Information request: 6000469 BSM Herbert Charles (Herbie) WELLS, 59 HAA Regiment, RA: 18/07/1940

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by SteveDee, Jul 25, 2021.

  1. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    In an article in an Eagle & Gun Regimental Association news letter relating to the 59th Regiment HAA, A.S.Cross relates a tragedy that occurred at the start of WW2 (1939 or early 1940);

    Somewhere about this time the Regiment suffered its first casualty, all due to a silly mistake.
    At the time, sites were ‘Standing To’ an hour at dawn and an hour at sunset due to the threat of invasion from ‘Jerry’. On ‘Stand Down’ one of the rifle party was taking a practice aim on an aiming disc held by B.S.M. Herbie Wells. The rifle had not been unloaded or checked, there was in fact a live round in the chamber, thus, when the aiming sequence was completed the rifle fired and the round passed through his forehead, killing Herbie instantly.


    I would be very interested in anything relating to Herbie (Herbert) that you clever people can uncover.

    As he was a Battery Sergeant Major at the start of the war, I assume he was a career soldier, so probably at least in his mid-twenties (i.e. d-o-b around 1910?).

    I also wonder what the army told his relatives about the cause of death, which I guess could be mentioned somewhere.
     
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    From My collection Brookwood Panel
    upload_2021-7-25_10-48-23.png upload_2021-7-25_10-48-23.jpeg


    Casualty Details | CWGC
    WARRANT OFFICER CLASS II HERBERT CHARLES WELLS
    Service Number: 6000469
    Regiment & Unit/Ship: Royal Artillery, 265 Bty., 59 H.A.A. Regt.
    Date of Death: Died 18 July 1940
    Buried or commemorated at BROOKWOOD 1939-1945 MEMORIAL
    Memorial Reference: Panel 2. Column 2.
    Location: United Kingdom
     

    Attached Files:

  3. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi

    Army Casualties 1939 -1945 on FMP just says "Died as a result of an accident".

    His RA casualty card has no additional information either.

    He was not found on RA Tracer Card search on Ancestry either.

    Gus
     
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  4. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Casualty lists and card;
     

    Attached Files:

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  5. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    Army Number 6000469 is part of the block (5998001 - 6076000) allocated to the Essex Regiment in 1920.

    This fits with the history of 59 HAA Regiment, which had been created on 15th December 1935 as an RA Brigade by transferring 7th (TA) Battalion Essex Regiment to the Royal Artillery in the AA role.

    59 AA Regiment raised 265 Battery at Whipps Cross, Essex in 1937.

    In July 1940 59 HAA were part of 37 AA Brigade manning the "Thames North" AA layout on the Essex side of the Thames.
    7th_Battalion,_Essex_Regiment

    Due to the regiments location, this could be his death:

    Name: Herbert C Wells
    Death Age: 38
    Birth Date: abt 1902
    Registration Date: Jul 1940
    [Aug 1940]
    [Sep 1940]
    Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep
    Registration District: Thurrock
    Inferred County: Essex
    Volume: 4a
    Page: 1097

    No will found in the index on ancestry.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
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  6. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Many thanks for all your replies. Even after 3 years of using this forum, I'm still frequently amazed by how quickly you guys can put your fingers on detailed information regarding unremarkable WW2 individuals.

    I have one more question regarding this dreadful accident. I'm not a 'gun person', but I would have thought that rifle practice involved firing your gun at a target, well away from any bystanders. So how did someone come to be pointing a rifle at a disc held by an experienced soldier?

    Even if the gun was not loaded, what would be the point in simply aiming the gun in that direction?
     
  7. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

    Concerning the use of the aiming disc see this (WW1?) picture:

    aimingdisc.jpg


    For methods of use have a look at:
    www.rifleman.org.uk
    I wouldn’t like to be in the instructor’s shoes!
     
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  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Interesting that he is on the Brookwood Memorial. Assume he is buried somewhere but not recorded by the authorities for CWGC database

    The BROOKWOOD 1939-1945 MEMORIAL stands at the southern end of the Canadian section of the cemetery and commemorates 3,500 men and women of the land forces of the Commonwealth who died during the Second World War and have no known grave, the circumstances of their death being such that they could not appropriately be commemorated on any of the campaign memorials in the various theatres of war.
     
