A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
Uncles of Brian Torode who died during the First World War and one who died, long beforehand, during the Napoleonic Wars:
Pierre Francois Salmon (1787-1808)
Pierre Francois Salmon died in 1808 at Metz on 19th December. He was aged 21 suggesting a birth date of 1787.
The record of his death is taken from the Parish Register at Gorges:
Mairie de la Ville de Metz du 19, mois de decembre de l’annee mil huit cent huit, ont decede dans lelendux(?) de la premiere section, a l’hopital militaire des suites de la fievre, Pierre Francois Salmon, fusilier au 4eme battalion du dixieme compagnie du 76eme regiment de ligne, age de 21 ans. Natif de Gorges, Department la Manche, fils Louis Salmon et Francoise Leplume. Vu par l’adjoint municipal faisant les fonctions d’officier publique de l’Etat civil.
Signe Y Rubortain avec parasle (?) pour extrait conforme par moy, Francois Guillard, faisant les fonctions de l’officier public de l’Etat civil delegue pour cet effect. F Guillard, Adjoint.
Town Hall of the town of Metz, 19th December 1808, died in (lelendux) of the first section, in the military hospital as a result of fever, Pierre Francois Salmon, fusilier in the 4th battalion of the 10th Company of the 76th Regiment of Line, aged 21 years. Native of Gorges, Department of La Manche, son of Louis Salmon and Francoise Leplume. Seen by the Municipal Deputy, officiating as Public Officer of the Civil State.
Signed Y Rubortain with parasle(?) ) for the extract compiled by me, Francois Guillard, carrying out the duties of public Officer of the civil State delegated for this purpose. F Guillard Deputy.
An additional report was submitted as follows:
Mairie de la Ville de Metz- Bulletin. Departement de la Moselle, Bulletin de deces donne par les articles 80 et 82 du Code Civil:
Du 19 du mois de decembre de l’an mil huit cent huit, est decede dans l’entendue de la premiere section a l’hopital militaire de la suite de la fievre, Pierre Francis Salmon, Fuselier au 4eme Batallion, 2ieme Compagnie de soixante seizieme regiment de ligne. Age de (blank) natif de Gorges, department de la Manche.
Vu par l’Adjoint Municipal faisant les fonctions de l’Officier publique de l’Etat civil.
Town Hall of the town of Metz- Bulletin. Department of the Moselle, Bulletin of death given under articles 80 and 82 of the civil Code.
The 19th December 1808 there died in the ….. of the first section in the military hospital as a result of fever, Pierre Francois Salmon, Fusilier in the 4th Battalion, 2nd Company and the 76th regiment of Line. Age – blank – native of Gorges, La Manche Department.
Seen by the Municipal Deputy, carrying out the functions of public Officer of the civil State.
‘Between 1790 and 1810 France was enjoying military victories under Napoleon, who had led French armies to victories over the armies of Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, Spain and the Netherlands between 1792 and 1797. By 1810 he was at the height of his power but between 1810 and 1814 he suffered defeat in the Spanish and Russian Campaigns.
Metz was one of four Military Training Hospitals in 1800-1814 out of 16 military hospitals in total. Up to 1809 civilians were in charge of nursing and many were of suspect morality, being more occupied with the contents of the pockets of their wounded soldiers than the care they were supposed to give. The sick and wounded slept in the same beds with no food, no therapy, no bandages, not washed, not changed not fed.
Convoys coming back from the Front in Spain in 1808 increased the mortality rate and many hospitals became hospices where the wounded were sent to die.
In the 1999 ‘Publications de la Societe d’Archaeologique et d’Histoire de la Manche, Conscrits de La Manche, Infanterie de Ligne’further details are found about Pierre Francois :
SALMON, Pierre Francois, fils de Louis et de Francoise Leplumey ne a Gorges le 26 mai 1788 taille 1m65, yeux verts, cheveux bruns, visage portant des traces de petite verole; Domestique. Au corps le 20 aout 1808. A l’hopital de Metz le 18 decembre 1808; est mort de fievre le lendemain.
