The World War Forum (Page 15)

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Posted by: Peter {Email left}
Location: Billingham
Date: Thursday 27th October 2016 at 2:18 PM
Dear Alan Hope you are fit and well.
Can you please help me with this man John Cropper Pte 34579 York Lancaster Regiment.9th Service Battalion. Born Manchester. Enlisted. Richmond N/ Yorks Residence. Stokesley North Yorkshire. KIA 9/6/17. Former 7885 Yorkshire Regiment. Best Regards Peter
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 28th October 2016 at 12:35 PM

Dear Peter,
John Cropper was born in 1897 and by the time John was 14 he was living with his “uncle”, James Cross, at Wrightson’s Yard, Stokesley. James Cross was a pedlar and was described in John’s army record as a “foster father”. John worked as a bottle washer in a brewery. On 23rd January 1914 he enlisted in the part-time Special Reserve of the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards). This involved six months full-time training followed by six years of annual refresher training at an annual camp. He was 17 years and 67 days old, had blue eyes, light brown hair and a half-inch scar in the centre of his forehead. He underwent his basic training at Richmond and then undertook a musketry (rifle) course between 13th June and 12th July 1914. He had only been back at home for a few weeks before he was mobilised for war on 5th August 1914 and served with the 3rd Battalion which moved to Hartlepool. That town was bombarded by the German Navy in December 1914.
John remained with the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment until he was sent overseas on 26th October 1915 as part of a draft of reinforcements to join the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment at Gallipoli. His service record showed his embarkation date was 26th October 1915 whereas his medal rolls index-card showed that as his date of arrival in Egypt. He had sailed to Alexandria in Egypt and then went on to join the 6th Battalion at Gallipoli. The Battalion left the peninsula on 18th December 1915 and went to Imbros, then Alexandria where they arrived on 7th February 1916. The 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment later sailed for France and landed at Marseilles on 1st July 1916.
The medal rolls recorded a group of men from the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment were posted to the 9th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment and were sequentially numbered. On 23rd September 1916 John Cropper was “posted and attached” to the 9th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment which was then at Zillebeke near Ypres. The 9th Battalion remained in that area where it went into action on June 7th 1917 at 4.10 a.m. after a one-hour bombardment and the explosion of mines under Hill 60 and “the Caterpillar”. The fighting on Hill 60 was in two phases of advance and by June 9th the 9th Battalion had reached its objectives and was relieved. The Register of Soldiers’ Effects recorded John Cropper was killed in action in Belgium on some date between the 5th and 9th June 1917.
He has no marked grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing. He qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The medals were sent to his sole legatee, James Cross.
Through census and birth records I have not yet been able to corroborate the biographical details supplied for “John William Cropper” as the son of William and Sarah suggested on the Stokesley website:
With kind regards,

Posted by: Adrian Cunningham {Email left}
Location: Melbourne E York S Uk
Date: Thursday 27th October 2016 at 10:55 AM
Dear Alan,
Thank you for your in depth info already received.
With reference to George Cunningham born 1811 in Currie Scotland, serving with the 25th Regt.KOSB. I tried to follow your instructions for finding Colonial military births, but could not get access to this part of the findmypast site.
My request is to find If he had any other children ( other than George Jnr. born in Ireland 1837 to Sarah ) which according to church record I already have. If there was a marriage, the only one I have found was in 1831 to a Sarah McVie, but can't be sure.
Many thanks if you could help in this search.


Adrian Cunningham
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 27th October 2016 at 12:31 PM

Dear Adrian,
I cannot provide information from the Findmypast website on this forum as that would be a breach of their terms and conditions of use.
If you search "births deaths and marriages" on their site and type "British Nationals" in the box marked Record Set you can choose Army births from the menu.
With kind regards,
Posted by: Joe Freaney {No contact email}
Location: Derry
Date: Tuesday 25th October 2016 at 1:01 PM
Hi Alan

You have given me some excellent info about a number of kinsmen in the recent past. I was hoping that you could maybe work a miracle and provide some info on another kinsman. On going through some paperwork recently, I found 2 photographs of a cousin of my mother. His surname is McLaughlin, from Lisahally, in the parish of Glendermott, Derry, Northern Ireland. He is wearing the uniform of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. That is all I know of him - he was never spoken of. I don't know if he was a casualty or if he survived.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 25th October 2016 at 6:16 PM

Dear Joe,
So few records that provide biographical details such as address or birthplace have survived, so unfortunately it has not been possible to identify an individual McLaughlin in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Joe Freaney
Date: Saturday 29th October 2016 at 4:10 PM

Hi Alan

With reference to the above, I assumed this young man's name was McLaughlin. I now know he was on the other side of the family: I believe his name was George Doherty, 9163, 1st Batt Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Any help would once again be very much appreciated.


Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 29th October 2016 at 6:48 PM

Dear Joe,
No individual service record has survived for George Doherty so it is not possible to say when he enlisted. The Army medal rolls recorded he served with the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and went overseas from the U.K. on 17th March 1915. The 1st Battalion had returned from India arriving at Avonmouth in January 1915 before sailing for Mudros and landing at Cape Helles, Gallipoli, on 5th April 1915. Private Doherty was wounded and died of his wounds on board the Hospital Ship “Salta” on 24th August 1915. He was buried at sea. “Soldiers Died in the Great War” recorded he was born at Belfast and enlisted at Ballykinlar Camp, co. Down. The registers of soldiers’ effects recorded his sole legatee was his aunt, a Mrs Mary Chapman.
George Doherty qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.
With kind regards,

Posted by: Beverley Cahill {Email left}
Location: Perth Western Australia
Date: Tuesday 25th October 2016 at 10:48 AM
Dear Alan, I have just come across your site and read your valuable information. I am hoping you may be able to give our family information on my paternal grandfather who served in WW1 his rank was Gnr his regimental No was 5063?3 or is it 50633.....Walter Whittaker his qualifying date was 6/11/1914 his corps was 33rd BDE hard to read...RFA. Campaign 1914. We were told he served In Ireland...would this be true....did he serve anywhere else? My father has passed away...but he passed on a pocket watch to my brother with engraving to Walter with the above reg no on it from the people of Essex. He was born in Great Bardfield Essex England June 1886 if this helps.We would all love to know something about his war records. I do belong to My heritage site...but have never been able to locate any information regarding his military Records . Also would you know if he received his medals...he did survive the war and emigrated to Western met his future wife In Ireland....they eloped...married by an army chaplain...only found this out recently.
Thanking you
Bev Cahill née Whittaker. Perth Western Australia
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 25th October 2016 at 6:12 PM

Dear Bev,
No individual service record has survived for Walter Whittaker so it is not possible to state his war-time service. The Army medal rolls record he qualified for the 1914 Star by disembarking in France on 6th November 1914 with 33 Brigade Royal Field Artillery (XXXIII Brigade RFA) as part of 8th Division.
It is not possible to state whether Walter remained with 33 Brigade throughout the war. The engagements of the 8th Division can be seen on Chris Baker’s website, The Long, Long Trail, at:
Walter Whittaker qualified for the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Medals were sent automatically to the recipient.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Beverley Cahill N E Whittaker
Date: Wednesday 26th October 2016 at 5:25 AM

Thank you so much Alan for this information, no wonder I was having trouble finding information about his war records. Last night I heard from a nephew of mine who is in England on a holiday he is about 25 yrs of age and he was visiting the National Archives which took him all day to actually find out that Walter Whittaker had never picked up his medals and apparently after a certain period of time- the medals are returned and melted down. But I believe we may be able to request replicas of them. So down the track we will apply.

Thanking you so much.
Posted by: Jacky {No contact email}
Location: Uk
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 9:49 AM
Alan, I wonder if you might be able to point me in the right direction, please? I'm researching a man who was in L Company, # Special Battalion, Royal Engineers, and trying to find out where the battalion was portioned in December 1916. I can access War Diaries via ancestry, but don't see anything relating to the Special Battalions. Not sure even what Division they were in! Do you know if there is an accessible diary online that I could use, please? Thank you
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 10:00 AM

War diaries for L Company exist from March 1917. See:
Reply from: Jacky
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 10:16 AM

Thank you for such a quick reply! Excellent ;)
Posted by: Brian Wilson {Email left}
Location: Norwich
Date: Sunday 23rd October 2016 at 1:26 PM
Hello Alan,

you were able to help find details of my Grandfathers service during WW1. I have not been able to find service records for him, which is not unusual, but I was told that if he served in the home guard I may find some further information about him.I was wondering if he was entitled to the defence medal as it was not with his WW1 medals when I purchased them.I am not sure what information I would be able to obtain from the MOD.

His name was Arthur J Wilson and he had a rank of Acting Sergeant in 1918. I understand from my father that he worked for Lawrence Scott Electromotors in Norwich and they would have had their own section, It is not clear how long he served either, as towards the end of the war he joined the civil service although this may have been after 1944.

