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Fournes & Totenlistes


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#1 MelPack

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 06:54 PM

I thought that it would be opportune to review the available evidence of the relationship between the German burials at Fournes and the appearance of the names of missing soldiers from the 2/7th Warks and 182nd Machine Gun Company on the Totenlistes.

#2 MelPack

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 06:59 PM

There is little doubt that Fournes was used by the German Army as the principal burial ground for the soldiers of the 2/7 Warks and 182nd Machine Gun Company who had succeeded in penetrating their first and second lines south of the Wick Salient.

The original research on the Fournes burials was published in the 2007 edition of Paul Cobb's excellent book, Fromelles 1916, at page 116:

Attached File  Paul Cobb Fromelles 1916 p 116_0001.jpg   51.1KB   1 downloads


#3 MelPack

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 07:03 PM

The first mass grave exhumed in 1920 contained six sets of remains from which Pte Edward Scudamore 182nd MGC was successfully identified presumably by the recovery of his ID tag. He and his five comrades were re-interred at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez. Scudamore has his own named grave but the five others were each interred as 'Known unto God'.

The second mass grave excavated by the Germans to the exact dimensions as those at Pheasant Wood was found to contain 51 sets of remains. 50 sets of the remains (all believed to be British) possessed no means of identification. Separate confirmation existed, however, that the remains of Pte W Wale 2/7 Warks, Pte A Fisher 182nd MGC (wrongly recorded as being of the 122nd MGC by the CWGC), Pte Harry Berry 2/7 Warks, L Sgt J R Whateley 2/7 Warks and Pte Herbert Tipple 182nd MGC were located in this particular grave.

All 50 men were re-interred in 'Known unto God' graves at Cabaret-Rouge with the five named men having Special Memorials numbered 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 respectively indicating that they were either buried or believed to be buried in the cemetery.

#4 MelPack

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 07:13 PM

The one successful identification, Pte Patrick Gearing 53rd Battalion AIF (also buried at Cabaret-Rouge but in a named grave), is an interesting anomaly.

Quite how a solitary Aussie ended up in a concentration of British dead is open to conjecture but it certainly mirrors the significant anomaly of a small number of British ending up in a concentration of Australian dead at Pheasant Wood.

The service file of Gearing confirms that in spite of burial by the Germans no notification of his death was received via the IRC or any other source and he was not declared to have been killed until a Court of Inquiry convened on 2nd September 1917.

The Exhumation and Reburial Certificate below records the location of the original burial and the recovery of his ID disc and rosary with the remains. These were eventually returned to his wife under cover of a letter dated 30th May 1924.

Attached File  Z zzz Gearing exhumation.jpg   35.83KB   1 downloads

#5 MelPack

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 07:18 PM

The most important aspect of the Fournes burials is that they account for a very large number of the missing soldiers of the 2/7 Warks and 182nd MGC who have no known graves. The figure may be as high as 56 out of the missing total of 87 from the two units (80 2/7 Warks and 7 182nd MGC). The aforesaid proposition, based upon a reasonable assumption drawn from the evidence, is entirely different from the erroneous proposition that a soldier's burial was at Fournes simply because his name appears on the Totenlistes.

There are 37 named soldiers on the Totenlistes drawn from the ranks of the missing of the 2/7 Warks and 182nd MGC (35 2/7 Warks and 2 182nd MGC). A further 8 names appear – 3 from the 2/1 OBLIs, 2 from the 2/6 Glosters and 3 from the 2/6 Warks.

There can be little doubt that some, if not a significant number, of the Totenlistes 37 were buried at Fournes. On a simple mathematical calculation at least 6 were buried there – 87 missing minus 56 Fournes burials = a balance of 31 compared to 37 names on the Totenlistes.

There is not, however, one single shred of evidence to confirm that all of the 37 2/7 Warks and 182nd MGC named on the Totenlistes were buried at Fournes. Were that the case then the CWGC would be obliged to busy itself in furnishing a further 37 Special Memorials at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery to go alongside those for Wale, Fisher et al.

