Archive for United Kingdom

A Birchall killed on the 1st Day of the Somme

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on August 5, 2020 by The Dude

A sad little orphan 1914-15 Star. Impressed to Private William Burchell, 17691, of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. William entered France on the 15th of October 1915 and was killed in action on the 1st of July at Thiepval on the Somme. I have some German ball shrapnel from the same area. Thiepval was an abattoir on that day although the Berkshires reached their objectives on schedule. William was 33 on the day he was killed. He is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial. Coincidentally a Sergeant in the Lancashire Regt named identically was also killed at Thiepval on the same day.

An Embroidered Postcard from France

Posted in Paper with tags , , on February 23, 2020 by The Dude

These postcards were very popular, especially with the British troops, during WW1. This particular one has a personal connection being sent by a soldier with the surname of Birchall.

“With my best wishes to you and all in Garston. Yours with kind regards, L. Cpl J. Birchall.”

It is sent to a Nellie Tomas in Garston. Likely one I found in Garston on Ancestry, born in 1900. No sign of a marriage tho so Romeo was unsuccessful.

A Birchall Masonic Medal

Posted in 1919-1938 Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , on February 23, 2020 by The Dude

Along with the military medals, occasionally drifts a Masonic medal. This one is the 1930 Royal Masonic Hospital Charity Jewel from 1930. It was awarded to Worshipful Brother J. Birchall of the Robinson Lodge (2046) in Maidstone, Kent.

A Birchall in the Liverpool Regiment

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on February 22, 2020 by The Dude

Another ordinary pair of Squeak and Wilfred, the two most common ww1 service medals. These belonged to Private 202702 John Birchall of the Liverpool Regiment.

A Birchall, Died a POW in Germany

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , on December 24, 2019 by The Dude

This Death Penny belonged to Sidney Burchell, a Private in the 7th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Regiment. Sydney died from illness while a prisoner in Germany on the 26th of June 1918. This is likely not his actual death date as the POW rolls have him dying on the 20th of June. Sidney enlisted in Chichester, initially as TR/10/6344 in a Training Reserve Battalion, probably the 23rd based in Shoreham, although Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919 probably erroneously states the 2nd. Later he became Rifleman A/205284 in the 7th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps, part of the Army’s 14th Division.

Sidney was taken prisoner on 21 March 1918 and held at Camp Stendal, Prussia. He died of kidney infection while in captivity on 20 June 1918 aged 19. [Some current records state he died on 26 June which is likely to be the date of his burial.]

He was buried in grave V.A.11 at the Hautmont Communal Cemetery. Hautmont had been captured by the Germans in the early days of World War 1. The communal cemetery was used by the German troops for the burial of their dead. The Allied prisoners who died in the local German hospitals were buried there too by the authorities of the town.

Sidney is also commemorated on the Lodsworth war memorial.

Another WW1 Birchall Orphan

Posted in Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on December 7, 2019 by The Dude

This lonely little WW1 Victory Medal orphan belonged to M2-033111 Private A.J. BURCHELL of the Army Service Corps. Arthur James Burchell entered France on the 18th of July 1915 and was therefore entitled to the 1914-1915 Star in addition to the BWM and Victory Medal. His M2 prefix on his service number indicates that he was an electrician.

A Birchall Killed In Norway

Posted in Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , , , on December 7, 2019 by The Dude

This modest little group belonged to John James Burchall-Ward, 997361, 114 Squadron. John was a Sergeant-Observer in the RAF Volunteer Reserve. He was killed in action on the 27th December 1941 when the Blenheim he was helping to crew was shot down into the sea at the island of Vaagso in Norway during Operation Archery. He is buried in the Møllendal Church Cemetery in Bergen.

A Birchall who didn’t deploy

Posted in 1945 + Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on September 21, 2019 by The Dude

Surprising this week, after a drought of a few months, a plain old garden-variety British General Service Medal (1962). The recipient is Gunner R. Birchall 23381785, Royal Artillery. The lack of any of the 14 possible theatre bars means he didn’t deploy from the UK during his service.

