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18061 (1852299) Corporal

Royal Engineers


Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2017.  All Rights Reserved.  


            Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were extracted from the soldier’s service papers obtained from the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) at Kew, Richmond, Surrey.  Where other sources have been used, these sources have been noted in the Reference section at the end of this biographical narrative.  A significant amount of information regarding the locations and actions of Stiles company during the Great War has been taken from the history of the 47th (London) Division.  Another important source of information for the campaigns in which Stiles’ unit, the 47th Division Signal Company served, are the Royal Engineers Journals published between 1925 and 1932 that present a compilation of Battle Honours of the Royal Engineer during the Great War of 1914-1918.     


 Early Years

             Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles was born on the 29th of August 1894 in Gibraltar.  He was the son of 16151 Corporal and Mrs. Frank Arthur Harrington Stiles, Royal Engineers[1].  He spent his first three years of his life at Gibraltar and then moved with his family to England when his father received orders posting him home.  The Stiles family returned from Gibraltar in September of 1897 and took up residence at Farnborough, Hampshire near where Frank’s father was posted; that is, the large military installation at Aldershot.  The table below shows the children of the Stiles family as of September 1904 when Frank’s last sibling was born.

            Frank lived in the family home at Farnborough until he was able to himself enlist in the Royal Engineers in 1908.  Given the number of children in the Stiles family it is not unusual that young Frank would have enlisted as soon as he was eligible to do in order to remove some of the financial burden of raising so many children from his father.  In fact this was fairly common for the male children of serving soldiers with large families during the Victorian period and early in the twentieth century.

Child’s Name

Date of Birth

Place of Birth

Carrie Louisa Evelyn

1 November 1888

Old Brompton, Kent


5 November 1891


Frank Ernest Harrington

29 August 1894



1 December 1896


George Edgar Harrington

8 July 1902

Farnborough, Hampshire

Frederick Henry Harrington

2 September 1904

Farnborough, Hampshire


            Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles enlisted for service as Boy Soldier[2] in the Royal Engineers at Dublin, Ireland on the 21st of October 1908.  He was recruited by Quartermaster Sergeant F.J. Bowley of the Dublin Recruiting Staff.  At the time of his enlistment Frank was 14 years and 2 months of age.  On his attestation documents he indicated that he was a Scholar and that he was not an Apprentice.  He was single and had not had any prior service in His Majesty’s forces nor had he ever been rejected for service in the Royal Navy or the Army.  He enlisted for a period of 12 years and indicated that he would be willing to vaccinated or re-vaccinated.[3]

            Stiles’ Medical Examination determined him to be fit for service in the Army and he was giving a Medical Category of A1.  This category indicated that he was fit for dispatching overseas, as regards physical and mental health, and training.  A rather cursory medical examination was usually given to new recruits when they entered the Army.  Figure 1 below is a good representation of the way that these examinations were performed.  The young lad on the right is having his chest measurement taken.  In the case of young Stiles this measurement would take on some significance for him when he attained the age of 18 years.  This will be discussed in a later section of this research work.

            Following his medical examination his Certificate of Primary Military Examination determined him to be fit for service in the Royal Engineers and his Attestation was certified by the Approving Officer, a Captain in the Dublin Recruiting Staff.  He was then on his way to becoming a soldier in His Majesty King Edward VII forces.

Figure 1.  A Typical Army Medical Examination, circa 1914.
(Photograph from the British Army Medical Category web site)

            The fact that his enlistment took place in Ireland is somewhat of a mystery.  His father had been discharged from the Army in 1901 and took up residence in Farnborough, Hampshire where apparently he went to work as a Superintendant for an insurance company.  It could not be determined during the research of his father’s life whether the family moved to Ireland or whether young Frank was living there himself, either in school or with another family.  What is known is that the family was living in Farnborough in 1917 when Frank’s mother, Frances Louisa Stiles, died at the age of 45.  

4.  Physical Description[4]

            Stiles’ Description on Enlistment form contained the following information:

Apparent age:

14 years and 2 months.


5 feet 2¾ inches.

Chest when fully expanded:

29½ inches (see Figure 1 above).

Range of expansion:

2 inches.








Church of England.

Stiles description at the time of his discharge from the Army in 1920 was as follows:

Age on Discharge:

26 years.



Colour of Eyes:


Colour of Hair:


Distinctive marks:


Figure on Discharge:


Descriptive and Other Distinguishing Marks:

Tall, 6 feet 6 inches.

 NOTE: Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles was remarkably tall for the era in which he served.  He had grown 1 foot 3½ inches in 12 years.  The postcard photograph below shows perhaps the shortest and the tallest men in the Royal Engineers during the period of the Great War of 1914-1918.  Could the tall Corporal be Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles?  

Figure 2. The Tallest and Shortest Men in the Royal Engineers.
(Photograph from the author’s collection)


              On the 22nd of October 1908, the day following his enlistment, 18061 Boy Soldier Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles was posted to “A” Company of the Royal Engineers Training Battalion at Chatham, Kent under the command of Captain R.F. Knox, R.E.[5]  On the 28th of October 1908 he was tested for his ability to swim and he passed the 60-foot class in swimming.

            Frank served at Chatham until the 15th of June 1909 and trained as a Carpenter before being assigned to a regular company of the Royal Engineers.  During his time at Chatham he spent 91 days in hospital being treated for various ailments.  See Section 9 below for details of his illnesses.


Service as a Bugler

            On the 15th of June 1909 Boy Soldier Frank Stiles was transferred to the 29th Fortress (Lines of Communication) Company, Royal Engineers and on the 30th of September 1909 he was promoted Bugler[6] by the Officer Commanding the 29th Company.  The 29th Company was stationed at Chatham at this time under the command of Captain G.R. Pridham, R.E.[7] 

            Bugler Stiles suffered some minor injuries of the hip and elbow on the 18th of July 1912 while he was not on duty.  Just what sort of activity he was engaged in is not specified in his service papers.  Perhaps he was engaged in a sport of some sort or perhaps it was some rough and tumble activity that young boys are prone to partake in.  The medical report of his injuries indicated that his disability due to the injuries was considered to be “trivial” and that the injuries would not interfere with his future efficiency as a soldier.  The report indicates that at the time of his injuries he was serving in “G” Depot Company.  This company was commanded at the time by Major G.O. Biggs, R.E.    

Posted to the Ranks at Chatham

            Frank Stiles reached the age of 18 years on the 29th of August 1912; however, his record shows that he was posted to the ranks on the 21st of August 1912 and that he was transferred from the 29th Company, now designated as a “Works Lines of Communication Company” back to “A” Company of the R.E. Depot Battalion.[8]  “A” company at this time was under the command of Major W.H. Jones, R.E.   Now as a full-fledged Sapper he would undergo training as an engineer soldier.[9]

            On the 4th of September 1912 Sapper Stiles elected to come under the conditions of Army Order 2 of 1912.  According to his service record he apparently made this choice while serving in the 29th Fortress Company.  As with most entries regarding Army Orders in soldiers’ papers during this period the conditions of Army Order 2 of 1912 remain a mystery as exactly what they consisted of has been lost over the years.

