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War Graves

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Sonya Report 11 Nov 2018 11:36

My grandfather Robert(Bob) Marsden 42364 1st Batt East Yorks. died in France 26/08/1918. age 38
His book containing pressed flowers, and family photos from his pocket were returned to my grandmother . Why if there was a body to bury and presumably a dogtag is he on the Vis en Artoise memorial as a soldier with no grave?Can anyone please enlighten me.


KathleenBell Report 11 Nov 2018 12:19

Presumably because they didn't have the resourses or time to bring back bodies. You just have to remember how many hundreds of thousands lost their lives.

My great uncle died in 1915 in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and his body was not brought back.

This is Robert Marsden on the Commonwealth War Graves Debt of Honour:-

First name(s) Robert Charles (Bob)
Last name Marsden
Birth year 1880
Age 38
Death year 1918
Death date 26 Aug 1918
Number 42364
Rank Private
Unit 1st Bn.
Regiment East Yorkshire Regiment
Grave reference Panel 4.
Cemetery or memorial Vis-En-Artois Memorial
Burial country France
Additional information Husband of May Marsden, of 308, Mile End Rd., London.
War First World War, 1914-1918
Record set Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt Of Honour
Category Military, armed forces & conflict
Subcategory First World War

Kath. x


Sonya Report 11 Nov 2018 12:21

I thought they were perhaps put into temporary graves and reburied later.


KathleenBell Report 11 Nov 2018 12:23

I don't think WW1 was that organised Sonya. If they were lucky they were quickly buried by their comrades but in the heat of war it couldn't always happen.

Kath. x


Sonya Report 11 Nov 2018 12:34

Thank you for that. sonya


Sonya Report 11 Nov 2018 12:36

His daughter,my mother is now nearly 105 and wanted to know as much as possible. Thank you..I will try to get over to France and view the memorial. sonya


KathleenBell Report 11 Nov 2018 19:15

There are lots of photos of the cemetery and memorial at Vis en Artois. If you google you could print them off and show them to your mother.

Kath. x


Sonya Report 14 Nov 2018 12:48

Tnhank you..I will do that.


mgnv Report 20 Nov 2018 15:38

East Yorkshire Regiment
Battalions of the Regular Army

1st Battalion
August 1914 : in York. Part of 18th Brigade, 6th Division. Moved on 8 August to Edinburgh then six days later to Cambridge.
Landed at St Nazaire on 10 September 1914.
26 November 1915 : transferred to 64th Brigade, 21st Division.


An infantry battalion was abt 1000 men. 4 (later 3) inf bns were grouped under a brigade. and a division had 3 bdes (plus other troops).
By the winter of 1917/18, losses were far outstripping voluntary enlistsments, and conscription had not yet really contributed mant trained men yet, so the army decided to break up a quarter of its inf bns, and redistribute these men as replacements to other bns.
This took place around Feb 1918, and affected every UK division except the Guards div. It also affected the ANZACs.
The Canadians had a similar situation re replacements and conscription, but they chose to break up a newly formed 5th Can div in the UK, and keep 4-bn bdes in their four divs/

When in France/Flanders, each unit had to keep a war diary, describing its day by day activities.
Most are available on Ancestry, or one can pay to download them from TNA.


Ancestry had a free week-end last week, but I didn't find out until Sun even (UK time), so I downloaded some of interest without reading them online.
It went much faster this time - I found it fastest to use the film strip in footer to scroll to last page, then work back to 1st page.
In the last hour before I got cut-off, I downloaded 250 images. I would take the default name (43112_1509_1-00000.jpg or whatever) and when done, remove my erroneous duplicates, check the record count (and grab anything I'd missed), then move them to a new folder (labelled, say, 1st-EYorks-21Div)

If you (or your local library) has an Ancestry sub, you can get the war diaries of the 1st E Yorks.
Normally, browsing for "East York ..." in the 21st/6th Div would get the unit's war diaries, but not here
Browsing for "Various (Infantry Brigades xx Division)" in the xx Div gets the Brigade's war diaries

Piece 1614/1-4: 18 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters (1914 Aug - 1916 Dec)
Piece 1615/1-6: 18 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters (1917 Jan - 1919 Feb)
Piece 1616: 18 Infantry Brigade (1914 - 1919)
Piece 1618: 18 Infantry Brigade (1914 - 1919)

Piece 2159/1-5: 64 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters (1915 Jul - 1917 May)
Piece 2160/1-5: 64 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters (1917 Jun - 1919 Mar)
Piece 2161: 64 Infantry Brigade (1915 - 1919)

Now piece 1615 is too recent, and 1616 has uninteresting units.
The bde's WDs give a bigger picture, and can be useful sometimes

Here's TNA's site - wo95 is the code for WDs
Looking up wo95/1618, etc, gets:

6 div

Reference: WO 95/1618/1
Description: 1 Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment
Date: 1914 Sept. - 1915 Nov.

21 div

Reference: WO 95/2161/2
Description: 1 Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment
Date: 1915 Dec. - 1919 Apr.

and picking just the bde's WDs covering 26/8/1918

Reference: WO 95/2160/5
Description: 64 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters.
Date: 1918 July 1 - 1919 Mar 31

Each ref costs £3.50 to download if you don't have access to Ancestry


The latter part of this post is an abbreviated modification from:


mgnv Report 20 Nov 2018 15:48

Just speculating:
Maybe his last wish was that his wife was to get the book and photos, so a mate took them from his pocket, or maybe he'd made it known amongst his section was that was what he wanted should it come to that.

His mates could have seen him die, but had to retreat, or more likely (given the date) press on, but by the time burial parties got there, maybe the body was buried by later shellfire, or even blown to smithereens, so no body was recovered.


PatinCyprus Report 20 Nov 2018 16:27

I have just watched the new colourised WW1 film. During one battle the men had to take thinks out of their pockets and leave then behind, could that be the answer?


Sonya Report 21 Nov 2018 11:51

Thank you mgnv for all that work. I have managed to print out the War Diary WO/95/2161. I now think I know where he was on the 26th August and killed. The diary is very detailed position and grid references and..lists of numbers killed wounded and missing. Thank you so much..If I can get out there I have a chance to track down the area. sonya


mgnv Report 21 Nov 2018 16:13

Sonya - I omitted posting the link below - sorry

I recently posted the following on:

Just for ref:
In the 1st para of Part 1 in
there's an example of a WW1 trench map ref (D.3.c.5.4, Sheet 28 for an RAP).

Should you ever need to decode a WW1 trench map ref, see: