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Coventry and the Motor Machine Gun Service


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#1 delta

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 10:19 PM

Coventry played an important part in the life of the First Tank Crews. The Coventry offices of the enthusiasts' magazine "Motor Cycle" was listed as a recruiting office for the MMGS; the Editor Geoffrey Smith using his paper to draw in young mechanic to serve with the Motor Machine Gun Service (MMGS). Men from the MMGS formed a major source of the First Tank Crews; many were enlisted, medically assessed and undertook trade tests to see if they were competent; they were then sent by train to commence training at Bisley.

Coventry was also the home for several of the crews. These included:
• 2Lt Frank William Bluemel. Commanded tank C2 on 15th September. Commissioned into MMGS as T/2Lt 9 Sep 15. T/Lt 1 Jul 16 (LG 7486 dated 28 Jul 16). Deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16, the 1917 Army list shows him employed with the Ministry of Munitions. He relinquished commission on 31 May 1919. He married Katie Nichol on 16th September ‘22 at Hatch End and later (in the 1930s) he took charge of the family engineering firm based in Coventry. Living at Cannon Hill, Kenilworth Rd. Coventry, he was Vice President of the Coventry Branch of the Tank Regt Old Comrades Association. He died on 29 Aug 61.
• Gnr William Bertram Debenham born Canterbury ‘90. Moved to Coventry by 1901 and was living with mother Annie and stepfather James W Appleton. Enlisted Coventry. He was kiiled age 26 on 15 Sep 1916; CWGC states he was the son of Mrs Annie Laureen Appleton of 33 Northumberland Rd, Coventry
• Gnr Ernest Didcote was born in London Oct ’92. He enlisted into the MMGS, aged 23 years and 18 days, at Coventry on 3rd Nov ‘15. He was shown to be living at 24 Holyhead Rd, Coventry. He survived the war and settled in Woking.
• Cpl Clarence Wilfred Edwards. Born January ‘96. Living at 4 Croft Rd Coventry; a metal and celluloid glass case marker. He fought with the tanks through the war until 28 August when he was wounded and evacuated back to the UK. Within a month he was back with his unit and he stayed with them to the end of the war. Awarded the Military Medal for rescuing infantrymen during the battle for Achiet le Grand on 21 August 1918. He returned to Coventry and was still living there in 1925.
• Gnr William John Thomas Higgs was born Sep 1880 in Barnstable. He had settled in Coventry by 1914, his son Gordon being born on 21 Mar 1914 at 10 Kensington Rd Coventry. He joined the MMGS and served with C Company Heavy Section MGC. On 12 Dec 1916,, his wife wrote from 149 Foreshill Road Coventry sought an extra allowance on the birth of a child . He fought with the tanks for the remainder of the war and was demobilised in June 1919.
• Gnr William Jones MGC, Initially joined the MMGS. Deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16, he was a member of the crew of Tank C6 (Cordon Rouge) which assisted with the capture of the Courcellette sugar factory and was the only tank, on 15th September to come out of action undamaged. Injured during the actions on the Ancre (25 Sep to 2 Oct). Later 201270 Pte Tank Corps, he was commissioned 2Lt Tank Corps on 30 Jul’18. Home address 18 St Georges Rd Coventry
• Gnr J Thomas deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16. Possibly living in 1925 in Earlson St Coventry

I am hoping to find out more about these men by writing to the local paper - any suggestions as to which one would be best

Stephen

#2 steve morse

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 10:08 AM

http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/ - you could write to the editor with a request for info.

For the Great War period the newspapers are held at the Local Studies (Archives ) situated in the Herbert Art gallery/Museum.
024 7683 2381.
Archives - 024 7683 2418 within Museum (well attached!)
Coventry Transport Museum may also be able to help - 024 7683 2425


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#3 chalkie

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 04:17 PM

Many will probably have seen the mounted machine gun in the reception area of the National Motor Cycle Museum close to Birmingham Airport, but for any who havn't I attach a rather poor (the light is difficult) photograph, but nothing is like seeing the real thing, a fearful looking killing machine. You do not even have to pay for entry to the Museum to view it.
Chalkie.

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#4 Jerrymurland

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 04:31 PM

Coventry Library has all the old Coventry Telegraph issues on microfilm.
Jerry

#5 Terry_Reeves

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 04:59 PM

Geoffrey Smith also acted as a recruiter for despatch riders, who originally had to provide their own machines, for which they were paid a comparatively puny amount in compensation. His offices along with, those of the AutoCar magazine, were in Hertford Street.