Kind Regards Brian.
Reply from: Alan Greeson
Date: Sunday 23rd October 2016 at 5:48 PM

Dear Brian,
Home Guard enrolment records are brief and may contain little information other than personal details on enlistment, promotions, previous military service, and date of leaving the service. The records are held by the Ministry of Defence. See “How to apply for Home Guard service records” at:
With kind regards,
Posted by: Christine Barbour Moore {Email left}
Location: Wigan
Date: Friday 21st October 2016 at 3:55 PM

Is there any way to find who is actually writing the accounts in War Diary WO95/4056
12th Light Railway Coy RE 1917 - 1918.


Chris B Moore
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 22nd October 2016 at 1:00 PM

Dear Christine,
The answer is yes, but I can’t read the Officer Commanding’s name!
It is the first sentence of the diary. War diaries were written or dictated by the adjutant or a junior officer and were then supposed to be signed-off each month by the Officer Commanding. In an infantry battalion of 1,000 men recording their “Actions in the Field” throughout the war, the person writing the diary might change as officers came and departed which becomes apparent in the change of handwriting. The original (top copy) of the diary was written in blue or violet copying pencil which contained graphite, kaolin and an aniline dye. This original would then be sent to Brigade or Divisional H.Q. on a monthly basis with copies of orders and maps in a folder marked “secret”, whilst a carbon-paper copy of the diary could be kept by the unit in the Field. The copying-pencil was waxy and indelible and allowed for reproduction copies to be made by pressing damp tissue paper onto the original. The use of aniline dyes allowed copies to be taken long after the writing of the original document. Most original war diaries and their appendices were lost in the bombing of the War Office repository in Arnside Street, Walworth, London on 8th September 1940 so the digitised copies available online are taken from copies, which is why they are often hard to read or have slightly blurred outlines to the words.
In WO 95/4056/1 it can be seen that each daily entry for No. 2 Railway Operating Company was initialled MW by the Commanding Officer. There is evidence of the use of blue copying pencil over what might be carbon copies as well as the violet appearance of paper-press copies. The diary for No 6 Railway Operating Company is signed off by the Officer Commanding.
No. 12 Operating Company’s diary was not signed off and was a rather hit-and-miss affair as far as regular and complete entries for “Actions in the Field” go. It makes up for lack of detail by including a schedule of casualties. The day-to-day routine nature of their work and the pressure of time imposed on a small unit against keeping a full diary, perhaps writing by candle-light, might account for the apparent gaps between dates and lack of detail especially if little of interest occurred in between. The No. 12 Operating Company diary appears to have been written by the same person throughout: note the consistent shape of the stroke of the ascender on the letter “d” where it appears at the end of a word.
The Company was small (251 men) and appears to have had three officers at the outset. I can identify: Second-Lieutenant Colin Campbell Henry Royal Engineers (1.9.17 replaced by Capt. Herbert Nerville Every Feilden, South Wales Borderers) and Second-Lieutenant Harry Bardill Buckle, Royal Engineers. The officer commanding appears to be Captain W J S Rinnes or something similar, perhaps without initials but I cannot identify him. See the diary entry for 23rd April 1917 and 11th May 1917. His name is the first word in the diary (“Capt. x sent from Longmoor to command”) but I can’t make it out.
The diary entry for 17th October 1917 reads: “I also received slight wound in face”; 25th October 1918 mentions orders for disbanding 12th Operating Company and the diarist writes: “practically all my locomotives, drivers and firemen”, and on 31st October 1918: “all my officers transferred to other units” so the writer would have been the Officer Commanding.
See also the incident dated 30th April 1918 which is not included in the surviving diary which is mentioned on Chris Baker’s website, The Long, Long Trail, at
With kind regards,
Reply from: Christine Barbour Moore
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 10:47 AM

Thank you Alan. You've confirmed one or two of the Officer's names for me.

One last request.

22/06/18 7pm. Can you the read Special Gas (.......). Can't make out the name of the Gas. Is it 'Stunt'?

As previously mentioned, I have transcribed and typed up, the 12th Light Railway Coy WO95/4056 Diary.
If you would care for my copy (17 pages), please get in touch via my email.

Going to look on the Long Trail 30/04/18. My Grandfather Stanley Corsellis Randall MM was involved in an incident on that date, will take a look just now. Did wonder why the incident was not shown in the Diary.

Going to do some research into the incident Westonhoek 15/06/18 1pm. Two trains crash and 5 men killed. Terrible. Doesn't give the names of the men and I want to know who they were. Imagine going through the terrible War and being killed in an accident.

