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Remembered Today:

Rfn John Brockway, King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC)


MBrockway

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I am researching my grandfather Rifleman John Brockway of the King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC).

From his Medal Index Card, I have found the following:

Rank: Private (i.e. 'Rifleman' in the KRRC)

Corps: K.R.Rif.C (i.e. 'KRRC')

Regimental Number: R6479

Theatre: 1 – France

Qualifying Date: 23 June 1915 [wrong: correct date is 23 July 1915]

[update on 22 Apr 2007: sincere apologies, but this is a typo on my part - as shinglma points out correctly in Post #23 below, the correct Qualifying Date is 23 July 1915 ... I'm afraid I slipped up when typing it in here :( ]

Medal Roll entries …

Victory & British War Medal: Roll – M/101 B/21; Page – 2659

1914-1915 Star: Roll – M/2; Page – 532

Demobilised to Class Z Army Reserve (no date)

He was born in 1894 near Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire, so I assume he volunteered in the area, but his grandfather had relocated the family from near Shaftesbury in 1869 and he still had many relatives in Dorset/Wilts, so it may be possible he went down to Winchester to attest at the KRRC depot.

I am assuming the Qualifying Date of 23 June 1915 is his actual embarkation date. [should be 23 July 1915 - see Update above]

Of the Divisions that embarked in May, June or July 1915 only the 14th (Light) Division and the 20th (Light) Division contained KRRC battalions. The 14th Division seems to have completed embarkation in May 1915, while the 20th completed in July. I'm assuming therefore that my grandfather was in the 20th (Light) Division, and that he volunteered as part of K2 some time after 28 August 1914.

The KRRC Battalions in the 20th (Light) Division were 10th and 11th (Service) battalions in 59th Brigade, and 12th (Service) battalion in 60th Brigade.

All this is educated guesswork really though, as he equally well could have been posted as a replacement to a battalion already well established in theatre.

Can anyone help me to identify in which Batallion he actually served?

Perhaps from the Medal Rolls?

Or by de-coding the Regimental Number?

I'll then have a start point to research the activities of his unit.

I remember him describing tanks crushing German concrete pillboxes, so I think it likely he served at Cambrai, and he was definitely at both the Somme and Passchendaele. He was sent back to Blighty twice I think. Once when he was carried back wounded from No-Man's Land by a heroic Corporal while under fire, and also after being gassed. Strong smells, like nail polish, used to make him anxious all through the rest of his life.

He talked very little about the war with my father, but that wasn't unusual. Sometimes Old Soldiers find it easier to open up about such things to the generation two further on, but I was too young to really ask the right questions before he died in the 1970's. I would love to find out more about his war and pass that on to the generations below me. It would be fantastic to get the full story behind the Corporal who rescued him under fire too.

Can anyone help me out there?

Cheers,

Mark Brockway

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Hi Mark,

The 10th and the 11th Battalions went to France on 21st July 1915. The 12th on the 22nd July so it's none of those.

The 7th KRRC went to France on 19th May 1915, the 8th in May 1915 and the 9th on the 20th May 1915, so it is more likely he was a replacement for one of those, or the 1st and 2nd KRRC who went to France in 1914.

Your best bet is either to see if his service record has survived, or hope that his medal rolls note which baatlion of the KRRC he served in.

Steve

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Luckily the A's and B's in the WO364 Service Records are indexed on Ancestry.co.uk, but none of the 11 Brockways there seem to be him (his full name was actually William John Brockway), and I think I found and checked a list of mis-sorts elsewhere on the web a while back.

I can't get down to Kew for at least six months - is there any way to check an Index for the WO363 "Burnt" Papers?

Likewise I won't be able to get down to check the Medal Rolls either.

Can anyone supply me with copies of Victory/British War Medal Roll M/101 B/21 Page 2659, or of 1914-1915 Star Roll M/2 Page – 532?

I don't think I can get much further until I can work out his Battalion.

I'm assuming that his Regimental Number R6479 was simply allocated in the order the men attested, or is there any way I can use this to identify his unit?

Q on embarkation dates: did the whole battalion move on the single day or is the Embarkation Date the date when the battalion had completed the move?

So many questions! :(

Cheers,

Mark

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I can only help on the last question. My interest is the 13th Bttn KRRC and from their War Diary only an "advance party" went ahead a couple of days before the Battalion. So in essence they all went on the same day - in this case July 30th 1915

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I am not sure that the regimental no.s are a sure way of telling which Battalion he was in. You can look on Ancestry for two close no.s, R6434 Atkinson, Albert (23 pages) and the nearest R6476 Burgess, Samuel. You may see something I didn't. I suggest, like Steve, the rolls may be a better bet.

Kevin

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Forgive my ignorance Folks, but if he was sent out as a replacement to one of the battalions already in theatre, is that likely to be mentioned in those battalions' War Diaries?

