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5th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery

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SFayers

Hi Folks,

I have a copy of 5th Siege Battery's war diary for the above period (though some pages are missing) if anyone needs any look-ups.

cheers

Steve

EDIT: Now have the complete diary from the NA if anyone requires look-ups (entries for January 1918 onwards are not in the NA collection)

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denzy
Hi Folks,

I have a copy of 5th Siege Battery's war diary for the above period (though some pages are missing) if anyone needs any look-ups.

cheers

Steve

EDIT: Now have the complete diary from the NA if anyone requires look-ups (entries for March 1915 and January 1918 onwards are not in the NA collection)

I have just discovered this site after researching my grandfather, William Denzy Marr, any information regarding William and his unit would be greatly appreciated. Regards

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SFayers

Hi Sandra,

As promised, here is the 5 Siege Battery war diary entry for 14th July 1917 when your grandfather was wounded:

159 rounds fired on hostile batteries. The neighbourhood of CHATEAU TROIS TOURS was heavily shelled about 1am & Captain R.W. Willis, No. 39346 Bombardier Roast, J., No. 36048 Bombardier Cannon, T., No. 33704 Acting Bombardier Shipton, A., & No. 53998 Gunner Marr, W. were wounded.

Chateau Trois Tours was a moated chateau a few miles North of Ypres, and just West of the village of Brielen, on the West side of the Yser Canal. The gun positions of 5 Siege Battery were located just to the north of the chateau grounds from 3rd - 31st July 1917, and during this time it's 6" howitzers were bombarding German positions (primarily enemy artillery positions - or 'hostile batteries') around Langemarck and towards St Julien. This was part of the preliminary bombardment prior to the start of the 3rd Battle of Ypres, which was launched on 31st July. The Germans, of course, would retaliate with their own artillery - and it was during one such bombardment on the chateau area that your grandfather was badly wounded. He eventually made it back to a base hospital at Boulogne where sadly he died from his wounds on the 27th July.

Best regards

Steve

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denzy

Thanks for that Steve

Its quite moving to read things like that, knowing the person/people involved. Again I thank you for all your help.

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berkshire dragon

Hi Folks,

I have a copy of 5th Siege Battery's war diary for the above period (though some pages are missing) if anyone needs any look-ups.

cheers

Steve

EDIT: Now have the complete diary from the NA if anyone requires look-ups (entries for January 1918 onwards are not in the NA collection)

Hi Steve,

I am currently researching a member of the 5th Siege Battery who from what I can see from his MIC served from the outset of the war (or perhaps before?) and landed as part of the battery in September 1914. His name is Charles J Edwards and his Army number is 29500. He is entitled to a 1914 Star trio with Clasp and later went on to earn the MM (LG June 1916) and a LSGC medal.

I would be very grateful if you could check to see whether there is any mention of him in the War Diary especially if it mentions the events surrounding his award. I have tried to follow the 5th Siege Battery attachments and movements via the LLT website but they don't seem to be mentioned there as part of any Brigade or Division which is a bit puzzling. If it is any easier for you, I would be more than happy to trawl through the complete diary myself if you would be prepared to let me have a copy.

Let me know if you want any more info.

Many thanks.

Mark

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SFayers

Hi Mark,

I've not been able to trace his service papers (so I'm assuming, like many, they were destroyed in the Blitz), however, going by his service number Charles James Edwards would have joined the RGA sometime during 1908. In 1911 he was a Gunner on the strength of 107 (Siege) Company RGA at Fort Efford in Plymouth (from the census returns). In August 1914 107 (S) Company formed the nucleus of 5 Siege Battery, which arrived in France on 29th September 1914. Both his MIC and medal roll entry confirm Charles, as a Corporal, was indeed on the strength of the battery when it first went overseas. (Curiously, the MICs of many of the men who were in 5 Siege Battery when it arrived in France give an entry date of 25th September - I've not been able to ascertain the reason for this as the battery embarked from Plymouth on the 27th September!)

During February 1916, 5 Siege Battery was part of 6 Heavy Artillery Group, RGA (previously known as 6th Brigade, RGA), which at the time came under IV Corps Heavy Artillery. Although in 6 HAG, 5 Siege Battery for tactical purposes came under the orders of the Commander of Royal Artillery of 15th (Scottish) Division at this time. Following the Battle of Loos the previous September the battery had remained pretty much in the same postion - behind Fosse VII, which was a pit-head with a large coal spoil heap situated about half-way between Loos and Philosophe on the Lens-Bethune road.

