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I've had little luck tracking down the 24th London Regiment who were apparently formerly of the Buffs. The reason behind this is a request from a friend who is trying to track down information about a relative: 7223364 Private Wilfred C V Pepper Died 1st Jan 1917 aged 20 and now buried at the Railway Dugout Burial Ground, Zillebeke.

He is listed as 24th Battalion London Regiment, formerly East Kent (The Buffs)

Any insight or information greatly appreciated, it would help an old friend...

Thanks.

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Carlos

Jesse Kemp was a conscript and joined the Buffs either late December 1916 or Jan 1917. It isn't possible to tell when he went overseas

Mick

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Daminagt

There is no connection between the Buffs and any London Regiment. He presumably transferred from the Buffs to the Londons before proceeding overseas. It was not unusual for men to be rebadged in the UK or shortly after arrival in France

Mick

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Stephen Garnett

Michael,

Do you have any information on this man?

Private John Howland Chapman

Labour Corps

324674

Formerly 5257, East Kent Regiment

Died 2nd November 1917

Age 61

So far, I have been unable to find a Medal Card and the CWGC states that he served in the Zulu War (1877 - 1879). He is buried in St. Martin's Churchyard, Canterbury.

Regards,

Stephen Garnett

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Stephen

The absence of an MIC means that he didn't serve overseas. There was a Private John Chapman who served with the 2nd Buffs in the Zulu War and he was entitled to the medal without a clasp.

Mick

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Stephen Garnett

Michael,

Many thanks. I hope you don't mind if I pick your brains some more. Would he have begun in the Buffs during WW1 or is 5257 a pre-war (Zulu War) number? My speculation would be that he would have re-enlisted and due to his age been given a role in the Labouring Corps where he probably died naturally? Would his pre-war service record be in the National Archives?

Regards,

Stephen Garnett

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Stephen

The problem is that we don't know the prefix. He can't have been an L (regular) prefix because that number was taken by Pte Turner in mid 1897. I have no record of a G (new army and later) prefix so he could have re-enlisted during WW1 but his age makes this unlikely. There is also the possibility that it was an old militia number.

I'm not sure whether his old papers will be at Kew, I have little experience of searching for these papers.

So, not much help I'm afraid.

Mick

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Carlos

Jesse Kemp was a conscript and joined the Buffs either late December 1916 or Jan 1917. It isn't possible to tell when he went overseas

Mick

Thanks for looking into this for me! Narrowed things down a little as to what time period i'm looking at.

Regards

Carlos

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Stephen Garnett

Michael,

Many thanks for your help. I am off to Kew in a couple of weeks and will have a search.

Regards,

Stephen Garnett

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Hi Mick,

Im trying to trace a private William Thomas Hughes, details are from the back of an old postcard style photo of him

Number 1923 2nd Battalion East Kents.

Thansk for any light you can shed

Sam

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Hi Mick,

This is my first attempt at posting a pic so please bear with me!

I believe this to be my Great Great Uncle Private William Thoma Hughes.

Depending on how succesful this attempt is, I will post the address from the reverse of the photo as well. Ive looked up the address and found it to be a pow camp Langensalza? Ive read that the prisoners were alowed to send home photos, but not comunicate in letters.

Military records I found on Ancestry confirm he was a pow.

Sam

post-45505-1240472321.jpg

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Mick

woohoo! It worked

This is the reverse of the photo, showing William Hughes details and address of the pow camp. Hope its all of some interest. I have a few unidentified military photographs, that belonged to my great grandmother and I have no idea who they are. I may post them up for help in identifying them over the next few weeks.

Sam

post-45505-1240472592.jpg

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Sam

Thanks for posting the images - they bring the database to life. I note from his service record that he was taken POW during the 2nd Battle of Ypres on 24/4/15. The Regimental Journal of June 1916 states that he was POW at Erfurt. A POW list from May 1917 shows him at Langensalza. There is nothing in the medal rolls that you isn't mentioned in his papers.

Here is an extract from the Regimental History covering the period of his capture. Note the sentiment towards the Germans when the book was written in the 1920's;

The second battle of Ypres has brought more obloquy and ill-fame on the German nation than even Marathon brought glory to the Athenians. It appears to have been well understood by scientific men that a noisome and poisonous gas could be so carried down wind that no man could breathe its suffocating fumes and live for long, and further that he must die in agony. At the ineffectual conference at the Hague it had been arranged between the representatives of the several nations, including Germany, that the use of such a disgusting and brutal weapon should be barred between civilized enemies, and nobody thought any more about it, but the German beast is not a gentleman and he ruled that the brave old days when foeman fought with a chivalrous regard for his opponent were to cease, at any rate as far as the much vaunted Fatherland was concerned, and so this battle which we are now to consider goes down in history as the first great combat in which unfair and blackguardly methods were adopted.

