Author Topic: St.Quentin-British Graves  (Read 14056 times)

Offline PhilipG

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St.Quentin-British Graves
« on: December 06, 2013, 04:17:56 PM »
For a few days in August 1914, the elegant Henri Martin School in St.Quentin was the centre for the tactical control of the British Expeditionary Force then in retreat from Le Cateau.   Just the day before the 2nd Manchesters entered the town, Sir John French held a conference there with three French generals, including Joffre.  The conference was not a success and resulted in Sir John departing from St. Quentin for Noyon some 25 miles away.  In his wake he left his disconsolate staff officers to organise, assist and direct the fast approaching retreating British forces through the town and beyond.  The arrangements they made proved to be excellent, for in the end, all units passing through, including the 2nd Manchesters, were issued with food and drink dispensed from the broad steps of the Palais de Fervaques (Court of Justice) as the troops filed past.

No 2199 Pte.G.Irwin had become a casualty at Le Cateau on the 26th August, subsequently dying of his wounds with the 2nd Manchesters apparently bringing his body back with them to St.Quentin.  Here he was buried in St. Quentin Northern Communal Cemetery just a day before the enemy entered the town.  It would be interesting to learn whether or not his death is recorded in the battalion's War Diary.

(Two British soldiers (King's Own & R.Irish Rifles), who arrived in St.Quentin after their battalions had departed were given shelter by the French, but were denounced by a girl, who in 1921 was sentenced to death on account of the betrayal.  The two soldiers were shot by a German firing squad on the 8th March 1915 and are buried in the same cemetery as Pte. Irwin.)

During the course of hostilities around St.Quentin, British casualties numbering about 134 were buried in St.Martin Military Cemetery.  In the 1920's these British burials were re-interred in the consolidation cemetery in St.Souplet.   Anticipating that there would be a number of Manchesters originally buried in the St.Martin cemetery, I did a "trawl" of the St.Souplet records. To my surprise I came up with just five Manchesters relevant to my research.   The names extracted from the St.Souplet files are: -

13548 Sgt. A.Allott Died 26.3.18.  16th Mcrs.

41602 Pte. H.J.Bones Dow. 24.3.18. 17th Mcrs.

12299 Pte.W.H.Caldwell Kia 22.3.18. 17th Mcrs.

250329 L/Cpl. T.Gratrix Dow 28.3.18.  16th Mcrs. (or 26.3.18)

N/4914 Sgt.A.Harding Dow  29.3.18.    16th Mcrs.

Apart from Pte.Caldwell, I am assuming the remainder listed above died whilst in German hands.  As so many of the 16th battalion who fell at Manchester Hill have no known grave, their names being engraved on the Pozieres Memorial panels, it is pleasing to note that the relatives of the 3 NCO's in the 16th Manchesters would have graves to visit, so important a factor to mourners in the past and indeed today. PhilipG.

timberman

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2013, 08:57:46 PM »
Pte.G.Irwin is not recorded in the war diaries.
On the evening of the 26th there were only
8 Officers and 240 men accounted for although
others did rejoin later.

The 2nd Bn arrived at St Quentin on the 27th
leaving at 12.15pm to Ollecy 19m away,
reaching it at 9pm the same day.

Timberman

Offline PhilipG

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2013, 11:24:14 AM »
Thanks for that information.  The battalion seems to have taken a "hammering" at Le Cateau.  Regarding Pte. Irwin, I did not find it easy locating his grave in that big cemetery.  In the case of the two soldiers shot by firing squad, their graves were easier to find in that they lay close together. Re Le Cateau that "great unremembered feat of arms of the British Army".   I wonder if you have been able to visit the Suffolk Memorial there?  I annoy friends by calling it the "Manchester Memorial" on account of the panel thereon relating to the Manchesters.  It was unveiled by Smith-Dorrien in 1926.  On one occasion and on eventually finding the memorial (not too easy to find), I discovered the entrance gate to be closed.  Fortunately, on repeat visits (I was following in the footsteps of the 2nd Bn. to Ors), the gate to the little park had been left open. Best regards, PhilipG

Offline PhilipG

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2013, 12:43:16 PM »
Afternoon Timberman,

