pack Battery.

Elbit Systems Ltd., a local Haifa based company, has very generously donated to the RACF the work on the second half of this project. The old northern wall of the plot has been given a facing of concrete board, which was then painted grey to match the eastern wall. The surface of the grave plot was then covered with a layer of broken red roof tiles. This material has been successfully used for the paths at the nearby, world famous, Bahá’í Gardens. The whole effect looks very well, and marks out the plot of the nine artillerymen from the surrounding graves.

We expect to have a small ceremony in a month or two, to rededicate the graves and the memorial.

Thank you for your continued interest in this project.

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  • 2 months later...

On Friday, I at last received confirmation from the CWGC that the MoD have been as good as their word, and the graves and the new memorial (which, in the absence of any other markers, also acts as a common headstone for the nine men) will in future be included in the Commission’s Mediterranean Area’s maintenance regime.”

Our plans for a rededication service have been postponed until early June, but for very good reasons. More on this in due course.

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In the meantime, I've been going through some of my photographs from October 2006 and those from earlier this year, and I think that it may be of interest to share some. These don't match exactly however they are close enough to provide approximate 'before and after' shots.

These next few posts are therefore dedicated, with thanks, to the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund and to Elbit Systems Ltd, who have respectively, generously donated the new memorial and the refurbishment work on the 1st Pack Battery grave plot. Also included here should be thanks to the CWGC who are looking after the Palestine Police and other service graves that make up this part of the cemetery.

33A1030390_zps88a76449.jpg

P1030390_zps2ab82fc8.jpg

Second pair

35A1030396_zps27747573.jpg

P1030396_zps380b87e3.jpg

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  • 2 months later...

Our plans for a rededication service have been postponed until early June.

This week we had a very nice ceremony of dedication for the new memorial. The organisation was made so much easier for me by my having the whole hearted support of our Military Attaché here, Col. Philip Stack MBE. The service was conducted for us by the Rev. Canon Hatem Shehadeh and Philip arranged for a Piper to attend and play. The wives of the attachés were also most supportive, and kindly provided refreshments for those attending on such a hot day in Haifa.

Our major donor, Elbit Systems Ltd., was represented by Mr Eli Dotan, who was very impressed by the ceremony and the Piper. We were fortunate to also have attend, three serving members of the RA, who are currently in Israel on a course. Two veteran Gunners attended and made the ceremony complete; Sam Lewis, who as a National Serviceman was with the RA in east Africa, and Viscount Samuel OBE, (aged 92) who as a young Captain served with the guns in India, Burma and Sumatra.

P6046355_zps7ba3d435.jpg

The Canon giving the blessing

10549442-0aef-4eb9-b88d-929b02df1984_zps77c4a7c3.jpg

Col. Stack and S/Sgt Buttitta from the embassy, and Russell Lehman RA, one of the current course members here

My sincere thanks to everyone who has given their support to this project over so many years

Michael

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  • 1 month later...

I want to wrap up this thread by lodging here some material from the service which we held on 4th June 2013.

It is hoped that at some point in the future, someone looking back into their family history, will be led here by their search engine and find this material of personal interest. Once again, my thanks to 'Tom' for the information on each of the nine men, which he provided as seen in post No. 39 above.

At the end of this post I have added a time-line which may also prove of interest to any future researcher.

My thanks again also go to the owners and Mods of the GWF, for their patience in letting this 'off topic' thread run here for so long.

The service on 4th June 2013 commenced with a few words of welcome and thanks. There were so many people to thank here, but alas, not enough time to mention everyone by name.

The exceptions were Michael Gottschalk, whose enthusiasm and encouragement in the last two years had been invaluable.

Mr Paul Price of the CWGC, who found the 1925 blue-print which proved that the nine graves were indeed there after all.

And Mr Eli Dotan, of Elbit Systems Ltd., whose generosity allowed us to complete the work commenced by the RACF.

As a Pack Battery is not a usual military formation to come across these days, I though it not out of place to give a few words of explanation before we began the service. I was helped here with material supplied by our GWF mountain battery and artillery enthusiasts, RobL and Dick Flory.

A Pack Battery in 1922

The name Pack Battery came into use immediately after WWI; such a unit had previously been known as a Mountain Battery. They were used in difficult, broken, or mountainous terrain where the normal Field Gun, drawn by horses, could not go. The Pack Battery's four artillery pieces were either 2.75-inch guns or 3.7-inch Mountain Howitzers.

A Pack Battery was usually commanded by a Major and the second-in-command was a Captain. There were two Sections of 2 guns each, and each Section was commanded by either a Lieutenant or a Subaltern. The rank and file were upwards of 100 men.

Each Section could operate as a separate unit, and though we have no information as to the exact circumstances here, it is probable that the tragedy of 4th February 1922 was during an operation by just one section, or perhaps even a half-Section of only one gun. All that the brief note in The Times of 21st February 1922 tells us is;

“While crossing a ford of the Jordan, some mules of the 1st Pack Battery, stationed at Jenin, got out of hand and caused nine men to be drowned.”

The unique nature of the guns and how they were transported is the key to understanding this tragedy. Each of the Battery's weapons were broken down into parts, which were transported on the backs of mules.

A generation earlier, in the days of Rudyard Kipling, these were known as 'Screw Guns' as the barrel was too heavy for one mule to carry, so it was made in two parts which were screwed together with a junction nut, to prepare for action.

Example: in the case of a sub-Section with one 3.7 inch Howitzer there would be:

8 mules carrying the howitzer parts,

2 mules carrying ammunition

2 relief mules in case of casualties

1 mule carrying the Pioneer equipment (picks, shovels, etc., etc.)

