Brown, Frederick Louis. Died 1st Jul 1916    

Omitted from publication on 1st Jul 2016

Frederick Louis Brown was somewhat of an enigma.  Recorded on the Rugby Memorial Gate, and remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, he joined the 1/6th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was promoted to Sergeant, won the Military Medal, and was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

However, there is no record of him being in Rugby, and with no age at death, it is impossible to be absolutely certain of which of many Frederick Browns he might possibly be.

There was however a Frederick Louis Brown on the Birmingham ‘Roll of Honour’ and also a Frederick L M Brown born in Birmingham in late 1891, and living in Birmingham and aged 9 in 1901.  His family lived at 37 Portland Road, Edgbaston and his father was an agent in the cycle trade.  In 1911 he was aged 19, single and a ‘General Engineer Learning’.  With that background and trade, it is possible that he may have worked later at one of the Rugby engineering works, although he is not on any works memorial.

Assuming the CWGC record is correct Frederick Louis Brown joined the 1st/6th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, attained the rank of Sergeant, and was probably re-numbered as No:240069.  He also won the Military Medal, presumably in 1916 as the medal was not established until 25 March 1916.

After much searching two Medal Cards were found for Frederick Browns: the first had an early number 1379.  With that low number it is likely that Frederick enlisted very early during the war.  Soldiers’ records found with the numbers between 2199 and 3420 enlisted in November and December 1914 – his lower number suggests that he enlisted very soon after war was declared.

His early enlistment probably gave time for his promotion, and the 1915 Star Medal Roll confirms that Frederick was a Sergeant ‘on disembarkation’ on 22 March 1915.

The 1st/6th Battalion was formed in August 1914 in Thorp Street, Birmingham, and was part of the Warwickshire Brigade, South Midland Division.  It landed at Le Havre on 22 March 1915 and on 13 May 1915, became part of the 143rd Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division.  The Division was involved in the Serre Sector of the Somme from 1st-12th July 1916.

Frederick Brown went into the French theatre of war on 22 March 1915, so he was with the main brigade landing at Le Havre.  On 1 July 1916, the …

‘… 1/6th Battalion and the 143rd Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division was attached to the 11th Brigade (4th Division) followed the 1/8th Royal Warwickshires into attack on the Quadrilateral (1/7) – to the left machine gun fire swept advance and, according to the Battalion historian, reduced it to a strength of 2 weak platoons.  Passed through objective and consolidated ground beyond.  Withdrew to Mailly-Maillet during night and from there to Couin.’

The 1/8th Battalion which they followed are recorded as follows – they had 563 casualties …

‘… 1/8th Battalion …  moved forward from Mailly-Maillet (1/7).  Attached to 4th Division for attack at Redan Ridge.  Right of assault took The Quadrilateral, passed through and gained support trench beyond.  On left, German front line entered under heavy fire from Serre.  No further progress made.  Withdrew to Mailly-Maillet.’

Frederick was ‘Killed in Action’ sometime during 1 July 1916, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  His body was not found or identified and he is remembered on Pier and Face 9A, 9B and 1 B. of the Thiepval Memorial.

He was awarded the Military Medal for ‘bravery in battle on land’, and his first Medal Card recorded that he was awarded the 1915 Star.  His second Medal Card which has the later 240069 Number, shows that he was also awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

As mentioned he was also listed on the ‘Birmingham Roll of Honour, 1914-1918’, although his rank of Sergeant does not appear to be acknowledged.  He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates – but sadly little is known of the Rugby connection of this brave soldier.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

 

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Coleman, Duncan Reginald. Died 11th Nov 1918

Duncan Reginald COLEMAN was born in Wardington, Oxfordshire on 27 August 1894, and baptised there on 2 December 1894.  He was the second son of George Henry Coleman [a plasterer, b.c.1856 in Warmington, Warwickshire] and Emily, née Treadwell, Coleman [b.c.1864 in Wardington, Oxfordshire].

In 1901 the family were living at the ‘Red Lion Beer House’, in Wardington, probably following in part the family trade – as George Henry’s father had been an innkeeper in Milcomb.  George Henry was however still working as a ‘plasterer’.

At some date before 1911, the family moved to Rugby and in 1911 were living at 102 Lawford Road, which seems to have been later defined as 102 Dunsmore Terrace, Lawford Road, Rugby.  George Henry was now 55 and his wife Emily was 45.  They had had nine children, but one had died and it seems that one had already left home.  However, seven children were still living at home: Muriel Blanche Coleman was 24; Mary Olive Coleman, 21; Albert Victor Coleman, 18; Duncan Reginald Coleman, was now 16 and already working as a moulder in an Iron Foundry; Ida Cerise Coleman was 12; Stanley Winston Coleman, 11; and Lena Emily Coleman, was 8.

A somewhat complicated set of Service Records survives for Reginald, as it seems he had a number of postings and was also wounded.  Together with various other surviving documents it is possible to provide an outline of his military career.

In summary he was:                                                                                        Days
Home              17 – 4 – 16 to 15 – 7 – 16                         90
BEF France     16 – 7 – 16 to 10 – 5 – 17                      299
Home              11 – 5 – 17 to 22 – 12 – 17                    226
BEF France     23 – 12 – 17 to 11 – 11 – 18                  324
Total    2 years 209 days

He was living at 102 Lawford Road, Rugby, when he first signed up at Warwick[1] for General Service, posted to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and then posted on 18 April 1916 as a Private, No.18102 in the 11th Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWR).  He was 21 years and 7 months (or 210 days!) old, 5ft 6¼ inches tall, single and working as a ‘moulder’.

He was transferred as a Private to the ‘Expeditionary Force France’ on 16 July 1916 and embarked for France on 19 July 1916.  On 24 July 1916 he was posted to 11th Bn. RWR, ‘In the Field’.

He was wounded in action with a ‘GSW chest sev’ [Gun Shot Wound to the Chest Severe] on 23 April 1917, and on 3 May 1917 he was ‘adm 4 Gen H’ [Admitted to 4th General Hospital] at ‘Dannes Camier’.[2]  He was then transferred to England on the ‘HS [Hospital Ship] Cambria’ two days later on 11 May 1917, being transferred to the Home Depot that day.

He was admitted to the Eastern General Hospital, Edmonton for 21 days from 11 May to 1 June 1917 and this was extended for a further 10 days from 1 June to 11 June 1917 for the same ‘GSW Chest’ at the Edmonton Military Hospital – probably the same hospital, but with different stamps!!  After these periods, he was pronounced ‘Cured – No FB prelit? or disability – furlough thence CD’ [probably ‘Command Depot’].

On 22 October 1917, he was posted to the Essex Regiment, and on 28 October 1917, he was re-posted as a Private, No.45263 to the 17th Battalion, Essex Regiment at Dover.  On 22 December 1917 he went overseas again from Weybourne, by way of Folkestone on 23 December, arriving in Boulogne to join the BEF on the 24 December 1917.  On the same day he was transferred ‘in the field’ to the Royal Engineers, as a Pioneer, No.358639 and on 27 February 1918 to the Royal Engineers, No.4 Foreway Company, ‘at RE Rates’ from 28 February 1918.

