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Subject: My great grandfather rss

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Peter Collins
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Prince Rupert
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I have on my wall a picture of my great-grandfather in his platoon together with his medals from his service in the British Army in WWI.

He was in the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders but was transferred the Gordon Highlanders.

He died on May 8, 1917 in a BEF hospital in France of wounds received in battle. I have documents from the hospital as well as the telegraph to his wife in Leith, Scotland informing her of his death. There are two letters, one dated the 8th from the matron of the hospital in which she says that he had died. The second dates from May 3rd, where the matron informs my great grandmother that he'd had a bad haemorrhage and was weak and that he was worried because he had not received a letter in some time. So apparently he hung on five more days.

I'm curious if it's possible to determine where he was fighting when he was wounded. I have another message from an officer who asked my great grandma if she could provide his regiment number. Apparently her letters weren't reaching him.

Does anybody have advice on how I could investigate this? I realized that the 100th anniversary of his death is approaching and my curiosity was roused.

Thanks.

'nuf sed

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Paul
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I'd go here:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php

Post your inquiry under the soldiers section.

There are a lot of helpful and active members there, and as your question has to do with the BEF I guarantee someone will be able to either answer you or steer you in the right direction to find an answer.

Good Luck!
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Sean Chatterton
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Do you know which battalion he was with? Many regiments expanded to double digit battalions, often fighting in different parts of the world, so unless you have a clue as to his whereabouts, you may have to search for his service record to find the battalion number. You may have luck with war graves, they sometimes have enough detail to locate the battalion and approximate month of death.

Unless you can travel to the National Archives, there's no choice but to use Ancestry or FindMyPast for the service records. Both online services regularly offer introductory month rates, so you may be able to get a cheap month and get all the information out without paying for an extended subscription.

If you can get his battalion and month, then you can download the diaries from the national archives. These are reasonably priced, and contain the records of the unit in quite astonishing detail.

I managed to find my Great Uncle's medal card through ancestry, from there I found his grave with approximate date of death. From there, I bought the battalion diaries for the period from the National Archives and solved a family mystery which had lasted nearly 100 years.

It can be a fairly slow, arduous process. Battalion diaries are written by multiple people, with very different levels of detail and varied handwriting or typing. You get scanned pages to decipher, along with the damage and debris such documents picked up over the last century.

You may find your Great Grandfather mentioned by name, or he may simply be one of the abbreviated butcher's bill such as 6d 3w. Most likely, you will have to infer your casualty from the weekly strength return which shows losses and replacement numbers, particularly if he died during a busy period.

I had heard some stories about my great uncle from my grandmother and father when I was a kid. He was little more than a child when he joined up and died fairly quickly after being shipped to France. I found what I presume to be his death in the weekly strength lists, it matched his missing date on his grave, and he seems to have been one of a number of missing from an unremarkable, almost trivial battalion action during the hell that was 3rd Ypres.

Be warned, I found the exercise extremely saddening, somewhat anti-climactic and still with a healthy amount of uncertainty and guesswork. You have a picture in your mind what these great battles were like, and it turns out to be a futile, anonymous action which which either blew him to bits, or resulted in his body sinking into the mud.

One more teenager who never got to grow up or have a family. For a battle which was worthless in a war which at best solved nothing, and at worst set the course in motion tens of millions more senseless deaths.

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David Aldinger
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Battle of Arras? Occurred in April of 1917. Major British offensive with over 100K Casualties (wounded&killed).
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Jon
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You might try popping his name in here and seeing what you can determine. It could lead to a more informative search elsewhere.

http://www.cwgc.org/

Good luck.
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Wolvehunde
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This might be a longshot, but during those times a lot of records were kept by local churches/local magistrates/govt. If you knew where he was living at the time before leaving for the war. Maybe the letters addresses hold a clue were to start your search. and good luck on your search.
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Andy Daglish
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The regimental museum is the best place to start.

www.gordonhighlanders.com

They will have original records and documents.

There may be problems of verifying your relationship, so this may take a while.
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Andrew MacLeod
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It's too bad he didn't serve in the Canadian Expeditionary Force! Over twenty years ago, I approached DND archives to find out information about my grandfather, who was wounded sometime in World War One. A month later a very thick envelope arrived with photocopies of all his military records! It had everything: the date of his wound, where he had been fighting at the time, the nitty gritty details of his wound, the date of the subsequent amputation, even the name of the troopship that had taken him to France! I even got his enlistment papers, from which I learned that he had lied about his age....downwards!!!

What info had I provided the archivists with? Nothing more than his full name and a statement that I was his grandson! And I got all this...for free!

Is it possible that the British government might provide the same service as the Canadian?
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Peter Collins
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Yes, the first step seems to be to try to determine what battalion he was in. Apparently it could be engraved on the edge of his service medals, which I have. I know his home address in Leith. I have a number as well. Not sure if its his serial number or one that was assigned to him when they admitted him to the hospital.