I was very interested indeed, in your info. re the 2nd Manchesters arriving at Ollecy (now called Ollezy east of the town of Ham?) on the 27th August 1914, not least in trying to plot the routes in and out of St. Quentin dictated by the staff officers in command of operations in and around St.Quentin.  The famous Major Tom Bridges (of Elkington & Mainwaring fame) and his 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Gds. were routed out of the town on the D 930 in the direction of Ham via Roupy, a village to become well known to the Manchester Regt.  Some battalions were met by staff officers north of St. Quentin at the road junction near the well known Riqueval Bridge, turned south with instructions to make for Vermand by turning right at Bellenglise on the D333, thus avoiding any congestion in St.Q.   However, the battalions so instructed were unable to partake in the ration distributions from the steps of the Palais de Fervaques mentioned above, a matter which led to many regimental grumbles. Thanks for your contribution. PhilipG.

timberman

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2013, 04:51:04 PM »
Hello Philip

The 2nd Bn have the spelling with a C but all the others spell it with the Z :)

from the 5th Div Administrative war diaries.

26/8/14 Reument

11pn on the 26/8/14 Estrees (1 mile south of)

Div halts for 3hrs to receive supplies direct from
lorries and to reorganize.

2am 27/8/14 Estrees

Div resumes march on St Quentin arriving
9am.
Wounded evacuated from here by rail.

12noon 27/8/14 St Quentin

Div continue march to Ollezy.

War Diaries of the 5th Div Engineers

27/8/14

Arranging to blow the bridges at Ollezy
and Ham over the river Somme.

War Diaries of the 5th Div 2nd army corps
(part of the write up for the 26/27th)

Two bn of the 14th brigade from the NE
OF Le Cateau marching to join in accordance
with marching orders are surprised in Le Cateau
and are scattered.

It goes on about trying to restore order and
getting the men back to their own units for the whole Div.

HQ staff direct Division to retire on St Quentin.
Great confusion as the 3rd and 4th Divisions are also arriving
and all the soldiers are very exhausted.

Just as a foot note.
from the 2nd Bn war diaries

Retirement orders were given at 4am on the 26th
the 2nd Bn got as far as Reaument when the order
was cancelled at about 6am and they were told to
dig in and support the 2nd Suffolk Regiment with
the help of two Batteries of the RFA.

Timberman :)


Click on the picture to make it bigger.
2nd Manchester's on the right
« Last Edit: December 07, 2013, 04:53:15 PM by timberman »

Offline PhilipG

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2013, 06:05:05 PM »
Thanks once again for the info.  I have looked at my IGN 2607 Est, 1:25000 map and compared it with the picture you sent and I can now understand why the Suffolk Monument stands in its present position.  The road in the picture across which the 2nd Mcrs. are deployed is just a path on my present day map. When I visited the Memorial, unknowingly I must have viewed the Manchesters' position on the 26th August. Thanks again. PhilipG.

timberman

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2013, 10:06:01 PM »
I've found I've got a better map for the 26th
(they will be added to the map section with a
lot more in time) :)

Click on the picture to make it bigger

Timberman

Offline PhilipG

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2013, 11:21:32 PM »
 That really is some map! I have been looking for a map which places, during the Retreat, the 1st Royal Warwicks and the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers, both of the Elkington/Mainwaring episode- and here it is.   Reason?  You will recall that Lieutenant B.L.Montgomery (later Field Marshal) was in the 1st Royal Warwicks.  However, the Warwickshire battalion split up for the retreat, Elkington taking one part of the battalion to St.Quentin and the 2/ic taking the remainder, including Lt. B.L.Montgomery, to an entirely different location, where they eventually rejoined the British Expeditionary Force.

Can you imagine how different history in respect of WW2 could have been if B.L.M. had been cashiered and left the army?     "Monty" never forgot the retreat from Le Cateau.  He called it "the retreat from Moscow".   Thanks once again. PhilipG.

timberman

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2013, 09:59:39 AM »
the Suffolk Memorial there?  I annoy friends by calling it the "Manchester Memorial" on account of the panel thereon relating to the Manchesters.   PhilipG

Le Cateau, France

A memorial to those who fell at Le Cateau on 26 August 1914 was erected on the site of the trenches, which lie within a few minutes walk of the town of Le Cateau. A committee consisting of officers of the four regiments concerned was formed and in cooperation with the Imperial War Graves Commission appointed Major Alan Brace of Lincoln 's Inn to be the architect. One major difficulty had to be overcome which was that the French Government passed a law in March 1923 prohibiting the erection of any other war memorial to a unit smaller that a Division. Fortunately a Presidential Decree was signed on 9 May 1925 authorising the erection of this memorial.

