Alan Greveson's World War 1 Forum (Page 89)

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Posted by: George Reid {Email left}
Location: Denny Stirlingshire
Date: Monday 24th September 2012 at 3:25 PM
My grandfather Pte 8428 Andrew McMillan served with 1st Seaforths in India in early 1900's. He trained as a Mounted Infantryman at Bangalore between April and June 1903. He then served with Mounted Infantry in Somaliland 1903-1904. He was awarded the African General Service Medal which has two clasps.
Lower clasp shows service in Somaliland between 1902-1904 and upper clasp shows action at Battle of Jidballi 10 January 1904. I have been unable to find any mention of Mounted Infantry in any records covering this campaign.
His discharge papers show he was discharged at Edinburgh in September 1908 and we know he returned to being a coal miner. I have been unable to find his service records as I believe they may be in 'Burnt Records'.
we know he served in WW1 and I found his medal card at Kew. This shows he was recalled (from Reserve?) on 23 August 1914 and went to France as Pte 8428 With 2nd Seaforths. Medal card shows he transferred on 1 June 1916 as Pte 156462 to Royal Engineers and served in 252 Tunnelling Coy until end of war. He had 1914 Star, War Medal and Victory Medal.
I would like to find out a) where 252 Tunnelling Coy served between June 1916 and end of war and b) when he was discharged.
Any help with where I might find more info would be much appreciated

George Reid
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 24th September 2012 at 7:51 PM

Dear George,
Andrew McMillan enlisted in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in April 1899 and immediately purchased himself out of the regiment. On 26th April 1899 he joined in the part-time Militia of the Highland Light Infantry before joining the regular army with the Seaforth Highlanders on 19th September 1900. He was recalled from the Reserves on 5th August 1914 to report to Shorncliffe and arrived in France with 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders on 23rd August 1914. The 2nd Seaforths served with the 10th Infantry Brigade in the 4th Division. See:
Miners were "combed out" of the infantry in particular to join the RE Tunnelling Companies.
Andrew was discharged on 21 December 1918 under an army Order for the return of miners to the UK to resume work in the coalmines. 252 Tunnelling company worked on the Somme battlefield, particularly in digging forward tunnels, or "saps" (hence "sapper"), at Serre in anticipation of the opening day of the Battle of the Somme 1916 on July 1st 1916. They also blew the famous Hawthorn Redoubt crater. They remained in the Hebuterne-Beaumont-Hamel sector of the Somme battlefield.
The 252 Tunnelling Company war diary is held at The National Archives in Catalogue reference WO 95/406 and at the Library of the Royal Engineers Museum.
A full service record for Andrew McMillan does exist. It is free to view at the National Archives or can be downloaded from the website (subscription required). Some public libraries provide free access to the ancestry website.

In Somaliland a reconnaissance of mounted troops first went to Jidballi on 18th December 1903, with
Infantry support halfway between Jidballi and Badwein. The force was under the command of Lieut.-Colonel P. A. Kenna, V.C., D.S.O. (21st Lancers), Commanding Mounted Troops. His general instructions were to endeavour to ascertain the numbers and position of the enemy, but not to seriously commit himself should they appear to be in force, in which case he was to fall back on the Infantry and return with the whole force to Badwein.
Lieut.-Colonel Kenna left Badwein on the evening of the 18th December 1903 with the force and pushing on with the mounted troops he arrived close to Jidballi before daylight on the 19th. Numerous fires showed the enemy to be in considerable strength, and Kenna distributed his force so as to threaten the front and both flanks. At daylight a heavy fire was opened by our troops, which the enemy lost no time in returning; occupying a line of bushes near their zareba (enclosure), beyond which they could not be drawn. Lieut.-Colonel Kenna estimated their numbers at 1,500 footmen and 200 horsemen, the majority being armed with rifles. Alter some 3 hours' desultory fighting, reinforcements for the enemy were seen coming from the north and east, and Lieuk-Colonel Kenna, in view of his general instructions, fell back upon his Infantry support which, at that time, 8.30 a.m., were only some 9 miles away from Jidballi, having marched 28 miles since the previous evening. In the evening the force marched for Badwein where the mounted troops arrived at 9 a.m., and the Infantry at 11.45 a.m. on the 20th. Owing to the wildness of the enemy's fire our casualties had been very slight. The enemy's loss was believed to be considerable, and was subsequently reported as about 180 killed and wounded.
The force included: British Mounted Infantry, 95; Indian Mounted Infantry, 97; Tribal Horse, 200; Bikanir Camel Corps, 50. Support—1st Bn. Hampshire Regiment, 100 ; 27th Punjabis, 150. Casualties:- British Mounted Infantry, 2 men wounded, 1 missing; Tribal Horse, 2 killed, 2 wounded. (Source: London Gazette, September 2, 1904.) The main battle was fought on January 10th 1904. For a full despatch see the "London Gazette" online. Type "Jidballi" into the "exact phrase" in the search window; click on an entry for September 2 1904 in the results; and the use the "previous" and "next" buttons" to read the whole despatch. See:

