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

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Posted by: Lizzie {Email left}
Location: Retford
Date: Tuesday 15th January 2013 at 4:31 PM
Hi Alan

Having already asked you about my husband's grandfather, now it's my turn to ask about one of my gt. uncle's - George Lindores Wightman. He started WWI as a Lieut in The Gordon Highlanders. learnt to fly at Le Crotoy, France in July 1915 & joined the RFC (either before or after learning to fly, not sure which) I sent for AIR76 which seems to suggest he wasn't very well a lot of the time. However he became an Assistant Equipment Officer late 1915, then on 1/1/1916 was in BEF (to France?) then became an Equipment Officer & a Captain. in Oct 1917 he was a temp Major, Park Commander, BEF & on 1 April 1918 Park Commander, Aircraft Park, Indep. Air Force. Then he became a Cap. (Hon Major) Technical branch RAF. Then on 20 Sept appointed Major, Admin Detail, SW Area for 8 Stores Distribution Park, Eastleigh, then transferred from Tech Branch to Admin Branch & on 18 Oct sent to Command 8 Aircraft Park, Wevelghem, Belgium BEF. He had 8 months experience as a Flying Officer (Observer) & 1 months experience as a pilot, 20 months attached to RFC staff (Q Branch) HQ RAF in the Field, & 9 months experience as Park Commander (Tech Branch) Overseas. Mentioned twice in despatches in London Gazette.

A lot of information most of which I don't understand except that he probably wasn't a flying ace! Can you throw any light on the duties of Equipment Officer & a Park Commander, and/or on the Eastleigh Depot & Wevelghem.

Kind regards
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 15th January 2013 at 8:38 PM

Dear Liz,
An Equipment Officer was responsible for the procurement, receipt, issue and repair of stores and equipment used by the Royal Flying Corps. No. 8 Stores Distribution Park, Eastleigh was situated conveniently for the railway from London to Southampton and the coastal ports. Eastleigh was already home to the Royal Navy Victualing Depot established in 1912. In 1917 the RFC built an aircraft acceptance park at Eastleigh which was then used by the United States Naval Air Service and which after the war became Southampton Airport. Thousands of US officers and men were billeted in tents and huts alongside the London to Southampton railway line.
An Aircraft Park was a large operational centre at which aircraft were assembled, repaired, or stored in readiness for use by the RFC squadrons. An aircraft park resembled a factory repairing anything involved with the flying operations, including wireless equipment, vehicles, and even furniture. The stores section was responsible for requisitions ranging from complete aircraft to nuts and bolts and even "rakes and lawnmowers for keeping aerodromes trim". Aeroplane supply was operated alongside aeroplane salvage and repair. No 8 Salvage Section was also at Wevelghem as well as an ammunition park. The scale of operations in France and Flanders can be measured by the statistics which showed, according to "Cross and Cockade", "Wastage rates at the beginning of the war were relatively low, about 10% per month, but by June 1916 they had reached 47.7 per cent per month, rising to 64.6 per cent during the Battle of the Somme. In order to keep 1800 aircraft in the field (the size of the RAF at the Armistice) it was calculated that 1500 new aircraft would have to be delivered to France each month".
Wevelghem was the location of a German airfield during the First World War and was relieved in the final advance in the North on 15th October 1918, just three days before George was sent to France again.
The Royal Flying Corps was part of the Army and the Royal Naval Air Service part of the Navy. The two merged to become the RAF on April 1st 1918. The appointment to the Independent Air Force would have been a secret at the time as the Independent Air Force (it was independent from the Army) was not announced to the public until May 13th 1918 under the command of Major-General Trenchard. The purpose of the independent air force was to bomb strategic targets in Germany as opposed to supporting the Army's operations on the ground in France and Flanders. It began on June 6th 1918 and established its headquarters near Nancy, France.
There is one reference to 8 Aircaft Park in The National Archives' catalogue. See;

Kind regards,
Reply from: Lizzie
Date: Wednesday 16th January 2013 at 3:16 PM

Hi Alan

Once again what a marvel you are - you must be tired of hearing this. Thank you so much for the information and I will have a look at the Nat. Archives Catalogue using your reference. I find the Archives site very tricky to use so this should make it much easier.