            A rather curious event occurred on the 7th of October 1912.  Sapper Stiles was called to appear before a Medical Board.  The board proceeded “to examine the above mentioned Bugler [who already had been admitted to the ranks as a Sapper although perhaps not finalized][10] and find that although he is below chest measurements, still he is otherwise physically fit for posting to the ranks.  The Board considers that he is likely to develop to the required standard and recommend his retention in the service.”  A minimum chest measurement of 34 inches was required for a Sapper entering the ranks.  When Stiles enlisted as a Boy Soldier his maximum chest measurement was 29½ inches with a range of expansion of 2 inches.  Obviously he had not reached the 34-inch requirement during the four years that he had been serving.  The statement that “he is likely to develop to the required standard” is rather amusing, because at the time of his discharge he was 6 feet 6 inches tall!  Surely his chest measurement had exceeded 34 inches not long after this medical board and he certainly would have been physically fit for posting to the ranks.  If anything, his height might have presented a danger to him on active service in the trenches as it is doubtful that the trenches would have been deep enough for him to walk upright and avoid sniper fire.  One can imagine that Stiles spent a good deal of time at the front stooped over.  Another interesting fact is that there was a maximum height requirement for service in the Army and that was 5 feet 10 inches.  It does not appear that Army officials were concerned at all when Stiles grew to a height well above this maximum.

            There is another point of interest with the findings of this medical board.  Stiles had proven himself to be a “Good” Carpenter and had already reached the highest level of Trade Proficiency Pay.  The Corps of Royal Engineers knew that they had the makings of a good soldier in Stiles and it was unlikely that they were going to let his chest measurement (or his subsequent height measurement) be the cause of his dismissal from the Army.

            Sapper Stiles was retained in the ranks and on the 21st of March 1913 he was transferred to “F” Company of the Royal Engineer Depot Battalion at Chatham.


            Sapper Stiles was posted to Gosport on the 29th of March 1913 to attend the Young Soldiers Electric Lighting Course at the School of Electric Lighting.  He successfully passed the course on the 10th of June 1913 and appears to have remained at the school until the 31st of October 1913.  On this date a comment was made on his Employment Sheet by Lieutenant John Rhodes indicating that Stiles’ military character was “Very Good” and that he had not had any incidents of “drunkenness,” either “ordinary” or “on duty” during his time at the school.  Lieutenant Rhodes also noted that he “seems a steady & reliable man, intelligent.  Under instruction at present & may turn out a useful electrician.[11]

Figure 3.  The School of Electric Lighting at Gosport.
(Map from Friends of Stokes Bay Internet Web Site)

NOTE: In Figure 3 above the School of Electric Lighting is located in the red quadrangle of buildings on the west side of the golf course near B.M. 14.6.  

Return to Chatham

            Sapper Stiles left the school and was transferred to the 4th Fortress Company at Plymouth on the 21st of November 1913.  He remained with that unit for about four and a half months and was then posted to the 3rd Fortress Company at Chatham on the 1st of May 1914.  On the 16th of May 1914 another Employment Sheet was prepared for Stiles in which it was stated that he “Has improved – promises to be a good electrician.” 

The Great War of 1914-1918

            Tensions were growing rapidly in Europe during the summer of 1914, but it appears from his service papers that Sapper Stiles was to be shipped to the Far East.  On the 23rd of July 1914 he received a medical examination that found him fit for service in Hong Kong.  It is unclear whether he was to be posted to Hong Kong as an individual or whether the 3rd Fortress Company was scheduled to be sent there.  At any rate, the start of the Great War on the 4th of August 1914 put an end to those plans.  Stiles remained with the 3rd Fortress Company at Chatham until the spring of 1915.  On the 6th of March 1915 he reverted to the rank of Sapper from Acting Lance Corporal and was alerted for posting to the theatre of war in France.  He embarked for France on the 1st of April 1915 and joined the British Expeditionary Force there on the following day.

Service with the IV Corps Signal Company

            Stiles’ initial posting in France was with the IV Corps Signal Company, a posting that soon would have him see action in the Battle of Aubers on the 9th of May 1915.[12]  Following the action at Aubers, the IV Corps Signal Company took part in the Battle of Festubert from the 15th through the 25th of May 1915.  Festubert was in effect a second phase of the recently failed attack on Aubers Ridge.[13]   

Service with the 47th Division Signal Company

            Stiles joined the 47th (London) Division Signal Company on the 16th of September 1915.  The company was then commanded by Major Sir L.C.W. Alexander, Bt., D.S.O.  Major Alexander was not an officer of the Royal Engineers.  He was an infantry officer who previously had served in the Grenadier Guards and the 23rd Battalion of the London Regiment.  Somehow and for some reason he was given command of the 47th Division Signal Company.

The Battle of Loos, 25 September – 5 October 1915

            Under Alexander’s command the company took part in the Battle of Loos from the 25th of September through the 5th of October.  During this period the company laid telegraph and telephone cables mostly in communication trenches.  In some areas where the lines were exposed to being cut or damaged the company had to bury them at least one foot into the ground to preserve them from traffic and shell splinters.  The company had to coordinate closely with the Royal Artillery to ensure that no confusion arose regarding which lines were which, so artillery lines were laid on the south and west  sides of trenches and the R.E. lines on the north and east.  The company also made use of electric power cables that were buried two and a half feet deep to connect the mines at Les Brébis and Le Maroc.

            During the battle telegraph communications between the Division and Brigade Headquarters was well maintained by the company.  Lines were laid from brigades to battalions and in some cases to companies as soon as the front line settled down.  Visual signalling was not used very often because of the exposed positions of the headquarters.  Motor cycle despatch riders, however, did excellent work on exposed roads from Le Maroc to Loos.  Communications between the 47th Division and IV Corps was maintained with difficulty owing primarily to the devastating effect of wagons moving in and out of their transport lines during the evening.  Stiles surely had some contact with his mates from the IV Corps Signal Company during this period.

            In preparation for the Battle of Loos, three men of the 47th Division Signal Company were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, all on the 24th of July 1915.

            Following the Battle of Loos the 47th Division was engaged in subsequent actions at the Hohenzollern Redoubt from the 13th to the 19th of October 1915.  The 47th Division Signal Company saw little activity at the front until the summer of 1916 during the large British offensive on the Somme.

Vimy Ridge and the Summer of 1916

            During this period the 47th Division Signal Company assisted cavalry units in laying communications cables.  Two cables were laid from Cabaret Rouge to Viller-au-Bois and these cables were buried five feet deep by cavalry troops lent to the division by IV Corps.  This work was supervised by officers of Stiles’ company.  At a later date at least forty lines like these would be put in trenches; however, time to bury the cables to such depth became scarce and many were broken by artillery shells.  The men of the signal company were very busy repairing these broken cables and since the cables were subjected to artillery fire, so were the men.

Figure 4.  An Officer and Men of a Typical Royal Engineers Signal Unit.  Note the White over Blue Armbands Worn by Men of the Signal Service.
(Photograph from the author’s collection).

            It was during this period that a new innovation was made in the field of communications in the form of the “Fullerphone” that was issued to the signalers of the 47th Division.  This device could defy any enemy listening sets and afforded a much-needed feeling of security to commanders in dangerous areas.  The numbers of these devices were only sufficient for use between battalions and brigades; however, during the winter of 1916-17 they became available to an extent that permitted their use between companies and battalions.

Figure 5.  A Fullerphone Set.
(Photograph from the Imperial War Museum)  

            Fullerphone was a portable DC line Morse telegraph, devised in 1915 by Captain (later Major General) A.C. Fuller of the Royal Engineers Signal Service. The important feature of the Fullerphone was that its transmissions were practically immune from being overheard, which made the system at the time very suitable for use in forward areas. In addition, the Fullerphone was very sensitive and a line current of only 0.5 microampere was sufficient for readable signals. In practice, however, 2 microamperes were required for comfortable readings and it could be worked over normal Army field lines up to 15-20 miles long. When superimposed on existing telephone lines, telephone and Fullerphone signals could be sent over the line simultaneously without mutual interference. Fullerphone signals were much clearer than those of a 'Buzzer telegraph' as the start and end of a signal did not depend on the starting and stopping of a vibrating armature, and hence the potential speed was higher than that offered by the Buzzer telegraph.[14]

            During this time near Vimy Ridge and during the summer of 1916 men of the 47th Division Signal Company were awarded one Distinguished Service Order, one Military Cross, seven Distinguished Conduct Medals and two Military Medals.  The 14th of January and the 15th of June 1916 appear to have been days of heavy action and bravery.  See the Honours and Awards list in Addendum 1.

