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A few soldiers that I`ve researched.....


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Edward George Crowter

Edward George Crowter, was born at 2 Lowther Road `Holm Lea`, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey on the 11th May 1896. The son of Edward Evelyn Crowter and Lilly Eliza Crowter (nee Crumpter), he had a younger brother Wilfred C Crowter. He was educated at Richmond Road School. For many years was a member of The Church of the Good Sheppard Choir, and was well known in St Luke’s Parish. He was also one of the original members of Kingston United Football Club, playing in defence. Having left school he worked as a sign painter in Kingston. At some point the moved with his parents and brother to 78 Deacon Road, Kingston, (just round the corner from Lowther Road.

On the 25th January 1915 aged 18 years and 9 months he joined the army, at Lochabur Street London. He enlisted in the Royal Engineers and given the Regimental number 65323. His service papers give the following details. Height 5` 8.5”, weight 139Lbs, chest 34”. With good physical development, brown hair and brown eyes. His vision was 6/6 in both eyes.

On the 2nd February he began his training at the Army School of Engineering, Chatham, Kent. Further training at Rye, Bordon Camp, Henley Upon Thames, his employment was as a painter.

On the 27th August 1915, he embarked with 128 Field Company Royal Engineers (23rd Div) for France, from Southampton. Arriving on the 28th, at Le Havre. The Division concentrated in the Tilques area near St Omer. On the 7th Sept, they moved to Bailleul. The next day saw the Coy employed in trench construction. On the 14th Sept they moved to Rue Marle near Armitieres. The unit war diary gives the following account, for the 23rd November 1915. Enemy very quiet, his artillery action was confined to the occasional bombardments. Weather bitterly cold. 27th November Unit employed in front line underpinning front parapet. One Sapper killed and one wounded. Edward being killed and a Sapper called Brett, being wounded. Edward was killed in Wine Ave, a communication trench leading to the front line. I have not been able to ascertain his exact cause of death, but feel sure that it was either a shell that killed him, and wounded Brett, or maybe a sniper. As the next trench along, which runs parallel with Wine Ave (Wellington Ave), saw a Sapper called King being killed by a sniper.

Edward is buried in X Farm Cemetery, Armitieres. Which is very close to were Wine Ave would have been. One of Edward’s Officers had the following to say about him, when writing to his parents. “I had only just taken command of this section, but at once recognised Edward’s good soldiering qualities”.

Edward served just 307 days in the army and only 91 in France. He is commerated on the Kingston Cenotaph and in St Luke’s Church, just round the corner from his home, on Deacon road.

This is but a very brief summary of all the research I have done on Edward, there’s nearly enough for a short book on him. His life and military service, etc.

I have no idea of what happened to Edward’s medals or personnel effects, which where sent home to his parents. But I don know the location of his Memorial Plaque and a large framed portrait of him, both of which were rescued from a SKIP!!! I just hope that his medals didn’t meet a similar fate!! I think you’ll agree, the saving of these two items is a happy ending to a sad story. His picture and scroll, now hang on a wall in my home. I never knew Edward or his family, but feel they would be happy in the fact that his sacrifice has not been forgotten, and someone cares, even after all these years!! I put forward Edward’s name be read out on the anniversary of his death, at the services which were carried out everyday in 2001 at the Menin Gate, Belgium, and am pleased to say that my wish was carried out by the Last Post Committee Association, on the 27th November, 86 years after his death.

Edited by bigjarofwasps
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Capt John Martin MC

John Martin was born in Edinburgh on the 28th November 1888, the son of James and Euphemia Carrack Barclay Martin. He was educated at Malvern College and Edinburgh University. He served in the College Cadet Corps as a Private for two years, then in the Officer Training Corps at University.

John joined the Army on the 14th August 1914, and was granted a temporary commission as 2Lt on the 26th August. In the Gordon Highlanders. He had also expressed an interest in the Cameron Highlanders and the Highland light Infantry. At his time of enlistment he was living at 13 Forbes Road, Edinburgh.

