Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Highland Cyclist Battalion C Coy Photographs


Michelle79
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi Everyone,

In the course of my research into the Scottish soldiers who died at Fromelles I have spent quite a bit of time working on the genealogy of Pte George Coull (5598 2/7th Royal Warks Formerly 1701 HCB) and I managed to find and contact his living niece. After a bit of digging and a visit to other relatives some fantastic photographs have been discovered that we believe to be of George and the HCB Company he served in - there is a singular photograph of a soldier I am sure is George, a formal group photograph, a band photograph and a photograph of C Coy HCB At Dinner. I have posted them all below and would be grateful for any observations anyone might have on them. I believe C Coy was stationed at Tayport in Fife but if anyone has any more specific information about the location of these photographs or has seen any others from this set I would be delighted to hear from them. George died 19th July 1916 and due to the fact the soldier on the far left of the band photograph is wearing the Imperial War Service Badge it seems these photographs must date from 1915 but if anyone can date them more specifically please do so! I'm also interested in what type of rifle George is holding in his singular photo. Thanks for any information.

Regards

Michelle

3944356707_368bb2af0c_o.jpg

Hosted on Flickr.com - Link

3944346109_6a46abf637_o.jpg

Hosted on Flickr.com - Link

3944365731_116ae126d0_o.jpg

Hosted on Flickr.com - Link

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michelle,

sadly I cannot help with your questions but just wanted to thank you for sharing such great photos!

Regards and good luck with your research.

Scottie.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Scottie,

Thanks - I think they are truly wonderful photographs as well and despite scouring the net I've found very few other HCB photographs out there so I think they are quite rare. I also can't help wondering what became of the rest of them.

Regards

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Michelle

I cannot help you much with the unit details but would like to say what a fantastic set of photos.

regarding the top one:

George is wearing a simplified pattern tunic (no pocket pleats or rifle patches on shoulder) and his holding a Charger Loading Lee Enfield (CCLE - this is a version of the earlier "long" Lee enfield but with a charger bridge added to allow ammunition to be loaded into the magazine in sets of 5 from a spring-steel "clip" - a "charger" - which allowed for much more rapid reloading than doing it singly.)

This rifle was quite a bit longer than the standard great war Short, Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) that you see discussed so often in these pages! CCLE and other "long lees" were common in the first couple of years of the war. There is a thread under the Arms section currently where a member has posted pictures of four examples of this type of rifle that he owns.

The rifle is topped with a different pattern of bayonet also. The great war standard the Pattern 1907 was designed to fit the SMLE and did not fit these earlier rifles which used the Pattern 1888 bayonet (which had also been used on the earlier Lee-Metford rifle).

He is also wearing a Pattern 1914 leather equipment belt.

All of these indicate a later 1914- mid 1915 picture to me (although it could be later but I think it unlikely - not impossible!)

Once again - really nice pictures.

Hope this helps - sorry about the "anorak" details

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3944381597_d97e2e8d03_o.jpg

Bit of deja-vu to earlier in the year!

http://s694.photobucket.com/albums/vv301/C...nt=DSCF1170.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Michelle

I cannot help you much with the unit details but would like to say what a fantastic set of photos.

Hi Chris,

Thank you very much for your informative reply - I'm a complete novice when it comes to rifle types so all the "anorak" detail is more than welcome!

It's also interesting that he is wearing a Pattern 1914 belt as I have been wondering about when he may have signed up to the HCB and whether it could have been pre-war or not - his number was 1701 so he was an early recruit but as I have no idea as to how many ultimately signed up it's just guesswork. Several other of the HCB boys who died at Fromelles had even earlier HCB numbers (the earliest being 664.)

Thanks again for the information and helping to date the photos a bit more specifically.

Regards

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Micelle,

Great photos - I take it you are able to pick out George in the group photos? Regards his enlistment, #1189 & 1201 16/10/1914; #1755 and 1756 17/12/1914 - so perhaps around early December 1914, but definitely not pre-war.

There are at least a couple of the HCB/RWR men's records surviving - 664 (267261) David Marshall & 1185 (267203) Herriot Bayne. These records show that the HCB men transferred to the 2/7th Royal Warks on 17th May 1916 and landed in France just a few days later (22nd May). You may already have this info, but just in case.

Again, top quality photos.

Best wishes with your research,

Stuart

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's one from my collection which I believe to be the Cyclist Battn. (Happy to be corrected if not)

No details - Kircaldy photographer.

Chris

post-14525-1254066130.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great photos - I take it you are able to pick out George in the group photos? Regards his enlistment, #1189 & 1201 16/10/1914; #1755 and 1756 17/12/1914 - so perhaps around early December 1914, but definitely not pre-war.