The monument is in the form of a cenotaph, 10ft long, 6ft wide and 13 ft high. Upon each face is cut the names of the fallen: 2nd Bn Manchester Regiment (5 officers and 53 other ranks) on the west face, the Suffolk Regiment (4 officers and 75 other ranks) on the north face, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (8 officers and 39 other ranks) on the east face and the Royal Field Artillery (3 officers and 22 other ranks) on the south face.

The memorial was unveiled in 1926 and is in the permanent care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Additional funds were raised in 1933 by the four Regiments for maintenance work to be carried out.


Does anyone have a photo of the Manchester Panel

Thanks
Timberman

Offline PhilipG

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2013, 05:32:46 PM »
Thanks for that info.   I am particularly pleased that the CWGC are involved. Cheers. PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2013, 11:03:35 AM »
Greetings Timberman,

The five officers on the Suffolk Memorial panel relating to the 2nd Manchesters.  I would think these would be:-

Captain M.C.Fowke
Captain C.F.H. Trueman
Captain W.C.Brodribb
Captain F.S. Nisbet
Lieutenant W.G.Mansergh

I note, however, that Captain Fowke's death is given as 30.8.14., the remainder being listed as dying on the 26th August.

(Three are commemorated on the La Ferte -Sous -Jouarre Memorial and two are buried in Le Cateau Military Cemetery).
Do you agree?

Regards, PhilipG.

timberman

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2013, 10:18:44 PM »
Hello Philip

They must be the ones as I don't have any other Officers killed on that day.


Captain M.C.Fowke (in my book printed 1916,
date of death is listed as 26/8/1914 although CWGC 30/8/1914)
Captain F.S. Nisbet (he was the Bn Adj)
Lieutenant W.G.Mansergh ( he's listed as a Captain
and also as missing, so must of been confirmed later
that he had died on that date)
Are on the La Ferte -Sous -Jouarre Memorial
as having no known grave.

Captain W.C.Brodribb
Captain C.F.H. Trueman
are buried in Le Cateau Military Cemetery

Bit of back ground to the Officers :)

An officer of the Manchester Regiment was equally self-sacrificing for a soldier. Lieutenant W. G. Mansergh was hit in the leg at Le Cateau. Falling near an empty trench he crawled into it and was comparatively safe. Shortly after a soldier of the same regiment crawled up to the same trench. Mansergh pulled him in and got the man underneath him (it was a short " two-man trench " for kneeling). Mansergh was now exposed to shrapnel, though still protected by the trench parapet from rifle fire. A shell burst just in front of the trench low down.
Mansergh was killed on the spot.

Fowke, M. C. {Capt. Manch. R.)�
  S. African War, 1901-2.� Operations in the Trans\ val
  in July 01. Operations in Orange River Colony
  July 01 to 31 May 02. Queen's medal with 3 clasps.
  King's medal with 2 clasps.
  East Africa {Somaliland) 1908-10.� Medal with clasp.


Captain Charles Fitzgerald Hamilton TRUEMAN
A Company, 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment

Date of birth: 22nd March 1877
Date of death: 26th August 1914

Killed in action aged 37
Buried at Le Cateau Military Cemetery Plot III Row A Grave 3    
He was born in the parish of Stoke Damerel in Devon on the 22nd of March 1877, the eldest son of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hamilton Trueman JP OKS, East Kent Regiment, and Dorethea Magdalena (nee Fitzgerald) of Oakwell-in-the-Blean, Tyler Hill near Canterbury.

He was educated at King's School Canterbury from January 1889 to July 1893 and then at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst from 1895 to 1897.

He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment on the 8th of September 1897 , was promoted to Lieutenant on the 17th of August 1898 and to Captain on the 5th of January1901.

He served in the South African War being present at operations in the Transvaal, in July 1900, and Orange River Colony. He received the Queen's Medal with four clasps.

