The World War Forum (Page 270)

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Posted by: Margaret {No contact email}
Location: Glasgow
Date: Monday 1st November 2010 at 4:35 PM
Hello all researchers,

Can anyone please help me to find out a bit more about my grandfather's service during ww1. His name was William Pughe (true name Pugh). He was already in the regular army in India and was one of the "Old Contemptibles" . He was awarded the 14 Star Medal. He was a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artilliery and from the Medal Roll card I can make out some of the writing as follows:- Corps 4/5B; Rank GNR; Reg. No.24218; Medal 14 Star RGA/19/11; Roll RGA/107B; Page 65B. Action Taken:--1914 clasp 10935 Clasp (roses?) issued 1V. 6199 ca/d 1.3.20. Qualifying Date 17.9.14.

My question is-- is there any way of finding out from the above info. which battles he took part in? (my father recalls his father talk of Plugstreet Wood (Pluegsteert). Is there any info. on the Medal Roll whivh will enable me to find out more about the movements of his Corps during ww1?

I hope someone can help
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 1st November 2010 at 6:16 PM

Dear Margaret,
The Medal Card showed his unit as 4/SB RGA which stood for No4 Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery. This battery went to France on September 17th 1914 which was the same date as William's entry into France shown on the card. He qualified for the Mons clasp which was a dated clasp to be worn on the 1914 Star and for the "rose" emblem which was worn on the ribbon when medals were not worn. The Medal Roll won't provide any more information as soldiers only had a one-line entry stating their qualification for the medals. The IV number and date is simply an indent voucher number for the clasp and roses.
Tracing the movements of the RGA is not easy. No 4 Siege Battery served with the Fifth Army. You might like to try the Royal Artillery Museum or if you can get to the National Archives, the war diary of No 4 Siege Battery is in catalogue reference WO 95/543.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Margaret
Date: Monday 1st November 2010 at 8:17 PM

Dear Alan,

Thank you very, very much for your prompt reply. I had wondered if my grandfather was part of a "Siege Battery" and you have answered this. Thanks also for the info. on the 5th Army and for the very useful National Archives Ref.No. It's such a pity that it's so difficult to trace the movements of the RGA.

Once again---Thank You!
Kind regards

Posted by: Nicholas Hairyes {No contact email}
Location: Gateshead
Date: Monday 1st November 2010 at 1:56 PM
Hi alan, still havent heard a reply from you as yet.i dont know if i have done something as im brand new to this my apaoligies if i have.
Posted by: Nicholas Hairyes {Email left}
Location: Gateshead
Date: Sunday 31st October 2010 at 6:42 PM
Dear alan, may i first congragulate you on an exellent service,my name is nicholas hairyes and im searching for information about my great grandfather for a family history project. my great grandfather was john hairyes born in 1895 in leeds,he fought in the first world war in the royal garrison arrtellery heavy siege battery as a gunner. his regiment number was 353853. also are you aware of any photgraphs that may exsist of my great grandfather? there is not one photograph in our family of him and i have contacted the war museums to no avail.thanks for your time.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 1st November 2010 at 6:14 PM

Dear Nicholas,
John Hairyes joined the army under the Derby Scheme which was a last call for volunteers in late 1915 before the introduction of compulsory conscription in February 1916. The scheme offered men the chance to "volunteer now; join later". A surviving service record showed John Hairyes was attested (sworn in) on November 30th 1915 with the regimental number 74612 and was immediately returned to civilian life to await call-up. He had married Sarah Butler on 24 May 1915.
He was a 21 year old cloth miller employed by Chadwick Brothers, Hunslet Mills, Leeds. He was called up on April 7th 1916 and went to the No 4 Coastal Depot Royal Garrison Artillery at Great Yarmouth. On 25th April 1916 he was posted to the 163rd Heavy Battery RGA which was equipped with the 60 pounder gun. (Heavy and Siege batteries were quite different entities). See:
John went to France on 30th July 1916. This is the same date recorded for the arrival of the 163 HB RGA in France so it is likely he went to France serving with that Battery. He was allotted a new regimental number 353853. New numbers were allotted to soldiers serving in Territorial Force units in March 1917. When he left the Army John was serving with the 154th Heavy Battery RGA which was a former Hampshire TF unit. Therefore he could have been given the new number while he was serving with them or when he eventually joined them. His record does not indicate when he was posted from one to the other. In March 1918 the 154th Battery was serving on the Somme and had served at Ypres in 1917. It is not possible to provide any greater detail from his service record. John qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. At the end of December 1918 John was granted leave to the UK and this leave was extended in January 1919, probably because his father died in January 1919.

The army did not take photographs of soldiers for identification so any photographs would be those taken for the family. Sometimes local newspapers of the time published photographs, but usually as part of a soldier's obituary.
Soldiers' service records are available to download (charges apply) from the Ancestry website. Some local libraries provide free access to the site.

Kind regards,
Reply from: Nicholas Hairyes
Date: Monday 1st November 2010 at 7:44 PM

Thanks for your help alan, a wonderfull insight that is appreciated by my family and i.

