Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Armoured cars, baghdad


matteyre
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello all,

Can anyone help me identify my wife's grandfathers unit? He was John William Flower from Sheffield, and was an engineer working with Rolls Royce. His armoured car was the only original one in his unit to survive, and was called Cleopatra. He was involved in taking Baghdad, and at some point went to the Khyber Pass. I have photos and postcards from his active service, which show Gwalior,Basra,Baghdad, Hit, the Tigris, Nepal, plus HMS Torpedo Boat 98. There are photos of armoured cars which look like Rolls Royces, plus some of tractors which are described as being "901's" which I assume is their unit number. There is also a booklet called "Baghdad the city of the caliphs" issued by the army ymca of India. My father in law thought he was in the 6th Land Army, but I suppose that could be 6th LAMB?

Any help greatly appreciated, thanks, Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It sounds as if he had some post war service. Other 'C' RR armoured cars such as Cheetah and Cerebus were post war models. Any chance of seing some of the photos - would be able to tell from that

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As per the previous responses, Cleopatra is likely to be a post war name.

Below are three matches for medal index cards. If he was involved in the taking of Baghdad, during the war then he would have been with one one the L.A.M.B batteries, and as a Rolls engineer would likely have been part of the support/unit workshop, who were Army Service Corps. The L.A.M.B Brigade was based in Baghdad through to 1920 and had repair workshop there. After the war when the M.G.C. was disbanded the cars were transfered to the Tank Corps Armoured Car Companies (1 and 2 in Mesopotamia) and some personnel transferred also, though most of the wartime volunteers were waiting to be de mobbed. Later still the surviving cars and newer replacements transfered to the RAF through into the 1930s.

For sure some also moved on to India - the CO of 14th L.A.M.B, Nigel Fitzroy Somerset became CO of 1st Armoured Motor Battery, Indian army fighting in the third Afghan war, by July 1919 he was promoted Major and CO of 3rd AMB Indian army.

Any chance of posting the photos - may be able to identify the period/location.

Flower, John W

Corps: Army Service Corps

Regiment No: M2/229767

Rank: Private

Flower, John W

Corps: Army Service Corps

Regiment No: M/372075

Rank: Private

Flower, John W

Corps: Tank Corps

Regiment No: 30905 (incomplete)

Rank: Private

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I understand it, he was responsible for the maintenance of all the armoured cars that were involved in taking Baghdad, reporting direct to the General commanding. The advance was held up as only c.50% of the armoured cars were initially operational and he refused to sign the others off and was threatened with court martial... I assume that he was in charge of the brigades engineering/mechanical department.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These pictures show his unit, and one of 901's tractors

The AC does appear to be a RR war time model . The 'tractor' appears to be a truck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

these show a plane at Ramadi, more tractors, and a group presumably from his unit

The plane is an RE8 (from either 30 or 63 sqn) something looks odd about the engine cowling though. The tractors are Holt either 75 or 120s (probably 120). Two tractor units were based at Basra and ran trains up to Baghdad as well as providing heavy gun towing - see enclosed photos

post-9885-1211802157.jpg

post-9885-1211802260.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

would the tractors have been part of an artillery unit, or would they have been ASC? The picture on the right hand side next to the armoured car shows a tractor with a unit of soldiers on it, this is described as one of 901's. i'm interested to find out which unit was 901. I've got some ASC info as my grandfather ran an ASC MT depot attached to the RNAS at Kilwa in East Africa. My father in law is trying to remember as much as possible but his father didnt talk much about Mesopotamia. He was an officer cadet prior to WW1 but would have only been 18 in 1916, but had been reading engineering at Sheffield University.

thanks for your help, matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As per the previous responses, Cleopatra is likely to be a post war name.

Below are three matches for medal index cards. If he was involved in the taking of Baghdad, during the war then he would have been with one one the L.A.M.B batteries, and as a Rolls engineer would likely have been part of the support/unit workshop, who were Army Service Corps. The L.A.M.B Brigade was based in Baghdad through to 1920 and had repair workshop there. After the war when the M.G.C. was disbanded the cars were transfered to the Tank Corps Armoured Car Companies (1 and 2 in Mesopotamia) and some personnel transferred also, though most of the wartime volunteers were waiting to be de mobbed. Later still the surviving cars and newer replacements transfered to the RAF through into the 1930s.

For sure some also moved on to India - the CO of 14th L.A.M.B, Nigel Fitzroy Somerset became CO of 1st Armoured Motor Battery, Indian army fighting in the third Afghan war, by July 1919 he was promoted Major and CO of 3rd AMB Indian army.

Any chance of posting the photos - may be able to identify the period/location.

Flower, John W

Corps: Army Service Corps

Regiment No: M2/229767

Rank: Private

Flower, John W

Corps: Army Service Corps

Regiment No: M/372075

Rank: Private

Flower, John W

Corps: Tank Corps

Regiment No: 30905 (incomplete)

Rank: Private

David, Have posted some photos in this topic

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The picture on the right hand side next to the armoured car shows a tractor with a unit of soldiers on it, this is described as one of 901's. i'm interested to find out which unit was 901.

