30 September 2011

13390 James Cree, 20th DLI

I'm using this post to illustrate another query, received this morning, and my response to it.

"My granddad, James Cree, served with the DLI in WW1. His service number was 13390. A postcard that I have shows him to be with No 3 Platoon, A Coy, 20 Batt DLI, JE [or IE?] Force. I bought John Sheen's book, Wearside Battalion but there is no reference to JE [or IE] Force and all their service numbers begin with 20. His WW1 Medal Index Card shows him as serving in France from 23 September 1915. Would he have joined 20 Batt from another and have you heard of JE [or IE] Force?"

James's number would appear to date to August 1914 and so he would certainly have been serving with another battalion before being posted to the 20th DLI which wasn't raised until July 1915. His number belongs to the series used by the service battalions, whereas the Pals Battalions - the 18th, 19th and 20th - each started a separate number series from 1, those numbers each prefixed by the relevant battalion number; so 20/1, 20/2, 20/3 etc for the 20th Battalion for instance. You should check the medal roll at the National Archives to see if other battalions are noted but it would be my guess that he first served with one or the other of the 2nd Battalion or the 10th to 15th. The 16th battalion was a reserve battalion and the 17th Battalion onwards either didn't serve in France or weren't there until after James Cree had landed. There are two medal rolls to check: the 1914/15 Star roll and the BWM and Victory Medal Roll. The roll references are on his MIC.

James would appear to have arrived in France as part of a draft for a battalion, rather than as an original member of one of the New Army battalions. Have a look at The Long, Long Trail website, specifically the page which deals with the Durham Light Infantry.

IEF is probably Italian Expeditionary Force as the 20th Battalion served in Italy from November 1917 to March 1918.

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29 September 2011

S/11087 - Seaforth Highlanders

Another enquiry, this time from Les concerning a Seaforth Highlander enlistment with the number S/11087.

The message reads:

"I have a copy of his MIC card showing Regimental Number S/11087 and the fact that he was awarded the Victory and British medals. The reference is G/104 B10 Page 615. He enlisted with the Seaforth Highlanders. I do not know which battalion he was in. Family stories are that he spent time in India but I cannot trace any exact dates for joining / leaving or if he indeed went to France. Any clues or direction?"

The first thing to note is that the fact that he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals indicates that he served overseas in a theatre of war.

The number dates to around the 20th October 1915 and was issued to Ernest Bond. There is little to be gleaned from the MIC although the S/ prefix indicates a wartime service enlistment. The regiment raised four service battalions, the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th; the latter becoming a reserve battalion. None of these battalions served in India although the 1st Garrison Battalion, formed in July 1916, moved to Salonika the following month. It's possible that he served with one of these service battalions or indeed with the 1st or 2nd Battalions. The 1st Battalion had been in India pre WW1 but Ernest's number rules him out as being a regular (unless he had served pre WW1, been discharged and then re-enlisted in October 1915). The 1st Seaforths served in France and latterly Mesopotamia (from July 1915) and finally Palestine (from January 1918). The 2nd Battalion fought in France and Flanders.

You should check the medal rolls to see if there is a battalion noted but unfortunately there is nothing in his number to indicate which battalion (or indeed battalions) he served with.

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23 September 2011

Francis Roloff - Rifle Brigade

I've received a message from Ann Roloff on my Royal Engineers' post about her great grandfather, Francis Charles John Roloff which I reproduce in part, below:

"The card says he was in the Rifle Brigade - am I right in thinking that's what the 'S' stands for, in his regiment number? His rank was Private. But what does the number 10807 correspond to exactly? Can I find out, somewhere, where they were stationed? Also, on the card there is a Victory medal listed, with roll number: M/102 [looks like a]B 18 [[M/102B18]], and page:2430."

I've reproduced the Medal Index Card above and also checked to see if there is a surviving service record in WO 363 or WO 364. There isn't.

