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Army service corps


Guest daverly
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Hi everyone

Can someone please tell me if the Army service corps went around the farms in Britain collecting hay to be used as feed for horses during WW!?

The reason I ask is that my father thought that this is how his father met his mother.

His parents were married in 1918 at Northmoor in Oxfordshire England. His fathers details were John Thomas LAY 23500F Sergeant A.S.C. and it is thought that his company/platoon/squadron (?) were tasked with the job of collecting hay from farms around Oxfordshire.

I guess this would be feasable and neccessary for this time but can anyone shed any light on this subject.

Regards

Dave Lay

Hamilton, New Zealand

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Dave

You are quite right, the ASC did do this. The Forage Department ASC was created towards the end of 1915 and formed six Forage Department Companies in England, one in Scotland, and one in Ireland.

Charles M

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Hello Dave,

The village of Evenley lies close to Northamptonshire’s border with Oxfordshire. In June 1976 a native of the village, William Buggins, decided to write his “chronicle of a countryman who has lived and worked the whole of his life in agriculture in Evenley,…and the changes from 1900 to WW2”, which he called 'Life was Like That'. I hope this extract gives you some background scenery for your grandparents story.

“Before long there were only old men and boys left to carry on with agriculture and many changes took place from now onwards. The Women’s Land Army was formed and many were the tasks the women had to do. Hay and straw were bought up and shipped to France to feed the army horses and a body of women followed.

A baler was driven by a steam engine to tie up and bind the hay with wire, ready to be carried to the nearest railway goods yard for shipment to France. These bales were the first of their kind, the forerunners of the baler of today. They were a heavy cumbersome machine and they tied heavy bales that took two strong men to move.

…By 1916 many changes had taken place in Evenley…Summer Time came into being on trial that year, and at first was not liked at all by the farming community, and some farms hung on to the old time for several years, causing considerable confusion…

German POWs were employed in batches on farms where they were needed, and these were billeted in a house in Brackley. They were good workers and on the whole behaved well and gave no trouble…There was also a VAD convalescent hospital in Brackley. The patients wore blue uniforms, some in bandages with sticks and others walking with crutches. In the daylight hours in summer there was a strange sight – German prisoners walking into their billet from work passing the wounded Tommies, and both parties giving friendly salutations…

The winter and spring of 1917/18 was wet with snow and rain, making land work difficult and planting and drilling corn fell behind. . In April and May Sunday work was encouraged though not compulsory and consecutive weeks were worked without a break, which to me at the time did not seem right, but necessary. All the acres that could be were ploughed and planted. There were many extra acres of potatoes than in former years, and the sets of steam tackle were going without a break throughout the summer.”

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Ian

My understanding was that the Agricultural companies were formed to help farmers rather than collect forage. But Ivor Lee, the Forum's Labour expert, should be able to give a definitive answer.

Charles M

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The men of the Agricultural Companies were, as Charles says, formed to help farmers rather than forage work. However, as we all know, things are never as simple as the planners at the War Office want.

There is no doubt that men in agricultural Companies were involved in assisting the ASC forage companies. Indeed we know that some Labour Corps men were formally attached to ASC forage work.

Of course there were also cases of men in Agricultural Companies being involved in activites that the War Office did not consider appropriate including such as repairing agricultural machinery. The War Office did not consider this being involved directly in agricultural work.

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My thanks to you all for your response to my query. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people are out there who are "specialists" and certainly knowledgable about all sorts of subjects. Thanks again to you all.

Can I impose upon you all again about this subject. :-)

How would he have finished up in a unit collecting hay. Was it a volunteer thing, (although after my 12 years in the Royal Engineers the last thing you do is volunteer!) or a case of oy you lot go and get some hay! I guess compared to the Front line in Europe, collecting hay in England would have been a doddle.

Any ideas where I could find out more information on this type of unit.

I have a photo of him with some of his "mates" in front of a steam engine which I assume was used for the task in hand.

Thanks again

Regards

Dave Lay

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Dave,

I should think these were mostly men who for whatever reason were unfit for active service overseas, but still able to do their bit in a less demanding environment. Various categories existed, A1 being top of the physical fitness league. I'm sure someone will have these categories to hand, and a better explaination of the formation of agricultural units.

By the way, many thanks for your e-mail. William Buggins book (46 stapled A4 pages) is one of those invaluable personal / local initiatives that didn't have a big print run or travel much outside the district.

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Regarding the Forage and Agricultural Companies - a summary of what happened:

In June 1916 Army Council Instruction1305 said that recruits who were classed as C (ii) or C (iii) (i.e. fit to serve in the UK only on light work) "may be attached to ASC for work in the Forage Dept and at ASC Supply Depots".

By September 1916 ACI 1812 had taken this even further "Men urgently required for the Forage Dept" - a total of 2500 men were to be selected from the Infantry Works Battalions. These men were formed into Companies W, X, Y & Z of the ASC.

These Forage Companies, however, were not Agricultural Companies. These were formed the following year (Authority ACI 259 of 13 February 1917). These were to become the Agricultural Companies of the Labour Corps in June 1917.

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Dave.

I would recommend that you get hold of the following book titled, ARMY SERVICE CORPS 1902 - 1918. This was written by Michael Young who served in the ASC finally retiring as a Lt. Colonel. The book is the definative history of the ASC. It has covers the area's you are interested in.

The book is published by Leo Cooper. ISBN: 085052 730 9

Martin :D

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Dave,

I second Martin about Michael Young's book - brilliant. Also covers the Women's Forage Corps, whose grades included the wonderful rank of Quartermistress.

Jock

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  • 10 years later...
Guest MeldrumStewart

My mother, Isabella Morrison, was a Forwarding Supervisor in the Women's Forage Corps [ASC] in WW 1. She went to the small outlying railway stations in Stirlingshire and Perthshire to organise the reception, dispatch of, and payment for, the fodder from the local farms. She wore a single pip on her shoulders but I do not know if she received a 2nd lieutenant's pay. This rank gave her the authority to deal with chauvinistic farmers. She worked in her father's tailoring business in Stirling and she told me that she made her own skirt and her father made her tunic. I have her photo in uniform and her Demobilisation Certificate. I would love to learn more about the Forage Corps; did they enlist or were they conscripted ?

Jake

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  • 2 years later...

Greetings - in case anyone comes across this this topic whilst searching for info on the Forage Department ASC this link onto Find My Past may prove rather interesting.

http://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=gbm%2fwo363-4%2f007384558%2f00373&parentid=gbm%2fwo363-4%2f7384558%2f15%2f371

Seems to be rather unusual terms and conditions indeed - (the term mercenary unit comes to mind) and as for being paid overtime !

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