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  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    https://apps.proni.gov.uk/WillsCalendar_IE/willsSearchResultsDetails.aspx
    Title : Mr
    Date of Death : 30 June 1940
    Surname : Wells
    Date of Grant : 2 August 1940
    Forename : Herbert Charles
    Reseal Date :
    Registry : Belfast
    Effects : Effects £208 12s 6d

    Full Abstract :
    Wells Herbert Charles of 153 Drury Lane London W.C.2 and of 4 Kingwood Road Fulham county London died 30 June 1940 at Queen Mary's Hospital Sidcup county Kent Probate London 2 August to Lilian Wells spinster. Effects in Northern Ireland £208 12s. 6d. Re-sealed Belfast 2 September.


    Is this the same man
    England & Scotland, Select Cemetery Registers, 1800-2016
    Name: Herbert Charles Wells
    Age: 38
    Record Type: Burial
    Birth Date: abt 1902
    Death Date: abt 1940
    Burial Date: 23 Jul 1940
    Burial Place: Waltham Forest, Greater London, England
    Cemetery: Chingford Mount Cemetery
    Cemetery Section: F13
    Grave Number: C/R 36498
    Interment Number: C/R 36687
    46493_3073127_0071-00305 (2).jpg

    TD
     
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  10. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    Title : Mr
    Date of Death : 30 June 1940
    Surname : Wells
    Date of Grant : 2 August 1940
    Forename : Herbert Charles
    Reseal Date :
    Registry : Belfast
    Effects : Effects £208 12s 6d
    Full Abstract :
    Wells Herbert Charles of 153 Drury Lane London W.C.2 and of 4 Kingwood Road Fulham county London died 30 June 1940 at Queen Mary's Hospital Sidcup county Kent Probate London 2 August to Lilian Wells spinster. Effects in Northern Ireland £208 12s. 6d. Re-sealed Belfast 2 September
    .

    I think the 1939 Register entry for 4 Kingswood Road, Fulham rules this man out:

    WELLS, Herbert Charles, born 4 Sept 1879, retired Oil Colourman, single
    WELLS, Lilian, born 8 Oct 1894, single

    and it matches with this death:

    Name: Herbert C Wells
    Death Age: 60
    Birth Date: abt 1880
    Registration Date: Jul 1940
    [Aug 1940]
    [Sep 1940]
    Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep
    Registration District: Bromley
    Inferred County: Kent
    Volume: 2a
    Page: 1651
     
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  11. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    This is a great find and looks like our man, the burial register gives his address as 10 Winns Avenue, Walthamstow & the person who paid for the grave as Mrs Rose Mary Wells. It also says rights given up August 1995.

    The RA Casualty Card gives his place of birth & enlistment as Walthamstow.

    1939 Register for 10 Winns Road shows one person, with no redacted records:
    Rose Mary WELLS, born 2 Feb 1898, married, unpaid domestic duties
    No later amendment for a remarriage is shown. Herbert would have been mobilised by the time this register was taken 30 Sep 1939, so I would not expect him to be there.

    Possible marriage:
    Name: Herbert C Wells
    Registration Date: Jan 1929
    [Feb 1929]
    [Mar 1929]
    Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar
    Registration District: West Ham
    Inferred County: Essex
    Spouse: Rose M Mccarthy
    Volume Number: 4a
    Page Number: 602

    This death and probate match the time the grave rights were given up:
    Name: Rose Mary Wells
    Death Age: 97
    Birth Date: 2 Feb 1898
    Registration Date: Jul 1995
    Registration District: Enfield
    Inferred County: Greater London
    Register Number: B32D
    District and Subdistrict: 2271B
    Entry Number: 190

    Screenshot 2021-07-26 at 17.35.11.png

    and a possible birth for Herbert:

    Name: Herbert Charles Wells
    Registration Year: 1903
    Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar
    Registration District: West Ham
    Inferred County: Essex
    Volume: 4a
    Page: 452
    Walthamstow was in West Ham Registration District in 1903.
     
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  12. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    AimingDisc.png

    Wow!

    So the instructor looks through the aiming disc to see if the trainee allows the gun to move off target as he pulls the trigger.

    I can't believe poor Herbie was the only instructor to have had his head blown off!

    Thanks for the information Richard.
     
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