Special Post, The British Officer’s Travel Locker

Dean Loree & Jim King-Seguin (1 of 1)
Dean Loree (left) and Jim King-Seguin (Will Grummett’s Grandson) and Will Grummett’s officer’s locker.

A Fine and noble gesture

As I began the research in support of my effort to tell Will Grummett’s World War One story, I quickly became aware of the importance of little things, details, that made connections that gave the story depth and continuity.   Such things as, a military order sheet with a name, a notebook with a place name, a date with a place, a photo with a date, a one line entry in an honour roll, all provided clues and corroboration that resulted in the fixed or known places and times from which the story is told.  Without a collection of objects, images and  records, any biographical tale would have no ground  to stand upon and would dissolve into fictional imaginings.  Additions to the collection of this most basic information are like gold.

Since gold is rare, and metaphorical gold even rarer, and the willingness to share it even rarer than that, you can imagine how surprised I was when Dean Loree of Kitchener, Ontario contacted me to say he had Will Grummett’s officer’s travel locker.  Dean is a collector of things military and he purchased the locker some years ago at an estate sale.  Dean added the locker to his collection because it was a fine example of its kind, and it had a personal connection since the officer’s name, W.J. Grummett, was painted on the lid.  Dean likes a good story, and is particularly interested in the stories of those brave souls who are willing to fight for their country.  I think he discovered that W.J. Grummett was the former Ontario provincial politician Bill Grummett, but could only speculate on the details of his wartime story until he found our website.

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6 – The School of Instruction for Young Officers

ambala junior officers b
Junior officers in training at the School of Instruction for Young Officers, Ambala, India, 1917

Will Grummett had been with the British Garrison at Quetta for about two months and had passed his second Christmas far from home, when he was ordered – not to join in the fight in Mesopotamia –  but to attend the School of Instruction for Young Officers at Ambala, Haryana province in central, northern India early in February of 1917. This insistence on yet more training was part of a larger strategy to ensure the absolute success of a planned second attempt to push the Turkish Army out of Mesopotamia and break Turkish hold on the region.

Following  the British defeat at the siege of Kut-Al-Amara in 1916, the British High Command’s review of the conduct of the war in Mesopotamia found significant shortcomings.  These included: no suitably modern ports to receive men and material, and poor transportation linkages within the country. These, in turn, lead to shortages of everything for the soldier at the front, including food and water. Incidents of diseases such as cholera were particularly high, as poorly supplied troops were left to search for potable water wherever they could find it.

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