British SMLE Enfield No1 Mk3*

Posted in Firearms with tags , , , , , on July 20, 2019 by The Dude

I have always had a wee hard-on for the Enfield No1 Mk3. It was the first rifle I owned as a child and I have always wanted to own one again. A friend of mine is a nut for Enfields and owns far too many. I asked him to sell me a no-issues wartime rifle to go with the No4 & No5 I already had. He came up with this one. Battle issued, made in 1941/42 by Lithgow in Australia. Sighted for high velocity MkVII ammun ition, this rifle went into New Guinea with the Australian Forces. It was returned to Lithgow in June 1945.

Australian Pattern 1907 Enfield Bayonet

Posted in Bayonets with tags , , , , on July 20, 2019 by The Dude

Two things are driving me nuts lately. One, the lack of German guns falling into my lap. Two, my need to complete sets. I had a No4 Mk 1* Enfield and a No5 Mk 1. So since no Jerry guns were showing up I decided to get a No1 Mk3 SMLE Enfield. I like to put bayonet with rifle so here is a Lithgow made P1907 Enfield bayonet. MA stamped for Lithgow Small Arms Factory. The broad arrow for military acceptance. An X for a hardness test mark and a couple of inspector stamps.

A Birchall Electrician in WW1

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on January 9, 2019 by The Dude

This trio are a 1915 Star, Allied Victory Medal and British War Medal awarded to Private C. Burchell (M2-048414). I haven’t found his first name yet but his army number indicates that he served as an electrician in the Army Service Corps. His record shows he entered France on the 16th of March 1915 and that he was released into the Class Z reserve on the 21st of April 1919. I hope he had a decent war.

Enfield Number 5 Mk 1 Bayonet

Posted in Bayonets with tags , , , , , on August 19, 2018 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomThe Number 5 infantry carbine had a very short production run and basically came in too late to be taken into large-scale production. The impact on the number of bayonets produced for it was mirrored by this. There were four UK wartime manufacturers, one being Wilkinson Sword. The bayonet is marked on one side by the broad arrow and an x. The x is a bending proof mark. The other side of the blade is marked W.S.C. and with their dispersal code S294. Wilkinson made 188,354 of these bayonets.

A Birchall, dead at Cawnpore

Posted in 1850-1900 Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , , , on August 14, 2018 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomThis group epitomises why I collect medals to both my surname and its variants. In the 19th Century, surnames were still quite fluid. With many people still being illiterate in the mid-century (~40% of men), the spelling of the surname often depended on the hearing of the recorder. In this group we have a Crimea Medal with Sebastopol Bar and an Indian Mutiny Meda, the latter impressed to SERGT TIMY BIRCHELL, 82 REGT. On the medal roll for Crimea he is recorded as Birchill. On the Regimental roll for India he is spelled Birchile. Either way, Timothy Birchell, 2232, Sergeant in the 82nd (Prince of Wales Volunteers) Regiment of Foot, served and died at Cawnpore, India on the 16th of December, 1857. The Mutiny medal is typical of many casualty medals, never worn and in almost mint condition.

Enfield No5 Mk 1 Jungle Carbine

Posted in Firearms with tags , , , on August 12, 2018 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomAlthough I try to stick to Axis firearms, sometimes the pickings get slim. So when I slide off the true path I have to be careful because there’s a world of pain in store for my bank account if I go full retard. I have always had a sweet spot for Enfield rifles though, my first long arm centerfire was a Number 1 Mk 3. The Number 5 always held a fascination for me. Partly because of it’s late war nature and partly because when it was issued, the vast majority of them went to the Far East, a theatre I have read a lot on. This example is one of 81,329 produced by BSA. It’s fully matching, unmucked with and never got the Ishapore redo post-war.

Another Birchall in Malaya

Posted in 1945 + Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , on June 4, 2018 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomIt has been a good month for finding Birchalls on the intertubes. This GVI GSM is impressed to 23522812 PTE J.BIRCHALL RAOC. Because this is a GVI issue GSM, Private Birchall must have served early in the Emergency, prior to 1956. Interesting side note, it was called the Malayan Emergency because if it had been a war, then insurers would have been able to refuse claims for damage.

NW Europe and Korea Group to a Birchall

Posted in 1939-1945 Service Medals, 1945 + Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , , on April 15, 2018 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomIn my never ending quest to find and reunite medals to my family surname, usually it’s months of dross with the occasional excellent find. This group falls into the latter. This group is impressed to W.O. 2nd Class F.Birchall, 5.D.G and Lt. F Birchall, 5.D.G.