The diary entry for February 1916 is pretty sparse, but Charles gets a mention (by which time he's serving as a Sergeant):


"During the month the battery has remained in the same position firing an average of 112 rounds per fortnight on targets selected by C.R.A. (Commander Royal Artillery). One series of 46 rounds against two hostile craters and rounds near sap heads and supported by 18 pounder shrapnel was reported as very effective.

During the month the battery has been very heavily shelled several times, especially on the 21st inst (of this month); in connection with which the names of 36436 Sergeant A. Vinten and 29500 Sergeant C. Edwards were sent forward as having performed especially good service under heavy shell fire.

The battery retaliated for this shelling by firing into HULLUCH."


For this, Sergeant Alfred Vinten was awarded the DCM; Charles Edwards was not similarly rewarded at this time, though I would suggest following the institution of the Military Medal his MM gazetted on the 2nd June 1916 may well have been for the same action - his MM award gets a brief mention in the May entry of the diary, but no further details are given.

To put it into some sort of context as to what they were up to on the 21st February, here's Vinten's DCM citation gazetted on 28th March 1916: "For conspicuous gallantry in volunteering to lay out telephone wire over a long distance under continuous heavy shell fire, and thus successfully maintaining communications."

I've so far not found any other reference to Charles Edwards in the diary (if I do I'll let you know).

Edit: You're probably aware from his MIC that Charles was later promoted to Warrant Officer (2nd Class), which I can only assume meant he became either a Battery Sergeant Major or Battery Quartermaster Sergeant - I've no idea if he served in this roll in 5 Siege Battery later in the war or if he was posted to another battery.


May I ask what your interest is in Charles? Are you a relation? I'm always on the look-out for contemporary photographs and biographies of 5 Siege Battery men to include on my website when it's finished.

All the best

Steve




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berkshire dragon

Hi Steve,

Very many thanks for the above information which has certainly put a little flesh on the very bare bones of what I previously knew about Charles Edwards.

To answer your question, there is no connection at all from a family viewpoint but I am trying to do a little research on the man on behalf of my father who recently purchased his medal group (MM, 1914 Star Trio with clasp, LSGC) as my father is not very computer orientated!.

I would be interested in the May entry in the diary that mentions Edwards' award of the MM if you would be so kind as to dig it out for me, no matter how sparse the detail.

It is a shame. as you say, that his papers appear not to have survived (I spent a good few hours having a very long trawl through them just in case they had been mis-filed or perhaps having been mis-spelt and therefore may not be where one might expect) but like you had no joy. Is it likely in your opinion that he may have been moved batteries upon his promotion? If so then he could have gone anywhere and the rest of his war service would be a complete blank as far as researching him goes!

What I do find a bit odd, but then I am no expert on these things, is that his LSGC medal is to his rank as Serjeant and his Army number is 1403763 - the whole naming reads 1403763 SJT. C. J. Edwards (M.M) R.A. Surely his rank as WO is higher than just mere Serjeant? Do you know why this would be?

Again many thanks for your help in this matter.

Mark

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SFayers

Hi Steve,

Very many thanks for the above information which has certainly put a little flesh on the very bare bones of what I previously knew about Charles Edwards.

To answer your question, there is no connection at all from a family viewpoint but I am trying to do a little research on the man on behalf of my father who recently purchased his medal group (MM, 1914 Star Trio with clasp, LSGC) as my father is not very computer orientated!.

I would be interested in the May entry in the diary that mentions Edwards' award of the MM if you would be so kind as to dig it out for me, no matter how sparse the detail.

It is a shame. as you say, that his papers appear not to have survived (I spent a good few hours having a very long trawl through them just in case they had been mis-filed or perhaps having been mis-spelt and therefore may not be where one might expect) but like you had no joy. Is it likely in your opinion that he may have been moved batteries upon his promotion? If so then he could have gone anywhere and the rest of his war service would be a complete blank as far as researching him goes!

What I do find a bit odd, but then I am no expert on these things, is that his LSGC medal is to his rank as Serjeant and his Army number is 1403763 - the whole naming reads 1403763 SJT. C. J. Edwards (M.M) R.A. Surely his rank as WO is higher than just mere Serjeant? Do you know why this would be?

