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Old Braggs

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  1. The (unpublished) diary of Sgt. T.H. Bisgood, 2nd London Regiment 30 June 1916 - Have taken over Y Sector trenches directly opposite Gommecourt Wood. All the while, our artillery is at it hammer and tongs and the din is terrible; will it never cease? Tonight the bombardment is intense as the attack all along the line comes off tomorrow. To be quite honest we expect a "walk-over" as our guns have not been replied to, and barely a German has been seen. Rain is now falling heavily making the trenches very uncomfortable 1 July - At last the long looked for day and hour has arrived; broad daylight, the rain has ceased and the day is quite bright. The din now is beyond all imagination, every gun in France seems to be turned on the Hun on our front, surely none can live in this hail of shells and still the German guns remain quiet. Meanwhile all our front line men had been engaged in lighting smoke candles and firing hugh smoke bombs. Now arises a dense cloud of smoke all along our line and the time has arrived when we must show our hands and advance. The Germans as soon as they saw the smoke knew what was to follow and rapid fire was opened at once. Nothing daunted the London boys climbed up the parapet ready for the fray, they advanced in the face of terrible fire, the Germans now found their hidden artillery and belched forth a tornado of shells on the advancing line. Men fell by the dozen, yet nothing daunted the remainder pushed on. When our brave lads were nearing the German front line batches of the enemy were seen to be clambering out of their trenches (minus their equipment) they rushed forwards hands in the air calling out in their bad French "mercy comrade". Our batt'n alone were responsible for 182 hun prisoners, they were thin and hungry, but quite a decent class and very clean. Only a small percentage of each regiment ever got into the German trenches these few however gallantly hacked their way right into the 3rd line from where they sent us the SOS signal. We, the 2nd London were the reserve batt'n and as soon as the battalions in front sent the signal two companies were up and over despite the fact that all fire was now concentrated on our particular sectors. The reason for this concentration was that the Division on our right (46th Div) let us down and failed to attack. The sight of our boys advancing in the face of this terrible fire was wonderful though terrible; losses in our two companies alone numbered 250. But for the fact of our officers the whole batt'n would have been wiped out. These officers refused to allow the remaining two companies to go over and so saved them. Our trenches were now blocked with dead and dying, only a dozen or so of our lads ever reached Fritz's trenches at all, hundreds were lying in no man's land mostly dead, some however alive though badly wounded managed to crawl into shell holes of which there were thousands; later in the day in one shell hole I found four chaps. We held on to the German 3 front lines for a matter of 10 hours using all our own bombs and ammunition besides that which we found in the trenches. At about 7 pm all ammunition ran out and as it was impossible to get any more from our own lines owing to the heavy barrage of fire, we had to retire; first from the 3rd German line, then from the 2nd into the 1st and finally the 100 or so that were left had to retire over the top towards our own lines. What a horrible journey midst a hail of bullets, past heaps of dead and dying eventually (with only 27 instead of the 100 odd that started) covered in mud and blood. 23 of the 27 badly wounded. Suddenly at about 7.30 pm the firing died down to a minimum and looking out I noticed a man had boldly climbed out of the German trench and was holding up a large white board with a brilliant red cross painted on it. This man advanced well into the centre of no mans land and beckoned to us, whereupon one of our stretcher bearers jumped over the parapet and went to meet him. The man with the board was a German doctor who spoke quite good English; he offered an Armistice of one hour and this after much ado was accepted by our people. The Hun doctor then signalled with his hand and immediately a party of about 50 German stretcher bearers doubled out and started attending to the wounded. This was good enough for us and over we went again. I was not quite sure whether they were playing the game or not so I went armed and this bit of caution nearly cost me my life. The German doctor told me to cover my revolver with a mackintosh or I would most certainly be shot. The Germans were real bricks and kept their word to the letter, extending