Frederick served in N.W. Europe, landing through Normandy with the Regiment in July, 1944. He fought through Belgium, the Roer and into Hamburg in 1945. After returning to the U.K., the Regiment was sent to Korea, where Frederick was awarded an MID as well as a short service commission as Lieutenant.

Eisenhower June 6th order of the Day

Posted in Paper with tags , , , , , , on March 18, 2018 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomFlag_of_CanadaFlag_of_the_United_StatesFlag_of_FranceDrafted in February, 1944, this printed version of Eisenhower’s order of the Day for June 6th, 1944, was distributed to all 175,000 members of the Allied Expeditionary Force. This one came from the estate of a Birchall group I picked up. I have the President Roosevelt version here.

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German Ball Shrapnel from the Somme

Posted in Ammunition, Missiles & Projectiles, Odds & Ends with tags , , , , , on December 10, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_German_EmpireFlag_of_the_United_KingdomShrapnel and shell fragments accounted for a large proportion of those killed and wounded in WW1. Those blown into the ether by high explosive to one side, artillery accounted for around 70% of casualties. These six balls were recovered from the Thiepval Redoubt on the Somme and are German in origin. Thiepval was a slaughterhouse on the first day of the attack and, despite early success, took a savage pounding from German counter-fire.

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thiepval

The Battle of Thiepval. The view looking toward Thiepval on morning of attack and showing German barrage. (IWM)

Burma Death Railway Spike

Posted in Odds & Ends with tags , , , , , , on November 18, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_ThailandFlag_of_Japan.svgFlag_of_AustraliaFlag_of_the_United_KingdomA couple of cool and evocative finds here from a contact in Thailand. These are Thai 1940 dated railway spikes from the ruined railway line that ran over 415 km from Thanbyuzayat in Burma to Ban Pong in Thailand. Many people know it only from it’s depiction in the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai” where it crosses the Mae Klong river. I visited the site and Hellfire Pass in 2014 and I cannot believe the misery under which the slave laborers, both civilian and Allied POW, must have worked and died. A digger over there walked sections of the rail line that were never reused after the war and retrieved these spikes.

A Career Navy Birchall in WW1 & WW2

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , , , on November 11, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomThis orphaned British War Medal is impressed to K6690 F.BURCHELL L.STO R.N. Luckily today is Remembrance Day, so the Ancestry military records are free. He was hard to track down because the naming of the medal is in error. It belonged to George Victor Burchell, born in Preston in 1896. He joined the Royal Navy as a boy of 12. He served in both WW1 and WW2, however, all of his service post WW1 was on shore stations like HMS Defiance and HMS Vivid. He had postings on HMS Eagle both in 1918 as well as the next Eagle in the mid 30’s. His trade was listed as jeweller/watchmaker and since most of his berths were at torpedo training establishments, I think he most likely serviced the mechanisms in torpedoes. His rank on the medal was Leading Stoker, his final rank in 1942 was Leading Petty Officer.

A Reunited Orphan Birchall

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , on September 19, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomThis single is a WW1 Victory Medal belonging to William Birchall. It is impressed to 20177 Pte. W. Birchall Essex R. William deployed to the Balkans on the 19th of September 1915. He was discharged on the 30th of March 1917 under category 16, “No longer fit for war service”, in this case because of wounds. William was also entitled to the Silver Wound Badge 152379.

What is fantastic about this humble medal is that I already had his 1914-15 Star from back in 2013 so getting these back together is very satisfying. I am still missing the BWM but my search goes on.

WW1 Canadian Hate Belt

Posted in For Sale with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomFlag_of_AustraliaFlag_of_New_ZealandFlag_of_CanadaFlag_of_the_United_StatesFlag_of_FranceFlag_of_the_German_EmpireNice simple pickup last weekend at the local antique fair. This is a souvenir belt put together from a Prussian infantry belt and the tunic buttons from a wide range of Allied and German units. This example has a predominance of Canadian buttons so I am guessing that it was Canadian in origin. The rest are French, Australian, New Zealand, German and one single U.S. General Service button. You see these in all sorts of configurations, some on Allied belts, some with cap badges and other oddments. The legend is that these were put together from souvenirs taken from dead bodies but that sounds overly complex to me and likely nonsense. More likely most of the buttons were swapped at rear area camps between bored soldiers making up a souvenir. The U.S. button suggests a late war job, 1917-19. The Empire buttons make sense as often these units found themselves together in the line. The Canadian Regiments are from different divisions so that’s why I think this is a rear area put together. Still, a great belt, in fine condition and worth it just for the buttons and belt IMHO.