Kind regards


Posted by: Eils {No contact email}
Location: Durham
Date: Tuesday 15th January 2013 at 12:00 PM
Hi Alan

Can you give me any more information on Thomas Bowman please. I think he was my Grandmother's cousin and would like to find out his age, his address at the time and who his parents were please. Was he married and did he have any family.

Name: Thomas Bowman Birth Place: Birtley, Durham Death Date: 8 Oct 1916 Death Location: France & Flanders Enlistment Location: West Hartlepool Rank: Private Regiment: Machine Gun Corps Battalion: (Infantry) Number: 23126 Type of Casualty: Killed in action Theatre of War: Western European Theatre Comments: Formerly 14746, York Regt., M.M

Thanking you kindly
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 15th January 2013 at 8:36 PM

Dear Eils,
No individual service record has survived for Thomas Bowman and there are no military records that provide biographical information other than "Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) which recorded he was born at Birtley, Co. Durham. The only Thomas Bowman who appears in the England and Wales censuses consistently recorded as being born in Birtley was born about 1886 and was the son of Joseph and Dorothy Bowman of Birtley. Birtley was in the Chester-le-Street Registration District and the birth of a Thomas Bowman was registered at Chester le Street in the first quarter of 1886.
What appears to be the same Thomas Bowman, stated age 23, appeared in the 1911 census married for two years to Elizabeth. A Thomas Bowman married Elizabeth Mason at Chester le Street district in the last quarter of 1908.

An Elizabeth Bowman married Georges G. Van Beneden at Chester le Street in the third quarter of 1917. The birth of a George Van Beneden was registered at Chester le Street in the first quarter of 1918. The mother's maiden name was stated as Mason. The child died in infancy and the death was also registered in the first quarter of 1918. The birth of a Gustave Van Beneden was registered at Chester le Street in the last quarter of 1918. The mother's maiden name was stated as Bowman.

It would be necessary to see the actual birth and marriage certificates to trace this family backwards with accuracy but the records suggest that Georges Van Beneden married a widow, Elizabeth Bowman formerly Mason, whose husband had died between 1911 (when he appeared in the census) and summer 1917 when she married again. There was no death in Co. Durham between those years that matched Thomas Bowman born 1886, therefore it is probable that the Thomas Bowman who was born at Birtley and killed in action in 1916 was is the Thomas born in 1886 who married Elizabeth Mason.
Thomas Bowman was the son of Joseph Bowman born at Birtley about 1863. This was probably Joseph Humble Bowman whose birth was registered in 1862. He was the son of Thomas Bowman, born at Cambo in Northumberland in about 1834/5 and his wife Margaret (Humble). In 1871 the family lived at The Blue Bell at Birtley where Margaret's widowed mother Jane Humble, born about 1791, was the licensee.
In 1911, Thomas Bowman and his wife Elizabeth were boarders at 12 B Street, Birtley, (correct) with the Mason family. Thomas and Elizabeth had a daughter Elizabeth born at Birtley in1910.
Thomas Bowman received the Military Medal for bravery in the field (1916) as well as the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
This brief look at the records should not be taken as evidence.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Eils
Date: Tuesday 15th January 2013 at 10:14 PM

Thank you so much for this information Alan.
Kind Regards

Posted by: Thomas William Alderson {Email left}
Location: Crook Co Durham
Date: Monday 14th January 2013 at 2:30 PM
I am searching for my grandfather Thomas William Alderson who served in WW1 Born 1888. Parents name's father William Mother Mary. Thomas.W Alderson married Sara Jane Alderson 1909

Hello Alan
I don't know if you can help me with my search. Thomas William Alderson.who served in The Durham Light Infantry. I am sorry, I do not know his sevice Number. I am hoping you can tell me how ? I can't find a death certificate, I wonder if you can help me find his service record ? Sarah Jane his wife remarried in 1918 stating that she was a widow.Could he be listed as " Missing " presumed dead ? I know it's a long shot Alan with very few details given, but you are my last shot at finding any service records.