Hi Stuart,

Thanks so much for the enlistment information above - December 1914 sounds right then and the photographs were probably taken in early-mid 1915.

As far as picking George out in the group photos goes: I believe he is in the second row of the formal group photo (second from the right), he is playing the flute at the back in the band photo and I think he is the boy on the left in the white shirt (second from the front) in the dinner photo.

There are at least a couple of the HCB/RWR men's records surviving - 664 (267261) David Marshall & 1185 (267203) Herriot Bayne. These records show that the HCB men transferred to the 2/7th Royal Warks on 17th May 1916 and landed in France just a few days later (22nd May). You may already have this info, but just in case.

I did know around 150 HCB men were transferred to the RWR (distributed between the 2/6th and 2/7th) in May 1916 but didn't have the exact dates so thanks for those. I also don't know exactly which HCB companies the men were transferred from although it is now clear that some C Coy men must have been amongst them including George. As the SDGW and CWGC entries do not cite the companies the men were part of I don't know which companies the rest of the men came from and that would be interesting to know; I only know George was in C Coy due to the photos. It is possible to make educated guesses due to birthplaces and enlistment locations but they are still leaps because they men could realistically have been posted to any of the 8 companies (e.g. there were at least two companies closer to George's hometown where he enlisted than Tayport.)

The casualty rate for the 150 HCB boys transferred to the RWR was very high; a two thirds casualty rate with 31 deaths and 23 of those 31 died at Fromelles on that fateful night. I have previously looked for service papers for all of the 23 and only two have survived as far as I could discern including that of the soldier you mentioned above - David Marshall. He was the earliest HCB recruit (No 664) to have died at Fromelles. David was born 11th Feb 1895 and gave his age at enlistment as 17 and his CWGC entry states his age at death was 21 which is correct. This would mean he enlisted sometime between Feb 1912 and Feb 1913 and definitely makes him a pre-war recruit. Considering 664 was 1912-13 and 1701 was probably Dec 1914 I think at least 9 of the 23 were pre-war recruits but it depends on the influx that would have come between Aug and Dec 1914. Robert Cunningham, No 2268, was the highest numbered recruit to die at Fromelles and he must have volunteered in 1915.

Thanks again for the information and I'm glad so many people have appreciated the photos.

Regards

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi High Wood,

Thanks for adding Major Cox in; I'd already seen his photograph before on THIS thread about whether he'd founded the HCB or not but it is a beautiful picture and always worthy of a second look!

Regards

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's one from my collection which I believe to be the Cyclist Battn. (Happy to be corrected if not)

No details - Kircaldy photographer.

Chris

post-14525-1254066130.jpg

Hi Chris,

That's a fantastic picture!! I was wondering if anyone had any pics of the men on or with their bikes and that's really a great one. It is definitely the HCB - several of them are wearing the HCB badge on their caps and Kirkcaldy was HCB headquarters. The uniforms somehow seem darker than those which George and the C Coy boys on my photos are wearing and they aren't wearing the cycling spats other than the one standing with his bike that you singled out. I'm really no expert though and couldn't date the photo but thank you so much for posting it. It does make me wonder if any of the Fromelles 23 are standing there and the young boy sitting second from the right on the front row looks so young it's frightening.

Regards

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michelle very kindly gave me permission to colourise the first photograph in this set of G Coull. The result can be found on this link

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...p;#entry1272675

Many thanks Michelle

Regards

Chris

Hi Chris,

That's taken my breath away - it is really a perfect colourisation of George. He looks amazing; so real as if it was only yesterday.

Thank you so much for your great work.

Regards

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Michelle,

I agree with your selections in the group photos.

664 David Marshall enlisted 27th February 1912.

1101 George Findlay enlisted 14th August 1914, so that helps with possible pre-war enlistments. He was one of 72 men transferred to various KOSB battalions at the end of August 1916. You mention a casualty rate for the HCB men transferred to the RWR (31 deaths out of 150 men) - unfortunately, the KOSB group fared even worse, with 27 out of 66 killed.

Stuart

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi High Wood,

Thanks for adding Major Cox in; I'd already seen his photograph before on THIS thread about whether he'd founded the HCB or not but it is a beautiful picture and always worthy of a second look!

Regards

Michelle

I never got a response as to where Ron got the photograph from. The original is in an album in my collection. Hey Ho.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Chris,

The uniforms somehow seem darker than those which George and the C Coy boys on my photos are wearing and they aren't wearing the cycling spats other than the one standing with his bike that you singled out. I'm really no expert though and couldn't date the photo but thank you so much for posting it. It does make me wonder if any of the Fromelles 23 are standing there and the young boy sitting second from the right on the front row looks so young it's frightening.

