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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Signaller's Notebook

Steve Favill

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I have a copy of my great-uncle's notebook, photo-copied, (not by me) so some pages are better than others but the important ones are really good.

He served with the South Staffordshire Regiment from 1914 until he was killed (together with most of his battalion) in the German offensive in March 1918.

A cursory examination shows that there are detailed drawings of the innards of the equipment used, descriptions of how things worked, even the minimum staffing levels for different setups. There is a clear copy of the signal log that was used, with instuctions on how to fill it in, the different types of signals and who was authorised to send which ones, and even the correct way to set up signal lamps depending on where the signaller was. I have a drawing of a telescope, with leather case, how they were to open and close it, and the care and maintenance of the thing.

One I sit and read through it I'm sure that I'll find all kinds of information, but if anyone needs a look-up.........

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  • 8 years later...

I have just transcribed some 88 letters my Grandfather Harold Aaron Priestley wrote home. He was a signaller with the 2/6 South Staffs although it seems at some point they had too many signallers so he fought with the infantry. He mentions a 'pal' Lewis which is most likely the Lewis referred to by Steve Favill earlier in this long dead thread. I have some group photos taken while he was in France. He was killed near Bullecourt on 21/3/18.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has interest in the 2/6 south staffs particularly the battles he may have taken part in to cross reference then with his letters all carefully dated.

i don't think Mr Favill is active anymore which is a shame as his great uncles notebook sounds interesting.

Edited by HAP
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In the absence of a surviving service record, I think that one of the problems that you will have in matching the letters to where Harold actually was, is establishing precisely which battalion of the South Staffs he was serving with at the time when they were written. His medal roll indicates that he went abroad firstly as a 9th battalion man, then moved to the 8th battalion, and finally served with the 2/6th battalion. Forces War Records appear to have a transcript of some kind for a 1917 hospital admission/discharge record for him - see here. I don't subscribe to the site so can't tell you what it says, but if you click on the link what you can see for free is they (FWR) appear to have linked it to an 'ORBAT' for the 8th battalion. The full transcription should confirm. From other transcriptions that I've seen, the record may also note the number of months of service, and the number of months of service "in the field". That should at least give you approximate dates for when he first "joined", and when he first went abroad. (General dates for the South Staffs can be seen on the Long Long Trail here. It would be interesting to see if the months of service ties back to his Soldiers' Effects record, which from the amount of War Gratuity paid indicates service counting from circa June 1916.*


His Soldiers' Effects record shows Harold as "death presumed" on 21st March 1918. That would seem to explain the Red Cross PoW enquiry index card here. It seems that on the first day of the German Spring Offensive a huge number of men went missing, but were captured rather than having been killed, and his family had hoped that he was one of those.


Battalion, Brigade HQ, and Divisional HQ war diaries are available from the National Archives (by fee), and on Ancestry (by membership) - the search pages being here and here. Please do ask if you need any help.


For the record, I have a specific interest in anything 59th Division related to 21st March 1918.





*Edit: near number sampling would also probably help

Edited by clk
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  • 1 month later...

Just to confirm his record on FWR contains the following specific fields:


First name (inits only)


Index number of the hospital admission

Service (regimental) number




Date of admission for ailment

Date of transfer to other hospitals

Notes written in any observations column on the original source

TNA reference -includes the present ambulance/FH/CCS unit designation.


It's not a very long entry and is a days treatment in total before transfer.


I hope this helps,




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