This next entry might well prove to be some-what controversial and in no way are the opinions here applied to all officers of the AIF, however it is important to discuss to explain the eventual conclusions.

The privileges extended to officers on the field of battle were more often than not though of as being part-and-parcel of their status of rank. These privileges generally materialised in the form of favourable treatment, seperate living quarters from the other ranks, and in this case their burial after death.

You will notice that on the 3rd Battalion Menin Gate Memorial panels that no-one above the rank of Lieutenant is listed as having no known grave. In this particular instance there is evidence to suggest that an officer of the Battalion was killed alongside four (4), and possibly more, soldiers yet the officer seems to be the only one with a marked burial location. This outcome is not the fault of the individual, but a representation of the cultural attitudes of the time.

Captain MOORE, Ralph Ingram was killed on 7 October 1917 and buried in plot II. C. 18. in the Aeroplace Cemetery, Belgium. His name is connected to the following soldiers based on eyewitness statements in Red Cross files which were reviewed:

  1. 2388 CAMPBELL, Harold
  2. 710 CARTER, William
  3. 2074 PEISLEY, Alfred Charles (aka HARRIS)
  4. 371 SMITH, Richard William

What makes these circumstances even more interesting is that three of these soldiers were Lance Sergeants or above in their rank and yet only MOORE has a specific burial location.

Since CAMPBELL and CARTER did not have Red Cross files, all of the following formation was obtained from the files of PEISLEY and SMITH. The first thing that is apparent in these files is the confusion, as previously mentioned in The Fog of War, that existed during and after the death of these soldiers.

In one of the first reports in PEISLEY’s file, Private YAPSLEY describes the events that left him wounded:

PEISLEY - Red Cross file entry

PEISLEY - Red Cross file entry

“We were in supports [trenches] on the Ypres front on Oct 7th, when Sergt. HARRIS [aka PEISLEY] was killed outright by a shell which also killed Capt. MORE [MOORE] and about five other men and wounded me. They were all buried just outside the trench, which was the first trench up from the “pill box” dressing station near the old Menin Road just baout on Anzac Ridge”.

PEISLEY - Red Cross file entry

PEISLEY - Red Cross file entry

In a subsequent statement YABSLEY goes on to state that “….the stretcher-bearer, Pte.F.PECK who helped carry me told me that Harris [PEISLEY] was killed by concussion only, and had not a mark on him” and that “The same shell killed 9 and wounded 4 of us”.

So we find ourselves in a situation where one eyewitness has delivered two similar, but none-the-less, slightly conflicting accounts of what actually took place.

In a statement from Company Quarter Master Sergeant MUMFORD, he states that “At about 6-30 p.m. HARRIS [PEISLEY] came up in charge of a ration party and just as he arrived a shell fell near by and killed 13 men in addition to wounding five others”. MUMFORD also goes on to confirm the details of HARRIS’ death by concussion and that he “saw HARRIS [PEISLEY] buried, together with Sergeant CAMPBELL, Corporal MOORE and others….”.

PEISLEY - Red Cross file entry

PEISLEY - Red Cross file entry

You will note the entry refers to “Corporal MOORE” and not Captain, I believe this recording of the rank to be eroneous as there was no other soldier by the name of MOORE killed in BELGIUM at this time. The confusion surrounding the rank of Captain MOORE is somewhat understandable under the circumstances. His service record outlines his meteoric rise through the ranks to become a Captain:

  1. Private – 01.09.14 (his date of enlistment)
  2. Lance Corporal – 01.01.15
  3. Corporal – 05.04.15
  4. Lance Sergeant – 23.06.15
  5. Sergeant – 01.08.15
  6. 2nd Lieutenant – 04.08.15
  7. Captain – 01.01.1917

When we review SMITH’s Red Cross file there is a quite remarkable letter from Lt LITTLEJOHN which describes the actual burial event. “He [SMITH] was killed on 7th October 1917 at Anzac Ridge after the Brigades [1st] successful operation against Broodseinde Ridge after the unit had come back to trenches on Anzac Ridge. He [SMITH] was buried with six of seven others in the same grave on the spot where he [SMITH] was killed and not in a soldiers cemetery”.