The Battle of Pozieres, 23 July – 3 September 1916[15]

            Stiles, by this time an Acting Corporal, spent the period from the 23rd of July to the 3rd of September 1916 in the area of Pozieres.  This action was part of the greater Battle of the Somme that had begun on the 1st of July. 

            The company found that communications between Division Headquarters and Brigades at Bazentin were very poor.  Very long lines were required to connect division to the brigades and these lines were subjected to severe shell fire between Fricourt and Bazentin and even heavier and more persistent fire between Albert and Fricourt.  The greater part of this area was occupied by horse-lines, across which the telegraph lines had to pass.  If the company laid cables on the ground they soon were trampled into the mud, while airlines on poles were broken down by wagons.  In addition to poles, airlines frequently were placed on trees if any could be found in the desolate battle areas of the Western Front.  The figure below is a typical example of Sappers of a signal company laying an “airline” in an old tree.

Figure 6.  Sappers Laying Communication Wire Above Ground.
(Photograph from the author’s collection)

            The company found that nothing but “permanent lines” could stand (if there was anything permanent in the battle area) and their erection required time and heavy materials.  Due to the company’s efforts, the lines to the brigades held fairly well during this time period.

The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 15-22 September 1916

            At the start of this battle communication from Division Headquarters to the brigades at Bazentin was well maintained thanks to the work of the 47th Division Signal Company.  As the German forces were pushed back during the battle shelling diminished in intensity.  At that point artillery wagon lines made their appearance on the battlefield during the night.  Men lit fires in the trenches under communication cables and heavy armoured cable was found in one case doing extra duty as a picket line for horses.  Units from the New Zealand Division mistook the 47th lines for their own and broke in on conversations of staff officers thereby causing considerable confusion.  In addition, as the road to Bazentin was drying up after many days of rain, the mud became so sticky that the motorcycle despatch riders stuck in it and the despatches had to be carried by mounted orderlies.  The signalers life was not an easy one during this period of the battle.  Two Military Medals were awarded to men of company during this battle the.

Figure 7.  A Royal Engineers Motorcycle Despatch Rider.
(Photograph from the author’s collection).

The Battle of Le Transloy, 1-18 October 1916[16]  

            The battle of the Transloy Ridges, 1-20 October 1916, was part of the first battle of the Somme. It was the last officially acknowledged battle fought by the Fourth Army although fighting continued on that front into November. The battle that was actually fought had been planned to straighten out his line, by capturing Eaucourt l’Abbaye and the Flers line of defences as far as the village of Le Sars. At the same time Field Marshal Haig was planning a major offensive timed for the middle of the month in which the Fourth Army was to attack towards La Transloy, Beaulencourt and Irles.

            The attack on the 1st of October was made by III Corps, with support from one division from XV Corps. The bombardment began at 7 a.m. along the entire Fourth Army front. At 3.15 the infantry went in.

            On the right the 2nd of October the New Zealand Brigade attacked with its left wing, wheeling around its right flank, to bring it into line with the advance of III Corps. The New Zealanders ran into machine gun fire, and suffered heavy losses, but captured their targets for the day.  To their left was the 141st Brigade of the 47th Division. Their attack ran into machine gun fire and came to a halt. The two right hand battalions were then helped out by a pair of tanks that came along the line from right to left, allowing them to capture their objectives. Close to Eaucourt l’Abbaye, the tanks were ditched, and the leftmost battalion. the 1/17th London (Poplar and Stepney) Regiment, was unable to take its objectives. The next morning the 1/23rd London Regiment attacked on the same front, but was repulsed after suffering 170 casualties. Finally, at noon on the 3rd of October patrols discovered that the Germans had abandoned the exposed segment of trench, and it was occupied.

            To the New Zealander’s left was the 151st Brigade of the 50th Division. On the 1st of October they captured the Flers Trench by 9.30 pm, despite being held up by the failure on their right. Finally, the 70th Brigade of the 23rd Division ran into stiff resistance but eventually pushed the Germans back and joined up with the Canadians on their left.

            On 7 October XIV corps made its own attack further to the east (12th, 20th and 56th Divisions). Only the 20th Division made progress on this front, and much of the fighting later in the month was dedicated to expanding this salient. On the same day III Corps made another attack, and again only one division, this time the 23rd, made any progress, capturing Le Sars. Again, the rest of the month was spent on supporting this advance, creating a new smoother front line.

            Although the battle officially ended on the 18th of October, another attack was made on the 5th of November, but without success. This final effort on the right had been typical of the later phases of the battle. A limited objective had been set, and part of it had been met. Later follow-up attacks had not been as successful, but the Germans had eventually been forced back a small distance. The autumn weather now intervened, and on the 18th of November the battle of the Somme came to an end.

            The 47th Division Signal Company took a very active part in the operations described above although the 47th Division had not been actively engaged in the offensive operations.  Ten men of the company were awarded the Military Medal for their conduct in the field during this period.

The Battle of Messines, 7-14 June 1917  

            During this battle many of the men of the 47th Division Signal Company moved in close to the front lines and were exposed to considerable danger.  Signal detachments were attached to both artillery and infantry units and went forward with some of the most advanced troops in order to set up rapid communication.  Their efforts were, in most cases, very successful.  Throughout the entire battle news was transmitted back very rapidly and with extreme accuracy.  During the battle a captured German balloon was used to transmit and receive messages by lamp directly from the front-line battalions when communication by any other means was impossible.

            Because the men of the 47th Division Signal Company found themselves so far forward in the battle area at Messines, the company suffered its first casualties of the war.  During the preparations for the battle two men were killed; 165725 Pioneer Thomas Robert Coleman (killed in action on the 28th of May) and 32016 Corporal Ivor Merlin Mead (killed in action on the 30th of May).  Three men were killed during the battle; 191574 Pioneer John George Edgar Davis (killed on the 7th of June), 236912 Pioneer C.C. Mitchell (killed in action on the 7th of June) and 236913 Pioneer William Edwin Hall (died on the 8th of  June of wounds received).  It is of interest to note that of the five men killed, four were Pioneers. Pioneers were the least skilled of the men in the ranks of the Royal Engineers.  They were normally the pick-and-shovel troops without any specialized skills who were called upon to do the heavy work.  One must wonder if these men were not sent forward with the advancement detachments to simply carry and lay wire to the forward infantry units. 

            During the Battle of Messines five men of the company were awarded the Military Medal.

Figure 8.  Men of a Royal Engineers Signal Company in France.
(Photograph in the author’s collection)

The Battle of Cambrai, 20 November – 3 December 1917.