Posted by: Kas {No contact email}
Location: Carmarthen
Date: Sunday 31st October 2010 at 6:35 PM
I am trying to find out where and how my grandfather actually died. His name was William George Leach, L/Cpl 24919, 2nd/7th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment who died on Friday, 1st November 1918. He is buried in Valenciennes (St Roch) Communal Cemetery, Nord, France.
It's possible he was killed nearby but some of these soldiers were brought in from other cemeteries after the German bodies had been moved elsewhere.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 31st October 2010 at 9:34 PM

Dear Kas,
It seems certain that Lance Corporal William Leach died on November 1st 1918 while fighting with his battalion in pursuit of the retreating Germans at a place called St Hubert near Valenciennes.
The CWGC Debt of Honour recorded his death as 1st November 1918 and the official publication "Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) recorded he was "killed-in-action" on November 1st 1918. The war diary of the 2nd/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment records that they were in action on November 1st in what was to be their last day of fighting in the war. The Battalion lost 28 men killed on November 1st 1918.

William is buried in grave D 21 of Plot III of the Valenciennes (St Roch) Communal Cemetery and the CWGC notes that graves in plots III, IV, V and part of VI contain the graves of 348 soldiers buried originally in the German Extension and 226 whose bodies were brought from other cemeteries or from the battlefields. "The German Extension has since been removed and the Commonwealth plots are within the enlarged Communal Cemetery", which explains the reason for your question.

It may not be possible to say with any certainty whether William was buried in a smaller battlefield cemetery and then moved to Valenciennes or whether he died on his way to medical attention at Valenciennes itself. He died exactly 92 years ago on what was the last day of fighting in the First World War for the 2nd/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. In the final pursuit of the Germans, the Battalion had fought at Bois L'Eveque, Pommereuil, Bousies Forest and Vendegies-sur-Ecaillon in October 1918 - all on the approach to the last line of German defences. On October 24th all companies of the Battalion pushed forward at Sommaing which they cleared of the enemy on October 25th taking about 150 enemy prisoners. For the next week they rested in support of the 182nd Infantry Brigade in billets in Sommaing until October 31st when they were to continue their push forwards.
On the night of October 31st they moved to a sunken road near Maresches from where they were to advance on the enemy positions at 5.15 a.m. They advanced to attack St Hubert and the high ground to the North of Maresches. The attack was successful and 130 prisoners were taken. They also captured four enemy artillery guns but the Germans counter-attacked and re-possessed the guns. They held their line through the night into the morning of November 2nd and were relieved at 6.15 p.m. on November 2nd when they were taken out of the line and marched to St Aubert. They then returned to Sommaing where they remained until the end of the war. On November 2nd one officer and eight men were wounded by a "chance enemy shell". Three men died of wounds on November 2nd. Other than a few men who died of wounds in November, the battalion lost only one other man in action in the war, when Thomas Lardner was killed on November 11th.
Maresches is just to the South of Valenciennes which itself was taken by the Canadians on the same day William died.
Of the 28 men of the Battalion killed on November 1st 1918 the majority are buried at Valenciennes St Roch (CWGC Debt of Honour and "Soldiers Died in the Great War"). Those who have no known grave were commemorated at the Vis en Artois Memorial. Those who may have been taken to medical care were buried in cemeteries further to the rear and one man was buried in the cemetery of the Maresches commune. The majority are buried at Valenciennes St Roch. This information does not help provide any evidence whether the men's graves were moved to Valenciennes or not. However, it is unlikely that they had all died at a casualty clearing station in Valenciennes, so the likelihood they had been buried locally and their graves later moved is increased.
It is certain that William was killed in the presence of his colleagues who were able to identify him and give him a proper burial. His grave would have been identified by a Graves Registration Unit and the details would have been sent to his next of kin at the time. There was no single graves registration unit, but their work was controlled by The Director of Graves Registration and Enquires (DRG&E), as a representative of the Adjutant General and the work passed on to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The CWGC (and the Committee of the International Red Cross) may still have records of where the original graves were. To contact them see:
It is reported the CIRC in Geneva still hold their record cards from the First World War and hope to publish them online by the 100th anniversary of the war starting. See
The war diary of the 2nd/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment is available to download online at a cost of GBP 3-50 from the National Archives Documents Online website. It is with other diaries in catalogue reference WO 95/3056. See
and type the catalogue reference into the quicksearch box.

Kind regards,

References: Names from "Soldiers Died in the Great War" entries for Nov 1 1918 compared with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour cemetery locations for those men.
War Diary 2/7th Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment, National Archives WO 95/3056.
Reply from: Kas
Date: Monday 8th November 2010 at 3:35 PM

Thankyou very much indeed for the information you have provided. I shall view the web sites you have mentioned and see if it is possible to find even more info. Once again, many many thanks.
Reply from: Linda
Date: Friday 11th May 2012 at 6:57 PM

Hi I am the great grand-daughter of William George Leach my grandmother was his daughter Florence Mable Ellen and lived in Littlemore, Oxford where I also lived until 1970. I have now evidence of g-grandads grave and am going to visit next month. His name is on the roll of honour in the Littlemore British Legion, which I was first shown as a little girl and saw again a couple of weeks ago.I have been searching for his resting place for so long and found him through the War Graves Commision, who were so helpful. I would love to catch up with other relatives who are trying to find him.
Posted by: Ray Young {Email left}
Location: Nottingham
Date: Sunday 31st October 2010 at 9:58 AM
My grandfather was killed on 4th October 1917 Paschendale. His service details were. Pte. William Arthur Young 27713 Lancashire Fusiliers. The Tyne Cott
plaque shows that he was in the 9th battalion.
The medal Index card shows the following information.