Andrew's service records prior to 1900 are available to download from the website (charges apply: 60 credits required). I am not able to transcribe them for you because of copyright.
Kind regards,
Posted by: John {Email left}
Location: Preston
Date: Monday 24th September 2012 at 2:45 PM
I have a photograph of my grandfather Joseph Rhodes Jackson who fought in the 1st World War. The photo is of 54th (Res) Battery RTA Aldershot July 1917. I would like to find out more about his time in the war could you help. Thank you
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 24th September 2012 at 6:33 PM

Dear John,
The photograph might refer to 54th Reserve Battery RFA - Royal Field Artillery. A reserve battery was a training battery based in the UK. There appears to have been one Joseph Rhodes Jackson who was born in 1893 in Lancashire. Unfortunately there is no surviving record that can be individually traced to a Joseph Jackson born about 1893.
Kind regards,
Reply from: John
Date: Thursday 4th October 2012 at 11:46 PM

Hi Alan,

Thank you for your reply. My Grandfather was born in Lancashire in 1893 and died 1950 He was gased in the war but survived and married in 1919.

it is unfortunate there are no more records of his service.

Thank you again,
Posted by: Jane {Email left}
Location: Lincolnshire
Date: Sunday 23rd September 2012 at 10:39 PM
Dear Alan

I know that my grandfather, Sidney Herbert Morris born 1880 Hoxton, Shoreditch, Middx. served in the Boer War, his regimental number was 34378 and he was in the Imperial Yeomanry. I am wondering if he also served in WW1. I can't seem to find anything on ancestry websites and would be most obliged if you could give me some advice. I note that his name in some records is spelt Sydney!

With many thanks

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 24th September 2012 at 5:36 PM

Dear Jane,
Unfortunately there is insufficient information about Sidney Herbert Morris to be able to say whether he served in the First World War or not. Surviving records from the First World War are incomplete and any successful search usually requires prior knowledge of which regiment a man served with and his regimental number. I have been unable to find a matching record.
The Sidney Morris who served as 34378 in the Imperial Yeomanry in 1901 was aged 20, of Shakespeare Road, London, (Stoke Newington or Islington) so he was born in about 1881. He enlisted in March 1901 and served in South Africa from April to October 1901.
He served with the 96th (Metropolitan Mounted Rifles) Company of the 24th Battalion (Metropolitan Mounted Rifles) Imperial Yeomanry, raised on 30th March 1901 in London and later renamed the 2nd County of London Imperial Yeomanry. He was returned home early and discharged as medically unfit for further service in November 1901 at Shorncliffe.
Many men of the 24th Battalion were already part-time volunteer soldiers of the London volunteer regiments such as the Middlesex Volunteer Artillery and some of these men were granted Freedom of London for their service in South Africa. See:

The records of the City Imperial Yeomanry are well documented at the London Metropolitan Archives. See:

Individual service records are available to download (purchase of 30 credits required) from

Kind regards,
Reply from: Jane
Date: Tuesday 25th September 2012 at 10:23 AM

Dear Alan

Thank you so much for the information - I have now downloaded my grandfather's Boer War records which make fascinating reading! Having spoken to a distant cousin also, it would appear that due to his being returned 'medically unfit' in November 1901, would account for a rumour she had heard that he was medically unfit to serve in WW1. She also has a photograph of him when he served in the Boer War which she scanned and sent to me - great stuff.

Thank you again for all the information.