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 14th January 2013 at 9:15 PM

Dear Margaret,
There is not sufficient information to accurately identify Thomas William Alderson in military records. There are no military records that match your Thomas William Alderson or Tom Alderson, William Alderson etc.. There were nine Thomas Aldersons who served abroad with the Durham Light Infantry during the First World War; four of whom died. Three of those can be shown to have different next-of-kin and the fourth, who had been born in Yorkshire not Durham, died on 1st October 1918,which was apparently after a Sarah J Alderson married Joseph Thurlby. There is no other recognisable death certificate indexed in the GRO Army deaths or civilian deaths for Thomas Alderson born 1888 or in the DLI.
It is possible either that he didn't die in the war or he did not serve in the DLI. Evidence of his regiment and regimental number is required to identify surviving military records.
In the 1911 census a Thomas William Alderson, married, aged 23 was recorded living with his parents at Willington, Durham. There was a four year old grandson in the family, John William Alderson, born 1907, although William and Mary had no other married children at that address and Thomas would not marry Sarah Jane until 1909. Thomas's wife Sarah Jane Branston or Brankston was born in 1891. A Sarah Jane Alderson, aged 19, married one year, with Ada May Alderson, born in 1910, was living (on census night) with her parents Henry and Mary Ann Brankston, at Crook and Billy Row.
Unfortunately there is no record showing Thomas William and Sarah Jane living together as a family unit.
Only 40 per cent of soldiers' service records have survived from the Great War, so many searches will inevitably be frustrated by a lack of evidence.
There was a Thomas William Alderson born in 1888 at Coundon who served in the DLI from 1908 until 1920. However, he stated he was single. He had a brother Walter and a sister Miss M A Alderson. There were three births named Thomas William Alderson registered in Durham in 1888. In this case, the 1911 Census recorded he was 21, born in about 1890 and was serving with the DLI in India on census night.
The Commonwealth war Graves Commission records another Thomas William Alderson, who was born in 1888 was Private 201067, Durham Light Infantry 19th (Service) Battalion, Son of Charles Alderson and Ann Raine, Born: 1888 Cotherstone, Yorkshire (now in Co. Durham), Enlisted: Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, Died: 1st October 1918; Killed in Action, Buried: Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Ypres, Belgium.
You may wish to contact the Alderson Family History Society to see if there are any cousins who may know of Thomas William's family circumstances before and during the war. See:

Kind regards,
Reply from: Margaret
Date: Tuesday 15th January 2013 at 2:51 PM

Thank you Alan for your very detailed reply, it was a long shot, on my part, and with very little details.given. The Thomas William Alderson you found in Willington, staying at the home of his parents, is my Thomas William and the Sarah Jane Alderson you found along with her daughter Ada May Alderson also staying at the home of her parents is Thomas William's wife.How I wish for the
1921 census.

Thank you again for all help given.
Posted by: Nigel Cox {Email left}
Location: Stamford Lincolnshire
Date: Sunday 13th January 2013 at 12:10 PM
I am trying to find out more about my grandfather John Cox

I know he was in the 1st Lincolnshire Regiment, that his soldier number was 7566 and that he was a serving soldier when war broke out and was part of the BEF who went to the front line in August 1914

He was mentioned in despatches on 14th January 1915 by Sir John French

He was captured at Hooge on 16th June 1915 after being wounded and had his leg amputated (I believe by a German surgeon)

He was eventually taken to Switzerland in late May 1916 and then back to the UK where he was discharged in December 1917

I would like to know more about his full service record, where he would have been held as a POW, how to find out the details of why he was mentioned in despatches, information about the men he served with, etc. etc.

