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Alan Greveson's World War 1 Forum (Page 128)

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Posted by: Debs {Email left}
Location: Sussex
Date: Friday 22nd February 2013 at 7:27 PM
Hi Alan,
May I ask for help again please?
I am looking into my grand uncle Alexander Hutchison bn 2/5/1895 Peterhead, Aberdeenshire (son of George, occupation a Cooper and Eliza Bella).
I found a website gordonhighlanders.carolynmorrisey.com/CCCompany.htm which stated:
"C" Company - Alexander Hutchison Rank Pte Number 1874 of 9 Palmerston /Rd, Aberdeen.
Attested 5/8/1914. Age 19. Cooper. Address 8 (but should be 9- I have the family there on census's) Stuart St, Peterhead. Discharged at Bedford 14/11/14 - being medically unfit. Character "Bad". Father: George Hutchison, 9 Palmerston Rd."
I then found his Pension Record on Ancestry (mistranscribed as Hutchinson) confirming the above. It has an entry that he was sent an Armlet (No 56242). ?
However, this weekend I obtained the papers left by Alexanders sister Cath and enclosed was the following:
Letter informing death of Private Alexander Hutchison No S/20310 of the Seaforth Highlanders on 22/8/1917
It was addressed to Mrs Hutchison at 9 Palmerston Road. There was also a letter 30/3/1920 saying that he had been exhumed and re-buried at Tyne Cot Cemetary.
So, help please Alan! If he was discharged medically unfit from the Gordon Highlanders, and with a bad character! how could he die a Seaforth Highlander?
Thanks in advance,
kind regards
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 23rd February 2013 at 4:36 PM

Dear Debs,
Alexander Hutchison probably did not have a bad character (he stated he had been in the Boys' Brigade) and was probably not utterly unfit.
On August 5th 1914, the day war was declared, Alex volunteered to join his local Territorial Army battalion the 5th (Buchan and Formartin) Battalion The Gordon Highlanders - at their Drill Hall in Peterhead. The 5th Battalion was in existence before the war as a part-time Home Defence battalion, re-numbered the 5th in 1908 at the formation of the Territorial Army from the former Volunteers. They were descendants of the Buchan battalion of the Aberdeenshire Rifle Volunteers of 1860 whose forbears had unsuccessfully fought against Robert Bruce in 1308 at Inverurie and, in 1335, had defeated the English on St Andrew's Day, at Culblean. In 1914, some of the older men, including Alex's Commanding Officer, would have been veterans of the 38 engagements the Battalion's volunteers had fought in the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).
In August 1914, there was a spirited enthusiasm among young men to join-up and local battalions were quickly brought up to strength. In October 1914, the 5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders started to recruit a second battalion to be known as the 2nd/5th Battalion which would act as a second-line battalion to provide casualty replacements for the first line battalion. So, there was no shortage of recruits for the "old sweats" to regale with war stories from South Africa.
Later in August 1914, the 5th Battalion, which included Alexander at the age of 19, moved to Bedford for training. In September and October 1914, Alexander committed two unspecified (but minor) offences. One involved the loss of two days' pay which suggested being absent without leave. But that was not uncommon.
In September 1914, the commanding officer of the 5th Battalion was made aware his men might be required to serve overseas and each man had to sign an Imperial Service agreement changing his terms of service, of four years' home service in the UK, to unrestricted overseas service for the duration of the war.
The Commanding Officer of the 5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders at the time was Lieutenant-Colonel A. Grant (later Lieut-Col Sir Arthur Grant, DSO, 10th Baronet of Monymusk, of The House of Monymusk, Aberdeenshire) who was commanding what was a Territorial battalion of a prestigious Highland regiment about to go to war. In the Boer War he had taken part in the advance on Kimberley, including the action at Magersfontein and the relief of Kimberley and as a Lieutenant in the 12th Lancers was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order on 26th June 1902.
With an influx of raw recruits and a previously unheard-of enthusiasm for enlistment, Lt-Col Grant was in a position to pick and choose who was going to fight under his command. Any commander in that position would issue orders for the company officers to start weeding-out the weaker men; the men who simply "did not fit" or who had failed to match the ethos of the regiment.
It is possible Alexander was genuinely medically unfit, or had been injured in training. However, his conduct was described as "bad" when his record shows he committed only two minor punishable offences. It appears someone had marked his card and he was being pushed out of the battalion and the only way to do that was to discharge him as a "soldier no longer physically fit for war service" and to downgrade his character to seal his fate.
Alexander was discharged under Paragraph 156 (11) Territorial Force Regulations as a "soldier no longer physically fit for war service". He had actually been embodied for war service on August 5th 1914 where embodiment meant the part-time Territorials were embodied under Regular Army terms and conditions for the duration of the war. He should therefore have been discharged under King's Regulations paragraph 392 (xvi). The difference is only a technicality, but under the Territorial regualtions, Alexander's discharge could have been authorised by his Commanding Officer providing the Brigade Commander concurred. The "bad" character might have been added to ensure that happened. If Alexander had believed he was being discharged on medical grounds as a result of having been on active service, a medical board was required to examine him. The likelihood is that he did not appear before a medical board before being discharged. That would account for his record being held by the Ministry of Pensions who had retained the files of soldiers who did not qualify for a pension.
The evidence points towards a new recruit, who was considered by his commanding officer as "surplus", being discharged on the excuse of being no longer medically fit. As that excuse could have been contested at a medical board, "bad character" was added to convince the Brigadier-General to counter-sign the discharge form: "I concur".
Alexander Hutchison was discharged from the Gordon Highlanders on 14th November 1914. He signed for an armlet No 56242 accompanied by an army form (stating instructions for the wearing of the armlet). By the date, this must have been an armlet for the Volunteer Training Corps which had been formed in September 1914 and was administered by the County Territorial Associations. The men could not wear khaki uniform but had a red brassard or arm band, bearing the letters "GR" for "Georgius Rex". These Volunteers undertook a range of war work, from defending cities to bringing in the harvest. To become a member men had to show a genuine reason why they could not enlist in the regular forces. What better than being "medically unfit"?
Had the armband been issued at a later date, Alexander would not have signed a declaration stating "I, 1874, Alex Hutchison, 5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders, hereby acknowledge having received armlet number 56242". It appears, Alex moved straight from the Gordon Highlanders to the volunteers. Alex appears to have been edged out of the Gordon Highlanders and offered a role in the VTC as compensation.
"There's a good fellow. Thank you for volunteering. You'll still be serving your King and the Empire. Any Questions? Good. Carry On".
Such discharges were quite common in late 1914.
The Volunteer Training Corps allowed men to resign after fourteen days' notice.

