31 October 2016

11th Royal Dublin Fusiliers - Part II Orders 29th May 1917


Regimental Part II Orders are real gems; the sadness is that so few survive. I think I read somewhere that these were mostly destroyed during the same bombing of London's Docklands in September 1940 which also destroyed 60 per cent of the other rank service records. Some regiments may have copies still, but most do not.

Findmypast has the most comprehensive collection of British Army service records online, and their thoughtful indexing of lists of men found amongst papers in WO 363 has turned up some very useful documents.

The extract below is a transcription of 11th Durham Light Infantry men who proceeded overseas to France on the 28th May 1917 (see the image above which Crown Copyright, The National Archives). I thought I'd manipulate the data and place it in regimental number order to determine when the men had joined up. First though, here are the 86 men:

13538 Sgt Martin,  B Company
18256 Pte Scullion B Company 
20082 Pte Pannell B Company 
23961 Pte McDermot C Company 
24926 Pte Jones C Company 
24942 Pte Ashenhurst B Company 
25096 Pte Jackson A Company 
25102 Pte Reardon C Company 
25368 Pte Chandler B Company 
25434 Pte Ashenhurst C Company 
25611 Pte Ahern A Company 
25637 Pte Douglas B Company 
25962 Pte Hegarty A Company 
26043 Pte Cronin C Company 
26090 Pte Brown D Company 
26224 L/Cpl Conway D Company 
26297 Pte Scanlon B Company 
26354 Pte Kelly A Company 
26546 Pte Lalor A Company 
26596 Pte Jones B Company 
26772 Pte Holden C Company 
26973 Pte Wynne A Company 
26979 Pte Gough B Company 
26994 Pte Doyle D Company 
27023 Pte McDonagh B Company 
27370 Pte Kennedy B Company 
27385 Pte Lynch B Company 
27428 Pte Smalley A Company 
27452 L/Cpl Armstrong D Company 
27640 Pte De Lacy B Company 
27680 Pte Ennis A Company 
27729 Pte Doyle D Company 
27957 Pte Devine C Company 
28269 Pte Lyons A Company 
28270 Pte Murphy A Company 
28406 Pte Kelly C Company 
28407 Pte Byrne B Company 
28607 Pte Douch A Company 
28652 Pte Quinn B Company 
28655 Pte Burke A Company 
28673 Pte Cosgrove A Company 
28683 Pte Hernon A Company 
28684 Pte Cahill B Company 
28716 Pte Devine B Company 
28731 Pte Harte B Company 
28732 Pte Kearns B Company 
28733 Pte Tattersall C Company 
28734 Pte O'Hanlon C Company 
28738 Pte McDonald B Company 
28747 Pte Duff B Company 
28954 Pte Robinson A Company 
28965 Pte Rowe A Company 
28969 Pte Hunt B Company 
28971 Pte Byrne B Company 
29042 Pte Overend C Company 
29043 Pte Smith C Company 
29055 Pte Keatinge D Company 
29058 Pte Duff B Company 
29063 Pte Ryan C Company 
29075 Pte Connolly A Company 
29081 Pte McManus B Company 
29131 Pte McGovern B Company 
29133 Pte Buckley B Company 
29211 Pte Murphy A Company 
29215 Pte Osborne C Company 
29216 Pte Gillor B Company 
29220 Pte Cowell C Company 
29223 Pte Hughes B Company 
29243 Pte Oldfield C Company 
29245 Pte Metcalfe B Company 
29247 Pte Walmsley C Company 
29251 Pte Cullen B Company 
29252 Pte Willan C Company 
29270 Pte Byrne B Company 
29278 Pte Smith D Company 
29289 Pte Skinner D Company 
29291 Pte McDonough A Company 
29293 Pte Dean B Company 
29333 Pte Davidson A Company 
29335 Pte Flint A Company 
29717 Pte Gargan B Company 
29765 Pte McFarlane D Company 
29830 Pte Hepburn D Company 
29831 Pte Fay D Company 
29917 Pte Heffron D Company 
29939 Pte Lightbound B Company

Sergeant Martin is the longest-serving and most senior of the men here. His regimental number tells me that he joined up around the 8th September 1914, but he was certainly not overseas any earlier than 1st January 1916 and it is possible that this posting in May 1917 was his first time abroad.  He later served with the Labour Corps.

The rest of the men have numbers in the range 20082 to 29939. 20082 dates to around the 21st September 1914 whilst 29939 would have been issued over two years later in October 1916. For many of the men listed here, this scrap of information is now all that survives of their service records although First World War medal index cards and campaign medal rolls 1914-1920 can be viewed over on Ancestry. 


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17 October 2016

9461 Pte George Henry Byrom, 1st Cheshire Regiment


Here's an eBay win from yesterday. When this photograph was taken in 1917, George Henry Byrom of the 1st Cheshire Regiment was about 22 years old and had already been a prisoner of war for over two years. 

George was not a regular soldier at all. His regimental number, 9461, belongs to the series that was issued by the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion and dates to the 27th December 1912. His medal index card notes that he arrived in France on the 31st August and he must therefore have been part of a draft for the 1st Battalion which had been overseas since the 16th.

According to his surviving service record, George was captured on the 14th October 1914. A surviving page held by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) notes that he was captured at La Bassee, one of 55 Cheshire regiment men who became prisoners of war that day. The ICRC record was compiled at Hameln Prisoner of War camp and dates to 6th February 1915. This photgraph was taken by A Mohn, a photographer based in Nienburg, which in turn was attached to Munster. 

