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Remembered Today:

Royal Scots Fusiliers


darkisland

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I have a firm interest in the 2nd RSF because they joined 90th Brigade in 30th Division in December 1915, to bolster Kitcheners recruits; including my Grandad. 90th Brigade then included the 2nd RSF and 16th-18th Manchesters. These men took part in major action that was significant for the new army men, but possibly less important for the regulars soldiers in the RSF. Hence, I assume less weight of history has been applied to the Scots than the Mancs.

To redress the balance may I sing their praises with:-

Succesfull capture of Montauban on 1st July 1916. This was the greatest sustained advance on the First Day.

Succesful assault on Trones Wood on 9th July - Forced to withdraw.

Succesful assault on Guillemont 30th July - The Battalion was annihilated when support could not be maintained.

Horrendous assault at Flers 12th October.

Have a look at the host site or manchesters.org for more detail on these engagements. If anyone has war diaries or other material they's like to share, I'd love to see it too.

Tim

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  • 6 months later...

Thanks to all who have been helping me over the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

I now have another query: John Baird of the 1st Bn RSF Private 51757,who died 8/2/1918 in France.

He was born Colomell, Ayrshire. The children of Alloway School have him on their War Dead Scroll as either an old boy or someone who was connected with their area specifically. They are going to be researching this Scroll next year on the centenary & would like as much info as possible on each man who died who is on the Scroll. I'm not 100% sure this is THE John Baird but it is beginning to look likely.

Ant further help would be much appreciated.

sheilmar

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  • 5 months later...
Guest Eric Henderson

> According to orginal paperwork I have and my own best interpretation my grandfather Robert Henderson Pte #51912 reported for duty in Leith on 24 September 1916 to join the 3rd Bat Royal Scots Fusiliers in Ayrshire Yeomanry. He was reported wounded in France on May 15th 1918 with the 1st R Scots Fusiliers (which could be a mistake by whoever filled the form as he was later discharged from the 3rd R Scots Fusiliers) and taken to Etaples for treatment, survived, and after the war lived out his life in Canada. I am hoping to find out information on where he possibly was located when wounded . I have his original papers scanned and available to email. I trust this is an appropriate reqest to post here and thank in advance anyone who may be able to help me with this Eric Henderson, Whistler Canada.

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I hear what you say about the confusion between the R.S. and R.S.F. in newspaper articles of the time. I've come across many examples.

They do as folk say seem to be one of the least discussed Scottish infantry regiments for whatever reason.

Derek.

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Hi Eric (and welcome to the forum!)

3rd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers was the training battalion for the two Regular battalions (the 1st and 2nd) of the RSF. It was based in Camp Fort Matilda, a training camp of tents and huts next to Fort Matilda railway station between the twin towns of Greenock and Gourock, west of Glasgow.

So he would have joined at Leith (plenty of Edinburgh men joined the Ayrshire/Glaswegian RSF, just as loads of Glaswegians ended up in the Royal Scots, so don't worry about that), spent fourteen weeks training with the 3rd Battalion at Fort Matilda, and then gone out to join 1st Battalion RSF in the first weeks of 1917 where, as part of the Third Division, they were having a very chilly time taking turns occupying the front line at Serre on the Somme, (still the same trenches where the British army had started on July 1st 1916). In due course they had a spell of rest, and then moved to Arras for the April 1917 battle, where the battalion had a rough time. After rest and occupying trenches in quiet places, they were very heavily engaged at 3rd Ypres on 26th-28th September 1917 in the phase of the battle known as the Battle of Polygon Wood.

You say that your grandfather was wounded on May 15th 1918: on that day the 1st RSF were holding trenches just east of Bethune - the battalion war diary says:

"15.5.18 Hot. Germans sending over some gas shells. Casualties 1 killed and five wounded."

After hospital in Etaples he was presumably sent back to Scotland, and in due course back to the 3rd Battalion at Fort Matilda, either as an instructor (being an experienced soldier) or possibly with a view to being brought back to fitness and sent back to France. Either way, that would explain why he was with the 3rd Battalion again when he was discharged.

Hope that this is of interest.

William

Later edit: Eric - I meant to mention that the Ayrshire Yeomanry, which you mention, was a dismounted Territorial Army cavalry unit, which was amalgamated with the Lanarkshire Yeomanry (after both had served in Gallipoli), to become the 12th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers in early 1917, serving in Palestine until June 1918 when they joined in with the final doings on the Western Front. So I don't think that your grandfather had anything to do with them (although 3rd Battalion RSF did send them a draft of men early 1917, so your grandfather may have had pals who went into the Territorial/Yeomanry 12th RSF, rather than the Regular 1st Battalion).

