Memorabilia

The Great War: Vimy Ridge
George Van Wyck Laughton, M.C.

Canadian - Serving in the British 3rd Army, 34th Division,  
26th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Irish)

                               


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This page last updated on December 07, 2013

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MEMORABILIA

In the package that was handed down to me by my father was a number of physical items, photographs of which I am posting on this page.  Some of the items are clear as to their origin but I am sure that the professional (or top notch amateur) historian can tell me more about these items.  I have added my comments and look forward to hearing from those that know "more" about these individual items.

Many thanks to our local military historian Doug Richardson (RCMP ret.) who has looked at these postings and provided me with additional information that I have posted.  Also thanks to John Sheen, author of the "Tyneside Irish" for his comments and clarifications and to Stephen (N.S.Regt.) for identification of the "mystery round".

 

Historical Items Comments from Richard Van Wyck Laughton (grandson) based on research conducted to date:

 

The Military Cross of George Van Wyck Laughton, as passed down from my father.  There is some disagreement as to the details of the actions leading to the award of this medal, as the reports in Canada differ from what is recorded in the UK.  I have been attempting to sort this out through contact with the London Gazette and the author of the Tyneside Irish, John Sheen.  Details of the Canadian records are on the Hero Page of this web site.  Details from the London Gazette are recorded at:

1.  January 17, 1917

2.  July 18, 1917

   

These three photos show Grandfather Laughton, as depicted in larger scale, with questions about his uniform on the photo quiz page.  These were posted to entice other CEF Study Group members to provide comment.  Please click on the link to participate.

Click on photos to the left for larger images.

The Battle of Arras (Vimy Ridge), as detailed elsewhere on this web site at:

http://laughton.ca/military/ww1/gvlaughton/

is a much more interesting story when you read it while looking at the actual battle lines, as drawn by George Van Wyck Laughton on his Roclincourt Trench Map on April 8, 1917.  This coincides with the notes of the battle plans and the codes for the attack written in his field note book.  The open map is quite large and thus I currently do not have the facilities to scan it, however if anyone does want to see the details please contact me (see link at bottom of page) and I will get it copied.  I have made a link to a photo of the open map, but it is not clear for reading the detail.

 

Doug Richardson's report on this bayonet states the following:

Your Brit bayonet appears to be a "Pattern 1907 Mark 1 Land - SMLE (with Quillon)"
 
It was manufactured in large quantities and initial models were equipped with a hooked quillon copied from the Japanese Type 30 Arisaka bayonets.
 
Most of these had the quillon removed (a distant and foggy bell prompts me to say that this occurred circa 1915/16)
 
The above "SMLE" refers to the Short Magazine Lee Enfield (.303) and neither it nor the bayonet would not have been issued to Commissioned ranks. I believe that I have 'issue' replacement wooden grips (two piece) should you want them. I have both examples of this piece.
I presume the bayonet was from my grandfathers rifle, however I am uncertain as to whether he would have carried such as a 2nd Lieutenant, but it appears he left Canada as a private.  The bayonet also survived the 1969 house fire, however as a young lad I remember carving the new handle grips.

My Uncle Paul Laughton confirmed that his father George Van Wyck Laughton did in fact carry a rifle while in the trenches.  Apparently he learnt quickly that the offices with their Colt 45's were favourite sniper targets, thus he suited up to blend with the enlisted men.

 

 

On the same forum, Scott from Tucson Arizona wrote the following: "The WW I helmets have a totally different liner system typically made up of a layer of horse hair/felt padding in the crown, depending on variant a rubber 'donut' ring, or not, a single piece thinish leather chinstrap secured to the crown by a rivet, the liner is supported by an oil cloth or 'rexene' liner. The steel is a hardened manganese alloy, a bit thin, early types 1916 or so are raw edged with no rim, but later ones often have them removed and can be misleading. The British made ones are different from American ones as the rivets holding the chinstrap guides are held by split rivets, the American ones are round rivets. American made helmets often have a heavier textured sand in the paint and the paint is more olive. The British ones are sawdust mixed and can be variety of shades of khaki/mustard etc. sometimes smooth finished, a light grey, apple green, the variations are many.  WW II helmets have a duller sounding metal knock, different alloy , usually a smooth finish, the liner is held in with a screw and post, it is a synthetic padded crown insert unit with a drawstring and fingers to size it. The chinstrap is an elastic cotton secured to the underside of the rim"

The helmet is but a helmet, but I do not know what the two red and one while bar imply.  I have not seen any reference to this and the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers, but I am certain that there is someone out there that know exactly what these stripes mean.

