Battalion 2nd Battalion
Regiment Dorset Regiment
Killed in Action: 25th March 1917
Commemorated at: Basra Memorial, Iraq
|Lieut||1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment|
Allix James William Griffith was the son of The Venerable Henry Wager Griffith, the vicar of Thorp Arch, and his wife, Eleanor Eva Griffith nee Pritchard. Allix was born on the 13th November 1895 in the Punjab, India. Henry and his wife had five children, but the eldest, Charles Allix Henry Griffith born in 1884 in Bengal had not survived to his first birthday. Henry had gone to India as a Chaplain in 1881, serving at Umballa, Delhi, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Murree and Amritsar before his years as Archdeacon. On his return from Lahore he was appointed Vicar of All Saints, Thorp Arch, West Yorkshire. Henry's other children were Arthur Lefroy Pritchard Griffith (1886-1932) who also served in WW1 (see his page), Winifred Noel Juliana Griffith (1888-1922) and Monica Harriet Louisa Griffith (1901-1963). Allix attended Chaterhouse School from 1909 to 1914 and then joined the Army. We include him on this site as his name was listed in The Collingham Parish Magazine in February 1915.
After Charterhouse Allix joined the Army. In July 1914 he had his medical board and on the 3rd October 1914 he joined the military college. After his training Allix went to France, disembarking on the 17th December 1914. He served at this time with the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment. Strangely Allix's officer's service record makes no mention of his time in France and his medal index card gives his first overseas service at being in Mesopotamia on the 31st May 1916. However, his disembarkation date listed on the medal roll confirms that Allix was awarded the 1914-1915 Star which would not have been awarded if he had not gone overseas until 1916. Furthermore, an entry in the medical records for No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station for 15th March 1915 show he was transferred to No 10 Ambulance train suffering from a gun shot wound to his right foot suffered while serving near St. Eloi with the 1st Battalion Dorsetshires.
Allix's officer's service record describes much of his next service. He embarked in Devonport on the HT City of Galsgow on the 26th April 1916 for the long journey to Mesopotamia, disembarking in Busra (modern Basra, Iraq) on the 31st May 1916. On the 30th July, he was promoted to Lieutenant and on the 12th November 1916 he was placed in command of 'G' Company, 2nd Battalion Dorsetshire regiment. Only a few days later, on the 28th December, Allix was admitted to hospital in Sheiksaad suffering from jaundice. He was transferred on the 10th January 1917 to convalescent depot in Amara. After 10 days he was discharged and returned to duty, but was again admitted to hospital, this time suffering from pyrexia of unknown origin in Sheiksaad on the 23rd January 1917. In early February in Amara he was again discharged to duty and rejoined his unit on the 8th February.
Allix James William Griffith was listed as wounded and missing on the 25th March 1917 on the Zebal Hamrin Hills.
There was no further information on what had happened to Allix and his death was accepted and is listed as occurring on the 25th March 1917. However Allix's parents tried to find more and many enquiries were started among the survivors of the battle on that day. There were questions about whether Allix was killed and his body lost after the battle, or whether he had been taken a prisoner of war.
After the war, steps were put in place to try to find where Allix Griffith's body was. There was a war office report that Allix Griffith 'was subsequently seen at several dressing stations, and then at Kirkut, where he recovered from his wounds and was sent on to Constantinople. This information coming from 16549 Pte B.G. Follett of the 2nd Dorsetshire Regiment. Of course such news was welcomed back in Yorkshire and Allix's parents pressed for more information. The possibility that Allix had survived the battlefield was further supported by a letter from Lt Col W.B. Thomson referring to his son who was reported wounded and missing in the same battle. The letter stated that "A few days after this action the ground was well searched but his body (ie that of Capt Thomson) was not found though all other officers of the Dorset Regt were identified and buried with the exception of Lieut. Griffith of his Company who was known to have been wounded in the head and was also reported 'wounded and missing'". The thought was therefore that Allix Griffith had not died on the battlefield, and might have been taken as a prisoner.
Eventually a statement was taken from Pte Follett. He stated that he had been lying wounded in a dressing station together with an officer, but that he did not get into conversation with the officer or get sufficiently close to him to establish his identity. He also stated that the evidence on which he based his statement that the Officer was sent to Constantinople was furnished by an Armenian. The war office concluded that Private Follett's evidence was of a hearsay nature and could not be accepted for official purposes.