I don't know how far I'll go with this. It would be cool to find his service record, but apparently not likely due to a fire in the 30's that destroyed 70% of those records. Anyway I'll see how far my curiosity takes me. If it is productive maybe I'll do the same research on my grandfather's service with the Canadians in WWII.
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Tim P.
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PeteyWA wrote:
I have on my wall a picture of my great-grandfather in his platoon together with his medals from his service in the British Army in WWI.

He was in the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders but was transferred the Gordon Highlanders.

He died on May 8, 1917 in a BEF hospital in France of wounds received in battle. I have documents from the hospital as well as the telegraph to his wife in Leith, Scotland informing her of his death. There are two letters, one dated the 8th from the matron of the hospital in which she says that he had died. The second dates from May 3rd, where the matron informs my great grandmother that he'd had a bad haemorrhage and was weak and that he was worried because he had not received a letter in some time. So apparently he hung on five more days.

I'm curious if it's possible to determine where he was fighting when he was wounded. I have another message from an officer who asked my great grandma if she could provide his regiment number. Apparently her letters weren't reaching him.

Does anybody have advice on how I could investigate this? I realized that the 100th anniversary of his death is approaching and my curiosity was roused.

Thanks.

'nuf sed


Do you have full name, date, place, and date of birth ?

I have Ancestry.co.uk (and .com) membership, after looking for my families info and I'll try looking for your grandfathers war service info.
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Andrew MacLeod
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oi_you_nutter wrote:
PeteyWA wrote:
I have on my wall a picture of my great-grandfather in his platoon together with his medals from his service in the British Army in WWI.

He was in the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders but was transferred the Gordon Highlanders.

He died on May 8, 1917 in a BEF hospital in France of wounds received in battle. I have documents from the hospital as well as the telegraph to his wife in Leith, Scotland informing her of his death. There are two letters, one dated the 8th from the matron of the hospital in which she says that he had died. The second dates from May 3rd, where the matron informs my great grandmother that he'd had a bad haemorrhage and was weak and that he was worried because he had not received a letter in some time. So apparently he hung on five more days.

I'm curious if it's possible to determine where he was fighting when he was wounded. I have another message from an officer who asked my great grandma if she could provide his regiment number. Apparently her letters weren't reaching him.

Does anybody have advice on how I could investigate this? I realized that the 100th anniversary of his death is approaching and my curiosity was roused.

Thanks.

'nuf sed


Do you have full name, date, place, and date of birth ?

I have Ancestry.co.uk (and .com) membership, after looking for my families info and I'll try looking for your grandfathers war service info.


Ancestry can be a bit sketchy, though. A relative of mine had posted WWI info about my great-grandfather's "service". My great-grandfather was pushing fifty at the time! I first looked at his enlistment papers. Yep, same name, same first name given for his mother...but it said this man (a proud Orangeman) was Roman Catholic!!! A case of right name, but wrong person.

People often post stuff to family trees at Ancestry without ever verifying if it actually applies to their own family.
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Tim P.
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amacleod wrote:
oi_you_nutter wrote:
PeteyWA wrote:
I have on my wall a picture of my great-grandfather in his platoon together with his medals from his service in the British Army in WWI.

He was in the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders but was transferred the Gordon Highlanders.

He died on May 8, 1917 in a BEF hospital in France of wounds received in battle. I have documents from the hospital as well as the telegraph to his wife in Leith, Scotland informing her of his death. There are two letters, one dated the 8th from the matron of the hospital in which she says that he had died. The second dates from May 3rd, where the matron informs my great grandmother that he'd had a bad haemorrhage and was weak and that he was worried because he had not received a letter in some time. So apparently he hung on five more days.

I'm curious if it's possible to determine where he was fighting when he was wounded. I have another message from an officer who asked my great grandma if she could provide his regiment number. Apparently her letters weren't reaching him.

Does anybody have advice on how I could investigate this? I realized that the 100th anniversary of his death is approaching and my curiosity was roused.

Thanks.

'nuf sed


Do you have full name, date, place, and date of birth ?

I have Ancestry.co.uk (and .com) membership, after looking for my families info and I'll try looking for your grandfathers war service info.


Ancestry can be a bit sketchy, though. A relative of mine had posted WWI info about my great-grandfather's "service". My great-grandfather was pushing fifty at the time! I first looked at his enlistment papers. Yep, same name, same first name given for his mother...but it said this man (a proud Orangeman) was Roman Catholic!!! A case of right name, but wrong person.

People often post stuff to family trees at Ancestry without ever verifying if it actually applies to their own family.


I agree that leads have to make sense after cross checking, hence the more data the better. I drew a blank on the main part of my own grandfathers WW1 service, until my dad found his demob papers and that answered a bunch of open questions. Solid data is key, but even so there is no guarantee data will be found.

My offer stands

Tim
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Peter Collins
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An update.

