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Alan Greveson's World War 1 Forum (Page 24)

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Posted by: Jonboy {Email left}
Location: Harlow
Date: Sunday 16th November 2014 at 5:06 PM
Just a quick one but what does a Soldier do when he sent out to do Excumation Duties Son Luke says its something to do with collecting Bodies ! is this true ?
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 16th November 2014 at 7:21 PM

Dear Jonboy and Luke,
In the First World War there was a policy of non-repatriation of the dead. Repatriation to allow a privately-funded funeral in the UK was introduced in the late 1960s. Before that, British Government policy was that Service personnel who died overseas should be buried close to where they fell.
At the end of the First World War, battlefields had to be cleared of bodies and human remains. At the same time, small, isolated battlefield cemeteries were removed and concentrated into the War Grave Cemeteries that were being created. One of the architects of the War Grave Cemeteries was Edwin Lutyens who wrote that there was: "a ribbon of isolated graves like a milky way across miles of country, where men were tucked in where they fell. For miles these graves occur, from single graves to close-packed areas of thousands on every sort of site and in every sort of position." Those were the ones who had been buried.
The Graves Registration Unit had to locate and identify the graves of soldiers. The CWGC says: "Where burials had occurred in established burial grounds, with clearly marked graves, the graves were simply recorded and registered. In most other circumstances, the bodies required exhumation and reburial, during which process attempts were made to identify the individuals.
"Old battlefields were searched for the previously unburied dead. Despite the difficulty and unpleasantness of the work, the exhumation squads were methodical and meticulous in their searches and, most of them having seen active service themselves, were painstaking in their search for anything that would help identify a fallen comrade. Nevertheless, battlefield conditions meant that many of these vital indicators were lost and a high proportion of the bodies found remained unknown."
The extent of the work was vast and it was complicated by the fact that the British Legion and Thomas Cook were organising cheap three-day tours of the battlefields, many of which had not been cleared.
As early as June 1917, British soldiers were complaining about the bodies left on the uncleared battlefields of the Somme. At the end of the war there were to be 180,000 unidentified graves and 530,000 men whose graves were not known. The Directorate of Graves Registration employed only 500 men. De-mobilization meant soldiers were not available in France and the French could not spare any labour from their own, similar, tasks and the need to re-build France.
Initially the live ammunition and dead bodies in France and Belgium were cleared by members of the 95,000-strong Chinese Labour Corps, but many of them wanted to return home having been brought to France by the British in 1916. The work of the Chinese has often gone un-recognised and the employment of non-British labour for such work perhaps indicates the attitudes that prevailed at the time.
After complaints in the Cabinet of the British Government about the lack of progress, in the Spring of 1919, the British Army was granted permission to recruit 15,000 volunteers to form a Labour Corps to clear the battlefields, exhume isolated graves and bury the unburied bodies. They would be paid an extra two shillings and sixpence a day. However, by June 1919, only 4,347 men had gone to France and Belgium so the work progressed slowly. By May 1920, all but the Passchendaele battlefield had been cleared and 130,000 bodies had been re-interred. However, the bodies kept being revealed and by September 1921 the total number of bodies re-interred had risen to 200,000. Eventually, every battlefield was examined at least six and as many as twenty times ("The Unending Vigil" by Philip Longworth, 1967, CWGC, page 58).
"Government Notice: A number of men are urgently required for special work in connection with the scheme for the exhumation of bodies and the centralization of military cemeteries in France.
Period of engagement: The duration of special duties, terminating in any case on 30th April 1920.
Men from 17 years and upwards, of category below B1; over 38 years of any category. Men must be physically fit for the duties required. Pay, bonus and allowances as paid to men in the Labour Corps with 2s 6d per diem additional for every day when actually employed on the special duties. NCOs 3s per diem. Apply at once to the recruiting officer." ("Cornishman", Wednesday 21 May 1919, © Local World Limited by courtesy of The British Library Board via the British Newspaper Archive).
American families could request the repatriation of American soldiers who were killed in France in 1917-1918. The families of 43,909 dead asked for their remains to be taken to the U.S. by ship, while some 20,000 chose to have the bodies remain in Europe. The first bodies of American troops killed in the conflict were not sent back to the U.S. until 1921 ("Wall Street Journal", May 29th 2010).
In the 21st Century conflicts, the locations of amputated limbs buried in situ by the Royal Army Medical Corps are permanently recorded using accurate GPS for future reference.
The Ministry of Defence now has a "Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre". The MoD's policy is that "In the event that a soldier dies in service abroad, the Ministry of Defence will endeavour to repatriate his or her body, wherever possible, as soon as is practicable".
The British repatriate their dead servicemen in RAF aircraft while the Americans employ Evergreen International Airlines Inc., a military contractor. The Pentagon employs four other companies, including UPS and Federal Express, to effect "concurrent return" of the bodies of service personnel who die while serving overseas.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Jonboy
Date: Monday 17th November 2014 at 3:13 PM

