22 December 2016

Section or Platoon Roll Book - Gale & Polden

I recently won this little item on eBay and paid considerably more than the original price of 6d for it. There is no publication date but my guess is that it dates to around the time of the First World War. Its purpose, as explained on the opening page, was to record the names of NCOs and men and to include for each, their marital status, date of enlistment, age on enlistment etc; in fact everything including the man's rifle number and rifle bolt number, as well as details of certificates awarded and classes passed. This being the case, I suppose it's hardly surprising that my copy of this little gem is largely uncompleted. The officer or senior NCO who bought this must have balked at the thought of recording so much detail for all of the men under his charge.

Nevertheless, there are some details which have been recorded and which the vendor on eBay omitted to reveal. 

The middle page here notes "Dining hall fatigue, Sept 27th 1918" whilst the first page notes, "Roll of 9th Platoon / Se", followed by a list of 14 names.

A quick search of medal index cards and service records reveals that these men, at the time this roll was taken, were all serving with a Training Reserve Battalion. For instance, the third man on the list, 34798 A Beresford, was TR/9/34798 Alexander Beresford who enlisted at Warwick on the 22nd May 1917 was posted to the 47th Training Reserve Battalion two days later and finally, by way of the Essex Regiment and two further Training Reserve battalions, found himself in France with the Machine Gun Corps by May 1918.

There is no service record for 34602 T E Deptford but there is a medal index card and medal roll which reveal a similar pattern to that of Alexander Beresford, namely Training Reserve, Essex Regiment and Machine Gun Corps. Thomas Deptford also has the Royal Engineers added in for good measure, although this seven-digit number indicates that he joined the RE from 1920 as this number is from the new army service number series rather than the regimental number series which had operated prior to this time.

Helpfully, the medal roll entry gives more detail and confirms that he too served with the 47th Training Reserve Battalion, then the 3rd Essex Regiment, then the 84th TRB, followed by the 8th Machine Gun Corps, and finally the Royal Engineers.

The ironically named H F Coffin was latterly 137342 Harold Frederick Coffin who was killed in action on the 13th July 1918 whilst serving with the 6th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps. Soldiers Died in the Great War notes that he was formerly 46200 Essex Regiment, and my platoon roll book records that he was 34719, TRB. Note the similarity in regimental numbers to those of Thomas Deptford.

So all in all, a nice item to own, I think, and I would guess that most of these men were probably young soldiers and that the majority went on to serve with the Essex Regiment and then Machine Gun Corps. Preliminary medal card searches reveals this to be the case.

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