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Septimus Wilson's Granddaughte

Gunner Septimus Wilson, Royal Garrison Artillery

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Septimus Wilson's Granddaughte

I am delighted to say I now have all the information about my grandfather, Gunner Septimus Wilson, 103806, Royal Garrison Artillery, Durham which I was looking for with one tiny exception!

He was from Sunderland and joined up age 40 and one month in 1916; taken prisoner during the battle of Cambrai, repatriated a year later and demobilised on ill health grounds. The only missing piece of the jigsaw is where he was Camp Tailor in a German PoW camp...I don't know if anyone on this forum is expert at 1st I When repatriated their boat was met by the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) on 20th November 1918.

Edited by Septimus Wilson's Granddaughte
original question answered almost in full

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jonbem

Hi and welcome

you could try this site

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Search

 

also Ancestry and Findmypast are free military record access this weekend, though you may need to register

 

regards

Jon

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jonbem

His Medal Index card is HERE and medal Roll HERE on Ancestry

 

 

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jay dubaya

Welcome to the Forum SWG

 

Septimus was reported missing from 32nd Siege Battery RGA on the 30th November 1917 and reported PoW on the 6th December 1917. Pension papers are available on ancestry (see Jon's link above)

 

J

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charlie2

He was taken PoW on the 30.11.17, one record states Cambrai the other Villers. He was held at Le Quesnoy, Dülmen and Friedrichsfeld and repatriated on 17.11.1918.

 

Charlie

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jay dubaya

There is a war diary for the 32nd SB here but sadly only runs to October 1917 so you would need to find the higher echelon Heavy Artillery Group (HAG) dairy of which they were part of, at the time I believe it to be the 34th HAG. It may be worth the getting the diary since Septimus joined the battery on the 11th June 1917 and should at least give locations where he would have been.

 

J

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jonbem

the war diary is on The National Archives HERE for a download fee of £3.50 - this up to Oct 1917

 

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jay dubaya

Gunner 78619 Alfred Newman 32nd SB was taken PoW on the same day

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Loader

WOW! To be serving in RGA Bty & taken POW seems like a not too often event til maybe March 1918. Must've been a major German attack to get that far behind the lines. Can't imagine a raid would penetrate that far or even want to do so. I hope the reports can be found for this incident & details put on here. Quite a story.

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clk

Hi,

 

1 hour ago, charlie2 said:

He was taken PoW on the 30.11.17, one record states Cambrai the other Villers

 

I wonder if Villers might be Villers - Plouich, a short distance south east from Trescault (under the numeral III on this map).

 

5a0616d7a75d8_GermanMap.jpg.9b35a8de74bb85cae5ec8a6b84659c9a.jpg

 

I don't know what happened there, but do know that (whilst the main fighting was in the Cambrai area) further south  the Germans made a "surprise" attack, causing the British to withdraw in some disorder, and nearly broke the line. They advanced through Gouzeaucourt, and were then held by a small number of troops until the Guards Division countered, and forced them back through Gonnelieu. I wonder if Septimus might have been taken PoW during the assault.

 

Regards

Chris

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PaddyO
2 hours ago, charlie2 said:

He was taken PoW on the 30.11.17, one record states Cambrai the other Villers. He was held at Le Quesnoy, Dülmen and Friedrichsfeld and repatriated on 17.11.1918.

 

Charlie

Wow that's exactly the same date and route as my great grandfather Henry Davis who was taken at Cambrai serving with 1/6 Londons. The two German camps were in Westphalia.  He described the food shortages as awful - and claimed his teeth were kicked out by a Russian prisoner whilst fighting over biscuits! 

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jay dubaya
56 minutes ago, clk said:

I wonder if Villers might be Villers - Plouich, a short distance south east from Trescault

 

Close but no cigar Chris, Villers Guislain south of Villers Plouich and west of the 55 on the map. The following extracts are taken from Bryn Hammond's 'Cambrai 1917: The Myth Of The First Great Tank Battle'

 

The rapid German advance meant it was soon the turn of the heavy guns of the RGA. In and about Villers Guislain, 34th HAG with it's 6" Howitzers and 60-pounder guns (32nd SB at the time was armed with 6 x 4.5" Howitzers) was dramatically overrun by men from Infanterie Regiment 67 who suddenly appeared through the mist, advancing confidently up the slope from the north-east at about 8.00am.

 

The journey through the counter bombardment was fraught with danger. The prisoners were led back through the British barrage with frequent halts to take cover and help the wounded, but after reaching the German lines, the captured men were generally treated with kindness.

 

Gnr 146905 William Smith, 32nd SB has an entry in the Soldiers Effects Register states 30th November 1917 - on or since death presumed, William has no known grave and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, one wonders if he too had been taken prisoner that day.

