Author Topic: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.  (Read 642 times)

Offline malcway

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Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« on: July 13, 2021, 12:12:40 PM »
Good afternoon, all. 

I have been a WFA member for many years and have done quite a bit of research on the military service of members of my own family and also that of numerous friends, and am currently engaged on investigating a JAMES CLARKSON, Pte., 2199, 1/5th Bn. Manchester Regiment, who was killed on 20 /10/1918. 

James was the great uncle of a friend of mine. The friend’s family has a 1914 Princess Mary Gift Fund Christmas Box in which are kept James’s 14-15 Star, and his Victory and war Medals, all unmounted with their original ribbons.  (Of course, the Box might NOT have belonged to James originally – the family had other relatives also serving).  They do also have his death plaque. 

James’s Service Record appears not to have survived, so I am trying to reconstruct his service and the circumstances leading up to his death from what records remain, including his Medal Index Card, the Medal Roll itself and the War Diary of 1/5th Manchesters amongst others, but have encountered a bit of a conundrum! 

I believe his photograph (Sorry, unable to upload, but shows a seviceman in 'Dress' uniform) and Service Number suggests he was a pre-war soldier, possibly being mobilised from the reserves in August or September 1914.  The MIC suggests James’s entitlement to the ’15 Star was due to him arriving in the Western European theatre of war on 20/03/1915, and records that he served with the 2nd Bn. Manchester Regt.  The Medal Roll itself records that James did indeed serve with the 2nd, but also the 18th and 1/5th Battalions, all with the same Service Number, 2199. 

I believe that on the outbreak of war the 2nd Bn. was at Curragh, N.I., as part of 14 Bde., 5th Division, and went to France in August 1914, and that possibly James joined them at Dranoutre in March 1915 before it was deployed to the Ypres sector in April.

What is confusing me is the record on the Medal Roll of James being with the 18th Bn., which I understand didn’t go to France until November, 1915, and the fact that amongst the family’s possession is a very frail cutting from the ‘Ashton Reporter’, dated 16 November 1918, which contains the following report of James’s death:
“HURST SOLDIER
Mr. and Mrs Thomas Clarkson, 35, Princess Street, Hurst, have received official news of the death of their son, Private 2199, JAMES CLARKSON, 1/5th Manchester Regiment, on October 20th (Transferred from the 9th battalion).  One of his comrades has written to say that he was killed by a shell and that he saw him fall as they were advancing to make an attack.
Private CLARKSON joined the army when quite a youth, and served for a time in the Militia.
On the outbreak of war he was on special reserve and rejoined the forces in August 1914.  He went out to France with the 2/9th Manchesters, and was three times  wounded, once in the right foot by shrapnel, another time he was hit by a snipers bullet in the face, and on the third occasion a bullet went through his hip.  His brother-in-law, Able Seaman WILLIAM WOLLEY (sic) has served in the Royal Navy for ten years, and another brother-in-law, Rifleman JOHN McBRIDE, is serving with the Royal Irish Fusiliers.  He has been wounded once, and has returned to France after being over on hospital leave.  (James Clarkson is buried in Belle Vue British Cemetery, Briastre).”

No mention here of the 18th Bn., and I believe the 1/9th Bn. served in the Gallipoli campaign until 1917; and the 2/9th Bn. served at home, mainly as a reinforcing unit for the 1/9th Bn. until leaving for France in March 1917.

If anyone can offer any other information about James’s pre-war service, or offer an alternative interpretation of the available evidence, I would be delighted to hear from them.  Thanks for reading, Malcolm

Offline Tim Bell

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2021, 05:56:45 PM »
Hi Malcolm,
Have you seen the image on Linda's site? https://ashtonpals.webs.com/1918-page-1
Your image in dress uniform may be Militia or Special Reserve prior to the war (No. 2126 joined 3rd Bttn 04/09/1913).  Posting overseas to 2nd Bttn from Special Reserve makes sense with arrival as part of a draft in March 1915.  As James was born in Q1 1897, they may have waited for his 18th birthday before he went to France?
The report of wounding twice would explain why he was transferred to 18th Bttn (as you say after Nov 1915 and most likely after Summer 1916 from my research) and the transferred again to 1/5th Bttn.  Possibly after 18th Bttn had been disbanded in 1918.
I have no explanation for service in 9th Bttn apart from possible enlistment after the Militia was disbanded in 1908.  The reference to 2/9th makes no sense to me with the other records and may be an error - or the Medal Rolls may (unlikely) be wrong.
Welcome to the forum.
Tim
ps Hopefully someone can interpret the uniform in the image.  Not within my knowledge...
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Offline mack

