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Barney

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  1. Mysterious Thing

    Thanks for having a go! I've discussed this with many people and the points you raised are perfectly valid. The absence of a WD arrow is particularly intriguing until you consider that it was commonplace for Officers to have their own versions of issued equipment made or adapted. So the question remains what is it? Actually this Officer was seriously wounded outside Flers in the last weeks of the war. So seriously in fact that he was left to die at the CCS. His personal effects were taken and listed but the mysterious thing remained just that, being listed as 'box with dial'. Not much help but happily the Officer eventually made a full recovery. I have contacted the MGC Old Comrades Association through the Internet and they had a go with similar results though they erred on the side of caution by not giving a definate answer but they did suggest, as did you, that it could be involved with the laying down of a barrage. They in turn have forwarded the images to the IWM for their opinion. I'll keep you posted............. Barney
  2. Mysterious Thing

    Can anyone identify this piece of kit (see attached photos). It belonged to a MGC Officer with the 19th Battalion MGC (Inf). It has a box, velvet lined and leather bound but made of wood. There are no makers markings on either the box or the item itself. The item itself is approx 4" x 2" and consists of a brass plate with a white dial fixed centrally marked off in 10's up to 360 degrees. The single hand is operated by the swing bar at the foot of the piece under the face. Strangely it goes round twice. At the top of the piece is a small steel gate or sight, that is opened and closed by means of the swingbar which is itself, sprung loaded. The rear view shows the bar bending round a central return spring. You can just make out the tiny chain, very intricate for an otherwise robust looking bit of kit. The bar is hinged at the top at the point that the sight, if that is what it is, opens and closes. The whole thing is designed to lay horizontal on its three legs. Anyone got any ideas? Barney
  3. I guess this is really directed at PIKEMEDALS Sgt 18358 Francis Daniel Bartley served with the 13th (Service) Battalion (West Ham) Essex Regiment and at some point during August 1916 was gazetted for the DCM. I know this only because the fact was reported in the Stratford Express on 29 August 1916. I would guess the award was for his actions at Delville Wood in July, though it may have been for some action by him during the abortive assault on Guillemont on 8/9 August 1916. Unusually there is no mention in the War Diary of this award though the Adjt was himself killed in the former action. Bartley was subsequently Commissioned into the 1st Kings (Liverpool) Regiment (with whom the 13th were brigaded) on 28/08/1917. The DCM award is shown on his Medal Roll fiche as is the MC he was later gazetted to on 16/09/1918 however there is no fiche entry for his DCM citation in the PRO! Does Sgt Bartley appear on your Essex DCM list and do you have a copy of the Citation? Thanks in anticipation Barney
  4. John In reply to your question there were a total of 18 Battalions of the Essex Regiment during the Great War plus two Garrison Battalions, one in Palestine and one in India. There were four 'Service' Battalions : 9th, 10th,11th and of course the 13th. A Service Battalion enlisted voluntarily for 3 years or for the 'duration'. They were all fighting Battalions in the K1, K2, K3 and K4 Armies respectively. And for PIKEMEDALS[attachmentid=59] Ray Westlake produced an excellent book BRITISH REGIMENTS AT GALLIPOLI and it contains direct lifts from the relevant War Diaries. The 7th Essex has an entry so I have attached it here (I hope because I aint too good with technical). He also produced BRITISH BATTALIONS ON THE SOMME with a 10th Battalion entry if you are interested............... Barney 7th_Essex_Gallipoli_2.doc
