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Remembered Today:

4th Highland Mountain Brigade Royal Garrison Artillery


creekmill
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I've discovered that my great uncle is buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetry on Mount of Olives in Israel. He was a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery, he was in the 4th Highland Mountain Brigade.

He died on 10th June 1918.

Can anyone suggest what battle he might have died in?

Thanks

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Welcome to the forum!

From the CWGC info that appears at britishwargraves.org.uk but not on the CWGC site, it would appear that 301101 Gnr Charles Franklin NURSE, 4th Heavy Mountain Brigade RGA, died of dysentery 10 June 1918.

Adrian

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Thanks Adrian - not a nice thing to die of!

Do you have any idea where he was fighting before he contracted dysentry?

Thanks

Welcome to the forum!

From the CWGC info that appears at britishwargraves.org.uk but not on the CWGC site, it would appear that 301101 Gnr Charles Franklin NURSE, 4th Heavy Mountain Brigade RGA, died of dysentery 10 June 1918.

Adrian

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The 4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade was a Salonika Army asset which was assigned to support 228 Brigade in the Butkova Valley area from April to June 1918 and had been there (supporting 84 Brigade) since Oct 1917. They were in the Malarial Area ("Winter Lines") conducting patrols and raids. Due to the climate and the mosquitoes, many men were taken ill. Just as a guess, Gunner Nurse was ill enough to have been transported to Egypt where he passed away.

The Malaria problem was such that they established winter lines and summer lines, the summer lines being at a higher altitude away from the swampy areas that bred the mosquitoes. During these times, they would form combined arms teams of infantry and/or cavalry, taking along a gun or a section from the mountain batteries, to conduct their combat operations down in the malarial areas, then return to the higher elevations when the operation was concluded. They would be in these areas for days at a time, exposed to the danger of Malaria which sickened and/or killed many of the men of the Salonika Army.

I hope this helps.

Mike Morrison

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Hi Mike

Thanks - it fills in lots of gaps.

Any guesses about which hospital in Egypt?

Thanks

The 4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade was a Salonika Army asset which was assigned to support 228 Brigade in the Butkova Valley area from April to June 1918 and had been there (supporting 84 Brigade) since Oct 1917. They were in the Malarial Area ("Winter Lines") conducting patrols and raids. Due to the climate and the mosquitoes, many men were taken ill. Just as a guess, Gunner Nurse was ill enough to have been transported to Egypt where he passed away.

The Malaria problem was such that they established winter lines and summer lines, the summer lines being at a higher altitude away from the swampy areas that bred the mosquitoes. During these times, they would form combined arms teams of infantry and/or cavalry, taking along a gun or a section from the mountain batteries, to conduct their combat operations down in the malarial areas, then return to the higher elevations when the operation was concluded. They would be in these areas for days at a time, exposed to the danger of Malaria which sickened and/or killed many of the men of the Salonika Army.

I hope this helps.

Mike Morrison

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The Butkova valley is the valley around Lake Butkova (now called Kerkini) in Northern Greece near the border with Bulgaria. Lake Kerkini is on Google Earth/Maps at N41.2 E23.15.

The lake was then little more than a series of pools and marshland between the Butkova and Struma rivers, that filled up in the winter, but it has become quite a bit bigger since then, and drowned a couple of villages, when the dam at Lithotopos (at the southern end) was built in the early 1930s.

For much of the war the Front in this sector followed the line of the lake and the river Struma (now Strymonas) southeast to lake Tahinos (since drained) and the coast near ancient Amphipoli on the Gulf of Rendina (Orfani).

The British artillery on the west bank were often sited on the slopes of the Krusha Balkan (Kroussia) mountains so that they could shell deep behind enemy lines across the valley.

With all the marshes and standing pools around, mosquitoes were abundant - they still are (voice of experience!), but at least they don't carry nasty diseases now.

Adrian

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Hi Adrian

Many thanks - I've looked it up on Google Earth and checked out some of the photos uploaded to it - it looks a nice place now.

I'm rapidly running out of places to search for further info on Gunner Nurse - do you have any suggestions?

Gunner Nurse is the only member of my family to fight in WW1 as my family were all farmers!

Thanks

The Butkova valley is the valley around Lake Butkova (now called Kerkini) in Northern Greece near the border with Bulgaria. Lake Kerkini is on Google Earth/Maps at N41.2 E23.15.