            The Battle of Cambrai operations was originally conceived by the British as a very large scale raid that employed new artillery techniques and massed tanks. Initially it was very successful with large gains of ground being made, but German reserves brought the advance to a halt. Ten days later, a counter-attack regained much of the ground. In the History of the 47th (London) Division, the chapter dealing with this battle is titled “The Retreat from Cambrai,” which effectively was the part played in the battle by the division.[17]

            While the 47th Division retreated during the battle, communications became worse as the units were getting off the front network of telephone lines and much had to be done by runners and despatch riders.  Some visual signalling was possible during the day light hours.  At one point in the battle the brave efforts of the despatch riders were all that could be counted on to get messages through.  Major W.F. Bruce, D.S.O., M.C., R.E., at this time the officer commanding the 47th Division Signal Company, went out himself to take messages and orders to the division’s 140th and 141st Brigades.  Unfortunately Major Bruce was taken prisoner in his efforts to reach the 142nd Brigade.  Major Bruce initially was listed as missing as it had not been known that he had been captured.  His status as a prisoner of war was not actually known until the 24th of March 1918 when presumably his status was reported to British authorities by the Germans.  Major Bruce was repatriated on the 29th of November 1918.  His place in the company was taken by Major N. Porteous, D.S.O., M.C., R.E. who commanded the 47th Division Signal Company until its demobilization in 1919.

            On the 27th of January 1918, Stiles then an Acting Corporal, left France for leave in the United Kingdom.  He returned to his unit from leave on the 10th of February 1918.


The Battle of St. Quentin, 21-23 March

 The Battle of Bapaume, 24-25 March 1918

The Battle of Ancre, 5 April 1918

            In the history of the 47th Division in the Great Wall all of the above actions are listed as part of the German Offensives (Operation Michael) of 1918 and are included in the Battle Honours of the 47th Division Signal Company.  Operation Michael was a major German military offensive that began the Spring Offensive on 21 March 1918.  It was launched from the Hindenburg Line, in the vicinity of Saint-Quentin, France. Its goal was to break through the Allied lines and advance in a north-westerly direction to seize the Channel ports, which supplied the British Expeditionary Force and to drive the BEF into the sea. Two days later General Ludendorff, the Chief of the German General Staff, changed his plan and pushed for an offensive due west, along the whole of the British front north of the River Somme. This was designed to separate the French and British Armies and crush the British forces by pushing them into the sea. The offensive ended at Villers-Bretonneux, to the east of the Allied communications centre at Amiens, where the Allies managed to halt the German advance.  The German Armies had suffered many casualties and were unable to maintain supplies to the advancing troops.

            Much of the ground fought over was the wilderness left by the first Battle of the Somme in 1916. The failure of the offensive marked the beginning of the end of the war for Germany.  During this battle the 47th Division formed part of V Corps in the British Third Army.  The 47th Division Signal Company lost their last man of the war at Bapaume.  551943 Driver J. Barber was killed in action on the 24th of March 1918. 


The Battle of Amiens, 8-11 August 1918

            During the Battle of Amiens the British Fourth Army attacked alongside French forces located in the south and scored a notable victory and a deep advance from Amiens.  German General Ludendorff called the 8th of August 1918 “the black day of the German Army.”  At Amiens the 47th Division took part in the battle with the 131st Infantry Regiment, 33rd American Division attached to it.

The Battle of Albert, 21-23 August 1918

            The Battle of Albert, also known as the Second Battle of the Somme in 1918 was a battle in which the British Third and Fourth Armies began offensive operations on the same ground over which the 1916 Battle of the Somme was fought. They made deep advances during these operations.  The 47th Division fought as part of III Corps in the British Fourth Army.

The Second Battle of Bapaume, 31 August – 3 September 1918

            The battle of Bapaume, from the 21st of August to the 3rd of  September 1918, was the second phase of the battle of Amiens, the British offensive often taken to be the turning point of the Great War on the Western Front.

            The first phase of the battle had seen the British Fourth Army push the Germans back ten miles, from the tip of the Amiens salient created during the first of Ludendorff’s summer offensives (second battle of the Somme), back in part to the front line they had held before the first battle of the Somme. The allied commander-in-chief, Ferdinand Foch, wanted the Fourth Army to launch an immediate attack on this line, with the aim of pushing the Germans back to the Somme.

            Field Marshal Haig believed that the new German position was too strong to attack without careful preparation. The old Somme battlefield had been fought over in 1916, deliberately devastated by the Germans in 1917 and then fought over again in 1918, and was not well suited to tank warfare. It would need a heavy artillery bombardment to destroy the wire and it would take time to move the artillery forward.

            Haig preferred to launch a new offensive further north, using the Third Army (General Byng), supported by 100 tanks, to attack the German Seventeen Army across more suitable ground. Foch agreed to Haig’s plan, although he did remove the French First Army from British control. It would launch its own offensive on the same day as the renewed British attack.

            During the relative lull between the 11th and the 21st of August, Byng’s Third Army was reinforced, while the Canadian Corps moved from the Fourth to the First Army  on the left of the line. 

            The British attack began on a narrow front on the 21st of August, with an attack by the Third Army. The Germans responded with a counterattack on the 22nd of August, which was quickly beaten off. On the 23rd of August Haig was able to order a general advance by the Third Army and part of the Fourth, on a 33 mile front. On the 26th of August the right wing of the First Army joined in, extending the front to 40 miles (this attack is sometimes designated as the second battle of Arras of 1918).  At that point the German line ran along the Somme south from Péronne, then across open country to Noyon on the Oise. Ludendorff had ordered a retreat from the Lys salient and what was left of the Amiens salient, with the intention of forming a new line on the Somme.

            This plan was disrupted by the Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians. On the 29th of August the New Zealanders captured Bapaume (east of Amiens, south of Arras), breaking through the Le Transloy-Loupart trench system.

            To the south the 2nd Australian Division captured Mont St. Quentin, on the east bank of the Somme, on the night of 30th/31st of August, and on the 1st of September captured Péronne itself.

            Further north, on the 2nd of September the Canadians broke through the Drocourt-Quéant switch, a strong section of the German line south east of Arras. With two gaps in the proposed new front line, Ludendorff was forced to retreat back to the Hindenburg line, abandoning all of the territory won earlier in 1918.

The Pursuit to Mons, 28 September – 11 November 1918[19]

            The northern attack began on the 28th of September and was a dramatic success. The British and Belgian armies advanced across the old Ypres battlefield and recaptured all of the ground lost during the Lys Offensive. In three days the Menin Road Ridge, Passchendaele Ridge and all of the familiar landmarks of four years of fighting were back in Allied hands, and at the end of three days the Allies had advanced ten miles, reaching the Menin-Roulers road. This phase of the fighting was officially designated the battle of Ypres, 1918, but is also sometimes known as the fourth battle of Ypres.

            Rain, mud and inadequate planning then delayed the offensive for a fortnight. The second phase of the northern offensive began on the 14th of October (battle of Courtrai) and continued until the end of the war. On the 17th of October Lille, Ostend and Douai were liberated. The Belgian army reached Zeebrugge and Bruges on the 19th of October. By the end of the month the Allies were at the Schelde and by the time of the Armistice the Allies had advance fifty miles.

            Haig had been given the hardest job. His was the only front where the Germans still outnumbered the Allies, although not by a great deal, and the quality of their troops was in some doubt after the fighting of the spring and early summer. Forty British divisions supported by the American II Corps faced fifty seven German divisions protected by the powerful fortifications built before the German withdrawal of 1917. The German defences took advantage of a series of wide canals which ran though deep cuttings. The cuttings on the Canal du Nord and the St. Quentin Canal were up to sixty feet deep.

            The central attack began on the 27th of September with an attack on the Canal du Nord by the First and Third Armies (Battle of Cambrai-St. Quentin). Two days later the Fourth Army began the main attack on the St. Quentin Canal. The main set-piece attack, aimed at a gap in the line where the canal went through a tunnel, got bogged down, but an attack by the 46th (North Midland) Division further south captured a bridge over the canal at Riqueval, and captured a key beachhead across the canal, along with a stretch of the main Hindenburg line. A second set piece attack on the 3rd of October met with more success, pushing the Germans out of their reserve line. The Hindenburg line had been broken.