Could anyone please help me to find out more

Thank you

Nigel Cox
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 13th January 2013 at 9:01 PM

Dear Nigel,
Records of Prisoners of War from the First World War are held by the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. Searches of the documents are suspended while they are being prepared for digital imaging. See:

John Cox enlisted in the Lincolnshire Regiment at Grantham on 5th June 1905 at the age of 19.
Prisoners often stayed at more than one camp. A letter in his service record showed Sgt John Cox had been moved to Switzerland by June 1916 from Kriegsgefangenenlager Friedrichsfeld-bei-Wesel. (POW Camp Friedrichsfeld, Germany) The camp was considered by the YMCA to be a good camp.
See a contemporary newspaper article at:

There are some photographs of some of the camp's prisoners at:

It is not possible to say why he was Mentioned in Despatches as the men were usually only listed in the "London Gazette" as "Cox, No. 7566 Private J." among 17 members of his battalion. There was a general citation made in the commander's actual despatch which read: "MY LORD, In accordance with the last paragraph, of my Despatch of the 20th November, 1914, I have the honour to bring to notice names of those whom I recommend for gallant and distinguished service in the field. The MID was published on 17th February 1915 Gazette Issue 29072 published date of 16 February 1915 page 1660. The Gazette is accessible online.
The despatch dealt with First Ypres. It can be read at:

In 1919 a certificate was issued to all who were mentioned in despatches and in 1920 an emblem of a bronze oak leaf was granted for wearing on the medal ribbon of the Victory Medal. The "London Gazette" of August 24th 1915 recorded that His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia has been graciously pleased to confer, with the approval of His Majesty the King, the undermentioned rewards for gallantry and distinguished service in the Field: 7566 Acting Serjeant John Cox, 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment was awarded the Medal of St George 3rd Class.

In 1914-15 the Military Medal had yet to be instituted for bravery (it was instituted on 25th March 1916) and the Meritorious Service Medal was not extended for "gallant conduct other than in action" until January 1917. So men who had been Mentioned in Despatches in the original BEF were often recommended for Allied medals on a quid pro quo principle.

It is not possible to suggest who his comrades were. The 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment had a contingent of 2 officers and 125 men of the Bermuda Rifle Volunteer Corps serving with them from June 1915. Their casualties were 75 per cent of their strength.

The Battalion's war diary for the period 1914 to November 1915 can be downloaded from the National Archives website for a small charge. See:

and click on the red button marked "go to record".
Kind regards,
Reply from: Nigel Cox
Date: Sunday 13th January 2013 at 10:55 PM

Dear Alan

I am extremely grateful for your research, and I apologise for troubling you with one more question please

You refer to a letter in his service record, how could I get a copy of his service record

Once again thank you for your time, it is very much appreciated by me and all of John's family

Without John surviving, none of us would be here today. He came home and fathered 5 children before dying as a consequence of his wounds.

Subsequently there have been 15 grandchildren, 30 great grandchildren, and currently 6 great grandchildren

Please let me know the best way to make a donation to the British Legion

Kind regards

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 13th January 2013 at 11:34 PM

Dear Nigel,
The service record is brief and has little detail, but it did provide some dates, a description and the name of one of his camps. It is available free by visiting The National Archives at Kew in Surrey or it can be downloaded online from the ancestry.co.uk website (subscription required). Larger libraries usually provide free access to the ancestry website, charging only for printing.
There is a link to the British Legion at the top of this page with a donate button on their website on the top right.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Nigel Cox
Date: Monday 14th January 2013 at 9:31 AM

Many thanks Alan

and thank you for the wonderful work that you do


Reply from: Nigel Cox
Date: Sunday 20th January 2013 at 11:04 AM

Good morning Alan

I had a look on the ancestry.co.uk website but couldn't find my Grandad's service record

Am I doing something wrong or might they not have it


Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 20th January 2013 at 12:22 PM

Dear Nigel,
The service record is listed in British Army Service Records as John Cox, St Michael's, Lincolnshire, without a year of birth. Otherwise search using his regimental number 7566.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Nigel Cox
Date: Sunday 20th January 2013 at 12:41 PM

Thanks Alan

I will try again


Posted by: Margaret Bird {Email left}
Location: Crowborough
Date: Saturday 12th January 2013 at 8:51 AM
Dear Alan
I wonder if you could give me some background on my great-uncle George Doree's war record (he spelt his name Dorey). He was born 8.5.1879 in Bethnal Green and enlisted 26.4.00 in the Royal Regiment of Artillery at Woolwich (Reg. No. 7825). I have found his service record online, from which he appears to have been sent back to England late in 1917. Sadly at some point his wife left him, taking their children with her, and he became a tramp, turning up on my grandmother's doorstep periodically in a terrible state. She would clean him up and feed him and he would then disappear again. I am wondering if he could have suffered from 'shell shock' as it was then known. He also appears to have withdrawn his pension application, which I find puzzling.
Your help would be much appreciated.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 12th January 2013 at 8:11 PM