It is possible that any one of the 37 men named on the Totenlistes was buried at Fournes but exactly the same could be said of the other 50 men not so named.

The Totenlistes may be an interesting source of conjecture but as far as securing a British identification is concerned they have been a monumental red herring.

#6 MelPack

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 07:30 PM

How soldiers from the 2/7Warks/182nd MGC could end up at the opposite flank of the Battlefield being buried at Pheasant Wood is another source of endless conjecture.

Richard's post some time ago on this very subject may have provided the answer in his analysis of the material presented in Robin Corfield's book Don't Forget Me Cobber:


QUOTE (CarltonLM @ Nov 16 2009, 09:23 PM)
Further on [in the book] there is another reference to Lt Lunceschloss giving an order treat the dead with respect. I think the critical quote is a Brigade order on 24th July saying that any English dead in and behind the trenches are not to be taken to Fournes, but buried in a suitable place between the support lines and the 2nd line position.


The explanation could be nothing more prosaic than corpses in transit to Fournes were diverted to Pheasant Wood in the time between the already dug graves at Fournes being filled and the order that no further burials were to take place there and that all future burials were to be in suitable locations between the second and support lines. But, perhaps that is a discussion for the future ....

Mel

#7 tharkin56

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 11:15 PM

Mel

To you have the names of the men who appeared on the toten list. I have some contact with relative of the 2/7 warwicks men who fell at Fromelles, some of them have picked up on the Fournes link.

Thanks

#8 Victoria Burbidge

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    The British Memorial Association, Fromelles

Posted 30 June 2011 - 11:57 PM

Mel

To you have the names of the men who appeared on the toten list. I have some contact with relative of the 2/7 warwicks men who fell at Fromelles, some of them have picked up on the Fournes link.

Thanks

Trevor,

I have the updated lists and will send them through to you tomorrow. Can you PM your e-mail address through to me? Some of your Coventry men don't appear on either the Totenlisten or Nachlasslisten, but I've managed to trace them to German lists via another route.

V.

#9 Auimfo

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 12:31 AM

Hi V,

Could you possibly email a copy of the updated lists to me also? Much appreciated.

Cheers,
Tim L.

#10 MelPack

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 09:29 AM

I am pleased to see that this thread has been reinstated albeit in a heavily edited form.

The thread was prompted by wrong advice being given to a relative of a missing soldier that if a soldier's name appeared on a totenliste then he was buried at Fournes.

The relative is unequivocal about the advice given:

We have received documentary proof (German) that xxxxxx was buried by the Germans on or shortly after the 21. July in their cemetery at Fournes-en-Weppes, and we are also aware that in about 1922 together with others he was re-buried at Cabaret Rouge near to Loos.

and

We have absolute proof that he was buried by the Germans on 21. July 1916 at their cemetery at Fournes-en Weppes, and then later re-buried by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1923 at the cemetery known as Cabaret Rouge near to Loos where his name is held in memory on a wall to the missing.

It is vital that misinformation of this kind is corrected. In this instance, the 'absolute proof' provided to the relative dissuaded the same from continuing the search for a compatible DNA donor.

The quest for a British identification is continuing. The pendulum has swung back very much in favour of the small number of British recovered at Pheasant Wood being drawn from the ranks of the 2/7 Warks/182nd MGC.

Wrong advice proferred to relatives can not only deny the possibility of the identification of that particular soldier, it also damages the entire project.

Mel

#11 MelPack

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 10:45 AM

Mel

To you have the names of the men who appeared on the toten list. I have some contact with relative of the 2/7 warwicks men who fell at Fromelles, some of them have picked up on the Fournes link.