  5. Hello Pikemedals Sorry for the delay in getting back to you but I have been away (again). Now, the 7th and 10th Battalions of the Essex Regiment............. I have to say I do not know that much about the 7th Battalion other that they were part of the Territorial Force with their Headquarters at Walthamstow Lodge, Church Hill, Walthamstow. The County of Essex was unusually blessed (I can say that having spent 16 yrs as a Terrier) with no less than 4 TF Battalions ; 4th at Warley; 5th at Chelmsford; 6th at West Ham; 7th as above and the peculiarity of the time the 8th who were a Cyclist Battalion based at Colchester. All were part of the 161st (Essex) Brigade of the East Anglian Division. Along with many other 1st Line TF Units this Brigade (minus the 8th Essex) were sent to the Middle East and subsequently served in Gallipoli (Sulva Bay) and thereafter in Palestine. My Grandfather served with the 4th and 'British Regiments 1914-18 by Brigadier E.A.James' states that the war service of all three Essex TF Battalions were similar. My Grandfather served all over the Middle east so I suspect did the 7th. They never served in France and finished their war in Beirut. My Grandfather by the way said that place was the most beautiful city on earth - unsurprisingly from a grocer from Southend I suppose! Calais was considered exotic........ There was a 2nd Line 7th Battalion who never left these shores and acted as a reinforcement Battalion. The 10th Battalion were a totally different kettle of fish. They were a 'Service' Battalion raised at Warley, the Regimental HQ of the Essex Regiment and as such had the pick of Officers and NCOs who were recalled to the Colours or retained in England rather than rejoining their Regiments in India and it showed. A part of Kitcheners K2 Army they were sent to France on 26th July 1915 as part of the 18th Division with who they remained throughout the War gaining a fearsome reputation as a fighting unit within a famous fighting Division. Christmas 1915 was spent in the Line at La Boiselle on the Somme - a 'quiet' sector where they could learn their trade. Learn it they did. On a visit to the Front Line Maj Gen F.J.Maxse spoke to some of the men here and gave his theories of warfare "If every man in the BEF shot four Huns we could all go home". One Pte Halsey piped up "I've shot seven - can I go home now?" Maxse's reply was not noted but Halsey was appointed L/Cpl. A bit of cheek from the Battalions best sniper! The 10th were still on the Somme on 1st July 1916. They subsequently fought in most major engagements in France, off the top of my head I cannot say whether they served on the Salient at Ypres. I can check if you like. I know they were alongside the 13th Battalion at Cambrai in 1917. They avoid the chop (disbandment) in early 1918 where they Army lost some 115, mostly Service Battalions in an entirly fatuous, politically driven, reorganisation of the Army that did not put a single extra soldier in the Line to meet the Michael Offensive of Spring 1918. Bit of a sore point West Ham wise! I know they recieved a draft of 120 men and 4 Officers from my 13th (West Ham) Battalion (they were placed in the much depleted 'B' Company - also men from Stratford by Bow) in February including the gallant Sgt Legg of 'D' Company's last stand fame who was killed in action in March 1918 as the 10th were in the forefront of the rearguard action, back on the Somme, trying to stem the tide of the German onslaught. At the wars end they were at Le Cateau. I think I am right in thinking that the first Sunday in July is Essex Sunday at the Essex Regimental Chapel at Warley where the 10th Essex in particular is remembered by a small WW1 re-enactment group who call themselves the 10th Essex (they have a website I think). Anyway the Essex Regiment Association is very helpful if you call first (01277 213051) they have an interesting if small library and they may let you in to the Chapel to see the Colours. Ian Hook, a good friend of mine, is curator of the Essex Regiment Museum (01245 615100) and is a very keen WW1 historian and a mine of information. He has an original,1922, copy of Burrows' History of the Essex Regiment 1914-1918 in which each Battalion and their war service is outlined, mostly from War Diary info. I have tried everywhere to get a copy - ?200 plus Lastly but certainly not least there is Captain R A Chell's diary account called "Trench Memories with the 10th Essex in France" Full of intimate personal stories and pictures taken by him. Long since out of print but the Essex Countryside magazine printed excerpts in July 1966 when the author attended the Essex Sunday meeting. There is an excellent photograph of the surviving veterans. I only mention this because my Dad has for some reason kept back copies of 1964-1969 and I have photocopies of those excerpts......... I hope this helps, its just off the top of my head. Anymore info required I can dig through my library Barney
  6. The Alamo