Since I know his Qualifying Date - 23 June 1915 - I'm wondering if it's worth scouring the War Diaries for the 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th Bttns for that date?

I'd be surprised if names of individual rifleman are given, but if even if arrival of unnamed reinforements is mentioned, that might help me identify his battalion.

What would be your advice?

I'm already trying to get somewhere via the Medal Rolls, just thought this might be a fall-back? ;)

Cheers,

Mark

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From my experience of the 13th KRRC diary only officers joining are mentioned by name and rfn only by "quantity" (numbers in and numbers out) in the end of month tally - sorry but rfn are only mentioned by name on very rare occasions and usually in connection with some kind of extraordinary action.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Hi Mark,

The 10th and the 11th Battalions went to France on 21st July 1915. The 12th on the 22nd July so it's none of those.

The 7th KRRC went to France on 19th May 1915, the 8th in May 1915 and the 9th on the 20th May 1915, so it is more likely he was a replacement for one of those, or the 1st and 2nd KRRC who went to France in 1914.

Steve

Searching the Forum for info on 7th, 8th and 9th Btns KRRC, turned up a reference to a 'mass surrender' in Martin Middlebrook's 'The Kaiser's Battle' book.

Thumbing through this in Waterstone's (I'm on a budget :) ) it seems that all these Btns had a particularly bad time on 21 March 1918 on the first day of Operation Michael, but that facing German supremacy of 4:1, the 8th Btn was almost completely overrun with the whole battalion either killed or taken prisoner. Middlebrook quotes the Btn War Diary which, with masterful understatement, says that it had not been possible to construct a coherent account of the day's actions as no officers or men from the battalion had made it back. Chilling.

I am confident that my grandfather was never captured, so if the whole of the 8th Battalion was in fact lost in March 1918, I can probably assume this was not his Btn, which further narrows things down for me.

Can anyone confirm the fate of 8/KRRC at this time?

I suspect Middlebrook is over-simplifying, as the KRRC page on the Main Site has all three btns being reduced to cadre strength, which suggests to me that at least some of 8/KRRC did make it out in March. Of course some of the men of the btn would have been out of the line anyway on sick leave etc. etc. and it could have been these few that made up the cadre.

Cheers,

Mark

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Mark,

He is not in the 8th KRRC Nominal Roll as of 18/12/15.

Andy

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Mark

As Andy (Stiletto) has said he is not listed on the 8/KRRC Nominal Roll for 18/12/1915.

Nor is there any mention of a draft of men in the period after the 23/06/1915 (which is not to say it didn't happen - just that it's not recorded).

Middlebrook seems to base the fate of 8/KRRC on the entry in the war diary for March 1918 which begins:

"It is impossible to give any connected or detailed information of the doings of the battalion for this month as none of the officers or men in the line came out of the March 21st Battle"

However another account in the war diary suggests that two men did make it back from the front line to the transport camp. The men at the transport camp were regrouped under Captain Tetley and fought a rearguard action from the canal crossing at Jussy to Flavy where they held the enemy for a short time.

None of this - though interesting - helps confirm which battalion your grandfather served with. The simplest way of resolving this is through his entry on the medal rolls at Kew. I will be visiting there a couple of times at least this week and regular work permitting will look him up on your behalf.

Regards

Mike Shingleton

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Mark

As Andy (Stiletto) has said he is not listed on the 8/KRRC Nominal Roll for 18/12/1915.

..

..

Regards

Mike Shingleton

Andy / Mike,

Thanks both for this very interesting info. Even if he wasn't in 8/KRRC, there's a strong chance he was close by in 7/KRRC or 9/KRRC undergoing very similar experiences on that grim day in 1918. 7/KRRC (with 8/RB) was I think one of the first units to receive attack by flamethrower at Hooge Crater back in 1915, so they certainly had an eventful war.

Can you help with two areas:

1. Nominal Rolls - I take it these are simple lists of men in a given Unit at a certain time? I also infer that they were kept at Battalion level? I'm new to these - where are they likely to be held? KRRC (i.e. RGJ) Museum at Winchester possibly? I've not heard mention of them in any of my guidance material from NA at Kew.

2. 7th Battalion KRRC - I have a very hazy memory of my GF mentioning a connection to the 'London Rifles', or similar, back in the 1970s when I was 10 years old or so :). I notice that after the Kaiserschlacht, 7/KRRC returned to Blighty as a cadre before being eventually absorbed into the newly established 34th Btn, The London Regiment in 49th Bde, 16th (Irish) Division in June 1918. This seems a strong lead to me, but, as posted at the top of the topic, my grandfather's MIC only mentions KRRC. Would such a transfer always show up on a Medal Index Card? Does anyone have any way of checking 7/KRRC for me?