Kind Regards

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 24th October 2016 at 7:21 PM

Dear Christine,
The word is “stunt”. It was used initially by the British and Australians to refer to any performance requiring skill: such as a bout of Physical Training or a means of self-advantage such as “It’s a good stunt to fall out before they pick the fatigue party”. As with many such expressions the quality of cleverness became unessential. All that was needed was a break in the routine, an unusual element. The word was even used to refer to a battle such as “The Somme Stunt” or to smaller events such as a “bombing stunt” (Dictionary of Tommies’ Slang by John Brophy and Eric Partridge). “Stunt” perhaps implied disapproval for the release of gas which was haphazard depending on the wind. The paragraph reads: “Special gas ‘stunt’ – Seven trains each of 7 box wagons loaded with a special equipment of gas cylinders left Piselhock R E Park at 7 p.m. in Bedford House in Voormezeele sector – attack at midnight: very successful – Lieut W R Price attached 12th Company who was only man affected by gas poisoning – taken to hospital 25/6”.
‘Piselhock’ was the Peselhoek railhead, north of Poperinghe. See the railway map at:
The lines and sidings of Peselhoek were either side of Droogentak Farm.
Bedford House was the Chateau Rosendal, a country house in a small wooded park with moats. Although it never fell to the enemy the house and the trees were eventually destroyed by shell fire. It was off Rijselseweg just south of Ypres. It is now the location of a cemetery.
The only Lieut. W. P. Price I can identify was Lieutenant William Pursell Price in the King's (Shropshire Light Infantry) of “Brookleigh”, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury.
Some other notes:
S.G. Train was Standard Gauge train
East Spur and Andover Jct (Junction).
Pugwash was named after a town in Nova Scotia
Culloden (24/7/18) was a loco yard above the village of Vlamertinghe, just north of Vlamertinghe Chateau on track A B 1.
P.E. loco (24/7/18) was a petrol engine loco of the type manufactured by Dick, Kerr & Co. See:,_Kerr_%26_Co.#/media/File:C01361-40HP_petrol_locomotives_1917.jpg
Track A B ran south from Coppernollehoek , north of Vlamertinghe, passing over Canal de Poperinghe with an East Spur coming off it to follow the line of the Reobartbeek for just a few hundred metres. Google 50°52'05.1"N 2°46'01.8"E for the location of the East Spur. The light railway Line then A B swung East to Culloden (Vlamertinghe) and then Ypres town.
The Reobartbeek stream flowed on past which Pacific Yard on the outskirts of Poperinghe just south of the Poperinghe to Ypres Road.
Quintin Yard was in Poperinghe. Google 50°51'12.8"N 2°43'57.0"E
There is still a standard gauge single-line track and buffers there which can be seen on Google Streetview.
Westonhoek was a large marshalling yard for 60cm gauge. I am wondering if it the same location as Culloden Yard.
Troi Rois is a hamlet on the road from Ypres to Wyteschaete above Bedford House. The C line cross the road there at Woodcote House which was north of Bedford House.
The men who died on 16th June 1918 would not have been Royal Engineers but could have come from any regiment.
Do you think the Captain’s name could be J. W. Skinner as written on 23.4.17 ?
With kind regards,
Posted by: Sally {Email left}
Location: Australia
Date: Friday 21st October 2016 at 12:47 PM
Hi Alan, can anyone look into this medal for me. Or find out some details for me? Not sure if he us related to us Boyds but I love finding out about medals. You helped me so much with sgt George Thomas Boyd medal we had maybe you could help with this one??

2/8747 sgt j j boyd think it was Irish

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 22nd October 2016 at 2:10 PM

Dear Sally,
8747 Sgt J J Boyd was John James Boyd born at Birkenhead in Cheshire in 1885 the son of John and Bridget Boyd. His father was John Boyd born in Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland, in about 1851 who had married an Irishwoman named Bridget. The family had lived at Birkenhead as early as 1877 when their daughter Rose was born there.
John Boyd enlisted at Birkenhead on 5th October 1905 and joined the Royal Irish Regiment. From 20th November 1906 he served in India for 6 years, and was transferred to the reserve on 5th January 1913. He was re-called when war was declared and he went to France on 13th August 1914 with the 2nd Battalion where he was employed as a signaller. Within two weeks he had been wounded at St Quentin and returned to the U.K. where he was treated for a gunshot wound in the left leg. He returned to the 2nd Battalion France and was again wounded on 29th May 1915 and returned to the U.K.. On 17th May 1916 he was posted to the 6th Battalion Royal Irish Regiment but was again wounded, with a gunshot wound in the left knee. He returned to the U.K. and was posted back to France in the 6th Battalion where he was awarded the Military Medal in May 1916 while in the trenches near Berthen. He was shot in the left leg once more on 7th June 1917 and returned to the U.K..
John Boyd married Catherine Victoria Hunt at Birkenhead on 6th August 1917.
He was then transferred to the Labour Corps where he served until the end of the war with the 128th (Chinese) Labour Company.
He qualified for the Military Medal, the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. John was demobilized in 1919.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Queenie
Date: Monday 4th September 2017 at 2:08 PM

Hi Sally and Alan

I have just read this. OMG John James Boyd was my Grandad. My mum was his Daughter. I had read this information in bits while researching on Ancestry but I was not sure how much was genuine. I have seen so many mistakes on Ancestry. His Royal Irish Regiment No. was 437749. We all lived with my Grandad until he died. My Grandfather died at age about 73. In and out of hospital though all of his life after WW2. My Nan died in 1944.