Dear Margaret,
George Dorey served in Z Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery as a horse driver from 23rd April 1900 until 1906 when he was posted to M Battery. He served with M Battery until 23rd April 1908 when he transferred to the reserves at the end of his term of service. He should have served seven years with five in the reserves but if he were abroad in the seventh year he would have had to serve an additional year. I believe M Battery was in India at the time. George then served four (not five) years in the reserve to complete his 12 years' service. He then re-engaged in 1912 and at the outbreak of war he was posted as a saddler to the 5th Brigade Ammunition Column RHA which served with the Army's 8th Division. He arrived in France in November 1914. In 1916 he was posted to the 8th Divisional ammunition column and then returned to the 5th Brigade's column in January 1917, so he remained with the 8th Division throughout his time in France and Flanders. In 1915 the Division fought at The Battle of Neuve Chapelle; The Battle of Aubers and The action of Bois Grenier which was a diversionary attack coinciding with the Battle of Loos in September 1915. In 1916 they fought at The Battle of Albert (the first phase of the Battles of the Somme 1916). In 1917 they fought at The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line; The Battle of Pilckem; and The Battle of Langemarck in the Third Battle of Ypres.
George's term of service ended on 23rd April 1917 although he continued in service, receiving a gratuity of £20. He remained in France and Flanders until 1st December 1917 when he returned to the UK. The reason for his return to the UK was not recorded but his medical grade at Dover was shown as B2 which was below the level required for front line service. His character was "exemplary". He was posted to the 5th Reserve Brigade at Catterick and then to the 10th Reserve Brigade in June 1918. He was then transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery at Dover and was demobilized on 1st April 1919.
George was awarded a conditional pension of ten-pence a day from 2nd April 1919 until a medical review on 29th September 1920 when there were "no grounds for further award". The approximate value of that pension would have been equivalent to £2,280 of today's average earnings. The pension was for "debility" which was "attributable" to the war and was considered to be a "20 per cent disablement". The claim for the pension was not pursued after the review in 1920 stated there were no grounds for a further award. From 1916 pension awards were no longer based on a man's ability to earn a living wage but were granted according to a standardised schedule of injury in which, for example, the loss of two or more limbs entitled a man to 100 per cent.
"Debility" was a Victorian description of "shell shock" dating from the Boer War but still used in the First World War.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Margaret Bird
Date: Sunday 13th January 2013 at 8:55 AM

Dear Alan
Thank you so much for your extremely detailed reply. I still have one surviving uncle who will, I know, be very grateful to learn more about why his uncle acted as he did. Also I, with very vivid memories of WW2 as a child on the outskirts of London, and to whom George was just a name until a few months ago, now have a better understanding of the lasting damage that war can do to a family even when the soldier survives apparently uninjured.
Once again, many thanks, and a donation is on it's way to The British Legion.
Margaret Bird
Posted by: Sandra {Email left}
Location: South Africa
Date: Friday 11th January 2013 at 9:33 AM
Hi, I am interested in finding out a bit more about Charles Lumsden Kemp who married my grandmother Nellie Dansie Wadham in London in 1916. The only information I have is that he was a soldier who died soon after marrying my grandmother. Many thanks.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 11th January 2013 at 7:48 PM