On enlistment the following details are given,

Age 25.

Height 72 ? inches.

Chest max 38 min 36.

Weight 168.

Hearing good.

Teeth up to standard.

Vision 6/6.

Colour vision normal.

Described as fit.

Promotion details.

T 2/Lt “6th Aug 1914, Lt 10th June 1915, Capt 14th April 1916.

Original served with the 8th Gordon Highlanders before the amalgamation into the 8th/10th Gordon Highlanders, on May the 11th 1916. He went to France on the 12th March 1915 and is listed as Capt in A Coy, on the 11th may 1916.

War Diary for the 30th Jan 1917.

On the night of the 29th/30th a raid was carried out by B and D Coys on the Butte De Warlencourt and the Quarry. At midnight the two assaulting Coys, clad in white smocks and with whitened steel helmets moved up into position along tapes which were laid the night previously by Capt martin and Capt priday. Lt Mutch was in command of B Coy with 2Lt Kemp, 2Lt Walker, 2lt Hafford. Lt Kenyon was in command of D Coy with 2Lt Knowles and 2Lt Farster. Some difficulty was experienced in getting the men into place, but this was accomplished safely, by 1.30 am. The German wire was all cut by artillery and gaps were made in our own. During all this time there was practically no shelling by either side. Prompt to a second to zero 1.45 am our artillery of all calibres placed an intense barrage on the enemy trench in front of Butte, stokes guns, medium trench mortars and machine guns assisted. Immediately the artillery started the assaulting waves (2) commenced to cross no mans land at zero +1 minute the barrage lifted at the rate of 50 yards per minute. Practically no opposition was offered to our advance with the exception of the left flank which was held up for a short time by a MG on the left of the quarry. The waves moved steadily forward and reached the Butte after 10 minutes. The ground was in a very bad condition and full of enormous craters. B Coys objective was the Butte and dugouts in it. The right of B Coy encountered a German post and held by six men that immediately surrendered. They then entered the Butte Trench and discovered a deep dugout and trench mortar emplacement with gun in position. This was destroyed and dugout bombed. The left flank and centre of B Coy saw no trench before reaching the Butte, there they discovered several dugouts. The occupants were called upon to surrender those in the first refused so several mills were throw in one or two P bombs and a stokes bomb were thrown in, wrecking the dugout and setting it on fire. One prisoner was got out of the second which was treated similarly to number one. In the third 12 prisoners were captured and it also was wrecked.

D Coys objective was the Quarry. This was reached after a short time, owing to the activities of a machine gun on the left edge. This gun was knocked out and then the advance was continued to the Quarry. Her many Germans were discovered and killed. One dugout in the right hand corner was successfully bombed. Six prisoners were reported to have been captured, but they never reached our Adv Btn Hq. The whole raid was a great success in all 17 prisoners passed through our hands. According to all reports many casualties were inflicted on the enemy. Its calculated that these amount to 50 or 60 all told. Our casualties were slight amounting at the very outside to be 16 or 17. There were three Officers, two 2Lt Farster and 2Lt Walker slightly wounded and 2Lt Knowles missing believed killed. The enemy did not put up a fight at all. No barrage was placed on our lines and no SOS signal were seen. It is thought that owing to the quietness that they were absolutely deceived as to our intentions and no thought of our attack occurred to them. On the admission of one of the prisoners who spoke a little English, it came as a complete surprise.

The following message was received from the Div. The GOC congratulates you and your brigade on the operation so successfully carried out. Brig Gen Marshall adds. I wish to thank all ranks for the trouble taken in preparing for the raid, and gallantry displayed in the execution.

About 3.15 am the dugouts on the Butte were blazing merrily at this hour an explosion occurred there and flames rose about 30 feet in the air, bombs and SAA were also heard exploding, at 10 am this morning the Butte was still smoking.