the armistice 10 minutes to allow us time to get into our trenches again. Our people however did not play the game as after we had been out about half an hour they put some shells right into the German lines. We thought our time had come and said goodbye to each other, but still the Hun kept his promise and not a shot was fired, this little episode made us feel awful cads. As may be imagined the sight out there was terrible, there were men in every attitude, dead mostly, many blown to fragments. Most of the wounded we found in shell holes, I found 3 chums in 1 hole all unable to move but cuddled together and it was a hard job to persuade one to leave alone, they decided that age should settle it and the youngest left first. The look of amazement and relief on the poor devils faces when they saw us peering over the shell hole was good to see. One boy could not believe it and asked me amid sobs if he was dreaming. I am glad to be able to write and say that we got all our wounded in. The dead we could do nothing for, as time would not permit I covered over a few of the most hideous cases and returned to the line sick, sad and very fatigued. Wounded were trooping out of all the trenches like the crowd from a football match. The trenches were appallingly blocked here and there with dead men and one could not help but walk over them. Passing along Young St. I came along a tableau of 3 of my chums, 1 standing, 1 sitting (headless) and the other lying, all 3 had been hit by the same shell. In the dusk in Yiddish St. I stumbled over something and bending down to my horror found it was a mans head, so as to save some other chaps a similar shock I tried to pick up the offending napper but found that it was rigid as the whole body was beneath the ground and it remained there the whole night and part of the next day. In Yellow St. I was clutched at and caught by a hand protruding from the side of the trench, all that was visible was a hand and arm, the sleeve showed it to be an officer (1st Lt) of the L.R.B.'s There are many other frightful scenes that go to make up this nightmare, but I will refrain from writing more about them. The remnant of our boys hung on to our sector of trenches all night and have had no sleep for 3 days and nights. We were all knocked to the world when the Kensingtons relieved us at 5 pm. We straggled in penny numbers to Sailley, a small village in the rear of the line and disappeared into cellars hoping for a nights rest. Ere many minutes however over came heaps of big shells both gas and tear. Some pierced the dugouts others hit the church and houses. Several of us crawled out intent on rescue work. I was making for a heap of ruins that had been a house when the doctor grabbed me and insisted on me going to bed. I tried to sleep, but the shells kept coming round with a whizz and crump. Every moment, I expected one to drop through my house (a tin roofed hut). I shall always remember this night, I completely broke down.
  2. The only Connaught officer named Cody in 'Officers Died' is 2nd Lieut. John Cody, Connaught Rangers, attached 2/Royal Irish Regt. Killed in action 21 August 1918 previously served as 6834 WOI J. Cody, 6/Royal Irish Regt. Awarded Belgian Croix de Guerre 15 April 1918. Commissioned 25 March 1918. Steve
  3. Another unusual little story from WW2. If anyone knows what happened to any of these men I would welcome any information. While the 28th Regiment (1st Bn Gloucestershire Regiment) were in Rangoon, Burma, a group of White Russians arrived. Many had been members of the Shanghai Defence Force and now volunteered for service against the Japanese. They were experienced fighters, and with the Battalion very short of men, Colonel Bagot enlisted them. "They proved a real asset to the 28th in action, were very popular in the ranks, quiet, courageous and with an intense hatred of the Japanese. Some had fought in Manchuria and most could speak Chinese and some Japanese." (Back Badge 1946) After the 28th fought their way out of India (as rear-guard for the Burma Army), the Russians moved to various units: Roll of the White Russian Glosters: (as of Dec. 1945) Lieutenant George Nicolas Binetsky - FSS, Special Section, India. Lieut. Efraim Maximovitch Fuchs - IAOC, Calcutta. CSM Gibyanski - FSS Special Section, India. Sergt. M. Kessel - 23 FSS Berlin Sergt. P. Kondratoff - 23 FSS Berlin Sergt. T. Korcyn - Control Commission, Germany Captain Peter Evsievievich Kostiloff - CISDIC Delhi Private L. Manasseh - Movement Control, India Sergt. N. Nirke - FSS, Special Section, India Sergt. P. Perelman - Movement Control, India Sergt. Victor Vaselevich Philatoff, MM* - REME Pte T. Poliahoff - RAOC, Aldershot Pte L. Prihoda - 15 Holding Battalion Pte K. Schultz - Repatriated from