Later that year, on 19 September 1918, he was ‘temporarily and compulsorily’ transferred to the Railways sub-unit in the Transportation Branch RE and from 20 September became a Pioneer with the 234th Light Railway Field Company and allotted a new regimental number: WR/358639.  The letters ‘WR’ stood for ‘Waterway and Railways’.  The 234th (Forward) Company was formed in France and operated there.

The formation of the RE Light Railway Companies in early 1917 was an innovation that was one of the factors that transformed the operational abilities of the army.  Goods and men could now make the last leg of the journey to the front by light rail.  Until that time, ammunition supply in particular had been subject to delays and required vast numbers of men and horses, and the light railways helped overcome both problems.  Traffic and wear on the roads and tracks leading up to the front was eased, and fewer men were required to repair them. … The Company consisted of approximately 200 men, … Drivers, Brakesmen, Guards, Wagon Repairers, Repair Shop Engineers, Traffic Controllers and Storesmen.   There were few officers among this number … The job … was to run the trains, with the tracks being laid by RE Railway Construction Companies – often with the assistance of whatever Labour Corps Company or ‘resting’ infantry were at hand.[3]

At some stage, presumably in early November, he became unwell and was transferred to No. 29 Casualty Clearing Station, which was then stationed at Delsaux Farm.  It was from there that his death was reported, ‘Died – Influenza – 11.11.1918’.  He died of Pneumonia on ‘Armistice Day’, 11 November 1918, aged 25, at ‘29 CCS’.  A confirmatory report in his Service Record, from the Captain RAMC, Medical Specialist, 29 CC Station, read,
358639 Pnr Colemen DR, 234 Light Forward Railway Co. RE
The a/m man died from Influenza followed by Broncho-Pneumonia & heart failure.
The disease was brought about by exposure whilst on military service in France.

Duncan was first buried in the Beugny Military Cemetery No.18, which had been made by the Germans after their Operation Michael[4] advances in March 1918 near the village crossroads.

Later, the German graves were removed, and in 1920, the British burials were exhumed and reburied at the Delsaux Farm Cemetery, adjacent to the Casualty Clearing Station.  Duncan was reburied  in grave reference: III. A. 17.  His gravestone bears the family message ‘Greater Love Hath No Man’.

A draft and copy of a letter sent to Duncan’s father is with his Service Record.

Royal Engineers, Record Office, Chatham  –  16 June 1920

Sir, 

I beg to inform you that in accordance with the agreement with the French and Belgian Governments to remove all scattered graves, small cemeteries containing less than 40 graves and certain other cemeteries which were situated in places unsuitable for permanent retention, it has been found necessary to exhume bodies buried in certain areas and re-inter them, therefore the body of your late son, No. WR/284262, Pioneer, D. R. Colemen, R. E., has been removed and re-buried in DELSAUX FARM BRITIH CEMETERY, 3 ¾ miles E. of BAPAUME.

The necessity for removal is much regretted but was unavoidable for reasons stated above.

The removal has been undertaken with every measure of care and reverence and special arrangements have been made for the appropriate religious services to be held.

I am, Yours faithfully,          for Colonel i/c R. E. Records.

The cemetery is near the village of Beugny, in Pas de Calais, France, some 19 kilometres south-west of Cambrai.

Delsaux Farm was a point on the German defensive system known as the Beugny-Ytres line, which was reached by Commonwealth troops on 18 March 1917, and passed on the following day. The farm was lost on 23 March 1918 after the gallant defence of Beugny by the 9th Welsh Regiment and their withdrawal, but it was retaken by the 5th Division on 2 September 1918, and on the next day the same division occupied Beugny village.  After their advance in March 1918, the Germans made a cemetery (Beugny Military Cemetery No.18) at the cross-roads, and in it buried 103 Commonwealth and 82 German dead.  The site was extended in October-November 1918 by the 29th and 46th Casualty Clearing Stations, which came to Delsaux Farm and made the present cemetery.  A little later, the German graves of March 1918 were removed and the 103 Commonwealth dead reburied in Plot I, Row J, Plot II, Row A, and Plot III, Rows B, C and D.  The rest of the cemetery was made when graves were later brought in from the battlefield. … The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.[5]

Duncan Reginald COLEMAN was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.  He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and on his CWGC gravestone at Delsaux Farm Cemetery, Beugby. 

Duncan’s outstanding pay of £24-3-8d was paid to his ‘Fa[ther] & Sole Leg[atee] George H’ on 12 April 1919, and note stated that this was ‘Including War Grant £14-10-0’.  On 17 April 1919 his property was returned to the family: ‘Letters; Shaving brush; Badge; Photos; Wallet’.

His elder brother Albert Victor Coleman, signed up on 12 December 1915, and also served initially in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, as No.3098, and later in the Royal Berkshire Regiment as No.44920.  He survived the war.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Duncan Reginald COLEMAN 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, October 2018.

 

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

[2]      The No 4 General Hospital was at St Nazaire in September 1914; at Versailles from September 1914 to January 1916; at Camiers, when Duncan Coleman was admitted, from January 1916 to April 1919; and at Dunkerque from April 1919 to November 1919.

[3]      https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-corps-of-royal-engineers-in-the-first-world-war/light-railway-operating-companies-of-the-royal-engineers/.

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

[5]      Edited from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/23600/delsaux-farm-cemetery,-beugny/.

Gibbs, Bertie. Died 5th Nov 1918

Bertie GIBBS was born in Wandsworth, London, in 1895 and his birth was registered in Wandsworth in Q4, 1895.  He was baptised on 6 November 1895 at St Stephen’s church, Clapham Park, Lambeth.  He was the son of William Henry Gibbs, b.c.1870, in Lambeth, and Alice née Tuck, Gibbs, b.c.1871, in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.  Their marriage was registered in Q2, 1892 in Wandsworth.

In November 1893, when Bertie’s elder brother was baptised at St Stephen’s, Wandsworth, they were living at  5 Elizabeth Place, and his father was a ‘Retort Setter’.  1895 the family were still at 5 Elizabeth Place, Clapham, but in 1891, when Bertie was 5, the family was living at 5 Shuckfords Buildings, Great Yarmouth.  His father was still a ‘retort setter, gas works’.  Bertie had an elder brother, William Henry, 7, and sister, Rose May, 6; and a younger brother, Sydney George, 4.

In 1911, when Bertie was 15, the family was living at 45 Tyrolean Square, Great Yarmouth.  Bertie was working as a ‘factory hand’, and now he had another brother, Alfred, who was 7 years old.  His father was not at home on census night, and no further trace of him has been found.