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2021, 06:01:10 PM »
10th may 1915.hill 60

pte 2199 james clarkson
during a quiet moment,i went to brew some tea for the lads,i bent down to do something and got shot in the face by a sniper,the bullet came out through my jaw.
sent to rycroft military hospital,audenshaw
worked for stamford commercial Ltd
resided 80 hope st,hurst

in february 1918 over 200 men from the 1/9th batt were absorbed into the 1/5th and 1/6th battalions,because james had still retained his original number,he must have been posted to the territorials after the renumbering in 1917 otherwise he would have had a six digit number

mack

Offline malcway

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2021, 06:50:48 PM »
Hi Malcolm,
Have you seen the image on Linda's site? https://ashtonpals.webs.com/1918-page-1
Your image in dress uniform may be Militia or Special Reserve prior to the war (No. 2126 joined 3rd Bttn 04/09/1913).  Posting overseas to 2nd Bttn from Special Reserve makes sense with arrival as part of a draft in March 1915.  As James was born in Q1 1897, they may have waited for his 18th birthday before he went to France?
The report of wounding twice would explain why he was transferred to 18th Bttn (as you say after Nov 1915 and most likely after Summer 1916 from my research) and the transferred again to 1/5th Bttn.  Possibly after 18th Bttn had been disbanded in 1918.
I have no explanation for service in 9th Bttn apart from possible enlistment after the Militia was disbanded in 1908.  The reference to 2/9th makes no sense to me with the other records and may be an error - or the Medal Rolls may (unlikely) be wrong.
Welcome to the forum.

Tim
ps Hopefully someone can interpret the uniform in the image.  Not within my knowledge...

Tim, thank you so much for your welcome and your rapid response, and I really appreciate your help.  Although I hadn't seen Sheila's site before I had come across James's image elsewhere, but have now bookmarked her site for future reference.  Your remark about James's age certainly makes sense, him having been born on 3 Jan 1897 - something I should have twigged before!

The only reference to the 9th Bn. I have seen was that given in the newspaper report of James's death, and I was only surmising that it might have been the 1/9 or 2/9 and trying to see if the dates fitted.  I had come to the conclusion that the newspaper report had it wrong, but now, after reading Mack's reply below, I think it may well  have been correct and perhaps the Medal Roll has indeed missed out his service with the 1/9th Bn for some reason?

I will continue to dig, and thanks again!





Offline malcway

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2021, 07:07:14 PM »
10th may 1915.hill 60

pte 2199 james clarkson
during a quiet moment,i went to brew some tea for the lads,i bent down to do something and got shot in the face by a sniper,the bullet came out through my jaw.
sent to rycroft military hospital,audenshaw
worked for stamford commercial Ltd
resided 80 hope st,hurst

in february 1918 over 200 men from the 1/9th batt were absorbed into the 1/5th and 1/6th battalions,because james had still retained his original number,he must have been posted to the territorials after the renumbering in 1917 otherwise he would have had a six digit number

mack

Thank you, Mack!  Certainly helpful and very interesting, and thanks to you I have now found the story reported on the IWM Lives of the First World War.  A real nugget with some great 'bio' information.  I haven't checked yet what units were involved at Hill 60 on 10th May - Do I understand that you think it likely James DID indeed serve with the 1/9th at some point and was amongst the 200 who were transferred in February 1918 into the 1/5th and 1/6th Bns.?

Thanks again for your interest! Much appreciated.