Hong Kong (POW?) Sergt. R. Sinitsky - Ordnance Depot, Calcutta Sapper P. Solovieff - RE, Bombay Lieut. R. Voetsky - 4th Gurkhas Sergt. Wedensky - Interpreter, Delhi S/Conductor L. Zellic - Jhansi Killed in action with the 28th in Burma: Pte S. Feldman - 7 March 1942 Pte Jospeh L. Kopievker - 22 March 1942 Pte Gregory Matevosiantz - 30 March 1942 * - 5194258 Private V.V. Philatoff's MM was awarded "for gallantry at Taukkyan 7th March 1942 when he volunteered to drive his carrier in support of an attack against a Japanese road block. The attack failed and heavy mortar fire was opened along the road. An accompanying carrier was knocked out, but Pte Philatoff collected the wounded in his carrier and brought them back. His courage and tenacity at Taukyyan and subsequently in the campaign was an inspiration to all." "... White Russians of whom there were a number in our platoon. They had been born in exile in Rangoon, Singapore and elsewhere in the Far East of White Russian parents who had fled the revolution, but when Mother Russia was attacked their immesnse patriotism for the lkand they had never seen overcame their distaste for communism and they enlisted in the British forces. They were a grand lot, Corporal Peter Kostiloff I remember well; small, fierce and engaging. A year later he came to see me in hospital and by then he was a senior officer in Intelligence." (The A Soldier by Peter Collister) Back Badge 1948 "Lt-Col.Donald's article was very interesting. I think the Russian he refers to must have been Pte Polotoff. If so, I met him at Bareilly Hospital in the winter of 1942-43. He had been twice wounded at the Schwedaung road block, once by a bullet through the shoulder from an anti-tank rifle which left an enormous scar. He told me that he had been picked up by a Jeep. Several fingers of one hand were paralysed, caused by a bullet from MG or a piece of shrapnel which hit his hand. He seemed eager to go home to Russia or else resume work as a mechanic after the war. I heard a story that the Russians had entered the 28th from Hong Kong whither their fathers had gone as refugees from the Revolution." (J. Sibley, Makere College, Kampala, Uganda). Steve
  4. The British and the Russian Grenadier Guards

    A Grenadier Officer hands the Colour and Eagle to a Russian Military Attache at Buckingham Palace
  5. The British and the Russian Grenadier Guards

    The Grenadier Guards, protectors of the Colour and Eagle, parade at the hand-over:
  6. An interesting story from an old edition of the (British) 'Guards Magazine' (Autumn 2003) In 1917 an officer of the Imperial Russian Life Guards, Grenadier Regiment, was given the Regimental Colour and Eagle to carry away to safety. The Colour had been presented to the regiment in 1856. It was taken to Kiev and hidden there after the Bolsheviks captured the city and began to hunt down and execute White Officers. The Colour and Eagle were buried in a garden and after some time recovered by three officers who took them to Paris. There it was protected by an association of surviving Grenadier officers. The Soviets made several attempts to get at the Colour and Eagle, and so in 1957 it was decided to take them to London and ask the British Army to take care of them. The Foreign Office agreed and it was decided that the Grenadier Guards would become the custodians. A ceremony was held at Windsor in which four Russian Grenadier officers handed the Colour and Eagle to the Colonel of the Grenadiers, while the Grenadier's Band played the March of the Russian Grenadiers. In 2002 the Hermitage Museum requested the return of the Colour and Eagle and it was decided that the time and conditions were right to send them back to Russia. A ceremony was held on 24 June 2003, during President Putin's official visit. A representative of the Russian Officers Association, who was present, remarked that he could now die happy for his duty was done. below are 3 pictures from the ceremony: Steve
  7. Hilton-Green's service records are not available yet, as he served after 1922. His MC is a 'New Year' award, without published citation. It was fortunate that the obituary mentioned his WWII service, otherwise the Atlantic Star would have been a real mystery. Steve
  8. While commanding the 10th Devons, in November 1918 he received orders to proceed by forced marches to Bucharest, there to represent the British Army at the official entry of the King and Queen of Rumania into their recovered capital. The march to Bucharest was not easy but the Battalion made it, to the delight of the Rumanian people who had been told that no British contingent was close enough to make it on time. The battalion lined the route of the Royal arrival and then marched through the city to a central square, where the King took the salute. That is how Hilton-Green came to receive the Order of the Star. Steve