The S/ prefix indicates a WW1 enlistment for the Rifle Brigade so we know that he enlisted for wartime service only and wasn't a pre-war regular or a member of the Special or Extra Reserve. The fact that he received the British War Medal and Victory Medal only also indicates that he didn't arrive overseas until 1st January 1916 or later.

The medal index card (MIC) reference number is M/102B 18 which is the reference number for the actual medal roll. His entry appears on page 2430.

The letter M on the MIC reference is the code for the record office, in this case Winchester, and M/102B is the reference for the Rifle Brigade. This code tells us that Francis last served with the Rifle Brigade and that his medals were issued through the Winchester record office. There is no battalion mentioned on the MIC but a check of the original medal roll (housed at The National Archives) may (or may not) reveal that. You can view these rolls at The National Archives or engage a researcher to look at these for you. If you can identify the battalion, you'll then be able to consult the relevant battalion war diary.

As for Francis' number, my data suggests that it dates to around the third week of May 1915. I would also add that there are Rifle Brigade experts who regularly visit The Great War Forum and they may be able to fill in more details for you. The GWF is a fantastic resource and always worth a visit.

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19 September 2011

Royal Engineers 108*

I received an email from someone who had read my recent post on the Royal Engineers and was enquiring about their own relative who joined the Royal Engineers and was given the number 10822. When did he join?

With all of the regiments and battalions I've covered - and have yet to cover - there is, or can be, a difference between the date a man attested and the date his attestation was approved and he was issued with a number.

Here is a sample of Royal Engineers attestations for men with five figure numbers beginning 108**. All of these records survive in WO 97, now published online here: British Army Service Records 1760-1915.

10805 attested [Chatham - 7&5] on 17th March 1902.
10807 attested [Warrington - 7&5] on 5th March 1902.
10810 attested [Reading - 7&5] on 14th March 1902.

10813 attested [Manchester - 7&5] on 15th March .
10826 attested [Bury St Edmunds - 7&5] on 19th March 1902.
10827 attested [Barrow - 3&9] on 17th March 1902.
10828 attested [Reading - 7&5] on 20th March 1902.
10829 attested [London - 7&5] on 19th March 1902.
10848 attested [Lurgan - 7&5] on 18th March 1902.
10852 attested [Hamilton - 7&5] on 31st March 1902.
10853 attested [Lurgan - 7&5] on 20th March 1902.
10854 attested [Manchester - 7&5] on 26th March 1902.
10856 attested [Newcastle-on-Tyne - 7&5] on 29th March 1902.
10865 attested [Helston - 3&9] on 1st April 1902.
10868 attested [Accrington - 3&9] on 2nd April 1902.
10879 attested [London - 3&9] on 3rd April 1902.
10883 attested [Worcester - 3&9] on 7th April 1902.
10884 attested [London - 7&5] on 16th April 1901.
10888 attested [Wexford - 3&9] on 1st April 1902.
10893 attested [Southampton - 3&9] on 7th April 1902.

So quite a variation in dates here. They're all March or April 1902 but the dates are only roughly sequential. The main exception here is 10884 who attested on the 16th April 1901 and who deserted the following day. So why does this 1901 attestation have a number which wasn't being issued until a year later? The answer lies in the date that the men's attestations were approved.

Here is that same list of numbers, this time with the approval dates instead of the attestation dates:

10805 approved 17th March 1902
10807 approved 17th March, 8/40 Reg District
10810 approved 19th March, 2nd Reg District
10813 approved 19th March
10826 approved 20th March, 12th Reg District
10827 approved 20th March
10828 approved 21st March, 49th Reg District
10829 approved 23rd March
10848 approved 27th March, 87th Reg District
10852 approved 31st March, 26th Reg District
10853 approved 29th March, 87th Reg District
10854 approved 29th March
10856 approved 2nd April, 5/68th Reg District
10865 approved 3rd April, 32nd Reg District
10868 approved 3rd April, 4th Reg District
10879 approved 8th April
10883 approved 8th April, 29th Reg District
10884 [finally] approved 9th April
10888 approved 13th April, 18th Reg District
10893 approved 8th April

Number 10893 is still slightly awry here, but the approval date; the date on which the man was appointed to his regiment, in this case The Royal Engineers, is the date which triggers the issue of the regimental number. And if you look at the small extract I've taken from the attestation paper of number 10810, you'll see that the number is written in a different hand, and a different ink from the other information on that first page of the attestation. The man's details would be filled out at the point of attestation - his age, address, trade etc - and the number comes after the attestation has been approved.

