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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

William Reese RFA


Guest glamorgan82

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Guest glamorgan82

Morning all,

I'm new to this forum so apologies if I've missed any information already provided. I think I've viewed as much as I can that seems to be applicable and also viewed the long long trail but can't seem to find the answer to the following question (my wife does say that I look but do not see!). My grandfather was William Reese, born in Guilsfield, Llansanffraid, Montgomeryshire on 22nd February 1890 to father John and mother Mary Jane formerly Evans. I know he served in the RFA and his medal record card shows the numbers (TF or TP) 695827 and 297746 (why two numbers?). I am hoping to find out where he served but don't know how to find out which RFA unit he served in. Is it possible to find this information online or does it require a visit to Kew? Any assistance will be gratefully received.

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Hello,

just seen your post re. William Reese RFA.

I've had a look at his Medal Card online and can offer a little information anyway:

Yes, the regimental number 695827 does seem to have a "TF" prefix. Normally this would stand for "Territorial Force", though it's not often seen as a formal number prefix. However, the Royal Field Artillery was a very large organisation and it may have been necessary in this instance to make it clear that William Reese's initial number on the card was a TF issue, not a Regular or Service (i.e., Duration of the War only) one.

If so, then looking at the allocation blocks of RFA (TF) numbers which came into force on 1 January 1917 you find that block nos. 685001 to 70000 inclusive were set aside for the Divisional Ammunition Column of the West Lancashire Division. This pre-War Territorial Division served during WW1 as the 55th (West Lancs) Division.

The way the numbers are set out on the card indicates that 695827 was William's official number when he first landed in a Theatre of War. If he was serving with the TF before 1 Jan 1917, he would have had another number (probably a short 3 or 4-figure one), but this won't be shown here. The way the numbers were given to the men also reflected their rough seniority in date order: William was the 827th in seniority within the DAColumn on or following 1 January 1917, (i.e., not very senior) which indicates that he may well have enlisted some time after that date.

He must have first entered a Theatre of War after 1 January 1916 as he just had the two standard campaign medals; having the 1 Jan 1917 type number tells us that whenever he did so, it was between that date and the end of the War.

The 55th Division had landed in France in January 1916. It served on the Somme in September of that year; at the Third Battle of Ypres during August-September 1917; and at the Battle of Cambrai Nov.-Dec. 1917. In 1918 it was engaged in the fighting at Estaires and Hazebrouck during the German offensives of that April, and in the advance to the final victory in October.

He was a Driver, which indicates that he helped to drive the horse-drawn ammunition wagons and limbers. The Div. Ammo Column had the job of keeping the guns supplied with shells etc. That said, there was nothing to stop a man being transferred from the DAC to the main batteries, or for that matter to a totally different formation or division as the need arose. Whatever happened to him, he would keep his number so long as he stayed with the RFA in general.

However, as you can see he did have a subsequent number change. This is not a TF number (they started at 600,000). Someone else with RFA expertise may be able to guide you better, but my guess is that for some reason he changed his TF status for a Service (Duration of the War only) one, and so his number had to be altered. This happened to quite a few soldiers.

For what exactly happened to him, your best source would be his Service papers if they have survived (roughly 30 per cent chance), or with the "Pension" papers (now available free this month on Ancestry.com). Surviving service papers are on microfilm at Kew, but sometime soon will be available on Ancestry. If you know exactly where he was living about the end of the War, perhaps the county/city has a surviving Absent Voters List for 1918-19, which may tell you which unit he was serving with at that time.

Hope these thoughts might be of help.

LST_164

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Hi glamorgan82,

As LST_164 has already pointed out, the service number (TF) 695827 falls in the batch allocated as follows:

695001-700000 55 DAC/ W LANCASHIRE

695001-700000 57 DAC/ 2/W LANCASHIRE

This was the 1917 Territorial renumbering group your grandfather was in.

Looking at the Medal Index Cards on the NA site gives these other men close to this service number:

William E. Kelly TF695816 = 297740

Arthur M. Latham TF695818 = 297741

Arthur H. Pollard TF695819 = 297742

Daniel Brophy TF695821 = 297743

James A. Rawlinson TF695823 = 297744

Thomas Gibbons TF695826 = 297745

William Reese TF695827 = 297746

Arthur B. Service TF695829 = 297747

Frank Roberts TF695830 = 297748

Seldon P. Smith TF695831 = 297749

As you can see they all have been given two numbers and they follow a pattern.

I've looked at the Service Record for Arthur Monro Latham (695818).

He enlisted on December 9, 1915 and was mobilized with 57th West Lancs DAC on April 25, 1916.

Even on his discharge for Malaria and transfer to reserves in 1919 he retains the number 695818.

I believe the second number has been given on re-enlistment or redrafting into the original unit sometime later.

There would, of course, be another (shorter) number indicating service with West Lancs DAC prior to 1917.

I have yet to find them for the men above and it is getting very late!

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