At some date after 1911, Bertie moved to Rugby, and Rugby was recorded as his place of residence when he ‘signed up’.[1]  It seems that he worked before the war in the Rugby Steam Shed, as a ‘B. Gibbs’ is listed on their memorial.[2]

Bertie joined up in Coventry,[3] and his Medal Card showed that he served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R) as a Private with, at least latterly, the Regimental Number: 42579.  The CWGC confirmed that he finished his service with that number in the 1st/8th Territorial Battalion (Bn.) R.War.R.  There was no date on his Medal Card for when he went to France, and he did not receive the 1914-18 Star, suggesting that he went to France after the end of 1915, possibly some time after he had joined up.

The 1st/8th Bn. R.War.R had mobilised for war and landed at Havre on 22 March 1915 and became part of the 143rd Brigade of the 48th Division and was engaged in many actions on the Western Front.  In later 1917 they were moved to Italy, and remained there in 1918, until they left the Division on 11 September 1918 and moved to back to France, to join the 75th Brigade of the 25th Division.

The 1st/8th Bn. R.War.R. War Diary[4] for their time with 25th Division gives an outline of their actions in the last month or so of Bertie’s life, when they were back in France, and during the Pursuit to and Battle of the Selle (17–25 October 1918), and its immediate aftermath, which were all part of the final ‘Hundred Days Offensive’ of World War I.

8 Oct – The success of the operations of this day brought the battalion into action at SONIA farm, where it held a gap between the 30th American Div. and our 7th Brigade. … moved up to the forming up positions between SERAIN and PREMONT.

9 Oct – Zero was at 5.20 … the battalion advanced and took its objectives beyond MARETZ …

10 Oct – Starting from a point N of HONNECHY …the battalion advanced after heavy fighting to the outskirts of LE CATEAU. … The Americans … had been held up … the positions taken were consolidated and held.

11 Oct – … the battalion marched out to HONNECHY … this was … the heaviest and most continuous fighting which the battalion had met and the battalion came out with fresh laurels added to its reputation. …

12 Oct – The battalion marched to SERAIN to rest.

13-15 Oct – Sunday … services … reorganisation and re-equipment … and training …

16 Oct – … in reserve …for attack … on R. SELLE … moved to HONNECHY.

17-18 Oct – HONNECHY – supporting Gloucesters and Worcesters …

19 Oct – … C&D Coys moved with Worcesters to attack BAZUEL which was taken and held. …

20 Oct – … battalion relieved and marched out to ST BEN[I]N . …

21 Oct – Here the unit rested and reorganised.

22 Oct – … the battalion … moved up to its forming up position along the railway …

23 Oct – POMMEREUIL – The attack commenced at 01.20 hours. … to be used to help mop up POMMEREUIL … owing to heavy fog the attacking units of the first wave became rather mixed up … but on Capt W Mortemons M.C. who was commanding the battalion … going out and taking command … and organising attacks on enemy M.G. nests which had been missed …the situation rapidly cleared and all objectives were gained.

It is known that Bertie was wounded, and it might have been some days before his date of death.  He might have been wounded in this same action at Pommereuil, when a fellow Rugby 1st/8th Bn. soldier, Frank John Garrett,[5] who had only joined the Battalion on 8 October, was ‘killed in action’ on 23 October.

He may, of course, have been wounded later, in early November, and the further actions described in the War Diary are summarised below.  The Battalion carried on training until the end of the month and then,

31 Oct – The Battalion relieved the 11th Sherwood Foresters …

1 Nov – LE FAUX – the Battalion was holding the left sector …

2 Nov – Dispositions remained unchanged, the day was quiet …

3 Nov – Owing to the rainy weather the forward Companies were relieved …

4 Nov – LANDRECIES – At 00.15 the Battalion attacked and after a very severe fight secured its objective which was the line of the River SAMBE at LANDRECIES …

5 Nov – MAROILLES – the Battalion received orders to continue the advance … moved along the LANDRECIES – MAROILLES road … and advanced without opposition … Companies were billeted in houses along the LANDRECIES – MAROILLES road, and rested there the day.

6 Nov – No change, O.O.21., ordering the Battalion to continue the advance received.

7 Nov – … orders to resume the advance … the advance continued from the eastern outskirts of MARBAIX, to the village of ST. HILAIRE SUR HELPE where the vanguard was engaged by strong M.G. nests.  The mainguard was not involved … and on relief, marched out to billets in MARBAIX.

The Casualties in this period of action were 1 officer and 27 OR killed, 2 officers and 106 OR wounded.

It seems more likely that Bertie was wounded in the ‘very severe fight’ against LANDRECIES on 4 November, or possibly during the advance toward MAROILLES on the day of his death, Tuesday, 5 November 1918.

He would have been carried back to a Regimental Aid Post, which was typically within a few hundred yards of the front line, and then on to an Advanced Dressing station [ADS].  As he was doubtless a more serious casualty, he would have been moved next to a Field Ambulance, a mobile front-line medical unit, before he was transferred on to a Casualty Clearing Station [CCS].[6]

The time this would have taken makes it more likely that he was wounded on 4 November, becoming one of the 106 O.R.s wounded in early November.  In Bertie’s case it is likely that he was transferred to one of the Casualty Clearing Stations at Bohain, some 15 miles to the south-west, through which area the Battalion had passed on their advance on 6 October.  Whether he survived that final journey to the CCS is unknown, but he died from his wounds on 5 November 1918.

The CCSs used the neighbouring Premont British Cemetery, some two miles to the north-west of Bohain.  Bertie Gibbs was buried there in grave ref: II. D. 22.

Premont is a village in Aisne, some 19.5 kilometres south-east of Cambrai.  Premont village was captured by the 30th American Division on 8 October 1918.  Premont British Cemetery was made and used by four Casualty Clearing Stations (the 20th, 50th, 55th and 61st), which came to Bohain in October 1918, and it was closed in the following December.

No family inscription was added to his memorial by his family, and there is no next of kin or family name in the CWGC record.  It may be that it was his mother, Alice Gibbs, who died in Yarmouth in Q2, 1915, aged 45 [Yarmouth  4b, 38].  His father, as mentioned, has not been found.  His siblings appear to have remained in Yarmouth, or returned to London, and may well have lost touch.

Bertie Gibb’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also remembered on the Rugby War Memorial Gates in Whitehall Road, and on the Rugby Steam Shed Memorial.

The ‘100 Days’ Advance to Victory’ continued and only six days after Bertie’s death, the War came to an end.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

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

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

[2]      Rugby Loco Steam Shed Memorial.  This is a bronze tablet bearing the names of the dead, mounted on white marble, superimposed on black slate.  On either side of the tablet is hung a framed illuminated roll of honour, containing the names of members of the department who served in the forces during the war.   (From a report of the unveiling – Rugby Advertiser, 11 March 1921.)

[3]      Also shown in: UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

[4]      TNA, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 25th Division, Piece 2251/4: 8 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1918 Sep – 1919 Feb).

[5]      See ‘Rugby Remembers’ for Frank John GARRETT, died 23 October 1918.

[6]      Outline from http://www.qaranc.co.uk/Chain-Evacuation-Wounded-Soldiers-First-World-War.php which provides greater detail of the WWI chain of medical evacuation.