I'm not sure which photo you are referring to. The one in your posting with the armoured car in it appears to be a truck not a tractor and the ASC certainly ran lots of those. The three tractors in the 2nd posting would most probably belong to the RA or the RE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

sorry, there is a third picture in that posting, to right of the one with the armoured car, showing c 30 men and a tractor, you need to scroll right

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gottit! The ORBAT for the Tigris front in the last part of 1918 contains:

Nos. 788, 789, 901 and 902 Mechanical Transport Companies. (Caterpillar Tractors.). Those Holt tractors in one of your photos would have belonged to 901 Mechanical Transport Compay. They are recorded under the entries for I Corps Heavy Artillery Brigade (6o-pdr. guns) (2/86th and I57th Heavy Batteries, R.G.A.). Total, 8 guns.

and

I Corps Siege Artillery Brigade (6-in. howitzers) (iSQth, 246th and 257th Siege Batteries, R.G.A.). Total, 12 guns.

but its not clear if they are part of these - they'd certainly being supporting them and were part of I Corps

Now that truck might have been a support vehicle for the tracors or it could have been something entirely different.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

sorry, there is a third picture in that posting, to right of the one with the armoured car, showing c 30 men and a tractor, you need to scroll right

OK found it - towing one of the trailers used to make up land trains. As my previous posting says 901 was a Mechanical Transport Company and as I said even earlier the MTCs ran road trains and towed guns.

Now the RA, RE and ASC all had mechanical transport companies! However as 905 MTC was definitely ASC its a reasonable bet that so was 901.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matt

It is definitely 6 LAMB, since this had a Rolls-Royce armoured car called Cleopatra in 1920. Others were called Harvester, Avenger and Chatham. This comes from the unit war diary of the time, which is found under WO 95/5206 at Kew. 6 LAMB were under 17th Indian Division at the time and was based at Ramadi, Iraq. It became part of No 1 Armoured Car Company of the Tank Corps at the end of 1920.

Charles M

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Now the RA, RE and ASC all had mechanical transport companies! However as 905 MTC was definitely ASC its a reasonable bet that so was 901. "

Digging further into this I find that all MTCs were ASC but were very often seconded to and embedded in other units such as RA and RE so that 901 was probably seconded to I Corps heavy artillery so that ASC remained responsible for pay and rations so to speak but the RGA effectively commanded the unit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks everyone, will look in the diaries and see where that leads... incidentally, my father in law thinks that the plane pictured had a rolls royce engine in it, hence his fathers interest/involvement

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks everyone, will look in the diaries and see where that leads... incidentally, my father in law thinks that the plane pictured had a rolls royce engine in it, hence his fathers interest/involvement

Believe me the RE8 was not fitted with a Rolls Royce engine, Most had an RAF4a engine, a few were fitted with an RAF4d and a very few, used by the Belgians, had an Hispano Suiza (one of which still exists in the Brussels Museum). The HS engine gave a markedly improved performance but they could not be spared from SE5a production). The unusual cowling I think is merely a sheet or a blanket draped over the engine. As an ex Rolls Royce man myself I'd be very interested indeed if any one has any evidence of a RR engined RE8

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My Grandfather was in the L.A.M.B, and also had an interests in planes - he apparently flew in RE8s on the Western Front, prior to going to Mesopotamia. I have no idea how this came about, and his medal index only shows M.M.G.S and M.G.C.(M) service. However in his WW1 shoebox I found this newspaper clipping (below) of RE8s presumably in Mespot - I don't know if he had any direct connection with them, though the L.A.M.Bs worked quite closely with the RFC.

post-446-1212012273.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting link in the photos - I noticed the men in it are the same as in the picture with the armoured cars. This is also now linking me to a small until now unidentified picture belonging to my grandfather. It looks to be some kind of multi unit parade, the tracked vehicles lined up and the armoured cars lined up in front. All three pictures are of the same event (in Mesopotamia) for sure. My own picture, which unfortunately I can't post right now, is a reverse angle to these two looking along the row of (8) armoured cars, and you can see the row of tractors behind. These cars would constitute a complete L.A.M.B battery, and all cars are identical, having turret hatch extensions - this would suggest it was a complete unit that arrived from France. Maybe hazard a guess at 15th L.A.M.B. as they joined up with 8th, 13th and 14th, and might account for my grandfather having this photo.

There is a picture of a car with identical modification in France on active service in "War Cars" but never seen any other pictures like that in Mesopotamia until now.

David.

post-446-1212708021.jpg

post-446-1212708808.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Have been talking to my father in law re the Rolls Royce link. His family firm William Moore and Co in Sheffield supplied RR with high speed steel for machining, and for turbine blades and gears etc. He worked closely with a guy called Len Heath. His father was more involved on the internal combustion engine side which would have been at Crewe I suppose. Have been checking Kew archives and have found a 2nd Lieut WJ Flower, serving from 1916, which ties in with my original enquiry as he would have been 18 in 1916, will see if we can find more pictures etc.

What happened at Hit? and also what was the make up of 17th Indian Division? can only find British units in it, with no mention of LAMB.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Matt.

See below picture of the armoured cars...this matches up with the other two pictures posted previously. You can see the Holt tractors in the background - so definately taken at the same time and place. It is from a tiny little print that was my grandfather's. However the cars do not match with any of his other pictures or negatives, so I don't know how he came by it. Whether he was there or maybe just traded it with one of his mates from another L.A.M.B. I know he had his own camera. Anybody you recognise in the picture? I would guess they are L.A.M.B officers...possibly the four car commanders.

David

post-446-1216855471.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...