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Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US

I used to be first launched to Bertie, (often known as Bert), when as a toddler, I noticed his title recorded on an area conflict memorial within the churchyard of St Helen’s, Cliffe at Hoo, Kent. Since Bertie and I shared the identical surname, I instantly requested my Dad whether or not we had been associated. He confirmed that we had been certainly: Bertie Batchelor was my grandfather’s first cousin. Rising up on neighbouring farms and of an identical age, they might have recognized one another very nicely. After his title had been engraved the initials, “M. M.”, which Dad advised me stood for “Navy Medal”, a particular medal awarded to troopers in recognition of an act of bravery that they’d carried out. I felt unhappy to study that this brave soldier had misplaced his life within the Conflict and ever since then, I’ve endeavoured to study extra about Bertie and his life.

Conflict Memorial St Helen’s Church, Cliffe at Hoo, Kent, Creator’s {Photograph}

Bertie was born on December twenty first 1891 in Cooling, Kent, which is located on the Hoo Peninsula, near the marshes of the River Thames estuary, because the river followers out to the ocean. His dad and mom, James William Batchelor, a farmer, and his spouse, Ann Deborah, née Smith, had eleven kids altogether and of the 9 who survived infancy, he was the fifth of seven sons. His household dwelling was Cooling Courtroom Farm.

Rising up, Bertie would have had loads of younger cousins to play with as his uncles, all with massive households of their very own, additionally farmed within the native space. Cooling Courtroom was down a slim lane that led from the village and additional down the highway was New Barn, the place his Uncle Charles farmed. His Uncle George farmed at Gattons on Cooling Road, a brief stroll throughout the fields, and in addition on Cooling Road, his Uncle Jim (John James) saved the Workers of Life public home, farming a number of the adjoining land. The household had been Wesleyan Methodists and each Sunday, Bertie attended chapel within the hamlet of Spendiff, often called the chapel within the orchard, that his father had based simply earlier than he was born in 1890.

When Bertie left college, he labored for his father on the farm, as did his brothers. Bertie appears to have had a aptitude for enterprise and had the position of discovering patrons for the market backyard produce that was grown. This was an essential job, for British agriculture had been in decline for a few years and costs had been being squeezed by low-cost imports. When conflict broke out in 1914, the nation imported as much as 60% of the meals it wanted, notably cereals, in addition to gas and fertilisers. Believing that the Royal Navy would be capable of shield provide routes, the Authorities was initially sluggish to extend agricultural manufacturing at dwelling.

On August twenty fifth 1915, Bertie married his sweetheart, Ethel Might Rogers at Hatcham Park, New Cross:

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1931; Reference Quantity: P75/ALL/012 by way of

Bertie and Ethel settled into married life at Berry Courtroom, Cooling Road, a farm owned by Bertie’s father.

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
Household {photograph} of Bertie wanting dapper in a sensible three-piece swimsuit, maybe taken on the date of his marriage, August twenty fifth 1915.

Simply two weeks earlier than the joyful couple had been married, each Bertie and Ethel would have needed to fill in a kind for the Nationwide Register. The knowledge offered was for use to determine these aged between 15 and 65 (each women and men) who had been appropriate for navy service, (in addition to these extra appropriate for civil employment or non-military occupations).

That autumn, canvassers had been appointed to go to eligible males aged between 18 and 41 of their houses who weren’t in starred occupations, (and exempt), to steer them to enroll in conflict service. Discharged troopers and former veterans had been discovered to be the simplest recruiters. All got a replica of a letter from the Earl of Derby explaining the programme and every man needed to attest verbally whether or not they would enlist or not. Those who stated they might enlist needed to current themselves to the native recruiting workplace inside forty eight hours. Plainly Bertie was persuaded to attest, as he travelled to visiting the recruiting officer in Maidstone, the headquarters of his native regiment, The Queen’s Personal Royal West Kent, on December eleventh 1915 (the final day of the scheme). He was sworn in and would have obtained a signing bonus of 2s 9d. The subsequent day, the enlistees had been transferred to Military Reserve B. Every one that enlisted underneath the scheme was assigned to one in every of forty six teams, some for single and a few for married males. A gaggle might be referred to as for service with solely fourteen days discover, however the single males can be referred to as first. Married males had been additionally assured that until conscription was launched, they might not be referred to as up.

