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Essex Regiment 15th Battalion


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#1 samsearcher

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 09:04 PM

Hello All....I'm new here.... Could I ask if anyone has any information on how I can see what/where my Grandfather got up to in the Great War?

Private S Wells:
Joined the Norfolk Regiment in Dec.1915, but the only papers I have, are from his service in the Essex reg. X1Corps / 15th Battalion / E Company. I have his regimental numbers if required. He was transferred to the reserve October 1919.
I would like to discover what he did in the Norfolks and the Essex regiments if possible.

Can anyone offer any info on what action his battalion may have been involved in?

also how to find out what section of the Norfolks he was in and when transferred to the Essex.

Many thanks in advance for anything you can help with.

John

#2 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 10:37 PM

Hi John and welcome aboard.

The 16th Essex were a war-raised battalion, created on 1st January 1917 from the 65th Provisional Battalion, originally itself formed from Home Service personnel from various territorial battalions.

On 27th April 1918, the 15th essex became a Garrison Guard Battalion (i.e. - I believe - a battlion of soldiers not deemed fit for first-line service, but suitable to act as garrisons overseas).

After the huge losses of the German offensive in Spring 1918, the GG battalions were shipped to France, and ended up as front-line troops. The 15th essex went to France in May, and on the 12th joined the 177th bde, 59th (2/N Midland) Division. This division had been badly cut up in the German push, and was reconstituted (rebuilt) using units like the 15th essex.

In July 1918, the 'Garrison Guard' title was removed, and the 15th Essex ended the war in Belgium. In the time the 15th Essex were with them, the 59th Division fought in the battles - Battle of Albert (21/22 August), as part of VI Corps, Third Army, and 2 Oct- 11 Nov The Final Advance in Artois and Flanders, as part of (wait for it!) XI Corps, Fifth Army.

The Norfolk bit I would suspect is his regiment of enlistment, with a transfer to the Essex when they needed men for the front

There - now you know!

#3 shaymen

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 10:39 PM

John
Welcome to the forum
From the main site re 15th Essex
15th Battalion
1 January 1917, the 65th Provisional Bn became the 15th Essex. It had been formed in June 1915 from Home Service personnel. Became a Garrison Guard Bn on 27 April 1918 (this title being removed on 16 July 1918). Moved to France in May 1918. 12 May 1918 : attached to 177th Brigade, 59th Division.

Heres his Medal Index Card (Is it him) which doesn't give us too much extra info, you would need someone to check the medal roll at the NA which may tell you what Bn of the Norfolks he was with although a Norfolks expert may be able to deduce somthing from his service number.

Good hunting
Glyn

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#4 sotonmate

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 10:54 PM

John

Welcome to the Forum.
Your subject has a medal card in the National Archives Kew under WO372/21,which you can download from that website for 3.50. The basic info shows on screen,not the medal entitlement,but his Reg numbers being 29257 for the Norfolks and 41304 for the Essex. Once you pay the money on line they will give you the screen so that you can print it off.
The part of the records which may show his joining papers (attestation) will be on microfilm under WO363/W1205 or 1206 (there are two spools with S Wells on them). Be warned that over 70% of the records of WW1 soldiers were lost during bombing in 1940,so you may not be successful in finding this.
If you want to see what actions your subject was involved in as an Essex soldier you can go here:

http://www.1914-1918.net/59div.htm

This would have been in France and Flanders and his unit was in 177 Brigade of 59 Division. His time in the Norfolks appears to have all been in the UK.
I see that you have some replies already but will leave this as it contains a bit more. I will get back to you again with the War Dairy WO95 ref for the Essex,it too is at the NA.

Best wishes
Sotonmate

#5 sotonmate

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 11:00 PM

John

War Diary at the NA is under WO95/3023 which covers from May 1918 to August 1919. This is a daily journal of what is happening where they are. You can download this,or parts of it,in some cases.

I think overall you have quite a lot to get on with now. Well,you did ask !

