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Second Battle of Passchendaele

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Second Battle of Passchendaele

Postby ksouthall » Wed Jun 01, 2016 5:16 pm

A few years ago, I found out that one of my great-great-uncles was killed on 30th October 1917 in Ypres. He was from Brighton and was a Company Serjeant Major in the Post Office Rifles Regiment, 2nd/8th Battalion.

I have just discovered that a more distant relative also died or went missing at Ypres on the same day. He was from Hounslow and was a Lance Corporal; Service No: 370588; Age: 28; Regiment/Service:London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) "B" Company, 2nd/8th Battalion.

My great-uncle was one of the great-great-grandsons of my ancestor, James Duncan, descended from his daughter, Mary Ann.

The second relative was another of the great-great-grandsons of my ancestor, James Duncan, descended from his son, Edward.

What an unlucky coincidence that they both became postmen and served and died in the same regiment on the same day. I wonder if they knew each other through their regiment and if they did, did they have any inkling that they were related; third cousins, I think?
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Re: Second Battle of Passchendaele

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 8:55 pm

Personally, I'd want separate proof that both were employed by the Post Office - once conscription came in, you got sent where you were needed, and even under volunteering, units were not generally confined to what their title implied. Few people would turn down a volunteer, though some units might well have been more sniffy about outsiders than others.

As for whether they knew each other - statistically, the chances are 1 in 4 that they did. Unless I completely misunderstand what a Company Serjeant Major was (and I might!), he'd be in charge (in an NCO sense) of one of the 4 companies of the 2/8th Battalion. And if it were B Company, then he'd definitely know the younger guy as there's only some 200 soldiers in a company.

NB - if you want points for street cred - while we pronounce the battalion as "second eighth", it's written as "2/8th".

As for close relatives - at the Battle of Messines in June 1917, my Grandpa was in the Royal Field Artillery where his guns were laying down the bombardment, while my great-uncle Tom, who would have become Grandpa's brother-in-law if he had lived, was in the Cheshires and was killed that day. I don't know if Grandpa knew Tom was out there - indeed, I don't even know if he knew Nana by then... It somehow seems important, yet I'll never know. :(
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Re: Second Battle of Passchendaele

Postby ksouthall » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:03 pm

Thanks for the reply Adrian. I have copies of post office employment records for both of them so they were both postmen albeit in different towns.
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Re: Second Battle of Passchendaele

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:29 pm

Good - it doesn't always work out like that!
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Re: Second Battle of Passchendaele

Postby ksouthall » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:46 pm

I know. It does seem a weird coincidence though, although probably not unique as so many soldiers were killed in both World Wars.

By the way, I cut and pasted 2nd/8th from the CWGC website so I doubt if I'm the first person to have made that mistake.
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Re: Second Battle of Passchendaele

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:07 pm

ksouthall wrote:... I cut and pasted 2nd/8th from the CWGC website ...

Oh dear - I'd have hoped they would have known. Thing is - you'll often see designations like 2nd/8th in relation to the WW2 era, where it generally means a unit that's been created by amalgamating the 2nd and the 8th units, so the term is used but has a radically different meaning. Army terminology is confusing enough as it is...
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Re: Second Battle of Passchendaele

Postby ksouthall » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:28 pm

Military history is not my strong point so I'll come to you when I get stuck.
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Re: Second Battle of Passchendaele

Postby brendanielson » Mon Jun 13, 2016 5:57 am

Yes it's really a wretched coincidence that two relatives in a same regiment died on that very same day but more unlucky matter was they were unknown from each other. :(
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Re: Second Battle of Passchendaele

Postby brunes08 » Thu Jun 23, 2016 12:33 pm

Not that they died on the same day, but five of the eight sons of the Rev and Mrs Beechy (from Lincolnshire) were killed during the 1WW. This was not a unique situation, sadly.
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