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Darkisland, One of my prize groups is the 1914 Star & clasp trio to 7187 Pte. John Sidwell, 1st Bn., Royal Scots Fusiliers. His medal index card indicates that he arrived in France on 27 August, probably with the first draft of reinforcements for the battalion, and he lasted less than three weeks, being killed in action on the Aisne on 15 September.

Darkisland, One of my prize groups is the 1914 Star & clasp trio to 7187 Pte. John Sidwell, 1st Bn., Royal Scots Fusiliers. His medal index card indicates that he arrived in France on 27 August, probably with the first draft of reinforcements for the battalion, and he lasted less than three weeks, being killed in action on the Aisne on 15 September.

I cannot tell you my surprise and delight to find my great uncle's medals had survived. It was my father's dying wish that I fulfil the family obligation to visit his memorial at Le Ferte Sous Jouarre. I wore family medals and laid a wreath in honour of his sacrifice. John Sidney Sidwell was quite old when he joined. His father had died prior to the start of the war and I believe he lived with an Aunt and Uncle. His father ran the Station Hotel in Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham. He was not Scottish but joined in Birmingham. My father remembered as a boy staring up at his photograph in his kilt but never really knowing him. If you ever consider selling them back to the family, please let me know.

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I have only just joined this forum so forgive me if I am unfamiliar with the way it works. The Sidney John Sidwell mention above by darkisland is my great uncle. He was born in Birmingham in about 1885. His father ran the Station Hotel in Sutton Coldfield. Both his mother and father had died before the war started and he lived with his Aunt and Uncle. He joined the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers in Birmingham. He has no known grave but I visited his memorial at Le Ferte Sous Jouarre. He died 15th Sep 1914.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello everyone,

An interesting thread that has been ongoing for 10 years!

I have a question regarding my Great Grandfather who I believe may have been in the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers.

All I know about his service comes from a bible given to him by the National Bible society of Scotland which reads in pencil

200240 Copl. MacKay,

1st R.S.Furs

On active Service 1917

The only other information I have came from my Grandmother.

When I first Married we lived in Dunbar and during a visit my Grandmother had a trip down memory lane. She told me that during WW1 she lived in Dunbar as her father was stationed there. She could still remember the barracks, Castle Park Barracks at Lauderdale house at the top of the high street. She remembered going up stairs on the outside of where they were living and a shop where they bought butter that had a step down into it. We took a walk around the high street and think we found where she stayed and where the shop was.

At the time I was thrilled at the linked history but didn't ask much about my Gt Grandfathers part in the war itself, which is such a pity as any research I have done has drawn blanks until I remembered his bible and now have a regiment and a number.

I would be interested in anyone giving me information about the 1st R.S.F. and what he/they may have done in Dunbar. He was postman before and after the war and as far as I know I don't think the family actually moved to Dunbar as my gt Uncle was born back in Ayr in Oct 1917. Perhaps they were just visiting but my grandmothers memories were quite vivid she was born in 1912.

Any information would be of great help so thanks in advance.

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Hi Annickburn,

Can you give us his full name please, as much as you know? The name Mackay in the RSF, is as common as Smith in Middlesex Regiment!

1st Royal Scots Fusiliers were never based at Dunbar, nor were it's training unit (3rd Royal Scots Fusiliers), but 1st RSF took in drafts of men from both Royal Scots and Kings Own Scottish Borderers, both of whom had training units in Dunbar, so it is highly plausable that a corporal in the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers should have been stationed at Dundar.

William

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Hi William

Thanks for the reply.

His name was James MacKay (1890-1957) and he was born and lived in Ayr. (Can also be spelt McKay)

Thanks again any research leads or information would be much appreciated.

Melanie

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Hi Melanie

I have looked through the medal cards (in the National Archives, on Ancestry website) of around 130 James MacKay/McKays, and can only find one Corporal James MacKay who was a corporal in the Royal Scots Fusiliers; his number (would be the one engraved on his medals) was 41797; there is no mention of the number 200240 on his medal card, but six-figure numbers beginning with "20.." do exist in the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers, and men were often re-numbered for various reasons.