Sotonmate

#6 samsearcher

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 10:06 AM

THANK YOU GENTLEMEN.....this is fantastic info...... Yes that IS my Grandfather, Samuel Wells. I have some of his hand drawn recconaisance maps of Felixtowe, Walton, Bawdsey area made in May 1918, so he was still in the UK at that date. I also have a couple of his notebooks on scouting beautifully handwritten in indelible pencil!

Also in his papers are a couple from the 10th(S) Btn. Essex Regmt. (Farewell supper Clary (Olary?) 14/3/19)

Do you think that he would have served for long in the Norfolk Regiment before transfer? and is it possible that he would have served overseas before his transfer?
I also have an A.G.Z.500 FRANCE card stating:
8. Length of Service in years: 3 7/12
9. Service in the field in years in the present War: 2 4/12

Thanks again
John

#7 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 11:33 AM

Interesting - does "service in the field 2 4/12" indicate 2 years and 4 months in France? If so, he must have been with units overseas other than the 15th Essex. It is, therefore, highly possible he was with the Norfolks for a while longer than I suggested.

If he also attended the dinner of the 10th Essex, then it's reasonable to assume he was with them at the end of his service; not sure when the 15th Essex were disbanded or returned to UK, so I guess it's possible he transferred to the 10th afer the Armistice.

#8 samsearcher

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 11:54 AM

QUOTE (Steven Broomfield @ Feb 27 2007, 10:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi John and welcome aboard.

The 16th Essex were a war-raised battalion, created on 1st January 1917 from the 65th Provisional Battalion, originally itself formed from Home Service personnel from various territorial battalions.


Hi again Steven.... did you mean 15th Essex there in your first reply?

John

#9 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 12:47 PM

Yes!!! Oops....

#10 owen4256

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 09:01 AM

John

Some further details to muddy the water. 41304 Pte S Wells was reported wounded in the War Office Weekly Casualty List of 8th January 1918. The address of his next of kin was shown as Aldborough. I believe this list to be of casualties of the 13th Battalion at Moeuvres on 30th November 1917. The 13th had over 370 men killed wounded and missing on that day.

His service number is in a range given to a draft from the Norfolks that joined the 13th around the start of 1917. Some of this draft were later KIA with the 10th Essex.

The 13th were disbanded in February 1918 and its men split to other Essex battalions on the western front. Without the 15th Bn info I would say that he joined the 13th , was wounded on 30th November 1917 and transferred to the 10th in February 1918.

Until it went overseas in May 1918 a lot of medically down graded men were posted to the 15th. When medically reassessed as fit they were posted back to the front line.

An alternative theory is therefore that he was wounded in 1917 with the 13th, medically downgraded and posted to the 15th and then to the 10th on recovery.

The final option is that my 13th Bn theory is completely out and that he was wounded with the 10th and posted to the 15th.

It might be worth checking the medal roll at the National Archives. The Essex rolls are particularly unhelpful on battalion numbers. There is no battalion detail on the rolls for War and victory medal for those in the 20*** and 30*** series but battalion details start somewhere in the 40*** series. Not sure where.

Regards

Owen

#11 samsearcher

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 10:50 AM

Very many thanks Owen,
this confirms a story that I remember in the family... that he was wounded in action.(although Grandad Sam never spoke of it). I will have to ask my father if he can remember more, (he's now 85).
It looks as though we are lucky to be here, after Sam went back for another go..... he died in 1979 after returning to his life as a farm labourer and horse 'team man'... he was a very quiet and gentle man.

As a complete novice with the military history, can I ask how /where you find this most valuable information.
And also how I look up the various records at the National Archives? I dont seem to have much luck trying to find the relavent section on the website.

Extra Thanks!
John

#12 owen4256

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 11:45 AM

John

The War Office Weekly Casualty list is held at the British Newspaper Libaray at Colindale, it comprise daily list of killed, wounded, missing and POW by regiment fron August 1917 to the end of the war. The list are typically 6 weeks after the date of the action and can sometimes be associated with particular battalions. for exxample bot the 1sr and 13th Essex suffered heavy casualties around Cambrai on 30th November but appear to have been reported in different daily lists.