Capt Martin was awarded the Military Cross for this action, it appears in the London Gazette on the 12th March 1917. His citation reads,

`For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He displayed marked courage and ability in organising the arrangements previous to a raid. Later, during the raid, he personally supervised the guiding of the assaulting troops`.

The Battle of Arras

At 2.30 am on the 9th April 1917, the Btn began to move forward to assembly trenches for the attack. The Btn was reported in position at 4.30 am, one hour before zero, no casualties having occurred and the enemy’s suspicions apparently not having been aroused. The position of the Btn as follows-

A Coy under Capt John Martin MC, right front.

B Coy under Capt W McCall, on the left front.

D Coy under 2Lt B Burnett, in support.

C Coy under Lt P Booth, in reserve.

Strength Officers 20 OR`s 702.

At 5.30 am Zero our barrage opened with a thunder of sound and our support and reserve Coys moved out of their trenches. At 2 minutes in accordance with the plan, the front Coys climbed from their trenches and moved forward. The movement was made in perfect order, a tendency on the part of the men to follow our barrage too closely being the only problem calling for Officers control.

The enemy’s SOS signal was put up about 30 seconds after zero, and a field gun barrage was put down on our front line and communication trenches about 3 minutes later, causing a few casualties to C Coy before they got over the front line, and the two front Coys dashed into the enemy first line before opposition was passable. From this point until the taking of the 1st objective 500 yards behind the German front line, the front Coys moved forward behind the barrage with perfect steadiness and splendid courage. News of its capture was telephoned to Btn Hq, 7 ? minutes after it was timed to be taken. Hq were advanced to the front line and remained with the leading Coys throughout subsequent operations. A halt of 1 hour 40 minutes at this point allowed reorganisation. There was little shelling the enemy having engaged in withdrawing its guns.

At 7.50 am the Btn advanced to the second objective in the altered formation laid down. This objective represented a further advance of 1000 yards, A and B Coys remained in the front line attack. Before the attack had advanced 150 yards, it was held up by machine gun fire from Railway Triangle and a redoubt on the right. This redoubt was outside our area, but Capt Martin MC seeing that the Division on our right were swinging away from the redoubt, instead of attacking it, at once organised two parties to storm it. With 2Lt A C Hay he led these parties and captured the redoubt, both Officers unfortunately being killed in doing so. Their efforts coupled with the arrival of a tank, which advanced against Railway Triangle enabled the Btn to move forward and take the second objective.

A telegraph was sent to Mr Martin, 61 Queens St Edinburgh, ` Deeply regret to inform you Capt J Martin, Gordon Highlanders was killed in action April 9th. The Army Council expresses their sympathy.

John’s will states that his estate of ?122 9 5, was to go to his Father. James Martin Solicitor Supreme Courts of 13 Forbes Rd Edinburgh. All his personal effects were sent home, and collected by his father. In a letter dated 5th May 1917, the following items are sent home,

1. 1 Identity disc.

2. 1 Cheque book.

Another letter also dated the 5th May 1917,says,

Sir,

I am directed to inform you that a report has been received which states that the late Capt J Martin 8th Gordon Highlanders, is buried at Blangy Cross roads, North East of Arras.

The grave has been registered in this office, and is marked by a durable wooded cross with an inscription bearing full particulars.

John Martin is buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Slouches, Pas de Calais France, XVII.J.48.

Portraits of John Martin can be found in, Watsonians who served in the Great War and the University of Edinburgh Roll of Honour.

His medals were sent to his father at 61 Queens St Edinburgh, which appears to be his offices on the 9th August 1917. His Military Cross was sent on the 15th June 1917.

To my knowledge only his Memorial Plaque survives.

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Lt Thomas Higgins MC

Thomas was born in Chester on the 6th March 1890. The son of John and Amelia Higgins, of Chester. Later moving to Prestatyn North Wales.

