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Remembered Today:

Service numbers, final attempt


jmta04

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Good morning everyone

I have tried here before to find the approximate month that Sidney Albert Knight was allocated the 5 figure number of 19010 on joining the Middlesex Regiment, but without success. I am now fairly certain that he enlisted under the Derby Scheme or was conscripted which would, by my assessment, make it some time in 1916.

He was later given the service number 104013 and was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps (although I believe that the change of number could have been whilst with either regiment). Any ideas on when either of those service number might have been allocated, please?

Am I right in assuming that Sidney, although he enlisted in Ashford, Kent, would have done his basic training at the Middlesex Depot at Mill Hill near Barnet? Or were there other possible training depots he might have attended? Were there any specific Middlesex battalions he might have been with whilst training (I only have him as joining in the Middlesex Regiment, no particular battalion is named).

Sidney died 27th August 1918.

Any help or advice on any of the above would be appreciated.

Regards to you all,

Scobie

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Scobie,

There is a Sidney John Wright, from Faversham, with a Middlesex Regt. no. of G/19013. He was called up at Herne Bay on March 13, 1917 and was approved in the 6th Bn. at Canterbury a week later. In the May he was posted to the 16th Bn. Middlesex Regt. in France but by the end of the year he was transferred to the Labour Corp. Also, Robert Rodway, with the Middlesex Regt. no. of G/19016 "joined for duty" at Mill Hill on March 21, 1917 and was in the 6th Bn. I would say that Sidney Knight was conscripted and is likely to have spent some time at Mill Hill with 6th Bn.

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Hello David.

Thanks for that item.

From that, I can now make the reasonable assumption that Sidney joined his battalion in March 1916.

On the basis of that information, I checked with the LLT which shows me that both 5th and 6th (Reserve) Battalions Middlesex Regiment were Depot/Training units at Mill Hill on the outbreak of war. They were then moved to Rochester, and on 5th March 1916 both battalions were stationed at Chatham as part of the Thames and Medway garrison. I suppose that it would be likely that Sidney would have joined his unit there and remained with them for an unknown period, possibly until his transfer to the 166th Company, MGC.

With the lack of surving information available about Sidney, you have now add a little more to the timeline.

Best Regards,

Scobie

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Sidney Knight, whose MGC number was 104013, transferred-in on the 13th May 1917 - one of a very small batch of men from the Middlesex Regiment - no idea which battalion, but a couple of them had the prefix "G" to their number. I don't know what this signifies.

He joined 166 Company - here's a potted history:

166 MG Coy

formed in 55 Division on 1/3/1916

Served (1916/17/18) with 5 R Lanc, 10 Kings, 5 S Lancs, 5 Loyal North Lancs (until 4/2/18) 166 Trench Mortar Battery, CCLXXV/CCLXXVI Brigades Royal Field Artillery, and CCLXXVII/CCLXXVIII (until 4/10/16), X55/Y55 Med Trench Mortar Batteries & Z55 (until 29/1/18), V55 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery (between 25/5/16 & 29/1/18), 419/422/423 Field Companies Royal Engineers, 55 Division Signal Coy, 4 S Lancs (Pioneers), 3 W Lancs, 2/1 W Lancs & 2/1 Wessex Field Ambulance.

Engagements: 4-6/9/1916 Battle of Guillemont (XV Corps/4 Army), 9/9/1916 Battle of Ginchy, 17-22/9/1916 Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 25-28/9/1916 Battle of Morval, 31/7 - 2/8/1917 Battle of Pilckem Ridge (XIX Corps/5 Army), 20-23/9/1917 Battle of Menin Road Ridge (V Corps/ 5 Army), 20-21/11/1917 The Cambrai Tank Attack (VII Corps/3 Army), 30/11- 3/12/1917 The German Counter Attacks. After 7/3/1918 formed part of 55 Battalion MGC

55 Bn

formed 7/3/1918 from 164/165/166/196 MG Companies.

Served (1918)with 4 R Lanc, 2/5 Lancashire Fusiliers, 4 Loyal North Lancs, 5 Kings, 6 Kings, 7 Kings, 5 R Lanc, 10 Kings, 5 S Lancs, 164/165/166 Trench Mortar Batteries, CCLXXV/CCLXXVI Brigades Royal Field Artillery,, X55/Y55 Med Trench Mortar Batteries, 419/422/423 Field Companies Royal Engineers, 55 Division Signal Coy, 4 S Lancs (Pioneers), 3 W. Lancs, 2/1 W. Lancs & 2/1 Wessex Field Ambulance.

Engagements: 9-11/4/1918 Battle of Estaires (XI Corps/1 Army), 9-17/4/1918 Defence of Givenchy (XI Corps & I Corps), 12-15/4/1918 Battle of Hazebrouck (I Corps/1 Army), 24/8/1918 Capture of Givenchy Craters (I Corps/5 Army), 17/9/1918 Capture of Canteleux Trench (165 Brigade/I Corps/5 Army), 2/10-11/11/ 1918 Pursuit to Mons (I Corps & III Corps/5 Army), 2/10/1918 occupation of la Bassee. 14-16/10/1918 Haute Deule Canal forced. 11/11/1918 Capture of Ath. Nov 1918 concentrated in the Leuze area . railway reconstruction and road repair. 7/12/1918 Visit by HM King GV. 18/12/1918 moved to Brussels. 3/1/1919 Review by HM King of the Belgians. Jan 1919 Demobilisation commenced. Disbanded July 1919 at Aldershot.