Service papers for non-commissioned officers and different ranks who served within the First World Conflict (and didn’t re-enlist previous to 1939) are held by the Nationwide Archives in sequence WO 363. (Notice that the equal data for the Coldstream, Grenadier and Irish and Welsh Guards are held by the Ministry of Defence). Sadly they’re often known as the ‘Burnt Paperwork’, as in 1940, a big proportion had been destroyed by fireplace because of an incendiary bomb. The truth is, solely forty % of the 6.5 million data have survived so it is extremely lucky that Bertie’s are amongst them. The data have been digitised and can be found on each Ancestry and FindmyPast:

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
Bertie Batchelor Quick Service Attestation – Troopers’ Paperwork, First World Conflict ‘Burnt Paperwork’ WO363 – The Nationwide Archives (U.Ok.)
by way of
British Military WW1 Service Information, 1914-1920

Bertie’s quick service attestation kind, (see above), data Bertie’s solutions to the recruiting officer and is the primary web page of his service papers. It will have been straightforward for him to calculate his age, as he was only a few days shy of his twenty fourth birthday.

Although the Derby scheme had some success, 38% of single males and 54% of married males however managed to withstand the strain to enlist. The Authorities subsequently determined to introduce conscription in January 1916. All single males between the ages of 18 and 41 had been referred to as up and the higher age restrict was elevated to 51 in April. In Might 1916, married males had been additionally now conscripted. Bertie, already within the Military Reserve, would now be anticipated to serve. I think about that Bertie’s household, notably his younger spouse, Ethel, didn’t need him to go, particularly as information of the bloody Somme Offensive started to succeed in dwelling that summer season. His father was naturally terrified of shedding his son and in addition wanted Bertie’s assistance on the farm. Over a 3rd of male farm staff had gone to conflict. There was additionally a extreme lack of equipment and big numbers of horses had been requisitioned. Meals shortages had been looming. In 1916, service provider ships had been being focused by German U-boats and that summer season, the harvest had been poor: there was solely six weeks price of wheat. It seemed as if the nation is likely to be starved into submission.

Bertie’s father, James William Batchelor, determined to make an attraction at one of many navy tribunals that had been arrange regionally to see if he may get Bertie exempt from service:

Cliffe at Hoo

Farmers’ Appeals – At Strood Tribunal

Mr J.W. Batchelor appealed for his

son, Bertie, 24, who was engaged on market

backyard work, however the attraction was refused.

Kent Messenger & Gravesend Telegraph – Saturday 05 August 1916 – by way of

Bertie’s father made one additional attraction to the West Kent Appeals Navy Tribunal in November 1916 however as soon as once more, the case was dismissed:

Different Appeals

Bertie Batchelor, 24, foreman, and many others.,

to his father, Mr J.W. Batchelor, mar-

ket gardener, and many others.; dismissed.

South Jap Gazette – Tuesday 07 November 1916 – by way of

Many of the different candidates on the tribunal had been farm staff and their appeals had been almost all the time futile. As an alternative of giving farm staff a starred occupation, the Authorities as an alternative determined to make use of ladies (land ladies), troopers and prisoners of conflict to extend meals manufacturing, (although afterward within the Conflict, ploughmen can be despatched again from the Entrance). Value controls and a marketing campaign to plough up pasture land and switch it over to arable manufacturing had been additionally applied. Fairly belatedly, farming was being recognised as an important a part of the conflict effort.

With all technique of attraction exhausted, Bertie travelled as soon as extra to Maidstone on the finish of November to undergone a medical examination and have his medical historical past recorded:

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
Bertie Batchelor Medical Examination Kind – Troopers’ Paperwork, First World Conflict ‘Burnt Paperwork’ WO363 – The Nationwide Archives (U.Ok.)
by way of
British Military WW1 Service Information, 1914-1920

Being wholesome, Bertie was given an “A” score for Basic Service. The subsequent web page of Bertie’s service papers additionally supplies a bodily description of him, together with particulars of his subsequent of kin, his spouse, Ethel Might Batchelor. Particulars of their marriage are additionally recorded. The navy historical past part beneath, crammed in a lot later, notes that Bertie was a part of the British Expeditionary Power in France and had obtained the British Conflict Medal and the Victory Medal (although his Navy Medal just isn’t recorded right here).