  9. Hilton-Green died 20 January 1965 at Bradford Court, Bradford on Tone, Taunton, Somerset, aged 78. He left his estate to his daughter Judith. From The Back Badge: "The passing of Colonel Hilton-Green came as another shock in January. Joining the Regiment in October 1906, Henry Hilton-Green served the whole of his Regimental service in the 61st. He accompanied the Battalion home from China in 1914, but served with the Army Cyclist Corps for the earlier part of the war. He did excellent service in Salonika and commanded the 10th Devons from Sept 1918 to July 1919. He was awarded the DSO and MC, the Legion of Honour and the Star of Roumania, and was mentioned 4 times in despatches. In action he was cool and quite unperturbed, and a gallant example to his men. After the war, back with the 61st, he accompanied the Battalion to India and Shanghai and he was one of the ten members of the Battalion who went overseas with the 2nd Battalion in 1910 to return home with them in 1928. From 1922-26 he served as adjutant of the Simla Rifles. He retired in October 1929 and settled in Somerset. During the last war he served as an O.C. Troopship. Unhappliy his only son was killed in Italy serving with the Coldstream Guards. F.M. (Field Marshall), as he was affectionately called by his contemporaries, was much of an invalid during his later years, under the devoted care of his wife and daughter. In his long ordeal, he showed unending pluck and cheerfulness. A keen sportsman in his day and always, and ever, an absolute gentleman."
  10. Henry Francis Leonard Hilton-Green was born 23 June 1886. After attending the Royal Military College he joined the 2nd Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment 6 June 1906 and was promoted to Lieutenant on the 7 October 1908. In 1910 the Regiment went to Shanghai, China. In September 1914 the Regiment boarded the 'Arcadia' at Ching-Wang-Tao, bound for Sialkot, India. While off Shangai orders were received to proceed to England. The Regiment landed at Southampton 8 November 1914 and moved to a camp near Winchester. 18 December 1914 the Battalion embarked at Southampton aboard the 'City of Chester'. Arriving at La Havre, they moved to Aire by train. They were now in the 81st Brigade, 27th Division. Prompted Captain 24 October 1914. 28 November 1914 he was attached to the Divisional Cyclist Company. 1 January 1916 Mentioned in Despatch (France) 14 January 1916 awarded Military Cross. No citation. 6 December 1916 M.I.D. (Salonika) 1 May 1917 awarded French Legion d'honneur (5th Class). (6 awards to the Glosters) 25 April 1918 appointed to the Distinguished Service Order. "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack on a village. He advanced across most difficult country, overcoming considerable opposition, and though part of his column was delayed, he attacked and cleared the village. He led his men with the greatest determination, and by his courageous leadership defeated a force of over double his own strenth." 5 June 1918 M.I.D. (Salonika) 11 June 1918 M.I.D. (Salonika) September 1918 - July 1919 commanding officer, 10th Battalion Devon Regiment. 20 September 1919 Awarded the Roumanian Order of the Star. (unique to a Gloster) After the War he returned to 2nd Glosters and went to India. 1922-26 he was adjutant of the Simla Rifles. In 1928 he was 1 of only 10 men in the battalion who went to China in 1910 to return home to England with the Battalion. Major 1 May 1925 He retired from the Regular Army 7 October 1929 (Lieutenant-Colonel) and settled in Somerset. Lieut-Colonel and Brevet-Colonel, commanding 4th Devons. Retired February 1936. During the Second War he served as an Officer Commanding Troopship and was awarded the Atlantic Star, unusual to an army officer.
  11. This group is still with 'the family' and they asked me not to put a name to it, but worth seeing anyway. Recipient was an Intelligence Officer in Russia during World War One. Steve
  12. 2278 Sgt G. Hall is confirmed on the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade roll as entitled to the 4 clasps. No other remarks. Four clasp medals were issued to a large number of men from the battalion. You will find Balaklava clasps to most regiments, there was a supply depot there and each regiment was asked to send a detachment. I have a 3 clasp medal to a Private in the 28th Foot (one of 23 Balaklava clasps issued to regiment) Steve
  13. service on returning to Finland
  14. Includes his service with the Finnish volunteers. The battalion was raised by the Finnish Government and only allowed to serve against the Soviets.
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