For local contemporary information, the Coventry and Warwickshire Graphic is a must, with a wealth of information and photographs about local servicemen. I would also recommend searching the Bartleet Collection, which is a nationally important collection, comprising of books and early magazines about early transport, including motor cycle and cycling magazines as well of motor cars of course. Editions covering the war years are also there. There are some illustrations of the MMGS in action accompanied by derring-do text. Quite outrageous really, but good for a laugh. I think the collection is now at Warwick University on the outskirts of Coventry, having been quite shamefully abandoned by the local council.

With regard to Tank Corps men from the city, if you would care to pm me your e mail address I have an interesting photograph for you.

TR

#6 delta

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 05:49 PM

Terry - thanks for such useful info re both the paper and the Museums
Would the Graphic also be held at the City Library?
Re pic - PM on its way

Stephen

#7 Tom Morgan

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 06:05 PM

QUOTE (delta @ Jul 27 2009, 11:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Coventry played an important part in the life of the First Tank Crews. The Coventry offices of the enthusiasts' magazine "Motor Cycle" was listed as a recruiting office for the MMGS; the Editor Geoffrey Smith using his paper to draw in young mechanic to serve with the Motor Machine Gun Service (MMGS).



Stephen, I was interested to see your reference to The Motor Cycle. Do you know if "the Coventry offices" were just that - one of several regional offices, or were they the actual main editorial offices for the publication?

Tom

#8 Terry_Reeves

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 06:38 PM

Tom

It was the main editorial office. The magazine was, I think, owned by the Iliffe family. They also published the Autocar magazine, and the local newspaper. The Autocar incidentally, is the magazine on which one of Harmsworth brothers started his editorial career.

TR

#9 Tom Morgan

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 08:30 PM

Thanks for that, Terry. Just as a follow-up, I've had a look at my copy of Motorcycle Cavalcade, by "Ixion", who wrote for The Motor Cycle from 1903 to the 1960s. Not surprisingly, it was published (1950) by Iliffe and Sons, Ltd.

Tom

#10 steve morse

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 11:50 AM

QUOTE (Jerrymurland @ Jul 28 2009, 05:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Coventry Library has all the old Coventry Telegraph issues on microfilm.
Jerry


When the new Archives was completed in the Museum, records went there including newspapers. The Central Library will now send you to the museum.

See my previous post for numbers etc.

SteveM

#11 delta

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 10:18 PM

I think Terry has found another one - PM on the way biggrin.gif

#12 tharkin56

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 08:36 PM

I have indexed every world war photo one from the coventry graphic, coventry herald, midland daily telegraph, rudge record, siddley deasy quarterly, whitte and poppe ltd etc

I have the following on debenham no photo About to release a rewrite of coventry roll of the fallen this week

DEBENHAM, Private, William Bertram, 206155, "D" Coy., Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) formerly 32105, Machine Gun Corps. Killed in action, 15th September, 1916. Age 24. Son of Mrs. Annie Laureen Appleton, of 33, Northumberland Road, Coventry. Born 29th January, 1892 at Berlin (of English Parents brought to England when three weeks old). Employed by Rotheram and Sons Ltd. Enlisted, 1915 at Coventry. Commemorated St. John’s Church. Memorial Ref. Pier and Face 5 C and 12 C. Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

I will look for the other men in my survived file.

So if you are looking for photos i can save you a trip but articles with no photos are indexed in the archives.

Trevor




#13 tharkin56

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 08:54 PM

these of interest see hooper photo i can give you paste h if required

DOODSON, Private, Ewart. 206130, 12th Coy., D Bn., Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) formerly 2474, Machine Gun Corps. Killed in action, 9th April, 1917. Age 18. Adopted son of Mr. and Mrs. Tyas Wood, of 4, Scout Hill Terrace, Dewsbury, Yorks. Born Elland, Yorks. Enlisted Coventry. Memorial Ref. Bay 10. Arras Memorial, France.

DUFNER, Sergeant, Leonard Bennett. 80120, 6th Light Armoured Motor Bty., Machine Gun Corps (Motors). Killed in action, Mesopotamia, 26th August 1918. Age 21. Son of Herbert John and Elizabeth Dufner of 106, Sir Thomas Whites Road, Coventry. Born 2nd September, 1897 in Clifton Terrace, Lower Ford Street. Enlisted March 1918. Engineer. Commemorated War Memorial Park. Memorial Ref. Panel 42. Basra Memorial, Iraq.

EVANS, Corporal, Philip John. 2227, C Bn., Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch). Killed in action, 4th July, 1917. Age 21. Son of John and Annie Elizabeth Evans. Native Chester. Enlisted Coventry. Grave Ref. I. A. 6. Gwalia Cemetery. Belgium.

GARDNER, Private, Basil Ronald Leslie. 206105, D Bn., Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) formerly 32210, Machine Gun Corps. Killed in action, 11th April, 1917. Born High Wycombe, Bucks. Enlisted Coventry. Memorial Ref. Bay 10. Arras Memorial, France.

