Lines, Frederick John. Died 6th Oct 1918

Frederick John LINES was born in Rugby in 1897 and his birth was registered there in Q4, 1897He was the second son and third child of Henry Lines, b.c.1860, in Rugby, and Sarah, née Moreley, Lines, b.c.1857 in Draycott, Warwickshire.  They were married on 6 August 1877 in the parish church, Bishop Ryder, Birmingham.

In 1901, the family was living at 17 Spring Street, Rugby.  Frederick was three year old and had two elder siblings: a sister, Edith aged 8; and a brother, William, aged 7.  Frederick’s father was a baker.  In the 1911 census, the family were still in the same five-roomed house at 17 Spring Street, Rugby.  Frederick’s father was still a baker, and another baker was lodging at the house.  Frederick went to Murray School, and before the war, he was working for Mr C B Jones, a hairdresser in Murray Road, who also served in the war and was killed in action on 9 October 1917.[1]

Frederick joined up in Birmingham,[2] in August, 1916, and served as a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery.  He was, at least latterly, Gunner, No. 159945, in the 124th Brigade H.Q.  This Brigade was in the 37th Division.

The 124th Brigade RFA was a War Raised Unit of the K4 formed in 1914/15.  It originally consisted of ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Batteries, each with 4 x 18 Pounders.  It joined the 37th Division in April 1915 and went to France with the 37th at the end of July of that year.  Over the course of the war there were some major changes in the organization of artillery units within the Divisions, Corps and Armies.  On 4 August 1916, ‘A’ battery of the 126th [4.5 inch Howitzer] Bde. was transferred to become the ‘D’ howitzer battery of the 124th Bde.  Then on 31 August 1916, ‘C’ Battery of the 124th Bde. was broken up to give ‘A’ and ‘B’ batteries six guns each and a further 2-gun section from ‘C’ Battery of the 126th Bde. was transferred to bring ‘D’ Howitzer Battery of 124th Bde. up to 6 guns.  After 31 August 1916 the 124th Bde. consisted of three 6-gun batteries of 18-pounders (‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’) and a battery of 4.5 in Howitzers (‘D’ battery).[3]

The 37th Division took little part in the fighting begun by the German Spring Offensive, ‘Operation Michael’,[4] in March 1918, but did take part in the first counter-offensive, the April 1918 Battle of the Ancre, which included the world’s first tank versus tank combat at Villers-Bretonneux.  At this time the division was under the command of Third Army’s IV Corps, and remained part of this formation for the rest of the war.  The division took part in the Hundred Days Offensive, fighting in the Battle of Amiens, the 1918 Second Battle of the Somme, the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, and after Frederick’s death, the Battle of the Selle and the Battle of the Sambre.

On 6 October 1918, the War Diary of the 13th Fusiliers,[5] a component of the 37th Division related that the Battalion was at Banteux about 7 miles south-west of Cambrai, and advancing eastwards.  They would have been taking part in the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, which was fought between 2 September and 12 October 1918.  The Divisional Artillery would have been following up and be some way behind the line of advance, but it seems likely that Frederick was wounded in or around the Gouzeaucourt area, south-west of Cambrai.

By using the 124th Brigade Royal Field Artillery’s War Diary,[6] for the period before Frederick’s death, it is possible to speculate as to when he was wounded.

Whilst generally only monthly casualty figures are given, during September 1918, 124th Brigade Royal Field Artillery lost three Officers wounded, and seven Other Ranks killed and 32 wounded.  Most of these were incurred when the infantry had entered Marcoing, some four miles south-west of Cambrai, on 28 September when,

… the enemy having evidently decided to withdraw and hold the line of the St. Quentin canal.  The 124th Bde. RFA moved up … but the enemy had already withdrawn out of range of the batteries. … the batteries moved forward again … From dusk onwards, the enemy artillery and bombing aeroplanes were extremely active, Battery and Wagon Lines were subjected to heavy fire.  ‘C’ Battery suffered heavily from bombing, losing one Officer … wounded, 3 Other Ranks killed and 23 wounded, and 50 horses killed and wounded.

By the end of the month, the infantry were attempting to cross the St. Quentin Canal.  During October 1918, the Brigade lost eight Officers wounded, and ten Other Ranks killed and 42 wounded.  On the night of 1-2 October and 3 October, the War Diary related,

‘Hostile fire continued to be heavy throughout the day and the night. … Enemy artillery continued very active on both Battery and Wagon Line areas.’

There are no entries between 3 and 8 October, suggesting a pause in activity, with presumably lesser casualties.

Frederick Lines was probably among those wounded in late September or early October.  The wounded would have been evacuated, first to an Aid Post or a Field Ambulance, and then to a Casualty Clearing Station (CCS), which would treat a man sufficiently for his return to duty or to enable him to be evacuated to a Base Hospital.

When considering when Frederick was wounded, one must consider that it would have taken some time to reach the CCS, so he was probably wounded a few, or several, days before he died.  He was most likely wounded either in the bombing on 28 September, or by the hostile artillery on night 1-2 to 3 October 1918.

Frederick died of his wounds, aged 20, probably at a CCS at Grevillers – or on his way there.  He was therefore buried in the nearby Grevillers British Cemetery, in Plot ref: XVI. C. 11.

Grevillers is a village in the Department of the Pas de Calais, 3 kilometres west of Bapaume.  The village of Grevillers was occupied by Commonwealth troops on 14 March 1917 and in April and May, the 3rd, 29th and 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Stations were posted nearby.  They began the cemetery and continued to use it until March 1918, when Grevillers was lost to the German during their great advance.  On the following 24 August, the New Zealand Division recaptured Grevillers and in September, the 34th, 49th and 56th [Known as South Midland CCS] Casualty Clearing Stations came to the village and used the cemetery again.  After the Armistice, 200 graves were brought in from the battlefields to the south of the village, … The cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.[7]

When a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, a personal family message was added which read ‘The Lord Gave & The Lord Taketh Away’.

Frederick’s death was recorded in the Rugby Advertiser in November 1918.
 Gunner F J Lines, youngest son of Mrs Lines and the late Mr Lines, 17 Spring Street, died of wounds on October 6th.  He was an old Murrayian, 20 years of age, and before joining the army in August, 1916, was employed the late Mr C B Jones,[8] hairdresser, Murray Road, who has also been killed in action.[9]

Frederick John LINES is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates, and his Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frederick John LINES was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, August 2018.

[1]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/jones-charles-bradlaugh-died-9th-oct-1917/.

[2]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[3]      The source is not entirely clear, but it is assumed that ‘D’ battery became the new ‘C’ battery and gained two more 18 pounders from another elsewhere.

[4]      See: https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-1918-spring-offensive-operation-michael/.

[5]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), 37th Division, Piece 2538/3: 13 Battalion Royal Fusiliers (1918 Feb – 1919 Feb).

[6]      The National Archives, WO 95 – War Office: First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries, WO 95 – 37 Division, WO 95/2521 – Divisional Troops. Ref: WO 95/2521/4, 124 Brigade Royal Field Artillery, 1915 July – 1919 Mar.  See also: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7354060.

[7]      Extracted from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/29602/grevillers-british-cemetery/.

[8]      C B Jones subsequently worked for BTH, see: https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/jones-charles-bradlaugh-died-9th-oct-1917/.

[9]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

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