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Highland Cyclists / Blackwatch


lloydvcc
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Hello Everyone,

I wonder if anyone could help me to understand my Great Grandfathers Military history.

I am told by family members that he was in Blackwatch and that he went to France and was at some stage a POW.

All i know for fact, is that on his marriage certificate (27th Dec 1916) it says "Private 1/1st Highland Cyclist Bn" Age 20.

His name is Thomas Barnet and although he was born in Arbroath, he married in Edinburgh.

I have found it hard to find much out about the HCB, at least on the internet, and would like to know how he ended up in Blackwatch (if he did), and where in France he might have gone?

I would really appreciate any help, many thanks

Regards

Lloyd Daniels

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There is limited information on the HCB on the parent site the LLT, limited because it was a Territorial Force unit that did not go overseas (Ireland was considered ‘Home’).

http://www.1914-1918.net/cyclistbns.htm

There is a medal index card (mic) that shows Thomas Barnet Royal Highlanders Regimental Number 350590. Unfortunately it does not appear this man's service records survive.

The medal rolls will probably tell you which Battalion he served in, but they are not available online only at TNA Kew. This soldier was entitled to the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

He did not go overseas until after 1st January 1916.

The number with six digits accords with that of a renumbered TF man (they were all renumbered in 1917).

Essentially if it is the same man he joined the Cyclists Bn and was with them when he married in1916. He could have joined this unit from age 17, the terms of engagement were blocks of 4 years (see link below).

At some time therefore he either, volunteered to serve overseas (i.e. signed the Imperial Service obligation) or his engagement with the TF ended and he became eligible for conscription see http://www.1914-1918.net/tf.htm

He then joined the Royal Highlanders as an infantryman. Unfortunately without accessing the Rolls or finding his Bn it becomes quite difficult to track his movements. The Red Cross has some POW Records but they are very expensive to access.

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/Museum-and-archives/Resources-for-researchers/Records-of-prisoners-of-war

Ken

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Thanks Dave and Ken

Its nice to get a picture of what happened to my GGF. I know i have a lot more digging to do but i will get there!

Ken you said

"There is a medal index card (mic) that shows Thomas Barnet Royal Highlanders Regimental Number 350590. Unfortunately it does not appear this man's service records survive"

Am i right in thinking that the Royal Highlanders would be the Battalion he joined after the HCB? And probably went to France with?

I will take a trip to Kew next time i am in London.

Thanks again

Regards

Lloyd

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Just a wee bit of background. Cyclist battalions were often TF units, i.e. part time volunteers and in particular, part of what had been yeomanry. These were local units of part time cavalry. Bring your own horse. After the Boer War, some units encouraged recruits from those who could not afford a horse but did have a bike. In wartime, these troops often formed what was known as Divisional cavalry and were messengers etc. at divisional level. It is possible that in this capacity, he served alongside some of the Black Watch TF units. They were the local infantry regiment. All supposition of course but I believe a likely scenario for the family story in the absence of a transfer.

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If you are researching a soldier from the Great War online the best place to start is on the parent site the Long Long Trail http://www.1914-1918.net/

On the left taskbar is a link to researching a soldier - at least there's a common language.

The Royal Highlanders is used on the mic for The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) and is a Regiment on this page http://www.1914-1918.net/blackwatch.htm

you wil see there were a number of Battalions in a Regiment. Initially these were Regular, Territorial or Kitchener/New Army (Service) Bns.

By the time your g-gfather joined this distinction had more or less broken down, so we don't know which Bn he was in without a service record. There are a number of other sources, the Rgmt'l Museum may have Muster Rolls. There are Regimental specialists on the forum who may have a database - it may be he transferred with a group of comrades.

The mic makes no mention of the HCB so yes he definitely went to France with the Black Watch, as in the original post the HCB did not serve overseas.