Incidentally, I agree that my best way forward is to check the Medal Rolls for a Battalion and I rang Kew earlier today but they were all at lunch!

Many thanks Folks - we're definitely getting closer!

Cheers,

Mark

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Andy / Mike,

2. 7th Battalion KRRC - I have a very hazy memory of my GF mentioning a connection to the 'London Rifles', or similar, back in the 1970s when I was 10 years old or so :).

Cheers,

Mark

Mark

Not London Rifles, but Queen Victoria's Rifles and only from the late 1930s and the end of the London Regiment.

1st QVRs was the 7th KRRC and their duplicate, 2 QVRs, was 8th KRRC in WW2.

Not the same as 7th and 8th KRRC in WW1 though.

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Mark,

I will check in the 7th KRRC War Diary to see if there is a nominal roll in there, I can't remember offhand.

Andy

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Mark

Not London Rifles, but Queen Victoria's Rifles and only from the late 1930s and the end of the London Regiment.

1st QVRs was the 7th KRRC and their duplicate, 2 QVRs, was 8th KRRC in WW2.

Not the same as 7th and 8th KRRC in WW1 though.

I did say it was a hazy memory and it was a long time ago! It was just when I read that what was left of 7/KRRC after the Kaiserschlacht was absorbed into 34/LR that I made the connection in my mind.

Thanks for the clarification anyway though - I've been trying to work out the complex post WW1 links between these various London TF battalions and the KRRC, Rifle Brigade, and eventually the RGJ, for a while now!

Cheers,

Mark

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Incidentally, I agree that my best way forward is to check the Medal Rolls for a Battalion and I rang Kew earlier today but they were all at lunch!

As mentioned in post 10 I am happy to look at the medal rolls in the next couple of days. Ringing Kew won't help - you need to visit in person, order the roll and look up the entry. It should list transfers whilst overseas as well

Regards

Mike S

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Mark,

Just checked, and there is a nominal roll for the 7th KRRC but unfortunately J. Brockway does not appear to be in that roll, will check again as some of the writing is bad.

Andy

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As mentioned in post 10 I am happy to look at the medal rolls in the next couple of days. Ringing Kew won't help - you need to visit in person, order the roll and look up the entry. It should list transfers whilst overseas as well

Regards

Mike S

Many thanks Mike. That would be greatly appreciated - it'll be November at the earliest before I could get down to Kew - I'm hoping to take a few days and combine it with a trip to the RGJ Museum in Winchester, but that'll be a much better trip if I have good info established now - I can concentrate on getting War Diaries etc. I might even get to see Remembrance Sunday in Whitehall.

One thing I have been able to confirm through the family is that my GF went all the way down to Winchester to attest into the KRRC in person. That's a fair way from Tenbury on the Worcs/Salop border. He clearly was very certain he wanted to be in the KRRC. He did not volunteer locally and get directed into the regiment by chance by the recruiting serjeant.

I understand that the KRRC was one of the few regiments that recruited nationally - alongside the Guards regiments and the Rifle Brigade?

Cheers,

Mark

PS Many thanks also to Andy: a negative result on 7/KRRC (bad handwriting aside) still helps narrow things down - we're now left with 9/KRRC or replacement draft into the Regular battalions - 1/KRRC and 2/KRRC.

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If you are visiting the Royal Green Jacket museum later this year then may I suggest you get in touch with the curator and let him know what you would like to see- details here -Royal Green Jackets Museum

From personal experience he is more than helpful. By then hopefully you will have a clearer idea of what you want to see (they have a number of war diaries for example) - give him a bit of notice and I am sure he will help. Good hunting.

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Mark

Here's his entry on the British War & Victory Medal Roll for the KRRC. It confirms that he was in 12/KKRC before being transferred at some point to 16/KRRC. His dis-embarkation would tally with him arriving in France as part of 20th Light Division. The tricky bit may be ascertaining when he joined 16/KRRC (The Church Lads Brigade). The war diary for either battalion might give a clue. Further analysis of the medal rolls might suggest the size of the draft. You might even strike lucky and find a list of the men drafted appended in the war diary but this is not usually the case.

I should add that if you want the photo of the full page (it contains no further information) and a photo of his 1914-15 star medal roll entry send me a pm/e-mail with your e-mail address. Let me know if you have broadband.

Regards

Mike S

post-627-1177060648.jpg

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Mark

..

.... he was in 12/KKRC before being transferred at some point to 16/KRRC. His dis-embarkation would tally with him arriving in France as part of 20th Light Division. The tricky bit may be ascertaining when he joined 16/KRRC (The Church Lads Brigade).

..

..

Regards

Mike S

Mike - this is a fantastic step forward. Many many thanks!

I'll start to hunt down some 12/KRRC experts on the Forum - anyone know of anyone? There's certainly a number of specialists in the 16th (Church Lads Brigade) Btn, so that will probably be a rich seam.

