2 March 2018

Naming the 1st York & Lancs


Here's an interesting diversion to while away a few hours on a snowy Friday afternoon. The photograph above was published in The Navy & Army Illustrated on the 15th April 1899. The article read:

"By the recent sad death of a recruit of the Scots Guards, who died while on parade at Windsor... much attention has been directed to the question as to whether, by the enlistment of "specials", men of deteriorated physique, are not unlikely to be accepted as recruits. That, however, the standard is on the whole high is shown by the accompanying group, who are not picked men, but simply the last joined draft of recruits that came to the 1st Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment as recently as February 21 last. With but one exception, these men had been then only twelve weeks in the Service.."

Given that there is so much information contained within that short paragraph I thought it might be possible to identify some of the men and so set about finding out.

There are 31 men in the photograph and a look through surviving service records shows that the majority of the men with the regimental numbers 5247 to 5275 joined the 1st Battalion from the regimental depot on the 22nd (not the 21st) February 1899. These men had originally joined the regiment between the 3rd October and the 5th November 1898 which means that the longest serving recruit when this photo was published would have been with the regiment for close to six and a half months.

The majority of British infantry of the line regiments had two battalions, one serving at home and one serving overseas. When the new recruit had successfully gone through his paces at the regimental depot, he was posted to the home battalion. These postings happened eight times a year and all men posted as part of a detachment were enrolled in the same company of the home battalion to continue their training. With eight companies per battalion, this system ensured that new recruits were evenly spread throughout the battalion and that each company could expect a fresh intake of new recruits each year. 

Postings from the regimental depot to the home battalion were supposed to take place on specific dates and the 21st February was one of those dates, albeit the date on the men's service records below is the 22nd February; a Wednesday.

The majority of the men who appear in the photo above are listed below. Most enlisted for 7&5 (seven years with the colours and five years on the reserve), but there are also men who enlisted for 3&9, and two boys who enlisted for 12 years' service with no reserve obligation. The men had differing careers, many going on to serve in the Boer War, and some in the First World War. At least three men died during 1914-1918 and at least two men served 21 years. My research into these men has been basic and ends here. My mission has been to provide names for the faces and I think I've done that. If anyone is able to positively match up a name to a particular face, that would be the icing on the cake.  Anyway, here are the names, and I've included men in this list who joined the 1st Battalion before and after the 22nd February 1899.

5240 William Else
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 28th Sep 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 1st Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 8th Jan 1899

5241 Edward Longhorn
Enlisted for 12 years, long service. Attested as a boy on the 16th September 1898 and joined the regiment on the 19th September 1898.

5242 F Clarke

5243 Walter Sargeant.
From Essex. Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 24th Sep 1898. Transfer date to 1st Bn not noted. Later a Section D Reservist and DoW at 4th London General Hospital on 3rd June 1915.

5244 Alfred Butcher
From Essex. Enlisted for 7&5. Posted to 1st Battalion on the 22nd November 1899.

5246 Patrick Keys
Enlisted for 3&9.  Attested 28tth Sep 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 2nd Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 8th Jan 1899.

5247 William Moore
Enlisted for 3&9.  Attested 3rd Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 5th Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd Feb 1899.  Discharged medically unfit, date unknown.

5248 Frederick Ellis

5249 Henry R Davies
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 6th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 8th Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd Feb 1899.

5250 B Jackson. Served during the Boer War.

5251 T Gowland. Served during the Boer War.

5252 John Watson
Enlisted for 12 years, long service. Attested as a boy on the 3rd October 1898 and joined the depot at Pontefract on the 7th October 1898.

5253 Frederick Pickles
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 10th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 11th Oct 1898. Discharged on payment of £10 on 31st Dec 1898.

5254 Roger Sanson. Attested 8th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 11th Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd Feb 1899.  Served 20 years and 193 days earning campaign medals for the Boer war and First World War.

5255 Tom Barker
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 13th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 14th Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd Feb 1899. Served a total of 21 years and 31 days, earning medals for the Boer War and First World War.

5256 Sandford Winter
Enlisted for 3&9. Attested 14th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 16th Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd Feb 1899. Discharged 13th Oct 1910.

5257 William Cawson
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 14th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 16th Oct 1898. Died of wounds in England on 15th May 1915.

5258 William Layte
Originally enlisted with Norfolk Regt on the 3rd December 1895. Transferred to Y&L on 30th September 1898. Discharged medically unfit on the 7th January 1902.

5259 Charles Beecroft
Enlisted for 3&9. Attested 10th Oct 1898, joined at York on the 10th Oct 1898. Date of posting to 1st Battalion unknown.

5260 Frederick Stevens.
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 10th Oct 1898, joined at York on the 10th Oct 1898. Date of posting to 1st Battalion unknown.

5261 Ernest Abbott
Attested 17th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 18th Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd Feb 1899. Served Boer War and later 2nd Bn in India fro
m 28th Mar 1902 until 9th Nov 1906. To army reserve on 13th Nov 1906. Discharged 16th Oct 1910.

5262 E Jenkinson

5263 William Hickey
Attested 17th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 18th Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd Feb 1899. Served Boer War and later 1st Bn in UK until 6th Nov 1902 when transferred to the army reserve.  Later enlisted as a Section D Reservist and still on the reserve when Britain went to war in August 1914.

5263 Unidentified

5264 John Ramsbottom
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 19th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 19th Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 8th April 1899. Served in the Boer war. To 2nd Battalion on the 28th March 1902. Granted first good conduct badge on the 5th May 1902. To 1st Battalion on the 20th Nov 1902. Later re-engaged to complete 21 years with the colours. Missing 8th May 1915 and later presumed to have been KiA on this date. Commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, aged 37.

5265 Ernest Smith
Enlisted for 3&9.  Attested 19th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 21st Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd February 1899. Discharged 1st October 1909. Served during the Boer War.

5266 Patrick Regan
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 20th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 21st Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd February 1899.

5267 William Walters
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 20th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 21st Oct 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd February 1899. Discharged 19th October 1910. Served during the Boer War.

5268 John Slinn

5269 Unidentified

5270 Unidentified

5271 Unidentified

5272 James Mitchell Wiseman
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 29th Oct 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 1st Nov 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd Feb 1899. Discharged 27th October 1910. Served during the Boer War.

5273 Edward Dickenson
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 2nd Nov 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 3rd Nov 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd Feb 1899.

5275 Thomas Stocks
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 4th Nov 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 5th Nov 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 22nd Feb 1899.

5276 Joseph Cousins
Enlisted for 3&9. Attested 9th Nov 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 10th Nov 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 8th April 1899.

5277 Richard Turner.
Enlisted for 3&9. Attested 8th Nov 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 10th Nov 1898. Discharged 14th November 1898 having made a "mis-statement as to age".

5278 Fred Thwaites
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 7th Nov 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 10th Nov 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 8th April 1899.

5280 George Coe
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 11th Nov 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 13th Nov 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 8th April 1899. Later enlisted as a Section D Reservist (15th March 1911) and still on the reserve when Britain went to war in August 1914.

5289 Herbert Buckley
Enlisted for 7&5. Attested 24th Nov 1898, to depot at Pontefract on the 25th Nov 1898. To 1st Battalion on the 24th May 1899.

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