Offline mack

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2021, 07:26:02 PM »
hiya malc
he was with the 2nd battalion at hill 60,its likely he was one of those transferred to the 1/5th on 15th feb 1918

mack

Offline Tim Bell

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2021, 07:40:29 PM »
hiya malc
he was with the 2nd battalion at hill 60,its likely he was one of those transferred to the 1/5th on 15th feb 1918

mack
Great explanation for the previous anomaly. I stand corrected that the Medal Roll probably omitted 2/9th Bttn before 1/5th
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Offline Timberman

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2021, 09:28:02 PM »

 Hi Malcolm
 Welcome to the forum.
 He was with the 3rd Battalion at the beginning of 1914, as he is listed
 in the Manchester Regiment Gazette as being awarded the 3rd C of Ed
 in the 1st quarter.
 Timberman

Offline malcway

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2021, 04:33:03 PM »

 Hi Malcolm
 Welcome to the forum.
 He was with the 3rd Battalion at the beginning of 1914, as he is listed
 in the Manchester Regiment Gazette as being awarded the 3rd C of Ed
 in the 1st quarter.
 Timberman

Many thanks, Timberman.  (And Tim Bell and mack)

The way I read it now is that James joined the 3rd (Reserve) Bn. - part of the Militia- sometime in 1913 while working at Stamford Commercial Mill (Formerly Carr's).  I believe that when he reached the age of 18 in January, 1915, he was posted to the 2nd Bn., then in billets at Dranoutre where they were being brought back up to strength with drafts from England. Their War Diary records the arrival of 73 NCO's and men on the 20 Mar 1915 - the date given on James's MIC.  In April the division moved to a sector on the Ypres front, manning a line east of the St Eloi mound to the west end of Armagh wood, in preparation for the attack on Hill 60. The attack on Hill 60 continued for three weeks, but what came to be known as Second Ypres went on through May. The 14th brigade held a sector astride the Comines canal.

James received a wound to his face from a sniper on 10 May 1915 that was serious enough for him to be evacuated to the UK and treated at the auxiliary military hospital at Ryecroft Hall, Audenshaw. He was one of 4 men to be wounded that day, and even though the sector was relatively 'quiet' at the time, the Battalion War Diary reveals that in May 1915 33 men were killed and 194 wounded largely as a result of ad-hoc shelling and sniping activity.

Upon recovery I think James was transferred to the 18th Bn., date unknown, and may have been with them until 15 February 1918 when the Battalion was disbanded as part of the wholesale reorganisation of the army into 3 Bn's per Brigade, at which time James was  sent as part of a draft to the 1/5th Battalion.  Alternatively, if the newspaper report of his death is correct, then although I have yet to find the official evidence of it, he was sent from the 18th to the 9th Battalion before being transferred to the 1/5th.

The search continues to flesh out the facts as they are found, and my thanks again to those helping me to do so!
« Last Edit: July 14, 2021, 04:35:28 PM by malcway »

Offline mack

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2021, 08:14:26 PM »
malc
the 18th batt wasnt disbanded in 1918,on 19th february they were amalgamated with the 17th entrenching battalion

mack

Offline malcway

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2021, 11:05:24 AM »
malc
the 18th batt wasnt disbanded in 1918,on 19th february they were amalgamated with the 17th entrenching battalion

mack

Good morniing, mack - True, but the source I was using : https://www.themanchesters.org/18th%20batt3.htm states

"17th February 1918 - The Battalion marched to billets at Lanquevoisin.
The end of the Battalion.
The tremendous casualty list in the 1917 fighting had made some reorganisation of the Army necessary and it had been decided to adopt the German formation of 3 Battalions to a Brigade and 9 to a Division. The 18th Battalion were the most junior of the 90th Brigade and it fell to their lot to be disbanded.
On the 19th February amalgamation with the 17th Entrenching Battalion took place at Haute Allaines.
The 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment was no more, but the memory of the men and of the part they played will not die, and their colours bear silent witness for all time to the sacrifices which they made.
The surviving members of the Battalion were sent as drafts to other Regiments."

KR Malcolm

Offline mack

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2021, 11:27:43 AM »
malc
the 18th batt wasnt disbanded in 1918,on 19th february they were amalgamated with the 17th entrenching battalion

mack

Good morniing, mack - True, but the source I was using : https://www.themanchesters.org/18th%20batt3.htm states

"17th February 1918 - The Battalion marched to billets at Lanquevoisin.
The end of the Battalion.
The tremendous casualty list in the 1917 fighting had made some reorganisation of the Army necessary and it had been decided to adopt the German formation of 3 Battalions to a Brigade and 9 to a Division. The 18th Battalion were the most junior of the 90th Brigade and it fell to their lot to be disbanded.
On the 19th February amalgamation with the 17th Entrenching Battalion took place at Haute Allaines.
The 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment was no more, but the memory of the men and of the part they played will not die, and their colours bear silent witness for all time to the sacrifices which they made.
The surviving members of the Battalion were sent as drafts to other Regiments."