SALMON, Pierre Francois, son of Louis and Francoise Leplumey, born at Gorges 26th May 1788, 1m 65cm tall, green eyes, brown hair, face carrying traces of small pox marks;Manservant; Joined the Corps 20th April 1808; Hospital at Metz 18th December 1808 and died of fever the following day.
The survivors of the 1808 Conscripts from La Manche, of the 76th Regiment of Infantry of the Line, were incorporated into the 116th Regiment. The majority of those conscripts were never again to see Normandy. The number of Conscripts thus transferred and their fate is given as follows:
Dead = 6
Died of illness = 36
Deserters = 47
Mutes = 4
Destiny unknown = 21
Prisoners at Bailen = 201
Ran away or returned 1814 = 15
Recognised dead at Isle of Canbrera or on the prison ships = 2
Presumably Pierre Francois is numbered amongst the 36 who died of illness.
Four Uncles died in the First World War:
Walter Salmon, died 1st January 1916, aged 36 years
Walter enlisted in Guernsey in 1915 and during the First World War, served with the ‘B’ company, 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, City of London Regiment, as Private 10809. In the Army Lists at St Catherine’s House, London, the following is recorded:
‘Salmon, Walter J. Pte. 10809. Royal Fusiliers, London. Died 1916. Vol.1.18 Page 455’
Walter was wounded in France and died of his wounds on 1st January 1916, aged 35 years, by which time he had been made Lance Corporal. He was awarded the Victory Medal; the British Medal and the 1915 Star.
He had been in France barely six months having arrived on 15th June 1915. From September 1915 his Unit, part of the 12th Eastern Division was involved in battles in the Loos area during which period 117 Officers and 3237 men from the Division were killed or wounded. On 21st October the Division had been relieved and moved to Fouquieres-les-Bethune. It took over the Hollenzollern Redoubt front after a very short rest of 5 days and spent a cold, wet and miserable month before being relieved on 15th November by 15th Scottish Division, whereon it moved into reserves at Lillers. On 9th December his Batallion was given the unusual task of assisting in a round-up of spies and other uncertain characters in the streets of Bethune. The next day the Division moved up and relieved 33rd Division in the front line North of the La Basse canal at Givenchy.
Between the 12th December 1915 and 18th January 1918, in a quiet period of trench holding, the Division nonetheless suffered the loss of 102 Officers and 670 men killed , wounded or missing. Walter Salmon was wounded at some time during this period and died of his wounds on 1st January 1916.
He is buried at Bethune Town Cemetery, Pas de Calais in Northern France. For much of the First World War, Bethune was comparatively free from bombardment and remained an important railway and hospital centre as well as a corps and Divisional HQ. The 33rd Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) was in the town until December 1917 and this may well be where he was taken after being wounded, especially since an ‘In Memoriam’ notice in a local newspaper notes that he died in a ‘casualty clearing station’. He earned the 1915 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal for his service. Bethune Town Cemetery 16. Area IV Plot G Grave 74 ( Courtesy Liz Walton 2010)
Alfred James Salmon, died 10th September 1916, aged 19 year
He enlisted in Guernsey and is recorded in the Army Lists at St Catherine’s house, London:
‘SALMON, Alfred J. Pte Regimental number 21901, Rank Private , Princess Victoria Royal Irish Fusiliers, died of wounds France 10th September 1916, vol 1.76 Page 127.’ Formerly 8881, Royal Irish Regiment. Born St Peter Port Guernsey.