August 15th 1915 was National Registration Day when every adult over 16 undertook a type of census to state their age, where they lived, how they were occupied, and so on. This paved the way for compulsory conscription being introduced in March 1916. Alex would have been involved in that registration. "Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) recorded that he had served in the Royal Scots Fusiliers as private No. 33323. He had been posted to the 8th Battalion The Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, the Duke of Albany's) at an unspecified date. He was killed in action on 22nd August 1917 while serving in the 8th Seaforths.
Typically, some conscripted men trained with one regiment (Royal Scots Fusiliers) and were then posted to another regiment more in need of reinforcements (Seaforth Highlanders) when they first arrived in France. Both Alex's five-digit regimental numbers suggested general wartime enlistment for the duration of the war: i.e. conscription. There is no obvious surviving individual record for his wartime service in the Royal Scots Fusiliers and Seaforth Highlanders. An Army medal rolls index card showed he qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. As he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star for service overseas before December 31st 1915, he did not go abroad until some date after January 1st 1916. The 8th Seaforth Highlanders had been in France since July 1915, so Alex would have been part of a draft of reinforcements in 1916 or 1917.
When Alex was killed on 22nd August 1917, the 8th Bn Seaforth Highlanders were serving with the 44th Infantry Brigade in the 15th (Scottish) Division. They were fighting in the Third Battle of Ypres in the area of Langemarck which had been taken by the Allies and then counter-attacked by the Germans. His Battalion lost 126 men killed on that date: one in ten of the battalion.
The CWGC states that "Tyne Cot Cemetery was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when remains were brought in from the battlefields of Passchendaele and Langemarck, and from a few small burial grounds". See:

Kind regards,
Reply from: Debs
Date: Saturday 23rd February 2013 at 6:09 PM

Wow Alan,
What a reply...THANK YOU SO MUCH!
My cousin, who lent me the family papers and myself are so glad Alex wasn't a "bad" character!
Donation will be made again.
Thanks again,
kind regards

Posted by: Hilary Fox {Email left}
Location: Crowborough
Date: Friday 22nd February 2013 at 6:51 PM
Dear Alan

Trawling through some of the records relating to the Great War, and in search of my great uncle's possible service record, today I had a "serendipity moment". Nothing relating to great uncle, but his sister's name, Jessie Lily Jemima Knowles , appeared in The National Roll of The Great War. Residence 1914-1918 England. Then the trail seemed to go cold. Jessie was born in 1871 and, it seems, married in 1905. Please can you help me with any further details? Was she involved in the great war and, if so, what was her involvement? Where do I continue looking?