Palmer, Henry Joseph. Died 24th Oct 1918

Henry Joseph PALMER was born on 22 December 1898 in Bicester, Oxfordshire and registered there in Q1, 1899.  He was baptised at Bicester parish church on 30 April 1899, when the family were living at St John Street, Bicester.  He was the son of James Arthur Palmer, (b.c.1866 in Hethe, near Bicester – d.c.1932 in Rugby), and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth, née Edridge, Palmer (b.c.1867, in Bicester – d.c.1943 in Rugby).

By 1901, Henry was 2, and not long after he was born  the family had moved to Rugby and were now living at 35 Victoria Avenue, Bilton.  His father was a ‘moulder’s labourer’.

In 1911, when Henry, now known as ‘Harry’, was 12, the family was living at 32 Worcester Street, Rugby.  His father was now a ‘machine moulder’.  All six of the Palmer children were at home that night, as well as a four year old niece and a border.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Henry, and the only information is from his Medal Card and a listing in ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’.[1]

Henry joined up in Leamington Spa,[2] and his Medal Card showed that he served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R) as a private with, latterly, the Regimental Number: 42159.  The CWGC confirms that he finished his service with this number in the 2nd/6th Battalion (Bn.).  There was no date when he went to France on his Medal Card, and he did not receive the 1914-18 Star, suggesting he went to France after the end of 1915, possibly some time after he had joined up and when he had reached the required age at about the end on 1916.

The 2nd/6th Battalion of the R.War.R. had formed in Birmingham in October 1914,[3] and when the 1st South Midland Division went to France, the 2nd took its place at Chelmsford with role in Home Defence.  The strength of the unit fluctuated as they were drawn upon for drafts for the 1st-Line battalions.  In August 1915 the division was numbered as the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division and the brigade became the 182nd (2nd Warwickshire) Brigade.  In February and March 1916 they moved to Salisbury Plain for final training.  The division moved to France, arriving by 28 May 1916.

The 2nd/6th Bn’s first action was the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916, a diversionary attack in support of the Somme Offensive.  The attack was badly handled and casualties were heavy.  The 61st Division was so badly mauled that it was not used offensively again in 1916.  Thereafter, the battalion was involved in the Operations on the Ancre, 11-15 January 1917; the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, 14 March-5 April 1917; the Battle of Langemarck, 16-18 August 1917; the Battle of Cambrai: German counter-attacks, 1-3 December 1917.  Due to the manpower shortage being suffered by the BEF, on 20 February 1918, the 2nd/6th Bn. received men from the disbanded 2nd/5th Royal Warwicks.

On the day before the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael[4], the 61st Division was just north of St Quentin when 2nd/6th Royal Warwicks was ordered to raid the enemy line Cepy Farm and obtained prisoners from three regiments and two separate divisions, indicating that the German lines were packed ready for an attack early the following morning, 21 March.  Unfortunately, this information was not widely disseminated before the Battle of St Quentin began.

The front held by 61st Division opposite St Quentin was one of the few sectors where the attackers were delayed.  Redoubts held out for most of the day and the Battle Zone was successfully held by 2nd/6th Royal Warwicks and four other battalions.  Unfortunately, the neighbouring battalions were driven back and the 2nd/6th Bn. was ordered to retire.  It was then involved in the Actions to defend the Somme Crossings on 24-25 March.  The Division was relieved on 27 March and taken north to make a counter-attack the following day at Lamotte near Villers-Bretonneux.  This attack was shot down yards from the objective and the exhausted remnants were finally pulled out of the line on 30 March.

During the rest of Spring 1918 the battalion was involved in the Battle of the Lys, the Battle of Estaires, 11 April, when the 61st Division arrived just in time to prevent the destruction of the 51st (Highland) Division; Battle of Hazebrouck, 12-15 April; and the Battle of Béthune, 18 April.

In the ‘Hundred Days Offensive’, the 61st Division was committed to minor operations during the pursuit to the Haute Deule Canal.  On 1 October, 182nd Bde, including the 2nd/6th Royal Warwicks and the 184th Bde attacked behind a deep barrage against little resistance and then followed the German rearguards over broken ground well beyond the original objectives.

The Battalion then went into reserve until the Battle of the Selle on 24 October, when it was ordered to cross the Ecaillon stream.  2nd/6th and 2nd/7th Royal Warwicks got into trouble here, because there was uncut barbed wire on both sides of the stream that had been missed by the barrage.  Only a few men were able to struggle across and maintain themselves against counter-attacks for the rest of the day.

In this period, the three British Armies were able to continue their advance, taking nearly 20,000 prisoners in one week.  During the night of 23/24 October, the 61st Division relieved 19th Division east of Haussy to continue the advance across the River Écaillon the following day.

The Battalion War Diary[5] for this period can be found with the Diaries of the 61st Division.  The activities of the Battalion in October 1918 can perhaps best provide information as to Henry’s likely whereabouts and the occasion when he was wounded, leading to his death.

On 2 October the 182nd Infantry Brigade was relieved by the 178th Infantry Brigade, and went into billets at TREIZENNES, for re-equiping and training.  The Battalion moved by train to billets at GEZAINCOURT.  After two days rest and training the Battalion moved by rail and route march into reserve S.W. of MOEUVRES.  On 10 October they moved by route march to ANNEUX.  Apart from finding a working party, they were training until 18 October when they marched to billets S.W. of CAMBRAI, and the next day marched to RIEUX for further training until 22 October when they moved to MONTRECOURT WOOD prior to relieving the 9th Welch just west of VENGEGIES, on 23 October.

24 October – 04.00 – Under cover of artillery barrage, the village of VENDEGIES was attacked and the river ECAILLON crossed, but the Battalion had to withdraw West of the river, owing to strong enemy resistance.  Fighting continued through the day, and at about 18.00 hours the enemy withdrew.  The village was occupied immediately.  Casualties sustained 5 Officers, 182 O.R.

Henry was most likely one of those 182 O.R. casualties, assuming he was wounded in the attacks on 24 October 1918.  He was probably carried back about 10 miles to one of the Casualty Clearing Stations established in the rear, at Awoingt, near Cambrai, where he died of his wounds on the same day, Thursday, 24 October 1918.  He was 19 years old.

He was buried in the Awoingt British Cemetery, which was adjacent to the Casualty Clearing Stations, in grave reference: I. C. 18.

Awoingt is a village some 3 Kms east-south-east of Cambrai, in Nord, France.  Awoingt British Cemetery was begun in the latter half of October 1918 and used until the middle of December; the village had been captured on 9/10 October.  By 28 October, the 38th, 45th and 59th Casualty Clearing Stations were posted in the neighbourhood, and the great majority of the burials were made from those hospitals.[6]

An inscription was added to his memorial by the family, ‘We Miss Him Most Who Loved Him Best God Grant To Him Eternal Rest’, and his father’s name was given as ‘Mr J A Palmer, 32 Worcester Street, Rugby.’

