Author Topic: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917  (Read 4265 times)

Offline Jamieguest

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Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« on: April 09, 2017, 02:14:23 PM »
Hello everyone.   I have just found this forum and am not sure which area to post this in.  My late Father's first cousin was the above named Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts who grew up in Poulton Le Fylde.  I suppose that makes him my uncle.  He enlisted in the 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment in 1914 and was commissioned.  He was killed during the battle of Arras on 23rd April 1917 and is buried at Wancourt Cemetery near Arras. I have visited the grave twice but am planning to visit it on the centenary of his death to lay some red roses in his memory.  I was wondering if any other commemorations are due to take place that day at Wancourt.  If there was going to be any sort of organised memorial event I would be interested in being part of it.

My father gave me some memorabilia that he inherited when his aunt and uncle died which include a condolence card produced by his parents and the letter of condolence from the battalion commander.   There was also a large collection of letters from the front that my father placed in the Liddle Collection that is now at Leeds University.   I would be interested in hearing from anyone else who has researched the events at Wancourt that day or who is planning to be there on the 23rd.  I know that I have left this a bit late.

Jamie Guest   I have attached a photo of the cemetery and one of my uncle's grave. The 3rd photo is looking in the direction of where the action took place that he was killed in.

« Last Edit: April 09, 2017, 06:08:42 PM by Jamieguest »

Offline Tim Bell

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2017, 06:23:41 PM »
Please have a look at http://www.themanchesters.org/Arras%20and%20Ypres.htm Lt Potts was attended by the RSM when he was wounded. RSM Coates was awarded MC for this action.
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Offline Jamieguest

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2017, 07:12:28 PM »
Thanks very much for that Tim, it's good to see that.  I can't lay my hands on the letter of condolence at the moment but from what I remember it mentioned that Geoffrey Potts had been out trying to rescue other casualties when he was hit.   When I find it would you be interested in seeing the text or a copy of it.

Jamie

Offline Tim Bell

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2017, 07:32:32 PM »
Always interested to see original material
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Offline susanjane

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2017, 09:51:49 PM »

Hi Jamie,

If you are still over there then April 25th is Anzac Day and there will be a big parade at the Menin Gate with personnel from NZ and Australia etc.
We happened to go to Ypres that day a few years back and were moved and impressed. Now we have an Australian grandson born that day whilst we were attending the parade in Sydney. So we always remember everyone.

We took our grandchildren to the Arras Military cemetery nearly 3 years ago which had a big effect on them.
We also took them to the museum at Agincourt which commemorates that other war 600 years ago.Also very memorable.

Have a good trip
Sue

Offline Jamieguest

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2017, 10:00:48 PM »
Thanks for that Sue, unfortunately we are on a tight timescale and are back in the UK on the evening of the 23rd but will be at the Menin gate the evening of the 22nd.

Jamie

Offline Jamieguest

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2017, 10:03:07 AM »
Further to my posts above I've now had chance to visit Leeds University Library and view the papers that are deposited there. They are held in their special collections department ref LIDDLE/WW1/GS/1287.  The Library were very helpful and allowed me to view the items at short notice but normally ask for 2 clear days.

The file contains mainly letters that Geoffrey wrote to his sisters Dorothy, Jessie and Barbara.  I knew these three as the Poulton aunts who lived in 2 adjoining houses at Poulton-le-Fylde when I was growing up.   It was Dorothy who collected the letters and passed them on to my father.   There are also some official papers including his Commission Certificate, a memorial card, his medals and cap badge.   The letters give detailed accounts of his life on the Western Front from 1915 to 1917.  For a year of that time he was Battalion Quartermaster.   There is also the handwritten letter of condolence from a Lt.Col Whitehead, which I have transcribed. The incident where he was sheltered by RSM Coates (mentioned in the war diary) is explained.   I have attached a pdf of my transcription of the letter along with some notes.   In the fullness of time I will try and return and transcribe more of the letters.   

if anyone can tell me the initials/name of Col Whitehead I would be grateful as I can't decipher his initials.   I hope that this is of interest.  I intend to be at the cemetery at Wancourt at about 9.30am on the 23rd of April to lay  a small wreath of red roses and to play the Last Post and Reveille.   It appears from the war diary that the Battalion suffered about 300 casualties on the morning of the 23rd April. 

Jamie.

Offline Tim Bell

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2017, 12:25:34 PM »
Great Work Jamie,
It was Acting Lt Col John James Whitehead.  Mentioned in Despatches 25/5/1917 - probably connected with 23/4/1917 events.  Also DSO for the assault.
I'll enjoy digesting your notes.
Tim
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Offline Jamieguest

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2017, 02:05:43 PM »
Thanks very much for that Tim.  I can amend the letter transcript now.   I've been able to go a bit further with my research and have downloaded the relevant trench maps from the national library of Scotland site which has given me a lot more info.  Once I can work out the grid reference I should be able to locate the original grave site.   I've also found that Geoffrey is mentioned on the Manchester University war memorial.  With nearly 50% casualties in the battalion that day, 360 out of 650 there may well be several other graves from people from the battalion at Wancourt.

Thanks again.

Jamie

Offline Tim Bell

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2017, 02:24:45 PM »
Also mentioned on Manchester, Reform Club, King Street Memorial http://www.mlfhs.org.uk/data/war_memorials_images.php?memorial=213

If you're stuck with the maps, let us know. McMaster University also do maps for that Grid and I note CWGC concentration records have a slightly differnet Ref to Lt Col Whitehead. Still in the middle of the same field though.

 I think a visit to the Battlefield, orginal grave and last resting place sounds like a wonderfyl trip for you.

If you're ever passing Kew take photo ID and have a look at this http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C1069330?descriptiontype=Full&ref=WO+339/15403

Cheers
Tim
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Offline Jamieguest

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2017, 03:49:19 PM »
Thanks very much for that Tim,  I am looking forward to the trip and  will post some pictures when I get back.  I've found the square on the map but can't work out the final part of the reference which is D5.5.  I presume there is a standard grid within each square similar to an OS reference along the lines of row D column 5.5 or something like that.

Jamie

Offline Tim Bell

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2017, 03:57:38 PM »
Square 29 is split into 4 quarters with A-B at the top and C - D at the bottom. So you look at the bottom right sub-square. 5.5 is right in the middle.
5 points along and 5 points up. Have a look at CWGC too as that shows a different point. I think Lt Col Whitehead would be more accurate, as I've seen many errors on Concentration sheets and he was probably present.
Tim
Sorry I had to correct the Square number
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 05:11:58 PM by Tim Bell »
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Offline Jamieguest

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2017, 04:23:59 PM »
Thanks for that Tim.  In square 29 that puts in in the right place about half a mile from the cemetery.   Your help is much appreciated.

Jamie

Offline Tim Bell

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2017, 02:19:52 PM »
Battalion HQ was in 29.d.5.5
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Offline Jamieguest

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Re: Lt Geoffrey Fildes Potts 17th Batallion kia 23-4-1917
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2017, 04:42:19 PM »
That makes sense it's the same grid reference as the initial grave site and he was near to the HQ when he was hit so I expect they had a small cemetery near to the HQ.   

Do you by any chance have a decent image of the cap badge please.   My camera battery had run down when I went to the archives and I would like to put an image of the cap badge on the wreath.

Jamie