Thanks


Hello Trevor

Here is the list but the same has to be treated with a great deal of caution for the obvious reasons:


Bailey Christopher 3224 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Barnett Stephen 3367 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Bates Harold 3435 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Beckett Harry 3456 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Blakemore A.J. 2922 Sgt. 2/7 Warks

Clarke J.A. 4648 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Coull George 5598 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Davies James Ernest 5949 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Davis T.H. 3231 Pte.2/7 Warks

Donaldson Geoffrey Boles Capt. 2/7 Warks

Foley W. 2085 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Goode Absolom 3930 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Griffiths John 5958 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Hayes Frank Hinde 2216 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Holly Robert Ballington 5525 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Lamb Alfred 3206 Pte 2/7 Warks

MacDonald Arthur 5658 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Moore Harold 2132 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Noakes R.F. 2943 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Pryde J. 5688 Pte.2/7 Warks

Rees William Simon 5962 Pte.2/7 Warks

Ryan Christopher 2034 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Sheffield Sidney 4618 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Smith A.J.V. 3859 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Smith John 5704 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Tallis Thomas 4233 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Taylor G.A. 4369 Drmr. 2/7 Warks

Thom D. 5712 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Topp Aubrey 4386 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Townley Frederick 4638 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Turnbull Henry 5716 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Watkins H.P. 5948 Pte. 2/7 Warks

Welsh Robert 5718 Pte. 2/7 Warks

White William Harvey 2497 Sgt.2/7 Warks

Wood Leslie William 2nd Lt 2/7 Warks


Connors M 14236 Pte. 182 MGC

Nokes S.W. 28571 Pte. 182 MGC


Austin Charles 810 Sgt. 2/1 OBLI

Harding Harry 4288 Pte. 2/1 OBLI

McClements A. 5391 Pte. 2/1 OBLI

Mitchell George James Lt. 2/6 Glos

Raisey Albert Victor 3986 Pte. 2/6 Glos

Coulton Aubrey Capt. 2/6 Warks

Ralph A.J. 5523 Pte. 2/6 Warks

Searle John James 6125 Pte. 2/6 Warks


Mel













#12 Siege Gunner

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 04:50 PM

The quest for a British identification is continuing. The pendulum has swung back very much in favour of the small number of British recovered at Pheasant Wood being drawn from the ranks of the 2/7 Warks/182nd MGC.

How so, Mel? They were on the extreme left of the battlefield (from the German perspective), on the other side of the Wick Salient, in RIR 17's sector. How, and why, would just four bodies from that area be transported all the way to Pheasant Wood?

#13 CarltonLM

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 07:26 PM

How soldiers from the 2/7Warks/182nd MGC could end up at the opposite flank of the Battlefield being buried at Pheasant Wood is another source of endless conjecture.

Richard's post some time ago on this very subject may have provided the answer in his analysis of the material presented in Robin Corfield's book Don't Forget Me Cobber:




The explanation could be nothing more prosaic than corpses in transit to Fournes were diverted to Pheasant Wood in the time between the already dug graves at Fournes being filled and the order that no further burials were to take place there and that all future burials were to be in suitable locations between the second and support lines. But, perhaps that is a discussion for the future ....

Mel



QUOTE (CarltonLM @ Nov 16 2009, 09:23 PM)
Further on [in the book] there is another reference to Lt Lunceschloss
giving an order treat the dead with respect. I think the critical quote is a Brigade order on 24th July saying that any English dead in and behind the trenches are not to be taken to Fournes, but buried in a suitable place between the support lines and the 2nd line position.




I had forgotten I wrote this and no longer have access to the book. Does any one have a copy to see if this order is referenced in the book? I agree a discussion point for the future.Would the second and support lines be clearly marked on trench maps of the time?


thanks


Richard




#14 MelPack

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 09:21 AM

How so, Mel? They were on the extreme left of the battlefield (from the German perspective), on the other side of the Wick Salient, in RIR 17's sector. How, and why, would just four bodies from that area be transported all the way to Pheasant Wood?


Mick

If we succeed in securing a British identification and it transpires that the soldier(s) is/are drawn from the ranks of the 2/7Warks/182nd MGC then the 'how and why' they ended up being buried at Pheasant Wood will be the subject of speculation and conjecture. I have already provided one possible explanation above by reference to Richard's post on Robin Corfield's detailed work but I doubt if any definitive answer will ever emerge.