Many thanks Alan

Best regards

Posted by: Jim {Email left}
Location: Stamford
Date: Saturday 22nd September 2012 at 10:05 PM
Dear Alan

Re: Frederick William Lacey

Further to my previous post, I have found what I think is my grandfather's Medal Roll Index Card and under Regimental No. it states: G/70061, 6077875, L13503 if that is of any help

Again many thanks
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 23rd September 2012 at 8:17 PM

Dear Jim,
As Frederick William Lacey served after the First World War his individual service record will not be in the public domain and would be still held by the Ministry of Defence.
The Army medal rolls index card for Frederick W Lacey of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment recorded that he qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. As he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star for service before December 31st 1915, it indicated he had served overseas in a theatre of war after January 1st 1916.
By his age, he would have been just 15 when war was declared in August 1914, so it is likely he was conscripted after the age of 18 years and one month, which would have been after mid-1917. In theory, a conscripted soldier was not supposed to serve overseas until the age of 18-and-a-half and not to serve at the Front until aged 19.
Frederick Lacey had three numbers. The first was a "regimental number" G/70061 where the G stood for general wartime enlistment. The second number would have been L.13503 where the prefix indicated a transfer to a regular army battalion. The third number was an "army number" issued in 1919 when regular forces were allotted individual numbers for the first time. The implication is that he was conscripted for wartime service and then remained in the army as a post-war regular soldier.
Without knowing in which battalion of The Queen's Frederick served while in France and Flanders it is not possible to suggest his wartime service. He could have been in one of more than a dozen wartime Queen's battalions. Two battalions of The Queen's saw service in North West India. The 4th Battalion Queen's (Territorial Army) had spent the war in India and were deployed to the North West Frontier in 1917 as part of the Waziristan Field Force. However, they were struck by illness and were withdrawn. The 2nd Battalion Queen's (Regular Army) also saw service there. The initial deployment had been part of the Waziristan Campaign of 1919-1920 on the Afghan borders pacifying local tribal unrest. The 2nd Queen's sailed for India on 7th August 1919 and arrived at Bareilly on 6th November. They remained in India until 1926. See:

Frederick was most probably with the 2nd Queen's. His medal card is not clear about the dates he was in Waziristan. There are two entries for the award of the Indian General Service Medal (King George V) with the Clasp: "Waziristan"; one states: "1921-24 only"; the other states: 1919-21 (Roll 19279/12 received for verification). Then there is the remark: "identity and partic[ulars] for IGSM verified" without indicating which clasp. There were three clasps: Waziristan 1919-21 for action between 6th May 1919 - 31st May 1921; Waziristan 1921-24 for action between 21st December - 31st March 1924; and Waziristan 1925 for action between 9th March - 1st May 1925.
It would be necessary to apply to the MoD for his service record. The Surrey History Centre also holds some enlistment records. Enlistment Register Book 2 covers the army numbers 6077003 to 6078016 issued in 1919. It is Surrey History Centre reference number 7791/1/1/1/2. The History Centre is free to visit but a fee is charged for research on your behalf and reproduction of documents. See:

The MOD will release certain amounts of information about a deceased person depending on whether you are the direct next-of-kin, or not. You can apply for a search using the different application forms for next-of-kin, or with permission of next-of-kin, or as a general enquirer. See:

You will need proof of death (copy of death certificate); the soldier's date of birth or service number; and next-of-kin's signed permission (unless you are the direct next-of-kin), known as form Part 1. You then need a completed form Part 2 (search details), and cheque for payment. The next-of-kin form (Part 1) is for completion by the next-of-kin of deceased service personnel (or enquirers with the consent of next of kin). Look for "Service records publications" under "Related pages" and follow the instructions. Otherwise use a general enquirer's form. The Part 2 form is entitled: "Request forms for service personnel – Army" found under "Related Pages". A cheque for GBP 30 should be made payable to "The MOD Accounting Officer" and sent to Army Personnel Centre Secretariat, Disclosures 2, Mail Point 515, Kentigern House, 65, Brown Street, Glasgow G2 8EX Scotland with all the paperwork. Searches take several months to complete.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Jim
Date: Sunday 23rd September 2012 at 10:29 PM

Dear Alan

Many thanks for this very interesting and useful information. For sure my grandfather had left the army by 1922, as he came back having contracted malaria.

I appreciate the trouble you have gone to and will definitely be applying to the MOD for any information that they may have.

Again, thank you so much for your help.