Doug Richardson tells me that:

The markings on the helmet indicate the unit (usually Divisional)

Update March 25, 2004:  

Information I have received recently from Andrew Iarocci at the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo Ontario shows that this helmet is in fact of WWII vintage, based on it's paint colour, lining, suspension, chin strap, brim and hardware fittings.  The fact that the steel was non-magnetic was the final proof.

Update February 5, 2005:

Joe Sweeney posted a message to the CEF Study Group Forum (http://www.cefresearch.com)that stated the following: "Only 25,000 helmets were manufactured out of Magnetic Steel in WWI. That was the first order placed on 24 September 1915. Of the millions of other helmets produced in WWI all were made of non magnetic Hardened manganese steel."  Other visitors asked for more photos, thus I have added a picture of the inside as well.

 

Another new question for my research - where did this come from and why was it with the WWI kit?

See also this page that deals specifically with the issue of CEF Helmets in WWI:
CEF Steel Helmets

 

Historian Doug Richardson advised me of the following in September 2003 after looking at the information on this web site:

The ammunition is in fact Great War issue and the device that holds them is a 'Stripper Clip' and is WW1 pattern as well. The .303 rounds are impossible to differentiate between the Lee Enfield or the Ross as both weapons are .303 calibre as you know.

The stripper clips allowed the infanteer to quickly re-charge his magazine while it was still attached to the weapon for the clip itself fit snugly into an aperture above the open bolt assembly on the rifle. A quick downward thrust of the thumb guided the rounds into the magazine rendering the then empty stripper clip expendable garbage. The stripper clips were issued to be carried in bandoliers worn across the torso and over one shoulder. (there are variations of course) The bandoliers were constructed of canvas webbing of a colour and pattern consistent with the soldiers web gear.

 

Five bullets remain after all these years from the Battlefields of France.  I am not certain as to whether these came from the infamous Ross Rifle that was given to all the members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force or from the Lee Enfield that they finally were given as the replacement, although I suspect it is the Lee Enfield.  The bullets are marked on the shell casing as follows:

#1 - S S 5 12
#2 - 19 DAC 16 VII
#3 - 19 DAC 16 VII
#4 - 19 DAC 16 VII
#5 - 19 DAC 15 VII

The mismatched bullet (S S 5 12) has a slightly larger casing, projectile and has a ring slot at the base of the bullet, as it would appear to be a similar yet different bullet from the other four.

From: Stephen (aka: N.S.Regt.):

Hear is the story on your "mystery" round. The cartridge was developed for the Model 1898 mauser rifle. The bullet is 7.92mm in diameter and could be fired from the machine gun as well as rifles. The round is usually carried in stripper clips in groups of 5 for the rifle but it is much different than the British ones.  The German and British cartridge will not work in each others guns your grandfather most likely picked it up as a keepsake of some sort. The round was made by the Koingliches Aresnal Spandau indicated by one of the Ss the second S is for spitzgeschoss (pointed bullet). The 5 is for the month of May and the 12 is for 1912. Although you found them together a German round would not belong in the British stripper. I assume your Grandfather put it there so it would not get lost seems to have done the trick. 

DAC, Dominion Arsenal Canada,
16=1916.
15=1915
V11=mark 7 type of casing.
Arrow in C Canadian Government acceptance mark.

This much smaller bayonet I would suspect came from a German weapon but I am not sure.  Perhaps it is my grandfather's souvenir from the attack on the German machine gun emplacement, or perhaps just a plain trophy from the war.  It is odd now to think of all of these memorabilia that would have so excited a young lad like me in the 1960's, yet I never once heard my grandfather talk of the war.  Similarly, I never heard of my father (Lt. Charles Van Wyck Laughton, RCNVR WWII) speak of his escapades or those of my grandfather, just the passing of the heirlooms one day back in 1986.  Did they not want to talk of these wars, or could they not talk of these wars.

Doug Richardson's comments on this item were:

You are correct in deducing that the smaller bayonet is of German manufacture ! It is: "ERSATZ MODEL 1915/18.
This unusual piece is a combination bayonet and trench knife. These were commercially sold by DEMAG (Deutsche Machinen Fabrik Ag) in Duisburg. It is commonly called the "Crank-handle". It fits the GEW 98. The scabbard combined the frog with it.

In a small wooden box, there were a number of badges, medals, dog tags and what appears to be buttons for Grandfather Laughton's uniform.  There has been a specific interest from others on the "Cap Badge" (as shown here) for the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers.

As it now appears that the history of the "Fighting Fifth" is as much a part of the history of my grandfather as the CEF, I have started a new page that provides some history of the Tyneside Irish and the Northumberland Fusiliers.  To go to that page, follow this "Tyneside Irish" link.

