Author Topic: 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment 29th August 1916, mystery, help needed  (Read 28878 times)

6th City

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Hi All,

Just joined the forum and wondering if anyone can help with information on the following, I am trying to research the the events and casualties sustained by the 21st Battalion on the 29th August 1916, during which my wife's great grandfather, Herbert Birtles was KIA, as there appears to be some issue with this date when looking at the war diary etc. My aim is to prepare an article for Stand To or similar which would be good way to remember Herbert and his mates.

It appears 52 men [I have a list of these men and photos of most of the known graves] of the Battalion were killed on this date, this includes 5 men of the 2/6th Manchester's attached to the 21st, furthermore two men of the 52 listed as killed this date by SDGW, are recorded by CWGC as dying on 4/9/16 and 5/9/16 respectively (I appreciate CWGC is the more reliable source than SDGW). The bulk of those recorded by CWGC as killed on the 29th August are commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, or buried at Delville Wood Cemetery (11), Serre No. 2 (2), Bernafay Wood (2) and Quarry cemetery (1), in the case of my wifes grandfather, Herbert Birtles, at Serre Rd No.2, he was found at grid ref 57c. S.24. b.65. 95  (I have visited this spot last week, fields on the Ginchy side of the Longueval - Guillemont road, opposite the area of Waterlot Farm) with an unknown soldier, CWGC confirm they were found/reburied together (presumably at some point between 1927 to 1931), hence touching headstones, others will have no grave and some no doubt are buried as unknown or unknown manchesters in Delville Wood or other local cemeteries, for example when I was at Delville Wood last week I noted 3 'unknown' headstones on one side and another 'unknown' on the other side of the grave of Pte William Parker (grave 10) all in Row B of Plot 5 all touching, the next grave along the row is that of L/Cpl 19891 William Smith, both Smith and Parker were killed on the 29th August and I wonder if these men (as per Birtles scenario) were all found together (perhaps at a similar grid reference) which could suggest they were all 21st Manchester's. I will contact CWGC to seek more information re this aspect.

The date of death for these men is 29th August, this is what was provided by the Army to the IWGC (now CWGC) but it does seem questionable, the 21st relieved the 20th Manchester's on the 29th August in positions south of Delville Wood (in horrendous weather, taking over what could be described loosely as the front line) casualty wise the loss of 52 men doesn't get a mention in the war diary entry for that date which seems somewhat surprising, nor were there any notable casualties recorded over the next 5 days, however there was a bombing raid by Regimental bombers on Ale Alley on the afternoon of 4th September, this failed and the war diary records the Battalion sustained 'heavy casualties', frustratingly the photocopy of the war diary I have only covers the 21st August up to mid afternoon of the 4th September and I have no copies of the appendix operational notes etc. Apart from the reference to heavy casualties it adds that 3 officers were KIA on the 4th, Capt John Leonard, Lt Aubrey Harris and 2nd Lt Alfred Wrigglesworth (all on Thiepval Memorial) two officers were also wounded 2nd Lt's Charles Hill and A. J. Plummer, Hill died the next day and is buried at Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt. So we have a night relief on the 29th where no casualties are recorded in the war diary (although, bar two, SDGW and CWGC both record the casualties all occurring on that date) and then the bombing raid on the 4th September in which 3 officers were killed and 'heavy casualties' sustained yet only 2 men are shown on SDGW as dying that day, and both of these men died of wounds at locations well away from the Longueval area. This leads to a suspicion that some or most of the casualties may have actually occurred on the 4th September and not the 29th ?
 

According to SDGW these were the casualties between 30th August to 6th September:

30th: None

31st: None

1st: None

2nd: One other rank recorded as DOW, Pte 18525 Berry (Heilly Station Cemetery)

3rd: None

4th: Two others ranks recorded, both DOW, Pte 18795 Booth (St. Sever Cemetery) and Pte 19356 Cotgreave (Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Albert)

5th: Three other rank's recorded, Pte 26083 Bates who was KIA (CWGC record 29/08/16), Pte 18716 Scoble (Thiepval Memorial) and Pte 12611 Tomlinson (La Neuville Communal Cemetery, Corbie), the last two both DOW.

6th: None



Can anyone assist with the following:

A copy / or content of the 21st Battalion War Diary for the date 4th, 5th, 6th September and importantly any of the operational notes, casualty lists etc which may be in the appendix of the War Diary for the period 28th August to 6th September 1916?

Info from the Brigade War Diary for 22 Bde for the period 29th August to 6th September, or 91 Bde War diary for the same period?

Does anyone have acess to the Divisional History of the 7th Division to see if it mentions anything of the period 28th Aug - 6th Sept 1916, relevant to 21st Manchesters.

Finally has anyone come across any news articles (particularily for Herbert Birtles) or photo's of the 21st Bn casualties for the 29th Aug?

Any help would really be appreciated.

Many thanks Neil.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2009, 03:42:15 PM by 6th City »

Offline Wendi

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Hi Neil, and a Warm Welcome to our Forum !

Sounds like you enjoyed your trip to France and have come back with more questions than answers !  Lets hope the chaps can answer a few here for you.  harribobs may also be able to help, but it might be a week or so before you hear from him !

Wendi  :)
"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it!  No matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and with your own common sense" ~ Buddha

timberman

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Hi Neil

Welcome to the forum.

Don't know if this will help till someone can help with the War Diaries. :)

There is a very good book called The 21stBn The Manchester Regiment a History, by Robert Bonner one of the Moderators on the forum.

 It is on sale at this link.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/21st-Battalion-Manchester-Regiment-History/dp/1873907044/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243970586&sr=1-1

I've had a look at the 29th of August, as you say nothing is really mentioned apart from, from the evening of the 29th they relieved the 20thBn south of Delville Wood. The battalion for the next day or two spent time improving the trenches and at night they where at work on a new forward trench.