The commencement of this tremendous battle is best described in Sir John French's own words, which are here quoted from his despatches:

"It was at the commencement of the Second Battle of Ypres on the evening of the 22nd April that the enemy first made use of asphyxiating gas. Some days previously I had complied with General Joffre's request to take over the trenches occupied by the French, and on the evening of the 22nd the troops holding the lines east of Ypres were posted as follows: From Steenstraate to the east of Langemarck, as far as the Poelcappelle road, a French division. Thence, in a south easterly direction towards the Passchendaele-Becelaere road, the Canadian division. Thence, a division took up the line in a southerly direction east of Zonnebeke to a point west of Becelaere, whence another division continued the line southeast to the northern limit of the corps on its right. Of the 5th Corps there were four battalions in Divisional Reserve about Ypres; the Canadian Division had one battalion in Divisional Reserve and the 1st Canadian Brigade in Army Reserve. An infantry brigade, which had just been withdrawn after suffering heavy losses on Hill 60, was resting about Vlamertinghe. Following a heavy bombardment, the enemy attacked the French division at about 5 p.m., using asphyxiating gases for the first time. Aircraft reported that at about 5 p.m. thick yellow smoke had been seen issuing from the German trenches between Langemarck and Bixschoote. The French reported that two simultaneous attacks had been made east of the Ypres-Staden railway, in which these asphyxiating gases had been employed. What follows almost defies description. The effect of these poisonous gases was so virulent as to render the whole of the line held by the French division mentioned above practically incapable of any action at all. It was at first impossible for anyone to realize what had actually happened. The smoke and fumes hid everything from sight, and hundreds of men were thrown into a comatose or dying condition, and within an hour the whole position had to be abandoned, together with about 50 guns. I wish particularly to repudiate any idea of attaching the least blame to the French division for this unfortunate incident. After all the examples our gallant Allies have shown of dogged and tenacious courage in the many trying situations in which they have been placed throughout the course of this campaign, it is quite superfluous for me to dwell on this aspect of the incident, and I would only express my firm con¬viction that, if any troops in the world had been able to hold their trenches in the face of such a treacher¬ous and altogether unexpected onslaught, the French division would have stood firm. The left flank of the Canadian division was thus left dangerously exposed to serious attack in flank, and there appeared to be a prospect of their being overwhelmed and of a successful attempt by the Germans to cut off the British troops occupying the salient to the east. In spite of the danger to which they were exposed the Canadians held their ground with a magnificent display of tenacity and courage, and it is not too much to say that the bearing and conduct of these splendid troops averted a disaster which might have been attended with the most serious consequences. They were supported with great promptitude by the reserves of the divisions holding the salient and by a brigade which had been resting in billets."

Now, of course, the commander-in-chief of a large army cannot possibly in his reports home go into details concerning brigades and battalions, but as the reader will see later this "brigade resting in billets" comprised amongst others the 2nd Battalion of the Buffs. The story as far as the Buffs are concerned is as follows:

The 1st Battalion was still twelve miles or so south of Ypres, but the 2nd was, as has been seen, on the afternoon of the 22nd of April, bivouacked in fields at St. Jean, which village was about four miles back from the front British line of trenches. The Middlesex and Buffs were that night to relieve the rest of the brigade in the trenches about Zonnebeke. Considerable Canadian forces were in the immediate vicinity of the Buffs.

About 5 o'clock on the evening of the 22nd April there was a sudden very sharp outburst of the enemy's artillery, and a cloud of greenish vapour was noticed away on the left of the line. Heavy machine gun firing was heard, evidently coming from the enemy, a very long way inside what was the British line, and bullets came spattering into St. Jean, which place ought to have been safe enough from this kind of fire. Half an hour after the commencement of the bom¬bardment many French soldiers were observed retiring rapidly and in a disordered manner. These men were mostly Turcos and Zouaves and, poor fellows, had been taken entirely by surprise by the new and horrible methods of the enemy. They had, of course, no pro¬tection against gas at that time, and they simply fled as if the Devil were after them. It was thought by the English at first that the gas attack was nothing, and preparations were at first continued for carrying out the relief alluded to above, but it soon became evident that something very serious indeed had occurred and, at 8.30 p.m., Colonel Geddes was placed in command of all troops in St. Jean, Major Power taking over the Buff battalion.

