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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Promoted from Private to Sergeant on same day - help please!


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Although I already have a post running about this soldier (202803 Pte Paul Frederick Britcher of the 4th Bn Leicestershire Regiment) I have found another puzzle on his records and wonder if anyone can shed any light on it please.

In July 1918 he was posted as a Private soldier from the 4th (Reserve) Bn at Lough to the 1/4th Bn which was his first time in France. There is no reference to him being promoted to Lance Corporal but on the 1st August 1918 he was promoted to Corporal and appointed as a Paid Local Acting Sergeant on the same day! A few weeks later, on the 25th September 1918 he then reverted to Corporal. I am at a complete loss as to understand why this rapid promotion and reverting occured and I can only speculate that it was because of the Battalion Band, which he actually became Bandmaster of years later in 1935.

A lot of TF Battalions had their Bands with them and certainly a lot of them functioned whenever possible in a musical role (the 10th Bn Essex springs readily to mind) and certainly the 4th Leicesters had a Band in 1913 although I don't know if it actually went to France. At one point in his WW1 Record Britcher states he was a 'musican' and I wonder if he was sent out for whatever reason to fulfil the role of Bandmaster. I believe, however, that at this time the 1/4th were involved in heavy fighting and although it might have seemed a good idea at the time,I cannot see how the Band could have functioned during these very difficult days hence his reversion back to Corporal.

I am sure this is a mystery that will never be explained but I just wondered if any members have come across similar promotions during WW1 that might shed some light on the matter.

Many thanks


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You say that the Battalion was involved in heavy fighting at this time - and that is probably the explanation for the same day promotions. Presumably they suffered losses amongst the NCOs and he was promoted to fill the gaps.

No doubt, you'll be aware that bandsmen usually acted as the stretcher bearers when in the front line so will have been in the thick of whatever was going on.

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Thanks for your reply John.

What puzzles me is that he was relatively inexperienced having only been with the 1/4th for about 3 weeks when this promotion took place.

Best regards


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With regards promotion, a llot can depend on his background and any aptitude he had already demonstrated. When the unit experiences heavy losses, those who have shown a spark of ability can rise quickly. For example, one man on the memorial I'm researching was commisioned from private to second lieutenant within a week of entering a theatre of war for the first time.

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The New Army battalions at their formation provide some extreme examples. One chap I've read about went from private to CQMS within a week of enlisting, and was then commissioned the following week (he was a schoolmaster in civil life, so had the educational background)

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