Helping a family with information 100 years after the event.

Another blog reader has contacted us and once more we’d love some help in fleshing out his story for family members as the 100th Anniversary of his death approaches.

The young man in question is Private Samuel Riches, we know he was registered as No 43491 within the 8th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment, although his original documents show that he originally enlisted with the 6th Cyclist Bn in October 1914.

More family research has shown that Samuel was a cook within the service

Samuel Riches (on the right)

and that his date of death is recorded as 11th August 2017.

Samuel is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres and sadly his exact place of death is not known.

It is with this fact that the family are asking for help.  We know that at the time of Samuel’s death the Third Battle of Ypres was taking place but the two questions the family have are:

  • As a cook would Samuel have been fighting in the front line and thus killed in battle or would he have been killed accidentally behind the lines?
  • Can we work out the likely location of his death from the date?

We really hope that some of our readers may be able to help with these questions so that when Samuel Riches descendants travel to Ypres in August they can have as much information about his last days as possible.

If any of our readers can help answer any of these questions, or can give any insight into the life of a cook in the Trenches during WW1 please do leave a comment or email Norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com.

Equally if you have a similar question within your own research please do get in contact.

 

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3 thoughts on “Helping a family with information 100 years after the event.

  1. There’s an excellent Great War Forum at http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com

    It may contain useful information. For example the following post says:
    “Battalion cooks were trained soldiers so would be expected to fight and if not on other essential duty.”
    It refers to books describing the organisation of army units, which might confirm this and describe a cook’s role in more detail.

    http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?/topic/221061-hq-company-in-the-front-line/&do=findComment&comment=2188464

  2. You may also be interested to read this information on Flickr, which refers to Samuel and to the Germans attacking and capturing a pillbox during the relief of 7th Bedfords by 8th Norfolks at 4.30am on 11th August. The Norfolks then took it back

    St Laurence Great War Roll of Honour - Right Hand Panel

  3. The war diaries for the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Norfolks can be read on Ancestry (image 506 marks the start of the week 10-17 August, 1917) or downloaded from the National Archives’ Discovery catalogue. According to the diary, at 4.15am on the 11th, a ‘light barrage’ took place on those holding the line and the 8th took part in a counter attack. Depending which Company Samuel was (potentially) in he may have been towards the front line early on or brought in over the next couple of hours – although there is no mention of him by name so it is still possible he was already wounded in previous action. The notes suggest that C Company in particular were ‘considerably weakened by casualties’ on the morning of the 11th. Potentially Samuel was one of the casualties between 4.15am and 8.30am at the area around the Jargon Trench Line/Ypres-Menin Road/Inverness Copse. Reserve troops were around ‘Surbiton Villas’. 42 Other Ranks were killed between noon on the 10th and 11th, another two between noon on the 11th and 12th. A further 87 and 12 were wounded (see image 512). I’m afraid I can’t comment on the experience of a cook as I don’t count myself as a military historian, but I would recommend getting hold of the war diaries for more information and details of where the Battalion were in the run up to these movements. Contacting the Regimental Museum might be helpful, too.

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