Medal Roll Page Remarks

Victory H/1/101 B42 8635
British do do
15. Star H/1/53 B3 230 K in A 4. 10.17

Theatre of War first served in (4c)
Date of entry therein 3. 12. 15

Does anyone know Where the theatre of war (4c) was. and what would have been his medal entitlement.
Any help would be much appreciated
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 31st October 2010 at 3:37 PM

Dear Ray,
The Medal Rolls Index card for William A Young recorded the theatre of war as 4a which was Egypt.
His date of entry was December 3rd 1915. The 9th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers had left England in July 1915 and had fought at Gallipoli before being withdrawn to the island of Lemnos on December 18th 1915. The battalion then moved to Egypt where it arrived on 31st January 1916 in the Sidi Bishr area. It would appear that William Young was part of a draft of replacements. After spending some time on the Suez Canal defences from February 19th 1916, the battalion moved to France, arriving at Marseilles on July 10th 1916. The 9th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers fought in the 34th Infantry Brigade in the 11th Division.
The Division moved to the Somme and took part in major engagements at the capture of the Wundt-Werk (Wonder Work); The Battle of Flers-Courcelette and The Battle of Thiepval. In 1917 the Division fought at the Operations on the Ancre; The Battle of Messines; The Battle of Langemarck 1917; The Battle of Polygon Wood; and the Battle of Broodseinde. The Battle of Broodseinde opened on October 4th 1917 and was part of the Third Battle of Ypres which became known as Passchendaele.
"Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) recorded that William Arthur Young, born Bulwell, Nottinghamshire, enlisted at Doncaster and first served as Private 21423 in the King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry). He was killed in action on October 4th 1917.
No service record appears to have survived for him. His Medal Rolls Index card showed he served abroad only with the Lancashire Fusiliers so it would appear he had been transferred from the KOYLI to the Lancashire Fusiliers before leaving the UK. He qualified for the 1914-15 Star for service abroad before December 31st 1915 and the British War and Victor Medals.
The war diary of the 9th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers for the period 1916-1918 is held at the National Archives in catalogue reference WO 95/1820

Kind regards,
Posted by: Lou {Email left}
Location: Blackpool
Date: Saturday 30th October 2010 at 12:58 AM
Hi, I am trying to find out more information on my great great uncle second lieutenant Isaac Sowerby of the 6th Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment who died age 34 on 03 September 1917, he was the Son of Thomas and the late Mary Jane Sowerby, of Penrith; husband of Lilian Mary Sowerby, of 6, Union Terrace, Penrith, Cumberland. He is buried at Ypres reservoir cemetery in Belgium and is listed on the war memorial in St Andrew's Church in Penrith. I would be very grateful to know more about his role in the first world war and the events leafing to his death. Thank you. Lou
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 30th October 2010 at 7:54 PM

Dear Lou,
The information you require for a detailed record of the service of Isaac Sowerby is held at The National Archives at Kew in London. The CWGC Debt of Honour recorded he was with the 6th Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment when he died. It gave his date of death as 3rd September 1917. "Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) recorded that he died on September 4th 1917 while with the 6th Battalion. A Medal Rolls index card available on the Ancestry website (charges apply) recorded his date of death as September 4th 1917. The medal card also showed the date he entered France which was 10th March 1917.
You need to see his service record and the Battalion war diary to provide evidence that he served with that battalion throughout his time in France. The war diary is held at the National Archives in Catalogue reference WO 95/2755 "1/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment 48 Division
Date: 1915 1917". There is one service record for a 2Lt I Sowerby, which may be his, in the index of Catalogue series WO 374 "War Office: Officers' Services, First World War, personal files (alphabetical)".
At the time of his death (3rd or 4th September) the 1st/6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment was in Belgium with the 143rd Infantry Brigade. The Brigade had fought in the Third Battle of Ypres and had been engaged the Battle of Langemarck on August 16th and at St Julien, near Ypres, on August 27th 1917. It is possible Isaac had been wounded and died in hospital afterwards. The Brigade was out of the front line, staying at St Jan ter Biezen near Poperinghe on September 3rd and 4th.
Kind regards,
Posted by: Mandy {Email left}
Location: Bracknell
Date: Friday 29th October 2010 at 4:08 PM
Hi, I wondered if anybody knows anything about the Colchester War Memorial. I am trying to find my Great Grandfather and I believe his name may be on the War Memorial. His name was Ernest Mann but went by the name "Harry" and there is a Harry Mann on the Memorial. The only thing is that I cannot find any record of a Harry Mann from Colchester anywhere. I have a feeling he died fighting for this country as I cannot find any death certificate for him as he died before 1918, that is when his wife remarried a soldier. Please help!
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 30th October 2010 at 4:20 PM