The lake was then little more than a series of pools and marshland between the Butkova and Struma rivers, that filled up in the winter, but it has become quite a bit bigger since then, and drowned a couple of villages, when the dam at Lithotopos (at the southern end) was built in the early 1930s.

For much of the war the Front in this sector followed the line of the lake and the river Struma (now Strymonas) southeast to lake Tahinos (since drained) and the coast near ancient Amphipoli on the Gulf of Rendina (Orfani).

The British artillery on the west bank were often sited on the slopes of the Krusha Balkan (Kroussia) mountains so that they could shell deep behind enemy lines across the valley.

With all the marshes and standing pools around, mosquitoes were abundant - they still are (voice of experience!), but at least they don't carry nasty diseases now.

Adrian

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Adrian, Thank you so much for that input. With the numerous name changes to the places named in historical documents, it is very difficult to follow data like War Diaries and personal diaries and find exactly where they were.

Thank you.

Mike Morrison

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To specifically answer your queston of where to look for additional info, you will, of course, have to see if his service records survived. You may wait to see if they become available on Ancestry, or you will have to go or get a researcher to see if they are at the National Archives.

For what it's worth I would say Gunner Nurse enlisted, or was mobilised, around June or July 1916. He would have probably started his service at the Citadel, Plymouth. It is likely he had 2 other numbers before 301101, an original RGA regular number and then a four figure TA number when he was sent to the 4th Highland Mountain Brigade. He may have enlisted earlier by the Derby Scheme, which could have been as early as November 1915. An indication of where he lived may indicate whether he was in such a group that was mobilised.

Regards Kevin

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Thanks Kevin

Thanks for your suggestions - he lived in and around Gloucester if that sheds any more light? Can you tell me more about the 'Derby Scheme'?

Thanks

Mark

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The two main groups that I can identify and were mobilised at this time came from the Birmingham and Exeter areas. That does not mean there were not others or that Gunner Nurse did not enlist in the normal way at this time.

To read about the Derby Scheme then try http://www.1914-1918.net/derbyscheme.html . This is on the Long Long Trail which is linked at the top of this page. Well worth reading about how to research a soldiers service.

Regards Kevin

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Thanks everyone who's help me with this - I've now tracked down a copy of 'UNDER THE DEVIL'S EYE : BRITAIN'S FORGOTTEN ARMY IN SALONIKA 1915-1918 ' in order to discover more about this 'forgotten' battlefield.

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I've downloaded Gunner Nurses Medal card from the national archives - can anyone tell me what it means?

Victory - Roll (TF) RGA/101B - Page 97

British - (ditto)

Thanks

Mark

Update:

I've since found out using the Long Long Trail what this means - now all I have to do is find someone to look up the rolls for me!

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I seem to have missed something here

quote:"I've discovered that my great uncle is buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetry on Mount of Olives in Israel" [Mnt of Olives should probably be Mnt Scopus]

This chap having died in June 1918 is buried in Jerusalem

This is a very long way from Salonika

It is even a long way from Alexandria or Cairo

Why would the army drag a sick man about three continents?

Is it possible that having previously served in Salonika

his unit there was mistakenly recorded at his time of death

instead of the EEF unit which he actually belonged to when he died?

regards

Michael

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Michael is probably correct. There were a few men (several, actually) who were assigned 4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade numbers but were attached to other units. From what I have seen, they were primarily mountain gun units, but there were also some in Siege gun units, Heavy Batteries and RFA units. It's quite possible that Gunner Nurse was attached from the 4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade to a unit serving in the Mesopotamia theater. There was one other gunner on my list (Macdonald, William J. #301661) who was attached to the 313th Bde, RFA, from the 4th HMB, when he died 7 November 1917, age 20 in the Mesopotamia Theater. He is remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial. I'm unsure of the mechanism surrounding these transfers, but it was, after all, the Army.

More might be known if the Casualty Form or other records can be located.

Mike Morrison

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I suspect the same Michael.

These relatively late enlistments appear to have been sent to any number of batteries, but for admin. purposes they still came under the command of the 4th HMB. Without his records I think it would be wrong to place him to a battery that may or maynot be the right one. Gunners of the 4th HMB I know served with other batteries are the 20HB, 180HB, 196HB, 43SB, 130 SB and 209SB. Of course there may be others.

