WW1 soldier research

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Kenleyboy
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Kenleyboy, sorry but he was not wounded but just seriously ill causing him to be evacuated. This would make sense as at the time he was in a rear area rather than at the front and I could not find him in casualty lists. Obviously this illness could have been many things, however I wonder if it was due to the Spanish Flu. This started in the USA, but was brought to Europe by American troops in April 1918 and had reached the Western Front by the middle of the month. With the poor hygiene conditions at the front it soon spread and caused many men to die (unlike typical flu pandemics it disproportionately killed young healthy adults) or have to be evacuated. Due to censorship this was covered up, it was only when the pandemic reaches neutral Spain that it was reported (and named "Spanish Flu"). Many historians believe that the much more deadly "second wave" was spread by troop movements, and troops returning from the front.

Thankyou for that Saffron , I assumed that as he was experiencing shelling and the shrapnel he had therefore been wounded at some stage , hence his evacuation aboard the SS Aberdonian . If he had been ill then I would suspect it would have to have been very serious for him to be evacuated home and not return to the front . With four more months left of the War on the Western Front then I would say it is more likely that he had the Spanish Flu which going by what I have read about it would have rendered him incapable for many months .
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Saffron
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I have just looked at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site https://www.cwgc.org
They do a fantastic job looking after cemeteries and memorials all over the world and this is a great resource.

During WWI John Sheriff's Battallion, 9th (County of London) Battallion London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles), lost 1,496 men.

Between 9 Mar and 15 July 1918, when John was in France they lost 108 men.
The first of these was on 21st March, the start of the German Spring Offensive, and between 21st and 28th March they lost 24 men.

Between 24th and 30th April they suffered heavy losses losing 46 men, mainly on 24th to 26th (they day John had the very near miss with the shelling and his messtin was hit be shrapnel). Some of the men reported as dying between 27th to 30th might have died from wounds suffered 24th-26th.

Between 1st and 23rd June they had a single death (8th June) and this could have been to earlier wounds. Lack of casualties in this period confirms John was ill rather than wounded. Kenleyboy and myself suspect that the illness was the Spanish Flu, but it could have been a variety of things.

John Sheriff is bound to have known some of these men that were killed. When a batch of recruits were drafted they would have been given service numbers in sequence and trained together. John's service number was 394593, while he was in France men with service numbers 394520 and 394653 were killed, like John both of these were only 19. RIP.

Evan
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Kenleyboy
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Saffron wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 2:25 pm I have just looked at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site https://www.cwgc.org
They do a fantastic job looking after cemeteries and memorials all over the world and this is a great resource.

During WWI John Sheriff's Regiment, the London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles), lost 1,496 men.

Between 9 Mar and 15 July 1918, when John was in France they lost 108 men.
The first of these was on 21st March, the start of the German Spring Offensive, and between 21st and 28th March they lost 24 men.

Between 24th and 30th April they suffered heavy losses losing 46 men, mainly on 24th to 26th (they day John had the very near miss with the shelling and his messtin was hit be shrapnel). Some of the men reported as dying between 27th to 30th might have died from wounds suffered 24th-26th.

Between 1st and 23rd June they had a single death (8th June) and this could have been to earlier wounds. Lack of casualties in this period confirms John was ill rather than wounded. Kenleyboy and myself suspect that the illness was the Spanish Flu, but it could have been a variety of things.

John Sheriff is bound to have known some of these men that were killed. When a batch of recruits were drafted they would have been given service numbers in sequence and trained together. John's service number was 394593, while he was in France men with service numbers 394520 and 394653 were killed, like John both of these were only 19. RIP.

Evan
Thanks for that Saffron , some more interesting facts and details and a greater insight to the many tragedies which unfolded . For even such a short period of time spent at the front and close the very end of the War there were still many young men dying on the battlefields .
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Kenleyboy wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:03 pm Thanks for that Saffron , some more interesting facts and details and a greater insight to the many tragedies which unfolded . For even such a short period of time spent at the front and close the very end of the War there were still many young men dying on the battlefields .
Kenleyboy,
stupidly I put Regiment in the previous post where I meant Battallion :pulling hair out: :pulling hair out: I have corrected my post, and extract above.