Another witness was found, Corporal 18798 A. Moriarty of the 2nd Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment. He described how during the battle "he was close to Lt. Griffith about 8am on the 25th March when he was hit by a bullet in the right temple while lying down watching the Turks. Lt. Sheffield had just remarked 'Look at those Turks waving their hands". Lt Griffith raised his head and looked and at once got hit. He said 'Push on boys, I am done'. They bandaged him up but the chap who bandaged him said just after 'He is gone'. Soon afterwards we had to retire and could not take any of our wounded with us; but about a week after a search party went out and found the bodies of Lt. Griffith, Lt. Sheffield, and buried them. I was in the middle of the group of the search party. The group on my left buried Griffith and Sheffield and told us they had done so when we formed up to march back. Lt. Griffith was a popular officer and we were all sorry to lose him." Corporal Moriarty described Griffith as "21, 5ft 9" well built, dark, small moustache, had been wounded in the ankle in France, a footballer, joined in Aug. 1914 had relatives in Lahore and a sister in England."
There was also a court of enquiry held in the Victoria War Hospital, Bombay on the 26th August 1917 to look into the fate of Lieut. Griffith.
The Court of enquiry having assembled pursuant to order, proceed to examine 18798 Cpl. Moriarty A. 2nd Dorsets, a patient in Victoria War Hospital.
Cpl. Moriarty joined the 2nd Dorsets at Sheikh Saad early in September 1916, and Lieut. Griffith rejoined at the end of that month. Lieut. Griffith belonged to "G" Coy., and as Cpl. Moriarty was in the same company he came daily into with him.
Lt. Griffith was about 5 ft. 9" high, well built, dark complexion, and with a small moustache. He would be about 21 years of age. He had a slight limp as a result of a wound in the ankle in France.
Lieut. Griffith said his father was a clergyman at Lahore. Moriarty had seen a photo of Lieut. Griffith's sister, which had come from England. Cpl. Moriarty does not know the officer's initials.
On March 25th in the neighbourhood of Sharobin, Cpl. Moriarty was with a party of 15 others in an attack, during this he actually saw Lieut. Griffith hit in the head. He was four files away. Another man bandaged Lieut. Griffith up and soon after said 'he is gone! Shortly after, Cpl. Moriarty himself saw the officer with his arms extended lying in the bank with every appearance of being dead.
About a week later, men of "G" Coy., who formed part of a search party, gave the information that they had found the bodies of Lieuts. Griffith and Sheffield and had buried them. The information about the burial is only hearsay, but it was the general talk of the Company, who all accepted it as being true.
The ground where Lieut. Griffith fell, came into the hands of the Turks, who, however, retired 7 days later.
The Turks on that day were shooting and bayoneting the wounded. Cpl. Moriarty was with his own eyes Turks shooting and bayoneting the wounded lying on stretchers, who had been abandoned in an aid post, in a Nulla.
The Court is of the opinion that Cpl. Moriarty gave his evidence in an intelligent manner and may be accepted as a truthful statement.
Although the Cpl. is unacquainted with the Officer's Christian name, the Court is satisfied that Lieut. Griffith was gravely wounded on March 25th 1917, and the prospect of his being removed as a prisoner by the Turks is all but negligible.
Although the evidence available to the Court as regards burial is not reliable, yet they consider the death of Lieut. Griffith may be presumed.
However another paper in Allix Griffith's officer service record throws up another possibility.
No 17820 Pte. TUCK, 2nd Batt. Dorset Regt. states that he was with Lieut. Griffith when he was hit. He was hit in the head on the left side, the exit wound being 1 1/2 inches from the place of entry. Lieut. Griffith was not made unconscious and was able to talk. Pte. Tuck bandaged his head, while doing so the troops near were compelled to retire leaving only Lieut. Griffith, Pte. Tuck and one other man. Pte. Tuck told Lieut. Griffith that they had retired and Lieut Griffith was able to walk to a water cut and get under cover. This was the last that was seen of him, but it appears that the wound was not severe enough to have had a fatal effect. From the fact that several wounded B.O.R were brought in by search parties of the 47th Sikhs on March 27th, after the Turks had temporarily vacated the JEBEL HAMRIN position where Lieut. Griffith was wounded and that they had not been ill treated further than being deprived of some of their clothing, it is hoped that Lieut. Griffith is now a prisoner of war.
These two accounts contain much similar material, but have some significant differences. In one Lt. Griffith is wounded on the right, in another on the left. In one account he dies almost immediately, in another he is able to walk to water and take shelter. These conflicting recollections probably reflect the stress of the attack and its confused nature. The truth may lie somewhere between the two, but we will never know for sure. The Court of enquiry decided that Allix Griffith had died on the 25th March and all official notifications give that as his date of death.
Allix James William Griffith is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, Iraq.
Care must be taken not to confuse the records of Allix James William Griffith (Dorset Regiment) with his cousin James Allix Wager Griffith of the Royal Field Artillery.
1911 Census. The National Archives. Class RG14 Piece 25964
The Collingham Parish Magazine Feb 1915
First World War Medal Index Cards. The National Archives (WO372).
First World War Medal Index Rolls. The National Archives (WO329).
First World War Officer's Service Records WO339/13967 The National Archives.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery and Burial Reports
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