George was repatriated on the 12th January 1919. His name appears on two lists sent to Sir Ernest Goodhart who had been charged with ensuring that all men captured before Christmas 1914 would retrospectively receive HRH Princess Mary's gift tin. George's address is given as 30 Hatherlow Street, Portwood, Stockport, and his next of kin recorded as his mother. A note on the back of my PoW photo also notes Portwood, thus linking the photograph to my PoW list. Hatherlow Street has long since been demolished, but the photograph below shows the street in the background, awaiting demolition in 1967. (The photograph below is courtesy Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council which, although it has disabled "Right Click" on its archive site, has not, thankfully, found a way to disable "Print Screen". Thank you, Stockport MBC).


The Princess Mary tin data also confirms George as a 3rd Battalion man, one of only a handful of Special Reservists captured with the Cheshire Regiment in 1914.

A little bit more about the man. George Henry Byrom was born in Stockport on the 29th March 1895, the son of John Henry Byrom (born c1871) and Mary Ellen Byrom (born c1873), and the brother of Elizabeth (born c1897) and Sarah Byrom (born c1899), James Byrom (born c1902), Richard Byrom (born c1904) and John Henry Byrom (born c1908). The family was Roman Catholic and George's baptism into the Roman Catholic church survives in Cheshire archive records. The 1911 census records George's trade as a "Doffer in Doubling Mill" a doffer being the person who removed the full bobbins from the frames in the spinning mills and replaced them with empty ones. 

After he had been repatriated in 1919, George tried to claim a pension, stating that he had an enlarged heart as a result of "neglect and hardships whilst a prisoner of war in Germany". He also noted that he had been a patient at Uchtermoor hospital in Germany and Amersfoort Hospital in Holland. Notes on his record state, "claims that owing to enlarged heart he has had to give up his ordinary work in mill after five nights". His pension claim was rejected.

George married Elizabeth Pollitt (born 3rd December 1894) in Stockport in 1920 and the couple went on to have three children: George (born in 1920), Elizabeth (born in 1922), and James (born in 1924). When the 1939 Register was taken, George and Elizabeth were living at 11 Gerrard Street, George working as a ring doubler, and Elizabeth working as a ring winder. None of their three children appear with them at this address.

George Byrom died in 1957 at the age of 61, Elizabeth Byrom died in 1974.

If anyone knows of the whereabouts of George's medals and would like to part with them, please do get in touch.


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14 October 2016

1st Nothumbrian Brigade, Royal Field Artillery


It's been a while since I published regimental number sequences and so here are a few regimental numbers with corresponding joining dates for men of the 1st Northumberland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. This was a Territorial Force unit which comprised the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Northumberland Batteries.  The range below covers the period 1908 until June 1915.

309 joined on 8th April 1908
637 joined on 17th May 1909
766 joined on 3rd April 1911
1005 joined on 28th April 1913
1159 joined on 4th August 1914
1233 joined on 31st August 1914
1527 joined on 6th January 1915
1630 joined on 10th February 1915
2239 joined on 2nd June 1915

For those of you not familiar with how these sequences work, the idea is that you can use the dates above to gauge the joining date of your own 1st Northumberland Brigade Ancestor.

If, for example, you know your man served with this unit and had the regimental number 1346, it would be reasonable to assume that he joined the regiment at some time between the 31st August 1914 and the 6th January 1915.  Note that there is a subtle difference between date of attestation and date of joining, and this becomes particularly important from late 1915 onwards. A man could attest under the Derby Scheme but his number would not be issued to him until he had been mobilised.

Note too, that men joining the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Northumbrian Brigades were all issued with numbers from different series allocated to each of these units. The sequence above is ONLY for the 1st Northumbrian Brigade. My recently re-bound volume of the 1909 Army List - which is an object of beauty in its own right - states that, in 1909 at least, this unit was headquartered at Barrack Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne with the Duke of Northumberland as its Honorary Colonel

After the war, C H Ommaney wrote the Brigade history which these days is scarce but obtainable from around £75. At the time of writing, Turner Donovan books has a copy.

The image on this page shows RFA territorials, unit unknown.


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1 October 2016

Re-numbered after death


Over on my WW1 Remembrance blog I have just posted a depressing roll call of close to a thousand men who lost their lives one hundred years ago today on the 1st October 1916.

There are a lot of Territorial Force infantrymen included in this roll, 114 of whom have six-digit numbers which belong to new regimental number series which would not come into effect until the 1st March 1917. So why re-number men who had been killed five months earlier? The answer is simple. These men were all reported missing in action on the 1st October 1916 and would not be officially presumed killed in action until a year later (or until their remains were positively identified, whichever was the soonest).


Of these 114 men, 91 have no known grave and are commemorated on the memorial at Thiepval; they were never found. Twenty of these re-numbered men are buried in Warlencourt British Cemetery, a Lutyens cemetery which I visited in July this year. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the cemetery was made in late 1919 when graves from smaller cemeteries and the battlefields of Warlencourt and Le Sars were brought in.


Here, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records can be extremely helpful as they usually include concentration reports and graves registration documents.  For example, 276032 Private John Hanson of the 1/7th Durham Light Infantry was originally brought in from a battlefield grave and recorded as 370 Pte W H Hansen. This was later corrected to 3750 Pte W H Hanson, although he had long since been re-numbered as 276032 Pte W H Hanson and it is this six-digit number which appears on his headstone at Warlencourt. These CWGC reports are therefore useful in locating a man's original number, although these may also appear in the Soldiers' Effects Register, published over on Ancestry.

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