You will know that Sidney Knight died of dysentry at Tournai 27/8/1918. Not sure if Tournai was in Allied hands? Could he have died as a POW?

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Scobie

The last sentence of Patesian's post seems the right solution. Here the CWGC detail on TOURNAI Cemetery,which shows that the Germans took the town in 1914 and weren't removed from it until Nov 1918. There is detail on where the Allied casualties were treated,the Germans were in a different hospital,and there is also some detail on those who were re-buried at TOURNAI from outlying Districts.

http://www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_details.aspx?cemetery=54800&mode=1

Passchendaele or Cambrai seem to be the favourites for his capture. At the latter Battle the Germans carried out heavy counter-attacks. His entry in CWGC refers to 166 Coy MGC so I would say that he was with them when captured,so this would have been between May 1917,when he joined them,and March 1918,when 166 became part of 55 Bn MGC.

Sotonmate

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From that, I can now make the reasonable assumption that Sidney joined his battalion in March 1916.

Sorry to contradict you but how is that assumption supported?

The other two men David found who were allocated numbers either side of him joined in March 1917. If he went to the MGC in May that's about right for a conscript completing basic training and being posted to an active service unit , i.e. by 1917 about eight weeks. This is evidenced by Pte Wright going to the 16th Bn in France about the same time on completion of his training, while Pte Knight and his fellow volunteers would probably have gone to the MGC Training establishment before being posted.

Although the MGC were 'all volunteers' there is ample evidence a number of soldiers went straight into the Corps after basic training, we can never really know what inducements were made to persuade them to 'volunteer'.

The numbering in the MGC follows a distinct pattern and he could not have been given the second number in either regiment only on transfer into the MGC. (The prefix G in the Middlesex numbers was a prefix used by many Regiments to denote General Service [a list of prefixes is on the LLT "]http://www.1914-1918.../prefixes.html] )

Territorial Force soldiers were renumbered with 5 or 6 digit numbers in 1917, there is no evidence he was in the TF, but that may be why there is some confusion.

As to where he was captured, there were a number of casualties in 166 Coy on 30 November 1917, including a couple with numbers close to Pte Knight so Sotonmate may be right in the assumption he was captured during the German counter attacks that day.

Ken

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Hi everyone.

A marvellous response and I thank you all. In the light of the incoming and new information, I am changing my ideas constantly

Ken, you are quite right to contradict me. 1917, not 1916. I was blinded by the fact that Sidney, a newly married farm worker with no 1914/15 Star on his MIC would probably have been a Derby man or conscripted. This is where I was thinking mobilisation in 1916. If he was moblised in 1917, I wonder why the long delay? A transfer to the MGC immediately on completing basic training sounds good, and would explain why there is almost no reference to his time with the Middlesex Regiment (which does appear on SDGW). I assume he would then have undergone further training at Grantham before going to France.

Patesian and Sotonmate, so much there that is new to me. I was unaware that Sidney had been taken prisoner or that he had died of dysentry (where on earth did that come from?). Once I have written up all this new material, I think a post regarding POW's at Tournai may be in order, and checking out 166th MGC war diary (hopefully it is available online).

The responses to this post again brings home the immense value of a forum like this where so many dedicated and interested people are prepared to help and share their knowledge. Please do feel free to correct any of my assumptions where necessary. I do want to get things as accurate as is possible.

Again, thanks to everyone for everything thus far. It would be nice to hope that there may be more yet to come.

All the best,

Scobie

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Scobie,

Farm workers were at the top of the list of Reserved occupations during WW1. Some Derby volunteers who were farm workers were not called up until the middle of 1918, so 1917 is not unreasonable as a date of call-up.

Steve

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I was blinded by the fact that Sidney, a newly married farm worker with no 1914/15 Star on his MIC would probably have been a Derby man or conscripted. This is where I was thinking mobilisation in 1916. If he was moblised in 1917, I wonder why the long delay?

Recently married? Didn't he marry in East Ashford 4th Qtr 1908, just after his 23rd birthday? That's almost 10 years before he joined the Army... perhaps they had a child just before he joined?

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Hello again.

Thanks Steve. That clarifies the delay in Sidney's actual mobilisation. I can quite see that with so many farm and agricultural workers volunteering for military service early in the war that there would be a need to retain those remaining for as long as necessary.

Sorry Kevin, I was somewhat lax with the term "newly married". What I meant to imply was that Sidney regarded his responsibility to his wife sufficiently seriously (as he should) and wished to remain with her and support her rather than dashing off to enlist. I should have been clearer.

But when you have been married for as long as I have, less than ten years does seem like newly married!

As far as I can discover, the couple had no children.

Thanks again,

Scobie

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