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
Bertie Batchelor – Descriptive Report on Enlistment – Troopers’ Paperwork, First World Conflict ‘Burnt Paperwork’ WO363 – The Nationwide Archives (U.Ok.)
by way of
British Military WW1 Service Information, 1914-1920

Bertie himself, like many others on the time, was in all probability torn between serving his nation and leaving his household however now he had no alternative. He reported for obligation with The Queen’s Personal Royal West Kent Regiment on January nineteenth 1917. Earlier than he stated goodbye to his spouse and household, a go to was paid to a photographers in Chatham and a few souvenir images had been taken. Bertie, good-looking in his new uniform, stares resolutely on the digital camera as his portrait was taken. His cap badge exhibits clearly the White Horse of Kent. Beneath was a scroll inscribed ‘Invicta’ (Unconquered) and Royal West Kent:

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
Household {photograph} of Bertie Batchelor, January 1917, in his uniform of the Royal West Kent Regiment

Bertie additionally had {a photograph} taken along with his spouse, Ethel:

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
Household {photograph} of Bertie and Ethel Might Batchelor, January 1917

After present process coaching with The Queen’s Personal Royal West Kent, Bertie was posted to the eighth Manchester Regiment on June 4th 1917 after which on June twenty first, transferred to the two/eighth Battalion. Most of his fellow privates would have been Mancunians however as replacements had been wanted, Bertie, a rustic lad from Kent, joined them. His new regimental quantity was 44841.

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
Bertie Batchelor Service File – Troopers’ Paperwork, First World Conflict ‘Burnt Paperwork’ WO363 – The Nationwide Archives (U.Ok.)
by way of
British Military WW1 Service Information, 1914-1920

His service papers above present a steady a timeline of Bertie’s military profession. On November 4th 1917 he was appointed, (unpaid), as a lance corporal. A month afterward December 1st he obtained an appointment (paid) as an appearing lance corporal. His rank was confirmed two days later and he would now have been entitled to put on a white stripe on his arm. Lance corporals got this rank as a result of their potential as future leaders had been recognised, although there have been few sensible advantages. Earlier than transferring on to 1918 and the circumstances surrounding his demise I wished to seek out out extra about his medals. Maybe Bertie had been promoted because of one thing he had performed that had led to him to being awarded the navy medal.

Medal index playing cards had been created to document marketing campaign medals that had been awarded to troopers. Every card data the regiment (although not the battalion), the service quantity, rank, and the medals awarded together with their references on the medal rolls. The date the soldier first entered a theatre of conflict and the theatre of conflict wherein they served could typically even be added. Sometimes, further info, similar to a date of demise, or reason for discharge could also be famous within the ‘Remarks’ part. Bertie’s medal index card comprises solely temporary particulars and confirms that he was awarded the Victory and the British Conflict medals. The British Conflict Medal was awarded for service overseas between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918, (1919-1920 in Russia), and the Victory Medal was awarded to all navy and civilian personnel who served in a theatre of conflict. (The award of his navy medal just isn’t recorded right here). The medal index playing cards could be downloaded at no cost from the web site of the Nationwide Archives (U.Ok). They’re additionally accessible on different family tree web sites.

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
British Military WWI Medal Rolls Index Playing cards, 1914-1920 WO 372/2/33379
by way of The Nationwide Archives (U.Ok.)

Additionally accessible are the medal rolls, which could be downloaded at no cost from the Nationwide Archives (U.Ok.) web site. (They’re additionally accessible to view on different family tree web sites too). Organized by regiment/battalion for troopers, or by ship for sailors, they’re then ordered by rank and title. A observe of any clasps to which a person was entitled would even be recorded. The tick by his title signifies that Bertie’s household obtained his medals. If they’d not been delivered, the document would have been marked with a cross.

When tracing the military profession of a World Conflict One soldier, medal rolls and medal index playing cards are notably helpful if their service data in WO 363 haven’t survived. They supply an almost full “roll name” and provide info on regiments and regimental numbers.

From the conflict memorial at Cliffe, I knew that Bertie had been awarded the navy medal, which was awarded to these beneath commissioned rank for bravery in battle on land. The navy medal was established on March twenty fifth 1916 and was retrospective again to 1914:

  • Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
  • Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US

An instance of a Navy Medal

By Hsq7278 – Personal work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Information of navy medal awards could be discovered on the web site of the Nationwide Archives (U.Ok.) and are free to obtain. There’s additionally a useful information to looking out these data.

Virtually all gallantry awards to British nationals had been introduced within the official authorities newspaper, the London Gazette, which is free to look. Helpfully, the date of the publication wherein Bertie’s navy medal is recorded is given, albeit faintly: 24 Jan 1918. Looking the Gazette was not straightforward, and I discovered one of the best ways of finding Bertie’s entry was to look by his regimental quantity, 44841:

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
London Gazette 14 January 1918 –

In all chance, Bertie had been awarded the navy medal a number of months earlier within the autumn of 1917. As is common, no particulars of why the medal was awarded is famous. A search of newspapers didn’t flip something up so the subsequent place to look was the regimental conflict diaries of the two/eighth Battalion, Manchester Regiment. These are free to obtain on the Nationwide Archives web site. The diaries include detailed orders and directions and a quick daily account of the Battalion’s actions and the actions wherein it was concerned. Sometimes, non-commissioned troopers are talked about by title, maybe in a casualty checklist or due to an award.