I've had a very quick look on Ancestry and found a CQMS 350016 Alexander Dawson who transferred from the 1/1 HCB to the 9th (Service) Bn of the Black Watch on 29/7/1918 and apparently went to France the following day. His original TF number looks like 419 and he'd been with the cyclists since 1909 frustratingly they are discharge documents so there is no evidence to show he was renumbered when he joined the Black Watch (hope that makes sense). Having just seen Tom's post it makes a bit more sense in that he seems to have retained the number when he went from the HCB to the Black Watch I now understand why that's likely. (We're all learning!) Unfortunately it does mean you may not be able to read too much into it although a bit more research might show a large draft went from the HCB on that date.

You will need the medal index card when visiting Kew - forum rules means I can't post here and you need 10 messages to use the pm system. You can download from TNA see

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/medals.asp

but there's very little information on the card.

Ancestry has a free trial or you can access it from your local library.

The roll reference is G/102B30 page 2651 (Dawson's incidentally is G/102B29 Page 2632 but not much can be read into that).

All the above comes with the usual health warnings - there are no certainties and you must see if it fits with what you know.

Ken

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Thank you so much everyone. This is really fascinating for me, and a little confusing, i don't mind admitting. But i think i am keeping up.

I have a lot to go on now. And a much better understanding of the HCB and the Black Watch.

I did subscribe to Ancestry and tried to find Thomas Barnet in the military section but never found him.

Its interesting that Dawson joined the Black Watch from the same HCB Battalion. I will have to investigate further into that. Sounds reasonable as you said, that it may have been a group transfer.

I am waiting for my Uncle to get back to me, hopefully with something to coincide with the number on the MIC. Fingers crossed.

Either way i will go to Kew.

Regards

Lloyd

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Lloyd,

Highland Cyclist Battalion (HCB)

The 5th (Perthshire Highland) Volunteer Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) and the 4th (Stirlingshire) Volunteer Battalion, Princess Louises (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) were initially to form the 8th Battalion The Black Watch (Cyclists), which instead became the Highland Cyclist Battalion.

The majority of the Highland Cyclist Battalions sub-units were in the Black Watch (BW) Regimental Recruiting Area (RRA). It had companies at:

Kirkcaldy HQ [bW RRA]

Kirkcaldy A Coy [bW RRA]

Cowie B Coy [Argylls RRA]

Tayport C Coy [bW RRA]

Forfar D Coy [bW RRA]

Dunfermline E Coy [bW RRA]

New Scone F Coy [bW RRA]

East Wemyss G Coy [bW RRA]

Bannockburn H Coy [Argylls RRA]

When the TF were re-numbered, the Highland Cyclist Battalion were numbered as a unit of The Black Watch, Territorial Force. Unfortunately, Wauchope does not cover this unique entity.

Hope this is of use.

Aye

Tom McC

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Hi all

I have another piece of the puzzle which i think should be helpful.

My uncle has found a letter from the King to my GGF dated 1918.

Annoyingly he has only sent me photos of parts of the letter.

But they do give his Regiment number and battalion.

The strange thing is the MIC i found for him shows the same number except the last digit.

MIC 350590 Letter 350597

I believe the letter mentions him being a POW, but i am now waiting impatiently for a copy.

However as you can hopefully see it is to Private T Barnet 1/7 Black Watch.

If anyone can help me with the story of 1/7 Back Watch that would be fantastic.

When i have full letter i will post it here.

Regards

Lloyd

post-62142-054491300 1295653257.jpg

post-62142-086856900 1295653609.jpg

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I have another piece of the puzzle which i think should be helpful.

My uncle has found a letter from the King to my GGF dated 1918.

...

The strange thing is the MIC i found for him shows the same number except the last digit.

MIC 350590 Letter 350597

Just in case you thought otherwise, this was a lithographed/mass produced letter sent to those who had been POW's in WW1. It's had the details added to it at some point, and would have looked like this originally:

http://www.gjenvick.com/Military/WorldWarOne/Correspondence/KingGeorgeV/1918-LetterToPOWs-OnRelease-HGodfrey.html

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