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RFA Territorial Soldier West Bromwich Mayor Research


gbdop
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I am researching my Grandfathers WW1 history. During the course of the war he was wounded in the head and leg, as a small child I would be allowed to feel a lump on the back of his head which he said was a German bullet, the wound on his leg was from where his horse was killed and fell on him leaving him with a permanent limp. I found all this enthralling as a child. Unfortunately as with many men from the First World War he was deeply effected by what he saw and would not talk about it or in later years record it for posterity.

His name was James William Banks MBE Born 23rd April 1894 in West Bromwich. He was in the territorial army before the war broke out. I have two photos of him at the time and I believe his shoulder insignia to read T RFA Staffordshire. On his right breast he is wearing a badge which looks like a horizontal bar crested by a crown, I believe this to be for territorials who joined before the outbreak of war. On his sleeve he has a single chevron and a braid, Im not sure what this is for.

He was married at All Saints church in West Bromwich on 29th August 1915 so I would like to find out if he was on leave (was there such a thing in WW1) was he wounded before hand and when did he get injured or indeed any thing else. My father was born in Jan 1917 so was James allowed home at this point, I would love to find out.

Photos and memory's

http://web.mac.com/imagegb/iWeb/Family/The...ly%20Years.html

From his short memoirs he says he "In 1912 joined the Terriers in the hope of getting away from the workaday toil for a change of two weeks camping."

After WW1 he became a great campaigner for War Pensions and was awarded an MBE in the sixties for this.

In 1956/7 he was Mayor of West Bromwich.

I was told he was with the 5th South Staffords but this cannot be correct and indeed the museum for them has no record of him.

What I believe to be his medal card gives me not much more information.

CORPS RFA

RANK GUNNER

REGT NO L/31725

VICTORY RFA/153B 10479

BRITISH " "

No theatre of war served in or date of entry given. From my memory he said he served and was wounded in France.

I have exhausted my limited knowledge of research and would appreciate any further help/guidance from any GWF members/experts.

Many thanks Graham

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The only Banks i can find in the WestBromwich Roll of honour book, which list all that served,and those who died is

FRANK BANKS GNR 189469 R.G.A.

Kevan

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Graham, I am sure we'll crack this but as a starter I can tell you that L/31725 is not a Territorial number.

5th Staffordshire Battery, of 3rd North Midland Brigade RFA TF, recruited in West Bromwich. In 1917, men serving with the brigade would have been renumbered in the range 810001 to 815000.

The medals index has a James T Banks with a number in that range. The card gives an address of New Cross, Wolverhampton, though.

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Hi Graham. I would suggest that you contact the Mayor's office to ask whether they have any biographical information about him and it is quite likely that they might have a photo of him in his mayoral robes. I would also suggest that you consult the newspapers for the time he was awarded his MBE and for the time when his mayoral year began and ended. The local newspapers would not doubt have been interested in publishing biographical details of the town's mayor and there might be something about his war service. Good luck with your research. Sue S

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Thank you Chris, my Grandfather was living at Morris Street in West Bromwich at the time of his marriage in 1917 and I guess before this. By his own account he had joined the "Terriors" in 1912 but after that I have found nothing. Even the Medal card I am assuming is his as it has very little detail apart from the correct name and initial. I am certain because of the photographs that I have that the details of his uniform are correct. Regards Graham.

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Thank you Sue, I do have quite a lot of data for my Grandfather after the War, pictures in Mayoral Robes, cuttings etc on the family web site (details given before) Its really the unspoken history of WW1 that is a blank at the moment. Regards Graham

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And it's more likely that the shoulder title will say T/RFA/N MIDLAND than STAFFORDSHIRE.

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The WW1 uniform: a single chevron for a man in the RFA shows he was a Bombardier (RA equivalent to Lance Corporal then, but later equivalent to corporal). This may have been a paid or unpaid appointment, temporary or permanent.

The Territorial 'bar with crown' badge was for those TF men who volunteered early in the war to serve overseas.

If by what you describe as a 'braid' you mean the white cord round his left shoulder, this is called a lanyard, worn by RFA at that time (and others). If you search this forum for lanyard topics, you will find lots.

Soldiers did get leave from France, but not often enough for their liking!

Hope this helps.

D

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Having done a little more research armed with the valuable info given by members so far, I believe my Grandfather would have been attached to:

5th Staffs Battery RFA Carter’s Green in West Bromwich

5th Staffordshire Bty. (Territorial Force). 04 Aug 1914 at West Bromwich in the 3rd North Midland Brigade, North Midland Division (46th Div).

I say this because this location was only a 20 minute walk away from were he lived in 1912

Any comments?

Regards

Graham

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Well, there still is a drill hall at Carter's Green - my Grandfather was in the RASC there in the 1920s and 30s (having been in the South Staffs in WW1) and I nearly joined the 'grown up' TA there - in 1979 [RCT and RMP then]; I gather the ACF, ATC and RLC are still there.

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Graham,

There's still a drill hall, but that one was certainly demolished - I think in the 1960s (don't quote me!).

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  • 4 weeks later...
Graham, I am sure we'll crack this but as a starter I can tell you that L/31725 is not a Territorial number.

5th Staffordshire Battery, of 3rd North Midland Brigade RFA TF, recruited in West Bromwich. In 1917, men serving with the brigade would have been renumbered in the range 810001 to 815000.

The medals index has a James T Banks with a number in that range. The card gives an address of New Cross, Wolverhampton, though.

Chris

I have trawled through the Medal Index Records looking for Reg. No's that are within the number range you pointed out. The only one that may me likely is attached. Its a bigger number but my Grandfathers first names were James William, and I'm thinking that maybe they got them round the wrong way. He was also injured so could it be possible that after this he was transferred to the Labour Corps. Do you know of any records held for members of the Territorial Force pre 1914, he joined in 1912 in West Bromwich. I notice that some records have a T in front of the number is this for "Territorial"? although this record does not.

I have also noticed from the main photograph taken in August 1915 that he is wearing spurs, do you know if this means he was a driver of the horses in the gun team.

Sorry Chris I seem to have asked quite a few questions, any help appreciated though.

Many thanks Graham Banks

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