So to go back to my questioner and his relative who had the number 10822, my guess would be that he attested - presented himself before the recruiting staff - probably between the 15th and 19th March 1902, and was approved on the 19th or 20th March.

As for our 1901 attestation who deserted on the 17th April 1901, he forfeited 324 days' pay before being returned to duty on the 7th March 1902 and finally had his attestation approved on the 9th April that year. He was discharged at Chatham less than a month later as "not likely to become an efficient soldier".

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13 September 2011

4th Suffolk Regiment - 1908-1914

I was writing up some notes last night on a 4th Suffolk man with whom I had corresponded in the 1980s. I have already posted on this blog regarding the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment, and also the 5th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. Here then is a snippet from my database of 4th Battalion men.

The 4th (Territorial Force) Battalion succeeded the 1st Volunteer Battalion which could trace its origins back to July 1859 with the formation of two companies raised in Ipswich. Over the next few years, more companies were added and the battalion supplied seventy-four men (three of whom died) for service in Suffolk Regiment volunteer service companies during the Second South African War. By 1907, the 1st VB had nine companies and 826 men out of an establishment of 1048 and would increase this number over the next couple of years.

By early 1914, The 4th Suffolk Regiment was headquartered at Portman Road, Ipswich with companies A to D also based in the town. Company E was the Lowestoft company and Company F was based at Halesworth with a drill station at Saxmundham. Fremlingham was home to Company G, which had a drill hall at Woodbridge, and Company H was located at Leiston with a drill station at East Bridge. The battlalion was originally part of the Norfolk and Suffolk Infantry Brigade with the East Anglian Division.

145 Arthur Reed joined on the 2nd April 1908. He was a serving member with the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
766 Charles Button joined on the 11th February 1909
1102 Stanley London Mayhew joined on the 20th January 1910
1210 Thomas Charles Baker joined on 6th February 1911
1761 James Henry Cain joined on 23rd October 1913
1854 Harry Howard joined on 14th February 1914
1980 John Stocks joined on 3rd August 1914
2225 William Samuel John Smith joined on 1st September 1914
2327 Jack Reason joined on 5th October 1914
2730 John Henry Brown joined on the 13th November 1914
3018 Henry Williams joined the 2/4th Battalion on 14th December 1914

All of the above number/date information from surviving service records in WO 363 and WO 364 - online courtesy of Ancestry.co.uk.

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9 September 2011

Leicestershire Regiment - Soldiers Died - October 1914

It can be a depressing exercise trawling through the lists of WW1 casualties. All of these Leicestershire Regiment died in October 1914 and this snapshot will endeavour to determine when they joined up.