Are you related??
Reply from: Queenie
Date: Monday 4th September 2017 at 2:43 PM

Hi Sally and Alan. (Sorry Bob I have just seen Alan retired). Could you please pass this onto Sally who put the question originally to Alan). I think we may be related. :-)

I have just read this. OMG John James Boyd was my Grandad. My mum was his Daughter. I had read this information in bits while researching on Ancestry but I was not sure how much was genuine. I have seen so many mistakes on Ancestry. His Royal Irish Regiment No. was 437749. We all lived with my Grandad until he died. My Grandfather died at age about 73. In and out of hospital though all of his life after WW2. My Nan died in 1944.

Are you related??
Posted by: Peter Booth {Email left}
Location: London
Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016 at 3:21 PM
Hello Alan,

You kindly looked up some information on my Great Grandfather, I wonder if it would be possible to check on his brother, his name is Edward Wakeham, born c 1885 in Poplar, I was after his army service record, he fought in WW1, I believe he was in the Rifle Brigade, but other than that I don`t know anymore,
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016 at 7:45 PM

Dear Peter,
Edward was Edward William Wakeham, born September 17th 1885, the son of Edward William Wakeham, a milkman, and his wife Celia (née Mitchell). In 1890 the family lived in three rooms at 55 Arcadia Street, Poplar. Four other rooms at the house were occupied by the family of Richard Panting. On May 14th 1890 The Wakehams and the Pantings went to St Saviour’s Church, Poplar, to have four of their children baptised on the same day, among them Edward William Wakeham, born in 1885.
There were three other birth registrations for children named Edward William Wakeham in 1885.
There is no individual Army service record for Edward William Wakeham. There was one Edward William Wakeham listed in the medals rolls, although these rolls do not provide any biographical information. The rolls recorded an Edward William Wakeham served with the 3rd Battalion of The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own) as rifleman S/24067, where the S stood for general wartime service. The 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade served in France and Flanders with 24th Division. Edward, along with many other members of the Rifle Brigade, was transferred to the Tank Corps at some unspecified date, and allotted the regimental number 76199. He qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal which indicated he did not serve overseas until some date after January 1st 1916 because he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star for service before December 31st 1915. There is no other army record for him, so it is not possible to state where he served. Members of the Tank Corps at the time were mechanics or gun operators as the tanks were driven by men of the Army Service Corps.
Edward Wakeham was a hospital porter at The East London Hospital for Children and Dispensary for Women. He married Ellen Amelia Wiles, aged 26, at St Gabriel’s Church, Chrisp Street, Tower Hamlets, on 16th August 1914. His brother, J. E. G. Wakeham, was a witness. Edward and Amelia appear to have had two wartime children: Edward C. Wakeham (mother’s name Wiles) whose birth was registered April-June 1915 at Whitechapel, and Evelyn, registered Jan-March 1917 at Mile End. A Joan Wakeham was registered at Limehouse in 1921 and Elizabeth in 1924 at Limehouse, mother’s maiden name Wiles.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Peter Booth
Date: Wednesday 19th October 2016 at 9:07 AM


That is brilliant!, the information you provide is excellent, thank you, J.E.G.Wakeham is my Great Grandfather, I knew he was a Hospital porter but didn`t know where, so this information will help me with my research on him,

I believe Edward Wakeham died in 1977, aged 92!

Once again, thank you and I shall be sending a donation to the Royal British Legion
Posted by: Judith Lowe {Email left}
Location: Merseyside
Date: Tuesday 18th October 2016 at 12:54 PM
Dear Alan
Once again thank you so much for the information about Edward Copley. so much information found so quickly!
I will look further into the spelling of the other man's name and get back to you.
Two further men, we are seeking information about are:
1. Private Walter Payne 6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers wounded at Ypres 24th April coming to Oakdene 7th May.
2. Private Richard allen Lancashire Fusiliers. Wounded Dardanelles 4th June 1915. Won the DCM 4th June 1915.
Any information will be gratefully received Judith Lowe
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 19th October 2016 at 5:53 PM