            If the British had expected a rapid advance beyond the Hindenburg line they were to be disappointed. German resistance was stubborn, if unsuccessful, and every advance was contested. The Germans held a new line running south from Cambrai, forcing another set-piece attack. On the 8th of October the British Third and Fourth Armies and the French First Army attacked along a seventeen mile front extending south from Cambrai. The town was captured on the 9th of October and the Allies advanced four miles before the Germans took up another position on the Selle.

            After a brief pause another set-piece attack was launched on the 17th of October (Battle of the Selle). The British were now back on familiar ground from 1914, fighting around Le Cateau (17th and 18th of October).  The Germans retreated to yet another river line, this time on the Sambre. Once again a set-piece attack was launched. A preliminary attack on the 1st and 2nd of November saw the Canadians capture Valenciennes, and then on the 4th of November Haig’s armies launched an attack on a thirty mile front along the Sambre. This was the final British set-piece of the war. The fighting from the 4th to the 11th of November was officially designated the Pursuit to Mons. One of the last actions of the war saw Canadian troops liberate Mons on the morning of the 11 of November 1918.

            This final phase of the fighting on the Western Front was amongst the most costly of the war. The British suffered 350,000 casualties between August and the end of the war, 200,000 of them between the start of September and the 9th of October 1918, of which 140,000 were suffered at Cambria-St. Quentin.  Only the first battle of the Somme was more costly. The difference this time was that the Allies finally achieved all of their objectives, for the fighting since August had finally broken the German will to continue the war.

The Great War Ends

            The fighting stopped on the 11th of November 1918.  There was nothing dramatic about the end of the war for Corporal Stiles and his mate in the 47th Division Signal Company.  News of the Armistice reached the troops on their march westwards, and it hardly raised a cheer.  The company was in the vicinity of Tournai when it was all over.  Two weeks after the Armistice the 47th Division moved back by road through the devastated country behind Lille to billets in the area behind Béthune.  The Royal Engineers were billeted at Raimbert and Burbure.

            Early in 1919 demobilization of the division began in earnest and the 47th Division grew smaller day by day.  On the 11th of January 1919 Stiles left France for 14 days leave in the United Kingdom.  He returned to his company on the 25th of January and one can only imagine his disappointment at having to go back to France after two weeks in England, especially since the war was over.  What he returned to was essentially a program of “educational and recreational training”[20]  In addition there was much inspection of equipment, inventorying of equipment and stores and a lot of administrative work in preparation for going home.  By the end of March 1919 the division’s units were reduced almost to cadre strength and on the 28th of March 1919 Major General Sir G.F. Gorringe, K.C.B.,K.C.M.G., D.S.O., the division commander, published SPECIAL ORDER OF THE DAY, the first sentence of which read:

“The day has arrived for the 47th (London) Division to cease to exist in France as a Division and for the remnant to be formed into Brigade Groups of Cadres.” 

            Stiles remained in France until the 27th of April when he embarked for the United Kingdom as part of one of these cadre groups.  He arrived home on the following day and was posted to Bedford “A” Signal Depot, Royal Engineers, a recruit depot for Signals training.

Great War Medals

            For his service in the war Stiles was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.  Oddly there are two Medal Index Cards (MIC) for Stiles.  One card is made out for him in the name of “Stiles” and the other in the name of “Styles.”  The second card shows his qualification date for the 1914-15 Star as the 6th of March 1915, presumably from the date that he was warned off for service in France, although he did not actually arrive in France until the 2nd of April 1915.  On the “Styles” MIC his rank is shown as Sapper.  On the “Styles” card his rank is shown as Acting Corporal.  He had in fact reverted to the rank of Sapper on the 24th of June 1919 while the 47th Division was in the process of demobilization.

Figure 9. Medals of the Type Awarded to Sapper F.E.H. Stiles, R.E.




Figure 9a.  The “Stiles” Medal Index Card.


Figure 9b.  The Styles Medal Index Card.

            Sapper Stiles remained in the Army until his final discharge on the 20th of October 1920.  He had been posted from Bedford sometime between July and October of 1919 and had joined the 3rd Dover Fortress Company in Kent.  Because he had been retained in the Army into 1920 he was assigned the Army Number 1852299 (See ENDNOTE 26). 


 a.                  Promotions: Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles  received the following promotions during his time in service:  

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Position

21 October 1908

Appointed a Boy Soldier on enlistment.

30 September 1910

Promoted Bugler.

21 August 1912

Provisionally posted to the ranks as a Sapper.

9 October 1912

Medically approved for posting to the ranks as a Sapper.

22 October 1914

Appointed an Unpaid Acting Lance Corporal.

6 March 1915

Reverted to the rank of Sapper.

1 January 1916

Appointed Acting Lance Corporal.

28 March 1916

Appointed Acting Corporal.

24 June 1919

Reverted to the rank of Sapper.


b.  Conduct:   Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles military record does not indicate that he received any Good Conduct Badges during his time in service.[21]  This is somewhat unusual as he would have been entitled to receive the badges and Good Conduct Pay after 2 and 6 years of service, assuming that his conduct had been good.  There is no indication in his records that there was any misconduct on his part except for that noted below when he was in his eleventh year of service and for that infraction he only had been admonished.

 c.  Offense and Disciplinary Actions:  Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles was reported absent from duty on the 28th of October 1919 from 2359 hours until he reported to the guardroom at 2230 hours on the 29th of October.  He had been absent for 22 hours and 30 minutes.  On the 30th of October he was admonished for being absent without leave and forfeited one day’s pay.  He was serving with the 3rd Fortress Company at the time.  There is no indication associated with this punishment that he was made to forfeit a Good Conduct Badge and its associated pay.


a.     Education:  earned the following Certificates of Education during his time in service:


Certificate of Education[22]

29 January 1909

Awarded a Third Class Certificate of Education.

30 September 1910

Awarded Second Class Certificate of Education.

10 June 1913

Passed the Young Soldiers Electric Lighting Course at Gosport.


b.                  Qualifications: Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles earned the following qualifications during his time in service.



17 August 1910

Certificate of Trade Proficiency: Granted 7th Rate Engineer Pay as a Carpenter after testing at the Workshops, School of Military Engineering.[23]

13 March 1911

Granted 6th Rate Engineer Pay as a Carpenter.

2 June 1912

Rated “Fair” as a Carpenter-Boy Soldier.

3 June 1912

Granted 5th Rate Engineer Pay as a Carpenter.

21 August 1912

Rated “Good” as a Carpenter with Proficiency Pay at 1d per day.  

26 September 1912

Trade and Special Qualification Form issued by a Captain, R.E., Superintendant of Workshops, School of Military Engineering.

21 November 1913:

Rated a “Proficient” Electrician by the Chief Engineer, Portsmouth.

8 April 1914

Re-mustered as a “Superior” Electrician by the Chief Engineer, Portsmouth.



NOTES: The rating of “Fair” as a Carpenter was given by Captain W.J.W. Noble, R.E., Officer Commanding, 29th Fortress Company.  


            The following medical information was taken from Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles’ service records during his time in service:  


Date of Admission


Period of Hospitalization or Treatment

Chatham, Kent

30 Oct 1908

Ringworm and mild attack of psoriasis.

32 days in hospital.  Treated with arsenic.

Chatham, Kent

1 Dec 1908


2 days in hospital.

Chatham, Kent

19 Jan 1909

Re-vaccinated against smallpox

“Results Perfect”

Chatham, Kent

29 Mar 1909


57 days in hospital. 

Ft. Pitt, Chatham, Kent

19 Jul 1912

Contusions on elbow and hip.

7 days in hospital.  Treated for “abrasions of hip and elbow.”

