26 June 2018

14th London Regiment - Other Rank PoWs 1914

These London Scottish men were all captured by the Germans before Christmas Day 1914. Their regimental numbers are interesting and tell their own story. 217 Corporal Flockhart is the longest served man here, followed by 374 Corporal Carey and 336 Sergeant McGilvray. All three men were almost certainly serving members of the Volunteer Force who transferred to the Territorial Force in April 1908, signing up for further periods of service thereafter.

These men's names appear in two list held by the Imperial War Museum, one list giving their original regimental numbers, the second list showing their new numbers - for those who were still living -  which were issued in 1917.

Corporal Flockhart died in captivity in November 1914, as did 2302 Private Jordan. 2538 Private Gilfillan died on the 6th December 1914 and 2235 Private Wilkins died in March 1915. Home addresses or next of kin addresses in the case of those men who died, are also included in this small sample.

For more information about these so-called 'Princess Mary tin PoWs' see my 1914 PoWs page. The majority of these men will also have records published by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Searching is free; finding your man is another matter entirely.

1777 Private R L Anderson.

2013 Private H S A Bailes, 1573 Private R S Baillie, 2109 Private S F R Baker.

374 Corporal G M M Carey.

1931 Private C A S Dewar.

776 Lance-Corporal C A Farquharason, 217 Corporal W S Flockhart.

2528 Private A Gilfillan, 758 Lance-Corporal J E A Grucky.

1680 Private C H Hart.

1423 Private E T Johnson, 2302 Private George Graeme Jordan.

2046 Private R A S Mackenzie, 2342 Private R M McCallum, 336 Sergeant G McGilvray, 2182 Private A Michie.

1661 Private H C Phelps, 1920 Private C A Prior, 2201 Private D B Pryce.

1546 Private R Quin.

2031 Private A B Stewart.

1561 Lance-Corporal R S Taylor.

2235 Private Leslie Guy Wilkins.

1002 Corporal S Young.

The image I have used on this post pre-dates the Territorial Force. For a good account of The London Scottish read A Stuart Dolden's Cannon Fodder. I had a copy which I bought when it was first published in the early 1980s, and also wrote to the author, receiving a nice response from him. Regrettably, I sold both the book and the letter with it some years ago.

Remember. I research soldiers!

10 June 2018

Royal Fusiliers - Public Schools battalions

I've been looking at the fascinating David Knights-Whittome photographic archive on Flickr, a series of named glass photographic plates - the majority of these being portraits of soldiers and nurses who served during the First World War - that were thankfully rescued from a skip before it was too late. I have only just scratched the surface - possibly an inappropriate metaphor - of this archive, and I suspect I have many hours of pleasure in store. 

The beauty of this archive, apart from the clarity of most of the plates, is that the majority were enclosed in envelopes which give basic details about the sitters. And from those basic details it is possible, without a lot of digging, in some cases, to flesh out more information.

Frank Eaden Cook - 19th April 1915

Take the example of F E Cook and J E Cook - two photos of each - whose photos appear next to each other in this online collection. No regimental details are evident from the photos but I had noticed that there are a lot of portraits of men who served with Royal Fusiliers Public Schools battalions and so I ran a free search on my British Army Ancestors website, typing F* E* Cook Royal Fusiliers into the search book. The asterisk here is a wildcard which allows results to be surfaced for F E Cook as well as Frank E Cook, Frederick Ernest Cook etc. 

There was a promising result for a Frank Eaden Cook, a corporal in the 20th Royal Fusiliers, with the regimental number 4669; later a lieutenant with the 10th Manchester Regiment. Seeing that the brothers had been photographed together I suspected that they had probably enlisted together as well. To try and prove this theory I next ran a search for 46* Cook Royal Fusiliers. Lo and behold, PS/4671 John E Cook, 20th Royal Fusiliers was returned in the results. A quick search of the 1911 census then revealed that his middle name was - as I suspected - also Eaden. Frank is recorded as a 20-year-old commercial traveller and John as a 19-year-old designer, both men working in the wool trade, as was their father. The family was living in Huddersfield.

John Eaden Cook - 19th April 1915

The number 4670 was issued to another unrelated 'Cook' and this, I suppose, is the point of this post. There is clear evidence in the 20th (Public Schools) Battalion of men being grouped together alphabetically by surname and then issued with regimental numbers. I am sure that it will be possible, armed with this fact, to identify and fill in more details on some of the other men in the David Knights-Whittome photographic archive, and I look forward to doing so. 

As for the brothers, sadly there is no happy ending to their story. John Eaden Cook was killed in action on the 20th July 1916 whilst serving with the 20th Royal Fusiliers. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Frank Eaden Cook won the MC with the Manchester Regiment but was also killed in action on the 20th October 1918. He is buried in Belle Vue British Cemetery, Briastre. 

Thus the Great War claimed the lives of Frederick and Eleanor Cook's two sons. I have added Frank Eaden Cook and John Eaden Cook to the British Army Ancestors' database.

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