On the 11th of July 1904 he represented Ireland against Cambridge University in a three day cricket match at Markdyke in Cork which Ireland lost by five wickets. He played regularly for County Cork while he was stationed there, opening the batting, with notable matches against Na Shuler and Dublin University.

From the 23rd of April 1908 to the 10th of September 1909 he was a Superintendent of Gymnasia and from the latter date to the 8th of May 1912 was Assistant Inspector of Gymnasia at Aldershot.

He was fond of all sports and athletics, especially cricket and shooting and was member of the Army and Navy Club.

On the outbreak of war the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment was based at Dublin. They sailed for France on the 14th of August 1914 and landed at Le Havre at 7pm on the 17th where they disembarked at 11.30pm. By the 23rd of August they were in positions along a canal at Mons where they fought their first action and suffered casualties before retiring with the rest of the army.

On the 25th of August they arrived at Le Cateau and took up positions at 1.30pm in support of a battalion of the Suffolk Regiment.

Early on the morning of the 26th of August the Suffolks came under assault from German infantry and by late morning the situation was regarded as "critical" by Colonel James, the Commanding Officer of the Manchesters. Accordingly, at 11am, he sent A and B Companies to reinforce the Suffolk line. A Company, under the command of Captain Trueman, was sent to the right of the line and came under an intense fire from artillery, machine guns and rifles. They were thrown back on more than one occasion and eventually only a small portion of the Company made the Suffolk line. The battalion received the order to retire at 3.30pm.

He is commemorated on the memorial at Blean Church in Kent and on the memorial in the chapel of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.

His brother, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Phillip Hamilton Truman (OKS) OBE, 8th Battalion East Kent Regiment, died on the 26th of November 1918.

Timberman
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 04:33:40 PM by charlie »

Offline PhilipG

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2013, 11:45:52 AM »
Thanks for that.  With your wide knowledge, we have covered Le Cateau and the 2nd Manchesters pretty well, I think.   My first visit to Le Cateau was a goodly number of years ago and was to hear a presentation by a gunner officer as to the activities of the RFA and the winning of 3 VC's there. But I must not go into that.

Re Captain Brodribb.   His MIC is worth a quick look, I suggest. Seemed to have been advised as missing at one stage. I notice his NOK's contact address was C/O a bank in Colne, a financial establishment eventually to become part of the R.B.Scotland.  But that again is another story. Regards once more. PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2013, 11:10:25 AM »
To return to the first item in this topic in respect of the 16th Manchesters and deaths at Manchester Hill.  I estimate that 80 NCO's & men of the battalion died in action on 21st March 1918 of which 74 have no known grave, their names being recorded on the panels of the Pozieres Memorial. I wonder if those figures bear any relationship to the official list in this respect?

The circumstances are by no means unusual, insofar as the victorious combatant deals with the burial of its own dead first and the disposal of the bodies of those of the vanquished are consigned to empty shell holes or similar, totally without identification.  Whilst it is very important that the soldier is commemorated by name on a memorial, to a mourning relative there can really be no substitute for attendance at a grave and I speak from personal experience, both in respect of Great War deaths and those of WW2.   It is a sadness of war. PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: St.Quentin-British Graves
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2013, 12:55:09 PM »
I have now had a further look into some of the casualty figures for the 16th Bn. on the 21st March 1918.  I found details under date 1994 which gives the figure for the deaths of All Ranks as 87 FOR THE MONTH.

I have done another "trawl" and I have come up with the total deaths for the 16th Manchesters on the 21st March as 84.  Sadly, 75 of these deaths relate to men who have no known grave and consequently their names appear on the panels of the Pozieres Memorial.

The Regimental History records the death of 2nd.Lt.P.J.Durrant.  I have been unable to trace him.

In March 1918 the 16th Manchesters were serving in the 30th Division and the total number of men killed in that Division on 21st March is apparently 245.  In the matter of sacrifice by the 16th Bn. on that day, the figures speak for themselves.  The Pozieres Memorial commemorates  the names of some 500 officers and men of the Manchester Regiment who have no known grave.  I am reminded of the words of Lord Plumer when the Menin Gate Memorial was unveiled by him in 1927.   He said "......they are not missing, they are here.....".   The same sentiment must apply to the missing recorded on the Pozieres Memorial, I suggest.   PhilipG.