A Birchall Driver in the ASC

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on August 4, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomThis lonely little Victory medal was awarded to Thomas Birchall, 2529, a Driver in the Army Service Corps in WW1. I can’t find much on him but I can see by his entitlement card that he was awarded the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal in 1920. Both this and his British War medal are lost to time unfortunately.

A Self-Award For A Victorian Birchall

Posted in 1850-1900 Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , , on July 19, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomHere’s an odd one. We have our share of military imposters today, slipping into a uniform and slapping on a bunch of undeserved medals in order to gain the eye of the ladies. They call them “Walts”, after the deluded central character in the 1939 book, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”.

Now it appears I have one from the 19th Century. This medal, a Crimean Medal with Sebastopol, Inkermann and Balaklava bars is inscribed to Captain Basil Herne Harper Birchill 1854-5-6. Researching Basil tells me that he was a member of the minor gentry from Middlesex. His surname was Diprose at birth but he was able to change his name to Birchall upon the death of Lt Col. Herne Harper Burchell in 1858 (probably due to either a remarriage of his mother or an illegitimate issue). He did indeed serve in one of the County militia, the Royal Bucks. However as far as I can see he never made it to the Crimea. I see a record of him  connected to the British Italian Legion which replaced British troops in garrison on Malta during the Crimean War. And he seemed to be busy in organisations like the Cinque Ports Corps (basically a bunch of rifle clubs) and the Royal Geographical Society. However I sincerely doubt that he left Britain and this medal is a self award. Pompous little classist pommie prick. I would say I’d plant my boot into his nuts if I met him today.

 

Nuremberg IMT Trials Visitors Ticket

Posted in Paper with tags , , , , , , on June 18, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_NSDAP_(1920–1945).svgFlag_of_the_United_StatesFlag_of_the_United_KingdomFlag_of_FranceFlag_of_the_Soviet_Union.svgInteresting bit of shyte here. This is a ticket for the visitors gallery for the 379th session of the Nuremburg Military Tribunal (NMT). This session falls within the 7th trial, the Hostages Trial, which ran from 8th July 1947 until 19th February 1948. The defendants were mostly higher commanders of the Wehrmacht accused of atrocities against civilians in the Balkans and Greece.

The ticket holder was a man named Constantine Brown who served in B-24’s in the USAAF until the end of the war when he was seconded to provide Greek-English language translation. He later served in the CIA and upon his return to the US became a policeman.

From his obituary… “BROWN–Constantine. 1927-2014. Constantine Brown passed away on October 22, 2014. His friends and family will miss his enthusiasm and active life style. In 1923, his parents and sister escaped from the forced exchange of Greek and Turkish populations, and came to New York City. He was born in Manhattan’s “Hell’s Kitchen” where his mother struggled to bring up her fatherless children while working at the Greek Orthodox church nearby. He enlisted in the New York State Guard when a teen-ager. During World War II, he joined the Air Force Cadet Program to become a flight engineer on B-24 bombers. His fluency with the Greek language was used by the C.I.A. When the war ended, he completed high school and earned a B.A. from Columbia University while working full-time with the New York City Housing Authority Police. From 1954, he rose through the ranks of the Housing Authority Police which merged with the New York City Police Department. He married Olga Boondas, a professor of social work at Columbia University. His beloved wife and daughter, Themis, pre-deceased him. Constantine was an active member of several organizations, including the Captains’ Endowment Association–NYPD, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Fraternal Order of Police, and St. Paul’s Society, NYPD. Olga and Constantine inaugurated the Themis Anastasia Brown Endowment Fund at the Morgan Library and Museum 21 years ago. He was in the process of instituting a chair for Classical and Byzantine Studies at Queens College in NYC, and provide support for the Orphanage under the aegis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.”