Regiments never fought as Regiments, but as individual numbered Battalions, so for this type of item the Battalion is the important unit rather than the Regiment.

To put that number of 1,496 men that were killed while serving in the Battallion into perspective -

On the outbreak of the First World War, a battalion at full War Establishment was comprised of 1,107 of officers and men. However, very few Battalions were up to strength when the war broke out in August 1914 so would have had less than this number.

As the war progressed the strength of a battalion varied greatly as men became casualties, went sick or were transferred. Heavy losses throughout the war meant that by the time of the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, the average infantry Battalion was around 450 officers and men; less than half its pre-war establishment. (I do not have a number for Spring 1918).

But if you say the Battallion was only slightly under strength at the start of the war and had 1,000 men, and each casualty was replaced, it means that by the end of the war the equivalent of every original member had been killed and half of the replacements had also been killed.

Evan
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Kenleyboy
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Saffron wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 7:12 pm Kenleyboy,
stupidly I put Regiment in the previous post where I meant Battallion :pulling hair out: :pulling hair out: I have corrected my post, and extract above.

Regiments never fought as Regiments, but as individual numbered Battalions, so for this type of item the Battalion is the important unit rather than the Regiment.

To put that number of 1,496 men that were killed while serving in the Battallion into perspective -

On the outbreak of the First World War, a battalion at full War Establishment was comprised of 1,107 of officers and men. However, very few Battalions were up to strength when the war broke out in August 1914 so would have had less than this number.

As the war progressed the strength of a battalion varied greatly as men became casualties, went sick or were transferred. Heavy losses throughout the war meant that by the time of the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, the average infantry Battalion was around 450 officers and men; less than half its pre-war establishment. (I do not have a number for Spring 1918).

But if you say the Battallion was only slightly under strength at the start of the war and had 1,000 men, and each casualty was replaced, it means that by the end of the war the equivalent of every original member had been killed and half of the replacements had also been killed.

Evan
Great information again :thumbsup:
I was quite surprised that his training seemed to be quite a long period prior to being sent overseas . If call up was 18 years old and he went in at 19 years of age he like many of his peers were trained over a fairly long period . I had this impression that as the War progressed and the need for manpower was ever greater then training would have been much less time square bashing and the need to get men up to the front as soon as possible . I did read somewhere that training at the beginning of the War was far longer for recruits than is was towards the end of the War . I could be wrong with this information .
My main interest in WW1 has never been so much the battles and regiments etc but more the actual accounts of the average soldiers experiences in the frontline etc , more the human side of things . Lyn Macdonald writes extensively about this subject amongst other historical references to the War which makes very interesting reading .
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Saffron
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Kenleyboy wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 9:12 pm <cut>

Great information again :thumbsup:
I was quite surprised that his training seemed to be quite a long period prior to being sent overseas . If call up was 18 years old and he went in at 19 years of age he like many of his peers were trained over a fairly long period . I had this impression that as the War progressed and the need for manpower was ever greater then training would have been much less time square bashing and the need to get men up to the front as soon as possible . I did read somewhere that training at the beginning of the War was far longer for recruits than is was towards the end of the War . I could be wrong with this information .
My main interest in WW1 has never been so much the battles and regiments etc but more the actual accounts of the average soldiers experiences in the frontline etc , more the human side of things . Lyn Macdonald writes extensively about this subject amongst other historical references to the War which makes very interesting reading .
Kenleyboy, thinking about it a years training at that time would have been much longer than I would expect.
I have double checked all the information and am confident all the dates are correct. :thumbsup:
But maybe the term "training" might not apply to all the time between enlistment and going to France.

Looking at the service numbers for the 9th Btn County of London Regiment 394516 joined on 8th March 1917 and and 394676 joined on 18th April 1917, so he joined between these dates.

The Medal Rolls are organised by service number, so more or less date of signing on. Neither of the service numbers listed above are on the Medal Rolls so they either transferred to other units before going overseas, or did not go overseas.
Looking at the two service numbers closest to John Sheriff that were killed 394520 went to France on 9 March 1918 (the same day as John, and several with service numbers in the same range also went over on this date). But 394653 went over earlier on 3 Jan 1918.
A few in this range went over as early as July 1917, so only about 4 months after enlistment.