By the way, there are actually only two soldiers confirmed as British by nationality. There were originally three after the exhumation had been completed but one of those has now been sucessfully identified as an Aussie. It still remains a possibility, however, that a small number of British are also numbered amongst the 30-40 sets of remains that are currently of indeterminate nationality.

The key to securing a successful British identification resides in establishing the identity of the remains of the British officer recovered at Pheasant Wood.

The recovery of those remains was publicised in the excavation blog dated 14 July 2009 here:

http://www.cwgc.org/...dex.php?paged=5

#15 MelPack

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 10:07 AM

There is a total of seventeen British officers numbered amongst the 331 missing of the 61st Division. Eleven of these have already been tested for comparative DNA without any positive indicators being returned and can, therefore, be excluded from any further consideration. A further four have samples pending and their cases will be assessed at the next Joint Identification Board. Unfortunately, the genealogy of the remaining two officers is such that both patrilineal and matrilineal DNA lines are extinct so there is no possibility of securing Y or mito comparative samples from any living relative.

Amongst the ranks of the British officers that have not been excluded by DNA testing thus far, the balance of military historical evidence and the anthropology points firmly in the direction of the officer being from the 2/7 Warks as opposed to another battalion. We are obliged to work on the not unreasonable assumption that if the officer is from a specific battalion then the other soldier(s) is/are drawn from the same unit.

It is precisely for this reason that the missing of the 2/7 Warks/182nd MGC are in the frame. More than fifty of the missing of those units have either had comparative samples tested or the same are pending. We still face the monumental task of locating compatible donor relatives for the remaining balance of the thirty plus soldiers.

I hope that this explains our position.

Mel

(The reference to 'we' in these posts is to the (British) Fromelles Genealogy Project. Currently there are only three of us working on the project - myself, Keith Miller and Nadia Rogers. I would like to extend a public thanks to Keith and Nadia for their tireless efforts)

#16 MelPack

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 10:24 AM

Would the second and support lines be clearly marked on trench maps of the time?


Richard

I think that you have used this map before:

http://lt1.mcmaster....map_id=121

You obviously need to be cautious about notions concerning the fixity of the second line as the Aussies found out to their great cost.

Mel

#17 Siege Gunner

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 10:53 AM

You obviously need to be cautious about notions concerning the fixity of the second line as the Aussies found out to their great cost.

The support line (2. Linie) referred to in the Brigade Order of 24 July 1916 signed by Weissmiller was directly behind the front line, and the second line positions (2. Stellung) were on the ridge.

The officer referred to in an earlier post as "Lt Lunceschloss" was actually Oberst von Lünenschloss, commanding officer of the 12th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Brigade, comprising RIR 16 and RIR 17.

#18 Auimfo

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:14 AM

Mel,

I have to admit to an increasing suspicion that perhaps there were no British soldiers buried at Pheasant Wood.

Initially, of the 250 remains recovered, 203 were Australian, 3 were unknown British and 44 were unknown nationality. Since that time, 5 of the the unknown nationality have been identified by name (all Australian) and even one of the unknown British has been identified as an Australian.

I'm wondering how the misinterpretation of nationality was made when recovered and whether similar might not have occurred with the other two?

Comparing the number of British soldiers killed at Fromelles against the number of current British graves (identified or not), what numbers are still unaccounted for? If the number is only very small then it's possible they are at Pheasant Wood, but if it's fifty or more then I'd be thinking there's a British mass grave out there somewhere still waiting to be found. Like Mick, I find it unlikely that British dead from that distance away would be transported to Pheasant Wood for burial. (although I accept your theory to be possible)

With regards to the possible British officer, do we know what evidence suggested him to be British? Presuming it to be remnants of uniform and equipment, is it not also a plausible theory that he might have been a newly commissioned Australian who obtained his new uniform and accoutrements from England?

