The Daily Postcard No. 41

Many British soldiers would never have been abroad before, hence comments such as the one above, ‘here are wild people who live like this’.  Actually, I could tell you tales of my own encounters with the Bedouin, but I probably won’t.

Rifleman Peace.  Believe it or not, forty five British soldiers named Peace died during the Great War (fifty seven men of that name in total).

And unfortunately, our Rifleman Peace – by then a Lance Corporal – was one of them, the sixth to die, in fact.  He was killed on the first day of the Battle of Loos, 25th September 1915, the date this photograph of British troops advancing into the smoke and gas was taken,…

…and originally buried on the battlefield with a few other casualties, by the looks of it,…

…before later being reinterred in the huge post-war Dud Corner Cemetery, the only identified man on the above GRRF.

As of now, I can tell you nothing more about Lance Corporal Peace.  I don’t know his first name, his age, where he came from, nothing.  I have no idea why a man of the 1st Bn. King’s Royal Rifle Corps should be in Egypt at all, frankly (although perhaps explained if the postcard, annoyingly undated, is actually be a pre-war card).  And I wonder if his papers survive……?

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60 Responses to The Daily Postcard No. 41

  1. Morag Lindsay Sutherland says:

    amazing personal touch about the poor man- and how often I have walked at Dud Corner because there are local men remembered there but not seen this grave marker

  2. Nick Kilner says:

    Well you knew I’d go digging, didn’t you hahaha. On the 25th Sept 1915 2nd King’s Royal Rifles were in the front line trench near Lone Tree, about half way between Hulluch and Loos attacking towards the Loos-La Bassee road. The ground there is flat and open and they would have received enfilade machine-gun fire from Hulluch and Hill 70 as well as the trenches on which they were advancing. It was a killing field, one of the deadliest areas of the entire Loos salient. Interestingly he is listed as a private, not a L/Cpl on both the GRRF and the burial concentration form. I’ll take a look for the war diary later, if he was a L/Cpl then he should be listed as a casualty, if it still exists. I’ll see if theres anything on Egypt too.

    • Nick Kilner says:

      He’s not on the list of killed and wounded officers for the 25th. Curious. I wonder whats actually on the headstone? L/Cpl has been outlined in red ink on the headstone document.

      • Nick Kilner says:

        Well it seems 2nd Battalion KRR were in Egypt, but not during WW1. The latest date I can find for them being there is 1882 during the Anglo-egyptian war, which would make him rather old to be fighting on the western front.

        • Nick Kilner says:

          I’ve just noticed that at the time of the postcard he was 1st battalion, but at the time of his death he was 2nd Battalion. More digging required, but not tonight Josephine 😉

          • Magicfingers says:

            Having read through all your work here, I was going to point that bit out had you not mentioned it. I will let you into a secret. I hadn’t noticed that the forms say 2nd Bn. until you mentioned it. Lol! Anyway, it appears he transferred from 1st to 2nd at some point, and I am more sure that, should anyone ever check out the whereabouts of 1st Bn. in the years before the war, we would find them in Egypt…….

    • Magicfingers says:

      As if I would lay such a transparent trap!! Heh heh.

  3. sendergreen says:

    I note “Map references where body was found” column on the “Concentration of Graves” form. Could anyone assist with any information of how I could accurately convert these military map references to a modern map, or even better google earth ?

    • Morag Sutherland says:

      NLS of national library of scotland has an option to do as you ask….overlays or side by side comparison.. but the link is on my laptop and I am on my phone.someone will post a link i am sure

      • Nick Kilner says:

        From their starting position it looks like he made it about 1500 yards.
        If anyone is interested his battalion war diary is available free of charge to download from the National archives at the moment.
        reference number is:
        WO 95/1272/3
        That will give you the diary entries for the 25th, along with a whole load of message document that have survived from the 25th & 26th
        My apologies for hijacking the thread MF, hope you don’t mind

        • Morag Sutherland says:

          I knew someone would put up link to the NLS maps….

        • Magicfingers says:

          Not at all. Carry on. Do we agree he was buried not far behind the new British front line.