Henry Joseph Palmer’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  His name also appears on the War Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby and he is also remembered on a family grave ref: M101, in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

Two days after Henry’s death, on 26 October, Erich Ludendorff, First Quartermaster General of the German army, resigned under pressure from Kaiser Wilhelm II.  The 100 days’ advance continued and only two weeks after Henry’s death, the War came to an end.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

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

[1]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, from www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[2]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, from www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[3]      Greater detail can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6th_Battalion,_Royal_Warwickshire_Regiment, from which this summary was prepared.

[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, TNA ref: 61st Division, Piece 3056/2: 2/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, (1915 Sep – 1919 Feb).

[6]      Edited from https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/59900/awoingt-british-cemetery/.

Oldham, Henry John. Died 24th Oct 1918

Henry John (Harry) Oldham, was born in Long Lawford and his birth was registered in Rugby in late 1893.  He was the son of Stephen, b.c.1868, and Anne Maria, b.c.1858 née Marshall, Oldham.  Stephen was a ‘stationary engine driver at the cement works’ – presumably the nearby Rugby Portland Cement Company.

Harry was baptised at Newbold on Avon on 31 December 1893 and in 1901 the family was living in Main Street, Long Lawford.  There were then six children: Charles Victor Oldham, 13; Walter Fretter Oldham, 11; Stephen James Oldham, 8; Henry John Oldham, 7; William Edger Oldham, 4; and Arthur Lake Oldham, 4 months.

In 1911 Frank was 17 and single and still living with his family at 110 Main Street, Long Lawford, Rugby.  He was working as an Iron Moulder.  His home address would later be noted as 33 Stephen Street, Rugby.

He enlisted in Rugby as a Private No.42268, in the 2nd/7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Harry Oldham

The 2nd/7th Battalion of the RWR was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion, and together with the Birmingham recruited 2/6 Bn. became part of 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division in the Northampton area.  They moved to Chelmsford area in March 1915.  In August 1915 they were redesignated as the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division, and went to train on Salisbury Plain in March 1916.  They landed in France on 21 May 1916.[1]

Harry’s Medal Card has no date when he went to France, suggesting that it was after 1915 as there was no necessity to prove the need to award a 1915 Star.  His army number suggests that he may have enlisted in about early to mid 1916.

Harry would probably have been involved in a number of actions in 1916 to 1918, and details of the 61st Division’s war can be found in the War Diaries and on the web.[2]  That said, from 1916 the 2/7th RWR were active in many campaigns and further details can be found on the interactive maps on the Web.[3]

Their actions included the attack at Fromelles, a diversionary attack during the Somme offensive (19 July 1916); Operations on the Ancre at Grandcourt following the halt to the Somme offensive (11 january 1917); the German retreat/strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line (14 March 1917); the Battles of Ypres –  Pond Farm (18 August 1917); the Battle of Langemarck (18 August 1917); the Battle of Cambrai, German Counter-Attacks (01 December 1917); the Battle of St. Quentin at the opening of the German Spring Offensive, ‘Operation Michael’ (21 March 1918); the various Battles of the Lys – the Battles of Estaires (11 April 1918); Hazebrouck (12 April 1918) and Bethune (18 April 1918)

In October 1918 as part of the final advance in Picardy and the Battle of the Selle (24 October 1918) when a night attack by Third and First Armies took high ground to the east of the River Selle and having allowed time for the supporting heavy artillery to catch up, all three British Armies were able to continue their advance, taking nearly 20,000 prisoners in one week.  61st (2nd South Midland) Division transferred to XVII Corps, Third Army in mid-October, and during the night of 23/24 October, the Division relieved 19th Division east of Haussy to continue the advance across the River Écaillon (L’Écaillon) the following day.

The 2/7th Warwicks had just come from a few days in billets at Rieux (south of Cambrai) and moved towards the village of Sommaing with the objective to take the village.[4]

The entry in the Battalion War Diary for 24 October 1918 recounts:

October 24th 1918  –  Assembly reported complete at 0315.  At 0400 Battalion advanced towards village of SOMMAING – Left Battalion boundary P18 a67 – Q7 a65 – Q2688; Right Battalion boundary Q13 c96 – Q13 b92; Inter Company boundary Q8 d32 – Q8 b72 – Q 9 a19 – Q4 a21.  10th Brigade (4th Div) on our left, 2/6 R WAR R on our right.

Attack was preceded by artillery barrage. Z Coy on left got across river ECALLION quite well but met with MG fire and also a good deal of wire defences but pushed forward and reached a further defence system in Q7b which was very strong with front and support trenches and communication trenches.

X Coy in support came up against much greater resistance; river being heavily wired on both banks. On the enemy side were a considerable number of MG posts.  They managed to cross river to the strength of a platoon but came under counter attack and withdrew to a line on Q13b on the rear slope of ridge with two forward posts at Q13 b92.  W Coy advanced in support of Z Coy on left and established three posts in front of village but owing to misunderstanding, Z Coy had withdrawn across river and of village. Information of these three posts did not come through in time to be of any use.  Y Coy had advanced in support of X Coy but without any success.

1000 hours – Z, W and Y now reorganised and pushed forward from P18 b94 towards the village. Position remained like this till 1645.

1645 hours – At this time, the 2/8 WORCESTERS passed through us and reached MUR COPSE Q7a which had been cleared earlier by the 4th Division.  From line they advanced from NW to SE direction. The 184 Brigade at the same time pushing up from SE of VENDEGIES.  All Coys now pushed forward in support of WORCESTERS.

October 25th 1918 – SOMMAING now clear of enemy and Brigade objective reached on a line running from NE corner of MUR COPSE to Q8 a92.  TRENCH STATE: 22 officer, 503 other ranks.

CASUALTIES – 2/LT R W LEEDAM (killed), LT E H HUMBY, 2/LT H S THOMAS, 2/LT W E SILVESTER all wounded; 2/LT F CASSELL gassed. Other ranks 198.

CAPTURES: about 150 prisoners, 1 77mm field gun, 9 M Guns, 1 anti tank rifle

Harry would have been one of the 198 casualties on 24 October 1918.

He was Killed in Action, but his body was recovered and buried in Plot A. 3. at the Canonne Farm British Cemetery, Sommaing.  Sommaing is a village a little north of the Chaussee Brune-haut road which runs from Cambrai to Villers Pol.  The graves in Canonne Farm British Cemetery all date from the period 22 October to 7 November 1918.  The cemetery contains 65 First World War burials, one of which is unidentified.

27 members of the R.W.R are buried in the cemetery, and as no other R.W.R. deaths are recorded on that date, it seems that the remainder of the 198 casualties from the attack on Sammaing were either wounded or missing, presumed killed.

Harry’s Executor was his eldest brother, Walter Fretter Oldham, who received payments as ‘Brother and sole executor, Walter,’ of £4-2-3d on 24 April 1919 and later a gratuity of £3-0-0d on 12 December 1919.  Probate was also granted to ‘Walter Fretter Oldham, Coremaker’ at Birmingham on 19 February 1919 for £164-17-6d.

Harry was awarded the Victory and British medals.  He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

In 1921, there was an ‘In Memoriam’ published in the Rugby Advertiser
‘Oldham – In ever loving memory of our dear son and brother, Harry Oldham, of 33 Stephen Street, killed in action October 24th, 1918. ‘He lives with us in memory still, and with us evermore.’ –  From his loving Mother and Brothers.’

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Harry Oldham 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 Rugby Family History Group, January and November 2017.

[1]      http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk, supplemented by info from http://battlefields1418.50megs.com/regiment012.htm.

[2]      http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/61st-2nd-south-midland-division/

[3]      https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/maps/units/4736/182nd-infantry-brigade/27th-battalion/

[4]      http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/ – together with quote from War Diary, available on Ancestry.co.uk.

Clements, Frederick C. Died 24th Oct 1918

Very little was found initially to connect Frederick C CLEMENTS to Rugby – until he was found remembered on his brother’s CWGC headstone in the Clifton Road Cemetery.

He was the son of Charles Edwin, [b.c. 19 April 1866 in Wing, Buckinghamshire] and Mary Ellen, née Lee, Clements [b.c. 1865 in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire], who were married on 28 December 1891 at Saint Andrew’s church, Rugby.

It would seem that Mary Ellen and her parents, Frederick who was born in Hillmorton, and Jane Lee had lived in Rugby at least from 1864 when Mary’s sister, Minnie, was born there and in 1871 and 1881, when they were living at 768 Old Station, Rugby.  In 1881, Mary Ellen was 21.  Mary Ellen would return to Rugby in 1893 to have their first child, Eustace E Clements.

Frederick, also known as Freddy, was born in 1897 in Roade St Mary, Northamptonshire, and the family were still living there in 1901, with children: Eustace E Clements, 8; Dorothy Clements, 6; Freddy Clements, 3; and Oscar Clements, 2.

Before 1911, the family had moved to Rugby and in 1911 were living at 33 Winfield Street, Clifton Road, Rugby.  Charles was working as a Railway Signal Fitter for the LNWR.  Young Frederick was 13 and still at school, whilst his elder brother, Eustace, now aged 18 was at work, as a ‘fitter’s apprentice’, also with the LNWR.

It is possible that Frederick later worked at BTH as three F Clements are remembered as having served: –
Clements F. Commercial Stores Rugby
Clements F. Export Dept., Rugby Private Royal Warwick – [the correct Regiment].
Clements F.C. Drawing Office Rugby Sapper Royal Engineers

However there is only a ‘CLEMENTS, Frank’ recorded on the BTH memorial, who could have been any of these – and perhaps this was how Frederick or Freddy was known!

There is a Medal Card for a Frederick C Clements, in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and a CWGC entry and information that match – it may not be any of the F or F C Clements of BTH above.  However the listing found on his brother’s memorial confirms that he is the appropriate soldier to be remembered.

Frederick probably enlisted in Rugby, as Private No.307487, in the 2nd/7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  He would later be promoted to Corporal.

The 2nd/7th Battalion of the RWR was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion, and together with the Birmingham recruited 2/6 Battalion became part of 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division in the Northampton area.  They moved to Chelmsford area in March 1915.  In August 1915 they were redesignated as the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division, and went to train on Salisbury Plain in March 1916.  They landed in France on 21 May 1916.[1]

Frederick’s Medal Card has no date when he went to France, suggesting that this was after 1915 as there was no necessity to prove the need to award a 1915 Star.  His six figure army number seems to be a later one, so that he may have gone to France anytime after early to mid 1916.  However, as he was not born until 1898, unless he lied about his age, he would not have reached the necessary age of 18 until sometime in 1916.

Frederick could have been involved in a number of actions in 1916 to 1918, and details of the 61st Division’s war can be found in the War Diaries and on the web.[2]  That said, from 1916 the 2/7th RWR were active in many campaigns and further details can also be found on the interactive maps on the Web.[3]

Actions included the attack at Fromelles, a diversionary attack during the Somme offensive (19 July 1916); operations on the Ancre at Grandcourt following the halt to the Somme offensive (11 January 1917); the German retreat / strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line (14 March 1917); the Battles of Ypres –  Pond Farm (18 August 1917); the Battle of Langemarck (18 August 1917); the Battle of Cambrai, German Counter-Attacks (1 December 1917); the Battle of St. Quentin at the opening of the German Spring Offensive, ‘Operation Michael’ (21 March 1918); the various Battles of the Lys – the Battles of Estaires (11 April 1918); Hazebrouck (12 April 1918) and Bethune (18 April 1918)

In October 1918 as part of the final advance in Picardy and the Battle of the Selle (24 October 1918) when a night attack by Third and First Armies took high ground to the east of the River Selle and having allowed time for the supporting heavy artillery to catch up, all three British Armies were able to continue their advance, taking nearly 20,000 prisoners in one week.  61st (2nd South Midland) Division transferring to XVII Corps, Third Army in mid-October.

During the night of 23 / 24 October the Division relieved 19th Division east of Haussy to continue the advance across the River Écaillon (L’Écaillon) the following day.  The 2/7th Warwicks had just come from a few days in billets at Rieux (south of Cambrai) and moved towards the village of Sommaing with the objective to take the village.[4]

However, whilst his fellow 2/7th Battalion comrade, from Rugby, Harry Oldham, who was Killed in Action on 24 October 1918 was buried nearby in the Canonne Farm British Cemetery at Sommaing, Frederick Clements who died on the same day, was buried near to Berlin. That cemetery includes a great many casualties ‘concentrated’ from smaller cemeteries in Germany, many associated with prisoner of war camps or work camps. Towards the end of the war, the British blockade was leaving the Germans short of food, and in turn the prisoners were on starvation rations.[5]  Earlier wounds, poor food and the cold led to considerable numbers of deaths in these camps.

This would suggest that Frederick had been captured some time, perhaps a considerable time,  before 24 October 1918, during one of the Battalion’s earlier actions, and then been transported back to a German POW camp, where  he later died on 24 October 1918.  He was probably buried in the local POW camp cemetery.  It was these smaller cemeteries that were concentred to the Berlin South-Western Cemetery, at Stahnsdorf.

Frederick Clements is now buried in the Berlin South-Western Cemetery, Brandenburg, Germany, in grave reference: X. C. 3., being one of 1175 casualties.  The cemetery is in the village of Stahnsdorf which lies approx 22kms south west of Berlin and approx 14kms to the east of Potsdam.

Frederick was awarded the Victory and British medals.  He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and also in Rugby’s Clifton cemetery in plot J192, on the CWGC headstone of his elder brother, Gunner Eustace Edwin/Edward Clements  Service Number, 1679, who died soon after his younger brother on 12 November 1918, aged 24, and was buried in Clifton Cemetery, Rugby.  The inscription included on that headstone reads: ‘Also in Memory of 307487 Corporal F. Clements Royal Warwickshire Regt. 24.10.18.’

It was that inscription that allowed Frederick Clements and his family to be identified.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frederick C Clements 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 Rugby Family History Group, November 2017.