Again many thanks for your help in this matter.

Mark

Hi Mark,

Glad to be of help. Sure, I'll post the May 1916 entry for you tonight.

Actually I didn't have anything on his LSGC medal (so that's a useful piece of info for me!). The fact he has a post-1920 number on his LSGC may indicate his service papers (assuming he was serving into the 1920s) are still held by the MoD. Under the Freedom of Information Act I believe (for a charge) you can apply to the MoD for his papers - but from what I've gathered from posts on this and other forums the MoD will only send you a sinopsis of his service history rather than disclose the whole lot, and I believe you have to be able to prove the man in question has been dead for more than a certain number of years. (I've not tried this approach myself as yet, so I can't be certain if I have my facts right!)

His being a Sergeant (as opposed to a Warrant Officer) by the time he received his LSGC could be for any number of reasons - he may have been demoted for example (but to be awarded the LSGC I suspect probably not), or perhaps (more likely) he even reverted to Sergeant at his own request.

The 5 Siege Battery war diary gives some idea as to who the BSMs were from 1914 to the end of 1917 from where their names are quoted in the various entries. Charles Edwards is not mentioned in this respect, but that doesn't mean he never was a BSM with 5 Siege Battery, and we can't rule out him being a BQMS for the battery at some point. I couldn't say for 1918, however, as the battery diary only goes up to the end of December 1917 - and the then parent brigade war diaries for 1918 (79 Brigade, RGA in January 1918 and 46 Brigade for the rest of the war) are pretty scant with regard to individuals being named for any of the component batteries.

There are a few references that turn-up in the battery war diary with regard to other NCOs being transferred / posted to other batteries on being promoted - so this also remains a possibility with Charles.

A very nice medal group though. It's probably just as well I didn't know it was for sale - my wife would have killed me!! :lol:

All the best

Steve

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SFayers

Hi Mark,

As promised, here's the transcription of the part of the war diary entry for May 1916 in which Charles Edwards' MM award is mentioned:

"Honours & Rewards

The undermentioned officers, W.O., NCOs & men were granted honours on as stated against their names:

Captain A. W. LANGLEY, RGA MILITARY CROSS. Supplement to London Gazette dated 2-6-16.

18197 Sergt. GRIFFIN, C. C., 12908 B.S.M. GOSNEY, G. - Distinguished Conduct Medal. Authy: First Army No. 21/397A.M.S. 23/5/16.

40561 Gnr A. CUSTANCE. Military Medal. Authy: First Army No. 21/397A.M.S. 23/5/16.

29500 Sgt EDWARDS, C. Military Medal. Supplement to London Gazette dated 2-6-16."

Hope that's of some use to you. If I turn-up anything else on Charles I'll let you know.

All the best

Steve

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berkshire dragon

Steve,

Many thanks once again for the extra bits of info on Edwards.

Interesting thought about his post-1920 Army Number and the fact that his papers may still be held by the MOD. I have yet to do a FofI request for anybody who has not actually been military men from my own direct family so possibly Edwards could be the first especially as it could be that his MM citation may possibly be in his papers as well as the explanation for his change in rank back to Serjeant. Will have to mull things over on this particular angle.

Cheers.

Mark

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SFayers

Not a problem Mark - glad to be of help.

If you do come across anything further on Charles Edwards' service history could you please let me know?

Something that might be worth bearing in mind with regard to Edwards' roll as a Sergeant in 1916; if we are to assume (from his DCM citation) that Sergeant Vinten's roll was related to signals / communication within the battery, then it's quite likely that Charles Edwards' roll at the time would have been the No. 1 of one of the four howitzers in the battery. (Normally the No. 1 of a howitzer detachment would have held the rank of Sergeant.)

All the best

Steve

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SFayers

Steve,

Do you have Gnr. John Pincott on your list. His records are available. http://www.nationala...resultcount=378

Kevin

Hi Kevin,

Good to hear from you again - hope all's well with you.

Yes, I do have John Pincott from his 1914 Star roll entry (one of the RFA artificers originally attached to 5 S Bty). I haven't got round to checking for his service records so far, so many thanks for the heads-up!

All the best

Steve

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SFayers

I've posted synopses of 5 Siege Battery's 'doings' through the war in other parts of the forum for various folk, but I thought it might be helpful to collate them all here in case anyone is interested. Links are to the relevant pages on the Long Long Trail website.