Alfred was the second of the Salmon brothers to sacrifice his life for peace. Like many Guernseymen he served first with the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment as Private 8881 A. Salmon, then with D Company of 7th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, with the Service Number 21901. His Service record shows that he signed up in Guernsey in June 1915 when he was a 19 year old gardener living with his parents at Rue des Pres, St Peter Port. He went to England in 1915 for training at Purbright Camp in Surrey, before crossing to France for further training. By April 1916 the Unit was considered to be fully trained and went into the front line near Loos, where they lost several men to gas attacks. At the end of August 1916, they were moved to the Somme. Alfred Salmon received gunshot wounds to his back there and died of these wounds at 5th CCS at Corbie in Picardy a few miles east of Amiens on 10th September 1916. Unfortunately the telegram notifying his family was initially delivered to the wrong address. Then there was some confusion as to whether it was Alfred or George who had died. It must have been very distressing for the family, with telegrams travelling back and forth between France, Ireland and Guernsey, until Alfred’s death was confirmed.
He is buried at Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, Ploegsteert Memorial and Cemetery.
Plot 2 Row C Grave No 60(Courtesy Liz Walton, 2010)
We also find more details in Dieux Aie Appendix 13 Page 60:
‘D Company, Royal Irish Fusiliers, 7th Btn Salmon A J Pte. R. Irish Regt 8881, Royal Irish Fusiliers 21901. Died of wounds 10.09.1916. aged 19 years.
He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal.
George Henry Salmon, died 12th April 1918, aged 25 years
He enlisted in the Royal Irish Regiment for service during the First World War and was given the number Private 3/7904. He later transferred to the R.G.L.I. as Private 2516, and was later promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. On enlisting, he was living with mum at 2 Rue des Pres.
Guernsey Service Company attached to RI Regt . 22 yrs 9 months. 5 foot 4 and three quarters, Girth 35 inches – 2 inch expansion range. Shop Assistant. Unmarried. Previously served in Royal Guernsey militia. Enlisted 9th April 1915. Posted 1st May, transferred to RI Fusiliers 7th Division . 17th Feb 1916 France.
At the time of his death on 12th April 1918 at the age of 25, his mother, Emelie Salmon was a widow and she was living at 2, Tower Hill, St Peter Port. His death is listed at St Catherine’s House in volume M6. Page 486. A letter was sent to his mother from his commanding officer which read as follows:
‘I regret exceedingly to inform you that your son, L/Cpl George Salmon, was killed in action. He was a keen soldier, a very good N.C.O. and a very good man. We shall miss him and we all deplore his loss. Please accept the sincere sympathy of his Company and myself. Signed, Lt. Gordon Hall’
George was the third of the Salmon brothers to sacrifice his life in the cause of peace and died only 18months after his brother Alfred, on April 12th 1918 aged 22. George was a single man living at home when war broke out. He served with the 1st Service Battalion of the RGLI as 2516 Pte George H Salmon. He had previously served with the 3rd Royal Irish Regiment (7904) and the 87th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers
(21856). George was a shop assistant living at home with his parents in St Peter Port, when he signed up on 9th April 1915. He transferred to the RIF on 4th October the same year, and 6 months later was tried for allegedly wounding / shooting himself in the right hand. Tried- 42 days detention. . However he must have recovered and remained with the Unit until he was transferred to the RGLI on its formation at the end of 1916. 18th March 1917. Awarded Parchment Certificate for Gallantry and devotion to duty. On leave Sept – Oct 1917. He survived the Battle of Cambrai but was killed in action at the Lys on 12th April 1918. Acting Corporal. Like most of the men who fell there, he has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Ploegstreet Memorial near Ielper in Belgium. 1718.
(Courtesy Liz Walton 2010)
There is no known grave, but George is remembered at Ploegsteert. Hainhault, in Belgium and an illustrated Roll of Honour in my possession contains the following memorial:
‘1914-1918: For King and Country to the Glory of God and in Everlasting Memory of SALMON, Pte George 2516, 1st Bn Royal Guernsey Light Infantry. 12th April 1918, Age 25. Son of Mrs Emily Salmon, 40, Pedvin St. St Peter Port, Guernsey. Who gave his life in the Great War that we might live, and whose name is carved in stone at Ploegsteert War Memorial, Belgium.’ ( Panel 11.)