Geddes soon received another battalion from Ypres, and at first he had his old adjutant, Lieut. Hon. P. G. Scarlett, with him as staff officer, but the latter was relieved the same night and rejoined the details of the 85th Brigade, of which he was staff captain, and which were soon fighting hard at Zonnebeke. Geddes was later joined by detachments of two other battalions, and his force during the next few days was destined to play an extraordinarily fine role. These troops were all there was between the Canadians left near Wieltje and the Canal, and it became theirs to guard an other¬wise open road to Ypres. The Canadians with whom Geddes' Detachment, as it was officially nominated, was soon ordered to act, immediately stood to, as did the Buffs and Middlesex, as well as the 4th King's Own Royal Lancasters, the battalion which had come from Ypres.

Meanwhile, the French troops were streaming down the road towards Ypres, while the Englishmen were standing nonchalantly in the streets of St. Jean, and the Canadians calmly marching north and north east in the direction from which the foreign troops were retiring. The Buffs took up a position covering St. Jean, facing north and north east, with the Middlesex on their left and the King's Own in reserve.

At night it was found that the Canadian left flank was turned and the 3rd Canadian Brigade requesting that a company should be sent up to St. Julien to help and support them, Captain Tomlinson with B Company was sent, though the Englishmen were themselves hardly pressed. At 2 a.m. on the 23rd, Geddes received instructions that he was to act under orders of the Canadian Division, and was told by that unit to co-operate on the Canadian left. At 3.30 the Buffs, less B Company, was ordered to Wieltje and thence in a northerly direction to get touch with the 3rd Canadian Brigade. The men took some time to collect for the counter-attack, and it was after 4 o'clock and broad daylight when the battalion moved off, preceded by an advance guard under Captain Barnard.

About eight hundred yards north of Wieltje some dug-outs and trenches were reached, which were occupied by Canadians. These trenches were screened by a hedge, under cover of which the Buffs closed up. Beyond was open country, so the battalion at once deployed and was immediately subjected to furious machine gun and rifle fire from the enemy, who were entrenched in two parallel lines about 1,200 and 600 yards distant on rising ground sloping to the north. Moving at the double, platoon followed platoon in quick succession in the open, many casualties occurring. Two companies soon reached a farm four hundred yards on, while the remaining company took advantage of the frail cover afforded by a fence, 150 yards behind the farm, around which were a few Canadians, from whom Major Power ascertained that there was a space of about a quarter of a mile to the east, only lightly held by the French. On it were three parallel lines of trenches facing north with their right resting on the G.H.Q. wire. Major Power, seeing the danger of this, ordered the battalion to advance half right and occupy the forward of the three trenches. In it were found a few men of the 1st Zouaves. The Buffs therefore advanced by rushes across the open and lost heavily: Captain J. McB. Ronald being killed, Lieut. D. A. Wilkins severely wounded and some eighty casualties of other ranks occurring. Two companies occupied the front line, while the third (D) was in a trench facing east along the G.H.Q. wire, which is the last fortified line back from the enemy, and the fact that our troops were now practically defending that meant, of course, that the enemy had penetrated all defences but one on this northern flank of the Ypres salient. The rest of the day the battalion was subjected to heavy shelling and rifle fire. The remainder of the Zouaves withdrew, and the Buffs then completely occupied the gap between the Canadian companies.

The 24th April proved an unfortunate day. D Com¬pany was moved at the urgent request of the 3rd Canadian Brigade to a position across the Wieltje–St. Julien road, but at 7 a.m. Captain Tomlinson's B Company, which had been detached late on the 22nd to the succour of the Canadians, was completely sur¬rounded by the enemy, and after losing very heavily, practically all the survivors were made prisoners.

Among the killed were Lieut. W. G. Jackson and 2nd Lieut. C. W. Laing. The Canadians and others who saw this company attack stated that this little force was entirely responsible for the saving of the Canadian left, and also that practically the whole company was killed, wounded or taken prisoner, including Tom¬linson, who had again shown great gallantry. On this 24th of April, as well as the two following days, the shelling was most severe, and the men suffered much from the poisonous fumes given off on the bursting of the shells. D Company was relieved by the Canadians on the morning of the 25th and resumed its old place, thrown back at an angle from A's right flank.

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Thank you so much for your reply. The line below, bought a tear to my eyes I confess!