 

J

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clk
12 hours ago, jay dubaya said:

Close but no cigar Chris

 

So a D+ it is for me then...must try harder!  :)

 

Regards

Chris

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Septimus Wilson's Granddaughte

This is all amazing, thanks so much to all of you. I have a friend who is on Ancestry and the other sites you mention and will ask her to download the docs you mention. Cambrai fits with two 'half stories' my mother passed to me. The first was that Sep told her he was taken prisoner at the 'first big battle where we used tanks' and the second was that he was sitting in a dugout playing cards with his mates 'safe; at the BACK of the lines when the Germans (very unsportingly) came round the sides! He claimed a German soldier came down into the dug out and told them to put their 'handes hoch' upon which he would always pull reflectively on his pipe and state, " so we put our cardies doon and our handies hoch". He was apparently a man of great wit and inner reserve which will have stood him in good stead as a PoW no doubt. He was made camp tailor (which camp, no idea) and I have his scissors still. They are of excellent German manufacture. He never spoke of his imprisonment beyond that a friend was shot on the march back to repatriation for attempting to steal a turnip from a field. Sep said that he did not blame the Germans since they were starving, too. Sadly he refought the war when dying, in 1950s, climbing the 'cot sides' of his hospital bed trying to 'go over the top'. I'll copy al the information so kindly provided for our family - now only myself and my daughter.

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Septimus Wilson's Granddaughte
On 11/10/2017 at 18:50, jay dubaya said:

Welcome to the Forum SWG

 

Septimus was reported missing from 32nd Siege Battery RGA on the 30th November 1917 and reported PoW on the 6th December 1917. Pension papers are available on ancestry (see Jon's link above)

 

J

Thank you so much for this. I do know that the moment he was reported missing his wife was stopped from getting his pay (this was not of course unique, it happened to all such) and not until the report of him being a PoW did his pay get reinstated to her, which took a lot longer than the week, sadly. She and her daughter by first marriage and three children, then 6, 3 and 2, suffered great privation as well as incredibly worry during this period.

 

On 11/10/2017 at 19:14, jay dubaya said:

Gunner 78619 Alfred Newman 32nd SB was taken PoW on the same day

Perhaps also playing cards in the dugout!

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Septimus Wilson's Granddaughte
On 11/10/2017 at 21:36, PaddyO said:

Wow that's exactly the same date and route as my great grandfather Henry Davis who was taken at Cambrai serving with 1/6 Londons. The two German camps were in Westphalia.  He described the food shortages as awful - and claimed his teeth were kicked out by a Russian prisoner whilst fighting over biscuits! 

 

On 11/10/2017 at 18:55, charlie2 said:

He was taken PoW on the 30.11.17, one record states Cambrai the other Villers. He was held at Le Quesnoy, Dülmen and Friedrichsfeld and repatriated on 17.11.1918.

 

Charlie

Is it possible to explain where you found the information on the PoW camps? Sorry to be ignorant about this :)

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charlie2
50 minutes ago, Septimus Wilson's Granddaughte said:

 

Is it possible to explain where you found the information on the PoW camps? Sorry to be ignorant about this :)

 

Sorry my fault,  the information comes from the International Red Cross archives.

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Search

and the links to both his index cards

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/4283056/3/2/

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/5551607/3/2/

 

Charlie

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PaddyO

Thanks Charlie. 

Hi SW granddaughter, my GGF went from Le Quesnoy to Dulmen 16/02/18 and on to  Friedrichsfeld on 20/06/18 - how does this compare with Septimus?

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charlie2

Using the dates at the top of the lists and not the RC processsing date stamped on the lists, he was registered at Dülmen 29.12.1918 and at Friedrichsfeld 11.04.1918

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Septimus Wilson's Granddaughte
19 hours ago, charlie2 said:

 

Sorry my fault,  the information comes from the International Red Cross archives.

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Search

and the links to both his index cards

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/4283056/3/2/

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/5551607/3/2/

 

Charlie

That's amazing. I found some bits on Grandeguerre yesterday but not this. And it confirms Villers as where he was taken prisoner, too. So grateful to you.

16 hours ago, charlie2 said:

Using the dates at the top of the lists and not the RC processsing date stamped on the lists, he was registered at Dülmen 29.12.1918 and at Friedrichsfeld 11.04.1918

Thank you again. I was perhaps irrationally happy when doing some reading around PoW camps yesterday to find these were both considered to be "good" camps. Silly to feel happy about something like that 100 years after the fact but there you are.

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Septimus Wilson's Granddaughte
17 hours ago, PaddyO said:

Thanks Charlie. 

Hi SW granddaughter, my GGF went from Le Quesnoy to Dulmen 16/02/18 and on to  Friedrichsfeld on 20/06/18 - how does this compare with Septimus?

he was registered at Dülmen 29.12.1918 and at Friedrichsfeld 11.04.1918 according to the wonderful research 'Charlie' (coincidentally my daughter, his great-granddaughter's name!) provided.