    Yes I,ve been there too. I found the old barrack block quite eerie, in fact the whole place has an aura about it (if you stand with your back to Woolco's and blot out the traffic noise). I picked up a leaflet with all the defenders names and Nationalties on it, in fact I've still got it. Now THAT would be one hell of a research project.................... By the way did you go to the 'other Alamo' about 15 miles away. This was the one built for the John Wayne movie. When I went about 12 years ago they they had re-enactors fighting the battle about twice a day during the main tourist season. I bought a book on Mexican Army uniforms of the period (well you've got to have'nt you). The only drawback is that it is in Spanish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
  7. A question to all you medal buffs, and you do seem a knowledgable bunch The QCBC consists of a spray of I think Laurel leaves. It is very similar to the MID but in silver. When worn on the Tunic (remember them - when Policemen looked like Policemen and not scruffy postmen?) without other medals it was pinned directly on to the tunic. When worn with other medals RAY HOLDITCH MEDALS (just off T Square, gone now I think) stated some time ago that it should be (Court) mounted as if it were a medal, on a ribbon of dark blue - aka Khedives Star. It looks ridiculous and seems like there is a medal missing. Is he right? Apologies to all ex and budding Postmen!
  8. Hi folks - I'm back. Whilst mooching round a graveyard during the summer (yes I know, weird isnt it?) I came upon a CWGC headstone to the splendidly named Montagu Hulton - Harrop. I couldnt help myself I had to find out who he was. Please excuse the flowery start - its gone to a couple of magazines for publication and they say it has to 'catch the imagination'! Well the headstone itself would do that........................... The Battle of Barking Creek There was a thin early morning haze laying low over the quiet west Essex fields along the length of the Roding Valley. The silence was broken by the cough of the huge Rolls Royce Merlin engines as they spluttered and roared into life. It was 06.27hrs on 6th September 1939, the third day of War and the pilots of 56 Squadron Royal Air Force stationed at North Weald Aerodrome had just been scrambled to meet reported enemy aircraft incoming from the North Sea. The pilots pulled on leather flying jackets and life vests over their crumpled blue tunics as they raced towards the line of Hawker Hurricane Fighters already fuelled and armed by the ground crews who continually fussed around the machines. Standing at the end of the line were the two ?Reserve? machines that would follow the Squadron and act as support should they meet the enemy. Pilot Officers Frank Rose and Montague Hulton-Harrop were assigned this task. At the same time as 56 Squadron were being scrambled so too were three Squadrons of Spitfires, amongst them 74 Squadron flying out of RAF Hornchurch to the south of the county. All aircraft involved were vectored to the north-eastern part of Essex between the Blackwater and the Stour estuarys. In the early months of the War positive identification and tracking of aircraft was at a primitive level and still largely relied on the eyes of the Pilots themselves. Today this would end in tragedy. As the Hurricanes of 56 Squadron arrived in the skies north east of Colchester so did the Spitfires of 74 Squadron. One can imagine the tension of those young men, keyed up and eager to meet the vaunted Luftwaffe in combat. If there was ever a German aircraft in those skies on that day it had long since fled but two of the Spitfire Pilots spotted the Hurricane Squadron. They also spotted the two dark coloured fighters trailing them???. Without waiting for proper identification Flying Officer Byrne and Pilot Officer Freeborn were ordered to attack the ?enemy? aircraft. In a tragically superb display of shooting the Spitfires fell upon the two unfortunate Hurricanes. Byrne fired a burst that shattered the instrument panel of Frank Roses? aircraft rendering it uncontrollable. Though unwounded, Rose was forced to make an extremely rough forced landing just outside Ipswich. Montagu Hulton-Harrop was not so lucky. John Freeborn?s initial burst of cannon fire riddled the fuselage of the Hurricane and hit Hulton-Harrop in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The aircraft slowly spiralled out of control crashing to the ground just outside Ipswich. The exact story of what happened that day, and why, may never be known. Commonly known as the Battle of Barking Creek, even the origin of that name is obscure, for none of the action took place anywhere near that place. There are, not surprisingly, differences in detail of what happened that day. Reports from a searchlight battery at Mersea Island as well as the RAF stations at North Weald and Hornchurch contained vastly differing versions of events. Communications at the time were also quite primitive and each was not fully aware what was happening in other areas, and there were a number of areas involved. Afterwards different parties would give their version of events. It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that sometimes these would be tailored to save reputations. Today the spectre of ?friendly fire? is a common visitor to our TV screens, it is unfortunate but it is nothing new. Nevertheless Byrne and Freeborn were placed before a Court Martial. Both were acquitted and went on to have careers of varying success. Both survived the War. Frank Rose was returned to RAF North Weald, to be amongst his shocked fellow pilots. He remained with 56 Squadron, being promoted to Flying Officer. He was shot down and killed over France on 18th May 1940. The body of Montagu Hulton-Harrop was recovered and he too was returned to RAF North Weald. His was the dubious distinction of being the first RAF Fighter Pilot to be killed in World War 11. 26 years old from a wealthy farming family in Shropshire, Hulton-Harrop was perhaps a typical ?Brylcream Boy? and it is not difficult to imagine him carousing with other young pilots in the Kings Head Pub in North Weald village. He had been a close friend and flat mate of the actor Kenneth More ( he was to play the part of Douglas Bader in the film Reach for the Sky), who at that time had been stationed at nearby RAF Coltishall as a RNVR Officer. Hulton-Harrop was buried with full military honours in the little graveyard of St Andrews Church in North Weald Bassett adjoining the aerodrome. There is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission plot at the side of the Church and he is buried in Grave 1 Row 1, the first of the eventual 50 RAF personnel to be interred there.
  9. Yes indeed such heroism deserves the highest recognition. I have always found it incredible that given their actions there are not more than the single RAF Fighter squadrons VC awarded. I reckon enough people witnessed Ray Holmes' actions that day. Good story, reminds us of just what we owe these guys. Barney
  10. An interesting question came up in a pub yesterday whilst a group of us like minded folk were discussing the latest disgraceful round of swingeing Defence cuts by this 'government'. Four excellent front line Battalions and now they are proposing messing with the Brigade of Guards? Glad I have a place in France to run to.....................vive la Legion! Back to the question. In a past round of amalgamations some years ago when our Cavalry Regiments were chopped up piecemeal it was common for two units to be joined under one title, numerically i.e 17th/21st Lancers. As you probably know the numbers reflected the Regiments position in the Army list, the older the Regiment the more senior it was and therefore the smaller the number the more senior the Regiment. Very important in mess circles that. Why then was the 16th/5th Lancers so called? The 5th was consderably older than the 16th. PS This is a genuine question. I do not know. Answers on a postcard please.........
  11. Tank Busting

