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Remembered Today:

Reservists


Northern Soul
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When, on the declaration of war, Reservists were mobilised, how exactly did the general call to them to report to their depots and stations etc. go out. I assume there were some that could not be contacted? what happened about these men/

Andy.

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Hello Andy

I think that reservists were recalled by telegram but in any case notices were posted in post offices all over the UK, and possibly police stations as well. Other countries used a very similar system.

When a man was transferred to the Reserve he was given documents telling him where to report, including a railway warrant to get him there.

The response was, I believe, fairly good and provided enough men to fill the original BEF's units. Later reportees could then be absorbed and sent out as reinforcements as and when required.

There is an article on the British mobilization 1914 by Peter Scott (the then editor) in STAND TO! Issue number 11 in abouit 1984. It will be in Volume 1 of the recent book of reprints.

Ron

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Thanks for that Ron. I have to confess I'd often wondered how the message was disseminated so quickly in an age where there were no phones or emails. If telegrams were sent out then it must have cost a small fortune !

another question: for men on the Reserve, were there any restrictions on them moving abroad to seek work, and if not, were they expected to make their way home when the message of mobilistaion finally got through to them?

Do you know if there were many instances of men who did not heed the call to report to their depot and what happened to them? Were they technically AWoL?

Best wishes.

Andy.

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I have to confess I'd often wondered how the message was disseminated so quickly in an age where there were no phones or emails. If telegrams were sent out then it must have cost a small fortune !

Andy,

It was apparently possible for a postcard to be posted in the centre of Liverpool in 1914 and for it to be delivered by the afternoon. Somewhere I have a stamped and postmarked card from just before the war suggesting that the recipient (admittedly only a few miles from the city centre) should come down to the Fraser Street Barracks in Liverpool 'this evening'.

Regulations for Mobilization 1914 specify that 'notices to join' were to be kept with addressed envelopes for all reserves including Territorials. Presumably notification, apart from notices in post offices, police stations and barracks, was by post. They were, however, 'not to be posted in the usual manner' but handed in directly at the post office.

Officers i/c records were directed to strike absentees off the reserve and they were to be 'advertised as deserters when the necessary certificate on A.F. D 498 had been received', a shade stronger than AWOL. This seems to apply to reservists and special reservists.

Territorial absentees were to be dealt with under TF regulations. Here it gets a bit murky as the 1912 TF Regs, amended to January 1914, appear to specify that failure to appear on embodiment can be treated as desertion under Section 12 of the Army Act or 'absenting himself without leave' under Section 15 of the AA ('according to circumstances') unless the soldier has reasonable excuse such as sickness or leave of absence (which should cover being abroad). Delving further into TF Regs, it would appear that if an NCO or man illegally absented himself on embodiment (which I presume includes failing to report) a week's grace should be allowed and, if the absence had not been satisfactorily accounted for, an AF B 124 was to be forwarded to the Editor of the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard (Whitehall 1212 for Forum members still tuned to the Home Service on the wireless - I suspect there are quite a few).

I have not gone through all the references in Mob Regs and TF Regs but this seems to be the gist.

Leave of absence for Territorials to proceed abroad might be granted for periods in excess of 30 days to officers and men by an officer not below the rank of brigadier-general. If absence abroad was less than 30 days, an officer need only notify his CO; there does not seem to be any regulation for other ranks for absence abroad of less than 30 days. If an officer or soldier wanted to go France or Germany or to countries outside Europe other than bits coloured red (Empire) or the USA, it seems necessary to involve the War Office. Again, there are pages of this stuff but I hope that I have the general idea correct.

Can't find the position for reservists - probably in King's Regs

Ian

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Somewhere within the Forum are a number of Army Forms, some relating to mobilisation, which were put together a few years ago by members from their collections.

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The reservists who were living in the various dominions were also called up. Those from Australia left in various convoys but the first ones left here in Nov 1914 & arrived in UK late December 1914.

Cheers

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I'd often wondered how the message was disseminated so quickly in an age where there were no phones or emails. If telegrams were sent out then it must have cost a small fortune !

I think the letters and telegrams would have been sent free "O H M S". In any case, it would only have involved transfers between two government departments, so the effective cost would have been nil.

There were telephones in 1914 of course, though far fewer than today. It is an interesting fact that in the 1880s, the British forces in Afghanistan had more telephones than there were private subscribers in London!

As Andrew says, postal services were more frequent then, too. Even in the 1960s, before we had first and second class post, my letters home from Cambridge, if posted before 5 pm, were delivered the next morning in the London suburbs, and vice versa.