Dear Mandy,
War memorials are not the best place to start searching as they rarely identify a person. The names of the people commemorated at Colchester town memorial are in a roll of honour kept at the town hall as, I understand, the memorial itself has no names on it.
Death certificates for soldiers and sailors who died in the First World War are indexed in the GRO Naval war deaths and Army Other Ranks and Army Officers war deaths 1914-1921. These wartime certificates rarely give much detail. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a Debt of Honour which records all deaths at least by initial and surname. "Soldiers Died in the Great War" (HMSO 1921) lists Army deaths and generally records a parish of birth and a place of enlistment and residence at the time of enlistment. By searching and cross-referencing these three sources it can be possible to identify a likely candidate for an anonymous "Harry Mann".
Unfortunately the search did not reveal an obvious candidate, but it did throw up some anomalies.

Genealogical proof of evidence requires access to the birth and marriage certificates which I don't have. A search of the GRO marriage index for the 1918 marriage of a female Mann showed a Lizzie Mann married Ernest Cannon (GRO Marriages Q2 1918 Tendring vol 4a page 1296). The spouse's surname was indexed as Hamm. A search of the pre-war census for a Lizzie Mann married to an Ernest Mann returned a "Lizel"[Lizzie] Mann and Ernest Mann living at Magdalen Street, Colchester with a 10 month old daughter Phillis Mann and two visitors: Cyril Albert Bear and Arthur Bear, both children. This Ernest Mann was a farm labourer, aged 26, born at Thorpe, Essex. He signed the household schedule as "E. Mann".
This Ernest Mann was probably born in 1885 (GRO Births Q2 1885 Tendring vol 4a page 439). In earlier censuses he was shown as being born at Thorpe-le-Soken. If this is the same person he was the son of James and Mary Ann Mann who had ten or more children all born at Kirby-le-Soken; Thorpe-le-Soken or Little Holland.
The child visitor, Cyril Bear, appears to be Cyril Albert B Beere (GRO Births Q4 1899 Tendring, vol 4a page 678). In 1901 this child was recorded as the grandson of William and Eliza Bere of Mill Street, St Osyth. William and Eliza had four daughters: Clara, Eliza, Ada and Lilly. Eliza was probably born Eliza Beer (GRO Births Q3 1878 Tendring vol 4a page 337). An Eliza Beere married at Tendring in 1904 and the same page index showed a Harry Mann (GRO Marriages Q3 1904 Tendring vol 4a page 1231). This marriage would appear to match the pre-war census entry for Ernest Mann and Lizzie Mann who had been married seven years.
However, there is another pre-war census entry which could also match. A Harry Mann and Eliza Mann who had been married six years were living at Maidenburgh Street Colchester.

If the evidence for Ernest Mann using the name Harry is based on the 1904 marriage it would be necessary to have sight of both the marriage certificates to prove which Harry had married which Eliza. In the pre-war census Ernest Mann had called himself Ernest Mann and had signed the form E. Mann. What was apparently his birth registration was in the single name of Ernest.

Without seeing the GRO certificates it is not possible to say with certainty that the above information is correct. While it replicates a possible trail it does not provide substantive evidence and it does highlight the conflict between two census entries which could relate to the one marriage entry.

Let's return to the war deaths. The GRO Naval war deaths index showed only one Ernest Mann who was a gunner in the Royal Marine Artillery, the son of Frederick and Elizabeth Mann, of 42, Winter Rd., Southsea, Portsmouth. There was no Harry Mann. The GRO Army (other ranks) war deaths index showed three soldiers named Ernest Mann (with no additional forename). Comparing these deaths with "Soldiers Died in the Great War" two of these men were from Derbyshire and Devonshire. The third enlisted at Leeds and the CWGC showed he was the son of James and Eliza Mann of Harewood, Leeds. This family appear at Harewood in the 1901 census. There was no Ernest Mann in the officers' index. All the Ernest Mann's (with no middle name) were accounted for.

The GRO Army (other ranks) war dead index listed seven men named Harry Mann (with no middle name). Comparing these seven men with "Soldiers Died in the Great War" and the CWGC revealed none of them came from Essex. There was no Harry Mann in the officers' index.
There were some miss-matches in the search for Harry Mann. "Soldiers Died in the Great War" recorded three more Harry Manns who died in the UK. One lived at Hawkhurst and enlisted at Maidstone. He died 30 November 1916 and remains otherwise unidentified. A second man called Harry Mann died on 9 July 1916 and he was identified as the husband of H. Mann, of 16, Baker's Rd., St. Augustines, Norwich. A third man was Harry Mann of the Labour Corps, born in Leeds and enlisted at Leeds who died in the UK on 27th October 1918.
Another miss-match was a Henry Mann listed in the Army war deaths index but described as Harry Mann in "Soldiers Died in the Great War" and listed as Harry Mann on the CWGC Debt of Honour. He was the husband of Agnes Mann, of 59, Shearbridge Terrace, Great Horton Rd., Bradford, Yorks.
One final possibility for the Harry Mann on the Colchester War Memorial was listed by the CWGC as H Mann who died in May 1917. "Soldiers Died in the Great War" listed this man as Henry Mann, born at Colchester but living and enlisted at Woolwich. Harry is a diminutive of Henry.

Two men who could be brothers of Ernest Mann of Thorpe-le-Soken died in the First World War. A William Mann, born Kirby Cross, died 24 October 1917. He was the husband of Rosetta Mann of Harrow, London. A Charles Mann, born Thorpe-le-Soken died on July 1st 1916. He had enlisted at Hull.

The conclusion is that the Harry Mann on the Colchester war memorial cannot be positively identified yet. There is also an unresolved conflict between the identity of the Harry Mann with the wife Eliza and the Ernest Mann with the wife Lizzie. While the search cannot be considered exhaustive, it has failed to establish the death of Ernest Mann aka Harry Mann during the First World War. Two men who may have been his brothers demonstrated mobility to Harrow and Hull before the First World War and it may be that Ernest Mann himself moved away.

The local newspapers of the time may have reported on his death. He may also have been registered in the Absent Voters' List for the Colchester area which may or may not have survived. The absent voters' list recorded a man's regiment and number. Both sources would require physical searching, possibly at the Colchester local studies library. See
where there is an e-mail link to the library so you can ask what resources they hold.

Kind regards,
Reply from: Mandy
Date: Saturday 30th October 2010 at 4:57 PM

Hi Alan

Thanks for the lengthy reply! I thank you very much for your effort, it is much appreciated. I cant believe you found out all that information.

You are right, Lizzie Mann married Ernest Cannon in 1918 in Colchester stating that she was a widow. Her marriage to Harry Mann in 1904 stated that he was Harry but in fact his name was Ernest. Lizzie's (actually her name was Eliza) maiden name was Beere so where are you getting the surname Hamm from?

It get a bit confusing with the Ernest and Harry names. But everybody called him Harry. So I dont know if he enlisted under Harry or Ernest Mann.

I have all the GRO Certificates. I have Ernest's (Harry's, birth and marriage).I also have Eliza's birth, marriages and death certificates. I cant understand if he didnt die in the war, why I cannot find a death for him at all. Lizzie married Ernest Cannon, who is in fact a soldier. I thought he may have been in the same regiment as Harry. Yes, his parents were called James and Mary Ann Mann.

Incidentally, would you be able to find anything out about Ernest Cannon. According to the family, he was a Major in the Army, but I cannot find any record for him. My Grandmother was called Phyllis Mann and she was the 10 month old baby in the 1911 census. When her Mum died in 1923, she was thrown out and put into a workhouse at the age of 13. She hated the "Major" and would never speak about him. She died in 1968 and I am only going on what the family say. I cannot even find out where Ernest Cannon was born. All I know from the marriage certificate was that his Father was called Tom Cannon and was a Builder and he was a bachelor when he married Eliza.

I will try to get hold of Colchester Library to see what records they hold.

Look forward to any reply you may have on Ernest Cannon.

Thanks again.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Saturday 30th October 2010 at 9:06 PM

Dear Mandy,
I searched for Ernest Cannon and couldn't find anything positive on him. If he were a major he should have appeared in the London Gazette (which you can search online). There was a William Ernest Cannon in the Bedfordshire Regiment but tracing him through the census showed he was the son of a George Cannon and he appeared to have married by 1911 (if he were the same man) so he wouldn't have been a bachelor. The reason I mentioned Mann was indexed as Hamm was to illustrate how the online indexes are not always accurate. It is a sad story that Phyllis was in a workhouse at the age of 13. I hope you get to the bottom of the mystery.
Kind regards,
Posted by: Rachel {Email left}
Location: Weymouth
Date: Friday 29th October 2010 at 2:19 PM

I have just obtained my grandfathers service records from Ancestry. I see on looking at them that he was stated as having a category Bii disability. Is there any way I can find out what this is? I also see that he served in the 124th Labour Company, and I am not sure what sort of regiment this is. How can I find out more details? I will be grateful for any information, thank you

His name is William Robinson Sharman no. 74043 and 47487
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 29th October 2010 at 7:19 PM

