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Wounded & Missing on Fold3

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Wounded & Missing on Fold3

Postby coopernicola » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:45 am

Having some access to Fold3 via Ancestry this week I search for my husband’s elusive grandfather, Walter Watson Fisher. He popped up in this Record Set as being missing reported killed in 1915. We know he survive the war, he was awarded DCM in Nov 1918, but how can I access further information about this episode. There are no service records for him and we know very little about his war.
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Re: Wounded & Missing on Fold3

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:36 am

First thoughts:
Find his Medal Index Cards - I assume that because you have the stuff about the DCM, then you know his "regiment" and number at the time, so you can distinguish his MIC from anyone else with the same name.

From the Medal Index Card for his campaign medals, you should see how many combinations of unit and serial number there are. (I'm on my phone right now so in no position to look myself). If there's only one, then the history of that unit will include his history. The problem comes if all you know is a regiment and not a battalion because a regiment's battalions are in several places....

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Re: Wounded & Missing on Fold3

Postby sdup26 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:48 am

One of my great-uncles briefly went missing in WW1, to his family's distress, then the Red Cross wrote to his mother, and the reassuring note is on their website. Where Walter is concerned, it's a long shot, but it's worth trying the Red Cross site: https://grandguerre.icrc.org
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Re: Wounded & Missing on Fold3

Postby ianbee » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:01 pm

For anyone trying to help
British WWI Wounded and Missing
Full Name: Walter Watson Fisher
Notes: Rep K about Aug 11
Enquiry Date: 30 Aug 1915
Rank: Sgt
Regiment: Royal Field Artillery
Sub Unit: 180 Batty
Regiment Number: 44615
Missing Or Wounded Date:11 Aug 1915
Conflict Period: World War I
Served For: United Kingdom
Views: 3

How many more views will it get before the end of free access?

Jumping forward, his actual death was noted in the Hull Daily Mail of 11 Dec 1931
Buried at Spring Bank, 12th December.
Image here
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903 ... cat=701705
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Wounded & Missing on Fold3

Postby coopernicola » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:04 pm

Thanks as ever Ian. We know this Walter is ours, we have all documents for him except his activities during WWI. Even his DCM citation holds no clue about what he actually did to earn it. We had no idea he have been missing/wounded but suspected he’d been gassed due to his medical history and cause of death.
I’m really hoping I can find more of this actual report.
Nicola
P.S. even his battery War Diaries offer no detailed information!
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Re: Wounded & Missing on Fold3

Postby coopernicola » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:12 pm

Thanks for this sdup26. I’ve checked it out but having found a Walter Fisher RFA, he’s sadly a different man.
I’ve not found any newspaper references to him being missing either, having searched more thoroughly now it seems he was believed KIA.
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Re: Wounded & Missing on Fold3

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:13 pm

Well mine was the 2nd view, I think, depending on when the count increments....

Unfortunately, he's got me stumped. October & November 1918 are OK, when he's awarded his DCM - but before that? And there's something odd about the Fold3 Wounded & Missing entry. Anyway...

1. Ancestry "UK, Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1920"
This has 10 variations on Walter Watson Fisher - 7 W Fisher and 1 W W Fisher, viz:

Name: W .W . Fisher
Gender: Male
Rank: Sjt
Military Date: 11 Mar 1920
Unit Location: United Kingdom
Residence Location: Thowerton
Regiment, Corps, or Unit: Royal Field Artillery
Regimental Number: 44615


The image of the full citation is linked to this and it shows him in 113th Battery, 25th Brigade RFA and mentions St. Quentin and Catillon - does the War Diary not give any clues what was happening then? The Gazette issue and date are shown.

2. FindMyPast has the image for the DCM Medal Index Card - it repeats the battery & brigade from 1. FMP has no service papers - I didn't check Ancestry given that Nicola said there weren't any.

3. Ancestry also has the DCM MIC in "British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920" along with his MIC for his campaign medals.

The campaign medals show that he entered a theatre of war for the first time on 29 July 1915 and this was theatre 1 (France & Flanders) His 1914-15 Star was issued to 44615 Gunner Walter W Fisher.

The Medal Rolls for the Star and BWM/VM add nothing we don't know already.

For info - if it weren't for that DCM, we'd have no clue about his battery or brigade - the Artillery were not good at giving lower level units.

4. The Fold3 stuff:
Publication Title: British WWI Wounded and Missing (Text only collection)
Full Name: Walter Watson Fisher
Notes: Rep K about Aug 11
Enquiry Date: 30 Aug 1915
Rank: Sgt
Regiment: Royal Field Artillery
Sub Unit: 180 Batty
Regiment Number: 44615
Missing Or Wounded Date: 11 Aug 1915
Conflict Period: World War I
Served For: United Kingdom
Views: 2


I am really unsure what this source represents. Fold3 says it comes from the Naval & Military Press and, according to its web-site, NMP publishes various editions of British Red Cross & Order of St John Enquiry List for Wounded & Missing. So maybe that's what we're seeing here. But note there is nothing on the International Red Cross site for him that I could see. (You seem to need to look for "Fisher, Artillery", not "Fisher, Walter".)

OK - that's what I've found.... (TBC)
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Re: Wounded & Missing on Fold3

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:22 pm

coopernicola wrote:... even his battery War Diaries offer no detailed information!