However, there are a fair few service numbers not listed on the Medal Rolls, (more than I would expect), did a section of the Battalion remain in the UK rather than deploy to France?.

After initial training did he perform some other duties on the home front?. Without his service record I do not know.

I did check and the Battalion suffered a signifcant number of 18 year olds killed, so it was not a case of being held back until he was 19 before being sent to the front (which is something I would not expect but thought I would check).

We need an expert on the unit (which I most certainly am not) or to locate some more records.

Evan
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Evan, you'll know much more about this but it seems the 2nd/9th was absorbed by the 1st/9th early 1918. It might be that some were transferred out of the 9th at that time.

2/9th (County of London) Battalion (Queen Victoria’s Rifles)
Formed in London in August 1914. Moved in November to Crowborough where placed under orders of 2/2nd London Brigade in 2/1st London Division.
Moved to Ipswich in June 1915 and formation retitled as 175th Brigade in 58th (2/1st London) Division. Moved on to Bromeswell Heath in May 1916 and then to Longbridge Deverell in July.
4 February 1917 : landed at Le Havre.
6 February 1918 : absorbed by 1/9th Bn
.

resource: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/re ... -regiment/
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DaveP wrote: Thu Jan 28, 2021 8:57 am Evan, you'll know much more about this but it seems the 2nd/9th was absorbed by the 1st/9th early 1918. It might be that some were transferred out of the 9th at that time.

2/9th (County of London) Battalion (Queen Victoria’s Rifles)
Formed in London in August 1914. Moved in November to Crowborough where placed under orders of 2/2nd London Brigade in 2/1st London Division.
Moved to Ipswich in June 1915 and formation retitled as 175th Brigade in 58th (2/1st London) Division. Moved on to Bromeswell Heath in May 1916 and then to Longbridge Deverell in July.
4 February 1917 : landed at Le Havre.
6 February 1918 : absorbed by 1/9th Bn
.

resource: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/re ... -regiment/

The longlongtail is a very good resource. Here is the entry for the 1/9th
1/9th (County of London) Battalion (Queen Victoria’s Rifles)
August 1914 : at 56 Davies Street. Part of 3rd London Brigade, 1st London Division. Moved on mobilisation to Bullswater, going on in September to Crowborough.
5 November 1914 : left Division and landed at Le Havre.
27 November 1914 : came under command of 13th Brigade in 5th Division.
10 February 1916 : transferred to 169th Brigade in 56th (London) Division.
1 February 1918 : transferred to 175th Brigade in 58th (2/1st London) Division, absorbed the disbanded 2/9th Bn and renamed 9th Bn.


DaveP could have hit on something here.

I got the information about the service number sign up dates from here.
https://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com ... iment.html

As that and the records on Ancestry and CWGC only listed "9 Btn" / "9 Battallion", (rather than 1/9 and 2/9) and by the time John Sheriff was in France (March - July 1918) there was only a single 9th Battalion that is what I had been working on.

If new recruits were drafted into the "9 Btn" and assigned to either the 1/9th and 2/9th using the same block of service numbers at the same time that could make sense (I do not know enough about recruting / service numbers to be 100% but it seems fairly logical). It might be that in one of the units they went stright to France after training, while the other did some home duties. Looking at individual service records for the service numbers in the same block, IF they exist might, might help.

With the lack of his service record, and him not appearing in any other records that I could find apart from the Medal Rolls and his card I doubt if we will ever know. As he kept a diary while in France its likely that he did while training, its a shame that was not with the others that Kenleyboy found.

Evan
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Here is the relevant Medal Roll for the 9th Btn showing John Warwick Sheriff, 394593, and his dates of service in France (which qualified for the medals) of 9 March - 15 July 1918.
The "1(a)" is France and Flanders.

On this sheet, and the previous and following, others also went out on 9 March 1918. But there is also a block that went out much earlier on 17 July 1917. So there is a distinction for some reason, is this due to the 1/9th, 2/9th when he was recruited?.

I sense a slog though more records :pulling hair out: :pulling hair out:

Evan
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I have to say without exception the efforts of all involved in this is quite humbling, have been watching from the side line with great interest and time that has been spent in seeing this through to where it is now is outstanding, people giving their time to this is fantastic and take my hat off to you all.

:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

I wonder if the Army may be interested in the story too, may even add to it, it would be great for PR for our detecting hobby, the army and maybe the media, as long as all involved are in agreement and willing for it to be shared, it may perhaps be shared for all to see in the war history held in the relevant places, even the museum that hold such army related histories

Regards steve
A foolish faith in authority, is the worst enemy of truth." Albert Einstein
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Kenleyboy
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Saffron wrote: Thu Jan 28, 2021 3:13 pm Here is the relevant Medal Roll for the 9th Btn showing John Warwick Sheriff, 394593, and his dates of service in France (which qualified for the medals) of 9 March - 15 July 1918.
The "1(a)" is France and Flanders.

On this sheet, and the previous and following, others also went out on 9 March 1918. But there is also a block that went out much earlier on 17 July 1917. So there is a distinction for some reason, is this due to the 1/9th, 2/9th when he was recruited?.

I sense a slog though more records :pulling hair out: :pulling hair out:

Evan
It is quite astonishing that this has now moved even further forward when you consider it was just a couple of pages with little evidence of any other records . There was however enough snippets of information to be able to piece a little more history together about this gentleman but I am quite taken aback at how much so far has been unearthed . It is research at its very best and I know I have said this many times but no matter how much input from various individuals great or small , it is very much appreciated and very kind :thumbsup:
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While I was having a search this morning I also came across a couple of pictures of chaps with close service numbers in the 9th. Jon Sheriff probably knew them but not all had survived. Something, somewhere inside stopped me from posting them here.
Steve_JT wrote: Thu Jan 28, 2021 3:22 pm
I wonder if the Army may be interested in the story too, may even add to it, it would be great for PR for our detecting hobby, the army and maybe the media,
Regards steve
I think Steve has a good point but I also feel this is one for the family to share if they wish - mind you, it would make a good story for the local press, all started by Kenleyboy, and especially in these rather troubled times. Remember the Hub is an open forum and they would only need to direct the press to the link and the press could see the whole story unfold.
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DaveP wrote: Thu Jan 28, 2021 3:45 pm While I was having a search this morning I also came across a couple of pictures of chaps with close service numbers in the 9th. Jon Sheriff probably knew them but not all had survived. Something, somewhere inside stopped me from posting them here.
I think Steve has a good point but I also feel this is one for the family to share if they wish - mind you, it would make a good story for the local press, all started by Kenleyboy, and especially in these rather troubled times. Remember the Hub is an open forum and they would only need to direct the press to the link and the press could see the whole story unfold.
I think it is a very good idea , I could always put this suggestion to the young lad that I have been speaking with . Worth an ask and then it is up to the family to decide . :thumbsup:
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Saffron wrote: Thu Jan 28, 2021 2:50 pm
If new recruits were drafted into the "9 Btn" and assigned to either the 1/9th and 2/9th using the same block of service numbers at the same time that could make sense (I do not know enough about recruting / service numbers to be 100% but it seems fairly logical). It might be that in one of the units they went stright to France after training, while the other did some home duties. Looking at individual service records for the service numbers in the same block, IF they exist might, might help.

Evan
Evan,

just found this - the last line is interesting.

"In February 1916 the 1st London Division was reformed in France as the 56th Division and the QVRs rejoined it in 169th Brigade. It fought with this division on the Somme, Arras, Third Ypres and Cambrai till transferring to the 58th Division in February 1918 where it joined with the 2/9th to become the 9th Battalion. The 2/9th came to France with 58th Division in Feb 1917 and fought at Bullecourt and Third Ypres before amalgamating with the 1/4th. The 9th Battalion remained with the 58th Division and took part in the 1918 battles till the armistice. The 3/9th Battalion did not leave the UK but provided drafts for the other two battalions."

How correct it is I don't know but I wonder if he was part of 3/9th and only travelled to France with a few others.
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Further update to this little story . The idea of going to the local newspapers etc was a good one so I contacted by email , the Bournemouth Echo , a local Town newspaper where the family live to see if they would be interested considering it now has connections to that area and may make for a good local story . Speaking with the Great, Great Grandson he was more than happy for this to go ahead and at the beginning of the week I had a telephone conversation with a pleasant young lady from the newspaper who was very keen to run the story . I have now passed on the Grandsons contact details so he can deal with the newspaper direct :thumbsup:
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