SMITH - Red Cross file entry

SMITH - Red Cross file entry

In an eyewitness statement from Corporal SMITHY the connection between all four men is established: “He [SMITH] was giving out Rations about 4/5.10.17 [we know this date is eroneuos] near Pasachendaele, and Private Bluey CARTER [believe this to be 710 CARTER, William] was helping him and Capitan MOORE was Commanding Officer at the time. A shell came over killed SMITH, CARTER and Captain MOORE outright and wounded several others”, however the concrete nature of this evidence is made less so when SMITHYstates “I did not see it happen as I was in the front line at the time….”.

SMITH - Red Cross file entry

SMITH - Red Cross file entry

Private MCRAE in a subsequent statement confirms that “I saw him killed by a shell while we were at Anzac Ridge. He was buried along with 7 others close to where he fell, a temporary cross was erected”.

Another eyewitness statement from Lt ALLPORT goes some way to confirming, albeit by way of information from Captin HOWIE, that SMITH, MOORE and CAMPBELL were all together at the time of their deaths.

Interestingly Eric Wren makes note of the incident in the 3rd Battalion history: “Battalion headquarters was established in one of the row of pill-boxes where the bomb-fight had occurred. But the enemy batteries had these well registered, and they came in for a good deal of shelling throughout the day. During the night an entire ration party and some prisoners were all either killed or wounded just outside Colonel Moore’s headquarters” – pg 262, Eric Wren, Randwick to Hargicourt, 1935, I believe ‘Colonel MOORE’ to be Lieutenant-Colonel MOORE, Donald Ticehurst (C.M.G., D.S.O.), however Wren fails to mention if ‘Captain’ MOORE was killed or not. Subsequently on the next page the officers killed on 4.10.17 [meaning the operational start date not actual date] are listed and MOORE is referred to as “Killed in Action ….. Captain R. I. Moore (M.C., D.C.M.)” – pg 263, Eric Wren, Randwick to Hargicourt, 1935.

The next source consulted was the Battalion War Diary for October 1917, this proved to be quite valuable because it did in fact specifically list Captain MOORE as having been killed on the 7 October 1917 and also the circumstances surrounding his death: “Capt R.I. Moore M.C. killed by H.E. [high explosive] shell which landed on his Company Headquarters killing him and wounding Lieut L.F. Hemmis M.C.” – pg 3, 3rd Infantry Battalion War Diary AWM4, 23/20/32 – October 1917.

The following map is annexed to the back of the 3rd Infantry Battalion War Diary AWM4, 23/20/32 – October 1917 and shows not only the Battalion HQ but also the Company (Coy) HQ’s as well. You will note that both B & D Coys shared a HQ location (being the small red square marked with a ‘c’ at approx map reference J.5.A.3.9.) which we know from the legend to be structure of concrete construction, most likely a pill-box. You will also note that the A & C Coy’s did not share a Coy HQ location and are not located near any concrete structures.

Battalion HQ Location Oct 1917

Battalion HQ Location Oct 1917

The other interesting revelation from this map is that the location of the joint B & D Coy HQ is also the same as the listed burial location (J.5.A.3.9.) of 6716 BEAR, James William as mentioned in Belgium 1917 Part 2. Not only that the location of the Battalion HQ (J.4.B.7.5.) is exactly the same burial location as stated for 258A DAY, Percival Francis & 388 TUTILL, Thomas Daniel Cecil in Belgium 1917 Part 3.

Conclusions:

  1. Captain MOORE, Ralph Ingram was killed on 7 October 1917 and buried in plot II. C. 18. in the Aeroplace Cemetery.
  2. CARTER, PEISLEY (aka HARRIS) & SMITH were all killed on 7 October 1917 and have no known burial location.
  3. Based on Red Cross file eyewitness statements these three men and Capt MOORE were all together at the time they were killed.
  4. There is a possibility that CARTER, PEISLEY (aka HARRIS), SMITH & BEAR (mentioned in Belgium 1917 Part 2) were buried in the vicinity of the location of the joint B & D Coy HQ’s at J.5.A.3.9.
  5. That DAY & TUTILL (mentioned in Belgium 1917 Part 3) were buried in the vicinity of the 3rd Battalion HQ location at J.4.B.7.5.
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