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RFA? RFA (Bedford Reg)? RE?


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Hello all, first posting here and hoping someone can help out. Grandfather was Frederick Harry Marchant whose MIC says he was in the RFA (38656) -gunner- and the RE (249536) and gives theatre France entering 25.7.15. Gained 3 medals as a result. However his Certificate of Demobilisation (Z.21) states he initially enlisted 30 Sept 1914 with his first appointed regiment being Royal Field Artillery (Bedford Reg) also serving in RE. His unit was Signals (RE) and his ranking on the document is Sapper. Firstly I am surprised about Bedford Reg. because he seemed to be a staunch Londoner (cockney) and infomation given to me by a Bedford expert was that both RFA and RE did not have regiments as such. He had not seen anything like this before.

Secondly, from an amazing website here I thought Fred might have been K2, 7th Batln. as both enlistment and theatre of war dates match but I seem to have made an unfounded conclusion. - Tried the War Diary of the 7th Batln. but his name did not come up under those named as wounded in the War. He was gassed and schrapnelled including losing a finger and 10ths hospitalised (which I am told may explain the movement from the RFA to the RE) but more than this we do not know as he did not talk about his was experience. His daughter has a memeory of him mentioning being in the Somme.

Any help with interpreting the data for an Antipodean would be be gratefully appreciated both from the grandson and particularly his daughter now in her 80s and interested in a few of the blanks being filled in of her father's former life though until finding this site thought it too far away for it to be done. Cheers. Michael

Michael O'Donnell

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The combination of RFA and Royal Engineers suggests that he might have been an Artillery signaller. The Engineers had a Signal Depot a Bedford - could that be what the reference is?

Nevertheless, the date of entry does suggest that he was a member of one of the Artillery Brigades of 18th Division when he went to France.

A rough estimate of the date of his transfer to R.E. is Summer 1917.

Steve.

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Having said that about Signal Depots.....

Would you class this page of a man with a nearby RFA number as interesting? :)

post-6536-1209560629.jpg

And yes, 85th Brigade were in 18th division, and yes this man did go to France on 25-7-1915. (This man transferred from "C" Battery of 85th Brigade to "D" Battery of 82nd Brigade - still in 18th Division - on 24-5-1916 due to a reorganisation of the Divisions artillery brigades).

And no, we can't assume that they were in exactly the same units!

I think we could probably fairly safely sugguest that Fred Marchant joined the Bedfordshire Regiment, possibly destined for the 7th Bedfords, and then was "poached" by the Artillery for the Divisional Field Artillery, instead?

Steve.

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Having said that about Signal Depots.....

Would you class this page of a man with a nearby RFA number as interesting? :)

post-6536-1209560629.jpg

And yes, 85th Brigade were in 18th division, and yes this man did go to France on 25-7-1915. (This man transferred from "C" Battery of 85th Brigade to "D" Battery of 82nd Brigade - still in 18th Division - on 24-5-1916 due to a reorganisation of the Divisions artillery brigades).

And no, we can't assume that they were in exactly the same units!

I think we could probably fairly safely sugguest that Fred Marchant joined the Bedfordshire Regiment, possibly destined for the 7th Bedfords, and then was "poached" by the Artillery for the Divisional Field Artillery, instead?

Steve.

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Hi Steve, awfully grateful for your speedy reply. Have looked at material on the 18th Divn from The Long Long Trail which says 18th (Eastern) Divn left for France on 25 May 1915. Could this mean that FH Marcant stayed with the Bedfords and didn't get 'poached' until he was aready there. Also his His Army transfer (Z.21) Certificate of Mobilisation gives the date of 3 April 1919. where the 85th Brigade demobilisation is complete by 20 March 1919. That would be because he was then in the REs wouldn't it?

Any idea where to go for War Diaries of such?

Thanks again, I understand what you are saying about the Bedford Reg Transfer. Any thought on why an ardent Londoner would have signed on there it could it be a matter of perhaps joining with his mates. Cheers and thanks again.

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Michael,

The Long, Long Trails has one or two mistake on it. The 18th Division left for France on 25th July 1915, not May. Gunner Marchant would have gone to France with the main contingent of 18th Division.

There was a big re-arrangement of the 18th Division artillery in May 1916 (as were many others) which meant that many of the artillerymen in the Division switch Brigades (as did whole batteries).

Going by Casey's records he would have likely been transferred immediately on enlisting in Sep/Oct 1914, as was Casey.

Steve.

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Thanks again Steve,

Where do you suggest I go to, to find the war diaries for his division, if indeed they exist?

Regards Michael

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Most of the Divisional War Diaries for 18th Division are intact as far as I know.

If this link doesn't work:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalog...OSCATID=2015000

then try this link:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/search.asp

and type

18 AND division

in the Word or phrase box, and

WO95

in the department box. Click Search, and click on the result:

Subsubseries within WO 95 18 DIVISION

Then click "Browse from here"

Listed are the whole of the war diaries for 18th Division, with commands and staff first, then units attached to Divisions (including Artillery) and then Brigades (including Infantry battalions).

18th Divisions artillery are in the NA Files:

WO 95/2024 82 Brigade Royal Field Artillery 1915 July - 1919 Mar.

WO 95/2025 83 Brigade Royal Field Artillery 1915 July - 1919 Mar.

WO 95/2025 84 Brigade Royal Field Artillery 1915 July - 1916 Dec.

WO 95/2025 85 Brigade Royal Field Artillery 1915 July - 1916 Dec.

These are physical files at the NAtional Archives at Kew, and will need to be looked at on site, though digital photogrpahy is permitted to enable you to take copies (or else a photocopier/digital scanner can be used at a cost)

Steve.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 years later...
Guest Peter O'Donnell

Michael,

I can confirm that Fred was an Artillary Signaller. He in fact did talk about his experiences but you would have been too young for those discussions. Initially, his job was to run and maintain the telephone communications lines along the trenches.

After he was gassed the first time it wasn't deemed bad enough to be hospitalised. The second gassing incident was more serious and he was hospitalised for nearly a year. Naturally the recovery process was slow but he was tough amd made a remarkable recovery having had one lung completely removed and about 1/2 of the other.

Even though he recovered he was not expected to survive for long and he made the decision to take on the more dangerous task of mine clearing and that's the reason he signed up to become a sapper. The loss of the finger and the shrapnel wounds are obviously a result of that decision and he was lucky to survive that blast. Apparently, the sappers were well trained, and when uncovering a mine to disarm it they would listen for some kind of noise - a click sound possibly. This triggered a chemical reaction within the device so that it exploded. Since the blast was invariably upward, the trick was to remain low to the ground and back away as fast as possible. Like a snake in reverse gear is how he once put it.

As for the records. Do you need them for the family archives?

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  • 2 years later...

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