1 May 2016

First World War Research - Colchester Post Office



I spotted this memorial in the post office at the top of North Hill, Colchester a couple of months back and thought it would make a nice case study to demonstrate how understanding regimental numbers can help you understand a soldier's service history - or at least tell you when he must have joined a particular regiment.


I am pretty sure I have identified all of the men except C Smith. They are:


32641 Pte James Edgar Boore, 11th South Lancashire Regt; KiA 23rd March 1918
33233 Pte Arthur James Borley, 8th Bedfordshire Regt; KiA 5th April 1917
W D Brazier (Possibly 8876 Pte William Brazier, 13th Essex Regt; KiA 29th November 1917)
40156 Pte Horace John Chinnock, 1st Essex Regt; KiA 23rd August 1918
30569 Cpl Sidney Cudmore, 1st Essex Regt; KiA 12th October 1916
7286 L/Cpl Albert Farley, 2nd Essex Regt; KiA 13th March 1915
88981 Spr A Hakes, Royal Engineers; DoW 29th June 1917
28932 Pte Herbert Percy Hart, 2nd Essex Regt; Died 16th December 1916
169859 Gnr Cecil George Keeping, 342 Siege Bty, RGA; KiA 21st October 1918
32119 Pte Bertie Harold Lee, 1st Essex Regt; KiA 14th April 1917
33151 Pte Ernest Thomas Smee, 11th Essex Regt; KiA 22nd April 1917
C Smith
40238 Pte Edward N Trumpess, 2nd Essex Regt; KiA 23rd October 1916
52565 Pte Bryan Joseph Wade, 1st Royal Fusiliers; KiA 22nd March 1918
19010 Pte Alfred Dolphin Wilby, 1st Dorsetshire Regt; Died 5th February 1917


And here's when they joined the regiments in question:


32641 Pte James Edgar Boore, 11th South Lancashire Regt; December 1917
33233 Pte Arthur James Borley, 8th Bedfordshire Regt; December 1916
8876 Pte William Brazier, 13th Essex Regt; Jan/Feb 1907
40156 Pte Horace John Chinnock, 1st Essex Regt; September 1916
30569 Cpl Sidney Cudmore, 1st Essex Regt; June 1916
7286 L/Cpl Albert Farley, 2nd Essex Regt; November 1902
88981 Spr A Hakes, Royal Engineers; April 1915 (service record survives)
28932 Pte Herbert Percy Hart, 2nd Essex Regt; June 1916
169859 Gnr Cecil George Keeping, 342 Siege Bty, RGA; July 1917
32119 Pte Bertie Harold Lee, 1st Essex Regt; October 1916
33151 Pte Ernest Thomas Smee, 11th Essex Regt; November 1916
C Smith
40238 Pte Edward N Trumpess, 2nd Essex Regt; September 1916
52565 Pte Bryan Joseph Wade, 1st Royal Fusiliers; December 1916
19010 Pte Alfred Dolphin Wilby, 1st Dorsetshire Regt; June 1916


Knowing when a man joined a particular regiment is enormously helpful as it is then possible to consult the appropriate war diary. Although it is unlikely that other ranks will, as a rule be mentioned by name, there are exceptions, but even if the man is not mentioned, it is still helpful - and fascinating - to see what the unit was doing on a day-to-day basis.


Notable in the list above are the number of men who served with the Essex Regiment (hardly surprising, I suppose, given that these men worked for the Post Office in Colchester). Several of the men originally attested under the Derby Scheme and therefore had signed up several months, in some cases, before they were actually mobilised, sent to their regiments and issued with their regimental numbers. At least two of the men - 40156 Horace Chinnock and 40238 Edward Trumpess - probably joined the Essex Regiment at the same time, transferring in from the Cambridgeshire Regiment; and two of the men were old soldiers who had served with the army for many years and were called up as reservists when Britain went to war in August 1914.


For help with your own First World War research, drop me a line via the Research tab on this blog.













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