With kind regards and many thanks. Hilary Fox
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 23rd February 2013 at 4:35 PM

Dear Hilary,
"The National Roll of the Great War" was a commercial publication which was not comprehensive in its coverage of the UK. Entries in it were scripted and paid for by the soldiers themselves. The entries list the regiment, brief service record and address of the soldier concerned. However, the entries did not include the soldiers' forenames, only their initials, so the index cannot be searched by forename. A search of the entries under J Knowles does not produce results for Jessie Lily Jemima Knowles.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Hilary Fox
Date: Saturday 23rd February 2013 at 9:30 PM

Thank you, Alan. Like you, I tried to find a reference under J Knowles and came up with nothing. I am completely baffled by this reference to the lady in question, so will endeavour to go back to the site where I found it to see whether there is anything I missed. She was obviously not a soldier. The only possibility I could think of was that perhaps she had been a nurse. Thank you, too, for explaining what The National Roll of the Great War was.
Kind regards - Hilary

Posted by: Terry {Email left}
Location: Embleton
Date: Friday 22nd February 2013 at 4:57 PM
I am researching the men named on our village school World War 1 Honours Board. I have drawn a blank with William H. Winstanley. He was born in the 3rd quarter of 1889 in Oystermouth (Mumbles) Glamorganshire. His father was Ralph Winstanley who was a Chief Officer of Coastguard and his mother Mary Jane Thompson and they married in Warrington Lancs in 1880. William had a brother Thomas J. and a sister Mary E. In 1911 Wiliam was residing at the Royal Sailors Rest, 172 - 174 Commercial Road Portsmouth and is listed as E.R.Artificer Royal Navy. I can find no other information on him except I know he died in the war. Can anybody help please
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 22nd February 2013 at 6:13 PM

Dear Terry,
In 1911, William's father, Ralph, was living at Barton on Humber which was in the Glanford Brigg Registration District. The death of a William H Winstanley, aged 29, was registered at Glanford Brigg in the first quarter of 1919 (GRO Deaths Jan-Mar 1919, Glanford Brigg, vol 7A page 1162).
A Royal Navy service record of a 271958 William Henry Winstanley born at Gower Glamorgan on 6th June 1889 is held at the National Archives and can be downloaded online (£3.36 charges apply) . See

A war badge for discharge through wounds or sickness was issued from Devonport naval base (aka HMS "Vivid") to 271958 Engine Room Artificer Class 2 W. H. Winstanley on 4th May 1918. The Royal Navy medal roll for Wm H. Winstanley recorded he qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The entry was annotated BR and IC3716/1919. This indicated that the medals had been issued to his brother (BR) and he was recorded with the Index Casualty number IC3716 in the Naval Records for Wills, dated 1919. The National Archives states: "The IC reference does not lead to any other document and is now obsolete," but it does suggest he died in 1919.
He is not listed by the CWGC.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Terry
Date: Friday 22nd February 2013 at 11:37 PM

Dear Alan
Many thanks for your quick and informative reply. I had almost given up hope of finding this man and you did it in a few minutes. Will be sending donation to British Legion
Posted by: Carole {Email left}
Location: New Zealand
Date: Friday 22nd February 2013 at 3:26 AM
Hello Alan

My grandmother's brother was Harry Daniels. Born in 1898, he was the elder son of Joseph and Jane Daniels of 18 Fulford Street, Old Trafford Manchester.

Private Harry Daniels 350663 served in the 9th Btn Royal Scots and died on 12th July 1917 at Ypres. His name is on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

I have two questions that I hope you can help with:
1. What would his battalion have been doing around the time he was killed and
2. What was a lad from Manchester doing in the Royal Scots Regiment?

Any other information you might have would also be appreciated.