"The Canadians and others who saw this company attack stated that this little force was entirely responsible for the saving of the Canadian left"

To think a few weeks ago, all I knew about William, was on the photocard above. Im even more determined to find out what happened to him after the war now. I have no idea if he stayed in Kent, or if he returned home to Worcester.

My great grandfather Henry (Williams older brother) also fought in WW1, in 17th Lanc fusilliers. I know very little about either of them, as Henry died at the age of 26, after being declared unfit for service after a gas attack. My nan, was 2years old when he died so had no memories to pass on either.

She died recently, and I have a small collecetion of photographs, that I suspect belonged to her mother (my great nan) I have no idea who most of the people are, or which war they are from -so frustrating.

Ive put a few posts up on the site and thanks to people taking the time to respond I am starting to piece their stories together, more importantly appreciate what they and so many others did.

Thanks again

Samantha

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Canterbury

Apologies if this is inappropriate, but this is my first contribution here.

I am trying to find out about my Grandfather William Joseph Sharp who came from Canterbury. I know he was in the 7th Buffs and that he was involved in actions on the Somme in August and September 1918. He was Mentioned in Dispatches by General Lee 18th -25th September, and I remember seeing him described as MM on a cricket club fixture list.

I believe he was also at Woodbridge Suffolk during training and may have been involved with bicycle mounted troops, as I dimly remember a photo showing soldiers on bicycles.

Like most of his generation he did not want to talk about his experiences in the war. Nor did he wish to go to France again!

Thanks in anticipation for any information.

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Dear Michael

I have a query and some info.

You said not to PM you, but I can't find your email address. How can I reach you offline? Will you PM me ?

William

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Canterbury

Sharp served as G26582 in The Buffs and was transferred at some stage to The Queen's with number G79355. Because of the transfer I can't confirm which Battalions he served in but all the men in his number series were allocated to the 7th Bn. I can confirm he was awarded the Military Medal as a Sergeant but I don't know when this was.

William, I will contact you

Mick

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Guest Canterbury

Thank you very much for that information. I am amazed that he got promoted to sergeant. As far as I know he was only in action for a short period in 1918. We believe that he won the MM for actions around Ronnsoy in Sept 1918.

What does Queens mean? Is that another regiment?

Thanks for info, again.

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The full title is The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment). Transfers between Regiments were not uncommon.

The medal roll only shows him as a Private but the list of honours in the Regimental History shows him as a Sergeant. I suspect that the latter is an error.

Mick

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Hi Michael,

I have a Frederick Barrett 7701 who served with the Buffs. I have a lot of info from Ancestry Service Records on him, I was just wondering if you would have anything other than that is on the service records.

He was in the 2nd Batt from about 1903-11 then the reserve and than back in again at the sart of the war. POW later on.

Kind regards

Mark

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Mick.

Re Grandad:- Haggar H.A. G18923

At last after almost exactly 1 year I have 2 photos of Grandad.

It seems the files are too big to upload, have you an email address that I may use.

JimR.

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Mark

The info I have is that Barrett went overseas with the 1st Battalion on 7/9/1914 and at some stage transferred to the 6th Battalion. Whilst they were fighting at Keeling Copse on 3/5/1917 he was taken prisoner.

Here is Keeling Copse from the south

post-174-1242158053.jpg

Jim

I will send my email address in a PM to you

PS I tried to PM you but it seems that the facility is disabled. My address is m^ckatthebu>>sdotwanadoodotcodotuk Substitute the ^ for i and > for f. I hope that makes sense but I've fallen foul of having addresses swiped before

Mick

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Hi Michael,

Thank you for that.

Regards

Mark

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Guest hollowayranger

Dear sir you seem to know a great deal about the buffs and i would be most greatfull for any help you or anyone else can offer in my quest to trace the military history of my late grandfather

Herbert Henry Robertson

born 6/6/84

died sept 1953 aged 69

post-44362-1242736789.jpg

the above is from the funeral

He was awarded the D.C.M in boer war and gained a bar to this in ww1 he also was made a kings corporal for bravery and good service to reg. my father also remembers an indian medal from when he served in india and french medal

apart from this i have very little to go on but my father says he served 15 years in the east kent buffs and 17 years in the west kents he also became a colour sergeant retired a rank below that of an officer which he turned down due to not wanting to pay for his own batman and uniform ect with a pension of £2 3/4 pence.

Im told he joined up to fight in boer war under age so might have lied about his name! as i can find next to no trace of him anywhere!

If anyone can help me in anyway please do as my father is 83 now and very ill in hospital and times running out to find the truth!

Many thanks Brian

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