1 mule for the Field Telephone and Signalling equipment

That is 14 mules, each with its own Driver, as well as 9 Gunners (5 manning the gun and 4 assisting and in reserve) making up a Firing Battery Sub-Section.

Because 2 Gunners were drowned together with the 7 Drivers, then this is what I suppose we had on the 4th February 1922, but again, please note that is only a guess on my part.

[in addition the sub-Section would also have a 1st Line with a further 6 relief mules and 9 more for ammunition, as well as animals for spare parts and stores of every description, including spare wheel, water, food and medical supplies etc., etc. Meaning that a sub-Section had up to 56 animals in total, with additional Drivers, Artificers, Cooks, etc. The total number of animals in the whole Battery might be 210 plus.]

Because of their much heavier, important and valuable loads, the mules of a Pack Battery were generally the best that the army could provide, and as a rule they were very well cared for by the men. The load, including saddlery etc., which each mule carried varied between 123 and 162 kilos, with relief mules carrying about half that weight. [if the water at the ford on the River Jordan was unexpectedly deep or fast flowing, then it is easy to see that difficulties may have arisen.]

Under normal circumstances the men and their animals formed a single, integrated unit and were all highly trained.

On the command 'Action Forward' the men had to:

unpack the gun and the ammunition from the mules,

assemble the gun in position,

load, aim and fire their first round,

all within only three minutes.

It is a great regret that we do not have further information on exactly what happened on 4th February 1922.

[bases upon contemporary articles in RA publications and the 1921 edition of the Handbook of the QF 3.7-inch Mountain Howitzer.

Any mistakes are mine. MDR]

… … … … … … … … … … ...

The Order of Service was kindly produced and supplied by Staff Sergeant L. Buttitta of the the British Embassy in Tel Aviv

Front Cover

38e4ff88-1cfc-45cf-80ac-63c493a1ef01_zpsd82e452c.jpg

Pages 2,3 & 4

1stPackBatteryorderofservicepages23amp4_zpsabed348b.jpg

Pages 5 & 6

7f5ba53b-3fd2-40b7-98b0-038e0ff4ac1b_zps431f4216.jpg

… … … … … … … … … ...

1st Pack Battery time-line

4th February 1922: nine men (7 Drivers and 2 Gunners) drowned when their mules panicked while fording the River Jordan

21st February 1922: The Times of London reports that the men were given a funeral with military honours at Haifa. At the time of the funeral, wooden crosses are erected above each of the nine graves.

15th March 1922: A question is asked in the British Parliament, to ascertain whether or not their Commanding Officer had written to the families of the nine men, to informed them of the circumstances of the tragedy.

13th July 1934: HQ British Troops in Palestine confirms to the Royal Artillery Memorial Society that their memorial “for the graves of the nine gunners and drivers of the 1st Pack Battery” has been erected. In the photograph supplied by the Army HQ Palestine, the original wooden crosses from 1922 can still be seen.

31st October 2006: Michael D. Robson visits Haifa (Jaffa Road) Cemetery, sees the poor state of the remains of the first (1934) memorial and begins to campaign for its restoration. Research assistance is provided by;

Lt-Col Ian A. Vere Nicoll MBE, the General Secretary of the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund,

Mr Paul Evans, the Librarian at the Firepower museum,

Ms Kate Knowles, the Deputy Editor of The Gunner magazine,

and the members of the Great War Forum

29th September 2007: With the assistance of Mr. Robert Key MP (Salisbury), the UK's Ministry of Defence agrees to add “four service graves and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary grave” to their list of maintained graves in this cemetery, but not those of the nine Drivers and Gunners.

14th January 2008: Despite more evidence, a further appeal to the MoD on behalf of the 1st Pack Battery's graves is again turned down.

2nd February 2011: Met Mr. Michael Gottschalk who joins the effort and at about this time, Michael Gottschalk had generously put up temporary plaques on the remnant of the old memorial plinth.

Mr. Paul Price, the new Regional Supervisor, Israel & Cyprus, for the CWGC also agrees to help.

11th March 2011: A blueprint plan of the cemetery made in 1925 and clearly indicating the site of each of the nine graves, was found in the CWGC archives by Mr. Paul Price.

A copy of this plan is submitted to the MoD, together with yet a further plea that they recognise these graves. Mr. John Glen MP (Salisbury) agrees to lobby for this cause.

4th July 2011 : The MoD agrees to recognise the nine graves

16th April 2012: The Royal Artillery Charitable Fund agrees to erect a new memorial or common headstone, to the nine Drivers and Gunners of the 1st Pack Battery, RGA.

10th August 2012: The new memorial, paid for by the RACF, is put in place

3rd September 2012: The MoD confirms that they “will advise the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to add” the new memorial to their maintenance regime

October-December 2012: following Michael D. Robson's appeal to the Haifa based high-technology company, Elbit Systems Ltd, they generously agreed that, on behalf of the RACF, they would complete the restoration work at the 1st Pack Battery grave plot. Elbit's Mr. Eli Dotan, Senior Director, UAS Programmes, was in charge of this part of the project. Included were cosmetic work on the northern wall, levelling the site, putting in kerb-stones along the western boundary, spraying the plot with a herbicide, laying a plastic ground sheet and then a covering of broken red roof tiles.

4th June 2013: A Service of Dedication for the new memorial and the Re-Dedication of the nine graves was conducted by the Rev Canon Hatem Shehedeh of St. John's & St. Luke's Church, Haifa

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