Posted 28 July 2009 - 04:52 PM
Congratulations on an astonishing job, Terry! As a newcomer to family history research (and a total duffer in military matters) I'd greatly appreciate some help in piecing together details of my grandfather, who died in the Great War and whose embroidered cards home -- four to my grandmother and a birthday card to his eldest son, my father -- are among my treasured possessions.
I can offer this in exchange, for your database: his name was John Arthur Morris; he was born in Clerkenwell, London, in 1882; later lived in Walthamstow; worked as a briar pipe polisher; and served as a Pioneer with D Special Coy (Service No. 206743), which I understand means he was involved in gas operations. He died on 10/08/1918 (taken from the CWGC site – I take it that's 10 Aug and not Oct 8), leaving a widow and six children between the ages of four and 12.
He is buried in an extension to Montigny Communal Cemetery. My wife and I went there three years ago. It was an emotional experience, not only because we were, I believe, the first family members to visit his grave. He lies between two Germans, a comforting reminder that we're all one in death. Yet yards away is the proof that some hostility never dies, a solitary grave housing a British deserter – for ever marked as a man apart.
I wrote to the RE Museum asking for details of granddad's army service and, I hoped, of his death. They replied that, due to the nature of the Special Companies' operations, no details exist of their areas of action or the work undertaken; also that no diaries were kept.
Such information as I have, therefore, comes from the CWGC and Ancestry's Great War Dead site, which states that he was "formerly 23331, Rifle Brigade", and which puzzlingly (to me) lists his theatre of war as Aldershot. Your site, with its intensely personal character, may therefore be my best hope.
Can anyone offer any guidance to the action in which my grandfather may have been killed; the circumstances of his death; in fact, anything which may shed some light on him?