Hi Alan
Thanks for that and Luke said thanks as well as its more info for his Folder.
Posted by: Robert {Email left}
Location: Anchorage Alaska Usa
Date: Sunday 16th November 2014 at 6:16 AM
I had a German relative, Berthold Neugebauer (1899-1976), who, as a young man, was
conscripted into the German Army during the latter part of WWI. He was captured and held a
prisoner of war supposedly in England. Are there record sources that might
provide details of his war time activities and then captivity, which was said to have lasted about a
year? Thanks for any suggestions and help you can provide.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 16th November 2014 at 4:14 PM

Dear Robert,
Records of German soldiers from the First World War (Der Erste Weltkrieg) were not held centrally. The German Empire was dominated by Prussia, with Bavaria, Württemberg and Saxony being semi-autonomous states which kept separate records. The Prussian records were destroyed in 1945.
It is necessary to know where the soldier came from and his date and place of birth to help identify him. For other lists it would be necessary to know in which unit he served. The records are in German, and include military abbreviations. Some are hand-written.
Bavarian personnel rosters are available on the ancestry.com website with a worldwide subscription. Ancestry.com also has casualty lists from 1914 1917. The one entry on Ancestry for the Bavarian rosters is for a Berthold Neugebauer born 11.7.1893. The casualty lists are available elsewhere (see below), so Ancestry.com won't really help you.
The state archives other than Prussian are the Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv
the Landesarchiv Baden Württemberg - Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart
and the Hauptstaatsarchiv Dresden
They have websites translated into English
During the war the fate of soldiers was published on Verlustlisten (Casualty lists) which were put on public display. These lists are sorted by unit. The scans can be accessed using the "suchmaske" (search) button at:
The Deutsche Dienststelle has military records which mainly date from 1939 but they do hold some First World War records.

The one centralised online archive of Prisoners of War is held in Geneva by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Enter the surname, adjust the nationality, select "German army main file" click on "validate".
In Britain there are no centralised records naming German prisoners captured in the First World War. The National Archives say: "Lists of names of enemy prisoners and internees were routinely forwarded to the Prisoners of War Information Bureau (PWIB) in London, which in turn informed the International Red Cross Headquarters in Geneva. Unfortunately, bombing in 1940 largely destroyed the lists and other documentation compiled by the Bureau".
However, there are some related records stored at The National Archives at Kew, including:
two specimen lists of army, naval and civilian German PoWs in WO 900/45-46: these give the regiment, ship and usually the home address, place of internment, remarks regarding health, and date of transfer to internment in a neutral country;
a summary of the work and history of the Prisoner of War Information Bureau in WO 162/341;
occasional mentions of enemy PoWs by name within the card index of the General Political Correspondence of the Foreign Office: if you find an entry you can often convert it into an FO 383 reference;
files on the employment of enemy PoWs in Britain in NATS 1/567-571;
correspondence on enemy merchant seamen taken prisoner in MT 9 and MT 23.
The British Red Cross archives are detailed at:
With kind regards,
Reply from: Robert King
Date: Saturday 29th November 2014 at 2:00 AM