As I mentioned above, whilst the Royal Scots Fusiliers don't have an obvious Dunbar connection, there is no reason why he couldn't have initially trained there with another unit and then been transfered to 1st RSF. Or perhaps (more likely given how young your grandmother was earlier on in the war and that her memory is more likely to have been nearer the end of the war), he went home wounded/sick, and as an experienced NCO, was then an instructor helping to train recruits at Dunbar. Transfer to Royal Scots of Kings Own Scottish Borderers would not be mentioned on his medal card unless he actually served abroad with that unit.

Hope that this is all of interest - if I have any more thoughts I'll post them.

William

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello Everyone, Just to add to the data base. Ive just picked up a MM,14-15 trio and ISM to a Colour Sgt maj. J.SHIELDS 7967. 4th Batt RSF. He landed at Gallipoli as a Sgt so I think he was a pre war territorial. His MM was from Amiens..

His ISM was awarded when he was working for the GPO at Ardrossan.

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  • 1 month later...

Can anyone help with information about recruitment? How come Robert Hodgson No15221 1st Battalion RSF who died 3 May 1917 a man from West Hartlepool would join the RSF?

Also what were the RSF doing in April May 1917?

Robin

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Further information about Private Robert Hodgson although the CWGC entry fo rhis grave at Arras has 1st Battalion RSF his medal card shows 6/R.Sc.Fus. and first served in (1) France 11-5-15

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Can anyone help with information about recruitment? How come Robert Hodgson No15221 1st Battalion RSF who died 3 May 1917 a man from West Hartlepool would join the RSF?

Also what were the RSF doing in April May 1917?

Robin

The terms of service allowed the Army to send anyone where the Army desired. While Scottish battalions made great efforts to keep their ranks full of Scots, this was not always practicable and some men from outside Scotland ended up serving in Scottish Battalions. During the volunteer period (Aug 1914- Dec 1915) there were efforts to allow men to serve in their local units, particularly in the New Armies, but there are known exceptions to this general guideline. Scotland saw a very strong response to the call to arms in the first year and proportionally (measured against head of population) had the strongest response of all the home nations. Due to excessively high casualties in 1914-15 and relatively low population, some regiments could not sustain sufficient numbers. Conscription was introduced in Jan 1916 for the simple reason that they Army had insufficient numbers of volunteers to keep manning levels up to War Establishment. There are a number of examples of large groups of recruits being sent to battalions well beyond the boundaries of their local Regiment. This essentially reflected the fact that there was asymmetry between traditional territorial recruiting areas and concentrations of population.

To be fair, many Scottish battalions sustained very high proportions of Scotsmen in their ranks, particularly the Highland Regiments. To give you some idea of the numbers, if we take the SNWM data as a rough benchmark, of the 132,000 men who died serving in a Scottish Regiments nearly some 16,555 were born in England (12.6%). This will of course include some men of Scottish descent but it also includes men with no Scottish heritage. Offsetting this is the fact that 9,924 Scotsmen (born in Scotland) died serving in non-Scottish regiments. The bottom line is that men of all nationalities served in Scots, English, Irish and Welsh regiments.

26 men born in Hartlepool died whilst serving in Scottish battalions during the Great War. This might suggest that well over 200 men from Hartlepool served in Scottish battalions during the war.

MG

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The terms of service allowed the Army to send anyone where the Army required them. While Scottish battalions made great efforts to keep their ranks full of Scots, this was not always practicable and some men from outside Scotland ended up serving in Scottish Battalions........

26 men born in Hartlepool died whilst serving in Scottish battalions during the Great War. This might suggest that well over 200 men from Hartlepool served in Scottish battalions during the war.

MG

Thanks MG

seems obvious as soon as one looks at casualty rates and recruitment sources. I'm looking at this man for my daughter in law as he was her great great uncle - will pass on the information.

Wonder why CWGC states 1st Battalion on the Arras Memorial when it seems he was in the 6th and I've seen an indication that the 1st was in Salonika?

Robin

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Thanks MG

seems obvious as soon as one looks at casualty rates and recruitment sources. I'm looking at this man for my daughter in law as he was her great great uncle - will pass on the information.

Wonder why CWGC states 1st Battalion on the Arras Memorial when it seems he was in the 6th and I've seen an indication that the 1st was in Salonika?

Robin

I suspect a CWGC typo for 1/6th Bn. Incidentally my Scottish grandfather was in the same Battalion. James Maxwell.

MG

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I suspect a CWGC typo for 1/6th Bn. Incidentally my Scottish grandfather was in the same Battalion. James Maxwell.