Chatham, Kent

7 Oct 1912

Chest measurement.

Medical Board evaluation.

Gosport, Hampshire

4 Nov 1913

Dental treatment.

Tooth extracted.

Gosport, Hampshire

11 Dec 1913

Dental treatment.

1 day in hospital. Tooth extracted.

Chatham, Kent

23 July 1914

Medical examination.

Found fit for service abroad (Hong Kong)

Shoreham, Sussex

26 May 1919

Medical examination.

Pre-discharge medical examination

Bedford, Bedfordshire

2 July 1919


16 days in hospital.

Eastbourne, Sussex

17 July 1919


69 days in hospital.

Dover, Kent

2 July 1920

Medical examination.

Examination prior to discharge.


  1. During his medical examination at Shoreham on 26 May 1919, Stiles is shown as a Corporal serving in the 47th Signal Company, R.E.  His permanent address is listed as 56 Castle Street Mont Rose [Montrose], Scotland.[24]  Stiles claimed that he was not suffering from a disability due to military service.
  1. During his final medical examination at Dover his general medical condition was found to be good, without any significant ailments or deformities except for a slight loss of hearing.


            No information could be found indicating that Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles had ever been married.  His military service papers indicate that he was single when he was discharged in 1920 and there are no genealogical web sites that show he was ever married.  His will does not indicate to whom his estate was bequeathed. 


            On the 20th of September 1920 Stiles completed a Statement as to Disability for his military service record.  This statement contained the following items:

·         Unit: 3rd Dover Fortress Company, R.E.

·         Rank: Sapper (Army Number: 1852299)

·         Permanent Address: 33 Bendemeer Road, Putney. London S.W.15.

·         Place of Medical Examination: Dover.

            At the bottom of the form he stated that he did not claim to be suffering from a disability due to military service.

            One final form was required to be completed prior to his discharge.  This was the Descriptive Return of a Soldier medically boarded before Discharge or Transfer to the Reserve (Army Form D. 400).  The following information was entered on this form:

·         Unit: 3rd Dover Fortress Company, R.E.

·         Rank on Discharge: Sapper (Army Number 1852299).

·         Age on Discharge: 26.

·         Marital Status: Single.

·         Special qualification for employment: Electrician.

·         Nature and locality of employment desired: Electrician, London, Putney S.W.15.

·         Postal Address on Discharge: 33 Bendemeer Road, Putney, S.W.15.

(Author’s note: This address was lined through on the form without explanation, perhaps indicating that Stiles was uncertain of his address after leaving the Army).  

·         Place of Birth: Gibraltar.

·         Christian Name of Father: Frank.

·         Christian Name of Mother: Annie.(*)

(*) Author’s note: This is an interesting entry since his biological mother Frances Louis Stiles had died in 1917.  It appears that his father had remarried.  No record could be found of his father, Frank Arthur Harrington Stiles, having remarried and no information regarding an Annie Stiles could be uncovered).  

            Also included on this form was his physical description previously provided in Section 4 above. 

            Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles was discharged from the Army at Chatham on the 20th of October 1920 on the termination of his period of limited engagement.  His Proceedings on Discharge repeat much of the information given above:

·         Home address: 33 Bendemeer Road, Putney, London S.W.15.[25]

·         Assigned Army Number: 1852299.[26]

·         Total Service: 12 years.

·         Trade on Discharge: Electrician Class II

            Stiles total service was reckoned as shown in the tables below:


Period of Service

Chatham, Kent

21 October 1908 – 28 March 1913

Gosport, Hampshire

29 March 1913 – 20 November 1913

Plymouth, Devonshire

21 November 1913 – 30 April 1914

Chatham, Kent

1 May 1914 – 31 March 1915

British Expeditionary Force, France

1 April 1915 – 27 April 1919

Bedford, Bedfordshire via Shoreham, Sussex

28 April 1919 – 16 July 1919

Dover, Kent via Eastbourne, Sussex

17 July 1919 – 19 October 1920

Chatham, Kent (discharge)

20 October 1920



Period of Service

Home Service

7 years and 338 days

Service Abroad

4 years and 27 days

Total Service

12 years exactly


            Shortly after his discharge from the Army Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles sailed to Calcutta, India on board S.S. Sardinia.

Figure 10. S.S. Sardinia.
(Photograph from Wikipedia)

            His occupation on the ship’s manifest is shown as “Electrical Engineer.”  He sailed from London on the 26th of November 1920, just a little over a month after his discharge.  Since his trade on discharge was Electrician Class II, it appears that he played somewhat loose and free with the title of “Electrical Engineer.”  There is no indication in his service papers that he attended a university at any time to obtain a degree in engineering.  He had no time to do this prior to his military service since he had enlisted in the Royal Engineers as a Boy Soldier when he was 14 years old.  Perhaps in those days there was no regulatory agency to watch over the titles that people gave to themselves.  The Institution of Electrical Engineers did exist at that time, but that august body could hardly keep up with every Electrician who claimed to be an Engineer. 

            On the 29th of January 1947 Stiles sailed from Southampton on board S.S. Strathnaver bound for Bombay.  He listed his home address as 38 Wingfield Street, Peckham S.E. 15 and his occupation as “Engineer.”  Now by this time he may have gotten a legitimate degree in Electrical Engineering, but there is not available evidence to proof this.  He seems to have had a penchant for working in India, and perhaps in India in those days he could get away with calling himself an Electrical Engineer when in truth he was an Electrician – and probably a very good Electrician by this time.  Since he had a permanent address in London, he must have practice his trade in the United Kingdom as well.

Figure 11.  S.S. Strathnather.
(Photograph from the P&O Steam Navigation Company Internet Web Site)

            Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles died at 110 Croxted Road, Camberwell, London S.E.21 on the 3rd of April 1978 at the age of 83.  His will was probated in London on the 19th of July 1978.  His estate was valued at £11,411.  There is no indication in the probate register as to who his heir was. 

            His father and his second wife Annie probably were deceased by 1978. 

            Frank’s brother George Edgar Harrington Stiles had died in 1972 and his brother Frederick Henry Harrington Stiles had died in 1973. 

            Frank had listed two of his sisters as next-of-kin when he joined the Army in 1908.  He listed them as Mrs. Storkler of 21 Radihole Road, Fulham, London S.W.6 and Mrs. Hutton of 26 Castle Street, Montrose, Angus, Scotland. 

            Mrs. Hutton was his sister Gwendoline who married Andrew Hutton a native of Glasgow.  Andrew’s birthplace is probably why they were living in Montrose in 1908.  However, the 1911 Census of England and Wales shows Andrew and Gwendoline living at 119 Peabody Road South in Farnborough, Hampshire.  Andrew was a Grocer working for Lipton Ltd. as a military contractor, probably supplying food stuffs to the Army.  In 1911 Andrew was 29 years of age and Gwendoline was 10 years his junior. 

            It is not known whether any of Frank’s sisters were alive in1978 when he died.

Battle Honours of the 47th Division Signal Company, Royal Engineers

Major Headquarters




47th Division

Battle of Festubert

15-25 May 1915

47th Division

Battle of Loos

25 Sep - 5 Oct 1915

47th Division

Battle of the Somme

1 Jul - 18 Nov 1916

47th Division

Battle of Pozieres

23 Jul - 3 Sep 1916

47th Division

Battle of Flers-Courcelette

15-22 Sep 1916

47th Division

Battle of Le Transloy

1-18 Oct 1916

47th Division

Battle of Messines

7-14 Jun 1917

47th Division

Battle of Cambrai

20 Nov - 3 Dec 1917

47th Division

Battle of St. Quentin

21-23 Mar 1918

47th Division

Battle of Bapaume

24-25 Mar 1918

47th Division

Battle of Ancre

5 Apr 1918

47th Division

Battle of Amiens

8-11 Aug 1918

47th Division

Battle of Albert

21-23 Aug 1918

47th Division

Battle of Bapaume

31 Aug - 3 Sep 1918

47th Division

Pursuit to Mons

28 Sep - 11 Nov 1918


1. Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers. Royal Engineers Journal, The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1925-1932.