Dear Sandra,
Unfortunately there are no immediately obvious records for Charles Lumsden Kemp other than his marriage which was in 1917, not 1916.
Nellie Dansie Wadham, 28, the daughter of Mark Pitts Wadham (deceased) married Charles Lumsden Kemp, 35, at St Paul's Church, Herne Hill, London, on August 30th 1917. Charles was a "soldier" and his address was "on active service". He was the son of Allan Kemp (deceased), a farm bailiff.
There is no obvious record of Charles being born in England and Wales, but there was a Charles Lumsden Kemp born at Portmoak, Kinross, Scotland in 1881 the son of Allan and Elizabeth Kemp.
In the 1891Census the family lived at West Brackley Cottage House, Portmoak and Allan was an agricultural labourer. The 1891 census recorded the family as: Allan, 38; Elizabeth, 40; Elizabeth, 13; William, 11; Charles, 9; and Allan, 7.
There is no obvious record of a military death record that would be applicable to Charles Kemp dying after August 1917. The name occurs too frequently in the civilian death records to identify him without actually seeing the correct death certificate.
There is no obvious military record that can be attributed to him, owing to the lack of any additional information over and above his name.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Sandra
Date: Monday 14th January 2013 at 10:39 AM

Dear Alan,
Thank you for the information supplied. Unfortunately we don't have the death certificate for Charles Lumsden Kemp but I do appreciate your efforts.
Posted by: Angie {Email left}
Location: Leeds
Date: Thursday 10th January 2013 at 3:48 PM
Hi Alan,

I wonder if you could supply any further information regarding my husband's great uncle who died in WW1.

Corporal James Tough
Service Number 1581
Born 1895
Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) 1/7th Battalion
Died 2nd July 1916 in France/Flanders and buried at Thiepval Cemetery.

Thank you for any help you can provide,

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 10th January 2013 at 5:31 PM

Dear Angie,
No individual service record has survived for James Tough so it is not possible to suggest his wartime service. An Army medal rolls index card recorded that 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 serve overseas until some occasion after January 1st 1916. He was "presumed killed" on July 2nd 1916. He has no marked grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.
The 1st/7th Battalion Prince of Wales's Own West Yorkshire Regiment had served in France and Flanders from April 1915, so James would have been part of a draft of reinforcements sent to France sometime in the first half of 1916. He went missing on the second day of the Battle of Albert which was the opening battle of The Battles of the Somme 1916.
The 1st/7th Battalion served in the 146th Infantry Brigade in the 49th (West Riding) Division. In February 1916, the Battalion had moved to the Somme area in preparation for the offensive. They detrained at Ailly sur Somme and transferred to Aveluy Woods. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme (July 1st) the 49th Division was held in reserve and did not fight until 4 p.m. in the afternoon. They were ordered to advance from the woods below Thiepval in the afternoon of July 1st as part of a diversion during which soldiers from the 36th (Ulster) Division attempted to cross No Man's Land.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Angie
Date: Saturday 12th January 2013 at 4:21 PM


Thankyou so much for this information. My husband is planning to visit Thiepval Cemetery in the spring & it means a lot to him to know more about his great uncle's last days. We will be making a donation to your charity of choice, The British Legion, in gratitude for your kind help.

Kind regards
Angie & Ray
Posted by: Lynne Berry {Email left}
Location: Hartlepool
Date: Tuesday 8th January 2013 at 10:45 PM
Hi again Alan, just found out that George Henry Berry's younger brother Private Wilfred Berry age 19yrs, was also killed. Service number S/9840. Died on 15th Aug 1917. Regiment - Gordon Highlanders 1st/6th Battalion.He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery France. It stated on details I have found (served as Stuart). What does this mean? Are you able to give any more additional info.
Your help will be much appreciated.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 9th January 2013 at 7:00 PM

Dear Lynne,
Wilfred Berry enlisted in the army under age when the minimum age was 18. He enlisted at West Hartlepool in the name of Douglas Stuart, claiming he was 19 years old.
His parents later told the Army who "Douglas Stuart" was and that he was underage and he was sent home from France to the UK and continued to serve at the Aberdeen Garrison. In 1917, he returned to France where he died of a wound in August 1917 still known as Douglas Stuart. In May 1919, what was then the Imperial War Graves Commission wrote to the relatives of all deceased soldiers inviting them to add any personal details to the registers being prepared for the new war cemeteries. Wilfred's mother was then able to state that Wilfred served under the name of Stuart and give his correct age. All military records are in the name of Douglas Stuart. Wilfred was the son of James and Mary Berry who eventually lived at Mozart Street, West Hartlepool.