Dear Alan,

Thank you very much for your most interesting and informative reply, including the website links. When World War I began, my relative Berthold Neugebauer (Jr.) (1899-1976) was living in Ballenstedt, a town in the Harz district, in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. It is situated at the northern rim of the Harz mountain range, about 10 km southeast of Quedlinburg. His father, Berthold Neugebauer, Sr., was the manager of the train station at Ballenstedt until his death there in 1904. His family remained in Ballenstedt into the WW I period, with his widow living there into the 1920s. The family had come to Balenstedt after Berthold Neugebauer Jr.'s 18 Feb 1899 birth at Langfuhr, Danzig, near what is now Gdansk in Poland. Prior to that, the family had lived in what is now Elblag, Poland (formerly Elbing, Prussia). Besides Berthold Neugebauer, Jr., there were two other sons, with one killed during the war. As far as I know, Berthold Neugebauer, Jr. was the only one captured during WWI. He was just a teenager at the time. I don't believe I have a reference to the unit in which he served.

I did examine the very impressive website you kindly supplied for Prisoners of War as posted by the International Committee of the Red Cross. (http://grandeguerre.icrc.org/). I didn't find Berthold Neugebauer, Jr. I also viewed the British Red Cross archives wesite you listed and had similar results. Additionally, I looked at websites for Saxony/Sachsen - Anhalt but again didn't locate information on Berthold Neugebauer, Jr. (1899-1976). Since I live in the United States (in Alaska), that may be about as much as I can do for now unless you have other suggestions. Again, thanks again for all your wonderful help. You are so kind to help people, and we all appreciate it! Robert
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 1st December 2014 at 8:40 PM

Dear Robert,
I have found what appears to be the index card for Berthold on the ICRC website. It is one of two images at:


The images are previewed in two small frames beneath the main image.
The first image, an index card, refers to documents by number which appear to lead no-where.
The second card seems to be the only surviving reference.
It reads:
Neugebauer Berthold
Schutze (Rank: gunner)
Infanterie-Regiment 360 1 M.G. Komp
360th Infantry Regiment; 1st Machine Gun Company
Born 18.2.99 Elbing
Vermisst seit (missing since) 2.9.18
Westen (western front)
Ballenstedt (followed by reference numbers and dates which would have referred to letters or documents no longer in existence)
g.s.w. both sides (is English for gun shot wound both sides)
Communiqué famille (family contacted)
18 XI 18 (18th November 1918)
Followed by references to correspondence or documents no longer in existence.

(360th Infantry Regiment served with 9. Ersatz-Infanterie-Brigade and 13. Ersatz-Infanterie-Brigade)
With kind regards,
Reply from: Robert King
Date: Thursday 25th December 2014 at 8:05 AM

Dear Alan,

Thank you ever so much for the records that you found on my relative Berthold Neugebauer. I am so happy to have this information. I'm sorry that it took me a while to reply but I was out of town.

Now, I wonder if there might be records on Berthold's two older brothers who also served in WW I on the German side, with one dying in service. Here is what I have on them:

Erich Neugebauer born 24 May 1895 at Elbing(?), Prussia, died 28 Dec 1976 at Bamberg, Germany. A surviving letter from his mother said that he went into the German army in 1914. I would assume that he entered service from living at Ballenstedt, Germany where his widowed mother was living at the time. I have nothing more on his service. He married but had no children. He was a civil engineer.

Wilhelm Neugebauer born about 1896 at Elbing(?), Prussia, died 8 Jan 1918, killed in service during WW I while serving as a German soldier. His mother wrote that he also entered the German army in 1914, but I have nothing more. Again, I imagine that he entered service from Ballenstedt, Germany. I don't know if he was buried on a battlefield or what became of his remains. He never married.