He trained as a Civil Engineer, working for H F Bullam as a County Surveyor for Cheshire for 3 years, leaving in 1908. Then going for E G Hawley as a Borough Engineer for Leicester. He lived at 9 St Peters Road Leicester.

He joined the Royal Navy as a Sapper in the Royal marine Engineer on the morning of 25th September 1914 at London. His height is given as 5`6 ? ”. Chest measurement as 39 ? “ Hair and eyes as Brown in colour. His complexion as dark, with no distinguishing marks. Eye sight as 6/18 in both eyes, hearing, heart and lungs as normal. Physical development as good. Religion Roman Catholic. His home address as Hill Crest Prestatyn North Wales.

Thomas first served at Gallipoli with the 1st Fd Coy RME of the Royal naval Division. His Regimental was Deal/S/241. His Marine service papers give the following details. Embarked for the M.E.F 1st March 1915. Reported sick 5th July 1915, to hospital on Gallipoli. 3rd Aug 1915 to St Andrews hospital Malta. Embarked on H.S Andania from Malta on the 23rd Aug 1915 for passage to England, suffering from Enteric. Admitted to Plymouth hospital 1st Sept 1915, next of kin informed. Granted sick leave from 9th Sept to the 30th Sept 1915. 22nd Jan 1916 granted a temporary Commission in the RE, this being confirmed by the RAO by telephone on the 31st Jan 1916.

Having been discharged from the RME his character was described as Very Good.

Officer training would have taken about a month. Thomas was posted to the 130th Fd Coy RE, who were serving in France on the Somme, with the 25th Div.

The War Diary for the 130th gives the following details. 24th Aug 1916 in the Leipzig Salient (Thiepval). In accordance with the instructions from 7th Inf Brig, 2 Lt Higgins and 20 other ranks RE were detailed to report to the OC 1st Btn Wiltshire Regt for operations and 2Lt Locke and 20 other ranks to OC 3rd Worcester Regt . 2Lt Higgins and party were able to act as carrying party, took up wire and wood from front line captured trenches at junction 17. Wilts and Winchester took up more wire (2 journeys) and dugout frames. Put out fire in the 17th trench which offered a transit to enemy. Reconnoitring communication trenches and came in at dawn. Casualties 2Lt Higgins wounded slightly and 2 other ranks wounded.

The book `Somme a day by day account` says of the 25th Aug. While consolidating from the previous days action under a German bombardment, it was observed that the German trenches were packed with troops. A barrage was called for and the impending counter attack was prevented.

Divisional History says the following. During the day heavy artillery carried out a bombardment of the line to be attacked as well as trenches and communication trenches in the neighbourhood in such a way as not to attract undue attention to the

particular objective. At 4.10 pm on the 25th Aug an intense artillery barrage was put down on the Hindenburg trench and a rolling barrage in front of it. Under cover of this the Wilts and Worcester advanced and assaulted the positions. The whole objective was captured except a small potion on the left where strong opposition was met with in very broken ground and little progress was made. At 4.12 pm two push mines were exploded. The attack was carried out in three waves , our casualties were very small and over 150 prisoners were captured and a number killed. In addition about 100 prisoners were killed by there own artillery. The attack undoubtedly came as a surprise to the enemy and it success was largely due to the fact that the men advanced very close to the artillery barrage which was most affective in every way. They was materially assisted by a smoke barrage near Thiepval wood which was designed to draw the enemies fire in its direction which undoubtedly succeeded in its objective. Heavy bombing went on all day on the left sector and very little progress was made. The whole of the Leipzig Salient was heavily shelled during the afternoon of the 25th causing many casualties.

