Sapper Herbert Potter: Research inspired by one of our posts

Back in July 1916 as we commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme we shared the story of Corporal Harry Hazel and at that time a comment was left on the blog that added to this story:

I was very interested to read your account of Harry Hazel, and how on 7 June 1915 he enlisted at Norwich as Sapper 85550 in the 208th (Norfolk) Field Company of the Royal Engineers. On 25th March 1915 my Great Grandfather Herbert Potter enlisted in the same company as Sapper 84711, just 839 men before so they maybe knew each other?

Herbert was treated for shell shock on 16 August 1916 in the Pozieres / Bazentin-le-Petit area, but he survived the war returning to his work as a boot maker in Norwich where after short retirement he died peacefully in 1958 aged 76. Herbert was born in Norwich in 1881 but spent a lot his youth in Bethnal Green.

Mr Potter has recently been back in touch with us with some photos of his Herbert Potter and wonders if anyone can help him with his questions surrounding some photos that were found in his grandmother’s belongings… Continue reading

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A very different call for help

Here at the Norfolkinworldwar1 team we’ve been contacted by Mr Kelly with another World War One query, and once more we are hoping that our readers can help – although this time we have lots of information and are looking for descendants of a WW1 soldier.

Mr Kelly writes:

A relative in Canada has come across a WW1 Medal for the above named. My local History Research Group have identified the following from his War number in the Norfolk Regiment where he was Private 24249 which is on the Medal.

 

 

 

Further research has shown that soldier #24249 is in fact:
Cyril Henry Payne
Birth Date: 21 Mar 1891
Baptism Date: 14 Jun 1891
Baptism Place: Aylmerton, Norfolk, England
Father: William Payne
Mother: Eliza Jane Payne

Mr Kelly continues that his Canadian family are travelling to the UK in the autumn and would like to return the medal to the family if they can be found – so if anyone reading this can help locate Cecil Payne’s family please do email Sarah at norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com so we can try to reunite the medal.

Remembering a man from the Norfolk Battalion

Mr Foreman has recently been in touch with us here at Norfolkinworldwar1.org with both some information about his family’s service during the First World War and also to ask if anyone can help fill in some of the blanks as he starts his journey in to family history research.

I am Robert Dennis Foreman and I was wondering if you were interested in the story of my 2nd Great Uncle William George Foreman who was born in April 1884 in Blo Norton Norfolk and who died on 7th Nov 1916 in Basra; and also in his brother’s (my Great Grandfather Dennis) war?

William Foreman was part of the 2nd Norfolk Battalion and Dennis (1881 – 1966) was in the RAMC as a despatch rider. Dennis was also born in Blo Norton to John Foreman and Harriet Foreman (nee Ayers) but moved to Simonstone in Lancahsire to work on the Huntroyde Farm estate of Nicolas Le Gendre Starkie who was a wealthy landowner here.

My Great-Grandfather lived after being taken prisoner in Cassel after what looked to be a harrowing war experience but sadly my 2nd Great Uncle was not so fortunate.

He was taken prisoner on April 29th 1916 in Kut-el-Amara (in the Siege of Kut) when the battalion was forced to march to Aleppo. Many men died along the way but William survived this march – only to die of malaria according to his record. His regiment number was 8013 and he rose to the rank of Sergeant. Dennis Foreman’s Regimental Number was 103030 and he became a Lance Corporal.

There are 2 letters existing in William’s file where his mother (my 2nd times Great-Grandmother Harriett Ayers 1854 -1931) pleaded with the War Office to let her know what had happened to her son. They are heartfelt as shortly after she penned the letters it became known he had died while a prisoner. In these documents someone has written on the soldier’s small book DEAD in red pen and this was sent to my grandmother with a report stated there was no grave and therefore she couldn’t visit if she wanted to and was able. (Some research on the Commonwealth War Graves site tells us that W.G. Foreman is commemorated on panel 10 of the Basra War Memorial, along with 40,639 other names )

While I do have a picture of my Great-Grandfather Dennis, I sadly have no picture of William and I would dearly like to have one if anyone reading this can help?

Dennis Foreman

Some further research into William’s life and death has shown a discrepancy into cause of death. The Norfolk Regiment Casualty book records William as dying of dysentery not malaria and Robert and the Norfolkinww1 team are wondering which is most likely to be accurate…

The Mystery of a Military Cross Award.

On the Norfolk Regiment pages of this blog a conversation has been taking place regarding a one of the regiment’s own but that has subsequently thrown up more questions than answers…

One of our readers has restored a trench watch that belonged to Captain R B Caton of the 4th and contacted us to see if we could help him fill in some of the details relating to Cpt. Caton.

Captain Caton

Continue reading

Branching out into Suffolk (slightly)

We’ve been contacted by another blog reader looking for some help filling out the final details of some family history research which has led him from Suffolk to Norfolk.

 

My grandfather, Albert Holmes from Newmarket Suffolk, was born in  1883.  Albert was a Bricklayer before he joined up to the B Company of the 2nd Btn Suffolk Regiment. He was born in Exning (nr Newmarket) and lived in Newmarket. He married just before he joined up and his widow (my grandmother) never remarried but lived until 1971 aged 88 –  much of the time in the house they moved into after the marriage!

We know he was home on leave late 1916/1917 as I have a photo of him with his wife and my mother – who was born in April 1915.

Albert with wife Edith and daughter Beryl.

He is recorded on the War memorial in Newmarket but until I contacted the Suffolk Regiment Museum with a photograph I did not know that he was in the Norfolk Regiment.  More research has let us know that Albert died of his wounds on 6th Aug 1918 and was buried in North Gate Cemetery in Baghdad.

Albert is believed to be the man in the front row of seated privates on the immediate left of the central officer.

I knew from my grandmother that he was buried in the Middle East  but I don’t know if she even knew exactly where. I have two requests:

Does anyone have any photos of his grave or memorial in the North Gate Cemetary? At present I don’t know if he even has a grave or if this cemetary is still in existance.
Also I would also love to know is more about his service, things like when he returned from leave (which would more positively date my family photo),  when he joined the Norfolks, when he arrived in the Middle East, when and where he was injured and in hospital.

I know that other readers of this blog have helped fill in the gaps for other people and I hope the same comes true here – thank you in advance, Mike Browne.

As ever if you can help tell Albert’s story please do drop us a line (norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com), leave a comment here or reach us on Twitter (@Norfolkinww1).

Call for help from Newfoundland

We recently received an email from Newfoundland, Canada asking if we could help identify a soldier from a photograph that has ended up in Mr Collins possession.

 

On the back of this image are the words “8359 Mrs M J Nichols, Digby, NS”

Mr Collins has undertaken some research and discovered two soldiers (so far) with this regimental number.

One is  Herbert S Peggs  who was born in Stalham,  and who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces with the number #8359. The other is Pr. Herbert Victor Moores was was born in Salford Manchester and who was sadly KIA 1916 while serving with the Manchester Regiment.

While there is no guarantee that either of these men are the one in photograph Mr Collins is very keen to try and put a name to ‘his’ soldier and as there is a possible Norfolk link wonders if anyone can help, and also possibly help fill in the story so we discover why his photo has arrived in New Foundland.

close up of unknown soldier

As ever please do get in touch with us with any ideas or information you might have via comments here, Twitter or our email address, and if you have any queries like this of your own please do contact us too.

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.