Again, many many thanks for the incredible help you have given me. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

Best regards, Robert King
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 27th December 2014 at 3:10 PM

Dear Robert,
Unfortunately it is not possible to trace any surviving service records of German soldiers without knowing in which regiment they served. Berthold's record was found because he had been taken prisoner and prisoner's records survived with the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. The surname Neugebauer occurs frequently, consequently specific military service details would be needed to trace the records through correspondence with State archives in Germany. Most First World War (Der Erste Weltkrieg) military service records were centralised on the Prussian (Preußen) State Archives which were mostly destroyed in 1945, so few records have survived. Those that have might be available from the relevant section of the German State Archives (Bundesarchiv). See:
I have searched the available German casualty lists on ancestry.com for Wilhelm but cannot find an entry for 1918. Some casualty lists identified a soldier by his date of birth, others by his regiment. The abbreviations "Wilh." and Willi were also used.
German deaths whilst on national service in a country other than Germany would have been recorded by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (National German War Graves Care Commission) which has an online database. See:
With kind regards,
Reply from: Robert King
Date: Saturday 27th December 2014 at 9:41 PM

Dear Alan, Thanks very much for your wonderful efforts to find more information for me, including telling me more about the need to find the regiment numbers of my relatives, plus more about record sources. I will keep this in mind for future research. You have been so very kind to help me. Thank you again, and have a wonderful 2015! Robert King
Posted by: John Nicholls {Email left}
Location: Harlow
Date: Saturday 15th November 2014 at 7:37 PM
Hi Alan
Just found some details for my Gt Uncle Frederick Arthur Nicholls Born 1894 Slough im not 100% sure because its so faded its hard, but it looks to be Royal Engineers and I think his Number was 92936 (or could be 8) any info on him would be great, hope all is well with you my son Luke sends his regards.

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 16th November 2014 at 4:15 PM

Dear Jonboy,
An Army medal rolls index card recorded Sapper 92936 Frederick A. Nicholls served in France with the Royal Engineers from 10th August 1915. "Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) recorded he resided at Lewes, Sussex. He was killed in action on 30th May 1918, serving with the 26th Field Company RE. That company had been in France with 1st Division since the beginning of the war, so it is likely Frederick was part of a draft of reinforcements. For the 1st Division see:
On the same day that he died, a lance-corporal L. Body of the 26th Field Company was killed and their graves are side by side. They were buried at Cambrin Military Cemetery which was "behind the mayor's house". It is also known as Cambrin Chateau Cemetery.
The CWGC recorded Frederick was aged 24 when he was killed. He was "the Son of James and Sarah Nicholls, of Slough, Bucks; husband of E. A. A. Huxford (formerly Nicholls), of The Cottage, "Owthorpe," Branksome Wood Rd., Bournemouth, Hants.".
Had he married Emma Alice A. Pomfret at Eton and Slough in 1917?
Frederick qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
The war diary of 26 Field Company RE (apparently dated only from January 1917) can be downloaded from The National Archives for £3.30. However, the Royal Engineers Museum lists the 26 Field Company Diaries in their possession as 01 Feb 1915 to 30 Jun 1918 and 01 Oct 1918 to 31 May 1919. The Field Companies were relatively small and their diaries often mentioned men by name. See:
For a list of battles involving 26 Field Company RE see:

Pass on my regards to Luke.
Reply from: Jonboy
Date: Sunday 16th November 2014 at 4:56 PM

Hi Alan
Thanks so much for that, that adds up to 4 Graves I would love to visit and pay my respects, hopefully early in New Year I will be driving over there to visit the Cemetries but lots of paperwork to go through yet. Thankyou so much. £10 will be dropped in to British Legion Tuesday.
John Nicholls
Posted by: Becca {Email left}
Location: East Yorklshire
Date: Saturday 15th November 2014 at 1:30 PM
Me again Alan,
In 2011 we were in touch regarding G H Coupland, and no records were found.
I have come across this during this week, and wonder if you can throw more light on to whether he is "our" George or not.
Driver George Harry Coupland No 45236 R F A Regt.
Many thanks

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 15th November 2014 at 6:29 PM

Dear Becca,
Unfortunately, there is no surviving individual service record for George Harry Coupland 45236 RFA so it is not possible to further identify him from the available records.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Becca
Date: Saturday 15th November 2014 at 8:47 PM

Thanks Alan for your fast reply to my queries. I shall look further into the James Dukes one.