For this action 2Lt Higgins was awarded the Military Cross. He is mentioned in the Div history. His citation reads, `For conspicuous gallantry during operations. He persisted in the consolidation of the captured trenches under intense shell fire. Later he volunteered to assist the infantry by carrying up material, and made several journeys through a heavy barrage.`

He is also mentioned in the Prestatyn Weekly on the 23rd Sept 1916.` Lt Higgins of Hillcrest has won the MC. He remained on duty after being wounded and succeeded in saving his Coy when in a tight place in France.`

Lt Higgins MC was wounded again on the 15th October 1916, the War Diary reads, 4 Coys dug trace of trench and laid direction tape for 3 Coys to come up to work on. 250 men were detailed and with in 3 minutes of arriving had started work. A certain amount of shelling, 2Lt Higgins MC was wounded along with his Orderly and one other Sapper all in the first 10 minutes.

The Prestatyn Weekly reports, on the 21st Oct 1916. The War Office has informed Mr and Mrs Higgins of Hill Crest that their son Lt T Higgins was severly wounded on the 15th. It was a GSW in the head and face. Only recently Lt Higgins was awarded the MC. We trust the gallant young officer will soon recover.

A telegraph was sent to his parents. Urgent J Higgins Thiepval Highbury Ave Prestatyn N Wales. You are permitted to visit 2Lt Thomas Higgins RE. Seriously ill at 20 General Hospital Camiers.

Another telegraph was sent on the 15th November 1916. Deeply regret to inform you 20 General Hospital Camiers reports 2Lt Thomas Higgins RE died of his wounds 4.10 am November 15th. The Army council express their sympathy.

Lt Thomas Higgins MC, died on Wednesday the 15th November 1916, son of John and Amelia Higgins. Buried in Etaples Military Cemetery Pas de Calais France, I.B.68.

His personal effects were sent home by Messrs. Cox & Co`s Shipping Agency LTD, 16 Charing Cross, London, S.W. These are listed as,

1. Letter.

2. Devotional Book.

3. Diary.

4. Metal cigarette case.

5. Leather purse.

6. Whistle.

7. Wrist Watch and strap.

8. Match box cover.

On the 25th November 1916, the Prestatyn Weekly wrote. Sometime ago it was mentioned in these columns that Lt Higgins, whose parents reside at Hill Crest, Meliden Road, had been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry. Now it is our sorrowful duty to record the death of this hero. He was badly wounded about the head, and succumbed to his injuries in hospital. His sister, Mrs Gasquoine, travelled to France on receipt of the news of his injuries, and was present at his deathbed. The King and Queen have sent their condolence.

Several letters were sent and received regarding Thomas’s Rank at time of wounding, and asking about a death certificate as his life had been insured. Also noting a change of address to 82 Watergate St, Chester.

His will states that a sum of ?1616, 3 and 8 were to be paid to his Father. His medals were sent also sent to his Father on 31st May 1917. His Plaque and Scroll were sent on the 18th Feb 1919. His Military Cross was gazetted on the 26th Sept 1916, but not sent till 3rd Sept 1917. To my knowledge only the Scroll survives.

Thomas is commemorated on the Prestatyn town Memorial and the Chester City Memorial. I have been unable to find a portrait of Thomas and his medals have not appeared on the market. (Records going back to 1977).

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Great stuff!

How long did it take to research these men?

I have a private diary belonging to a Sherwood Forester 1st July casualty. It is actually the Soldier's Own Note Book & Diary for 1916 and contains the names of the men in his section, notes on when he first arrived in France on 28th Oct. 1915 and daily life in the trenches.

If you'd like some scan just let me know.

Tony

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Tony, I can`t remember how long it took me to research, the three of them. I think Crowter was the longest, I really got my teeth into that one.

It would be smashing if you could, post your Soome Casualties note book, I`d very much like to read it.

Nick, it might be of interest to know that (Higgins), was one of two Officers to win the MC, during WW1, from Prestatyn, both of which lived in the same street!!!

Gordon.

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Gordon,

Here?s part of Sid?s diary, I?ve scanned a few pages from the beginning and a few from his last weeks before going over the top.