The two/eighth Battalion Manchester Regiment was a part of the 199th Infantry Brigade and the diary I consulted ran from September 1915 to February 1916 after which March 1917 to February 1918. When Bertie joined on June twenty first, the two/eighth Battalion had just lately moved to billets at Lapugnoy, 5 miles west of Bethune in France. Nonetheless, just a few days later, they moved north by practice to St Pol-sur-Mer, Dunkirk. The Battalion was to participate in Operation Hush, a secret and daring plan by the British to make amphibious landings on the Belgian coast, which for the reason that “Race to the Sea” in 1914, was largely in German arms. They’d then hyperlink up with different forces who can be breaking via the German Entrance at Ypres. The purpose was to take away the specter of the German submarines that operated out of the ports.

Within the space, preparations had been being made for the large assault, with intensive coaching of the brand new Divisions alongside the coast. Heavy weapons had been additionally being moved into the realm. Bertie and the boys of the two/eighth Battalion spent a lot of July in camps to the rear of the Entrance Line, both coaching, typically on the seaside, or in working events, transferring shells and serving to to enhance the defences. Nonetheless, the elevated exercise within the space meant that the Germans guessed what the Allies had been planning and on 10 July 1917, they started a pre-emptive assault with Operation Strandfest (“Seaside Celebration”), often known as the Battle of the Dunes. The British had been defending a wedge formed space within the sand dunes between the Yser Canal and the German Strains and the Germans capturing a part of the bridgehead at Nieuport, (now Nieuwpoort). Within the assault, two British infantry battalions, the first Northamptonshire and the 2nd Kings Royal Rifle Corps had been surrounded and largely annihilated with the pontoon bridges linking them to Nieuport and Nieuport Bains destroyed. Mustard gasoline was additionally used for the primary time.

On the evening of July 30/31, the two/eighth Battalion moved near the Entrance Line, taking on the fitting sub-sector of Nieuport Bains the place they remained till they had been relieved by the two/seventh Battalion on the evening of August eleventh. On August 2, the conflict diary reported that three males from the Battalion swam throughout the River Yser and reached enemy 2nd line. Happily, all of them returned safely. Throughout this operation, seven males had been killed and twenty seven had been wounded, together with one man who was gassed.

Going into September, the Battalion had been underneath canvas on the coast at St Idesbald and as soon as once more organised into working events, this time aiding the Royal Engineers and the Australian Tunnelling Coy however on the twentieth, they moved again to the Entrance Line at Nieuport Bains earlier than returning to St Idesbald on the twenty fifth. The subsequent day, they moved on to Ghyvelde, once more underneath canvas. On the twenty eighth they moved out of the environs of Dunkirk and had been taken south to the Renescure space. In the long run, Operation Hush by no means happened. The German pre-emptive assault, Operation Standfest, had weakened the Allies and the anticipated advance from Ypres didn’t materialise.

It was to be a quick respite for Bertie for on October third, the Battalion had been required for service on the Entrance Line once more. They marched to Arques and took at practice east to Brandhoek, Camp Erie, simply exterior the Belgian city of Ypres on the highway to Poperinge. Ypres was regarded as essentially the most harmful place on the entire of the Western Entrance for British troopers. The British occupied a bulge within the strains of the trenches, often called a salient, which was surrounded by the Germans on three sides. It additionally meant that it was susceptible to German artillery as a result of it was missed by excessive floor. Nonetheless, it was strategically essential. Sir Douglas Haig believed {that a} decisive breakthrough, which may win the Conflict, might be achieved if the excessive floor surrounding Ypres was captured. After having being fought over so many occasions, the panorama round Ypres had been devastated. A brand new sequence of offensives, the third Battle of Ypres in any other case often called Passchendaele, had started on July thirty first. Some floor was taken within the battles that adopted however German counter assaults saved forcing the Allies again.