Might be rather early, but all the best for the festive season and 2015.


Posted by: Becca {Email left}
Location: East Yorkshire
Date: Saturday 15th November 2014 at 1:25 PM
Hello again Alan, trust you are well.
I have found these details of James Francis DUKES, and wonder if you can give me more information about him.
I was told that he served under Montgomery, but am not sure if this is correct or not.
JAMES FRANCIS DUKES Service number 2483
Birth year 1878 (11th October)
Birth parish ST MARYS Birth town BEVERLEY
Regiment East Yorkshire Regiment - 15th Foot
Document Type Attestation
Attestation on 5 December 1896
Attestation age years 18 2 months
Attestation Corps East Yorkshire Regiment
Discharge Corps East Yorkshire Regiment
Series militia service records 1806-1915
Box 305
Box Record Number 247
Record set British Army Service Records 1760-1915
Category Military, armed forces & conflict

Many thanks for your help. No doubt you have been extremely busy in the past few months.

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 15th November 2014 at 6:28 PM

Dear Becca,
Militia service records are available free at The National Archives, Kew, or for a fee on the findmypast.co.uk website. Findmypast's terms and conditions of use preclude publication of details from their website on a forum such as this. You will have to purchase the records or subscribe to findmypast.co.uk.
With kind regards,
Posted by: Janet {Email left}
Location: Kent
Date: Saturday 15th November 2014 at 11:38 AM
Dear Alan,

I am somewhat confused as I have a photograph of my grandad in ww1 uniform but he was born in shipston on stour in 1904 and so obviously would have been too young to serve. I also have a printed Xmas card from the Warwickshire regiment from him. It shows a picture of stick men entering a machine and coming out as soldiers. Did they have a boys brigade or something for youngsters. I would be very grateful for anything you may be able to help me with.

Regards Janet
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 15th November 2014 at 3:57 PM

Dear Janet,
The First World War service dress tunic with five buttons was issued up to 1937, so the photograph could date from the inter-war years. The Royal Warwickshire Regimental museum might be able to date the Christmas card for you. See:
With kind regards,
Posted by: Liz {Email left}
Location: Glasgow
Date: Friday 14th November 2014 at 5:51 PM
My great-aunt's fiance, Thomas Ball, was a private in the 3rd Battalion Cameron Highlanders and died at Ballyvanore, Ireland on 2nd November 1918. I understand this was a convalescent unit. In July 1918 he was in Seafield Army Hospital, Ayr which treated wounded service-men. Having briefly researched his regiment it would appear it was based in Inverness and Invergorden and Ireland, but can find no information about the regiment being involved in conflict which could have led to Thomas Ball being wounded. Would you be able to shed any light on this? Thanks
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 14th November 2014 at 6:37 PM

Dear Liz,
The 3rd Battalion of any regiment was its depot battalion that trained recruits. The 3rd Battalion did not go to war. The 3rd Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders did spend some time during 1918 stationed at Ballyvanore Camp, County Cork. The camp coincidentally housed a Command convalescent depot. When a man was in hospital his pay and allowances were administered by the depot battalion because the man was not on the strength of any other unit while in hospital. The CWGC stated that Thomas Ball died while serving with the 3rd Cameron Highlanders, so it is not yet possible to distinguish between the physical presence of the 3rd Battalion and its administrative role. He was buried at Lanarkshire but appears to have an Irish death certificate. It is likely he died in hospital in Ireland. Thomas Ball could have died of sickness or accident while serving with the 3rd Battalion Cameron Highlanders in Ireland. There is no entry for Thomas Ball S/12417 Cameron Highlanders in the Army medal rolls index-cards suggesting he did not qualify for any campaign medals for serving overseas. His name is not listed in "Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) nor in the Army War Deaths records kept by the English General Register Office. His death would probably have been registered in Ireland.
His full death certificate would state his cause of death. It is probably the entry indexed as: Thomas Ball, born 1890, aged 28, October-December 1918, Mallow, Co. Cork, volume 5 page 345. To apply for Irish death certificates online or by post from the Office of the Registrar General see:
They cost 20 Euros.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Liz
Date: Friday 14th November 2014 at 9:09 PM

