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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Transfer to other units

Northern Soul

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When a man was required for overseas service, and was shipped out to an active theatre badged to one unit, and then, upon arrival, was posted to another unit, what was the bureaucratic process involved?

For example, if, say, a man in Regiment A was drafted to France and then transferred to Regiment B when he got to an IBD, when did he actually cease to be Regiment A and become Regiment B? To my mind he must have been Regiment A when he landed in France but this is not recorded on his MIC (although it would be recorded in his service papers, assuming they had survived). Am I correct in thinking that any time spent at the IBD until transferred to Regiment B would be regarding as "in limbo" and when, the transfer had been effected, it was backdated for official purposes to the date he landed?

On a similar theme, where was the decision made over which regiment a man was to be transferred to? Was this done back in the UK or was it done on a first-come-first-served basis out at the IBD i.e. a man went where he was most needed at the time?

Many thanks.


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Hello Andy

Medal cards and the medal roll indicate regiments etc with which a man served abroad as part of a formed unit. In your example, the man would not have served with, say, 2/6th Mummersets in France but would have been posted to, say, 2nd Loamshires from the IBD, so only the Loamshires would appear on the medal roll.

If the whole of 2/6th Mummersets went to France as a battalion, but was then broken up, then technically they should appear on the medal roll but, if they were broken up immediately on arrival, I would not rely on it.

Generally, men were sent anywhere they were needed if they had been enlisted for General Service (as most of the wartime volunteers and conscripts were). If the man's original unit was still in theatre it was likely that he would be sent back to them: failing that, to another battalion of the same regiment or to another regiment from the same part of the UK. Because there was no conscription in Ireland, a lot of Irish battalions were replenished with Englishmen after 1916.

Pre-war Regulars or TF, who had enlisted into a specific regiment, would normally be posted back to the same regiment because it was part of their "contract", but even so, after conscription came in this might not always have been possible.


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Procedures for transfers as laid down in Army Council Instructions July 1916

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