Thanks and regards.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 22nd February 2013 at 6:14 PM

Dear Carole,
No individual service record has survived for Harry Daniels so it is not possible to state his wartime service in detail.
Harry Daniels qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. As he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star for service abroad before December 31st 1915, he did not go abroad until some date after January 1st 1916. An Army medal rolls index card recorded he went abroad as private 350663 Harry Daniels in The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment). He served in the 9th (Highlanders) Battalion Royal Scots who allotted the regimental numbers 350001 to 375000 in February/March 1917 when all the Territorial battalions were re-numbered. The British War Medal was issued with the details of the soldier when he first entered a theatre of war. Harry's medal rolls index card did not record his previous, original, regimental number therefore it appears he would have gone abroad, with the number 350663, after February 1917 when that number had been allotted.
If Harry had been born in 1898, according to the system, he would have been conscripted on or after his 18th birthday to serve abroad once he'd reached the minimum age of 19 to fight at the Front. That was what the legislation laid down, but it wasn't always followed to the rule. The CWGC state he was aged 20 when he died (born 1897).
Soldiers who volunteered early in the war were allowed to state a preference for a regiment or corps, and those who joined Kitchener's Army in late 1914 generally served in locally raised battalions. When compulsory conscription was introduced in March 1916 all element of choice was removed and men were called-up and posted to regiments that needed replacements.
The 9th (Highlanders) Battalion Royal Scots was serving in the 51st (Highland) Division in July 1917. The Division had fought in the Arras Offensive of April June 1917 and had moved to the Ypres sector. At Ypres, they were not involved in a major engagement on that particular tour in the trenches until they were placed in reserve for The Battle of Pilckem Ridge on 31st July 1917, which was the opening attack of The Third Battle of Ypres.
Harry was the only member of his battalion to be killed on 12th July 1917.
Kind regards,
Posted by: Tats {Email left}
Location: Aldeburgh
Date: Thursday 21st February 2013 at 5:50 PM
Bus - B43-Ole Bill 14 February 1920 Buckingham Palace Inspection by George V

Please could anyone help me? I have a photograph of the bus which is in the Imperial War Museum being inspected by the King. I know who the driver is but does anyone know who the soldiers on the top deck are? Thank you so much.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 21st February 2013 at 11:33 PM