I found out that my great-grandfather was buried at the Military Cemetery in Etaples. Went online, found his gravestone and, importantly, his battalion number -- 1st/5th Gordon Highlanders. May 8th of this year would be the 100th anniversary of his death. It would be something to visit the cemetery to mark it, but I don't think it's in the cards.


He's on the left.
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Roger Hobden
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Chuck Meeks
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He is fifth from the bottom on this casualty list from the Battle of Arras in April of 1917:

http://gordonhighlanders.carolynmorrisey.com/CasualtylistApr...

Info on the battle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_(1917)
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Peter Collins
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It just gets more fascinating.

In Komodo's link to the casualty list where it shows that Private Collins was apparently wounded sometime between April 9 - 12, 1917, near Roclincourt, France, I found the Battalion Commander's report of their actions during those days. It describes the battalion's attacks relative to the Blue, Black and Brown lines.

This image shows the deployment of the 51st Highland Division adjacent to the 1st Canadian Division in front of Roclincourt. You can see the colored objective lines drawn on the map.



It seems that he participated, and was wounded, in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He survived for about a month before succumbing to his wounds at 20 General Hospital, Camiers.

EDIT: The 51st Highlanders Division website indicates that they supported the Canadian assault on the southern shoulder of Vimy Ridge.

47 years later, his Peruvian-born grandson met a Canadian girl from Northern Ontario in Honduras of all places, and a year or so after that, I came along.

At this point, I'm sure this story gets way less interesting for you all, so I'll cut it short.

Thanks for following me on this little journey.
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Jim Ransom
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Life is pretty cool. Thanks for sharing.
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Ronald Hill
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jpr755 wrote:
Life is pretty cool. Thanks for sharing.


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Andrew MacLeod
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PeteyWA wrote:
...I found the Battalion Commander's report of their actions during those days. It describes the battalion's attacks relative to the Blue, Black and Brown lines.

This image shows the deployment of the 51st Highland Division adjacent to the 1st Canadian Division in front of Roclincourt. You can see the colored objective lines drawn on the map.


Yeah, maps are a wonderful thing! I had known that my grandfather was in the Cameron Highlanders and had been wounded on Aug. 28, 1918, at the Fifth Battle of Arras; but it wasn't until I saw the map that it really hit me that my grandfather wasn't merely unlucky: the map showed tremendous advances being made by the Camerons (and the Canadians generally) from August 21 through 27. However, August 28 the Camerons made next to no progress at all.
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Andrew MacLeod
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Well, thanks for posting today, folks. I finally got around to checking out the Cameron Highlanders (Canadian 43rd) history, and I found this grim posting:

Quote:
During the early morning hours of the 28th, the Canadian Corps decided to exploit their earlier successes and a third attack took place. At 12:30 PM, the 43rd attacked Remy Wood. This was successfully carried out, but at a cost of over 50% casualties. After the battle their rifle strength was but 70 all ranks.
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dan pancaldi
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I had a similar issue with my Grandfather and it was Carl Paradis who found the information I was looking for. He even added my grandfathers picture on a chit in No Retreat: The Italian Front. Good people on the Geek!
Peter don't discount what the future might bring. You might have an opportunity sooner than you think to visit!
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Tony Wilf
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Mallet wrote:


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+1 thumbsup WW1 Stories are often overlooked.
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Cosmo Kramer
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My great grandfather, John Archibald McCallum, fought for Canada in WWI as well. He died in Arras on August 26th, 1918 (not sure exactly how, but it's assumed an artillery strike may have been how he died). He went to war as a 40 year old father of three and his wife pregnant with my grandmother who never got to see her father. Different times for sure. I was lucky enough to be the first in the family to visit his grave in France after my father found the cemetery where he was buried. Never felt more honored to "meet" someone in my life!

Edit to add: Great-grandpa was in the 160th Bruce Battalion that later became the 18th Canadian Infantry Battalion

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Simon Prior
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You can look here for a starter:

http://www.iwm.org.uk/research/tracing-your-family-history/t...

The NAO:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/r...

I found my grandfather's medical discharge. In 1916 he was buried alive in a shell explosion. After being dug out her diagnosed with shell shock and discharged. After WW1 he re-enlisted and ended up as a ajor with the Burma Star as well as his WW1 records. Sadly he died before I was born.
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Andrew MacLeod
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saxon357 wrote:
Mallet wrote:


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+1 thumbsup WW1 Stories are often overlooked.


Not in Canada! Canada lost over 60,000 soldiers in World War 1, as opposed to 42,000 in World War 2. And the Battle of Vimy Ridge has entered the Canadian national consciousness to the point where it almost has the same status as does the American War of Independence for the US.

N.B.: Just to make sure there's no misimpression that I'm discrediting the Canadian soldier's experiences in WW2, I had four uncles and one grand-stepfather who fought in the second war, and two of the uncles were wounded (one in Normandy).
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