Again, if anyone wants any specific look-ups from the war diary please let me know.

Introduction:

5 Siege Battery was formed from the right half battery of 107 (Siege) Company in Plymouth (Fort Efford) on 25th August 1914. (The left half battery of 107 (S) Company formed 6 Siege Battery.) Together, 5 and 6 Siege Batteries were mobilized on 21st September 1914, forming 2nd Siege Brigade (Medium) RGA. Both batteries were horse-drawn units, at the start of the war each armed with four 6" 30cwt howitzers; 5 Siege Battery appears to have been re-equiped with the newer 6" 26cwt howitzer in January 1917, and in February 1918 was made up to six howitzers with the extra two howitzers, personnel and equipment being sourced from 453 Siege Battery.

September to December 1914:

5 S Battery embarked from Plymouth on 27th September (6 S Battery embarked on the 29th) and disembarked at St Nazaire on the 29th September 1914, where the battery was encamped until 19th October. It moved by train to Bailleul (SW of Ypres, and WNW of Armentieres) arriving on the morning of the 21st. From here the battery moved to a farm on the Rue D'Acquets, near the Rue De Lettree, N of Bois Grenier and first came into action on the 24th October, attached to 6th Division (this was during the Battle of Armentieres). Here the left section (comprising two 6" howitzers) remained, whilst the right section (again two 6" howitzers) moved to the S of Fleurbaix at Croix Blanche.

On the 15th November the left section moved briefly to Laventie (and was attached to 8th Division) and then to Vielle Chapelle; the right section stayed at Croix Blanche. (At Croix Blanche the battery suffered some of it's first casualties of the war).

On December 11th both sections marched to billets at Dranoutre and then over the next two days moved to and came into action again at Lindenhock (the battery briefly being attached to 5th Division in support of the attack on Wytschaete on 14th December). On the 20th the left section returned to Vielle Chapelle and the right section to the east of Laventie, with the men being billetted in farms; the battery was again attached to 8th Division. (At these localities 5 S Battery would have been involved in the winter operations of 1914/15.)

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SFayers

January to December 1915:The left and right sections of the battery remained in action at Vielle Chapelle and Laventie, respectively, through January and February 1915. (Vielle Chapelle and Laventie are on a line about halfway between Armentieres and Bethune.) Whilst at Vielle Chapelle in March 1915 the battery took part in the battle of Neuve Chapelle (10th March) - still attached to 8th Division. Following the infantry advance the battery moved to a forward position near Croix Barbee and helped in fighting off counter-attacks and shelling fortifications between the 11th and 16th of March. On the 17th the battery moved to Laventie again, joining 7th Division, and on the 27th transferring to the Lahore Division.

During April the sections of the battery were still in the Laventie and Vielle Chapelle areas, variably supporting 7th Division and the Lehore and Meerut Divisions; and in May supported the Indian Army Corps in the Vielle Chapelle area in operations from the 9th to the end of the month (namely the battles of Aubers and Festubert).

On the 31st May 5 S Battery moved South to Beuvry and onto Annequin (SE of Bethune), being attached to 1st Division. From here it supported the attack on the 15th / 16th June known as The Second Action of Givenchy (supporting the 1st Canadian Division). The battery remained at Annequin in July (going into reserve for a week for a rest period) and again in August, moving further South to Marzingarbe (about halfway between Bethune and Lens) on the 30th and 31st.

In September 5 S Bty was located at Marzingarbe, at least at the start of the month "in a chalk pit behind Fosse 3". On the 27th of the month the battery moved to a forward position behind Fosse 7. For the whole month 5 S Bty was supporting 15th (Scottish) Division, in IV Corps (the Battle of Loos starting on the 25th September).

During October the battery was located near Philosophe, under XI Corps, and was primarily involved with bombarding Hohenzollern Redoubt and Fosse 8 (notably in support of the attack by XI Corps on 13th October - pretty much marking the end of the Battle of Loos). On 28th October the battery returned to it's old positions at Annequin.

In November the battery moved from Annequin to behind Fosse 7, and came under IV Corps again; this time supporting 1st Division. The battery remained in this position throughout December and into January 1916.