Dear Tats,
Naming the men would require access to primary source documents of the London General Omnibus Company who employed the men, or The Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1NJ.. Many of the LGOC records, such as board meeting minutes, are held at the London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London, EC1R 0HB. It is possible one of those archives has a record of who was present. Other sources include the Royal Logistic Corps Archives.
The occasion of the "Motor Omnibus B43" (as it was described in the Court Circular of that weekend) being taken to Buckingham Palace was for King George V to meet representative members of the LGOC staff who had driven the company's buses in various war zones. The King shook hands with each of them and spoke a few words with each man before inspecting the empty bus. Afterwards the men ascended onto the top deck to give three cheers to the King. Also present were Lord Ashfield, chairman of the LGOC and Mr H E Blain and Mr G Shave, managers; Lt-Col Ivor Frazer of the London Electric Railway Company (part of the London transport Combine) and, from the War Office, Lt-Col C.W. Macleod.
The Admiralty were the first to the requisition London buses for transporting Royal Navy forces at Calais, Boulogne, Dunkirk and Ostende. The drivers were volunteers who were enlisted in the Royal Marines for the task. The Army then recognised the worth of motorised transport and requisitioned or bought 300 London buses on 18th October 1914. These buses were allocated to the Army Service Corps. Built in 1911, by AEC at Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, B43 was amongst the earliest of the London buses to go abroad and was used at the First Battle of Ypres where it carried members of the London Scottish into battle. On that occasion it was driven by 24-year-old George Gwynn. His bus, B43, was still painted in its red London livery and carried advertisements, one of which was for the play "One Damn Thing After Another".
The Imperial War Museum says a total of 1,300 London motor buses saw service in France. The buses were used for transporting complete battalions or brigades of soldiers (25 men with their kit in each one), or for ambulance work. At least one was converted into a pigeon loft for carrier pigeons. By the autumn of 1916, the Army Service Corps had organised the bus drivers into Auxiliary Omnibus Companies with 50 vehicles in each and a total compliment of one thousand eight hundred officers and men. The Army Service Corps became the Royal Army Service Corps in 1918 and its collective Auxiliary Omnibus Park was granted a Mentioned In Despatches for its operational work in Spring 1918 during the German Offensive.
After the war bus number B43 was taken back into service by the LGOC. They had to pay the Army for it as they needed buses because they were having to use open lorries to carry passengers on the streets of London. B43 worked on routes No 8 (Willesden White Hart) and No 9 (Barnes-Liverpool Street). It was also recorded operating route 53A (Charing Cross Plumstead). At that time the bus carried only a commemorative brass plaque on its nearside inscribed: "1914, Antwerp; 1915, Ypres; 1916, Ancre; 1917, Somme; 1918, Amiens; 1919, Home. Lest We Forget". The last three words were taken from Kipling's poem "Recessional" (1897) which had been adopted by the Imperial War Graves Commission, whom he advised.
In 1919, the Auxiliary Omnibus Companies Association (AOCA) was formed to assist old comrades amongst the busmen who had served at the Front during the First World War. When the LGOC arranged for the King to meet some of its staff on 14th February 1920, the LGOC used Motor Omnibus B43 for the occasion, although at that time it was simply the vehicle that the company had chosen to carry a representative commemorative plaque. "The Times" stated 35 men were present; the Journal of the Royal Army Service Corps of March 1920 stated 40 men, all of whom had served in 1914, drew up in two ranks. (40 men in two ranks would have been neater.) The bus B43 departed from Page Street, Grosvenor Road, at 12-15 p.m. on Saturday February 14th 1920, and proceeded via Millbank, Parliament Street, Whitehall and the Mall to arrive at Buckingham Palace for the 1 p.m. ceremony. A few years later, in 1924, the LGOC fitted a new body onto the chassis of B43 and presented the bus to the Auxiliary Omnibus Companies Association who refurbished the vehicle in 1926 as a permanent memorial to the role of London buses during the First World War in the Auxiliary Omnibus Companies ASC.
With a new body, and refurbished in the mid-1920s, it became representative of the buses used in wartime and was named "'ole Bill", or "Old Bill", after Bruce Bairnsfather's character from his famous wartime cartoons. The bus was then put on show at numerous Armistice Day parades and other events. On 30th April 1970 it was driven for the last time by George Gwynn, who was by then aged 80, when he drove it through London, with a piper on the top deck playing tunes including "The Black Bear", to be ceremoniously handed over to the Imperial War Museum where it is now preserved.
The Journals and other archives of the RASC are now held by the Royal Logistic Corps Archives. For a £10 quarterly subscription, or £5 to view 20 pages, you can search and access the journals online. To register see:
There is an article about the King's inspection in the March 1920 Journal but the first page does not mention who was present.
The RLC archive website is administered in Solihull, West Midlands, B91 1NB while the RLC Museum is at Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut, Camberley, GU16 6RW.
Other sources for primary evidence may be the Imperial War Museum or the London Transport Museum. I have not been able to identify the fate of the Auxiliary Omnibus Companies Association.
There is a book: "Destination Western Front - London's Omnibuses Go to War" by Roy Larkin. See:

I'm sorry I can't name the men, but you would need to have someone access archived minutes of the LGOC or contemporary, original, records of the event.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Tats
Date: Friday 22nd February 2013 at 12:15 PM

Dear Alan,
Thank you very much for such a detailed and prompt response- I am incredibly grateful. I am writing a story about the bus and you have filled in the last few pieces of the puzzle. A lady contacted me and to tell me that her father had driven 'ole bill' and gave photographs but thanks to your information, I now think that he drove a different bus and that George Gwynn was the actual driver.
Kindest Regards,
Tats (age 12)
Reply from: Grandson
Date: Saturday 23rd February 2013 at 10:06 PM

George Gwynn did in deed drive the bus, he was my grandad.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 23rd February 2013 at 10:26 PM

That's good to know. I'm sure Tats will appreciate it.
Posted by: Jonboy {Email left}
Location: Harlow Essex
Date: Thursday 21st February 2013 at 11:34 AM
Hello Allan
This morning on Movies for Men i watched a fantastic Film Documentry called 1914 to 1918
with Fantastic colourised Film footage its a first person narative with the film sewn together
from genuine Testimonies from frontline soldiers i rcomend to everybody to watch it it will be
shown many more times yet day and night.It was said that 80 million shells were used at the
Somme ! that must have been a lot of empty shells lying around afterwoods.Worth Watching
Posted by: Cecelia {Email left}
Location: Dunhill Cowaterford Ireland
Date: Wednesday 20th February 2013 at 9:41 AM
Hi Alan,

Have only just recently discovered that my great uncle G/41953 Pte.Thomas Power of Bennittsbridge,Co.Kilkenny,Ireland.
Unit: 13Bn Middlesex Regt, was killed in action in Flanders on the 27th Aug 1917.