2. MAUDE, A.H. (ed.).  The 47th (London) Division, 1914-1919.  Amalgamated Press Ltd., London, 1922.


Honours and Awards for the Great War of 1914-1918





Alexander, Sir L.C.W.


Distinguished Service Order


Bruce, W.F.


Distinguished Service Order


Porteous, N.


Distinguished Service Order


Bruce, M.F.


Military Cross


Jones, D.W.


Military Cross


Shennan, W.D.

2nd Lieutenant

Military Cross


Wilson, R.G.M.


Military Cross


Baker, F.


Distinguished Conduct Medal


Beale, J.R.

Lance Corporal

Distinguished Conduct Medal


Dinnage, A.

Lance Corporal

Distinguished Conduct Medal


Downs, __


Distinguished Conduct Medal


Glover, B.E.


Distinguished Conduct Medal


Green, L.E.

Company Sergeant Major

Distinguished Conduct Medal


Lewis, G.


Distinguished Conduct Medal


McMullen, G.


Distinguished Conduct Medal


Moore, R.S.


Distinguished Conduct Medal


Mounter, W.

Lance Corporal

Distinguished Conduct Medal


Hatley, F.J.

Lance Corporal

Military Medal and bar

8/9/1917 & 23/10/1918

Hornsby, G.


Military Medal and bar

15/6/1916 & 13/10/1916

Moore, W.F.


Military Medal and bar

15/6/1916 & 23/6/1917

Ottley, A.J.


Military Medal and bar

2/10/1916 & 23/6/1917

Reynolds, W.


Military Medal and bar

15/6/1916 & 11/10/1918

Ashworth, J.


Military Medal


Baylie, F.

2nd Corporal

Military Medal


Blackstaffe, W.P.


Military Medal


Brace, J.


Military Medal


Bridgen, H.E.

Lance Corporal

Military Medal


Charlton, J.


Military Medal


Chitty, F.G.


Military Medal


Claison, L.T.


Military Medal


Cook, A.J.H.


Military Medal


Cook, C.W.


Military Medal


Daley, W.


Military Medal


Duthie, F.W.


Military Medal


Green, S.


Military Medal


Hoare, H.S.


Military Medal


Humphries, G.E.


Military Medal


Moncho, A.


Military Medal


Parker, F.


Military Medal


Ringe, W.F.


Military Medal


Seldon, S.J.


Military Medal


Stuart-Richardson, J.C.


Military Medal


Suffolk, J.H.


Military Medal


Twine, R.


Military Medal


Weikert, C.D.


Military Medal


West, A.W.


Military Medal


Whitmore, M.W.

Lance Corporal

Military Medal


Chance, R.


Meritorious Service Medal


Green, L.E.

Company Sergeant Major

Meritorious Service Medal


Mackay, J.


Meritorious Service Medal


Moss, W.N.


Meritorious Service Medal


Pease, B.

Company Sergeant Major

Meritorious Service Medal


Poore, A.J.


Meritorious Service Medal


Vere, S.H.


Meritorious Service Medal


Glover, B.E.


French Medaille Militaire


Brigden, H.E.

Lance Corporal

Belgian Croix de Guerre



1.      The dates given are those of the London Gazette or of their publication in The Times. In many cases, however, especially in the case of immediate awards, the date is that of the authority for the award received at Divisional Headquarters and corresponds more nearly with that of the act of gallantry recognized.

2.      The rank given is that held at the time of the recommendation for the award.


Awards by Rank


Number of Awards







2nd Lieutenant


Company Sergeant Major






2nd Corporal






 The Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks of the 47th Divisional Signal Company won a large percentage of awards when compared to all of the men of the 47th Divisional Engineers; that is, the three field companies and the division signal company.  Here is the breakdown by number and percentage:

 Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.): 3 of 5, or 60%

Military Cross (M.C.): 5 of 20, or 25%

Distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M.): 10 of 22, or 45.5%

Military Medal and bar (M.M.*): 5 of 5, or 100%.  No other engineer soldier in the division won the award twice.

Military Medal (M.M.): 26 of 84, or 31%

Meritorious Service Medal: 7 of 15, or 46.7%

French Medaille Militaire: 1 of 1, or 100%

Belgian Croix de Guerre: 1 of 2, or 50%  

Total Number of Awards by Type

 Distinguished Service Order:              3

Military Cross:                                    4

Distinguished Conduct Medal:           10

Military Medal and bar:                      5

Military Medal:                                   25

Meritorious Service Medal:                 7

French Medaille Militaire:                   1

    Belgian Croix de Guerre:                    1  

Source:  MAUDE, A.H. (ed.).  The 47th (London) Division, 1914-1919.  Amalgamated Press Ltd., London, 1922.


   Men of the 47th Division Signal Company
Killed in Action during the Great War of 1914-1918

551983 Driver J. Barber 

Residence Stockwell, Surrey.  Enlisted in London.  Formerly 1426 5th London Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.  Killed in action in France and Flanders, 24 March 1918 during the Battle of Bapaume.  Age 24 years.  Son of John and Lydia Barber, of Stockwell, London.
Grave Reference: I. D. 1.

165725 Pioneer Thomas Robert Coleman  

Born in Hampden Park, Sussex.  Enlisted in Lewes, Sussex.  Killed in action in France and Flanders, 28 May 1917 during the battle near Messines.  Age 18 years.  Son of Thomas Robert and A. E. Coleman, of 5, Railway Road, Newhaven, Sussex. Born at Willingdon, Sussex.
Grave Reference: Enclosure No.4 II. B. 20.

191574 Pioneer John George Edgar Davis

Enlisted in York.  Killed in action in France and Flanders on 7 June 1917 during the Battle of Messines.  Age 23.  Son of Edgar William George Davis, of 40, Lower Ebor Street, Bishopthorpe Road, York, and the late Jane Ann Davis.
Grave Reference:  III A. 1E.

 236913 Pioneer William Edwin Hall

 Born in Brighton.  Enlisted in Strand, Middlesex.  Formerly 1868 London Regiment.  Died on 8 June 1917 of wounds received in France and Flanders at the Battle of Messines.  Age 23.  Son of Frederick Musgrave Hall and Kate Elizabeth Hall, of 28, Gonville Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey. Born at Brighton.
Grave Reference: XXV. H. 12.

 32016 Corporal Ivor Merlin Mead

 Born in Stratton Terrace, Falmouth, Cornwall in May 1883.  Enlisted in Falmouth, Cornwall.  Killed in action on 30 May 1917 in France and Flanders during the battle near Messines.  Age 33.  Son of John (1842-1915) and Josephine Mead (    - 1902). Native of Falmouth, Cornwall.
Grave Reference: II. A. 14. 


236912 Pioneer C.C. Mitchell

 Born in Islington, Middlesex.  Enlisted in London.  Residence Finsbury Park, Middlesex.  Formerly 1340 London Regiment.  Killed in action in France and Flanders on 7 June 1917 at the Battle of Messines.   Age 27.   Son of Charles and Adeline Louisa Mitchell.
Panel Reference: Panel 9.

Additional Information:  Apparently no known grave – body no recovered.