[1]      http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk, supplemented by info from http://battlefields1418.50megs.com/regiment012.htm.

[2]      http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/61st-2nd-south-midland-division/

[3]      https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/maps/units/4736/182nd-infantry-brigade/27th-battalion/

[4]      http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/ – together with quote from War Diary, available on Ancestry.co.uk.

[5]      Van Emden, Richard, Prisoners of the Kaiser, the last POWs of the Great War, Pen & Sword, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-848840-78-2.

Garrett, Frank John. Died 23rd Oct 1918

Frank John GARRETT was born in Harborough Magna, Warwickshire, and his birth was registered in Rugby in Q3 1881.  He was baptised on 2 April 1882 at Harborough Magna.  He was the son of William Garrett, b.c.1844, in Napton, a labourer and later a Grocer’s Porter, and Sarah Green, née Mitchell, Garrett, b.c.1845, also in Napton, latterly a laundress.  They were married in Napton on 26 November 1867.

By 1891 when Frank was 10, the family had moved to 3 East Union Street, Rugby.  Frank had two elder brothers, Leonard, 15, and Thomas, 12; and a younger brother and sister, Ernest, 7, and Mary Ann, 2, who died aged 10 in 1899.  An elder sister, Louisa, b.c.1873, had married John Thomas Wolfe, a fireman from the Newbold Road, at St Andrew’s church, Rugby on 25 December 1897.  Her brother, Leonard was a witness.

By 1901, when Frank was 19, he was working as a ‘Cowman on farm’ for farmer, Thomas Wainwright, and living in the farmhouse, Limestone Hall Farm House, near Church Lawford.

In 1911, when Frank was 28, he was still single and living with Leonard, his married elder brother, at 11 Russell Street, Rugby.  He was a carter as was his brother who was a carter for the Urban District Council.

A later notice stated that before the war he worked at B.T.H. in Rugby.[1]

Fortunately 22 pages of Frank’s army Service Record have survived, as well as his Medal Card and his listing in various other sources.  However, these are in places somewhat confused, and show that although these can show amazing information, in the confusion of war, records may not always be correct in every detail.

Frank joined up in Rugby,[2] and his Medal Card showed that he served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R) as a private with, latterly, the Regimental Number: 268342.  The CWGC confirms that he finished his service with this number in the 1st/8th Battalion (Bn.).  There was no date on his Medal Card for when he went to France, and he did not receive the 1914-18 Star, suggesting he went to France after the end of 1915, possibly some time after he had joined up.  However, some of this information is provided on his Service Record.

His WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls,[3] show that he served as a private with the same regimental number in two separate Battalions: the 16th Bn. R.War.R., and then the 1st/8th Bn. R.War.R..  Exactly when he was with each these Battalions was unknown until his Service Record was examined.  Indeed, he served briefly in several other Battalions.

The Service Records are somewhat confused and on one page note that he ‘rejoined the colours on 19.10.16’, which suggests earlier service, although there is no evidence for this.  It may just indicate that he had already ‘signed up’ on 1 October 1916, but was not ‘called up for service’ in Rugby until 19 October 1916.  He was then a single labourer, aged 35 years and 2 months, 5ft 2¼in tall, and lived at 97 Bridge Street, Rugby.  He gave as his next of kin his elder married sister, ‘Louisa Wolfe c/o Newbold Road, Rugby.’

His preference was to join the ‘Horse Transport A.S.C.’, but he was initially posted as a private with the Number: 22026, in the 3rd Bn. R.War.R., a reserve Battalion based on the Isle of Wight.

There are various lists of his movements and postings.  He was in UK from 19 October 1916 to 10 January 1917 (84 days), latterly at ‘Parkhurst’ – the Barracks on the Isle of Wight where the 3rd Bn. were then based – where he probably underwent basic training, from 20 October 1916 until 8 January 1917.

He was then posted to ‘B E F France’ on 9 January 1917, although another record states that he sailed from Southampton on 11 January 1917 to arrive in Havre on 12 January 1917 to join, briefly, the 16th Bn. R.War.R.,[4] in the Expeditionary Force in France on 15 January 1917.

Frank was with the 16th Bn. for only a very short time and ten days later, on 26 January 1917, he was posted to the 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. with the Number: 20599,[5] but he would again be re-numbered as 268342 on 1 March 1917.  He was recorded as being in France with the 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. until 18 February 1918.

The 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. was formed at Coventry, in October 1914, it was a second line unit, initially for home service only, and then in February 1915 in the 2/1st Warwickshire Brigade, 2/1st South Midland Division in Northampton area.  They went to the Chelmsford area in March 1915, and became the 182nd Brigade, in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division in August 1915.  They were on Salisbury Plain in March 1916 and landed in France on 21 May 1916, and were trained near Bethune. They took part in the attack at Fromelles in July 1916, supplementing the Somme Offensive.  The 61st Division was so badly mauled that it was not used offensively again in 1916.

The 2nd/7th Bn. War Diary[6] relates that on 26 January 1917, the day when Frank arrived in France, the Battalion was in training, so Frank probably reached them with the draft of 96 men from base depot that arrived on 28 January 1917.

Thereafter, the battalion was probably involved in operations with their Brigade, including the Operations on the Ancre, 11-15 January 1917; the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, 14 March-5 April 1917; the Battle of Langemarck, 16-18 August 1917; the Battle of Cambrai and the German counter-attacks, 1-3 December 1917.

They were ‘At rest’ on Christmas Day 1917, but soon after on 30 December moved to Caix and then to Hangest en Santerre, about 50 miles south of Arras.

There is then some further confusion in the Service Record as he was apparently granted leave in UK from 17 January to 31 January 1918, either this was so he could be married, or he took the opportunity to do so, during ‘Q1, 1918’.  He married with Alice Selina Timms at St Matthew’s church, Rugby, and according to the army records this was on ‘12-1-1918’ [a date when he was still in France!!].  Alice had been born in 1889 in New Bilton, Rugby – and their address was given as 97 Bridget Street, Rugby.

Although he is not recorded as returning to France, it may have been that his leave was brought forward a week or so.  However, he obviously did return to France, but a few days later on 4 February 1918, he fractured a rib, ‘Fractured Ribs R’, in the ‘Field’ and was sent to 61th CCS [Casualty Clearing Station] and then to 10th GH [General Hospital][7] for ‘Fractured Ribs R Severe, cont[usion] chest’[8] on 18 February 1918.  This injury was possibly due to an accident, as was mentioned on one form, as on 4 February 1918 the War Diary stated ‘Day quiet.  Visibility good.  Aerial activity only.  Night quiet.  Good patrolling – no results.’

Frank was sent back to UK on 18 February 1918, arriving 19 February 1918, and was listed at 158 Depot on 19 February 1918, and whilst there he was classified as ‘Dentally Fit’.  This was noted as being a ‘Home’ posting, with no mention of the earlier UK leave when he was married!  He was admitted to the War Hospital at Clopton,[9] Stratford on Avon on 17 February 1918 [this again suggests some slight errors with dates, as he was then still in France!!] with his ‘fractured 11th rib R [accident]’ and was not discharged until 2 April 1918.  During this period he was apparently again [re]issued with his final Number: 268342.