          • Nick Kilner says:

            Yes, not far from lone tree. A lot of men died in the vicinity of lone tree. One of the problems with fighting across an empty landscape is that men tended to head towards anything they can see rather than just push straight forward. This caused quite a few problems at Loos. Coincidentally, the situation there actually bears an uncanny resemblance to your previous postcard, only there would have been a few hundred soldiers rather than a couple of dozen civilians.
            1st battalion KRR didn’t serve in Egypt during WW1 either, so your postcard has to be prewar. Given his likely age I would guess between 1905 and 1913

    • Magicfingers says:

      I’m afraid I do it old school, but your comment nudged me to have a look, and it only took a few minutes to have a comparison between a 1916 trench map and a modern Google capture. The trench map you require is 36C.NW, and then add the map references from the Concentration of Graves form. Lmk how it goes – I am happy I know where he was originally buried. Let’s see if we agree!!

      • sendergreen says:

        I see you’re up late ! I’ll do that. But, I have to admit my original intent of asking was was a coincidence. Just a few days ago I belatedly noticed the “found at” on my great uncle Arthur’s grave registration form. He fell in a night attack on the Hessian Trench, north of Mouquet Farm. On the Nicholson maps sketch 30 there were two separate notations of positions of 3 Coys of his 7th Batt. CEF in two areas of the target Hessian Trench. If I can pinpoint the location of his loss, it would give me a place to find if I’m fortunate enough to make a visit. So, for tonight I’m a hunting 57d.R22.a.9.5

  4. Magicfingers says:

    And don’t call me Josephine!!

  5. Margaret Draycott says:

    Gosh you lot are all so clever, how you find out all this information is so clever. I went on the link and while it looks like a great resource I wouldn’t know where to start, I need a teacher.
    And all that from a simple card with an address on it. I presume he sent it in an envelope to give his new address.
    The black and white photo of men walking through the gas and mist towards the enemy makes you shudder. Especially as we know the outcome.

    • Nick Kilner says:

      Hi M. thank you very much for the emails you sent yesterday, marvellous stuff!
      I’ll do a walk through for find locations on the NLS maps when I get in this evening. Easy once you know how 🙂

  6. Margaret Draycott says:

    Your welcome Nick glad you found them of interest. I had some interesting stuff sent me by a young man who lives in Lithuania. It covers the German side of the fighting in ww1 against the Russians, an area I am unfamiliar with not that I am that knowledgeable, if you wanted I could forward it on to you.

    Thanks.

    • Nick Kilner says:

      So here’s a walk through of the National Library of Scotland maps, as promised. Its certainly not the best set up in the world, but once you know your way around it really does become a simple process.
      Google ‘national Library of Scotland Maps’ and click the link.
      On the left you will see a variety of map types offered, scroll down to ‘Military maps’ and click
      On the following page you will see the heading ‘Maps of France and Belgium’ below which you will see two options. For WW1 maps click on the top one which is titled ‘Ordinance Survey/British War office (G.S.G.S) First World War Trench Maps 1915-1918’.
      On the following page you can select a number of options, the most useful of which are under the heading ‘Browse the maps’.
      The first option is ‘As individual sheets using a zoomable map’. This is a great resource for looking purely at WW1 trench maps.
      The second option is ‘As zoomable overlays of each map on a modern google or Bing map’. This is probably going to be most useful for most people, as it allows the user to fade in and out to see where trench lines run over a current google earth image, so we will run through using this type by clicking on that link.
      When you do so, wait a few seconds and a help screen will pop up. Close that, its just confusing.
      On the left is a search box with ‘Search Gazetteer’ at the top, click on the ‘World’ option (default setting is UK), then enter the place name you are looking for in the box below. This will take you to that approximate location with a map overlaid. Use the slide at the bottom of the search box to vary the transparency of the map over the google earth image.
      Now sometimes you will need to change to a different map, as the system doesnt always get it quite right. If the area you wish to look at is not covered by the map that has been brought up, look for the map series highlighted in blue on the google earth image (for example 36.C.NW.1). once you have that click on the ‘Select a map:Map series’ option in the search box on the left of the screen. This will give a drop down menu of maps in the area including maps from different dates. Simply click on the map you wish to look at.
      Thats it, and yes it does sound more complicated than it actually is, I promise.

  7. Nick Kilner says:

    As regards finding a location from a map reference, each map series is given a number and sometimes an accompanying letter depending on the size of the map series (36C in the case of Loos), followed by NW, NE, SW or SE. Each map sheet is then broken down into large squares which are given a capital letter, marked in each corner. Each one of those squares is broken down into smaller squares which have a number, and each numbered square is broken down into four smaller squares which each have a lower case a,b,c or d. The top left square is a, the top right is b, the bottom left is c and the bottom right is d. Each of those squares is then marked along the edges with either ten or twenty ‘divisions’, depending on the map scale. These divisions use numbers, so 6,3 for example would be six divisions along the bottom and three up the side (the way I was taught to remember it is ‘in the door and up the stairs’, always count along the bottom first). This allows a map to be broken down into very precise areas of just a few square meters.
    The location given for H Peace is G.24.c.3,2 (the map series, in this case 36C.NW, would likely be given on the title documentation for this set of burial papers). From this we know to go to Square G, then look for square 24 within that square. Within square 24 we go to the bottom left square, which is ‘c’, count three divisions along the bottom and come up two. Thats where he was recorded as being originally buried, and should be accurate to within 5 meters.
    Hope that all makes sense