Douglas Stuart of 11 Cromwell Street, West Hartlepool, volunteered to join the Army at West Hartlepool on 24th April 1915. He joined the Gordon Highlanders as private S/9840 where the S stood for general wartime service. He was sent to their depot battalion at Aberdeen the next day. Why he chose a Scottish name and a Scottish regiment is unclear. He stated his age was 19 and one month. This age was commonly stated because it was one month over the official minimum age of 19 for serving at the front. Douglas Stuart stated his father was James Stuart of 11 Cromwell Street, West Hartlepool. Douglas was posted to the 3rd Battalion Gordon Highlanders on April 27th 1915 at Aberdeen where he underwent recruit training. On August 3rd 1915 he was sent to France to join the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders. He embarked at Southampton on August 4th and joined the 1st Battalion in the field on August 8th 1915. (His brother George went to France on August 28th).
At this stage, his father, James Berry, wrote to the Army enclosing Wilfred's birth certificate and a photograph and asking for his son to be released as he was underage. James later claimed he never received an answer to this letter. Yet Douglas's service record is clearly marked: "To be transferred to Home Establishment as underage and medically unfit to bear the strain of active service". Douglas was sent from the 1st Gordon Highlanders in France to a base depot at Rouen on September 1st 1915. Five days later he was returned to the UK aboard SS "Queen Empress" and he returned to the depot at Aberdeen Garrison. He was apparently not released from the Army and on 24th April 1917 (two years after he enlisted) he was posted to France with the Gordon Highlanders and on 25th April 1917 he arrived back in France at a base depot in Boulogne. He was posted to the 1st/6th Battalion Gordon Highlanders on May 13th 1917 and joined them in the field on May 19th 1917. The Battalion served in the 152nd Infantry Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division. On July 31st 1917, Douglas Stuart was shot in the right thigh. He was treated at the 1st/2nd Highland Field Ambulance and then transferred to the 1st Canadian General Hospital at Etaples on August 2nd.
The wound was probably received on the opening day of the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31 July 2 August 1917 which was the opening attack of the Third Battle of Ypres. The 51st Division successfully captured the enemy front lines and advanced on Langemark.
Douglas's father, stating his name as James Stuart of Mozart Street telegrammed the regiment on August 13th asking for a free pass to go to France to see his wounded son, Douglas Stuart. The reply was addressed to 'Stuart, 12 Mozart Street West Hartlepool': "Regret permission to visit Pte Stuart cannot be granted owing to military requirements."
"Douglas Stuart" died from his wound in hospital on 15th August 1917 and was buried at Etaples. After his death his father wrote and asked for the birth certificate and photograph to be returned. The file does not contain all the correspondence but it appears the record office at Perth had no record of the certificate being sent. His father still wanted proof that the army knew his son's real name was Wilfred Berry. The letter, in his father's hand-writing is still in the file. After his death, the correspondence from the army refers to him as Douglas Stuart alias Wilfred Berry and addressed his father as James Berry of 12 Mozart Street.
James Berry, Mozart Street, died in July 1918 and was buried at Stranton Grange Cemetery, West Hartlepool, on July 9th 1918.
His widow Mary received Wilfred's medals in the name of Douglas Stuart. They were the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Douglas Stuart's service record is available at The National Archives or on the ancestry.co.uk website (subscription required). Larger libraries offer free access to the Ancestry website.
In the 1911 Census Wilfred was recorded as W. Berry; 13; schoolboy.

Kind regards,
Reply from: Lynne Berry
Date: Wednesday 9th January 2013 at 9:52 PM

Oh my goodness Alan, this has brought tears to my eyes it's so moving. Can't believe that the family probably know nothing of what happened. My hubby's granda Harry Berry, son of George Henry, was only abt 8yrs old when his father died.
We will be forever grateful to you, for providing this information and I cannot express our gratitude. Keep up the brilliant job you are doing. As previously stated I will ensure a donation is made.