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SFayers

January to December 1916:

On the 16th January 5 S Bty again came under orders of 15th (Scottish) Division, still as part of IV Corps. The battery was still in the area of Fosse 7 and still under orders of 15th Division during March and April 1916; due to a change in Army Corps it became part of I Corps during March. On 17th April 5 S Bty then came under orders of 16th (Irish) Division. On 27th and 29th April the battery was heavily involved in the defense against attacks between Hulluch and Loos, in which the Germans utilised gas and heavy bombardments (including lachrymatory shells).

May through to July 5 S Bty remained in the area of Fosse 7 under the command of 16th Division. On 12th July tactical command passed from 16th Divisional Artillery to I Corps Heavy Artillery. Over the night of the 14th July moved temporarily to a location SE of Pont Du Hem, near Vielle Chapelle, under XI Corps Heavy Artillery. Here the battery supported an attack on German "front and support line trenches from Faququissart to La Cordonnerie". This, of course, was the fruitless and costly attack by the 5th Australian and 61st Divisions at Fromelles. The battery returned to its position at Fosse 7, again under orders of I Corps Heavy Artillery, on the night of 22nd / 23rd July. On the night of 27th July the battery was again split into two sections; the right section moved north to Annequin (the same position the battery occupied from end June to end August 1915), the left section and battery headquarters remained at Fosse 7. (Under orders of 6th Heavy Artillery Group, I Corps from 23rd July.)

During August and September the separate sections, still in the same positions (Annequin and Fosse 7), were primarily engaged with firing at trench mortar emplacements. By 3rd October both sections joined-up at Noeux-Les-Mines. The next day the battery marched up to Bethune where it entrained to move further south. The battery moved via Candas and Sarton to a new position at Colincamps (a couple of miles west of Serre) where it arrived on 6th October, coming under orders of 43rd Heavy Artillery Group, V Corps Heavy Artillery. For the rest of the month the battery was actively engaging targets and cutting wire around Puisieux, Serre and Beaumont Hamel (i.e. the northern part of the Somme battlefield). In the same position at Collincamps 5 S Bty supported the attack on Beaumont Hamel on 13th November and the actions thereafter (known as The Battle of the Ancre 13th - 18th November).

The battery remained at Collincamps until 26th December (with a brief period of rest at Doullens from 10th - 21st December), and then moved to a new position a little further north at Sailly Au Bois (where it remained until mid-February 1917).

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SFayers

January to December 1917:

From January to 12th February 5 S Bty remained in position at Sailly Au Bois, and were primarily engaging targets around Serre and Puisieux, but otherwise covering an arc between Gommecourt to the north and Beaumont Hamel to the south. On the 12th, due to a change in Corps boundaries, the battery moved south again to a position about half a mile SE / SSE of Collincamps; the target area being the same as before.

With the beginning of the German withdrawal towards Bucquoy (Serre being evacuated on the 25th February), the battery moved forward just to the west of Serre between the 6th and 8th March (ground conditions being particularly awful!); the areas around Bucquoy and Achiet Le Petit being primarily engaged (Note: the period 11th January to 13th March encompassing the operations on the Ancre). As the Germans continued to withdraw towards the Hindenburg Line the battery moved further forward (the right section moving out of Serre on the 25th March and the left section on the 29th), via Bucquoy and Hamelincourt, and prepared new positions on the Ervillers-Arras road, about 500 yards north of Ervillers. Both sections were in action again by the end of the month.

From Ervillers the battery supported the capture of Croisilles (2nd April) and helped deal with German counterattacks. (Note: the period 14th March to 5th April encompasses the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line.) From the 5th April Bullecourt and the surrounding area became the principal target, the battery mostly being involved in wire cutting and bombarding trench systems. On the evening of the 23rd April 5 S Bty moved further forward to a position in a railway cutting about half a mile WNW of Vraucourt, and from here continued bombarding the Hindenburg Line in the areas of Bullecourt (primarily) and Hendecourt. The battery remained here until the end of June / beginning of July. The principal battles 5 S Bty was involved in during this period include the Battle of Bullecourt (3rd – 17th May) and the actions on the Hindenburg Line (20th May – 16th June), which were flanking operations of the Arras offensive.

The left section came out of action to rest on the 23rd June (the wagon lines were then located at Mory), and on the 1st July entrained at Achiet Le Grand to join XVIII Corps, Fifth Army in the Ypres Salient, arriving at Poperinghe the following day. The right section remained near Vraucourt until the 3rd July when it went into rest at Mory, it arrived at Proven on the 11th July.

