The Manchester Regiment Group’s albums on Flickr project for collating grave photographs continues to produce fresh information and background on the men who fought in the 17th Manchesters. Robert Ramsey helps illustrate the men who joined in the Battalion during mid July 1916 as drafts to replace extensive losses from Montauban and Trones Wood. The date on the Grave inscription is inaccurate as confirmed by this research:-
Robert attested 10379 in the Royal Fusiliers on 5/12/1914, as part of Lord Kitchener’s recruitment drive. He had been a Labourer, resident at 119 Marks Road, Romford with his wife Daisy and daughters Dorothy & Florrie. His Mother, Elizabeth and Father, William lived at 50 Willow Street, Romford. The couple had seven other children.
Following basic training with 7th Battalion at Hounslow, Robert went on to serve in the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. He arrived (probably Galipoli) with 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers on 10/5/1915. He returned Home wounded on 5/12/1915; and following treatment in the York Military Hospital, Robert spent Christmas at home with his family on furlough from 21 to 30/12/1915. On 9/2/1916, Robert returned to hostilities with 8th Battalion in France. He received a Gun Shot Wound in the arm on 11/4/1916 and returned Home on Hospital Ship St David, arriving 4/5/1916 and received treatment in Huddersfield War Hospital. There was a Court Martial – sleeping on duty – at this stage and Robert’s sentence was commuted and he was required to return France with 5th Battalion, where he arrived posted to 32nd Battalion on 28/6/ 1916. Having arrived at Infantry Brigade Depot, Etaples the next day, he was then attached to the 17th Manchesters as part of a draft of 438 troops who arrived on 12/7/1916. In common with many of the July draft, he was then transferred to the Battalion – 43365 – on 1/9/1916.
Evidence of other men who were attached to the 17th Manchesters*1 indicates Robert will have taken part in the assaults at Guillemont (30/7/1916) and Flers where he will have joined the assault on 12/10/1916 and was wounded again on 14/10/1916.
After recovery in France, Robert was then wounded, serving with D Company at Neuville-Vitasse, as the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line. The Medical Records suggest Robert was wounded at Neuville Vitesse on 5/4/1917, but the War Diary reports the Battalion at Blairville on this date. Robert was hospitilised in Wimereux before evacuation to Britain on Hospital Ship Princess Elizabeth, arriving 12/4/1917 when he was admitted to the Norwich & Norfolk Military Hospital with Gun Shot Wounded and internal haemorrhage.
After treatment for 5 days, Robert succumbed to his wounds during an operation on 18th April 1917. He is buried in Romford Cemetery.
After Robert’s death, Daisy remarried and she went to live with her daughters at 14 McAlpine Street, Anderston, Glasgow.
Many men from Royal Berkshire Regiment were attached to the 17th Manchesters in mid July 1916 and went on to fight at Guillemont on 30/7/1916. This research has led to the identification of CHRISTIAN GRAYSMITH who died in the assault posted as 32nd Royal Fusiliers, but recorded by CWGC as attached to 17th Battalion. 19 year old tea packet from Blackfriars, Christian was originally buried on the battlefield close the railway line leading east from Trones Wood, before his remains were relocated to Serre Road in the 1920s. His Medal Roll confirms arrival in France on 28/6/1916 in the same group of reinforcements as Robert Ramsey. The Roll also confirms attachment to Manchesters.
DoB 26/2/1988. Marriage to Daisy Catherine Box 5/6/1910. Daughters Dorothy Violet (DoB 12/7/1911) & Florence Esther (DoB 24/7/1913)
1. Service Record
3. Medal Roll
5. 17th Battalion War Diary.
The original headstone that was replaced by the featured image in 2016.
Incredible blog you have here, it’s been a great read.
To cut a long story short I’ve just finished my History MA. So a lot have time over the past year has been spent in archives. In my weaker moments I succumbed to positive procrastination if there’s such a thing and have delved into my family history.
Robert is my great great uncle, who the family never knew existed until now. So, this article has been the equivalent of a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
May I enquire how you’ve found out all these little details about him? I now know about the man, and have got some bits and pieces from Ancestry but this just covers his enlistment and medals etc. How are things like the 17th Manchester’s War Diary accessed?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Please don’t think I’m trying to freeload off your research!
Thanks for your pleasant comments. Feel free to use this research as you think fit. There’s no freeloading if we help perpetuate the memory of men in the Great War.
I like the term positive procrastination. I think I should have an MA in just that!
I stumbled over Robert’s grave on a ‘work with your parent’ day with my 13 year old daughter. It was the Guillemont angle that dragged me into the deeper questions.
It’s a little while, but I think most of my data was from Robert’s Service Record. If you can’t find anything when you review it, let me know and I’ll dig back in my positive procrastination archive…
The War Diary is on the payfor website, although a pdf can be downloaded from National Archives at £3.30. Much easier to use.
Thank you so much for the information. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you!
I’ve found out quite a lot about him in the meantime. I’m now trying to see if I can locate him on any of Romford’s war memorials, I’m thinking his parish church is my best bet. Very handy I live 3 or 4 miles away! Happy to share a photo if I find him.
I’m still yet to download the war diaries, but have saved the link for a day when I have a bit of time.
Thank you so much for everything you do, as you say you’re keeping the memory of these men in the public consciousness. It’s up to people like you and me go make sure public enthusiasm for the subject doesn’t disappear after the big anniversary as we’ve seen with Magna Carta and Waterloo.
Thanks for the note. Use this thread to update any records you find on Robert. It’s sharing data that makes this research so rewarding.
Hope this comment finds you well.
I visited Robert’s grave today to pay my respects and leave a poppy as I’m away next weekend. Delighted to say his gravestone – weathered, battered and missing a chunk – has been replaced since my last visit (July/August), along with a few other men buried around him. Not sure who was behind the restoration, a CWGC inspection or the cemetery, but it’s fitting it’s happened before Remembrance Sunday.
Here’s a photo – https://www.dropbox.com/s/1svk4mehndijx0q/20161105_132324-02.jpeg?dl=0 – please feel free to use it if you’d like. As for the search for him on a war memorial, it has proved fruitless so far. Perhaps Norwich..?
Very poignant that his grave is in line with his brother Edward – my great grandfather who lived a long, healthy (breathing problems from a gas attack aside) life – around 150 feet away.
Thanks for the photo. I’ve updated the post.
It’s a bit of shame that you and I failed to advise CWGC that the date was wrong, as they would have changed this on the new headstone. Then again, CWGC could have a simpler method of receiving corrections. I have a phone meeting with them tomorrow and will raise the issue.
Written with the help of your blog and my own family research. Officially commemorated, it’s a great feeling.
It is a shame about the date, but the way I look at it – at least we have a grave. In the grander scheme, it is somewhat trivial. Some of those brave men… boys in some cases… have never been identified. Their families had nothing but a name on a memorial. However, thank you for raising the issue.
Keep up your dedicated work,
The date on Robert’s CWGC record has now been corrected with the help of http://www.infromthecold.org/.
Happy New Year
Pingback: 43365 Robert Ramsey Died of Wounds 18/4/1917. 17th Manchesters transferred from Royal Fusiliers | 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment on the Somme