Author Topic: 2 Lt James Wellard 2/5th Manchester  (Read 1058 times)

Offline WellersXI

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2 Lt James Wellard 2/5th Manchester
« on: January 11, 2022, 11:48:57 AM »
James Herbert Wellard was my paternal grandfather. I have several letters from the front and a capture card from when he was taken prisoner. He was seemingly held at Limburg and der Lahn POW camp in March 1918 and that would lead me to suspect that he was captured during the Operation Michael spring offensive. When he was alive he wouldn't speak of his capture, he saw it as a mark of shame and (I suspect) that those who were with him suffered death or imprisonment as a result of his 'leadership'.. he was 19/20 at the time. There is a memo with the findings of a post war Board of Inquiry which exonerates him from fault but I don't think he ever resolved this issue with his own conscience.
From what I can tell the 2/5th would have been a territorial battalion possibly from Wigan areas? I went to Tameside to check on more records but I didn't really understand the regiments structure at the time and I started looking at the 2nd Battn rather than the 2nd line of the 5th.
Other research shows him gazetted as a 2Lt on 23 October 17 and promoted to Lt 29 Apr 2. From Red Cross records his service number is either 23551 (typed) or 23330 (handwritten amendment) and the Germans note him as being "Kompany D"

My research about where 2/5th were at the time of the Operation Michael Offensive would suggest around Hargicourt/Bellicourt and some are buried at Templeux. Would be interested in anything anyone has further about more precise locations of parts of the regiment at that time, or a pointer as to what I may have wrong. Thanks

Offline charlie

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Re: 2 Lt James Wellard 2/5th Manchester
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2022, 04:12:11 PM »
Hello and welcome to the forum
According to the Red Cross records your Grandfather was taken PoW at Villeret on the 21st March 1918. The numbers you have quoted are not his number, officers did not have numbers in the Great War, but the links to the documents held by the Red Cross. Inputing the numbers into the search box on the right reveal he was held prisoner at Rastatt, Karlsruhe and Mainz. He was repatriated on 2nd December 1918.


Offline WellersXI

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Re: 2 Lt James Wellard 2/5th Manchester
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2022, 04:39:24 PM »
Thanks for the explanation and the update Charlie. It's strange how, when you find something with a number and the military you just assume service number!

I've managed to find the War Diary for 2/5th on the National Archives site but clearly its a duplicate as there is an entry about the breathless cook (or A.Cook?) telling the Battn HQ that the forward outposts were overrun on 21st March causing the Intel Officer and Signal Officer to destroy everything. Interestingly the names that are on the POW register alongside him are also listed in the Battn War Diary.
Next up it's the trench and redoubt maps to see if I can work out where he was. It's quite the eye-opener how much detail is out there

Offline Tim Bell

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Re: 2 Lt James Wellard 2/5th Manchester
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2022, 06:04:09 PM »
The War Diary states 2/Lt J H Wellard reported for duty with 2/5th Bn on 09/12/1917.  They were near the village of Borre.
I'm glad you've found the document yourself.  It's also useful to look at the Brigade War Diary and other Bns in the Brigade.
Have you obtained his officer's service file from the National Archives.  That would also bring some colour.
Welcome to the forum
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