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Septimus Wilson's Granddaughte
On 11/10/2017 at 22:56, jay dubaya said:

 

Close but no cigar Chris, Villers Guislain south of Villers Plouich and west of the 55 on the map. The following extracts are taken from Bryn Hammond's 'Cambrai 1917: The Myth Of The First Great Tank Battle'

 

The rapid German advance meant it was soon the turn of the heavy guns of the RGA. In and about Villers Guislain, 34th HAG with it's 6" Howitzers and 60-pounder guns (32nd SB at the time was armed with 6 x 4.5" Howitzers) was dramatically overrun by men from Infanterie Regiment 67 who suddenly appeared through the mist, advancing confidently up the slope from the north-east at about 8.00am.

 

The journey through the counter bombardment was fraught with danger. The prisoners were led back through the British barrage with frequent halts to take cover and help the wounded, but after reaching the German lines, the captured men were generally treated with kindness.

 

Gnr 146905 William Smith, 32nd SB has an entry in the Soldiers Effects Register states 30th November 1917 - on or since death presumed, William has no known grave and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, one wonders if he too had been taken prisoner that day.

 

J

Now 'we' know is was Villers Guislain I have a complete record which I have made into a little document for my daughter. It will give both of us enormous pleasure to sit and read this together on the 100th anniversary of his being taken prisoner, which is just a couple of weeks away now. Words cannot express my gratitude to all you wonderful people who have assisted me. I honestly thought I was on a hiding to nothing!

 

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jay dubaya

I do have some more information for you, I'm out and about at the mo so I'll post the details later when I'm back home with my PC.

 

J

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jay dubaya

A little more to add to Seps’ story with thanks to forumite ororkep.

 

The 30th November was a pretty black day for the 34th HAG and indeed 32nd SB, the whole of 34th HAG was overrun by the Germans on that misty morning around Villers Guislain, the war diaries of these units were either captured or destroyed at the time but there is information that can be pieced together.

The Officer in Command that took over the battery in December 1917 was told that 32nd SB was completely ‘smashed’ at Cambrai with only one junior Officer and 15 ORs surviving (either killed, wounded, taken PoW or reported missing from a complement of around 180 men). It is recorded that all its six guns were either destroyed or captured (2 destroyed and 4 captured), their armament being 6” Howitzers and not the 4.5” I previously thought. The last known precise location of the 32nd SB was noted on the 28th November as 57C.X.9.a.3.6 so it’s highly likely that they were still there on the 30th. Other units of the 34th HAG at the time were:  

102nd SB, recorded 6 Howitzers lost (same map square as 32nd SB)

216th SB, lost 6 Howitzers (same map square as 32nd SB)

38th SB, lost 4 Howitzers

270th SB, lost 4 Howitzers

71st HB, lost 4 guns

144th HB lost 4 guns

1/2nd Lancs HB lost 1 gun

 

I haven’t looked into the PoW side of Seps’ story but ororkep has highlighted an IWM piece which will, I am sure be very well worth while obtaining a copy, I have had photocopies (at a cost) of similar documents in the past.

 

Cat # 10155 Newman A. J. private papers.

 

Content description :

Notebook containing his journal (48pp ms) for the period November 1915 - January 1919, recording several abortive attempts to enlist into the army and eventual acceptance by the Royal Garrison Artillery in May 1916, training at the Citadel Barracks in Plymouth and posting to Ireland (? Spike Island and Fort Carlisle), transfer to Woolwich (London) and then to Winchester before proceeding to France in May 1917 where he joined 32 Siege Battery RGA in the Arras sector, moving to the vicinity of Cambrai in November where he was taken prisoner at the end of the month and confined initially at Le Quesnoy before being sent to Dulmen (Westphalia), from where he was sent on working parties in occupied Belgium and France, evacuation to Brussels ahead of the German retreat in the autumn of 1918 and making his way to Tournai following the armistice, repatriation with the first group of prisoners of war to reach England, describing their reception by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) at Dover; with the notebook are two related newspaper cuttings.

 

 

It’s also worth mentioning that the 270th SB are noted for making a spectacular successful mission to retake their guns on a night raid with volunteers, using heavy horses borrowed from heavy battery, muffling their hoofs with socks so as not to make noise, harnessing the guns up and taking them back to allied lines one at a time, whilst protected by Lewis guns.

And what is further interesting is that another battery of the same Corps had their Major actually face a Court Marshall as he had not shown enough gumption to try and salve his battery guns as of course these were the colours of the artillery.

 

I note that Sep was a Tailor in civy street and what a nice memory you have of him in his scissors that saw him through the time of a prisoner, do you use them still?

 

J

5a0b97e549d11_villersguislain.jpg.7d51d1dd395e401d5ec9d64e22a3ac95.jpg

Edited by jay dubaya

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jay dubaya

Location of 32nd SB 57C.X.9.a.3.6 as shown by arrow in above map

 

J

Edited by jay dubaya

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