KR Malcolm
hiya malc
i understand your point,but the 17th entrenching batt were then part of the west riding division and any transfers from it would have gone to regiments in that division.

mack

Offline mack

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2021, 12:00:19 PM »
theres one thing thats been overlooked,the newspapers say he was wounded three times,the first was a shrapnel wound in his right foot,the second was in the face and the third was a bullet through his hip,if this paper report is true,then the first wound was only a minor one and he was back with the battalion in days,he arrived in france on 20 march and didnt go into the line until april,so the foot wound must have been a scratch,the second wound would have  needed some time to recover from,his third wound was more serious,if the bullet hit a bone in his hip,he would have been out of action for quite a while,if it missed the bone,he would still have been out of action for quite a while,which battalion was he with when he was wounded the third time ???

mack

Offline malcway

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2021, 12:01:28 PM »
hiya malc
i understand your point,but the 17th entrenching batt were then part of the west riding division and any transfers from it would have gone to regiments in that division.

mack
[/quote]

Sounds reasonable to me, mack.  At :https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/british-entrenching-battalions-of-1918/   it states:
"In early 1918 a manpower crisis caused an unwelcome reorganisation of the British infantry in France and Flanders. One of its effects was the creation of 25 Entrenching Battalions..."  and "...Under instructions which are being issued by GHQ 3rd Echelon, the surplus personnel of disbanded battalions not immediately required for reinforcements is being formed into Entrenching Battalions. These Entrenching Battalions will be at the disposal of Army Commanders subject to the following provisos:
    Shall be kept under Army or Corps control and not be placed at the disposal of Divisional Commanders;...and
    ...    Shall be held intact at the disposal of GHQ, 3rd Echelon, for drafting purposes, who alone has authority to dispose of the personnel, and shall be broken up as and when the Deputy Adjutant-General, 3rd Echelon, considers the situation requires it.


"17th Entrenching Battalion (History)

Formed from surplus of six Service Battalions: 12th Royal Sussex Regiment; 14th Hampshire Regiment; 17th Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment); 18th and 19th Manchester Regiment and 20th Liverpool Regiment. By 22 March 1918 was in VII Corps area at Tincourt Wood."

"Insignia and recognition. No special badges or other insignia were issued to men who were transferred into the Entrenching Battalions. They would retain their original regimental and battalion identity until posted to other units.

Men who lost their lives while serving with Entrenching Battalions do not have this information included in the details recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which recognises them by their original regimental and battalion identity."

So, mack, although I'm still uncertain about the full extent and the sequence of units James served with prior to the the 1/5th Bn, I've certainly been on a journey of discovery the past few days! 

Would really appreciate any help/advice from anyone about finding out more about his militia service with the 3rd Bn. pre-war.

Malcolm


Offline malcway

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Re: Pte James Clarkson, 2199 1/5th Bn.
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2021, 12:18:21 PM »
theres one thing thats been overlooked,the newspapers say he was wounded three times,the first was a shrapnel wound in his right foot,the second was in the face and the third was a bullet through his hip,if this paper report is true,then the first wound was only a minor one and he was back with the battalion in days,he arrived in france on 20 march and didnt go into the line until april,so the foot wound must have been a scratch,the second wound would have  needed some time to recover from,his third wound was more serious,if the bullet hit a bone in his hip,he would have been out of action for quite a while,if it missed the bone,he would still have been out of action for quite a while,which battalion was he with when he was wounded the third time ???

mack

Our previous posts crossed, mack, but this comment is certainly highly pertinent and one I've given a fair bit of thought to also.  It certainly sounds as if his foot wound was relatively minor and the hip wound not so serious that he required evacuation, suggesting it didn't significantly damage the bone.  He certainly had an eventful war, and it's tragic that after such a long service he lost his life so near to the end of the conflict, but of course the same applies to many others.

Malcolm