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Royal Garrison Artillery - 128th Heavy Battery

Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:16 am

I am researching my grandfathers ww1 service. I am lucky in that I have found his army record and know that he enrolled in Dec 1915 and was out in the army reserve until June 1916. In October 1916 he was posted ti BEF France to 128th Heavy Battery is there anyway of finding out where in France this unit was based?

My Grandfather was injured, which led to him having his left lower leg amputated. The family story is that he was taking a message on horseback when he was injured, the horse was killed and grandad leg was trapped under the horse. He was lucky that he was found. Does this story ring true? I would appreciate any help with these queries.

Re: Royal Garrison Artillery - 128th Heavy Battery

Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:44 am

Some info here.... https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/271 ... y-battery/

Also here (though also some confusion)
https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/154 ... ga-oxford/

I found those just through Google. The Great War Forum is your best bet because the Heavies are confusing - they moved in and out of allocations, and the things that they were allocated to, changed names.

If you can give the guys a specific time period to look at, they might be able to give the allocations and then you "only" need to find the War Diaries... The surviving diaries are at Kew - some are on Ancestry. The problem, I think, with the Heavies is that it's not clear to me which level keeps the diary - the battery or the group / brigade above. The TNA catalogue should tell you what exists but it can be difficult hitting the right search term.

The bit about the horse sounds plausible to me. Unlike the Royal Field Artillery, RGA men didn't all ride, so it might be that he got specific training as a dispatch rider??? Bit of a guess from me.

But definitely try the GWF

Sent from my Moto G6 Play using Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine Forum mobile app

Re: Royal Garrison Artillery - 128th Heavy Battery

Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:59 am

Thanks Adrian, I'll certainly check out those sites

Re: Royal Garrison Artillery - 128th Heavy Battery

Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:41 pm

I agree with Adrian, the Great War Forum is an excellent source of info. Also just found a Facebook group referring to the 128th.

Just checking through some of my books it looks like the serial numbers allocated to the 128th (Oxford) Heavy Battery fall between 291350-291500. This is not a hard and fast numbering system as people did move around or had previous numbers before joining the R.A. The 128th first went to France in March of 1916 landing at Le Havre. I believe at this time as part of 11 HAG, they moved to 12 HAG on 5th June 1916, I will see if there are any war diaries with more info. Do you have your Grandfathers name and number?

There is a good book here;

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Jv5 ... th+(oxford)+heavy+battery+rga+locations&source=bl&ots=JYKPkcdhxX&sig=ACfU3U2Fwl6AFacUG2dBv_GClomEA-_s1Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwje2Yn789fiAhWgSRUIHcw9Bh0Q6AEwA3oECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=128th%20(oxford)%20heavy%20battery%20rga%20locations&f=false

which gives some good info on their initial movements etc.

The guns they were issued with would have most probably have been 60 pounder (5in) guns or possibly old (5in) howitzers.

Hope this is of some interest.



Re: Royal Garrison Artillery - 128th Heavy Battery

Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:51 pm

Hi Dan,

Thank you for your advice. I have been on the Great war Forum and they have been exceedingly helpful. I have found out the 128th HB were based near Vlamertinghe. My Grandfather was William Edward Baxter 90387.

Re: Royal Garrison Artillery - 128th Heavy Battery

Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:50 am

When I first looked at this post it read 198th., Heavy Battery.
I have just gone back to it and it now reads 128th., Heavy Battery.
At first I was so excited as I have been searching for information on 198 Heavy Battery RGA for so many years. Now I am deflated.

Should it be 128 or 198 ?

Many thanks,

Re: Royal Garrison Artillery - 128th Heavy Battery

Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:26 pm

Since there are numerous 128 references, including the ones referring to the Oxford name, I think that all the information here refers to the 128HB

Sent from my Moto G6 Play using Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine Forum mobile app

Re: Royal Garrison Artillery - 128th Heavy Battery

Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:48 am

Hi Judy,
The origins of 128 Heavy Battery RGA were in Oxfordshire where most of the original battery soldiers hailed from. It went over to France in March 1916. RGA heavy battery units were grouped into Heavy Artillery Brigades (HAB) until the higher formation terminology changed on 2 April 1916 to Heavy Artillery Groups (HAG) until 17 Dec 1917, when they went back to HAB’s again. Thus the two terms are the same and interchangeable. The key to unlocking where 128 (H) Battery RGA served is by accessing the HAB/HAG war dairy/diaries that controlled 128 (H) Bty between the dates that your grandfather served with this unit, which from his service record online are 10 Oct 1916 to 19 Jan 1917. The war diaries were kept by the higher artillery formation (HAB’s/HAG’s) not the individual batteries.

I can see from William Baxter’s record that he served with the 128 (H) Bty between 4 Oct 1916 and 19 Jan 1917, at which time he was wounded and left the unit permanently.