MG

Thanks . I see you have an interestin the BEF. My mother's father was an 'old contemptible' - he served with the 5th Royal Irish Lancers from1906 until invalided out after wounding at the 1st Battle of Ypres.

Have you sen the War Diaries for the 1/6 Btn FSF for the period running up to May 1917?

R

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Can anyone help with information about recruitment? How come Robert Hodgson No15221 1st Battalion RSF who died 3 May 1917 a man from West Hartlepool would join the RSF?

Also what were the RSF doing in April May 1917?

Robin

Soldiers Died in the Great War confirms that "Robert Hodgson, born Hartlepool, enlisted West Hartlepool, pte, 15221, died, 3/5/17" was indeed in the 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers. The recruiting battalion for 1st and 2nd (Regular) battalions of the Royal Scots Fuiliers was 3rd Battalion RSF, and they sent recruiting parties all around England, as well as Scotland - indeed, between a third and two-fifths of 1st RSF were English (not just the north, but lots from the midlands and the south coast).

The two regular battalions (!st and 2nd) of the Royal Scots Fusiliers were perhaps the least Scottish of all the Scottish units!

On 3rd May 1917, 1st RSF. (part of 8th Brigade, 3rd Division) took part in the last action in the battle of Arras; it was not a success - 1st RSF attacked Infantry Hill, and were forced back by Germans forces who had been more or less untouched by an insufficient artillery bombardment. Nearly all the officers in the attacking force were killed or wounded at an early stage. 8 officers were killed, 3 wounded, and 296 other ranks were casualties (at least 120 of whom were killed, possibly more).

William

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seems obvious as soon as one looks at casualty rates and recruitment sources. I'm looking at this man for my daughter in law as he was her great great uncle - will pass on the information.

Wonder why CWGC states 1st Battalion on the Arras Memorial when it seems he was in the 6th and I've seen an indication that the 1st was in Salonika?

The 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers were never in Salonika, nor the 6th RSF for that matter, although I think that we have established that Robert Hodgson was in the 1st RSF. (The 8th Battalion RSF were the one RSF battalion in Salonika).

William

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Soldiers Died in the Great War confirms that "Robert Hodgson, born Hartlepool, enlisted West Hartlepool, pte, 15221, died, 3/5/17" was indeed in the 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers. The recruiting battalion for 1st and 2nd (Regular) battalions of the Royal Scots Fuiliers was 3rd Battalion RSF, and they sent recruiting parties all around England, as well as Scotland - indeed, between a third and two-fifths of 1st RSF were English (not just the north, but lots from the midlands and the south coast).

The two regular battalions (!st and 2nd) of the Royal Scots Fusiliers were perhaps the least Scottish of all the Scottish units!

On 3rd May 1917, 1st RSF. (part of 8th Brigade, 3rd Division) took part in the last action in the battle of Arras; it was not a success - 1st RSF attacked Infantry Hill, and were forced back by Germans forces who had been more or less untouched by an insufficient artillery bombardment. Nearly all the officers in the attacking force were killed or wounded at an early stage. 8 officers were killed, 3 wounded, and 296 other ranks were casualties (at least 120 of whom were killed, possibly more).

William

Thanks for the information - I'll pass it on to his great neice

Do you have the TNA reference for the war diary

Robin

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Hi Robin

The war diary for the battalion is available online, for a small fee, and can be found here.

William

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  • 3 months later...

Hi All

Just wanted to add my uncle, Emmanuelle Mentessi, as he belonged to the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He was 15 years old when he enlisted and was killed just two days after his 16th birthday. I believe he was injured at Loos but am not sure. He was in the 7th Battalion I believe. He was born in Poplar, London, one of 15 children. Am going to try and find out more, hopefully, from the museums.

Stringbean

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Soldiers Died lists Emanuelle Mentessi (he is spelt Manuel Mentassi in the 1911 census I notice) as being in the 6th Battalion RSF, although by May 1916 the two battalions had amalgamated to form the 6/7th RSF.

The regimental museum for the Royal Scots Fusiliers (now the Royal Highland Fusiliers) in Glasgow doesn't hold records of individual soldiers, so that isn't a good place to start research, but Ancestry has his service record. Go to their website (Ancestry.co.uk) and you'll have to pay a little to see it. Having a quick look at it I can't see any record of him having been wounded at Loos (or anywhere), but where he was killed is very near Loos. As you may know he is buried at Vermelles British Cemetery: details are HERE in case you haven't seen them.

William

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