Military Monday – Percival Richardson. Royal Engineers Part III

Part I
Part II

January 1918 saw Uncle Percy raised to the skilled rate of E.P., or Engineers Pay, which would have meant a little extra in his pay packet.

The next entry in his service record is on the 10th March 1918 when he was given four days confined to camp for being absent from 8.20pm to 8.45pm.

Two days later, on the 12th March at Les Attaques, Calais, Percy failed to attend the 6.15pm defaulter’s parade and was absent from the 8.20pm roll call to 9.30pm. For this he was awarded nine days Field Punishment No.1, which involved being shackled in irons and secured to a fixed object, such as a gun wheel.

Field Punishment No.1

Percy would only have been fixed for up to two hours in every twenty four, and not for more than three days in every four. Field Punishment No.1 came to be known as ‘crucifixion’ and due to its humiliating nature was considered by Tommies as unfair.

 

In March and April 1918, there are only two entries in Percy’s service record, both noting that he joined the Royal Engineers’ base depot. But during this period the 21st Division were in action. The Battle of St. Quentin on the 21st -23rd March saw the German army advance forty miles and many Tommies taken prisoner. This was followed immediately on the 24th-25th by the first Battle of Bapaume in which the German army recaputured Baupaume.

On the 10th-11th April 1918 the 21st Division were at the Battle of Messines, where the British army withdrew four miles as the Germans captured Messines. This prompted General Haig’s famous ‘backs to the wall‘ message to the troops.

‘Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end.’

The next entry in Uncle Percy’s record reveals that he was wounded on the 22nd April 1918 and transfered to No. 13 General Hospital, based in the Casino in Boulogne with a mild gunshot wound to his face and arms on the 24th April.

From the 17th May to the 2nd of October 1918, Percy was in Britain, beginning with a stay at the Springburn Woodside Central Hospital in Glasgow for thirty-five days, suffering from pneumonia.

Following his period of convalesence Percy was expected to return to a Royal Engineers base but he overstayed his sick furlough from the 2nd  to the 11th July and was confined to barracks for ten days, forfeiting ten days pay.

The 2nd of October found Percy back in France.  Following which the 21st Division were involved in the successful Battle of the Selle from the 7th to the 26th October.

Percy found himself in trouble yet again on the 9th of November, when on active service he was absent for fifteen minutes and was caught drinking in the cafe Le Clas Fleuri during prohibited hours. For this he was deprived of two days pay and was also confined to barracks for seven days.

The Armistice on the 11th of November, found the 21st Division around Berlaimont and they moved via Beaufort to to Amiens by the end of December. Following demobilisation the 21st Division had ceased to exist but Percy’s time with the Royal Engineers was to continue for a little longer.

Part IV

Picture Credit: http://www.historytoday.com/clive-emsley/crucifying-tommy-punishment-first-world-war
Picture Credit: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205331665
Picture Credit: http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH1-Fran-t1-body1-d15.html

Military Monday – Percival Richardson. Royal Engineers Part II

Military Monday – Percival Richardson. Royal Engineers Part I

Part 1

The end of March 1917 found Percy and the 97th Field Company Royal Engineers stationed on the Hindenburg Line.

The German army was staging a strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line. As they withdrew they destroyed bridges, railways, buildings and roads to hinder the Anglo-French advance.

So there was an urgent need for the Royal Engineers to restore transport and communication links.

 

 

Royal Engineers building a pontoon bridge across the Somme River at Peronne, 22 March 1917

Sir Douglas Haig mentioned the contribution of the Royal Engineers in his third Despatch in May 1917.

The systematic destruction of roads, railways and bridges in the evacuated area made unprecedented demands upon the Royal Engineers, already heavily burdened by the work entailed by the preparations for our spring offensive.
Our steady progress, in the face of the great difficulties confronting us, is the best testimony to the energy and thoroughness with which those demands were met.
The bridging of the Somme at Brie, to which reference has already been made, is an example of the nature of the obstacles with which our troops were met and of the rapidity with which those obstacles were overcome.  In this instance six gaps had to be bridged across the canal and river, some of them of considerable width and over a swift-flowing stream.
The work was commenced on the morning of the 18th March, and was carried out night and day in three stages.  By 10.00 p.m. on the same day foot-bridges for infantry had been completed, as already stated.  Medium type bridges for horse transport and cavalry were completed by 5.00 a.m. on the 20th March, and by 2.00 p.m. on the 28th March, or four and a half days after they had been begun, heavy bridges capable of taking all forms of traffic had taken the place of the lighter type.

During the Anglo-French advance, Percy was involved in both the first and second Battles of the Scarpe near Arras. He was to remain in the area around the Hindenburg Line until June 1917.

Whilst based in Les Attaques, Calais, Percy had two more misdemeanors noted on his service record. On the 26th June, when on active service, he was absent from his duty as cook’s mate for two hours and received seven days confined to camp and deprivation of three days pay. Two days later, on the 28th June he was awarded fourteen days confined to camp and deprived of seven days pay for being both drunk and absent from duty for eleven hours.

Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, 20 September 1917

Percy’s stay in Calais ended in September 1917 when the 21st Divison became heavily involved in the Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly known as Passchendaele. Percy’s involvement began with the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge from the 20th September to the 25th. This was immediately followed on the 26th by the Battle of Polygon Wood which ended on the 3rd of October and continued on the 4th of October by the Battle of Broodseinde.

There was a small respite until the Battle of Poelcapelle on the 9th of October and finally the Second Battle of Passchendaele from the 26th of October to the 10th of November 1917.

Despite being in the thick of battle for three weeks, the Royal Engineers then found themselves at the Battle of Cambrai from the 20th of November to the 3rd of December 1917. This is noteable as the first time tanks were used en masse. 

The British front line before the Battle of Cambrai, 10 Dec. 1917.


Despite the innovative use of tanks, Cambrai was not a success and the war continued into 1918.

Part III
Part IV




Picture Credit: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205237910
picture Credit; http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205079730
Picture Credit; http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205239645

Percival Richardson – A Follow-Up

After finding my 2x Great-Uncle Percival Richardson’s marriage to Edith Waby in 1922, the next step was to find a death certificate for him.

I used FreeBMD again, restricting the results to between 1930 and 1975, which fortunately gave only one possible match, in 1965.

When the certificate arrived, it showed that Percival and Edith were living at 72 Belton Road, Hyson Green, Nottingham and that Percival was a retired joiner.

Percival had died in the City Hospital, Nottingham of a number of complaints:
1a Pulmonary oedema
b Congest. left ventricular failure
c Coronary thrombosis
d Uraemia from prostate hypertrophy

I’m not in any rush to Google them to find out the gory details!

I’ve already searched FreeBMD for any possible children without any success, so it’s probable that they didn’t have any.

I may try a search of the local newspapers to see if there are any announcements which would help round out the picture of this family.

Previous Posts:
Wedding Wednesday.
Wedding Wednesday Follow-Up.

 

Military Monday .. Horace Thomas Bourne

I’ve added another relative to Lives of the First World War.

Horace Thomas Bourne is only very distantly related to me, I included him in my tree when I was looking at the Bourne/Bourn/Burn family and trying to sort out the variants as they change so frequently. According to Ancestry he is the grand nephew of the wife of my 1st cousin 4x removed – I think I’ll take their word for that!

He was born in Measham, Derbyshire in 1896, the son of Thomas Bourn and Annie Elizabeth Parritt.

During WW1 he served as a private in the Leicestershire Regiment and had two service numbers; 1689 and 240239. He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal and attained the rank of Lance Corporal before being demobbed on the 11th February 1919.

He married Annie Broadhurst in 1922, settling near Leeds and died in 1957.

I haven’t researched his family, or what exactly he did whilst serving with the Leicestershire Regiment as he isn’t a close relative, but I thought he should still be noted on the website here.

Military Monday – Lives of the First World War

Back in September last year I was delighted to receive an email from ‘Who Do You Think You Are‘ magazine informing me that I’d won a prize draw I’d entered via Twitter. The prize consisted of a year’s subscription to both Find My Past and Lives of the First World War.

Since then I’ve taken full advantage of the Find My Past site, checking information and finding new data sets, but I’ve only just started looking at the Lives of the First World War.

The site is hosted by the Imperial War Museum and is aiming to document every person who made a contribution to the First World War, whether they survived or not.  There’s a short video tour available to help you get started and the site is full of hints and tips.  As a visitor to the site you can search for and read the stories that have already been shared; if you want to add your own you can register and start ‘remembering’ your own relatives, family friends and even people whose names you’ve spotted on on your local war memorial.

A subscription is £50 per year, or £6 per month and gives you access to many military data sets, including Soldiers Died in the First World War, British Army Service & Pension records and British Air Force Service Records.

It has taken me a while to work out how to add information; you have to add evidence such as a medal card or service record first before adding the facts supplied by that evidence.  It’s a good way to ensure that facts on the site are accurate and proven.

Here’s my first contribution to the site; my great-great uncle Harold Richardson, who died at the Somme in July 1916. Have a look – I’d love to know what you think.

 

Military Monday – New WWI Wills

A recent BBC website article gave details of a new online service from HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
Soldiers’ wills proved between 1850 and 1986 are being made available to search and download – the first batch being from between the years 1914 and 1921.

The search is available here.  It costs £6 to download a will, and can take up to 10 days after purchase for the document to be available for download; mine took 2 days.  The site is a work in progress so if you don’t find anything after your first search it would be worth checking back every so often for updates.

I ran a couple of searches for the Richardson brothers who died during the First World War, and although I was unsuccessful with William Richardson – I did manage to find his older brother, Harold.

Some of the wills include detailed bequests to family members and others have letters written to loved ones in the event of their deaths.

Harold’s will is much more basic, but it confirms his service details and his date and place of death.

Because Harold was already in the army and not with his family in the 1911 census, I wasn’t entirely sure I had the right military details for him.

The will confirms that I have, as it leaves his estate to his father, Robert, whose address matches with other sources I have for him.

So another very useful resource.