There are some Q&A’s in the Great War Forum online, which you can access this directly off the Net without being a member (but can’t not join in unless a member). Simply Google “128 Heavy Brigade Oxford WW1” and a post of 6 entries from 2010 will show, plus you will see another post asking about 128 (H) Bty on the GWF in the list presented dating from 2008 to 2010 (28 entries over 3 pages). In the latter a posted enquiry by ‘Alan’ on several RGA batteries, including 128, are answered over 3 pages. On page 2 scroll down to a reply from ‘Kevin’ who has listed 30 named men in 128 (but not Baxter) there is even a photo of the (H) Bty drum & Bugle Band. Then on page 1 for 12 Oct 2008 ‘Alan’ posts this wonderful detailed information…

“128 Heavy Battery went out to France in March 1916 and joined 9th Heavy Artillery Group (HAG) on 31 Mar 16. It transferred to 10 HAG on 3 Apr 16; to 11 HAG on 13 Apr 16; to 12 HAG on 5 Jun 16; back to 10 HAG on 6 Jun 16; returned to 12 HAG on 21 Sep 16; to 60 HAG on 4 Oct 16; and to 9 HAG on 24 May 17. It was posted to Second Army Artillery School on 1 Dec 17. On 14 Jan 18 it rejoined 9 A.H. Brigade, RGA and remained with it until the end of the war”.

Note that William Baxter’s time with 128 (H) Bty only fits within one higher authority war diary, which as per the above dates is that of 60 HAG for the period 4.10.16 to 23.5.17. Therefore for Wm Baxter’s dates with 128 (H) Bty, all you need do is access the war diary of the 60 HAG to plot where your grandfather was stationed and what battles 60 HAG served in for artillery support. The 60 HAG war diary is on TNA Discovery website to download for only £3.50 (but it will be a large file and takes time to download) plus you need to register with TNA (free) and pay by CC, following the prompts. Go to the Discovery page of TNA website and in the Discovery page search box enter “WO 95/1802/2”, open the link and follow the prompts to register (if not already registered) to the basket and pay.

Finally there is a rare 96 page booklet on Google Books Online “A Record of the 128th, 132nd, 135th & 156th Oxfordshire Heavy Batteries Royal Artillery 1914 – 1918” by Mary H Robinson. Top left of screen you sign in (or register first to read Google Books online) and the book should display.

Good luck, Lyndale, Melbourne Australia

Re: Royal Garrison Artillery - 128th Heavy Battery

Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:13 pm

Lyndale - thanks for explaining the HAB/HAG/HAB business and for where to find the War Diaries.

As an incidental, I just checked in Discovery for a relative's 159 Siege Battery - that does have at least some individual War Diaries - this may be because (a) it's all different for Siege Batteries, (b) it's all different for Mesopotamia (where he was) or (c) it's just the exception that proves the rule - I've no idea. But the other interesting thing is that when these diaries were digitised, these single pieces were split so that instead of WO95/5060, I now need WO95/5060/3 - which makes it a rather smaller piece to download.

Re: Royal Garrison Artillery - 128th Heavy Battery

Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:36 am

Hi Adrian,
In the Royal Garrison Artillery branch of WW1 there were ‘Heavy’ batteries and ‘Siege’ batteries (aka ‘Howitzer’ batteries) which were numbered in their own sequence, thus was a 159th (Heavy) Battery RGA and a 159th (Siege) Battery RGA, so be careful when reading off indexes or narratives when looking for 159 (Siege) Battery. There was no difference re war diaries if the unit was in different theatres of war.

The higher formations controlling 195 (S) Bty were as follows…
Formed in Fareham 22.5.16 with 4x6in Howitzers.
Went out directly to Mesopotamia 10.9.16 (Long, Long Trail has it as 25.11.16 incorrectly).
From 10.10.16 directly under Mesopotamia Army GHQ; 14-28 Feb 1917 under 13th (Western) Division) then by 1.8.17 joined 1st (Indian) Corps Siege Artillery Group, which was re-designated ‘A’ HAG 1st Indian Corps on 6.1.18; to 101 HAG 17.12.17 to 6.1.18; then to ‘B’ HAG 22.2.18; then to ‘A’ HAG 20.4.18 (which 'A' became 101 HAG again on 15.5.18) then to 74 HAG 18.10.18; then rejoined 101 HAG Nov 1918 and into 1919. 159 (S) Bty was disbanded in 1919. [‘A’ HAG/HAB will be in with 101 HAG/HAB, but I can’t find what ‘B’ HAG was, unless it was also an earlier designation for 101 HAG?]. Beware that on TNA WO 95 series HAG is termed HA Brigade.

1st Indian Corps (Siege) Artillery Group is TNA WO 95/5060/1 1.3.17 to 30.4.18.
101 HAG/HAB is TNA WO 95/4995/4 1.10.17 to 28.2.19.
74th HAG/HAB is TNA WO 95/1203/4 1.8.15 to 28.2.19

These might add information to 159 (S) Bty in WO 95/5060/3 that you already found.

Regards Lyndale
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