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Stars, Stripes and Chevrons Chapter 6

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Muerrisch

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Chapter 6

 

1914 to 1919, The Great War

 

The first major uniform change to concern this article is the virtual abolition of full dress and the stars, stripes and chevrons adorning it. With it went the various undress frocks and equivalents. The surviving uses post-war were almost entirely by Household units and regimental bands.

To bring units to full War Establishment the regular army depended heavily on recalled reservists. Very soon it had to use the Special Reservists. The Foot Guards were even more dependant on recalled men as their Terms of Engagement were three years with the colours and nine with the reserve. The SR and the New Armies were now officially part of the regular army. The TF were different, with some minor eccentricities regarding stars.

 

Chevrons and Stars

 

Regulars went to war with their existing GCBs. Bandsmen, often very long-serving, deployed as stretcher bearers, and we can reasonably expect that among them would be veterans with the full six-bar set. This cost 8 ¼ d according to Clothing Regulations 1913. GCBs and medal ribbons were not provided for the greatcoat, a cause of some annoyance to veterans, indistinguishable from middle-aged hostilities-only men. The SR and the New Armies would have none. Five-point stars for distance judging could be seen on right cuffs, together with stars augmenting grades of skill-at-arms badges on the left cuff. These latter were to be worn above any GCBs. The TF had their five-point stars for each four-year efficiency period, but the lozenges and four-point stars had disappeared with the disbanding of the VF in 1908.

Precedent for granting a GCB after two years embodied service of auxiliaries had been set for the Militia in the Boer War, so in 1916 Instruction 1582 introduced them for the TF.  The SR and the New Armies were entitled by virtue of their regular army status. Men who went on active service very soon after declaration could even qualify for a second badge at five years, just in time for demobilisation or disembodiment. There were no changes in GCB qualifying periods.

All TF soldiers were officially junior to those of the same nominal rank in the SR, who in turn were junior to regulars. This led to great awkwardness and was rescinded soon. We have little doubt that four-year efficiency stars, unique to the ill-regarded TF, quietly disappeared from many right cuffs in 1914 and 1915. As an aside, in the Second World War the V. badge of the RAFVR tended to disappear for much the same reason.

A few stars appeared as part of Divisional badges, and notably the big white five-point star worn by the North Russia Expedition of 1918-1919.

 

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North Russia GMGR group 1919 with white star and the exceptionally rare GMGR cap badge.

 

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Militia with GCB: Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Militia

 

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TF with GCB: Arthur Pitt 46th (1/1st Wessex) CCS RAMC

 

Illustrations To Follow:

Greatcoat on Royal Artillery man who might be either a Paid or Unpaid Acting Bombardier.... lance appointment, an Acting Full Bombardier or a Bombardier. In the first two cases he could have GCBs under the coat.

 TF with GCB: 2303 Pte Cecil Cottis 1/4th Essex Regt, renumbered 35066

 

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