1.      Four of the six men killed in action were Pioneers.
Five of the six men’s bodies were recovered; Mitchell’s death is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial.
Driver Barber was killed during the Battle of Bapaume.  All the other men died between 28 May and 8 June 1917, either just prior to or during the Battle of Messines.
The five men killed at or near Messines are all buried in different cemeteries.


1.      Soldier Died in the Great War.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site. 


This Addendum show the locations and buildings related to Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles life as discussed in the narrative.

STREET MAP (From Streetmap.co.uk)

The 1911 Census shows Andrew and Gwendoline Hutton (Stile's sister) living at 119 Peabody Road South in Farnborough, Hampshire.  This address is off Queen's Road and only five blocks from Southampton Street where Stile's parents lived when he was in the Army (see the red arrow above).

STREET MAP (From Streetmap.co.uk)

Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles Gave His Permanent Address in 1919 as 56 Castle Street, Montrose, Angus, Scotland.  
This actually was the address of his sister Gwendoline, who at that time was married to Andrew Hutton
(see the red arrow above).

56 CASTLE STREET (From Google Earth Street View)

The house is the one directly behind the automobile.

Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles gave his intended place of residence as 33 Bendemeer Road, Putney, London when he was discharged from the Army in 1920.

STREET MAP (From Streetmap.co.uk)

Bendemeer Road is located on the south side of the River Thames and north of Richmond Road.  It runs parallel to the river embankment (see red arrow above).

33 BENDEMEER ROAD (From Google Earth Street View)

The house is the building with the blue door.

STREET MAP (From Streetmap.co.uk)

Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles died at 110 Croxted Road, Camberwell, London on the 3rd of April 1978.

110 CROXTED ROAD (From Google Earth Street View)

110 Croxted Road is the building in the center of the photograph that is under renovation.




 1.      MAUDE, A.H. (ed.).  The 47th (London) Division, 1914-1919.  Amalgamated Press Ltd., London, 1922.

     2.      SKELLEY, A.R.  The Victorian Army at Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899.  Mc Gill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977.  


1.      1901 Census of England and Wales, Farnborough, Hampshire, Frank Arthur Harrington Stiles.

2.      191 Census of England and Wales, Farnborough, Hampshire, Frank Arthur Harrington Stiles.

3.      1911 Census of England and Wales, Farnborough, Hampshire, Gwendoline Hutton (née Stiles).  

Internet Web Sites  

1.      British Army Medical Categories. 

2.         Friends of Stokes Bay. http://www.friendsofstokesbay.co.uk/military-railway/  

3.      History of War.
a.   Battle of Le Transloy:   http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_transloy_ridges.html

  b.   Second Battle of Bapaume: http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_bapaumeII.html

  c. The Hundred Days:


4.      Imperial War Museum.

5.        The Long, Long Trail.

a.       Battle of Aubers: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-battle-of-aubers/ 

b.      Battle of Festubert: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-battle-of-festubert/

c.       Battle of Flers-Courcelette: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-battles-of-the-somme-1916/

d.      Battle of Messines: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-battle-of-messines-1917/

e.       Battle of Cambrai:  http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-cambrai-operations-1917-battle-of-cambrai/

f.       Battle of Amiens: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-battle-of-amiens/

6.         The P&O Steam Navigation Company: http://www.pandosnco.co.uk/strathnaver.html  

7.          Wikipedia.

a.       Battle of Pozieres: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Pozi%C3%A8res

b.      Battle of St. Quentin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Michael

c.        S.S. Sardinia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Sardinia  

8.      World War 1 British Prisoners of War: http://ww1photos.com/Pages/POWOfficers/OfficersPOWPage16.html  


1.   The Royal Engineers Journal.  Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1925-1932.  

2.   The Royal Engineers List, October 1908.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1908.  

3.   The Royal Engineers List, August 1910.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1910.

4.   The Royal Engineers List, June 1912.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1912.

5.   The Royal Engineers List, July 1912.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1912.

6.   The Royal Engineers List, August 1912.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1925-1932.


1978 Probate Register, Frank Ernest Harrington Stiles.

Ship Manifests

  1. S.S. Sardinia, London to Calcutta, 26 November 192.
  2. S.S. Strathnaven, Southampton to Bombay, 29 January 1947.

Soldiers Service Papers

1.      Long Service Attestation, Army Form B. 267.

2.      Description on Enlistment, part of Army Form B. 267.

3.      Statement of Services, Army Form B. 200A.

4.      Military History Sheet.

5.      Regimental Conduct Sheet, Army Form B. 120.

6.      Squadron, Troop, Battery and Company Conduct Sheet.

7.      Employment Sheet, Army Form B. 2066.

8.      Service and Casualty Form (Part I), Army Form B. 103-1.

9.      Casualty Form – Active Service, Army Form B. 103.

       Medical History, Army Form B. 178.

     Medical Board Report, Army Form W. 5134.

     Wounds or other Injuries, received otherwise than in Action, Army Form B. 117.

     Statement as to Disability, 26 May 1919, Army Form Z. 22.

     Statement as to Disability, 20 September 1920, Army Form Z. 22.

 .     Proceedings of a Medical Board, Army Form A. 2.

Descriptive Return of a Soldier medially boarded before Discharge or Transfer to the Reserve, Army Form D. 400.

    Trade and Special Qualifications form.

    Certificate of Trade Proficiency, Army Form B. 195.

     Medal Index Card: “Stiles.”

     Medal Index Card: “Styles.”


[1] See the author’s previous work on the life and military service of 16151 Engineer Clerk Staff Sergeant Frank Arthur Harrington Stiles, R.E. at www.reubique.com/FAHSTILES.htm.




[5] The Training Battalion Royal Engineers at this time was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel B.R. Ward, R.E.  The Battalion Major was G.H. Fowke, R.E., the Adjutant was Captain E.M.S. Charles, R.E. and the Assistant Adjutant for Musketry was Captain H.J. Elles.


[7] Other officers of the 29th Company at this time included Captain B. Walcot, R.E., Lieutenant M.St.I. Simon, R.E., Lieutenant B.L. Eddis, R.E., 2nd Lieutenant H. Milman, R.E. and 2nd Lieutenant R.C. Lundie, R.E.

[8] The Training Battalion had been re-designated a Depot Battalion and consisted of companies A, B, C, D, E and F, which were Training Companies , and companies G, L, and M, which were Depot Companies.  The Depot Battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel F. Baylay, R.E., the Battalion Executive Officer was Lieutenant Colonel G.S. Cartwright and Lieutenant C.O’R. Edwards was the Acting Adjutant.  


[10] Author’s comment in italics.

[11] It is typical of comments like this that lavish praise was rarely, if ever, bestowed on a soldier by his officers.  Comments as to conduct and efficiency were always very brief and not overly exuberant. 

[12] An excellent description of this battle may be found at http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-battle-of-aubers/ 

[13]  Battle of Festubert: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-battle-of-festubert/

[14] See IWM: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30005590

[15] See Battle of Pozieres: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Pozi%C3%A8res

[16]  See History of War web site.

[17] See The Long, Long Trail: Battle of Cambrai.

[18] See Wikipedia: Battle of St. Quentin.

[19] See The Hundred Days.

[20] History of the 47th Division, p. 207.



[23] Service or Trade Proficiency Pay, in addition to their regular pay, was granted to men in the Royal Engineers who demonstrated proficiency in their military trades.  Service Pay was awarded in seven classes, with Class I being the highest.

[24] This is the first and only time that this address shows up in his service papers.

[25] It appears that he did finally decide to live at this address.

[26] Shortly after the Great War the British Army did away with the system of Regimental Numbers and adopted a system of Army Numbers with blocks of numbers being allocated to the various regiments, corps and departments.