    • sendergreen says:

      Thank you very much Nick. I had gotten the last part backwards, so I was off by 310 yards. It makes much more sense now when paired with the Nicholson Map for September 27, 1916. The Nicholson Maps are part of the Official History of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WW1.

      • Nick Kilner says:

        No problem at all, glad to be of help

        • sendergreen says:

          If you don’t mind another question, what would each side of the a.9.5 square measure at that level? I was looking at 57D R22 a.9.5. It’s East-North-East of Courcelette on the Somme.

  8. Margaret Draycott says:

    Thanks for that Nick and for the time you have taken to write it all out step by step. I will go onto my apple computer with I pad next to me and follow the instructions. It might be a couple of days before I can get to it.

  9. Daisy in Indonesia says:

    Still bothers me there were these men buried and then reinterred and most are unknown. Why was Lance Corporal Peace identified and all the others not? Most Unknown British Soldiers here had their regiment identified which makes me more dismayed at the lack of names…

    Love your research Nick and the NLS information. I used the overlay maps to find the location of my great uncle’s MM site. The fade in and out service allowed me to print off 5 pages moving from the original WW1 map and the current Google map. I had been to the area 3 times before but with these 5 pages, and approval from the farmer, I was able to easily find Ascension Wood and Little Bill and Big Bill, all 3 woods exactly the same shape as they were in 1918. I would recommend printing out numerous copies using the fading option.

    Peace brother…

    • Nick Kilner says:

      Hey Daisy. I’m very glad you’ve found it useful, and that my explanation was at least reasonably coherent lol.
      Regarding lost identification, it is a dreadful shame but look at the date on the GRRF. These men had been in the ground for five years, and on the front lines at that. Many graves would have been obliterated by subsequent shellfire, and the chances of grave markers surviving was infinitesimal. Some bodies would have lain out for significant periods of time, bloating and bursting and being blown every which way by artillery. I was working with a group at Hohenzollern redoubt a few years back when we discovered the remains of a soldier of the South Staffordshire Regiment. We worked out from the way he was buried by a layer of chalk that he must have lain out in no mans land from September ‘15 when they attacked until at least February ‘16 when the next mine was fired burying his body in the process. Body recovery just wasn’t a safe option with the Germans only forty yards away. His body was in tact, except for the bullet hole through his scapular, but there was no ID tag and nothing to identify him beyond his shoulder title so he too has been reburied as an unknown soldier in St Mary’s ADS
      There are also reports from the men who’s grizzly task it was to exhume these bodies, of putting their hand into bodies that had mostly turned to soup and rummaging around to try and find their ID tag or some other piece of identification, so it’s not that they didn’t try. It must have given them nightmares the rest of their lives.

      Be well my friend

    • Magicfingers says:

      I know what you mean Daisy, but at least the other five named men on the Concentration of Graves form with Peace are buried further along Row F. Along with Nick’s comments, there was also the business of identity tags. It was only in 1915 that the Army introduced the two tag system replacing a single tag, and one wonders how long it took for the whole Army to introduce the new system? Did some of the Loos casualties still only have a single identification tag, which once removed rendered their identification problematic, let’s say. I dunno, but maybe?

      • Morag Sutherland says:

        To do with tags. ..I was going to mention these in my original response…I suspect not everyone was issued with double tag instantly
        The Seaforths went onto active service from Bedford but I wonder if alphabetically they did not get them ….these casualties pretty well are in panels to the Missing are Dud corner

        • Nick Kilner says:

          company’s of the 9th Seaforth were in the first, second and third waves attacking Mad point on the 25th. The attack there was even less successful than the attack on Hohenzollern, and in fact the machine guns at Mad point were very soon able to turn their attention to those attacking Hohenzollern as a result. Unlike Hohenzollern redoubt, which we did actually hold for a while, we didn’t manage to take Mad point until 1918. As a result the bodies piled up in front of it would have lain out there for almost three years. With the best will in the world, identifying them would have been impossible

          • Morag Sutherland says:

            Oh bless you for this. If it is ok with you can I add this to my notes on Thomas Sutherland from my village of Brora. He died 25th September. At Loos…..thanks in advance

          • Nick Kilner says:

            Of course!!! Although Thomas was 8th Seaforth, and they were further down near the Bethune-Lens road, attacking between the Lens road redoubt and the Loos road redoubt towards the town of Loos-en-gohelle itself. Both considerable strongpoints in their own right and the enfilade fire would have been a wall of bullets. Its actually believed that the famous photograph that appears in this post of men walking through the gas and smoke (thought to be men of Scottish and London regiments) was taken in roughly this area of the battlefield. If this is of significant interest to you then I would really recommend getting a copy of Loos 1915 by Nick Lloyd. Its one of the best books I’ve ever read on the battle

  10. Magicfingers says:

    Fascinating stuff Nick. Thanks mate.

    • Nick Kilner says:

      My pleasure. I hope you are paying attention, as there may be questions when we get there lol

      • Magicfingers says:

        My friend, I shall be on the ball, don’t you worry.

      • Morag Lindsay Sutherland says:

        good afternoon from Scotland – I was checking on my local men and we also lost John Mathieson Sutherland 1st battalion Scots Guards 27th September 1915 at Loos . he had been in SA apparently during the Boer War. can you give me any idea of where he was lost/killed on that day? many thank in anticipation

        • Magicfingers says:

          That’s definitely one for Nick…….

        • Nick Kilner says:

          Hi Morag.
          1st battalion Scots Guards were fighting as part of 2nd Brigade on the 27th. They were in support of the Irish guards who were tasked with attacking in the area of Chalk Pit wood and Bois Hugo Just north of Hill 70 on the Lens-Hulluch road. The starting point for their attack was just east of the Loos road redoubt, at approximately 36C.NW. G29. 10,10 (centre of square G29). John would have fallen somewhere between there and Puit 14, which is at 36C.NW. H25. 10,2.
          The area they were asked to attack over was known as “Leichenfeld von Loos” by the Germans, or ‘The corpse field of Loos’ due to the estimated 2500 bodies left there from the first two days of fighting. So horrendous was the slaughter that the germans actually stopped firing on the advancing troops on the afternoon of the 26th and sent their own medics out to help recover the wounded.
          On the 27th Sept the 1Bn Scots Guards were specifically tasked with capturing Puit 14, but the attack was a complete failure. One notable casualty amongst the Irish Guards with whom they were fighting that day was John Kipling, the only child of Rudyard Kipling, who is now known to be buried in st. Mary’s ADS. If Johns body was recovered from the field, then he almost certainly lies either in St. Mary’s, Bois-Carre or Dud Corner.
          I hope that is of some help and interest.

  11. Margaret Draycott says:

    Can I just say what an absolutely fascinating thread this has been, I feel quite humble in the company of your knowledge, to be able to pinpoint where a single person fell in all that carnage is astonishing. Thank you so much it has been an intriguing read.

    • Nick Kilner says:

      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it. Tbh I still feel a little guilty for hijacking the post, but hopefully it has been of interest to a few.

      • Magicfingers says:

        Okay, if you are feeling so guilty, and this is off the top of my head, how about you write – and you’ve done most of it – a comprehensive piece about how to read trench maps – an absolute A to Z – to which I will add examples, and we will post a proper post explaining how to do it, rather than just in the comments section such as here?

        • Magicfingers says:

          Fully credited, of course.

          • Nick Kilner says:

            Its not something I’m hugely knowledgable about tbh, but I can probably put something half decent together, which with your help I’m sure can be turned into a useful post. The one thing that’s missing from all of the NLS maps is a basic Legend, which it may well be helpful to publish. Worth mentioning the trench colour change in there too, as I’m sure that confuses the hell out of people who aren’t aware it happened.
            Leave it with me

        • sendergreen says:

          That resource would be well appreciated by future visitors to this site. Just two posts from Nick were key in solving one mystery that has dogged me for years.

  12. Magicfingers says:

    Well I think between us we know enough. And there is no rush – even if you were to do this soon, I have other posts that are occupying me at the moment.

  13. Morag Lindsay Sutherland says:

    Nick could I suggest you use the Kipling reference as an illustration of how the maps work and then my John Sutherland will get done too- folk won’t have heard of him but they will be aware of John Kipling – I have been in St Mary’s ADS – I know it is a source of much historical debate but my gut feeling is that he lies in no man’s land rather than under that grave marker – but that is not today’s debate

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