GILES, Private, Bertie Arthur. 206122, (1883), C Coy., Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) formerly 1883, Machine Gun Corps. Killed in action, 15th September, 1916. Age 18. Son of Thomas and Emma Giles of 79, Bourne Road, Colchester. Born Barking, Essex. Enlisted Coventry. Memorial Ref. Pier and Face 5C and 12C. Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

HATHAWAY, Second Lieutenant, Sidney Cornelious. 11th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps formerly Motor Machine Gun Battery. Killed in action, 12th January, 1916 failed to return from an observation flight. Shot down over Beaumetz. Born 23rd March, 1898 in Stoke Park. Resided Stoneleigh Grove. Engineer’s Pupil. Enlisted October, 1914. Son of Mr. C. W. Hathaway, Work’s Manager, Triumph Works. Commemorated Triumph & Gloria Memorial. Resided Spencer Avenue. Grave Ref. IV. N. 18. Achiet-Le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension, France.

HILLHOUSE, Sergeant, Robert. 206096, C Bn., Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) formerly 2258, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry). Killed in action, 11th April, 1917. Son of John and Isabella Hillhouse of Stoneywood, Denny. Husband of Janet Hillhouse of 78, Broad Street, Denny, Stirlingshire. Enlisted Coventry. Memorial Ref. Bay 10. Arras Memorial, France.

HOOPER, Gunner, Stanley. 173, 5 Bty., Machine Gun Corps (Motor Branch). Killed in action, shot by sniper, 7th November, 1915. Age 20. Son of James Hooper and of Rhoda Cecilia Hewitt (formerly Hooper), of "Aquata", Parkfield Rd., Wolverhampton. Born 22nd February, 1895 at Bilston, Staffs. Resided in Queen Victoria Road. Brother of Mrs. Jones, 15, Kirby Road. Clerk, British Thompson Houston. Enlisted September, 1914 at Coventry. Commemorated British Thompson Houston Memorial. Grave Ref. II. D. 8. St. Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L'avoue, France.

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#14 tharkin56

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 09:13 PM

C W Edwards pictured cov grahic 13/12/1918 awarded MM after being wounded he carried on to the last man and then got two of the crew back to safety. Both were wounded and he dragged them a distance of several hundred yards to the nearest shell hole and allowed them to be moved on stretchers which we scarce befor ehe himself received attention. Resided 4 croft road.

No info on the other men listed

#15 delta

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 10:04 PM

Trevor - you are an absolute star - thank you

William Debenham was a crewman in tank D12, commanded by Capt Graeme Nixon which suuported the new Zealand Division and was killed when the tank was hit by German artillery fire on the western edge of Flers.

Doodson was one of the first men ever to go into action - he was crew in D1, commanded by Harold Mortimore. My website includes much more info, most provided by David Tattersfield.

Cpl Evans is one of many C Company men whose tank on 15th September is unknown. Similarly Robert Hillhouse but you may be interested to know that, in 1901 (aged 15 years), he was employed as a railway clerk and living at Oakbank Old Kilpatrick. He was later Mentioned In Despatches.

Gardner is not of those listed in either C or D Coy but he is clearly an early tankee; he may have deployed with either A or B Coy and then stayed with D on its formation.

Bertie Giles was a crewman in C14.

2929 Cpl Clarence Wilfred Edwards was born January ‘96. A metal and celluloid glass case marker his next of kin was his father, John Thomas Edwards. Attested at Coventry on 1 Dec ‘15 aged 19 years 330 days height 5 ft 9 ½ inch; chest 39½ inch with 4 inch expansion). Allocated number 2929 in the MMGS, he was mobilised and approved at Bisley on 20 Mar ‘16. Promoted aLCpl on 13 May ‘16 then posted to C Coy on 27 May, he was promoted Cpl on 27 Jun. Admitted Bury St Edmunds Hosp with tonsillitis 5 to 15 Aug ‘16, he deployed to France with C Coy on 24 Aug ‘16, arriving Le Havre the next day. Transferred to C Bn on its formation 18 November ‘16, he was Hospised 31 January ‘17. Promoted to Cpl to complete establishment wef 6 Feb ‘17; then returned to duty with C Bn on 7 Feb ‘17. Probably fought at the Battle of Arras and certainly attended 6 lb course at 2 Bde Tank School from 14 to 19 May ‘17. Later 200599 Tank Corps, he was granted UK leave from 5 to 19 Dec ‘17 (presumably having fought through the battle of Cambrai). Converted on Whippet Tanks when C Bn as rebadged at 3rd Lt Bn. On 21 August ‘18, near Achiet Le Grand, together with 112399 Gnr SL Clark, “after their tank had been knocked out by a direct hit from enemy artillery, displayed most conspicuous gallantry by rescuing many injured infantry who were lying out in the open exposed to intense artillery and machine gun fire. They carried many to a place of safety and showed the greatest contempt of danger” for which both men were awarded the Military Medal (LG 24 Jan ‘19). Wounded in action on 28 August ‘18; casevaced to CCS, then Hosp in Etaples and Trouville but not to the UK. At Reinforcement Depot from 21 to 26 Sep ‘18, then returned to duty with 3 Bn 26 Sep ‘18. Promoted Sergt on 18 Oct ‘18. He returned to the UK on 13 Feb and was demobilised 17 Feb ‘19. His MM was sent to home address on 23 Aug ‘19, Edwards having declined to have it presented. In 1925 he was still living at the same address.
Would be especially grateful for his photo.