On 13 April 1918, Frank was posted to Perham Down Depot, Andover,[10] possibly for further convalescence, and was discharged and posted to the 7th Bn. R.War.R. on 21 June 1918.  He was Classed ‘AIII’, being thus ‘Able to march, see to shoot, hear well and stand active service conditions, … Returned Expeditionary Force men, ready except for physical condition.’  He joined the 7th Reserve Bn. at Gosforth on 22 June 1918 and whilst there had a ‘TAB/1’ inoculation on 18 July and then ‘Proceeded Overseas to France’ from North Elswick Hall and embarked at Southampton for Havre on 30 September 1918, under the orders of the 7th Bn., and proceeded to Rouen where he was posted to the 2nd/6th Bn. on the 3 October and then to the 1st/8th Bn. on the 6 October 1918.  He ‘joined his unit in the field’ on the 8 October 1918.

The 1st/8th Bn. had mobilised for war and landed at Havre on 22 March 1915 and became part of the 143rd Brigade of the 48th Division and was engaged in many actions on the Western Front.  In later 1917 they had moved to Italy, and remained there in 1918, until they left the Division on 11 September 1918 and moved to back to France, to join the 75th Brigade of the 25th Division shortly before Frank was posted to them.

The 1st/8th Bn. R.War.R. War Diary[11] for their time with 25th Division gives an outline of their actions during the last few days of Frank’s life during the Pursuit to and Battle of the Selle (17–25 October 1918), which was part of the final ‘Hundred Days Offensive’ of World War I.

8 Oct – The success of the operations of this day brought the battalion into action at SONIA farm, where it held a gap between the 30th American Div. and out 7th Brigade. … moved up to the forming up positions between SERAIN and PREMONT.

9 Oct – Zero was at 5.20 … the battalion advanced and took its objectives beyond MARETZ …

10 Oct – Starting from a point N of HONNECHY …the battalion advanced after heavy fighting to the outskirts of LE CATEAU. … The Americans … had been held up … the positions taken were consolidated and held.

11 Oct – … the battalion marched out to HONNECHY … this was … the heaviest and most continuous fighting which the battalion had met and the battalion came out with fresh laurels added to its reputation. …

12 Oct – the battalion marched to SERAIN to rest.

13-15 Oct – Sunday … services … reorganisation and re-equipment … and training …

16 Oct – … in reserve …for attack … on R. SELLE … moved to HONNECHY.

17-18 Oct – HONNECHY – supporting Gloucesters and Worcesters …

19 Oct – … C&D Coys moved with Worcesters to attack BAZUEL which was taken and held. …

20 Oct – … battalion relieved and marched out to ST BEN[I]N . …

21 Oct – Here the unit rested and reorganised.

22 Oct – … the battalion … moved up to its forming up position along the railway …

23 Oct – POMMEREUIL – The attack commenced at 01.20 hours. … to be used to help mop up POMMEREUIL … owing to heavy fog the attacking units of the first wave became rather mixed up … but on Capt W Mortemons M.C. who was commanding the battalion … going out and taking command … and organising attacks on enemy M.G. nests which had been missed …the situation rapidly cleared and all objectives were gained.

However, in period of rapid advance to the south-east of Cambrai, and during the actions around Pommereuil on the 23 and 24 October, the Battalion suffered 13 O.R.s killed and 5 O.R.s missing, and 3 officers and 4 O.R.s wounded.

Frank had been with the Battalion for only 15 days when he became one of those 13 O.R.s, and was ‘Killed in Action’ on 23 October 1918.

His body was recovered and he was buried in the nearby Pommereuil British Cemetery, in Nord, France, in grave reference: D. 47.

Pommereuil is a village 3 kilometres east of Le Cateau.  It was the scene of severe fighting on 23-24 October 1918 and the cemetery was made by the 25th Division after the capture of the village. Pommereuil British Cemetery contains 173 First World War burials.  It originally contained a wooden memorial to the 20th Manchesters, who erected it to their officers and men who fell on the 23rd October. The cemetery was designed by W H Cowlishaw.[12]

The earlier burial information listed his death, and that of some others in the cemetery, as 25 October 1918, however, the later documentation corrects this and gives 23 October, and suggests the earlier date was a transcription/typing error.  Whilst there was no family inscription added to his memorial by the family, his widow’s name was given ‘Mrs A Garrett, 97 Bridget Street, Rugby’.

On 6  November, the Rugby Advertiser noted,
Pte. F Garrett (36), R.W.R., 97 Bridget Street, Rugby, has been killed in action.  Previous to joining the army he was employed at the B.T.H.’[13]

Frank John Garrett’s Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  These were issued to his widow in July 1921.  His name also appears on the War Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby.  Although reported to have worked at B.T.H., he does not appear on their memorial, perhaps he was there for too short a time.

His widow received a separation allowance of 12/6d until ‘11/5/19’; she then received a pension of 13/9d per week from 12 May 1919.  Any effects were to be sent to her at 97 Bridget Street, Rugby, and a note later stated ‘Effects sent 27.3.19’; these comprised, ‘Letters, Photos, Disc, Wallet, & Post Cards’.

His widow also received his monies owing in two tranches: £2-2-6d on 11 March 1919 and 11/6d on 23 April 1919.  She later received his War Gratuity of £8-16s on 4 December 1919.  She died in later 1920.

Three days after Frank’s death, on 26 October, Erich Ludendorff, First Quartermaster General of the German army, resigned under pressure from Kaiser Wilhelm II.  The ‘100 Days’ Advance to Victory’ continued and only two weeks after Frank’s death, the War came to an end.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 16 November 1918.

[2]      Also shown in: UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

[3]      The National Archives, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls; Medal Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Piece 0743.

[4]      The 16th Battalion had been formed at Birmingham in September 1914 by the Lord Mayor and a local committee.  They had landed at Boulogne on 21 November 1915 and on 26 December 1915 they transferred to 15th Brigade, 5th Division.

[5]      At some period he seems also to have had the Number 22026.

[6]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, TNA ref: 61st Division, Piece 3056/3: 2/7 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, (1915 Sep – 1919 Aug).

[7]      The 10th General Hospital was in Rouen from October 1914 to May 1919.  He was sent on to UK.

[8]      Such an injury can take from a few days to a few weeks to heal, hence the time in hospital and in UK.

[9]      Images of Clopton House Hospital in 1917 can be seen at:-  https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital; also https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital-2; and https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital-3.

[10]     Perham Down is a village near Tidworth, on the edge of Salisbury Plain.  In 1915 a hutted army camp was built on Perham Down.  It seems to have served as a convalescence centre.

[11]     TNA, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 25th Division, Piece 2251/4: 8 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1918 Sep – 1919 Feb).

[12]     Edited from https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/58903/pommereuil-british-cemetery/.

[13]     Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 16 November 1918.