Information of the drafts from the Norfolks is derived from compiling service numbers from Medal Index Cards, "Soldiers Died" and caualty reports. There are clear sequences associated with drafts moving bewteen regiments.

In terms of next ports of call: The Essex Regiment Museum provide a free service and may able to give you further details.

The medal rolls (WO 329) at the National Archives in Kew are not available online and you would need to employ a researcher to check for you. Some service papers survive at the NA (WO 363 and WO 364) - they will eventually be online via Ancestry.co.uk but currently you will again need to visit in person of employ someone to check the microfilms


Owen

#13 samsearcher

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 02:07 PM

I have just discovered a Golden Wedding newspaper cutting, that mentions that Sam was involved in the retreat from Mons.....if this helps shed any light on his movements?
The photo shows him standing immediately infront of the man with the broom, smoking a pipe.

John

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#14 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 08:59 PM

Judging by the size and shape, I'd say that's Norfolks badge he's wearing.

As for the Retreat from Mons bit, newspapers do exaggertae, you know. I suspect that's the case - if he did 2+ years in France, then 1914 seems unlikely, though I could be wrong.

#15 owen4256

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 09:12 PM

John

I would discount the "retreat from Mons" - certainly the 1914 version- as a bit of journalistic licence, there is no evidence of entitlement to the 1914 star on his MIC, you have an original document stating 2 years in the field and his Norfolks number is too high for a 1914 enlistment.

Owen

#16 samsearcher

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 09:21 AM

Yes thanks for that, I checked the Mons date after I posted, and it is much too early.
I hope that I am not taking this thread off topic, and that it is posted in the correct place.....? I will start a new post asking for Norfolk Regt. information.
I checked the record of the fighting at Moeuvres, near Cambrai, where it is suspected that he was injured. Are there any hospital / transfer records available where more could be learnt?
John
This order is for the 10th Essex 16/3/19 if this is of interest:

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#17 MelPack

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 10:46 AM

Hello

If you look t the MIC kindly posted by Glyn, the small x against that Norfolks and the Medal Roll entry confirm that the BWM and Victory were inscribed with the Norfolk details.

In other words grandfather first entered the theatre of war with the Norfolks and subsequently transferred to the Essex Regiment.

Service in the field of 2 years four months would indicate arrival in France in July/August 1916 as part of reinforcements for the losses on the Somme.

This would tie in nicely with the other record details of voluntary enlistment in December 1915 (Derby Scheme), called up February 1916, completes basic training and the off to France.

Owen's information on the Norfolk - Essex transfers in 1917 looks great.
Regards
Mel

#18 samsearcher

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 03:36 PM

More thanks gents.... I have just come across the war memorial in the village that Sam left from, One of the listed dead, Private John Ayton, had Regt.No: 29277 (that is only 20 away from Sams number). He was killed in France with the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regt...... when Sam joined the Essex, his number changed too..... can anyone explain please?
thanks again
John

#19 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 03:42 PM

John, the number thing is easily explained: the chaps had a Regimental Number, not an Army Number. So you might have been 12345 in the Essex, but if transferred to the Suffolk you could have become 56789. I'm no expert - there are a few of those on this Forum, so they may well be able to enlighten you - but I know from my wife's grandfather's medals that medals can have different numbers on for the same recipients, depending on whom he was servicg with when the gong was awarded.

#20 samsearcher

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 06:41 PM

Thanks Steven, but what puzzled me is that the local chap KIA, had a very similar number to my grandfather, but he was in the 2nd Bedfordshire and grandfather Sam was in the Essex? Although a search for his number in the War Graves site brings up a couple of soldiers with the same number, so i assume the number is not unique, only unique to that particular regiment?
Regards
John

QUOTE (Steven Broomfield @ Mar 7 2007, 03:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
John, the number thing is easily explained: the chaps had a Regimental Number, not an Army Number. So you might have been 12345 in the Essex, but if transferred to the Suffolk you could have become 56789. I'm no expert - there are a few of those on this Forum, so they may well be able to enlighten you - but I know from my wife's grandfather's medals that medals can have different numbers on for the same recipients, depending on whom he was servicg with when the gong was awarded.