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63rd Royal Naval Division Question 3


Peter Woodger
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Hi

I have come across a reference to Royal Naval Salvage Unit operating in the Ancre valley post 15th November 1916. Was there a special unit of this name or were a number of men who could not get out of the way quick enough assigned to the task when 63rd Div were withdrawn?

Peter

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I have not heard of this unit. Possibly an ad hoc collection of men. The RND left the battle area on 15 November, having been relieved by 37 Div, and marched to the Channel coast. Could you quote the reference, please.

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This rings a vague bell with me. Rather than an RND unit, could this have been an RN unit salvaging parts from a wrecked rail-mounted naval gun?

Mick

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HI Horatio 2

On the DD card of Tyneside Z/7136 AB J McGivern, who was buried in Trench 4 of cemetery Q18.c.2.2 which is now Row A of Plot VIII of Ancre British Cemetery, it says " Buried by RND Salvage Company".

The Burial would have taken place between 15th and 30th November 1916.

Peter.

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Thanks for pointing me there, Peter. It would appear from a quick perusal of other RND Record Cards that a Salvage Company was formed not long after the RND arrived in the BEF. I get the impression that some men posted to it may have been unfit for the trenches but otherwise useful. Certainly, just before the Ancre Battle, starting in mid-October 1916, a number of men were temporarily transferred to the Salvage Company and they seem to have rejoined their original RND battalions on about 6 December 1916. So, they had about three weeks work with the Salvage Coy, probably recovering salvageable RND equipment and, as is clear from this card, burying the dead. I'm not at all sure how large a unit it was or who commanded it.

There was another unit, 253rd Divisional Employment Company which appears (apparently) in Mid-1917. Some Salvage Coy men moved to this unit. This may have been the successor to the Salvage Coy.

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Glad to see such a healthy interest in the RND. Having read all three posts, I note that the "parent site" misquotes the numbers of the battalions for Benbow & Hawke :-

2nd (Hawke) Bn (joined August 1914, left May 1916)

3rd (Benbow) Bn (joined August 1914, disbanded 9 June 1915)

It should be 3rd Hawke & 2nd Benbow. A very common error.

Also, the Ancre casualty list in "that book I done" is well out of date. Since compilation, there have been numerous corrections & additions, not least of which was the identification of individuals' attachments to a specific Field Ambulance or battalion.

TTFN

John

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  • 1 month later...

Here is another reference to a Divisional Salvage Company.

It is from a movement order for the 1/8th Royal Scots dated 11th January 1917.

The Battalion,Division Salvage Company,and the Divisional Band will move to Sarton on 12th instant,via Bouzincourt and Acheux.

(a) The Battalion,less 1 officer and 35 Other Ranks from "A" Coy will move in the following order with 200 yards distance between each Company-the first Company to move off at 8-15 a.m.

Band,Signallers,Cyclists,"A" Company,followed by "B","C",and "D" Companies and Stretcher Bearers.

(B) The Divisional Salvage Company will join the Battalion at Bouzincourt at 9.30 a.m. and will march 200 yards in the rear of "D" Company.

The Battalion War Diary makes no reference to the work of the Salvage Company although it continues to be included in some of the other movement orders.

There is some speculation that following the 1/8th Royal Scots involvement in the Beaumont Hamel engagement the Battalion was employed recovering and burying casualties.The War Diary makes no reference to this task so I do wonder if this was a task carried out by an independent Salvage Company.

George

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George

I have started a new thread so as not to drag this one off line. It is "Battlefield clearance around Beaumont-Hamel" any contribution welcome

Peter

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Salvage duties were part of the role of the Divisional Employment Companies although it also included a wide range of other duties ranging from running the Divisional Baths & Laundry to acting as Water Guards and Cemetry Wardens.

Ivor

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Ivor

What was the role or duties of a Cemetery Warden?

Peter

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Peter

As far as I can make out one of the many roles of the Divisional Employment Companies included work at cemeteries in the Division. I have only seen one reference to cemetery wardens and assume that their work would include the paperwork associated with burials and also security of the cemetery.

This is speculation but I suspect it would include ensuring the wooden crosses were not stolen.

Personally I would love more definitive information.

Ivor

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