Dear Judith,
Richard Allen will take a bit of writing up so I'll do that tomorrow if I can. Meanwhile, here's Walter Payne:

Walter Payne was an unlucky man.
He was born at Dulwich but apparently moved North because he enlisted at Newcastle-upon-Tyne (date unknown) where he joined the 6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers which was a pre-war Territorial Army battalion based at St George’s Drill Hall, Northumberland Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He might have been a pre-war Territorial Army part-time soldier or he might have enlisted at the outbreak of war. When war was declared the 6th Battalion went to their war stations for coastal defence at Seaton Sluice on the Seaton Burn which flows into the sea midway between Whitley Bay and Blyth. Walter was with the 6th Battalion on April 20th 1915 when it left Seaton Sluice and marched to the railway station at Blyth to entrain at 10.30 a.m. for Folkestone where they arrived after a 12 hour journey. The Battalion immediately embarked on SS “Onward” and sailed for Boulogne at 11.30 p.m.. They camped outside Boulogne that night (April 20th 1915) and then travelled by goods train (45 to a waggon) to Cassel. From there they marched to Winnezeele, a commune in the Nord département in northern France. Walter and his colleagues spent the night of 22nd April 1915 in various farm buildings in that village and then marched eleven miles the next day, April 23rd 1915, to Brandhoek which is a village between Poperinghe and Ypres in Belgium, just behind the front line. That night they spent the night in unoccupied trenches for the purpose of cover and for no tactical purpose. In the evening of the next day, 6 p.m. on 24th April 1915, they marched to Potijze some eight miles away. The route took them through Ypres. Their war diary states: “During the march the brigade was halted for ¾ hour in Ypres where six or seven casualties occurred from shellfire. Remained [in Ypres] from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. when moved up to Wieltje” (War Diary WO 95/ 2829/1, page 2). Walter Payne was one of those wounded by the incoming shellfire at Ypres.
Walter recovered from his wounds and returned to the 6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, perhaps some months after being wounded.
The 6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers had remained in the Ypres sector and in July 1916 the Battalion was defending the Front line in the trenches around Bois Carre and Bois Quarante astride the Wyteschaete Beek [beck] near Vierstraat, Heuvelland, Flanders. Bois Quarante (Forty Wood) was so named because it was astride the 40-metre contour. The Germans named it Croonart Wald after the Cronaert chapel which once stood there and had been the subject of a painting by Adolf Hitler completed while he was serving there. The wood used to be kept as a museum and the owner claimed Adolf Hitler won his Iron Cross there and re-visited the place in 1940.
Walter Payne was at the defences at Bois Quarante in July 1916. On 15th July a German raiding party was fought off but a moaning voice was heard for an hour in No Man’s Land. After evening stand-to an officer went out and found a dead German soldier whom he carried back to the British lines. He was identified as Willi Gierki, 18 years of age of the 214th Regiment. On 17th July the British defences at neighbouring Bois Carre were blown in by shelling and 50 men spent the night filling 2,000 sandbags to make temporary repairs. On 18th July 1916 the 24 hour period was noted as being quiet other than a few trench mortars being fired in the morning and then again in the afternoon. There was one casualty killed that day. He was Walter Payne.
Walter was buried at the near-by Ridge Wood Cemetery. Ridge Wood was the name given to a wood standing on high ground between the Kemmel road and Dickebusch Lake. The cemetery lies in a hollow on the western side of the ridge and the position was chosen for a front line cemetery as early as May 1915.
Walter Payne qualified for the 1914-15 Star; the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
It has not been possible to provide biographical details for Walter Payne.
More Follows
Reply from: Judith Lowe
Date: Wednesday 19th October 2016 at 6:07 PM

Thanks so much for the work that you have done on Walter Payne. It is so interesting
Do not take too much of you time tomorrow writing up Richard Allen. There is no particular rush.
Best wishes
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 20th October 2016 at 6:47 PM