Regards

Michelle

Michelle

If I had to guess I think this is probably a very early wartime (or possibly pre war but I don't think so as a couple have Imperial Service badges on) picture.

I think the uniforms are, as you indicate indeed darker, and are probably dark blue. I do not think these are the so called "Kitchener" blues but rather an order of dress I think was called "Patrol Blues". You will note the collars on the tunics are different, as are the pocket flaps (triangular rather than rectangular) and the material also seems to be finer. The men in these uniforms are also wearing collar insignia - uncommon on service dress but common on other "dressier" orders.

If you would like a high res copy drop me a pm with your email and I'll send it on, perhaps you can pick out some faces?

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Stuart,

Thanks for looking for George in the other photos and giving your opinion - everyone I've shown them to so far has also picked him out exactly the same.

664 David Marshall enlisted 27th February 1912

1101 George Findlay enlisted 14th August 1914, so that helps with possible pre-war enlistments

Thanks for this information - much appreciated.

The date of George Findlay's recruitment really does narrow the pre-war recruits down a bit - one of my Fromelles boys was George Pratt, No 1095, and I thought he may have been one of the last of the pre-war recruits but if George Findlay signed up on the 14th then I'm sure George Pratt couldn't have been far in front of him. It's possible not as many of the boys with 800 and 900 numbers as I thought are pre-war recruits since there could have been quite an influx after the declaration on the 4th or indeed for the preceding few weeks and months when it must have been clear war was inevitable.

He was one of 72 men transferred to various KOSB battalions at the end of August 1916. You mention a casualty rate for the HCB men transferred to the RWR (31 deaths out of 150 men) - unfortunately, the KOSB group fared even worse, with 27 out of 66 killed

That's a truly horrific death rate for that poor group - the HCB men really did not fare well for what was meant to be a home territorial force. Of the 150 to the RWR 31 died and 70-80 were wounded hence the over 2/3rds casualy rate with less than 50 of them returning without physical scarring of some sort.

I say physical scarring because I can't help recalling This Sad Story I was kindly given about one of the HCB men who was lucky enough to make it home.

Regards

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never got a response as to where Ron got the photograph from. The original is in an album in my collection. Hey Ho.

It's a fantastic one to have the original of especially since it gives such a good amount of detail on it.

Regards

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michelle

If I had to guess I think this is probably a very early wartime (or possibly pre war but I don't think so as a couple have Imperial Service badges on) picture.

I think the uniforms are, as you indicate indeed darker, and are probably dark blue. I do not think these are the so called "Kitchener" blues but rather an order of dress I think was called "Patrol Blues". You will note the collars on the tunics are different, as are the pocket flaps (triangular rather than rectangular) and the material also seems to be finer. The men in these uniforms are also wearing collar insignia - uncommon on service dress but common on other "dressier" orders.

If you would like a high res copy drop me a pm with your email and I'll send it on, perhaps you can pick out some faces?

Chris

Hi Chris,

I noticed the Imperial Service Badges so I think you're right that it's not pre-war. Thanks for the information on the uniform - some of the trousers look like they may have some kind of a tartan-esque pattern on them.

I've had a closer look at the photo and I think the man with the cane right in the centre of the group bears more than a passing resemblance to Major Cox - the uniform he is wearing also seems different to the others (e.g. the white lines on his sleeve.)

Thanks for the offer to send a high res copy - I will PM you.

Regards

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Michelle

Larger image on the way.

The officer with the cane is a captain this is what the lines and stars (2 lines of braid and three "pips") on his cuffs indicate and why his uniform is different. I am not sure that it is Cox however, I am hopeless at comparing faces. A Major would have three lines of braid and a crown.

You will see on the full size picture that you are correct and that some men are wearing tartan Trews.

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The officer with the cane is a captain this is what the lines and stars (2 lines of braid and three "pips") on his cuffs indicate and why his uniform is different. I am not sure that it is Cox however, I am hopeless at comparing faces. A Major would have three lines of braid and a crown

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the uniforms information - I assumed the white lines meant he was a superior officer of some description but it's nice to know what to look for.

Now that I've looked at the larger, clearer version you kindly emailed me I'm even more convinced that the Captain in your photo is Major Cox but, like you, I'm not an expert at face comparisons so I could be wrong. From looking at the other thread on Major Cox, though, it seems he was made Captain in 1913 and didn't become a Major until 1917 so since your great ensemble photograph must have been taken c.1915 due to the Imperial Service Badges worn by some of the men if it is him then he should be in a Capt's uniform at that time. I believe he's wearing a Captain's uniform in the 1915 vintage photograph High Wind posted earlier on the thread too and it was also taken in Kirkcaldy so it would make sense for it to be him. It's interesting one way or the other. Thanks again.

Regards

Michelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...