I had a similar issue with my grandpa - also in the RFA and awarded the MM. That's why I mentioned that the award is the only clue to his battery - I had no other clue either. In my case, being a beginner, I'd farmed out the research to the guys behind the Long Long Trail web-site.

The MM details gave no dates whatsoever, but working back a standard number of weeks from the date of the award, the researchers highlighted that grandpa's battery had had a torrid time at one particular point when they came under heavy counter-fire from the Germans and a couple of guns were knocked out. As grandpa was a fitter, it seemed decidedly likely he was trying to repair the things and that these were the events that led to his MM. But "likely" is as far as it goes...

In your case, the citation, to me, suggests sustained gallantry over a period and therefore there won't be a single day that you will think, "That's it..." Or, that's what I think....
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Re: Wounded & Missing on Fold3

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:00 pm

My analysis of the sources...

1.His DCM shows his unit as 113th Battery, 25th Brigade RFA. On http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-royal-artillery-in-the-first-world-war/batteries-and-brigades-of-the-royal-field-artillery/xxv-brigade-of-the-royal-field-artillery/ it says (grateful thanks for the umpteenth time to the Long, Long Trail web-site)
This was a unit of Britain’s pre-war regular army. ... Comprising 113, 114 and 115 Batteries, this brigade was under command of 1st Division and remained so throughout the war.

So that's the right combination of battery and brigade for the DCM citation.

But while you could follow 1st Division through on the Long, Long Trail web-site, I rather doubt that this was the battery that he was in throughout WW1. 1st Division was in Europe right from the beginning at Mons, whereas Walter enters France in 1915, strongly suggesting he was part of the "New Army", i.e. the expanded army. So far as I know, New Army men wouldn't have been put into the Regular Army units from the beginning - they didn't have enough knowledge and experience. Later on, as casualties cut into the Regulars, yes. And presumably Walter had experience enough by the end to cut it as an NCO in a former Regular Army battery - which probably contained few Regulars by then anyway!

So he probably starts out in a different battery / brigade.

2. So what about the Fold3 thing? Well, by this point (August 1915 - and he only got into France in July 1915), he's already a serjeant. (Sergeant? Serjeant?) So either that's good going - straight up through the ranks in a few weeks - or was he already acting in that rank???

The other thing is that it says he was in 180 Battery. This is a puzzlement to me. New Army Batteries started out, I think, with numbers (my grandpa was in one of 268, 269 and 270 Batteries RFA) but in about Feb 1915, the three batteries in each New Army Brigade were reorganised into four slightly smaller batteries known as A, B, C or D within the brigade. (So my grandpa went into A Battery, 86th Brigade - or 86A).

So it could indeed be that Walter started in 180 Battery but by (I believe) Feb 1915, he would be in a similar battery in the same brigade. And this would be???

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-royal-artillery-in-the-first-world-war/batteries-and-brigades-of-the-royal-field-artillery/liv-to-lvii-howitzer-brigades-of-the-royal-field-artillery-10th-divisional-artillery/ has this:
LVI (Brigade) (i.e. 56th)
This brigade was originally comprised of numbers 178, 179 and 180 Batteries RFA and the Brigade Ammunition Column. It was placed under command of the 10th (Irish) Division.
In February 1915 the three six-gun batteries were reorganised to become four four-gun batteries and were titled as A, B, C and D.
The brigade sailed from Devonport on 8 July 1915 for operations in the Mediterranean, and arrived at Alexandria in Egypt on 20 July. It moved to Mudros, the forward base for operations at Gallipoli, on 13 August 1915. C and D Batteries landed at Cape Helles on 23 August but A and B remained at Mudros and did not go to Gallipoli until 13 October 1915.

And this is where it all falls apart...

Walter enters France not the Med / Gallipoli theatre. He enters it 29 July 1915 - which doesn't match any of those dates. And he is reported missing 11 August 1915, which is before C & D batteries of the 56th go into action, never mind A & B.

And why is "180 Battery" being used in this Fold3 report anyway if it was reorganised out of existence in the previous February?

So I'm having real problems trying to understand what unit Walter was in when he went missing / assumed killed. Never mind how he got to his final battery.... So I've been baffled and determined to solve it and baffled and... still somewhat baffled.

Incidentally, it's not unusual to have no idea that someone was wounded. Dad only knew that his dad had been wounded once when the gun's wheel dropped into a pot-hole and a bit sticking out sliced into his leg. Four years ago we found a clipping in FMP saying that grandpa had actually been wounded three times - and this wasn't even the end of the war...
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Wounded & Missing on Fold3

Postby coopernicola » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:05 pm

AdrianB38 thanks for your input. We have copies of Walter’s battery War Diaries for Oct & Nov 1918. They are very economical in nature e.g. “Rested all Day”. “Barrage at night”. Locations and dates enabled us to follow in his footsteps a few years ago, but gives little insight without much context. There are very few names, and then these are officers.
I’m hoping that someone will know if there is more information available via the Fold3 citation. I’ve never used Fold3 before.
Edit:
N.B. He was regular army, called back to service in 1914. He had the same army number throughout 44615. He previously served in India, again other than a list of places in his army issue prayer book, we know nothing of his RFA service.
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