Richard Allen was fêted as a hero.
Richard was born in 1886 at Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, the sixth child of Edward Allen, a fustian dyer, and his wife, Mary. Fustian was a heavy menswear cloth of woven cotton usually dyed in dark colours. In 1901 the Allens lived at East View, Hebden Bridge. Richard Allen married Clara Scholfield in 1908. Their first child was Frank, born at Todmorden in 1909. In 1911, Richard was described as a 25-year-old cotton weaver, living with wife and child at 7, Pexwood Place, Todmorden.
Hours before the outbreak of war, Richard Allen, a mill worker of 4 Mills Place, Todmorden, voluntarily joined the “Todmorden Territorials”, the local company of the pre-war 6th Battalion of The Lancashire Fusiliers. He attested on 4th August 1914, the day war was declared at 11p.m. GMT (midnight in Germany). His volunteering on the day the Territorials were mobilized for war was an enthusiastic gesture by a 28-year-old man who was married with at least one child. Richard was allotted the regimental number 9145. He would probably have undergone a bit of ribbing because the people of Todmorden and Hebden Bridge have persistently shared an ongoing rivalry. At the outbreak of war, the Territorials from Todmorden and Middleton marched to the 6th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers’ H.Q. at the Drill Hall in Rochdale where for days crowds had to be held back as the men paraded and drilled. They left for Turton training camp on a fifteen mile march at 5 a.m. on Thursday 20th August 1914. The “Rochdale Observer” reported: “On the morning of the departure crowds thronged the streets once more but when the men set off a respectful hush descended. Punctually, to the moment, the start was made. No bands heralded it. No cheer rose from the waiting crowd. A fine phrase used in reference to the departure of the Expeditionary Force - ‘in the hush of England’ - came to mind, and the moment was all the more impressive for the absence of any popular demonstration. Silently save for the tramp of feet, the battalion marched away, a phantom army in the weird twilight of dawn.”
On 9th September 1914, the 6th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers embarked at Southampton and sailed to Egypt where they arrived at Alexandria on 25th September 1914. They were among the first Territorials to serve abroad. There they took part in the defence of the Suez Canal Zone with the East Lancashire Division and were involved in the fighting-off of a weak attack by the Turks in February 1915. At the beginning of May 1915, the Battalion sailed from Alexandria for Gallipoli where they landed at Cape Helles on 5th May 1915 at Lancashire Landing.
The Division was then involved in three attempts to break out of the Helles bridgehead to capture the high ground dominating the village of Krithia. These attacks occurred on 6th to 8th May, the 4th June and, after Richard had been wounded, from 6th to 13th August 1915. On 4th June 1915, Richard Allen was attached to a Field Company of the Royal Engineers south of Krithia. This would have been either the 427th (1st East Lancashire) Field Company or the 428th (2nd East Lancashire) Field Company.
Richard and his colleagues had been under a British bombardment of the enemy trenches following which Richard made his way up a stream with other men, some of whom were killed. He and his colleagues then fixed bayonets and made a rush of about 300 yards to attack the Turks in their trenches, jumping in and out of the three lines of trenches one after the other. Richard went with the Engineers to deal with wire entanglements and the Engineers placed him on sentry duty to cover their work. It was then Richard heard a rustling in the long grass and scrub and a sound as if someone was blowing his nose. He aimed his rifle and started firing at the spot “with good effect” causing a German officer in charge of a Turkish machine-gun section to leap-up brandishing a revolver. Richard “dealt with him” [shot him] and returned to his position carrying the captured enemy’s machine-gun. A cheer went up on the spot when he arrived back with the captured gun and he was warmly shaken by the hand all round.
However, Richard Allen was wounded by a gunshot wound in his left side which penetrated his abdomen. Whether this was on the same occasion or later in the day is not clear. He was sent to 19th General Hospital at Alexandria, Egypt, and then to a convalescent camp named Mustapha Camp at Alexandria on July 15th 1915, before he was sent home to England.
Richard wrote home and on 26th June 1915 the Burnley News got the story of his capturing the gun.
Some 200 out of 500 men from the 6th Lancashire Fusiliers who were engaged in the landing at Gallipoli became casualties. The 6th Battalion earned five Distinguished Conduct Medals and all of them were awarded to men from Todmorden, so the town was in celebratory mood for a short time as consolation for their families’ losses. The “London Gazette” published Richard Allen’s award of the D.C.M. on 15th September 1915. The D.C.M. had been instigated in 1854 by Queen Victoria as a decoration for gallantry in the field by ranks other than officers. The “Rochdale Observer” of 18th September 1915 reported the award and said Richard was “now in Rainhill Military Hospital suffering from wounds” (© Trinity Mirror, via British Newspaper Archive).
