4595 Rifleman James William Mealings - Rifle Brigade

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by SJM, Nov 5, 2009.

  1. SJM

    SJM New Member

    I have also been trying to find out a little more about someone who we think is a family member who was in the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade. He was 4595 Rifleman James William Mealings who died aged 21 on 13 March 1915. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission he is buried at Merville Communal Cemetary. I have tried to do some research on the action that 2nd Battallion were involved in at the time and it would seem that they were part of the 25th Brigade in the 8th Division and were in action at Neuve Chappelle around the time of his death. I also know that Merville was a casualty clearing station so I have assumed that he was wounded at Neuve Chappelle and died of his injuries at Merville. Can anyone shed any more light on the action around that time and whether my assumptions would be correct.
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Re: 2nd battalion - the rifle brigade

    Hi SMJ and welcome ! :)

    I'm going to start a new post for you ... in case this one doesn't get noticed here !!

    Annie :)
  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I know you already know this ... heres his CWGC and we know he has a medal card !! :)

    In Memory of

    4595, 2nd Bn., Rifle Brigade
    who died age 21
    on 13 March 1915
    Son of William and Rose Ann Mealings, of 65, Windmill Lane, Deptford, London.

    Remembered with honour

    Medal card of Mealings, James

    Rifle Brigade 4595 Private


  4. Andy Pay

    Andy Pay Member

    This was the battle of Neuve Chapelle as you have rightly pointed out. The 2nd RB suffered very heavily in this battle, 25th Brigade, 8th Division. His Army Number would give him an enlistment date of late May 1912, probably 28th or 29th of the month. No service record survives unfortunately as we would be able to tell other family members for you if it had.
    Merville (some 8 miles away) was the home of number 6 & 7 Casualty Clearing Stations at this time and was used by the 2nd for the battle with another 18 burials for the 2nd RB for this time in there.
    Somewhere on this site I have placed an officers letter from the 2nd RB describing the battle which makes interesting reading, I am sure that Annie can point you in the right direction to read this letter.
    Haig (1st Army Commander) was also at Merville during the battle and had allowed 40 minutes for messages to reach the front line whereas in reality it took over three hours. The British 1st Army was to break through in a sector where the German breastworks formed a salient around the village, between Port Arthur and the Moated Grange, a frontage of 2500 yards. A special order of the day issued on the eve of the battle stated that 48 British Battalions (about 30000 men) were about to attack three German battalions (about 2000 men). 1st Army HQ regarded success as a foregone conclusion.
    The German accounts make fascinating reading and here the Germans show the first of the defence in depth and flexibility of the German defence, although in its infancy ay this stage and learnt an awful lot from this battle. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the British at this time who made another attack a couple of miles away at Aubers Ridge 2 months later.


    Attached Files:

  5. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I believe this is it !!

  6. Andy Pay

    Andy Pay Member

    Hi Annie,
    Thas the one, many thanks. The Germans had only completed putting some concrete machine gun emplacements for the defence a few weeks before. At 11.30am after another shelling, the defending garrison of the northern sector of breastwork, one officer and sixty-three men of the 11th Jager battalion came out to surrender, walking across the men they had killed earlier that morning, estimated at over 1000 men lying literally in rows, scythed down.
    A fascinating battle and one that shows all to well the rigid system of the British Command structure whereas local command would have been of far greater benefit.

    General Falkenhayn, Chief of the German OHL, in his summing up of the military situation in April 1915, shortly after the battle, wrote:-
    "The English troops, in spite of undeniable bravery and endurance, have proved so clumsy in action that they offer no prospect of accomplishing anything decisive against German troops in the immediate future."

  7. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Rifleman James William Mealings - Always remembered with honour - especially today !

    Attached Files:

  8. SJM

    SJM New Member

    Annie & Andy,

    Thanks very much for the info, it certainly gives us a little more to work with. The photograph of the headstone is particularly poignant and much appreciated. I'll try & do a little more digging around and if I find anything else out I'll let you know.



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