The village of Brandhoek had grew to become a medical centre for the Allies however when the two/eighth Battalion arrived on October third, no billets had been accessible so at 7.30 p.m, they marched off down the highway to Vlamertinghe, the place they had been accommodated in a ruined home. On October fifth, they relieved the thirty seventh and thirty eighth Regiments Australian Infantry after a “very troublesome march” to the help sector. Atrocious climate, with unseasonably heavy rain, had created a quagmire. On this present day, the climate was stormy however regardless of intermittent shelling, the author of the conflict diary reviews that the state of affairs was quiet and there have been solely three casualties. Orders had been then obtained to alleviate the fitting entrance battalion of the forty ninth Division on the left entrance sector. On October seventh, it was reported that the state of affairs was “pretty energetic”. There was no steady trench system and the businesses had been having to occupy shell holes that had no overhead cowl of any type. There have been 5 casualties from the Battalion and fourteen males had been lacking. The subsequent day there was appreciable shelling across the Entrance Line. The runners shed on the Battalion headquarters suffered a direct hit and the vast majority of the signallers and runners had been casualties. After some prior reconnaissance, the assaulting battalions moved as much as the purpose of meeting throughout the early hours of the morning of October ninth, between zero hours and 5.30 a.m. Info, obtained from statement and from the wounded on the progress of the assault, was despatched to Brigade Headquarters. Communication was maintained by lamp and runner directions. An order was obtained from 197th Brigade to face by, able to help the assault on the ultimate goal. Nonetheless, the order was cancelled, as the two/eighth Battalion failed to fulfill up with the two/fifth Battalion (Manchester Regiment). On this present day, the Battalion lined a entrance of about 800 yards and there have been eighty two casualties. Heavy shelling continued on the tenth however the Battalion was relieved by the Australian infantry at 11.30 p.m. There had been one other thirty three casualties. This offensive grew to become often called the Battle of Broodseinde.

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
Map displaying the placement of the two/eighth Battalion, Manchester Regiment – Battle of Broodseinde, October 1917 WO95 3145 4 123 Nationwide Archives (U.Ok.) –

On October eleventh the boys had been resting at Erie Camp at Branhoek however the males had been “struggling very a lot from dangerous ft and publicity usually”. There have been one other twenty two casualties. After breakfasting at 5.00 a.m., on October thirteenth the Battalion moved by practice out of the realm, again to Renescure and billets at Arques. Bertie was instructed to put on his metal helmets and carry one blanket and if moist, a groundsheet round his shoulders.

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
THE BATTLE OF PASSCHENDAELE, JULY-NOVEMBER 1917 (E(AUS) 3864) Battle of Broodseinde 4 October: Males huddled in funk holes with corpses in entrance of them in a railway reducing at Broodseinde. Copyright: © IWM. Unique Supply:

On October 18th it was introduced that Lieutenant Porter and Hoal had been awarded navy crosses for conspicuous bravery within the latest combating. After being inspected by Sir Douglas Haig, Lieutenant Hoal, the Firm Commander, was offered along with his navy cross (Lieutenant Porter was in all probability wounded). Twelve navy medals had been additionally given to males of bizarre rank for conspicuous bravery. Although no names had been recorded, Bertie Batchelor will need to have been one in every of them. I now knew the circumstances surrounding the award of his navy medal, regardless that there isn’t any detailed description of his particular motion.

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
Conflict Diary of two/eighth Battalion, Manchester Regiment 29-31 October 1917
WO 95-3145-4 Nationwide Archives (U.Ok.)

A number of days later, Bertie was appointed as a lance corporal, presumably for the management he had proven within the offensive.

The two/eighth Battalion Manchester Regiment had fought bravely however there had been quite a lot of casualties within the Battle of Broodseinde:

Bertie – Tracing a First World Conflict Soldier Receive US Obtain US
Conflict Diary of two/eighth Battalion Manchester Regiment WO 95 3145-4
Nationwide Archives (U.Ok.) –

With the assistance of the Canadians, the ridge at Passchendale was lastly captured on November tenth. The road had been superior by 5 miles however at nice price. Nonetheless, in 1918, the British deserted their positions on Passchendale ridge with out firing a shot. Had been these hard-fought positive factors all for nothing?

Within the subsequent and ultimate instalment, I can be wanting on the occasions of 1918. Did Bertie actually lose his life on March 21 1918 or was he made a prisoner of conflict, dying three weeks later? I can even be wanting on the documentation produced because of his demise and the sources that characteristic troopers who died within the First World Conflict.

© Judith Batchelor 2022

N.B. I wish to thank members of the Nice Conflict Discussion board who assisted me enormously within the writing of Bertie’s life story. They patiently answered all my queries and directed me to sources of data. I can’t suggest this web site sufficient for anybody researching the profession of a First World Conflict soldier. Volunteers give their time and experience at no cost however do think about making a donation to help their work. The Nice Conflict Discussion board could be discovered right here:

For info on all kinds of matters associated to the First World Conflict, Chris Baker’s web site, The Lengthy, Lengthy Path is an incredible useful resource. It is a free web site however donations are welcome:

#Bertie #Tracing #World #Conflict #Soldier

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