4887 Frank Ridley
6089 John Morrigee
6457 William Henry Moreby DCM
6515 Joseph Turner
6531 Joseph Simpson
6533 Harry Briggs
6560 Arthur Goodman
6586 Percy Bowley
6602 Albert Swan
6644 John Barker
6666 Harry Gilbert
6853 Ernest Bailey
6854 Thomas Edwards
6857 William Dawes
6879 George Spriggs
6930 William Hallam
6970 Ernest Sharpe
6971 Frederick Oakley
7018 Harry Price
7153 Frederick Shaw
7187 John Bosworth
7197 John Oswin
7217 Joseph William Atkin
7218 Albert Waddams
7268 Albert Thorpe
7297 William Elmore
7357 Harry Stevenson
7372 William Arthur Routlege
7471 Dairmid Macdonnell
7600 William Robert Bradford
7605 Robert Bell
7635 Harry Smitten
7648 Harry Charles
7659 William John Nixon
7680 George Groom
7694 Frank Wood
7704 William Curtis
7719 Arthur North
7764 Wilfred Carter
7819 John Riley
7924 John William Ellis
7973 Matthias Summerland
7997 George Willcocks
8036 Arthur Eagle
8040 Wilfred Walker
8084 Albert Edwin Hannay Ball
8390 Robert Frank Hough
8401 Stephen Hunt
8405 Sidney Robert Bewshea
8456 Bernard Kelagher
8514 Albert John Mead
8562 Ernest William Ward
8605 Rowland Frank Walter Edge
8855 Arthur George Prater
8861 Cecil Edward Bacon
8875 Arthur Sharp
8935 Henry Victor Reed
8971 Edward Albert Relf
9088 Gilbert Frederick Erwood
9109 Alfred Charles Mills
9259 Thomas Groocock
9282 Arthur Elks
9324 Frank Claude Freeborough
9411 Eric Rushton Cooke
9415 William Jeffs
9438 George De Bow
9540 William Frederick Mercer
9555 Herbert Elson
9561 James Bostock
9585 Henry Cecil Wharfe
9653 Harry Wragg
9660 Albert Hoult
9699 Frank Clay
9721 John Henry Deacon
9760 Robert Ernest Boulton
9840 James Crawford Eaglesome Mackinnon

In addition to these NCOs and men, the following Leicestershire Regiment officers also died in October 1914:

Thomas Henry Bowley
William Henry Gordon Dodds
Francis Le Maistre Gruchy
Theodore Prain
Cecil Smeathman
Lancelot Barrington Crofte Tristram

At the Going Down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

What do the men's numbers tell us?

Assuming that they were all regular soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Battalions, this is when they joined the Leicestershire Regiment. John Morrigee died at home whilst with the 3rd Battalion but may have been a regular soldier posted to the depot.

4887 Frank Ridley, 1st Bn
6089 John Morrigee, 3rd Bn, died at home
6457 William Henry Moreby DCM, 1st Bn
6515 Joseph Turner, 1st Bn
6531 Joseph Simpson, 1st Bn
6533 Harry Briggs, 1st Bn
6560 Arthur Goodman, 1st Bn
6586 Percy Bowley, 1st Bn
6602 Albert Swan, 1st Bn
6644 John Barker, 1st Bn
6666 Harry Gilbert, 1st Bn
19036853 Ernest Bailey, 1st Bn
6854 Thomas Edwards, 1st Bn
6857 William Dawes, 1st Bn
6879 George Spriggs, 1st Bn
6930 William Hallam, 1st Bn
6970 Ernest Sharpe, 1st Bn
6971 Frederick Oakley, 2nd Bn
7018 Harry Price, 1st Bn
7153 Frederick Shaw, 1st Bn
7187 John Bosworth, 1st Bn
7197 John Oswin, 1st Bn
7217 Joseph William Atkin, 1st Bn
7218 Albert Waddams, 1st Bn
7268 Albert Thorpe, 1st Bn
7297 William Elmore, 1st Bn
7357 Harry Stevenson, 1st Bn
7372 William Arthur Routlege, 1st Bn
7471 Dairmid Macdonnell, 1st Bn
7600 William Robert Bradford, 1st Bn
7605 Robert Bell, 1st Bn
7635 Harry Smitten, 1st Bn
7648 Harry Charles, 1st Bn
7659 William John Nixon, 1st Bn
7680 George Groom, 1st Bn
7694 Frank Wood. 1st Bn
7704 William Curtis, 1st Bn
7719 Arthur North, 1st Bn
7764 Wilfred Carter, 1st Bn
7819 John Riley, 1st Bn
7924 John William Ellis, 1st Bn
7973 Matthias Summerland, 1st Bn
7997 George Willcocks, 1st Bn
8036 Arthur Eagle, 1st Bn
8040 Wilfred Walker, 2nd Bn
8084 Albert Edwin Hannay Ball, 2nd Bn
8390 Robert Frank Hough, 1st Bn
8401 Stephen Hunt, 1st Bn
8405 Sidney Robert Bewshea, 2nd Bn
8456 Bernard Kelagher, 1st Bn
8514 Albert John Mead, 1st Bn
8562 Ernest William Ward, 1st Bn
8605 Rowland Frank Walter Edge, 2nd Bn
8855 Arthur George Prater, 1st Bn
8861 Cecil Edward Bacon, 1st Bn
8875 Arthur Sharp, 1st Bn
8935 Henry Victor Reed, 1st Bn
8971 Edward Albert Relf, 2nd Bn
9088 Gilbert Frederick Erwood, 1st Bn
9109 Alfred Charles Mills, 1st Bn
9259 Thomas Groocock, 1st Bn
9282 Arthur Elks, 2nd Bn
9324 Frank Claude Freeborough, 1st Bn
9411 Eric Rushton Cooke, 1st Bn
9415 William Jeffs, 1st Bn
9438 George De Bow, 2nd Bn
9540 William Frederick Mercer, 1st Bn
9555 Herbert Elson, 1st Bn
9561 James Bostock, 1st Bn
9585 Henry Cecil Wharfe, 1st Bn
9653 Harry Wragg, 1st Bn
9660 Albert Hoult, 1st Bn
9699 Frank Clay, 1st Bn
9721 John Henry Deacon, 1st Bn
9760 Robert Ernest Boulton, 1st Bn
9840 James Crawford Eaglesome Mackinnon, 1st Bn