At the back of the book is a roll of honour where all the soldiers including the ones you mentioned are listed.
The total casualties in the battalion during the operations of the 29th August to 5th September are as follows.

Officers           4 killed 7 wounded 0 missing.
Other ranks      38 killed 170 wounded 18 missing

The above information is taken from the book.

Timberman




« Last Edit: June 02, 2009, 09:10:34 PM by timberman »

Offline themonsstar

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I have the WD covering the dates you are looking for, I was also on the front last week taking lots of pics of Montauban Village and area around it. (there are to many pic in the WD to post so PM me with your Email).

Cheers Roy

Offline mack

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hiya neil.
in pte owen,henry currans record,it has an unusual entry on his casualty sheet,its doubled dated,LIKE THIS.
it says,"wounded"[29-8-16]
                        [5-9-16 ]
then underneath,it says,"wounded+missing"[29-8-16]
                                                          [5-9-16 ]

18971 thomas price,was listed in the papers,as missing after a bombing raid,on 29th aug,he was a bomber

19130 james greenwood,was also in the list,as being killed by shrapnel

mack
ps.nice to see you back neil ;D

Offline mack

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hiya neil.
its just a thought,and may not be of much help.
the regimental bombers are drawn from whichever manchester batts that are in that sector,they would have been kept in reserve,at the regimental HQ,and used in any planned raids by the regiment
the manchester batts,would have their own battalion bombers,who would be at battalion HQ.
any raids by the regt bombers,would not be recorded in the battalion diary,cos its not a battalion operation.
having said that,its highly unlikely,that any operations,would have been carried out,when a battalion is relieving another in the front line,a relief needs to be done as quickly+quietly as possible
there were a couple of 20th manchesters also killed on the 29th aug
i think your right about them being killed on the 4th sept.

mack

6th City

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Many thanks everyone for your replies and info so far and welcoming me to the forum, 'themonsstar' I will pm you re WD etc, I will certainly dig deeper into the events 29th Aug - 5th Sept and seek to review relevant official records I will keep you posted how I get on, if anyone comes across any pics, newsarticles or obits etc in published works relevant to 29th August men could you let me know the publications/newspaper article dates etc. Many thanks Neil.

6th City

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I have been progressing my research into the events of the 29th - 5th September and have been greatly assisted by Forum member (Mons Star) in respect of WD's, memo's and op orders which I have typed up on Word. I am now pulling together my research but am just making one more appeal for anyone who may have copy news articles/casualty lists or photo's of any 21st Manchester who was killed, DOW or wounded at any time between 29th August 1916 to 5th September 1916 and would be willing to share such could you drop me a PM. I will of course, share my findings with anyone interested when I have finished.

Does anyone have a copy of 7 Division History, if so does it record any information for the period 28th Aug - 6th Sept.

Many thanks
Neil

Offline johnno

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Hi There.
      I have these photos which may be of use to you, I thought they had been posted on the site but I can't find them. This is Cpl James I'anson who fell on the 29th august 1916 and some of his pals, he was in the 21st Bnt.   Cheers.   Johnno
   

6th City

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Excellent Johnno, many thanks Neil.

Offline mack

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hiya neil.
lieutenant aubrey harris,was the 21st batts bombing officer,he was killed on 4th sept 1916,he was buried in delville wood,but they could not find his body after the war.
Lt harris was a colleague of colonels elstob+fearenside,all three were masters at merchiston college,edinburgh,Lt harris was the senior language master,a B.A of honours,from manchester university
son of william+mary,elizabeth,oak bank villa,72 alexander rd,wrexham
aged 22
A.coy

theres a photo of him,in the manchester pals book

mack

Offline mack

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neil.
ptes 18611 thomas henshaw+26754 william,john logan MICs give the 5th sept 1916,as their date of death

in pte henshaws entry,in the national roll,his family say he was killed in sept 1916.

mack
« Last Edit: July 19, 2009, 06:47:25 PM by mack »

Offline johnno

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Hi Neil.
    Ref Cpl I'anson, I noticed on another site that there was a memorial to him and maybe some of his pals located in St James church Moss side so I called on my way home from work, most of the old church has gone and its now a centre for refugees. I am waiting to contact one of the clergy to find out if the memorial has been relocated somewhere else. I'll get back to you when I find out.

plaything

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Re: 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment 29th August 1916, mystery, help needed
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2010, 02:43:15 PM »
Hi, I have just joined the forum to look into the circumstances surrounding the events of 29th August 1916. According to CWWG and his medal index card my Great Uncle, Ernest lewis Playfoot (6th City) was killed on this date . I am aware of the possibility that this date is incorrect and that it could be 4th september following the bombing raid. I have a family photograph of Ernest that has been handed down and on the back written in pencil are the words 'killed Delville Wood'. I was wondering if any more information has come to light since this was last discussed. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

migky

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Re: 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment 29th August 1916, mystery, help needed
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2010, 04:39:51 PM »
Hi & welcome Plaything, not sure if you have this?
I also found the family on the 1901 & 1911 census, plus Ablert Roberts ( Ernest's brother)service records if you don't allready have them? He was then living in 50 Halstead St, Bolton but is Ernest's brother. There are sum 20 pages and also a medal car for him.
He was also awarded  the silver war badge. There is a medal card for ernest and what i think could be another brother Charles william but not 100% it is him as he would have only have been 14/15 at the out brake of the war?
I also found Ernest's parents buried in Gorton cemetery together
Sarah Ann Playfoot buried on 23rd Dec 1920 & Louis Playfoot 21st Sept 1944





Migky  ;)
« Last Edit: October 09, 2010, 04:41:46 PM by Migky »