Best regards

Posted by: Jim {Email left}
Location: Stamford
Date: Saturday 22nd September 2012 at 9:51 PM
Dear Alan

I am interesting in finding anything I can about my late grandfather, Frederick William Lacey, born 1899 in Edmonton North London. He served with the Royal West Surrey Regiment and was wounded on two separate occasions we believe around 1917/18 in the Ypres area. He was then sent overseas to India to the north west frontier area where we believe he served for another couple of years before returning to the UK and then leaving the army.

Any information about him would be gratefully appreciated.

Many thanks
Posted by: Nadine {Email left}
Location: Cwmbran
Date: Friday 21st September 2012 at 7:10 PM
Dear Alan.
I am trying to find some information about my grandfather William Abraham Insley who was killed in action on the 13 August 1917 in France.He was 47 years old.
He was in the Royal Engineers 184th Tunn Coy., His regiment number was 112588 and he was a corporal.
He has no known grave but his name is on the Menin Gate Memorial.
Any help on where he might have served in France would be much appreciated.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 21st September 2012 at 9:34 PM

Dear Nadine,
No individual service record has survived for William Abraham Insley, so it is not possible to be certain about his wartime service. When he died, on 13th August 1917, he was serving with the Corps of Royal Engineers in the 185th Tunnelling Company. The 185th Tunnelling Company was created on 5th October 1915 at the Royal Engineers' Base Depot on the Rue de Calais at Rouen and initially came under the command of General Headquarters British Expeditionary Force.
An army medal rolls index card for William A. Insley showed he entered France on 26th August 1915 as a sapper with the Royal Engineers. A sapper was a private soldier with a skilled trade. In William's case, the 1911 census showed he was a coal miner. He was later promoted to Corporal. There is no evidence he served with the 185th Tunnelling Company from the outset and he could have joined them at any stage between October 1915 and August 1917. When he was sent to France in August 1915, the 185th Tunnelling Company had not been formed, so it is uncertain that he served with them from the time of his arrival in France.
William was a volunteer which is shown by the fact he arrived in France in 1915, before conscription was introduced in 1916. He would have been 45, which was comparatively old, but miners were usually physically fit and many were recruited straight from the mines, often to serve in tunnelling companies or Royal Engineer Labour Companies in France a week or so after enlisting. Thousands of miners volunteered in 1914 and 1915 before the Military Service Acts of 1916 introduced compulsory conscription and the control of the civilian workforce in what were known as "starred" occupations – sometimes called "reserved" occupations. See:

When William was killed, the 185th Tunnelling Company was under the command of the British First Army, and had been attached to the Canadian Corps who were engaged in the Battle of Hill 70 during which the Canadian Corps attacked the city of Lens.
The wartime locations of the 185th Tunnelling Company are shown at:
A war diary dated 1916-1919 is held at the National Archives at Kew, Surrey, in Catalogue reference WO 95/245.You would have to visit Kew.
William qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Nadine
Date: Sunday 23rd September 2012 at 3:12 PM

Dear Alan.
Many thanks for your information about my grandfather William Abrham Insley. You have given me much more details to add to his history. Thank you again for your time and effort.
Kind regards.
Posted by: Julie {Email left}
Location: Ulm
Date: Thursday 20th September 2012 at 10:11 PM
Dear Alan,

I wonder if you could help please. I am trying to find out about my Great Grandfather whose name was George Michael Carter.

The family info that I have, was that he served in a Staffordshire battalion initially and the information from an obituary says he was born in England and went to Carrickfergus during the First World War with the 4th Royal Irish Rifles. He was a master tailor. On his second marriage certificate, dated August 3rd 1918, his rank was sergeant.

Do you have any information about him at all please? If not, do you know where I could find detailed information about the 4th RIR's movements during WW1?

Thank you.

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Friday 21st September 2012 at 6:48 PM

