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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Who appointed Bn Co's ?


ddycher

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Can anybody clarify who / what level was responsible for appointments at Bn level. I am currently interested in Bn. CO and 2nd I/C but this did get me thinking re. Adjt, Junior Majors, Coy Commanders etc.

Anybody able to give some insight ?

Regards

Dave

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Hello Dave

As far as I know, ALL officers' appointments had to be approved by the Military Secretary's Branch. If a post was vacant, the next senior officer of the unit/formation would take over temporarily. Army and Corps Commanders each had an Assistant Military Secretary on their staff, who presumably had some delegated authority from the Mil Sec to the C0in-C in this respect.

No doubt the views of at least the Divisional GOC would be canvassed and, later in the war, the officer chosen to command a battalion would be expected to have passed a Senior Officers' Course at some form of battle school, unless he had experience in filling the higher job on a temporary basis and thus proved himself.

I think that the Bn 2i/c was normally the senior major, automatically, but I may be wrong here.

Company commanders and 2i/cs were normally appointed on a temporary basis by the CO, but again I stand to be corrected. Certainly in peacetime, adjutants were required to have completed certain courses at the School of Musketry or similar.

A battalion's officers were a relatively small group who had to live and fight alongside each other. I doubt that any appointment without the CO's approval would be made lightly unless a "new broom" approach was required.

Ron

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Thanks Ron

Would a new CO be typically have appointed from the Brigade or Divional staff then ? Trying to understand how officers from apparently non related regiments ended in charge of Battalions. Only just starting to look at Senior staff above the Bn level and have admit to being very confused at present.

Regards

Dave

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As many officers went from one regiment to command a battalion of another, one assumes there might have been an "approved for battalion command" list or similar to enable divisional staff to find a replacement CO at possibly short notice. Or maybe the staff of a division kept their own list of possibles? Or maybe it was a question of who the divisional commander or his staff knew were available and suitable?

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Hello Dave

I think Phil is right about the "approved list", which ties in with my earlierr comment that having passed some Senior Officers' Course would be desirable.

This is another reason why permanent replacements as CO were made through the Mil Sec;'s Branch. A Div Cdr might appoint a temporary CO if he felt that the 2i/c was not up to it, or otherwise unavailable, but the number of suitable officers at his disposal would not be large. Still more would this be true of a Bde Cdr.

The Bde or Div Cdr might ask the Mil Sec for a particular type of officer, e.g. if discipline, training or morale in the battalion under the old CO had been poor they would probably ask for an officer who could address these factors.

Ron

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Thanks gents

A quick google shows that there was a Military Secretary branch in each theatre / Commander in Chief which helps me get the picture. My interest here lies in the Egyptian and Mesopotamian theatres which I guess would then have come under the Indian Office until after the restructuring after Kut. In which cases being assigned to the staff of the Indian army could have seen the officer I am researching being posted to appointments in both theatres with different divisions.

Think I am getting the picture but need to read up more on the miltary hierarchy here - prevent me asking too many stupid questions.

Thanks for your help.

Regards

Dave

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Dave

A small point: though there were Indian troops there, Egypt & Palestine came under the War Office in the UK throughout, not the HQ Army in India.

Ron

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Thanks Ron

Bang goes that theory then - should have known that. That takes me back to whether or not the 75th Division staff were recruited from India. Detail on the Div in Beckes doesn't go down to the appropriate level so anybody have any further ideas how to get hold of a staff listing for the 75th Division circa March 1918 ?

Regards

Dave

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I can`t help thinking that a new CO, required at short notice, might have been conveniently found through the regimental old boy network. That`s to say, he was someone already known to a staff member and quite probably through having served in the same regiment. I have no evidence for this but it might be interesting to see if an incoming CO (out of the blue) was from the same regiment as an influential member of divisional staff.

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Phil

You might be right.

Quick check shows that the officer in question and the GOC XX1 Corps Edward Bulfin served together in the Yorks. Regt and in the Boar War. Do you think this really happened ?

Regards

Dave

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