April 14, 2004:

John Sheen, author of the "Tyneside Irish" has sent me an e-mail noting that this cap badge is an "Officers Bronze Service dress".

The "Dog Tag" (wrist band) of George Van Wyck Laughton of the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers, as attached to another medal noted "For Services Rendered", which I presume is of Canadian origin. (see below, I stand corrected)

Update August 22, 2004:

Upon reading a posting on the Great War Forum I recognized that the top medal with the "For King and Empire" was the Silver War Badge.  Checking back on the infamous Chris Baker web site (http://www.1914-1918.net/silver_badge.htm) shows me that it was awarded after a medical downgrade.  That makes it understandable why it was attached to my grandfathers "Dog Tags".  Based on Chris's note I went back to the bag and retrieved the medal and on the back the number is:

B45828

As Chris is now doing some research for me, that I can not do from here in Canada, I have forwarded that information.  We shall see where that leads us in the future!  One more valuable piece of  information that would have been overlooked if not for the "Great War Forum" pals.

Update May 2012:

The CEFSG Forum (http:///cefresearch.com) reported today that the SWB registry for the UK versions were available on Ancestry.com and a number of members were kind enough to send me copies of the documents. I received the REGISTRY and the full version of the MEDAL CARD, which are now shown to the left under the SWB.

Each of the images are hyper-linked to the full image of the document.

Information from the Great War Forum states the following:

The Silver War Badge, sometimes wrongly referred to as the Silver Wound Badge, was instituted from 12 September 1916 under Army Order 316. It is a circular badge with the legend "For King and Empire - Services Rendered" surrounding the King George V cipher. The badge had a pin for wear as a brooch.

The badge was awarded to all of those military personnel who had served at home or overseas during the war, and who had been discharged from the army under King's Regulations. Expiry of a normal term of engagement did not count and the most commonly seen KR is 392(xvi), meaning the soldier had been released on account of being permanently physically unfit.

It was possible to be awarded a badge if the man had not served overseas - and if his service record is now lost this may be the only remaining evidence of service for such a soldier.

The award of the badge was noted on the man's medal index card, usually denoted by "Lis" or "SWB List" followed by a code. The code is the key to the entry in the war badge roll. They tend to be much more informative than the medal rolls, giving date of enlistment, age (sometimes), cause of discharge, whether the man had been overseas and occasionally other details.

Each badge was individually numbered and the number is shown against the man's name in the roll. It is therefore possible, if tricky, to work backwards from a badge number to a the man or woman that claimed it.

In July 2004 there was a posting asking about the "Shoulder Titles" worn by the Northumberland Fusiliers.  As I read the posting on the "Great War Forum" I realized that I have those titles.  I have responded and so perhaps I will learn more about what they actually represent.

Update December 7, 2013:

Thanks to a posting from Dave MacLeod (CWS Teacher) at the CEFSG (Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group), there was a posting noting that the ribbon in this box was Grandfather Laughton's Military Cross ribbon and was not associated with the NF shoulder titles. I have added this to the CEFSG Forum (see this link).

Thanks Dave for the correction!!

Added March 2007:

I presume these are for the collar.  I will add more details when I find out more information.

click image for full scale

 

 

 

As part of the work to further trace Grandfather Laughton's service record in the 142nd Battalion CEF in Canada and the 32nd Battalion CEF in England (see Military Service) I found that there were two sections (front and back components) of a certificate for a "War Service Badge" copied on the same pages as his discharge certificates from the CEF (to enter then leave the BEF).

As it had been very difficult to interpret the poor copies of the pages, I never really paid much attention to the other pages at the top.  It was only when trying to link them to the other pages I noticed that it was the front and back of the "War Service Badge Certificate".

Still I do not know where the badge originated.  I will ask others, as the badge itself I assume was lost in the 1967 family house fire, as were many others.  George's wife had kept the prized awards and papers at her house after his death but many of the documents and less meaningful badges were at our house and thus were destroyed in the fire.

The Veteran's Affairs web site says this about the badge:

Final CEF Award Criteria

(i) Members of the CEF who served at the front and had retired or relinquished their commissions, been honourably discharged, or returned to or retained in Canada on duty.


(ii) Members of the Imperial Forces, subject to the same conditions as members of the CEF, provided they were Canadian residents on the 4th day of August, 1914, and had returned to reside in Canada.

If you have any information or comments on these items, please send me the information so that I can update this page and expand on the history of these items.

I have since received the following:

John Sheen, author of the "Tyneside Irish" was kind enough to e-mail me a scan of the 26th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, Purple Shamrock.

I will look into the history of this item and report back later with details.

 

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