Dear Rachel,
William Sharman's health improved while he was in the army. He signed that he did not have a disability when he left the army.
William volunteered to join the army under the Derby Scheme which was a final call for volunteers before the implementation of compulsory conscription. The scheme encouraged men to "volunteer now; serve later". The deadline was December 15th 1915 and William volunteered on December 12th 1915. He was attested (sworn in) at the depot of the Northamptonshire Regiment at Northampton on December 12th and immediately placed on the reserve to return to his civilian job as a postman. He may have been issued with an armband bearing a red crown to show he had volunteered and was waiting call-up. These volunteers were classed in groups depending on age, marital status and employment. In theory the single, younger men were called up first. William was nearly 40 and married so he would be called up later.
William was medically re-examined on June 9th 1916 at Northampton and was passed fit in medical category CII. Medical category AI indicated a man was ready to be sent overseas to fight. The various categories included CII (C2) where C stood for "free from serious diseases and able to stand service in garrisons at home". C2 indicated a man was able to walk for five miles and could see and hear sufficiently for ordinary purposes.
When he was called up on 26th February1917 William was initially allocated to the Royal West Kent Regiment but that entry was struck through and on February 28th he joined The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) in their 16th Labour Company with the regimental number 47487. Each regiment had labour companies to provide a workforce from the older and the less fit men. While training with The Queen's, William would have become fitter through military training and route marches. He went to France on March 11th 1917 from Folkestone to Boulogne with the 16th Labour Company of The Queen's, so his health must have improved since June 1916. When he left the army in 1919 he was classified BII (B2) where B stood for "free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service on lines of communication in France or garrisons in the tropics". B2 meant he was "able to walk for five miles and could see and hear sufficiently for ordinary purposes".
Lines of Communication (L of C) were all the roads, railways and waterways and the installations on them that led from the coast to the fighting front. Work on the L of C did not involve fighting, although the L of C had to be defended. Work on the L o C was exposed to the weather. Garrisons included barracks where men could, if necessary, be protected from the weather.
On May 14th 1917 William was transferred to the 124th Labour Company of the Labour Corps and got a new cap-badge and a new regimental number 74043 of the Labour Corps. The Labour Corps was created to provide all forms of labour for the war effort at home and in the field of operations. Men were employed on tasks ranging from unloading ships to farming. The Labour Corps employed men who had been wounded, were less fit or over-age. The Labour Corps also took over the labour companies of the infantry regiments, so it is likely the whole of William's Labour Company from The Queen's was transferred to the Labour Corps.
On June 6th 1917 William was admitted to hospital at 130 Field Ambulance. This placed him in the Ypres sector. He was treated there for six days for gastritis. He was with the Labour Corps by this date, although his Casualty Form was marked Royal West Surrey and stamped "Labour Corps".
On 18th July 1917 William was "attchd to DAD of S Corps HQ" which meant he was attached (on loan to) the Deputy Assistant Director of Signals at an Army Corps Headquarters. A month later a daughter was born and William's wife stated William was with the 2nd Platoon of the 124th Labour Company Labour Corps "now at Field Post Office, Headquarters 19 Corps".
This placed William with the headquarters of XIX Corps which included the 15th (Scottish) Division and the 55th (West Lancashire) Division which were, at the time, fighting in the Third Battle of Ypres which lasted from 31 July 1917 until 10 November 1917.
It is possible William was employed at headquarters in a similar role to his civilian job as a postal worker.
On 21st November 1917 William was transferred to the Headquarters of VIII Corps where he remained until 22 February 1918 when he rejoined the 124th Labour Company. He remained in France until March 1919. William was medically examined when he left the army and was classified as B2 with no claim for any disability caused by war. He returned to the UK and was transferred to the Z Class Reserve on 28th April 1919. The Z Reserve was for men who would be re-called if the Armistice didn't hold. Commitment to the Z Reserve was deemed to have ended on March 31st 1920.
William's military character was "good". He qualified for the Victory and the British War Medal.
For more on the Labour Corps, see:,%20No%20Battle.html
William's record showed he was vaccinated in childhood and in 1901. It is possible that his 1901 vaccination was for service in the Second Anglo-Boer Boer War (1899-1902). Online records of the Second Anglo-Boer War are not complete and often do not positively identify a soldier. It would be necessary to visit the National Archives. See:

Kind regards,
Reply from: Rachel
Date: Saturday 30th October 2010 at 3:31 PM

Dear Alan,

How very kind of you to reply so quickly and in such depth. I had tried googling to find out about the disability and the Labour Corps but I could only find limited information. I am amazed at the amount and detail you have discovered. It seems to tie in with what I know about him, and what I do know is family hearsay, as he had died before I was born. I had never heard of a disability, hence my interest and it seems from what you say, it was more age related than anything, and that he actually became fitter with all the training. I understand that in his civilian job as a postman he certainly walked a few miles a week! I had tried to understand what the service records meant but could only pick out some things. I saw the entry about gastritis and did notice the Bii and Cii, but the C was badly formed to my eyes, so I thought it could be a B. The rest of your email was so interesting and gives me more direction for my research. I wonder what happened to his war medals, I will have to ask around the family to see if they know anything.
Once again, thank you very much, I will be making a donation to the charity in thanks for your help very soon. It is a good time of the year to do so with remembrance Sunday coming up.

Posted by: Patch {Email left}
Location: Aldershot
Date: Wednesday 27th October 2010 at 7:50 PM
Good evening,

I am desperately trying to track down some information about the actions of my Great-Grandfather and his Regiment in WW1. His name was Walter Hunter McNea and he was from Walton, Liverpool. He joined the 2/5 Bn Kings Liverpool Regiment in 1915 and then went to France in 1917. He spoke very little of his war time service on the Western Front and later at Archangel, Russia in 1919. Anecdotally, it is believed he took part in the 3rd Battle of Ypres and was shot in the hand.

If anyone out there is a 2/5 KLR buff or could add any meat to this incredible mans service I would be exceptionally grateful.