Dear Julie,
There is no obvious individual service record for George Michael Carter. An Army medal rolls index card for the Silver War Badge recorded a G W Carter who was a sergeant in the Royal Irish Rifles when he was discharged from the RIR on 31st October 1918 after having broken a leg. The actual medal roll indicated he had not served overseas and was discharged as "no longer physically fit". The Silver War Badge was not a medal, but was awarded to recognise being discharged through wounds or sickness. The record showed he had enlisted on 22nd March 1907.
The 4th Battalion the Royal Irish Rifles was an "Extra Reserve" battalion which was a training battalion with its origins in the former local Militia. It did not serve in a theatre of war. The 4th Battalion RIR was based at Newtonards, but at the outbreak of war its war station was at Holywood with detachments sent on coastal defence duties. In April 1915 the Battalion moved to Carrickfurgus where it was stationed until November 1917 when it moved to Newry. In March 1918, the Battalion moved to Ballykinlar for a month before moving to Larkhill, on Salisbury Plain in April 1918 until the end of the war.
The role of a sergeant in a training battalion would have been as an instructor or administrator. The fact that he had apparently served with one of the two Staffordshire Regiments from March 1907 suggests that he was a former soldier who, perhaps for health reasons, was employed as an instructor during the First World War. He could also have been employed as a regimental tailor. The minimum service in the regular army for someone who enlisted in 1907 would have been for a total of 12 years of which seven would be spent in uniform and the remainder on the reserve, meaning they could return to their civilian job, but had to undergo annual refresher training. So, a soldier enlisting in March 1907 could have been released in March 1914. That could be one explanation for his changing regiments by the time of the war.
There was a North Staffordshire Regiment and a South Staffordshire Regiment, both of which had four full-time battalions and two part-time Territorial Army battalions in peace-time. Identifying him without knowing his parish of birth or address on enlistment would be very difficult.
The 1911 England census does record a George Michael Carter serving with the 1st Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment at Shorncliffe in Kent. He was a tailor by trade, although his birthplace was shown as Belfast, Co Antrim which does not match the obituary.
"Of Full age" which you mention elsewhere meant he was over the age of 21 which was the legal age for being married without parental consent.
At the moment, even with his approximate age from the obituary, there is insufficient evidence to identify his birthplace. Military records have not survived in their entirety and those that have survived are difficult to search successfully unless you have the essential details to hand.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Julie
Date: Saturday 22nd September 2012 at 8:29 PM

Dear Alan,

Thank you so much for such a helpful reply to my question here and from elsewhere! You really are very kind to have taken the trouble to write up such a detailed answer. I will definitely send a donation to The British Legion.

Again, thank you.

Best wishes.

Posted by: Keith Sadler {Email left}
Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne
Date: Thursday 20th September 2012 at 9:03 AM
I am trying to find some information about my grandfather James William Sadler of the 7th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment.His regiment number was 11940.
I have discovered that he was awarded the Military Medal and have found the London Gazette record dated 13 March 1919 detailing this but do not know why he received the medal as there does not appear to be any official citations for the war. He died in 1962 and was living in Wombwell at the time, he was living in Dinnington when he enlisted. Any help would be greatly appreciated
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 20th September 2012 at 7:02 PM

Dear Keith,
Citations for the Military Medal were no longer published by 1919. The citation was presented with the medal itself and soldiers were told it was the only copy. Local newspapers of the time may have recorded the award. Sergeant Sadler may have been mentioned in the Battalion war diary. It is held at the National Archives at Kew in catalogue reference WO 95/1995.
It would also be worth checking with the regimental museum. See:

Kind regards,
Reply from: Keith Sadler
Date: Thursday 20th September 2012 at 9:49 PM

Many thanks Alan
Posted by: Pauline Gevaux {Email left}
Location: Dover
Date: Wednesday 19th September 2012 at 7:13 PM

I am not sure if you can help my but I am searching for details on my Great Great Grandfather. The only details that I have are as follows:

Drafted 31 August 1897 (Joseph Horne) West Riding Regiment 6791 (Cert)

I think he may have also been in the Royal Engineers, but I am not sure.

Thank you so much.

With kind regards

Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 20th September 2012 at 6:41 PM