Of course there is no hard evidence to support my thoughts and I sincerely hope for both yourselves and their relatives that some of the British lads are among those identified from Pheasant Wood.....I just have that gut feeling though!

Cheers,
Tim L.

#19 MelPack

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:59 AM

Tim

I am more than prepared to accept many of your thoughts as possibilities including those about the British officer being Australian and Pheasant Wood being an exclusively Australian burial site for the reasons that you have suggested.

I honestly do not think a meaningful audit of the burials of the British missing could be conducted or, at least one that would yield meaningful results.

Apart from the 2/7Warks/182nd MGC and a small number of the 2/6 Glosters, the bulk of the British missing were left in situ in NML. Contemporaneous burials of those recovered from NML and those who were kiled in the British lines were mainly at Laventie. The remains of those recovered in the immediate post war battlefield clearance were interred principally at Aubers and Rue du Bois. The latter cemetery has the large communal grave of 52 unknown officers and men of the 2/1 OBLIs and a similar one for 22 unknown Aussies. Then there are are the later exhumations from Fournes that were re-interred at Cabaret-Rouge which may account for up to 56 of the missing 2/7 Warks/182nd MGC.

I have not raised a query with the CWGC archivists to establish how many British KUGs directly attributable to Fromelles are interred at Aubers, Rue du Bois and other cemeteries but even if it is possible to accurately gauge this then there is bound to be a significant shortfall between KUG burials and the number of missing because of factors such as the destruction of remains by shelling not to mention the attempted incineration of the corpses of the Gloster soldiers. There may well be collective graves that remained undiscovered by the post war battlefield clearance but I very much doubt if there is a British Pheasant Wood waiting to be discovered.

Fromelles has been a roller coaster with predicted outcomes being disproved and the outcomes being unpredicted. The DNA route is the only one left that can now provide certainty. I sincerely hope of whatever nationality the men are that they are identified.

Mel

#20 CarltonLM

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:18 PM

Tim

I am more than prepared to accept many of your thoughts as possibilities including those about the British officer being Australian and Pheasant Wood being an exclusively Australian burial site for the reasons that you have suggested.

I honestly do not think a meaningful audit of the burials of the British missing could be conducted or, at least one that would yield meaningful results.

Apart from the 2/7Warks/182nd MGC and a small number of the 2/6 Glosters, the bulk of the British missing were left in situ in NML. Contemporaneous burials of those recovered from NML and those who were kiled in the British lines were mainly at Laventie. The remains of those recovered in the immediate post war battlefield clearance were interred principally at Aubers and Rue du Bois. The latter cemetery has the large communal grave of 52 unknown officers and men of the 2/1 OBLIs and a similar one for 22 unknown Aussies. Then there are are the later exhumations from Fournes that were re-interred at Cabaret-Rouge which may account for up to 56 of the missing 2/7 Warks/182nd MGC.

I have not raised a query with the CWGC archivists to establish how many British KUGs directly attributable to Fromelles are interred at Aubers, Rue du Bois and other cemeteries but even if it is possible to accurately gauge this then there is bound to be a significant shortfall between KUG burials and the number of missing because of factors such as the destruction of remains by shelling not to mention the attempted incineration of the corpses of the Gloster soldiers. There may well be collective graves that remained undiscovered by the post war battlefield clearance but I very much doubt if there is a British Pheasant Wood waiting to be discovered.

Fromelles has been a roller coaster with predicted outcomes being disproved and the outcomes being unpredicted. The DNA route is the only one left that can now provide certainty. I sincerely hope of whatever nationality the men are that they are identified.

Mel


Mel/Tim

The point I made in 2009 from Robin's book about Oberst von Lünenschloss order, commanding officer of the 12th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Brigade, comprising RIR 16 and RIR 17 (who were opposite the 2/7th Warwicks) which said on 24th July 1916 that any English dead in and behind the trenches are not to be taken to Fournes, but buried in a suitable place between the support lines and the 2nd line position is still a point for further research..