The other news is that I have heard from the family that my GF travelled down to Winchester to attest with a friend from Tenbury. That friend's identity is lost in the mists of time. Since the Medal Roll is in Service Number sequence, there's a fair chance that one of those mentioned nearby is that friend, so I can begin to cross reference those names against the Tenbury census and maybe get a match.

It gets more interesting: I mentioned in my original post that family legend had my GF being rescued by a heroic Corporal from No Man's Land after being badly wounded in an attack. Speaking to my sister about this, she thought it was the same friend that he joined up with.

I know this has shades of "Two Little Boys" etc, but what a marvellous story if it's true ... and I notice that the next entry - Jessie Sunderland - was a Corporal who won the MM and got commissioned in 1918, clearly an exceptional man .... who knows, maybe ??? :) His MM citation will be very interesting.

I assume that "A/Cpl" in my GF's row means Acting Corporal??

All in all lots of things to get on with now. Also I can restore Inglefield's History of the 20th (Light) Division to my Amazon wishlist - I'd taken it off when the 20th got the thumbs-down back in Post #2 ;)

Hearty thanks to all the Pals who have helped me get to this point :D

Cheers,

Mark

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Mark,

I can't help you find the details of your Grandad, but is there any chance some of your relatives came down under to Australia?

I ask this because I happen to work with an Andrew Brockway whom I know was born in England (I'd have to ask him exactly where) and the surname isn't exactly common - especially here in Australia.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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Mark

Glad to assist.

Couple of points - the qualifying date you give in post one is wrong. Both the MIC and medal rolls give the date as 23 July 1915 and that is consistent with 20th Light Division's disembarkation (if memory serves).

Sunderland's MM (and commission) will have been gazetted but no citation is given for the MM. That means finding out the date of the gazette and working back through the war diary to see if it gets a mention. It might help with dating the transfer as well.

Regards

Mike S

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Tim,

Thanks for the offer, but I'm focussing on my grandfather in WW1 rather than more general family research, and all his descendants are already well known to me!

I'm trying to find out about his war to understand how it might have shaped him in his later life. I'm afraid I'm not really a genealogist.

I don't know of any of the Worcestershire Brockways emigrating to Australia, but there is an Andrew Brockway in Ontario, Canada whose tree descends from one of my GF's uncles. I know he is actively researching these Worcs. Brockways (who originally came from the Shaftesbury area on the Dorsetshire/Wiltshire border). If your friend wants to be put in touch with him, send me a PM and I'll give you his contact details.

Incidentally Brockway is sadly not a rare name over here - there's usually at least a dozen in every phonebook I've ever bothered to check in ;-)

Cheers,

Mark

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..

Sunderland's MM (and commission) will have been gazetted but no citation is given for the MM. That means finding out the date of the gazette and working back through the war diary to see if it gets a mention. It might help with dating the transfer as well.

Mike S

Couldn't resist delving into The London Gazette - new territory for me!

Sunderland's MM is gazetted in No.29912 of Friday 19 Jan 1917 in a War Office Notice dated 22nd Jan 1917.

His Commission is in No.30773 of Friday 28 Jun 1918 in a WO Notice of 1st Jul 1918 with the rubric ...

The undermentioned cadets to be temp. 2nd Lts. 26th June 1918:-

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..

E. Lan. R.
- Jesse Sunderland, M.M.

The date of the commission in the East Lancs is one day different from the 25/6/18 on the Medal Roll, but it's easy to swap a 5 and a 6.

Looks like he had at least 18 months as an NCO after his MM before he was commissioned. Can anyone advise on the likely time lag between gazetting for the MM and the actual action where he earnt it? I'll then put out a plea for some 12/KRRC War Diary info :)

I've also had a quick look at the 1901 Census for Worcestershire to see if I could spot any of those on the Rolls with Service Numbers close to my GF.

There were no Jessie Sunderlands - but three Greatorexs. James HW Greatorex aged 28, a dyehouse labourer, Alfred O Greatorex aged 6, and Edwin W Greatorex aged 4. At 41 or so, James would probably be too old to join up in K2, but Alfred is exactly the same age as my grandfather and Edwin 2 years younger. It seems likely that Rfn James Greatorex R/6478 in the rolls is either Alfred or Edwin - perhaps he took his father's name as some sort of mark of respect? or good luck?

They were all in Kidderminster in 1901, which is about 20 miles from Tenbury, but my GF ended up in Kidderminster himself, where he was a watchmaker and jeweller, so his move from Tenbury probably happened between 1901 and 1914.

It seems too much of a coincidence for this not to be my GF's friend. It must have been hard when they were posted to different battalions though!

I can get some corroboration on this from the Attestation Forms if I'm lucky enough to find Service Records for my GF ... and 'James' Greatorex.

Cheers,

Mark

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