Kevin

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Hi Michael

I did wonder this myself, but being a 'newbie' I just assumed he was either reburied in an 'official' cemetry, or he'd been moved from hospital to hospital?

A mystery!

Regards

Mark

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Mike & Kevin,

Thanks for your thoughts here

possible units in the EEF,

XXth Corps had the 9th Mountain Artillery Brigade, RGA, comprising 10th, 12th 16th Mountain Batteries

XXIst Corps had the 8th Mountain Artillery Brigade, RGA, comprising 11th, 13th 17th Mountain Batteries

[other elements of the EEF also had RGA components]

regards

Michael

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Mark,

I am not a 'records' man, and others will have much better advice to give than I

But I would hope that his record would give an indication of his movements between units. In the first instance, look out for those I have listed above

Best of luck

Michael

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As all his memorials have him down as being in the 4th "Heavy" Mountain Brigade rather than the 4th "Highland" Mountain Brigade, could this mistake be because of who he was attached to at the time?

Thanks

Mark

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EEF Heavies

XXth Corps

61st Brigade, RGA - 379th, 420th, 443rd Siege Batteries [ceased to belong to the EEF 21/5/18 (but may have left a sick man behind in hospital???)]

96th Brigade, RGA - 91st Heavy Battery, 300th, 378th, 383rd, 440th, 445th Siege Batteries [445th Siege Battery ceased to belong to the EEF 4/4/18]

97th Brigade, RGA - 195th Heavy Battery, 134th, 201st, 334th, 421st, 422nd Siege Batteries [201st Siege Battery ceased to belong to the EEF 7/5/18]

103rd Brigade, RGA - 10th Heavy Battery, 205th, 387th, 392nd Siege Batteries

XXIst Corps

95th Brigade, RGA - 181st Heavy Battery, 304th, 314th, 320th, 322nd, 394th Siege Batteries [320th & 322nd Siege Batteries ceased to belong to the EEF 4/4/18]

100th Brigade, RGA - 15th Heavy Battery, 43rd, 292nd, 423rd Siege Batteries [292nd & 423rd Siege Batteries ceased to belong to the EEF 7/5/18]

102nd Brigade, RGA - 189th, 202nd Heavy Batteries, 209th, 380th, 424th Siege Batteries [424th Siege Battery ceased to belong to the EEF 3/1/18]

details [E & OE] from 'The Advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force' pub. HMSO 1919

regards

Michael

ps: I note that at least one unit, 43rd Siege Battery, appears in both Kevin's list [see post #17] and the above

Edited by michaeldr
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So 313 Bde RFA in Jerusalem doesn't seem to make sense? I took that information from the CWGC entry. LLT just says that CCCXIII was broken up in 1916. Any ideas? I see that 13th Mountain Battery was there. Could it have been (another) typo? The mangling of the name '4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade, RGA (TF)' was fairly common. I've seen it listed as:

4th Heavy Mountain Brigade

4th Highland Mounted Brigade (This on the cover sheet of some of their War Diaries at Kew)

4th Heavy Mortar Brigade

And variations on the above.

Any thoughts on 313 Brigade?

Mike Morrison

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Mike,

quotes; "There was one other gunner on my list (Macdonald, William J. #301661) who was attached to the 313th Bde, RFA, from the 4th HMB, when he died 7 November 1917, age 20 in the Mesopotamia Theater. He is remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial."

&

"So 313 Bde RFA in Jerusalem doesn't seem to make sense?"

quote from the CWGC; "Within the cemetery stands the JERUSALEM MEMORIAL, commemorating 3,300 Commonwealth servicemen who died during the First World War in operations in Egypt or Palestine and who have no known grave." my emphasis

There seems to be some real confusion here in your man's records Mike

If he is remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial then it is most unlikely that he fell in the Mespot theatre, which must have its own memorial somewhere.

Also, I cannot find any ref to 313 Bde RFA in the index of the OH - Military Ops Egypt and Palestine, or in 'The Advance of the EEF'

Sorry I cannot be more help

regards

Michael

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Thank you for that Michael. I'll have to keep looking. I started with name #1 on my Nominal Roll. It has grown to over 1,300 WO's, NCO's & OR's most with a wee bit of biographical data. I'd like it to be perfect and complete, but I will have to settle for "almost". The men deserve the best effort at their history. All contributions gratefully received.

Mike Morrison

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