Heartfelt thanks Lynne
Reply from: Lynne Berry
Date: Friday 11th January 2013 at 9:00 PM

Hi Alan,
thanks to the info you provided, I was able to access these records at our local library. I have looked on the Gordon Highlanders site but can find no reference to either Douglas Stuart or Wilfred Berry, can you tell me why this is?
I have looked up our local British Legion and understand they meet on the 3rd Sat of every month, I will contact to arrange a donation at this time.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 11th January 2013 at 9:23 PM

Dear Lynne,
The Gordon Highlanders have a fee-based research service for individuals. See:
Kind regards,
Reply from: Lynne Berry
Date: Friday 11th January 2013 at 9:42 PM

Thanks Alan, just couldn't understand why he's not mentioned on any of the Battalions, even on those lost. It's as if he didn't exist.
Posted by: Lynne Berry {Email left}
Location: Hartlepool
Date: Tuesday 8th January 2013 at 12:53 AM
Hi Alan,
I'm hoping you will be able to help with further info on my husbands Great granda George Henry Berry 23229,
2nd Batt, Durham Light Infantry WW1. He was fatally injured and died on 14th Oct 1915, Flanders. He is buried in Hop Store Cemetery, Vlamertinghe, Belgium. The most precious thing would be to obtain any type of photograph, if any are available?
Many thanks in advance
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 8th January 2013 at 7:27 PM

Dear Lynne,
George Berry served with the 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry for 40 days. He was married with four children when he volunteered to join the Durham Light Infantry on January 11th 1915 at West Hartlepool, at the age of 34. He was sent straight to the depot battalion of the DLI which was then at Newcastle upon Tyne. On January 29th 1915 he was posted to the 17th Battalion DLI which was stationed at Barnard Castle. The 17th Battalion DLI became a training and reserve battalion. It moved to Darlington in July 1915.
George was sent to France on 28th August 1915. He crossed from Southampton to Le Havre where he would have spent some days in a base camp for further training. He was posted to the 2nd Battalion DLI and he arrived to join them in the field on 4th September 1915 near Ypres in Belgium. The Battalion served with 18th Infantry Brigade in the 6th Division. The Brigade was in the routine of trenches to the East of Ypres in the fields and woods around Potijze, St Jean and Wieltje with a support line on the Ypres Yser canal bank. The enemy shelled the British positions daily and there was opportunistic sniper and rifle fire. Wednesday October 13th 1915 began with a damp and foggy dawn but remained a mild day with a quiet afternoon. The enemy started a three hour bombardment of the area from St Jean to Ypres at 6-30 pm. On October 13th George Berry was hit in the head either by a bullet or shrapnel. He was taken back to 18th Field Ambulance where he died of his wound the next day. (GSW Head gunshot wound, head).
The army did not take photographs of individual soldiers. Local newspapers often published obituaries which might have been accompanied by a picture. The DLI Museum at Durham may have group photographs. Generally, photographs were in the possession of the family.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Lynne Berry
Date: Tuesday 8th January 2013 at 9:41 PM

Thankyou so very much Alan, this info is amazing, such detail.It has painted a picture of what all those brave men had to endure. We had thought of trying the DLI Museum in Durham, it would be nice to find a photograph. Lots of family members have passed away, so not sure what has happened to their photos sadly.
I will make sure a donation is made to the British Legion, grateful thanks again Alan.
Posted by: Reno {Email left}
Location: Oldbury
Date: Sunday 6th January 2013 at 2:56 PM
I am trying to find any imformation about my grandad, he joined the army on the 18th of august 1892 he inlisted in the 2nd
battalion of the worcestershire regiment.I know that he was transfered to army reserve in 1899,but sometime after that he was
re-inlisted to serve in the boar war. it is this period of his army record that i would like to try and find out about,such as were he fought and what battles he may have been involed in. He did receive the Kings& Queens South African medals 1900-1902
If you have no boar war info. perhaps you may have some contacts I may be able to try.

Thanking you in anticipation,
Bernard (reno)
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 6th January 2013 at 6:58 PM

Dear Bernard,
You can search for his service record on the Findmypast.co.uk website (charges apply to download). A history of the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment in the Second Anglo-Boer War is at:


Kind regards,
Reply from: Reno
Date: Sunday 6th January 2013 at 7:49 PM

Thanks Alan I will give this imfo. a try



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