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Remembered Today:

Rifle Brigade (25th Res) / Labour Corps


daveward66@btinternet.com

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I would be grateful for any information about the above named units as I am interested in a Private Walter Drage and unfortunately his service record has not survived.

His MIC shows him as being in the Rifle Brigade (no 50333) and the Labour Corps (no 649478).

Thanks to Steve from this forum who kindly provided the AVL for Walter who was at the time living at Finedon in Northamptonshire, I learnt that he is listed as being a Rifleman in the 25th Res Rifle Brigade.

Interestingly he was born in Sept 1898 and therefore wouldn't have been old enough to vote in 1918.

It would be good to understand the units he was in to give some background to his history.

My grandmother (now deceased) always said that her brother (Walter) was a soldier and was gassed in the war and although he survived and returned home, that she remembered him "coughing his life away". I was given the impression that he died as a result soon after the war. I have since found his death certificate and he didn't die until 1925 and the cause of death is given as Tuberculosis. This obviously fits in with him coughing his life away. I was wondering whether there is any connection between TB and being gassed or whether he could have died as a result of his wartime injuries. Were people still dying that long after the war and if so, was it not socially acceptable to acknowledge that this was the case? I guess they are probably unrelated events and his luck just ran out having survived the war just to die at 26 of TB.

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djw,

The 25th Rifle Brigade was formed after the other Territorial battalions of the Rifle Brigade (18th to 24th) were completed. After these seven battalions had reached war establishment, there still remained at Halton Camp a number of men, either surplus or unfit, or who had not taken the Imperial Service obligation. In March 1916 another two companies were formed and on the 26th August the unit was raised to the establishment of a battalion of 1504 men. On the 4th September and 8th September they were despatched to Falmouth, where it relieved the 7th Royal Fusiliers on the coast defences in that area and at Pendennis Castle; it was quartered until the end of the war at Trevethan Camp.

The duties of the battalion were henceforth to be confined to coast defence and draft finding. The battalion provided drafts for the other T.F. Battalions of The Rifle Brigade, and was fed with category B recruits from the Depot and with drafts of Category B men from the T.F. Reserve Battalions of other regiments, mostly from London. In December 1916 a draft of 529 was despatched for the 19th, 20th and 21st Battalions in S.S. Ivernia, which was torpedoed in Suvla Bay on 1/1/17, one acting corporal and 35 Riflemen were drowned.

On 26/3/19 that Battalion was disbanded and those remaining on the strength transferred to the books of the Rifle Depot.

Hope this helps you a little.

Andy

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I've done a little more digging with various service records of nearby numbers. Whilst these cannot always be taken as a guide, if we get a match or three between similar records we can sometimes build a picture.

For example,

50688 William Gray, later 575580 - joined the Rifle Brigade in May 1918, and then transferred to the 10th Londons (retaining number 50688) and then the 17th Londons (with number 577580)

50168 Arthur Biseker, later 575528, joined the Rifle brigade on 7-5-1918, and then transferred to the 10th Londons (retaining number 50168) and then the 17th Londons (with number 577528) Overseas at the end of October 1918.

50408 William James Longmead, previously served with Training Reserve battalions (18th TRB, No. Tr/13/51324, 53rd (Young Soldiers) Bn. Rifle brigade), transferred to the Rifle brigade on 18-5-1918, serving with the 6th Bn. Rifle Brigade in the UK, and then transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade.

Ernest John Burre, 649444 Labour Corps, transferred to the Labour Corps at the end of September 1918. Posted to 289 Prisoner of War Company.

Edward Jermy, 649498 Labour Corps, transferred to the Labour Corps at the end of September 1918. Posted to 286 Prisoner of War Company.

Cobbling a "possible" history together from those scraps, I would suggest a POSSIBLE timeline as:

- Transferred to the Rifle Brigade in mid-May 1918.

- Posted to 25th Battalion Rifle Brigade at Falmouth (AVL entry recorded at this point).

- Embarked overseas in Summer 1918.

- Transferred to the Labour Corps at the end of September 1918.

- Posssibly posted to a Prisoner of War Company, guarding German POWs.

The above is only a possible framework, and relies on similarly numbered men being posted in similar ways, which wasn't always the case, but it is here for consideration!

Steve.

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I've done a little more digging with various service records of nearby numbers. Whilst these cannot always be taken as a guide, if we get a match or three between similar records we can sometimes build a picture.