From the 3rd July the left section (being joined by the right section on the 12th) was in position just to the north of the grounds of Chateau Des Trois Tours (NW of Ypres and west of Brielen), from here the battery was mostly engaging targets in the Langemarck area (principally German battery positions) in readiness for the 3rd Battle of Ypres. The battery now came under orders of 46th Heavy Artillery Group (later in the year renamed 46th Brigade RGA).

Almost half the total fatalities 5 S Bty suffered during the war occurred during the period July to December 1917, with many more wounded – primarily as a result of counter-battery shelling.

During this time the battery gradually moved further forward, with battery positions being SW of La Belle Alliance Farm (31st July – from here it supported the Battle of Langemarck on the 16th August), Krupp Farm (south of Pilkem in 'old no-mans land', two guns moving up from La Belle Alliance on the 20th August, the other two on 3rd September), and near Hindenberg Farm (SSE of Pilkem, two guns moving up on 28th and the other two on 29th September – from here supporting the Battles of Poelcappelle and Passchendaele). Finally the battery came into position at The Cockcroft on the 27th November (a fortified 'farmstead' south of Langemarck) where it remained till the end of the year, and from here primarily engaged targets in the Westroosebeke and Stadenreef areas.

On the 3rd November 46th HAG came under orders of II Corps, Second Army (II Corps having relieved XVIII Corps, Fifth Army on this date). On the 24th December the battery came under orders of 79th Brigade RGA (46th Brigade having gone out into support).

The battery remained in the Ypres Salient until late March 1918.

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SFayers

As mentioned previously, no war diary for 5 Siege Battery exists for 1918. The following is based on the war diaries of the parent brigades (79th Brigade RGA January 1918 and 46th Brigade thereafter):

January to December 1918:

In January 1918 5 S Bty was still under orders of 79th Brigade RGA (II Corps, Second Army). The exact position of the battery is not given in the 79th Brigade war diary, but is likely to have still been at The Cockcroft. On the 28th January the battery came back under the orders of 46th Brigade RGA (and remained so until the end of the war), and on this day went into rest "at wagon lines recently occupied by 4 SB and 108 HB". (The 46th Brigade war diary does not detail where these wagon lines actually were, but from when 5 S Bty arrived in the Ypres Salient the previous summer the original battery wagon lines were situated on the eastern outskirts of Ravenna, located about a mile and a half W / WNW of Poperinghe.)

At this time working parties from ten batteries in II Corps (co-ordinated by 46th Brigade) started preparing reserve battery positions (presumably in readiness for the expected German attack), which were considered ready by the 3rd February. (Again the war diary does not give the actual positions.) On the 21st February the strength of 5 Siege Battery was increased from four 6" 26cwt howitzers to six (i.e. increased from two to three sections), with men, howitzers and equipment being sourced from half of 453 Siege Battery (the other half of 453 S Bty went to increase the strength of 4 S Bty, also in 46th Brigade). During February 5 S Bty was, at least in part, occupying support positions (no details given as to exactly where, but possibly either still in The Cockcroft or a little to the SW in the area of Minty Farm).

On the 24th February all batteries of the brigade were ordered back to the wagon lines in reserve, and were under orders to prepare to move at short notice. The move came on the 23rd March; 5 S Bty entrained at Poperinghe and moved south via Authieule (24th) and Montenescourt (25th) to Arras (26th March) where 46th Brigade came under orders of XVII Corps, Third Army. Here 5 S Bty was in position in the ramparts on the NW side of the town, with its wagon lines situated within The Citadel. At Arras 5 S Bty and the rest of 46th Brigade were heavily involved in defending against the German Mars Offensive on the 28th March (the First Battle of Arras), in particular supporting the front held by 15th (Scottish) Division.

The brigade stayed at Arras until the evening of the 13th April when it marched back up north to billets at Bruay. Over the following day and night positions were occupied on the outskirts of Bethune; the brigade now came under orders of I Corps Heavy Artillery, First Army (details of exact battery positions are again not given in the diary unfortunately, but at least by the 18th May 5 S Bty positions are described as being in the "rear of Bethune"). Here 5 S Bty and 46th Brigade were involved in the later stages of the Battles of the Lys, and in particular the Battle of Bethune (18th April). Whilst in this area 5 S Bty suffered seven fatalities between the end of April and end of May, of which most appear to have been a result of shelling. (During this time it appears many I Corps battery positions were subject to very heavy artillery fire; in May, according to the 46th Brigade war diary, 4 S Bty was forced to relocate three times between Bethune and Beuvry [sE of Bethune] because of this.) 46th Brigade Headquarters moved from the outskirts of Bethune to Vaudricourt Wood on the 9th May and appears to have remained here, or at least in the Vaudricourt area, until the 2nd October.