Because of the political situation in Ireland at the time this boy,for he was only 17 has been airbrushed from my family history,not any more,I would like to get any information on this young boy and place him back in the family history where he belongs.

Any assistance please

thank you
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 20th February 2013 at 3:31 PM

Dear Cecilia
No individual service record has survived for Thomas power so it is not possible to state his military service. The majority of records were destroyed in 1940 during the air raids on London. An Army medal rolls index card recorded his name as Richard Power G/41953 Middlesex Regiment, which was probably just a mistake but I have searched under both names. He qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. As he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star for service overseas before December 31st 1915, he did not go abroad until some date after January 1st 1916.
The 13th Battalion Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment) served in the 24th Division in France and Flanders from September 1915. Therefore Thomas would have been part of a draft of reinforcements sent later.
He was killed in action on 27th August 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres in Flanders. He has no marked grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial at Zonnebeke. His age and the details of his parents, recorded by the CWGC, would have been sent to the CWGC by the parents in 1920 when the CWGC wrote to families asking for information. Thomas would probably have lied about his age when he joined up and the Army would not have recognised that he was 17.
Kind regards
Reply from: Cecelia
Date: Wednesday 20th February 2013 at 5:54 PM

Dear Alan,
Thank you so much for your information and very prompt reply,I will endevour to get replicas of his medals,for his brother stephen,my grandfather served in the irish war of independence and what we call the emergency ww2,his nephew,my father served 42yrs in the irish army serving in the congo and cyprus,myself served 15yrs in the irish army,serving two tours in south lebanon and here at home.

I am in pocession of all our medals,so now its time to put Thomas,s medals at the top of the tree where they belong

Thank you once again for your help

"Least we forget" not anymore
Posted by: Becca {Email left}
Location: East Yorkshire
Date: Tuesday 19th February 2013 at 7:26 PM
Hello Alan, Hope you are keeping well.
I wonder if you can shed any light on the career of Capt James Ruthven MC of the 4th Battalion East Yorkshire, who was killed in France on 10 April 1918 at the age of 21. My niece recently saw a plaque in Holy Trinity Church, Hull, which set her wondering as to whether he was related to a good friend of hers. She mentioned it to him and he was not sure as to whether he was related or not, but it is quite an unusual name, so we wondered if you could throw anymore light on his military career.
His father and grandfather were both named James, and the family appear to have originated in Scotland.

With many thanks

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 19th February 2013 at 11:20 PM

Dear Becca,
Service records for officers in the First World War are held at the National Archives at Kew. The Catalogue indexes more than one J. Ruthven. The record for James might be piece reference "WO 374/59902 Capt. J Ruthven" but you would need to visit Kew or check with the National Archives before ordering a copy (fees apply). It is not possible to provide evidence for the history of an ancestor of your "niece's friend" who was not sure as to whether he was related or not.
Captain James Ruthven was reported "missing" and as being killed on 9th April 1918. When he died he was serving with the 4th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment. The CWGC stated Captain James Ruthven was aged 20, the son of James and Florence Olga Ruthven, of 8, Park Avenue, Hull.
His citation for the Military Cross was published in the "London Gazette" Issue 30901 on the 13th September 1918, page 158. The "Gazette" can be searched online.

Kind regards,
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 20th February 2013 at 3:37 PM

Dear Becca,
Here's a direct link to his citation:

Posted by: Paul Davies {Email left}
Location: Regna Sask Canada
Date: Tuesday 19th February 2013 at 12:20 AM
I have a passion for bringing back to life those WW1 soldiers that that have been lost to family in the sands of time - to reunite those that gave their lives or health for us almost a 100 years later. I did a favor for a friend and looked up an Uncle he had been trying to find for thirty years. I found his war memorial and a few facts and Mr. Greveson did his magic and gave me more than I could have ever hoped to find. I will be forever in his debt.

I took the information to my friend today with great excitement - his first question was "How do I find out if he had any money or investments that I could get?"

