Ypres , Somme , WW1 sites , Any sugestions ?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by grimbo, May 10, 2009.

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  1. At the end of May I am planning on visiting the WW1 sites in France. We are taking my Mother & Farther inlaw both who are in their late 70's early 80's . Father inlaw is partialy disabled due to a stroke but can walk short distances . The main reason for the visit is for mother inlaw to see some of the places her farther served at during this time . We know very little about his exploits as he would never talk about it to his family.
    We do know -
    He was mentioned in despatches (he would never say what for )
    He served with The Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment , we think with the Eighth Battalion . Or was there a 5 RWK ?
    His name , R Morris , rank PTE , number 240384 . We also have a small cloth shield shape badge with some kind of prancing horse with the initials CSGB underneath .
    Can anyone suggest any pertinant sites to the RWK , or indeed any good places to visit that may not be in the normal internet or guide book searches . We are going to be arriving France 10.30 hrs on a friday and departing Calais about 18.30 hrs on the sunday .
    Any help will be much appreciated , this is not a trip that we will probably be repeating so we need to get it right first time.
    Also any suggestions on how we may be able to find what for or why he was mentioned in despatches , Audrey ( M inlaw ) has tried via internet and I believe spoken with someone from the RWK.
    Many thanks in advance
  2. Regimental Museum is a good starting point - or contact Imperial War Museum they have a research facility on their site but would probably have some suggestions if you phone or e-mail them

    Good Luck - hope you all have a good trip
  3. BBC Who do you think you are? magazine out out a booklet last year with a givaway guide to researching WW1 history. This includes a "best of" guide to the western front for people who want to travel there on their own. Send a PM to me or POPPY_TRAVEL with your address and someone will send a copy to you.
  4. Have you found which battalion of the RWK he fought in yet?

    The 8th Battalion was a Kitchener's Army Battalion which served on the Western Fro9nt with the 24th Division You can buy their unit history from the QORWK Musuem. ‘8th Battalion The Queen’s Own West Kent Regiment 1914-1919’, Lt-Colonel H Wenyon and Major HS Brown, Naval & Military Press, Museum price £24.50 (UK p&p add £3.00) " (Cheaper on internet but you might like to support the museum) This may have a mention of your relative and the deed for which he was awarded the MM. The battalion histories will go into more detail about other ranks who don't get a mention in the Regimental history. e.g. to one posted on the genealogy site

    The 5th Battalion was a TA Battalion which was posted to India. It served in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) with the 18th Indian Division in 1917-8.
  5. Seems I've double posted , sorry . Been away from internet access all week so thanks to all who have taken the time to reply . Pteranadon - think it was the 8th , we have two books - The Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment 1914-1918 by C. T. Atkinson , and The History of the 8th battalion RWK printed privately for the Battalion by Hazell, Watson & Viney Ltd in 1921. Just had a look and was amazed to find 19 signitures inside on the introduction page of the book , his fellow soldiers i think .He did tell Audrey that the incident that he was awarded the medal for was mentioned in the book but I think his name is not . I feel a visit to Maidstone may be in order .
    Thanks again to all
  6. Grimbo

    This gentleman's medal details are available via the National Archives - I have done a search on their catalogue for you this morning.

    He seems to have two entries in the catalogue - Entry WO 372/14 and Entry WO 372/23 - I am not sure why - it may be because one entry is for him as a Territorial (the TF entry) - but here you are (you will need your credit or debit card):



    Pls let me know if this turns out to be helpful.
  7. Might it be that the badge is from his school? Could the letters be CGSB?

    Chatham Grammar School for Boys

    See this link and the prancing horse:

  8. One more thing - this is obviously a very special visit for you - may I suggest that a private tour with a Specialist Battlefields Expert might be a worthwhile investment? He will know exactly which battlefields your mother-in-law's father fought on and can take you there; he will also know the terrain and can make sure that the places they wish to visit are easily accessible for them.

    I've been on both a group tour and a small, private tour with him and he is the best in the business:


    Only problem might be that he is so in demand that he may not have many days available.
  9. Thanks for all the suggestions and time you all have spent so far-

    Yes we are looking at getting a battle field guide - the guys on the H4H bike ride last year were brilliant , Thiepval is very "dusty" it seems as everyone was having trouble with their eyes .

    We have solved the cloth badge mystery - :oops: , County School for Girls Beckenham ! seems it was mother-inlaws school badge . :oops:

    Both parents inlaw are so looking forward to this trip and Audrey is very touched and moved by the help and thoughts from all of you on ARRSE .

    Audrey is almost worth a story on her own ! an amazing lady who at 82 still cares for her husband at home on her own , is in danger of being done for speeding every time she drives 8) , remembers standing on a bridge in London during the blitz and a low flying German bomber flying past and making eye contact with the Pilot , who speaks of being "bombed out" as though it was nothing , and who 2 years ago climbed the Dunns Falls in Jamacia better than some half her age. From a generation I fear we will never see the like of again.

  10. Try the Great War Forum on t'internet. 1000's of members on there some of them experts in their field and are only too happy to answer questions and queries about anything Great War related. Easiest way to get there is just to type 'Great War Forum' into google.

    I went to France a couple of years ago armed with trench maps and a copy of the Battalion war diary after doing about 6 months of research and traced the steps of my Great Grandfather and pretty much stood on the spot where he was killed in action nearly 90 years before. Great experience and very moving, I can't recommend it enough.
  11. You could try Poppy Travel, which is part of The Royal British Legion. (I am one of their guides.) Alternatively try obtaining a guide from The Guild of Battlefield Guides
  12. Sent him a copy gratis.
  13. Echo that.
    We used Steve Smith a couple of years ago and he was truly excellent. His battlefield knowledge is staggering. He seemed to create dust a lot though. Everyone had eye problems at some time during the trip, including Steve himself. If you want the battle stories brought sharply into focus, he's your man.
    As an example:
    He made 30 odd of us all stand in the British front line where the Barnsley Pals stood on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, and we started to walk across the field towards the German line, he kept stopping us every couple of yards and saying "right, half of you are dead". "Move on", "Right, three quarters of you are dead", and on and on. Then one of us was allowed to walk all the way to the small cemetery there and he said that this one person was representative of the amount of Barnsley Pals that survived this particular attack. Shut me up for a good hour as I took in the enormity of that morning in 1916.