During the latter part of June (batteries, it appears, still being in the Bethune and Beuvry areas) 46th Brigade was severely hit by Spanish Flu.

In July (at least from the 4th) 46th Brigade was covering the front of 55th (West Lancashire) Division, with 5 S Bty and 1/1st Lancs H Bty coming under orders of the divisional artillery for tactical purposes. On the 10th 5 S Bty was engaged in cutting wire in preparation for "a raid opposite Caillou Keep" (Cailloux Keep being located just to the north of Festubert). The second half of the month saw all batteries in the brigade engaged in cutting wire and bombarding strong points along the I Corps front in preparation for an attack (as part of this each battery sent one section to a forward position; but again no locality details are given in the diary!). Between 13th and 20th August 4 and 5 S Btys were again cutting wire on the front of 55th Division, and all batteries of the brigade supported the division in its attack and capture of The Craters (a series of mine craters that were located in front of Givenchy, north of the La Bassee Canal) on the 24th August. The following day one section (i.e. two howitzers) of 5 S Bty moved to a position about a quarter of a mile north of Noyelles-Les-Vermelles (south of Annequin). On 11th September two sections of 5 S Bty were moved forward from Noyelles to Cuinchy on the south bank of the La Bassee Canal. The third section moved to Annequin on the 19th and then onto Le Plantin (NW of Givenchy) on the 30th.

The final advance in Artois began on the 2nd October, and on this day 46th Brigade Headquarters moved to Le Preol, and thus began a period of fairly rapid movement following the advance of the I Corps infantry. In the evening of the 4th October the section of 5 S Bty north of the La Bassee Canal moved from Le Plantin to north of La Bassee, the two sections south of the canal moved from Cambrin / Cuinchy to Douvrin. The section in the north then moved just south of Billy on the 8th.

On the 12th October 46th Brigade became affiliated to the recently re-formed 16th (Irish) Division (I Corps, First Army). One section of 5 S Bty (quite likely the one that was at Le Plantin on the north bank of the La Bassee Canal) and a section of 108 H Bty were directly attached to the 16th Division for tactical purposes, and essentially were used as advanced sections of 'mobile heavy artillery' within the main guard of the division as it went forward. The other two sections remained under orders of 46th Brigade.

The advanced section of 5 S Bty (and 108 H Bty) crossed the Heute-Deule Canal at Meurchin and reached Annoeullin on the 17th October; it arrived at Pont-A-Marcq on the 18th and then moved up to NW of Velvain on the 25th. It finally ended up on the Escaut Canal just south of Antoing on the 9th November. The section rejoined the rest of the battery (and 46th Brigade) at Taintignies on the 13th November.

The two sections remaining with 46th Brigade moved to NW of Carvin on the 17th October, and came into position at Drumetz on the 18th. Between the 18th and the end of the month these sections were essentially out of action due a sickness of unknown origin, and remained here until the 13th November when they rejoined 46th Brigade Headquarters at Taintignies.

During the October 46th Brigade Headquarters had moved from Le Preol through Sailly La Bourse (15th), Berclau (18th), Phalempin (20th), Templeuve (23rd) and up to Taintignies (24th / 25th) where it remained until the end of hostilities. The entire brigade then moved back to Carvin on the 15th November, and remained here during the December.

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berkshire dragon

Hi Steve,

Thanks for posting all the diary entries for the 5th Siege Battery, RGA.

As you know, I was researching Charles James Edwards and recently made a FOI application for his service record. This revealed that Edwards was promoted BQMS on the 31st March 1917 and with the promotion came a transfer to the 117 Siege Battery. He received a further promotion to BSM on the 20th December 1917 and was again transferred this time to 7 Siege Battery. So you were absolutely correct in your assumptuon that with his promotion he was transferred out of the 5th.