The following article was published in the Guernsey Weekly Press dated Saturday 4th May 1918:
‘Mrs E. Salmon, 2 Tower Hill, St Peter Port, received a letter from Lt. Gordon Hall, R.G.L.I., informing her that her 5th son, Corporal George Salmon, R.G.L.I. was killed in action on April 12th. Lt Hall wrote:
He was a keen soldier, a very capable NCO and a good man. We all miss him and deeply deplore his loss. Please accept the sincerest sympathy of his Company and myself in your sad bereavement.
Cpl Salmon left here 3 years ago with the Guernsey Company R. Irish Fusiliers and was drafted into the RGLI about a month ago. He was slightly wounded in the hand over a year ago. Cpl. Salmon was formerly employed by Mr Luff, Arcade, as a grocer. He came home on furlough last September.
Mrs Salmon has 3 other serving sons – William, 3rd son, R.I. Fusiliers; John, eldest son, in a Divisional Ammunitions column; and Albert in the RGLI. Two other sons have been killed in action – Walter, 2nd son, and Fred the youngest RI Fusiliers.’
The Guernsey Star of the 1st May 1918 reported further:
‘L/Cpl. George Salmon, was killed in action, on 12.4.1918. He is the son of Mrs Salmon of 2, Tower Hill, and was in the R.G.L.I.. He volunteered three years ago for the Royal Irish Fusiliers and was only lately transferred to the R.G.L.I. with the remains of the Guernseymen who were serving with the R.I.F. He was formerly employed by Luff and Co, Commercial Arcade. Two other brothers have already been killed in action, Walter and Frederick, while John, William and Albert are serving in the Army, the latter in the R.G.L.I.’
The official War records read as follows:
‘Salmon G. Pte Royal Irish Regiment 3/7904. RIF 21856 and RGLI 2516 2nd Draft RGLI 02.03.1918. Killed 12.04.1918 Ex RIR.
2nd Draft RGLI 02-03-18. Killed in action 12-04-18 France and Flanders
2nd Draft were drawn from men in the Training Reserve and Training Batallions. Consisted of 28 other ranks, the first of which was posted to the 1st Batallion with reinforcement 9 on 19-03-1918.
2516 Pte Salmon G. killed in action 12.04.1918. Ex R.I.F. Memorial at Ploegsteert, Belgium.
Medals: P9 – meaning those who qualified for the use of the WW(i) medals before serving in the RGLI, are noted as P9 – their medals are named to their previous unit (Dieux Aie Book): Victory medal and British Medal, Reg no 21900 and 2516.
Albert William (John) Salmon died 13th April 1918, aged 35 years
During the First World War Albert (Bertie) served with the Royal Irish Regiment then he transferred to the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry serving as 145 Pte A J Salmon. He appears to have joined directly, not via another regiment.
He had not only suffered the experiences of Cambrai but also the loss of three brothers before he himself was killed in action on 13th April 1918 on the Lys. Albert John Salmon was the fourth of the Salmon children to die in battle. He died at the Battle of the Somme on 13th April 1918. He is buried at Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steenwerck in Northern France. The Guernsey Evening Press reporting Albert’s death noted that he was the fourth son to have been killed out of seven in service.
In the Army Records the following information is given:
‘SALMON, Albert J. Private 145; Channel Islands Militia Battalion, 1st R.G.L.I. Killed in Action 13th April 1918, aged 35 – vol M.6 Page 496. He was awarded the following medals: RGLI/101B Victory Medal; and the British Medal. His grave is at Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steenwerck, France Nord, Area II, Plot 0,
Grave No 28 (Dieu Aix Book)
The Globe Newspaper, London, of May 21st 1918, contained the following:
‘The following N.C.O. and men of the R.G.L.I. OFFICIAL
Death: Private A.J. Salmon, wife, Mrs Salmon, of 2, Tower Hill, St Peter Port.’
His daughter Reta had a large bronze medallion on which is inscribed, ‘He died for Freedom and Honour – Albert John Salmon.’
Other uncles of Brian Torode who served during the First World War:
William John Salmon
Arthur James Salmon