Sincere thanks, Patch.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 28th October 2010 at 6:34 PM

Dear Patch,
Walter McNea was attested on May 25th 1915 as private 3761 in The King's (Liverpool Regiment) at the age of 19 and eleven months (GRO Births Jul-Aug-Sept 1895 West Derby; Lancashire vol 8B Page 316). He was posted to the 2nd/5th Battalion which trained at Bourley, Aldershot and then Woking. It formed up in the 171st (2/1st Liverpool) Brigade in the 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division. The Division moved to France in February 1917.
A service record for Walter McNea showed he served in France from February 13th 1917 until January 14th 1918.
The 2nd/5th Battalion KLR was a Territorial Force battalion and as such its men would have been re-numbered during the re-numbering of all TF soldiers in March 1917, a process designed to tidy up the allotment of regimental numbers. The numbers in the range 200001 to 240000 were allotted to the three battalions of the 5th King's Liverpool Regiment and Walter's new number was 201404 which is consistent with that allocation. The 2nd/5th Battalion's only major engagement at that time was the Second Battle of Passchendaele fought between 26th October and November 7th 1917. From about November 10th 1917 Walter McNea was away from his battalion for a week and rejoined his battalion on November 17th 1917. The paperwork is so water-damaged it is not easy to read and the entry could suggest a "course" at GHQ.
His record showed that on December 29th 1917 he was admitted to hospital in the 3/2 WLFA which was the West Lancashire Field Ambulance RAMC and the 2/3 WFA which was the Wessex Field Ambulance both of which served with the Division. On January 5th 1918 he was admitted to 2/2 ELFA (East Lancashire Field Ambulance) and then admitted to 55 Field Ambulance RAMC through 15 Casualty Clearing Station to 54 General Hospital which was at Wimereux on the French coast above Boulogne. He remained there for a week before being sent to the UK on 15th January 1918.
None of these entries indicated what he was being treated for. On the day he arrived in England, 15th January 1918, Walter was admitted to the Ardmillan Auxiliary Military Hospital at Oswestry. This was at a gentleman's country house which was on loan to the Red Cross. There is a history and photo of some patients at:
Walter's record showed he was treated at Ardmillan for two months for "I C T Feet" which stood for Inflamed Connective Tissue of the feet. This was a disability in the style of trench foot caused by standing for long periods in the wet and cold. In one extreme, trench foot could lead to gangrene or it could be cured over a three month period. An article published in Vol. XLI Number 5 of the Association of Military Surgeons in the USA in November 1917 distinguished between ICT and Trench Foot by the severity of pain; trench foot being the less tolerable: "I have already mentioned the diagnostic value of nocturnal pain and of intolerance of warmth. In addition, close examination will usually reveal the polished wrinkling of the skin caused by past swelling. A pink color over the tips of the toes and over the first metatarsophalangeal joint is suggestive. Lastly, blurred sensation and pain on pressure should be looked for."
On March 18th 1918 Walter was transferred to the Berrington War Hospital at Shrewsbury until 23rd March 1918. This three month period of treatment might indicate he had been treated for trench foot.
The Berrington War Hospital was located in a former workhouse at Cross Houses, Berrington and has since been converted into housing.
During his time in the UK his battalion, the 2nd/5th Bn KLR, was disbanded in France during the army reforms of February 1918. The 2nd/5th Battalion was broken up on February 1st 1918 and the men dispersed to other KLR battalions.
The next entry after 23rd March 1918 is for 21st June 1918 which showed Walter was posted to the 7th Reserve Battalion KLR at Oswestry. On 2nd August 1918 he was passed fit [for overseas service] and was posted to "D" Company in the 17th Battalion King's Liverpool Regiment on August 8th 1918 in the UK. On September 9th he was inoculated. That same day the 17th Battalion became part of a new formation called 236th Brigade which was destined for service in North Russia with the 6th Yorkshire Regiment; 11th Royal Sussex Regiment; 17th King's (Liverpool Regiment); Brigade Trench Mortar Battery and men of the Finnish Legion making up the 236th Brigade.
In October 1918 the Battalion moved from Aldershot to Glasgow from where it was to sail to Murmansk on 10th October 1918. The Battalion disembarked 23rd October 1918 and then started the move to Archangel which is about 400 miles from Murmansk by sea along the North Russian coast.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Russia, France and England were bound by the Triple Entente. The British maintained the ports of Murmansk and Archangel to allow the Navy to maintain the despatch of war materiel to the Russian allies. The alliance had been with the Tsar of Russia but after the Bolshevik Revolution when the Russians made peace with Germany the purpose of the two ports altered as the need to supply arms ceased. The Bolshevik peace allowed the Germans to free-up thousands of men to fight on the Western Front. However, Britain couldn't let go of the two ports as that would have allowed the Germans to plunder the arms and equipment as well as to use the ports as submarine bases. Another reason for maintaining Allied troops in the area was to try and release many thousands of Czech soldiers taken prisoner by the Russians when the Czechs had been forced to fight with Austria. The Czech prisoners were prepared to join the Allies if they could meet up. In August 1918 the Allies decided it was essential to send a force of British, American, French and Italian troops to North Russia to hold the two ports and to control an area about 100 miles inland in an attempt to reach out to the Czechs. Because of this Allied presence, the Germans had to stop sending troops from their Eastern Front to France.