He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial and so has no known grave but, as there is also German writing (about carrier pigeons and later about savings) present, I can only assume a German soldier took his belongings from his body. I bought this diary last year in Germany from a dealer who obviously couldn?t speak or read English otherwise he would have wanted more money for it.

Sid's birthday was 11th July 1897 so he was killed days before his 19th birthday and probably just after 7.30 in the morning.

A German bought 5000 war bonds at 4.40 Marks each but I don't know who he was or when he bought them.

Sid enlisted on March 15th 1915 and landed in France on 24th October 1915. He was slightly wounded by shrapnel on Nov. 29th but didn't get to the trenches (north of Arras) till 9th March 1916. He joined his battalion (1/7 Sherwood Foresters) on Dec. 4th 1915.

I will be visiting the Somme in July and so will take a picture of the memorial to keep with the diary.

The first attachment shows the names of the men in his section.

Tony

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What a truely amazing find!!!!!!!!!

Gordon,

Here’s part of Sid’s diary, I’ve scanned a few pages from the beginning and a few from his last weeks before going over the top.

He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial and so has no known grave but, as there is also German writing (about carrier pigeons and later about savings) present, I can only assume a German soldier took his belongings from his body. I bought this diary last year in Germany from a dealer who obviously couldn’t speak or read English otherwise he would have wanted more money for it.

Sid's birthday was 11th July 1897 so he was killed days before his 19th birthday and probably just after 7.30 in the morning.

A German bought 5000 war bonds at 4.40 Marks each but I don't know who he was or when he bought them.

Sid enlisted on March 15th 1915 and landed in France on 24th October 1915. He was slightly wounded by shrapnel on Nov. 29th but didn't get to the trenches (north of Arras) till 9th March 1916. He joined his battalion (1/7 Sherwood Foresters) on Dec. 4th 1915.

I will be visiting the Somme in July and so will take a picture of the memorial to keep with the diary.

The first attachment shows the names of the men in his section.

Tony

I am well impressed, have you had any luck in researching him? Maybe these a picture of him in his local paper!!!!

If you should ever decide to part with this please please please let me know!!!!!

See below, a picture of Crowter.

Sorry it won`t let me post it, but if you visit the Great War Forum, and look under soldiers, you`ll see his picture there.

Gordon.

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Hello Gordon,

A colour picture too, that's great.

I wouldn't know where to begin researching poor old Sid. I do know where he lived and a little about his family from the 1891 census and of course from his diary. The diary is full of family birthdays and really shows what every day life was like for the men in the trenches.

I would love to have a photo of him as well as his medals and death plaque but 1.7.16 plaques and trios go for far too much money. I take it he'd be entitled to the 1914/15 Star as he landed in France before the end of 1915.

I find it amazing that his diary has survived in Germany over all these years and in quite good condition too.

Tony

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Tony, If yuo`d like some tips on how to go about researching Sid, i`d love to help!!!

You could start with his MIC, service papers, unit war diary and local newspaper, these sometimes have pictures of the soldiers in.

Glad you like the picture of Edward, its really nice to have a face for a name, the scroll is lovely to, it been framed inside a gold leaf frame, which in turn has been framed again, and has served the tests of time in mint condition. I lovely find!!!

Yes Somme medals got for silly money these days!!!!

No idea where Edward`s medals or plaques are!!!

Sid would have been entitled to a trio......must dash, will chat again later.

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The Regimental museum, maybe help to help too.

Here is my next research project......

John Rose was born to Fleetwood (Manchester), in 1895. The son of James & Martha Rose of 119 Promenade Road, Fleetwood, Lancashire.

He served, in the RAMC as Pte 58544, with the 55th Fd Amb, dying of his wounds, on the 18th Sept 1918 aged 24, and is buried in Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension grave 111.F.24.

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Tony

Very interesting diary, also a sad reminder of what sacrifice is.

Have you got pictures of the german entries, seems strange to think someone else would continue using another mans diary.

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