Those Pals who have a copy of Grierson's Records of the Scottish Volunteer Force may like to look at the chapter on the great review of the Volunteers by Queen Victoria some time in the 1860s. There is a cpoy of a Post Office notice detailing the effects on deliveries, as many postal workers were also Volunteers.

Ron

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Telegrams were sent but probably not to the OR reservists. The local police station could be used to pass on messages. As stated, posters in the local Post Office. Both of these institutions were much more common then than now.

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Strange as it may seem in these 'much better informed, better educated, more street-wise, sophisticated' times, the turn out of Reservists was very high, and even included erstwhile deserters who reported back at their own expense. This response was not unique: it was equally good for the SA War in 1899.

A senior officer friend said of this that 'we could never do it again'. And added something under his breath that I did not quite catch, but it sounded very unwarlike.

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The Naval reserves were called out before war was declared, on 2nd August, by Churchill and Battemberg following on from their test mobilisation in July. So the Army knew what was coming.

Don't forget the newspaper sellers would also be shouting the information and even in rural communities the milk trains etc would have carried out the news and national newspapers would be distributed.

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In Germany, the primary means of communication was the newspapers. They actually printed special editions and posted both the newspapers and piece of paper sized posters for the people to read. In the major cities, crowds gathered to await the next issue of the paper. Specific instructions were issued by the Army Corps district and posted but these were rubberstamped as the only thing you are required to do was make your way to the Kaserne for your regiment. For the most part this was local.

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If telegrams were sent out then it must have cost a small fortune !

Given the other costs of WWI the amount would have been miniscule in comparison. Probably it was barely the price of a few Vickers machine guns.

Edited by per ardua per mare per terram
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I'd often wondered how the message was disseminated so quickly in an age where there were no phones or emails.

The local gossip and over the wall new carrying speed was almost as high!

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Mobilization began on the 29th of July with the instigation of the "Precautions Act" Special Service Sections of the TF and Class A Reserves where mobilized the same day. On the 30th of July they where at their war stations, the main body of reserves and TF mobilized on the 4th August 1914. All "Notices to join" had the Rail Warrants (if Required) signed and stamped, envelopes sealed and posted. Class II reserves sent postcards and notices to join on the 7th August.

Regards Charles

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To go slightly off-topic, a policeman knocked on the door in 1939 to hand my grandfather his call-up (he was an ex-WW1 South Stafford who had been in the RASC between the wars). In 1950, a policeman called on my father's family house to ascertain why his elder brother had not answered his recall to serve in Korea, with dire warnings of arrest etc. So he was invited in to see him in his coffin in the parlour...

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As we speak, someone is probably writing his Master's dissertation on The Use of e-mail and SMS texting in the Mobilisation of Reservists in 1914

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Steven

The title will be shorter than that - there will be fewer, if any, vowels in it.

Ron

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You mean he's writing it in Welsh :huh:

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No, then it would be longer, although still with fewer vowels.

We'll have to be careful, or *wyn or **wyn will spot us!

HAND

Ron

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In my neck of the woods Reservists and Territorials who lived in the more remote areas were often notified by Boy Scouts on bicycles or by locals on horseback, the mobilisation notice having been received at the nearest village police station or post office and then forwarded on by members of the immediate community

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I was under the impression that TF units were already "mobilised" because they were on route to their annual training camps when the order came for them to return to their HQ depots.

Is this incorrect?

Simon

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Simon,

From the Diary of J.M. Marchbank.

"About mid-July the Company went to camp at Stobs,where there were rumours of war but we came home.

On the 4th of August war was declared and my call up papers came through the post.It read "Embodiment Notice to Join.4585 Boy J.M.Marchbank,8th Royal Scots.The Army Council,in pursuance of His Majesty's Proclamation,has directed you to attend for enlistment immediately.Bring rations and fuel light to last 24 hours.

We were collected in Haddington and put in three months of very hard training.The main component of which was foot slogging."

You can see the actual Notice on John Duncan's Web-site-Newbattle at War-in the Boy Soldier section.

George

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Hello Simon

Yes, a lot of TF units were at annual camp (it was the August Bank Holiday weekend) and this greatly sppeeed up the process. But not all Terriers were at camp, and possibly not every unit was at camp at that time.

Even so, it represents an impressive vindication of the pre-war planning and a proof of the loyalty of those who had accepted the obligation to serve.

Ron

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