With great sadness I left - I have lost a friend - I gave him the gift of knowledge and understanding for someone he is named after and was lost to the sands of time - all he wanted was financial gain.

It is a sad statement on our generation that we forget to be thankful. I feel so shocked and lost. God Bless
Posted by: Stuart C {Email left}
Location: Bedford
Date: Monday 18th February 2013 at 10:36 PM
I wondered if you had information about Leam Camp in Gateshead or other camps/billetts in Gateshead in 1914/14
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 19th February 2013 at 8:07 PM

Dear Stuart,
I can discover very little about Leam Camp. It appears not to have been a permanent army camp.

It was referred to in the "Newcastle Journal" in 1915 as "North Leam Camp", Felling, and North Leam Camp, Heworth where it was in use by the 2nd/6th and 2nd/8th Battalions Durham Light Infantry. Heworth was a village in the Urban District of Felling. "British Regiments 1914-18" by Brigadier E A James states the 2nd/6th; 2nd/7th and 2nd/8th Battalions Durham Light Infantry moved to "Leam Camp" early in 1915 and remained there until November 1915. These two references show that Leam Camp and North Leam Camp were two names for one place.
The 2nd/6th; 2nd/7th and 2nd/8th Battalions DLI were second-line training and reinforcement battalions raised by the DLI in September 1914. Contemporary articles referred to men being in tents, so it appears to have been one of the tented camps erected during the period of recruiting in late 1914 and early 1915 when the Army was struggling to house and equip the new recruits. Bell tents each accommodated nine or ten men, so a battalion would need lines of a hundred tents plus messing facilities and transport and horse lines. Whether the camp was in use after November 1915, when the DLI moved on, is not clear.

I would suggest that the name North Leam Camp was derived from North Leam Farm which was also known as Leam Farm and sometimes as the Old Farm, or The North Leam. It seems a new farmhouse was built in the 1850s or 60s. In 1753 the farm was sold as part of the estate of the late John Hylton of Follingsby, Co. Durham. His estate consisted of "three distinct Lots or Parcels, viz. Lot 1. being a farm, called The South Farm, lett to George Crofton at 110 pounds a Year. Lot 2; being a Farm, called The North Farm, lett to Nicholas Crofton at 131 pounds per Annum. And Lot 3; being a Farm, called The Leam Farm, lett to Thomas Brough at 85 pounds 5 shillings a Year". (London Gazette). Follingsby was Heworth and has given its name to an existing industrial estate: Follingsby Park.