On Tuesday evening 30th November 1915 Todmorden Town Hall was packed when the Mayor, Alderman Jackson, presented not only the D.C.M. to the five Todmorden territorials but also presented each of the five men with a solid gold watch, suitably inscribed. The townspeople had raised a fund of £250 for the five men. The historic standard of living value of £250 in 1915 is today £18,000. It was proposed from the stage that a permanent memorial should be provided for the Todmorden Territorials as the five D.C.M.s did not represent the entire gallantry of the Todmorden boys. Captain Gledhill addressed the Town Hall presentation and said the Lancashire lads had made more progress on the Peninsula than any other regiment and had gained a reputation for being tireless. They arrived untried but performed like veterans. There was of course a tinge of sadness in the thought of the brave lads who now lay buried on the Gallipoli Peninsula (Manchester Courier, 1st December 1915, © Local World; ibid). Richard was aged 29, but photographs of the Battalion in Rochdale in August 1914 show many of them were just boys. See:
Each soldier who was awarded the D.C.M. also received an additional D.C.M. pension of 6d a day administered by the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, which was the H.Q. of Army pensions. It was cynically suggested that the Military Medal was instituted in the Great War to avoid having to pay too many D.C.M. pensions. As a soldier earned a shilling a day, sixpence represented a substantial increase.
Richard’s wounds caused him to be discharged from the Army on 13th May 1916. He qualified for the Distinguished Conduct Medal with pension, the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He was granted a silver War Badge for being wounded.
But Richard Allen turned to drink.
He appeared in court charged with drunkenness on Thursday 29th May 1919. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported: “Richard Allen, a Lancashire Fusilier and winner of the D.C.M. was charged at Todmorden today with drunkenness. The chairman said that in recognition of his brave deed the magistrates would discharge him. The defendant said that when he had a few glasses of beer the liquor flew to his head. He promised to sign the pledge. Mr Sutcliffe Thomas: Don’t sign it if you can’t keep it. The Mayor: I should sign and try to keep it.” (© Johnston Press via British Newspaper Archive).
And then he blew it.
A note on the reverse of his service medals index-card stated: “Secretary of Royal Hospital Chelsea inquires whether the pension appertaining to the D.C.M. will be restored on release from prison”.
On 8th April 1924, Richard Allen, 38, metal broker, appeared at the West Riding Quarter Sessions in Wakefield charged with stealing eight bales of cotton waste valued at £59 on the evening of February 25th 1924. He was co-accused with Arthur Duerden, 38, a warp sizer, of taking the bales from Westfield Mills, Mytholmroyd, owned by Abraham Robertshaw and Son. The bales were removed from the warehouse and taken to the Woodman Inn where they were left overnight. The next day the two accused took them to Burnley and sold them for £32. Allen pleaded not guilty and said that he bought the bales from a man to whom he believed they belonged. Duerden said he was merely acting as an assistant to Allen and did not know what the job was. Duerden was found not guilty and was discharged. Allen was convicted. But the court heard that he had gained the D.C.M. in the Dardanelles during the war and had been discharged totally wounded in 1916. So, the court said they would “give him another chance on account of his good Army record”. They fined him £20 to be paid in six months’ time otherwise he would go to prison with hard labour for three months (“D.C.M. winner’s Army record helps him”; Yorkshire Post, 9th April 1924 © Johnston Press; ibid). That £20 fine would be £1,029 at today’s value.
Another chance didn’t do any good.
In November 1924 the Yorkshire Post reported Richard Allen had come out of prison a month previously. On 11th November under the cross-heading “Besmirching his Medal” the newspaper reported: “Richard Allen, a well-known Todmorden man who in the war was awarded the D.C.M. was sent to prison for two months’ hard labour for being drunk and disorderly and doing wilful damage. The evidence showed that he went home on Saturday night and finding his wife was out he went round to her sisters. On being refused admittance there he smashed all the windows. It was stated he came out of prison last month after serving a sentence of six months” (Yorkshire Post 11th November 1924; ibid).
That wasn’t the last of his exploits.
He re-appeared in court in 1926 alongside his earlier accomplice Arthur Duerden: “Two Todmorden labourers, Arthur Duerden, 6 Short Street and Richard Allen, 26 Mill Street, were sent to prison for three months’ hard labour at Todmorden on Thursday for stealing two parcels on Todmorden railway station” (Burnley Express 27th November 1926 © Johnston Press; ibid).
The following year the pair was still at it. The two men appeared before the West Riding Quarter Sessions at Wakefield on 12th October 1927: “Arthur Duerden, (42) labourer, Short Street and Richard Allen (40) labourer, Mill Street, Todmorden, indicted for having stolen two barrels of oil, and 20 lbs of rubber valued at £11 18s 11d, the property of Clay and Horsfall manufacturers, Sowerby Bridge, six months hard labour” (Leeds Mercury © Johnston Press; ibid).
The face of Richard Allen’s service medals index-card stated: “not forfeited” written in the same black ink as the query about the pension.
Richard Allen appears to have been buried at Cross Stone, Todmorden in December 1944.
With kind regards,

Footnote: As his service medals were not forfeited it is likely his D.C.M. was not permanently forfeited. Had it been forfeited he could have applied to have it reinstated under the terms established in Army Council Instruction No. 75 of 1921. There is no record of whether his pension was reinstated.

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