When the Armistice was signed in November 1918 the Allies could have withdrawn from North Russia where they were supported by White Russians of the new North Russian Government. However, when winter had set in the ports became ice-bound, marooning the troops. To add to the Allies' problems of the winter, many of the Russians changed sides and went to join the Bolsheviks. Consequently the fighting between the Allies and the Bolsheviks continued. There were some 29,000 British and 13,000 Allies troops still fighting in North Russia in1918 and 1919. In February 1919 the British Government decided the force should withdraw but in effect had to rescue them by sending another force to help deal a final blow to the Bolsheviks and to pull everyone out by sea.
In February the seas were still frozen and the relief force did not arrive at the Subornaya Quay at Archangel until May 1919.
On 11th April 1919 Walter's record showed he "re-joined the battalion" but it is not possible to say where from. However, his battalion was in the Syren Force of the North Russian Expeditionary Force
And he had at an "unknown date" re-joined the HQ of the Vaga Column, so he may have been on attachment.
On 21st April 1919, Walter McNea was attached to the Billeting Officer Archangel, and remained in that post until May 1919 when he rejoined the HQ of the Vaga Column on a date entered as "unknown". This time-scale matches the arrival of the relief force part of which landed at Archangel on May 27th to be given the traditional Russian welcome of bread and salt. They were billeted in the Olga Barracks and on barges on the river.
On June 2nd the relief force moved in barges down the Dwina river to an advanced post near that river's junction with the Vaga and then on to Ust Vaga on the left bank of the Vaga river. Ust Vaga, a village with a blockhouse and wire defences, was the HQ of the Vaga Column. The forward area was about 14 versts (equal to 14 kilometres) from Ust Vaga and included the villages of Kara Beresnik, Nijni Kitsa, Koslovo and Seltso, most of which were on the right bank of the river. The forward area was within range of enemy artillery.
On June 24th with the relief force able to cover the withdrawal, Walter McNae was transferred to the UK. He sailed on the SS "Quilpue" [Pacific Steam Navigation Company].
Walter was demobilized on 4th or 5th July 1919 at Press Heath in the UK. The war diaries covering Walter's service are at the National Archives in WO 95/2983 "2/5 Battalion King's Liverpool Regiment. 2/5 Battalion King's Liverpool Regiment 57 Division Date: 1917 1918" and WO 95/ 5427 "236 Infantry Brigade: 17 Battalion King's Liverpool Regiment. Date: 1918 1919."
Walter's service record is available free at the National Archives or via the Ancestry website (charges apply). Your local library may offer free access to Ancestry.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Patch
Date: Thursday 28th October 2010 at 7:57 PM


I do not know quite what to say. The facts are amazing; that you managed to enable this in such quick order, with such articulation and detail is brilliant. Thank you so much indeed. I will pass this around the family. You have done in one day what would take me months!

Yours thankfully

Patch Reehal
Posted by: Fred {No contact email}
Location: Liverpool
Date: Tuesday 26th October 2010 at 8:10 PM
Hi alan been on your site wonder if you can help me, im trying to find my husbands dad, he was a ww2 german pow and was in a camp in huyton. my husband was born in june 1951 so i think his dad would have left liverpool around about then. his dads name is ralph wyrich. my husbands mum is dead and her side of the family dont seem to know much, but i think they know more. we have two grown up kids and they want to know where there roots come from. alan i hope you can help put some light on this quest of mine for my husband and our kids. fred
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 27th October 2010 at 5:04 PM

Dear Fred,
The records that you are seeking will not be held in the public domain you will have to apply for them. Most agencies retain records securely for between 70 and 100 years and will release details to next of kin, often providing you can prove the person in question has died.
If Ralph Wyrich was at Huyton in Liverpool in the 1940s he may have been a civilian internee or he may have been a prisoner of war. He could even have been an American G.I. as all three groups were camped at Huyton. If he were a prisoner of war it would help to know which branch of the services he had served in.
To identify a particular individual you will need more than a name: perhaps his age, date of birth or marriage particulars. The name Ralph in German is often written Ralf or it may even be a diminutive of Radulf. The surname Wyrich does occur, as does Weyrich and Weirich.
The first agency to approach would be the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva who will conduct a search of POW records for 200 Swiss Francs. You can apply online at:
The Museum of the British Red Cross may have some information about the camps at Huyton.
It is possible the Liverpool Museum may have some records of the camps.
If Ralph Wyrich served in the German Army his records may be held at WehrmachtsAuskunftSTelle für Kriegsverluste und Kriegsgefangene (Wehrmacht Information Office for War Losses and Prisoners Of War) which is at Eichborndamm 179, D-13403 Berlin. Their website is in English. You can apply online using the "private matters" link at:
A commercial service is available to purchase German birth, marriage and death certificates. See:

Kind regards,
Reply from: Fred
Date: Wednesday 27th October 2010 at 8:38 PM

Hi alan thank you for your quick reply. another thought has come to me, there were ww2 german pows who married local girls and settled in huyton and liverpool. some of them might have known ralph wyrich or might have even been in the same pow camp. how would i go about finding such folk to see if they knew ralph and where ralph went to in 1951. thanks alan fred.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 27th October 2010 at 9:04 PM

Dear Fred,
You could write a letter to the local newspaper or approach the local radio station. They would probably publish an appeal for anyone to get in touch with you. See:
Kind regards,

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