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Special Service Sections Tf


Jock Bruce
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I've come across a couple of references to these, none of which are explicit about their exact role.

As far as I can work out they were part of normal TF units but had the job of (in Cold War terms) 'Key Point security during Transition To War' i.e. they formed up during the period of tension preceding mobilisation to guard installations judged to be of importance. The men concerned presumably made some undertaking to serve beyond the normal TF one.

I would be grateful for a pointer on where to look in the PRO or a published source.

Jock Bruce

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Jock

I think that these may be men of the National Reserve Class II. The National Reserve was a voluntary organisation consisting of all those who were no longer liable to be called up as part of the Army Reserve. It was administered by the TF County Associations. On 22 August 1914 authority was given for these men to be called up to guard vulnerable points, enabling the TF units which had been doing this task to get on with their training. Officers had Senior ranks had to be under age 55 and junior ranks under 52. I have not come across the term Special Service Sections TF, and would be most interested to know where you saw this term.

These Class II men were later formed into Supernumerary and Observer Companies TF and eventually became the Royal Defence Corps.

A couple of PRO references are WO 32/18617 and WO 70/50.

Charles

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Charles,

Thanks for the response. My query was prompted by 3 fragments from my research into the 5th Seaforths.

1. 'Secret' Home Defence. Scottish Command Scheme. Revised to May 1912.

Appendix A lists 'Guards for Vulnerable Points'. Those involving 5th Seaforth

Wick - Naval war signal station and wireless telegraph station. 10 men from 5th Seaforth during precautionary period, replaced by 10 men from 8th Scot Rifles on outbreak of war.

Ackergill - Cable Landing Place. 10 men from 5th Seaforth during precautionary period, 1 off and 25 from 8th Scottish Rifles during war [cable runs to Rackwick on Hoy]

Dunnet - Cable Landing Place. 10 men from 5th Seaforth during precautionary period, 1 off and 25 from 8th Scottish Rifles during war [cable runs to Sandwick in Shetland].

[WO 33/2857]

I assume the Ackergill - Rackwick cable served Scapa Flow.

2. There is a reference in a local history as follows:

'On July 30th the Special Sections of the Wick company of Territorials had been called out to to go on duty at the Cable Station at Reiss and the wireless station in Newton Road, Wick. .......... Similarly some reservists from Thurso had also gone on guard duty at Dunnet Head'

[Voices in the Wind: Caithness and the First World War by A Budge. North of Scotland Newspapers , 1996]

Ackergill = Reiss. I don't know the original source for this, most of the book is based on local papers (which I will get round to trawling), letters and othe rlocal sources.

3. When the 5th were mobilised they spent a couple of weeks working on the defences at Cromarty (which protected the naval base at Invergordon) before the Highland Division concentrated at Bedford, so I had a quick scout round the PRO for anything on Cromarty.

In an ADM file discussing the replacement of the RGA TF battery at Cromarty with a RM Volunteer unit (prewar), there was a reference to Special Service Sections TF - this was in the context of terms and conditions for the RM. The implication, to me, was that the Special Sections were on a different engagement to normal TF.

[ADM 1/8371/74]

There is a naval/coastal defence flavour to all this - but that may just be because of where I'm looking.

Jock

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Jock

This is very interesting. Clearly these Special Service Sections had nothing to do with the National Reserve. The guarding of vulnerable points was one of the actions to be carried out during the Precautionary Period, which preceded General Mobilisation and the guarding of cable stations and cable landing places was specifically mentioned in the War Book, which was the mobilisation manual. This task was normally carried out by Regular battalions, who would be relieved by Special Reserve or TF troops once mobilisation had been ordered. However, given the paucity of Regular troops in the North of Scotland, it would seem that the TF had to be used from the outset.

You may well be right in supposing that these Special Service Sections had special terms and conditions, since they had to be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice and prior to the King’s Proclamation, which legally embodied the TF.

Anyway, you have aroused my curiosity and I will try to do some digging at the PRO. If I come up with anything, I will certainly let you know.

Charles

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Charles,

thank you.

I'll certainly be revisting the Scottish Command Scheme to see who guarded VP in other parts of Scotland and if other TF battalions had a similar role on the Celtic fringes. I'm afraid when I looked at the first time I was too focused on the particular to look at the general - sloppy work!

Jock

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  • 8 years later...

All

Mitchison states in "Defending Albion" that the TF Special Service Sections "amounted to a total of only 1486 all ranks". Does anybody know if a list stills exists re which Regiments / Bn's had these sections and how this number was made up ?

He seems to imply that they were only used on the east coast but this might be just the way I am reading the text.

Regards

Dave

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