    PANZERKNACKER? Tell me thats a made up Rank, please! How could they have lost with such an imagination?
  12. US armour

    There was an American Division under British Command that fought alongside Anglo-French Forces during the German Offensive of 1918. There are photographs in existence of MKV tanks providing cover for the American Infantry on the Somme. Curiously one of those tanks has a "picture" painted on the nascelle - a very 'American' thing as we generally had names such as 'Creme de Menthe'(yuk). Though on loan to Haig's Army as a goodwill gesture (Pershing had originally promised the US Govt that the 'Doughboys' in Europe would never be under the Command of any General but an American, probably quite wisely given the slaughter we had inflicted on each other) the Americans tended to be self sufficient in most things and were as keen as mustard (a WW1 phrase) to get to grips with 'modern warfare' so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they crewed their own tanks. They certainly had crews training at the Tank school in France, but to my knowledge they had not yet developed one of their own. Similarly, photos of the fighting in the Argonne show Americans troops advancing alongside the new Whippet tanks. It is not clear who manned these machines. But I will find out! The only German tank was the "SturmpanzerWagon" A7V, an ungainly, under powered, undergunned useless great lump of metal that had a crew of 18 and that no-one would have as a gift! All those that reached the Front (20) were destroyed. Got their own back with the Tiger though!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  13. Ah. Thats an easy one............... In the summer of 1914 the French and German armies were mobilising upwards of three million Regular and Reservist troops each. The British Army sent the BEF - 100,000 strong. They did not even feature in the French Order of Battle. When Ludendorf was told of the presence of a British Army in the field he dismissed it as a "Contemtible Little Army" He soon learnt otherwise. Strangely enough, in the manner of the British Soldier through the centuries, the BEF rejoiced in the name and publicly revelled in the adversity and the name stuck. Though there are a few British WW1 survivors still living, alas it is believed no Old Contemtibles................
  14. Not really a medal question but I have a Bronze Memorial Plaque commonly known as a Dead Man's Penny, that I wish to identify and attribute. I have a first name and a surname which I have checked against Soldiers Died and the CWGC files and have come up with 11 possibles. I can reduce this by half if this question could be answered! Does the soldier's full name i.e second and third names ever appear on the Plaque or is it just first names and surnames? Barney
  15. Dum Dum Bullets

    We probably all know what we understand the modern term 'Dum-Dum' to mean i.e. a bullet with a cross cut in the head. But does anyone actually know what it actually is, how it came about and how it got its name? Barney
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