For example,

50688 William Gray, later 575580 - joined the Rifle Brigade in May 1918, and then transferred to the 10th Londons (retaining number 50688) and then the 17th Londons (with number 577580)

50168 Arthur Biseker, later 575528, joined the Rifle brigade on 7-5-1918, and then transferred to the 10th Londons (retaining number 50168) and then the 17th Londons (with number 577528) Overseas at the end of October 1918.

50408 William James Longmead, previously served with Training Reserve battalions (18th TRB, No. Tr/13/51324, 53rd (Young Soldiers) Bn. Rifle brigade), transferred to the Rifle brigade on 18-5-1918, serving with the 6th Bn. Rifle Brigade in the UK, and then transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade.

Ernest John Burre, 649444 Labour Corps, transferred to the Labour Corps at the end of September 1918. Posted to 289 Prisoner of War Company.

Edward Jermy, 649498 Labour Corps, transferred to the Labour Corps at the end of September 1918. Posted to 286 Prisoner of War Company.

Cobbling a "possible" history together from those scraps, I would suggest a POSSIBLE timeline as:

- Transferred to the Rifle Brigade in mid-May 1918.

- Posted to 25th Battalion Rifle Brigade at Falmouth (AVL entry recorded at this point).

- Embarked overseas in Summer 1918.

- Transferred to the Labour Corps at the end of September 1918.

- Posssibly posted to a Prisoner of War Company, guarding German POWs.

The above is only a possible framework, and relies on similarly numbered men being posted in similar ways, which wasn't always the case, but it is here for consideration!

Steve.

Steve,

Really good of you to take the trouble to do that for me. Thank you yet again.

Dave

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djw,

The 25th Rifle Brigade was formed after the other Territorial battalions of the Rifle Brigade (18th to 24th) were completed. After these seven battalions had reached war establishment, there still remained at Halton Camp a number of men, either surplus or unfit, or who had not taken the Imperial Service obligation. In March 1916 another two companies were formed and on the 26th August the unit was raised to the establishment of a battalion of 1504 men. On the 4th September and 8th September they were despatched to Falmouth, where it relieved the 7th Royal Fusiliers on the coast defences in that area and at Pendennis Castle; it was quartered until the end of the war at Trevethan Camp.

The duties of the battalion were henceforth to be confined to coast defence and draft finding. The battalion provided drafts for the other T.F. Battalions of The Rifle Brigade, and was fed with category B recruits from the Depot and with drafts of Category B men from the T.F. Reserve Battalions of other regiments, mostly from London. In December 1916 a draft of 529 was despatched for the 19th, 20th and 21st Battalions in S.S. Ivernia, which was torpedoed in Suvla Bay on 1/1/17, one acting corporal and 35 Riflemen were drowned.

On 26/3/19 that Battalion was disbanded and those remaining on the strength transferred to the books of the Rifle Depot.

Hope this helps you a little.

Andy

Steve,

Really good of you to take the trouble to do that for me. Thank you yet again.

Dave

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Hi, just joined, but I am the grandson of William Edmund Gray. I have his and my Dad's medals and both their military history plus pictures. Regards Jonathan Gray

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Hi, just joined, but I am the grandson of William Edmund Gray. I have his and my Dad's medals and both their military history plus pictures. Regards Jonathan Gray

Hello Jonathan,

Fantastic to see you post here. To say that Victoria Burbidge will be interested in getting in touch with you will be the understatement of the year. Unfortunately, I believe you need to make 10 posts before you can send PMs and e-mails via the forum.

If you would be so kind as to send a contact e-mail address to Victoria at the following address: Victoria.Burbidge#ntlworld.com (replace # with @) she can then get in touch with you direct.

Marc

Edited by Marc Thompson
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  • 2 weeks later...
Hi, just joined, but I am the grandson of William Edmund Gray. I have his and my Dad's medals and both their military history plus pictures. Regards Jonathan Gray

Hello Jonathan, Just joined myself. I would be interested in knowing if your grandfather, Lt.Col. W.E. Gray, served in North Russia in 1919 with the Machine Gun Corps and if so with what battalion. He was a Company commander when 7th (Regular) Battalion Machine Gun Corps was formed in November 1919. Most of the officers were veterans of North Russia but in his case I can trace no details. Any help would be appreciated. Martin

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