Stephen

#16 tharkin56

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 10:22 PM

I will post everything for you after the letter H, what is your web page and I guess you want anything tank corps or machine guns corps heavy branch.

You alos need this man walter william atkins buried foleshill congregational church coventry his headstone reads served with the tanks in france died bovington military camp. I spoke to them they belive it was from an accident as there wa so hospital there

ATKINS, Gunner, Walter William. 206148, Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) formerly32027, Machine Gun Corps. Died at Military Hospital, Bovington Camp, 9th February, 1917. Son of Mr. W. Atkins, of 57, Henley Road, Bell Green, Coventry. Born 4th August 1895, at 57, Henley Road, Bell Green. Resided at 57, Henley Road, Bell Green. Engineer. Enlisted March, 1916. Grave Ref. Foleshill Congregational Burial Ground, Warwickshire.

#17 delta

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 06:16 PM

Trevor - that's most kind

Who did you speak to at Bovington about the accident?

Stephen



#18 delta

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 06:44 AM

Found another one - this time a casualty at Flers Courcellette

2094 Gnr Tom Fleming Wilson (also shown as 206134 Tanks ) possibly born Grasmere, Westmoreland in Dec ‘88. Resided and enlisted Coventry, fied of his wounds on 22 Sept ‘16 presumably as a result of injuries sustained in action with D15 on the morning of 16th Sept.

He is buried at Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L'abbe. No age of family details so any assistance would be appreciated.

Stephen

#19 tharkin56

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 11:12 PM

no further details on wilson at this stage

#20 delta

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 07:16 PM

thanx for looking

#21 delta

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 10:38 PM

Dudley Nevill White was born in Coventry in early 1896; his family later moved to Kenilworth.
He enlisted in the MGC and was KIA whilst serving with D B on 9th October.

I think he may also have fought at High Wood in tank D22 on 15th Septmber.
Have contacted the Kenilworth RofH site but can anyone else add anything

#22 tharkin56

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 09:09 PM

from roll of the fallen for coventry my information on white, i have a photo i will get round to adding all coventry men. honest

reported as kia when a shell struck his tank. age 20. son of charles and lucy white of catle road, kenilworth. born coventry. he is also mentioned in kenilworth and the great war.

letter dear mr white, i am very sorry to inform you that your son, finest and bravest boy i have ever met was kia on the 9th on this month. he was in my crew and went into action at dawn on the morning against some strong points at poelcapelle. from the start we were shelled heavily and about 8.30am a shell struck the tank killing your son at his gun, he never uttered a word. he is buried beside his tank and rests in belgian soil.

lt j. a. cogner

enlisted 1915 described as a pale faced boy when enlisted

#23 delta

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 10:27 PM

Trevor

That is a superb piece of news. I think you will find that the officer was Lt J A Coghlan who fought in Damon II in that action. He was certainly in Watson's company (11th) and one of the first tank crews, Pte George Thornton, was in the same tank - he lost an arm and was discharged.

Does the Kenilworth history indiciate wther Dudley was in the first tank battle at the Somme?

Stephen

#24 philrigger

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 04:25 PM

Just out of interest, my G/Father Frederick Francis Smith, served in the Worcs Regt (5663) from 1899 to 1911. Recalled to the colours in 1914).
Transferred from the Worcs Regt to the MMGS (RFA) (2452) in May 1915 as a Cpl . He went on to serve in the Heavy Section MGC (XIX Co.) and stayed with them until being posted back to the Worcs Regt (46855) in in April 1917 in the rank of CSM. He went on to srve until 1920 and lived until 1967 aged 86.

#25 tharkin56

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 06:48 PM

further info on white he was made a lance corporal within two weeks of enlisting and picked for the tanks, he formerly worked in eykyns motor garage picked for important work in the new tanks. in a surprise attack on the germans he was insdie a tank for 14 hours and reported it as jonah in a land whale and moving across no mans land, account after sept 1916. i'll ask the author for the full account