Thanks Alan. There is some suggestion that Thomas Ball died as a result of the flu pandemic and this possibly coincides with what you have said. I'll get his death certificate and hopefully this should tie up the loose ends.

Posted by: Alan {Email left}
Location: France
Date: Friday 14th November 2014 at 1:46 PM
Hi Alan, here is a song I wrote about the World War One Christmas Truce.

If you like it Alan, maybe you will put it on your webste...kindest regards, Alan

Posted by: Lindsey A {Email left}
Location: Cardiff
Date: Friday 14th November 2014 at 11:16 AM
Hello Alan,

I've been passed your forum by a friend who has received good information from you and I am wondering if you can help me with any information regarding my Great-Grandfather who served in France during the Great War? I know very little about him other than the following information: His name was Reginald Guy Perriam. I think he served in the Royal Field Artillery and I have a Gunner Number 34853.
If you have any information about him and his service with the above regiment that would be wonderful and greatly appreciated. I have left an email address above for any correspondence.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Lindsey Allan
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 14th November 2014 at 3:57 PM

Dear Lindsey,
No individual service record has survived for Reginald Guy Perriam so it is not possible to state his military service. An Army medal rolls index card for a Reginald G. Perriam was for a man named Reginald George Perriam. The remaining index-card for Reginald Guy Perriam recorded he was a driver with the Royal Field Artillery, regimental number 34853. Medal index-cards do not provide biographical details to further identify the man. 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.
It is possible he might have applied for a pension. The Western Front Association holds an archive of 6.5 million pension record cards (PRCs) which are not available elsewhere. They charge an administrative fee for a manual search of the records. See:
With kind regards,
Posted by: Keith Charge {Email left}
Location: Audlem Cheshire
Date: Friday 14th November 2014 at 11:04 AM
Hello Alan,
yet another query about a soldier in WW1! He was Robert William Charge and served with the 2nd Garrison Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers in India, where he died in Ahmednagar on 19 Aug 1917 (Reg No. 26345). I have found from various websites (including CWGC) that he died from an accident when the base of his skull was fractured. What I'm trying to find out is what sort of accident was it? He was 36 years old when he died, and in the 1911 census his occupation was "Coal Miner, Hewer" so he must have worked at the coal face. I have looked at your other replies about the 2nd Garrison Battalion so I have some idea of what he might have been doing in Ahmednagar. I hope you can help me to find out.
Best regards,
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 14th November 2014 at 3:55 PM

Dear Keith,
There are no immediately available records that would show how an individual died. If someone such as a chaplain or platoon commander had written to his next-of-kin explaining what had happened that information would be in family correspondence. His death certificate might record a cause of death. It is erroneously recorded as William W. Change, GRO Army War Deaths 1914-1921, 1917, private 26345 Northumberland Fusiliers, vol I.32 page 31. It can be ordered online for £9.25 from the GRO:
The regimental museum might have some record of an exceptional event on the day he died or a brief court of enquiry (similar to an inquest) to establish the circumstances of his death.
With kind regards,
Reply from: Keith Charge
Date: Friday 14th November 2014 at 5:56 PM

Thank you so much for your speedy reply to my query, your hands must be a blur on the keyboard!
I shall send off to the GRO for a death Cert and hopefully that will give me some answers. I will also try the regimental museum.
Thanks again.

Best regards,

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