The reason for his apparent 'demotion' in his rank on his LS&GC medal was also revealed.. Edwards was demobilized on the 7th May 1919 in Dover and was transferred to Section B of the Army Reserve. However, on the 6th August 1919, he volunteered for service again in order to complete 21 years of service and was given the rank of Corporal on rejoining the colours. He finally achieved the substantive rank of Sergeant on the 18th October 1924 and achieved the rank of Battery Quarter Master Sergeant on the 30th June 1930. He was discharged on the 4th October 1931.

Edwards saw service on Home Stations, India, Malta, Turkey (as part of the British Force Turkey in Constantinople) and Gibraltar and received a glowing report from his CO on his discharge.

Although it was very unlikely that his service record would have had his MM citation in it, I was secretly hoping that just maybe I would strike lucky but unfortunately this was not to be. Therefore the only likely scenario that I have is that his MM was a retrospective award given for the same action that Vinten received his DCM as previously outlined.

Please let me know if you want any other details.

Mark

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SFayers

Hi Mark,

Good to hear from you again. It appears you've had a fair amount of success obtaining Charles Edwards' service history - that's excellent news, and thankyou very much for sharing the information with me.

What you have provided is pretty comprehensive, and very much appreciated. I'd be interested to know if there are any further details as to Charles' enlistment, next-of-kin, etc., and also (during his time with 5 Siege Battery) if any other names of battery personnel are mentioned anywhere.

Thanks again and kind regards

Steve

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berkshire dragon

Hi Steve,

Unfortunately no details on next of kin or any other personal details along the same lines as due to my request for his record being one under the FOI this information is redacted.

Charles James Edwards was born on the 27th December 1889 a few miles outside of Norwich in the village of Thorpe, Norfolk to Charles Walter Edwards (a Lance Corporal in the Norfolk Regiment at the time) and Ellen Edwards. On the 23rd June 1906 Charles Edwards joined the 4th Heavy Battery, 1st Norfolk Royal Garrison Artillery, which was a part of the Volunteer Corps - later to become the Territorial Force. Two years later he joined the army full time on the 5th October 1908 at No. 4 Depot (Coastal) Royal Garrison Artillery in Great Yarmouth. His attestation document describes him as being 5 feet and 7 inches tall with grey eyes, fair hair and a fair complexion with his trade being noted as a Printers Labourer. He was posted to the 107 (Siege) Company, R.G.A as a Gunner on the 1st December 1908.

Again unfortunately no other battery personnel are mentioned with the exception of the Battery Commander of the 107 (Siege) Company which appears to be a Captain C Evans and the Battery Commander of the 5th Siege Battery which I think is Major R L Haynes. In both cases the signatures are very hard to read so I cannot promise that they are right.

Edwards was awarded his LS&GC medal in 1927 and I have now also manged to establish that there is a WW2 Defence Medal to go with the group as well which I am going to have a guess was probably for Home Guard service.

Hope this is of some use to you and if you have any other questions let me know.

Mark

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SFayers

Many thanks Mark,

Yes, that is very useful information.

The name Haynes is a new one on me though; for the time Charles was with 5 Siege Battery the OCs were Lt Colonel Percy Douglas Hamilton (till 31st January 1915), Major John H H Jones and then Captain (later Major) Arthur Wynton Langley (who succeeded Jones on 5th March 1916), though Lieutenant Reginald William Willis (as Acting Captain) was in temporary comand of the battery at least for a time in March 1917. As you know no battery war diary exists for 1918 so I do not know if Langley remained OC for the rest of the war, but of course by then Charles Edwards had long since left, so I guess that's probably academic!

Thanks again and best regards

Steve

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savysarah

Hey i see your post intresting somone told me that 160th battery in 1918 was under 5th brigade John Broughton 26540 he was wounded 10 10 1918 but dont now how ?

You have any insight i can tell my gran we just found out about him after 82 years and everyone on here is incredible!

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savysarah

He is next recorded hospitalised when a Bombardier with 160 Siege Battery in Dec 1917 (Trench Fever).  cant see to december page and what happened around this time?

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SFayers

Hi Sarah,

 

I'm afraid I don't have any info on 160 Siege Battery, so I'm sorry to say I can't really help much; my interest is mostly with 5 Siege Battery (my grandad's unit).

 

Best thing to do is to start a new topic under either the 'Soldiers' or 'Units and Formations' parts of the forum; hopefully there will be other forum members who can help.

 

Best of luck!

 

Steve

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