In the 1870s North Leam Farm consisted of 175 acres adjacent to Springwell Colliery. It had a new farmhouse which was off the Roman Road (Leam Lane) south of the waggonway crossing Leam Lane at what is now Meadow View. The farm, known as "the North Leam" was owned by William Wylam as an arable and dairy farm in the 1860s although he may not have farmed it himself and may have rented it out. He had been a tax inspector and spirit merchant and was shown in 1841 and 1851 as living in Gateshead town. He was living at North Leam in 1858 when his third son was born and in 1861 was described as "landed proprietor and spirit merchant" of North Leam; not a farmer. The parish register of St Mary's Church, Heworth, records William Wylam "of North Leam" was buried on 18 May 1864, aged 50. His eldest daughter, Isabella, married James Thomas Emslie in 1869. That same year the executors of the late William Wylam auctioned off some 50 acres of crops and a threshing machine "at the North Leam near the White Mare Pool, Heworth".
James Emslie was a civil engineer and architect and it appears the farm was rented out by William Wylam's widow, Jane. The 1881 census recorded Jane as a "landowner" living at one of five houses described as "North Leam". A farm of 175 acres at North Leam was being farmed by John Herron in 1881 and 1891. In 1891, Isabella Emslie and Jane Wylam were described as widows, living on their own means at "Leam". Jane Wylam died, aged 81, in December 1891 at North Leam. The house was held by her son, Edward Henry Wylam, until 1895 when he died, aged 47. He was unmarried.
In 1903, "The Leam", Heworth, was part of the estate of Harold Heather Emslie, civil servant, who died in Calcutta, West Bengal, aged 18. Harold was the son of James and Isabella Emslie. They lived at Stockton in 1871 and were at North Leam in 1881 with William Wylam's widow, Jane Wylam. Harold's next of kin was his brother Wilfred Wylam Emslie (born 1870) who by 1893 had moved to farm in New Zealand.
In May 1915, "The Times" announced the birth of a daughter to Major and Mrs John English of North Leam, Felling. He appears to have been a colliery manager before the war and was a member of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. He later founded the North Leam Estate Company after the war and may well have been the owner of the estate in 1915. Major John English, whose address in 1921 was North Leam, Felling, Durham, served with the 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. He went to France in May 1915. He appears to have been serving as a Major with the 2nd/9th Battalion DLI before being posted to France. The Battalion's record showed it too had been based at Leam Camp in 1915.
The "North Leam Estate Company" of 31, Mosley Street, Newcastle upon Tyne 1 (1946-1954) was wound-up on 14th January 1953. Its chairman was John English, mining engineer, of The Lodge, Whickham. The company's assets went to the National Coal Board. "North Leam House" became offices for the National Coal Board and the House was eventually demolished to make way for a housing estate.
It would appear that during the First World War the property known as North Leam, which included a 175 acre farm, was in the possession of Major John English who allowed part of the land to be used for temporarily accommodating soldiers of the Durham Light Infantry, in which regiment he also served. The Battalion was one of the pre-war Territorial Army battalions and John English was a Captain in the Volunteers of the DLI when the Territorial Army was created in 1908.
The 1861 Census recorded North Leam as being the few properties between White House and Gingling Gate, Felling, with the next properties then listed in order at Lingey House, Waggonway House and White Mare Pool. Gingling Gate was the original site of the Heworth Golf Club which opened on June 1st 1912. The club continued to operate during the war. The club's history states: "Pelaw Golf Club was on the [1919] map on the other side of the road nearer the present White Mare Pool". After the war, the club says, a document dated 24th January 1921 was a "Licence to use certain lands at Gingling Gate, Wardley, Co. Durham for the purpose of a Golf and Tennis Club". The land was part of North Follonsby Farm, Wardley, and not North Leam.

The surviving evidence for North Leam is very much from before the war and after the war. It appears to have been used as a tented camp for the second-line DLI battalions, certainly in 1915, and appears to have been owned by Major John English of the DLI at the time. Records for such a camp itself would be peripheral and may not have survived. The DLI Museum at Durham might have some references to it.

For a general history of 20th Century Defences of Tyne and Wear see:

The website
created by Bill Hartmann lists the place names on the memorial headstones in St Mary's churchyard Heworth. They include: The Leam; High Leam; Heworth Leam; North Leam; Low Leam.

Any mistakes are entirely mine.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Stuartc
Date: Wednesday 20th February 2013 at 9:31 AM


Thank you very much for such a detailed response. It is very useful information for me that Leam Camp is probably a tented temporary camp. My interest stems from looking into the 8th Battalion of the DLI and currently the time prior to their departure to France in April 1915. My grandfather joined the Battalion in September 1914 before transferring to the Machine Gun corps in 1916.
According to the Battalion war diary in the period August 1914 to November 1914 they moved between Scotts house near felling and Ravensworth Castle. However from November the diary states they were in billets in Gateshead and that is it.
Leam looked a possibility as their residence for this time period but I suspect it wasn't the case as they had just been washed out of the Ravensworth Castle campsite. I suppose the most likely explanation is that they were actually billeted in private homes, although as this seemed to have continued until April 1915 it would have been a long time to inflict the Battalion on the local population.
The information on the rifle ranges was also very enlightening, would it be the case that these ranges might also be used for Machine guns?
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 20th February 2013 at 3:25 PM

Dear Stuart,
At the outbreak of the war each battalion had two Maxim machine guns which were increased to four in February 1915 with 12 men under the command of a junior officer. They would have practiced on the ranges alongside the riflemen practicing what the Army then still referred to as "musketry". The Machine Gun Corps was established in October 1915 and became equipped with the Vickers machine-gun. The training centre for the MGC was established at Belton Park, Grantham. There were some 18,000 soldiers in and around Grantham which led to the employment of the first women police constables. The Metropolitan Police (http://www.met.police.uk/history/women_police.htm) say that Grantham was the first town to ask the newly created Women's Police Service "to supply them with occasional policewomen, recognising them as particularly useful for dealing with women and juveniles. In 1915, Grantham swore in Mrs Edith Smith, making her the first proper policewoman in Britain with full powers of arrest".
Kind regards,

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