Where did Robin source his information from in the book?


Is there evidence that the order ever actually carried out?



If it was carried out are there post war records showing any recovery of bodies between the support lines and the 2nd line positions? Would that be the CWGC records?



My understanding why 2/7th Warwicks and MGC got to Fournes was due to the extensive light railway which ran through the German lines, and having seen a photo of the time there is evidence that the Germans used it to transport those killed. Those 2/7th and MGC I think must have arrived at Fournes between 20th and 24th July if this order is to be believed. Presumably in the days after the battle due to the size of the task of collecting bodies then the collection of identification from those killed would become more inconsistent so I'm not surprised that the lists of the dead collected by the Germans appear incomplete. There would have been a rush to get the job done as the days progressed due to the risk of disease.


Richard

#21 tharkin56

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:07 PM

BETHELL, THOMAS HENRY
Initials: T H
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Captain
Regiment/Service: Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Unit Text: "D" Coy. 2nd/7th Bn.
Age: 31
Date of Death: 19/07/1916
Additional information: Son of Thomas Burnet Bethell, of 5, The Quadrant, Coventry, and the late Annie Jane Bethell.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 2 and 3.
Memorial: PLOEGSTEERT MEMORIAL

How many other officers from the 2/7nd were killed. accounts from private wallace suggest he dressed Capt Bethell head wound prior to be taken prisoner.

I can update the local papers with an appeal on the 19th do you have names of men who have not had relatives come forward as yet.

May just spur one or two people on, thinking someone else may have given DNA

#22 MelPack

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 04:20 PM

If it was carried out are there post war records showing any recovery of bodies between the support lines and the 2nd line positions? Would that be the CWGC records?

Richard

I would suggest that you contact the CWGC direct. The archivists are very helpful in answering queries and will undoubtedly assist you with relevant burial returns.

A word of warning though, it may take some time for them to respond depending on the volume of queries that they are having to contend with.

Mel

#23 MelPack

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 04:43 PM

Trevor

There are four 2/7 Warks officers that have no known grave: Captain T H Bethel, Captain G B Donaldson, 2nd Lt M A Jefferies and 2nd Lt L W Wood.

If you drop me an email then I can let you have the balance of your Coventry men that we still need donors for and some details of their relatives and descendants that you may be able to publish in your article.

Mel

#24 CarltonLM

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 08:17 PM

Trevor

There are four 2/7 Warks officers that have no known grave: Captain T H Bethel, Captain G B Donaldson, 2nd Lt M A Jefferies and 2nd Lt L W Wood.

If you drop me an email then I can let you have the balance of your Coventry men that we still need donors for and some details of their relatives and descendants that you may be able to publish in your article.

Mel


If it helps in the search for relatives of Cpt Bethell the following probate record for 1917 records:

Bethel Thomas Henry of 5 Quadrant, Coventry Barrister at law and captain in his Majesty's Territorial Forces 7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment died 19th July 1916 in France in action. Probate Birmingham 21st August to Thomas Burnet Bethell JP and elastic web manufacturer and Francis Hunt solicitor Effects £4957 7s.


Thomas Burnet Bethell I understand was his father.

His probate record records for 1933.

Bethell Thomas Burnet of 5 The Quadrant Coventry died 19th January 1933. Probate London 16th March to Francis John Hunt solicitor and Henry Matterson Bethell commercial clerk £23,383 8s 6d.

Henry Matterson was according to the 1901 census brother of Thomas. He also had a sister Annie Gwendoline Bethell born 1887

There is a good chance that I think you can identify Henry Matterson Bethell's date of death as June qtr 1975 in Chichester registration district. Date of birth recorded as 11th March 1891. I drew a blank looking for a marriage but the death certificate informant or a probate record for 1975 may record a living relative yet.

Richard




#25 tharkin56

tharkin56

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 09:04 PM

Mel

I cannot send you a message as your in box is full. I think i have an email from you a while ago do you maintain the same email address

Trevor