Dear Pauline,
The soldier named Joseph Horne with the regimental number 6791 in the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment enlisted for seven years' service in the regular army on 31st August 1901. He stated he was aged 20 (born about 1881). What appears to be written as the date in 1897 is in fact 1901. Joseph Horne had previously served six weeks in the part-time Militia with the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment at Halifax (3rd Battalion). The Militia involved part-time service following a period of a few weeks' basic training, but men who moved from the Militia to the regular army were paid a cash bonus. A young man could get the feel of the army by committing himself to four years' part-time service with the Militia and if he liked it, he could transfer to the regular army and get some extra cash in hand. Joseph moved from the Militia to the Depot of the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment at Halifax on September 1st 1901, at a time when much of the British Army was fighting in the Second Anglo-Boer War, but he did not go to South Africa. At that time all soldiers were volunteers.
He remained at Halifax until 28th September 1902 when he deserted. He re-joined a month later and was court-martialled and sentenced to 56 days' imprisonment with hard labour. He returned to duty on 31st December 1902. On 8th January 1903 he was posted to the 1st Battalion West Riding Regiment which was then at Aldershot. On July 3rd 1903 he deserted from York and returned on 19th August and was sentenced to 112 days in prison with hard labour. He returned to duty on 17th November 1803. He was then posted to the 2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment on 28th January 1904 for garrison duty in India. He served in India for two years until 8th January 1906 when he was returned to the UK, apparently via the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley where he remained for two days before re-joining the 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington's in the UK.
He then remained in the UK and was discharged from the Army as having been found medically unfit for further service December 18th 1808.
His record showed he was twice charged with "desertion". There is no record of his having been arrested by the civil power in connection with "deserting" and his record stated he "re-joined". Desertion implied an intention not to return to the army. Joseph twice returned and it is therefore more likely that he was "absent without leave" and returned of his own accord, prepared to face the punishment.
His service record on the website is difficult to read. There is a much clearer version of his Militia and service records on the website (charges apply; you would need 60 credits).
A possible date of birth for Joseph could be suggested by tracking his sister, Harriet Horn. It is possible to identify her marriage to William Bentley at St Andrew's Wakefield, on March 6th 1880. Her father was a cattle dealer named Joseph. She had been born the daughter of Joseph and Hannah Horn in 1858. A Joseph Horn, son of Joseph, a butcher, and Hannah, of Johnson Street, Wakefield, was baptised on January 21st 1880 at St Andrew's, Wakefield. The register was marked: "said to have been born May 14 1877". Joseph's baptism date, coincidentally, matches his stated age on joining the militia. His actual year of birth, 1877, was shown on the 1891 census where Joseph Horn, a mill hand aged 14, was living with his brother in law's family, at Alverthorpe, Wakefield. In 1881 he was recorded, aged 4, as the son of Joseph, a cattle dealer and widower.
There is a service record for a Joseph Horne born 1877 who served in the Royal Engineers, but he stated he had not served in the army before.
Kind regards,
Posted by: Margaret {Email left}
Location: Colne
Date: Tuesday 18th September 2012 at 12:10 PM
Hello Alan, I have discovered a relative, John Burrows, who died in 1918, born Nelson Lancashire and was in the Coldstream Guards, his number was 11845. I was wondering if you knew why he would have been recruited to the Coldstream Guards as he had no connection to that regiment that I know of? Do you have any further information of his time in the war?

Many thanks for your help,

Reply from: Margaret
Date: Tuesday 18th September 2012 at 1:14 PM

Sorry, I meant to say 1915, not 1918
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 18th September 2012 at 3:38 PM

Dear Margaret,
When John Burrows was killed he was serving with the 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards. An Army medal rolls index card recorded he went to France on 9th January 1915. As the Coldstream Guards were already in France on that date, John would have been part of a draft of reinforcements. He had probably volunteered at the outbreak of the war and undergone three months' basic training.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour recorded he died on 25 January 1915 and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial to soldiers who have no marked grave and were killed in the area overlooked by the Aubers Ridge. The date of John's death was a battle called the First Action of Givenchy on 25th January 1915. The enemy had undermined the positions held by the Coldstream Guards and exploded a mine beneath their trenches at 7.30 a.m. indicating the start of their assault on the positions held by the Coldstream Guards along the banks of La Bassee Canal.
John qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal which would have been sent to his next-of-kin at the end of the war.
Service records for the Coldstream Guards are held by their museum in London. There is a fee of 35 GBP for a search. See:

It is not possible to say why an individual joined a particular regiment. Volunteers at the beginning of the war were permitted to state a preference and the Coldstream Guards was seen as a prestigious regiment. Most men enlisted with their friends and it is possible that if they were taller than average they may have been recommended for the Guards.
Kind regards,
Reply from: Margaret
Date: Tuesday 18th September 2012 at 4:40 PM

Dear Alan, thank you very much for those details about John Burrows, you have been very helpful and I can now understand the circumstances of his death. I was also curious about the choice of regiment, but it is something I had not considered, that being a volunteer he was able to permitted to state a preference.

Kind regards,


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