I've not checked all the medal index cards for the men above but all the 1st Battalion men that I have checked, arrived overseas in France on the 9th September 1914. All of the 2nd Battalion men arrived in France on the 12th October 1914. There was a certainly a wealth of military experience represented above.

6457 William Moreby DCM, would have joined the regiment in August 1902 and would have signed up either for 12 years' Long Service, or more likely 3 years with the colours and 9 in the Reserve. The majority of the men therefore, with numbers in the range 6457 to 8084 (Albert Edwin Hannay Ball) would have been reservists, some of these men with no active soldiering for nearly nine years. Some of these men could have extended the period of their service and so may have still been serving with the Colours when Britain went to war in 1914. For those men though who had been on the Army Reserve for almost a decade, marching along those long, straight cobbled roads of Belgium in August 1914 would have been an incredibly arduous task.

The man with the least experience was James Mackinnon who had joined in the first half of 1914 and therefore had had less than a year's active soldiering with the Leicesters when he was killed.
In 1981 I met and interviewed a 1st Leicestershire Regiment man, Stan Brown. His photo is on my post about Leicestershire Regiment numbers, and he also appears in a photograph of Chelmsford's Old Contemptibles. I've also just recently added a small account about Stan on my World War 1 Veterans' blog. Stan's number was 9732 and he'd joined the regiment in July 1913. He recalled:

"On the march it was Bob Hough and myself and I was only a kid. I was only seventeen when I got wounded. As far as I was concerned, it was an extremely wonderful period for me as a youngster. I was enjoying myself. I'd met Bob before we was put out and I suppose we was classed as scouts. We went in front and if we saw anything, one of us had to go back and tell the officer. He was an old stager really, not in terms of age but in soldiering. He seemed to me to be the boss. He was a wonderfully fit bloke."

Bob Hough is 8390 Robert Frank Hough, listed above, who had joined the regiment in 1908 and who would have therfore been coming to the end of his seven years with the Colours when Britain went to war. He may have seemed like an old stager to Stan, but he was still only 22 when he was killed in action on the 24th October 1914. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, pictured at the top of this post.

I've borrowed the photo on this post from the History of Skelton-in-Cleveland website. Leicestershire Regiment service records here: British Army Service Records 1760-1915

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2 September 2011

East Surrey Regiment curiosities - 364**

I was reading through posts on the Great War Forum the other day and came across this query about an East Surrey Regiment man: George Addison.

What puzzled me about this man was his number. He had enlisted in 1914 and yet his number was not from a series of numbers I would have expected to see for 1914 enlistments for this regiment. I decided to investigate further by making a list of men who had numbers beginning 364* and then checking their names against surviving service records in WO 363 and WO 364 to see if there were any patterns. Here are the results:

36411 William J A Edwards, arr o/seas 1916 onwards
36412 Stanley W Bartram, arr o/seas 1916 onwards, later L/13015
36414 Alfred W Green, arr o/seas 1916 onwards, later Labour Corps
36415 Sydney W Lloyd, arr o/seas 1916 onwards.
36418 Joseph J Nicholson, arr o/seas 1916 onwards.
34620 Henry Ernest Perry, arr o/seas 1916 onwards. SWB MIC gives enlist date as 02/11/1917
36423 Charles William Ashpole, arr o/seas 1916 onwards. WO 364. Enlisted 11/12/1915
36427 Joseph Kilborn. SWB MIC gives enlist date as 27/05/1916
36430 Robert D Paulett, arr o/seas 1916 onwards.
36436 Joseph C Hall, arr o/seas 1916 onwards, later Labour Corps
36437 Charles T Hancock, arr o/seas 1916 onwards.
36439 Herbert R Harris, arr o/seas 1916 onwards.
36441 James H Chiverton, arr o/seas 1916 onwards.
36453 Herbert Evans, Unknown Bn, arr F&F 07/10/1915, later ASC
36454 George F Addison, 7th Bn, arr F&F 28/07/1915
36455 Henry C Morland, 7th Bn, arr F&F 29/07/1915
36455 Horace Alfred Allen
36456 William S Beteux, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36458 Alfred T Clouder, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36459 George A Crouch, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36460 Alfred W Caston, 8th Bn, arr F & F 27/07/1915. WO 363. Attested Norwich 8th Sep 1914 with Norfolk Regt. Transferred to 8th Bn E Surrey Regt on 11th Sep 1914
36461 John Chestney, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36462 Albert Cullen, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915, later L/13024
36463 William Cullum, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36464 John W Flack, 8th Bn, arr F&F 25/08/1915
36465 William H Curtis, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36466 William J Cutting, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36467 Wilfred J Darkens MM, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36468 Albert Joyce, 8th Bn, arr F&F 25/08/1915
36469 Thomas A De’ath, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36471 George E Fox, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915; SWB MIC gives enlist date as 05/09/1914
36472 David Goodman, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36475 William G Collins
36477 Arthur Fisher, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36478 Alfred E Forder, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915
36479 Frederick James Pulsford, 8th Bn, arr F&F 27/07/1915. Formerly 4933 East Surrey Regt
36482 Albert Floyd, arr o/seas 1916 onwards.
36483 Leslie Edward Fisher, 7th Bn, arr F&F 03/06/1915
36487 Thomas W Jones, arr o/seas 1916 onwards.
G/36491 Frederick William Manifold, arr o/seas 1916 onwards.

I have to say that the results are inconclusive due to the paucity of surviving service records, although I am tempted to draw the following conclusions:

36401-36441 are possibly Derby Scheme attestations from late 1915.
36454-36483 are mostly 7th and 8th Bn enlistments from 1914

I wonder whether there is a Norfolk/Suffolk link here somewhere as a number of the surnames are particularly common to those counties and I wonder how many of these man transferred onto the East Surrey Regiment from the Norfolk Regiment and the Suffolk Regiment. At least one did - 36460 - but admittedly, he may be the only one.

So as I say, an inconclusive result and a topic within a topic for which further responses would be most welcome.

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