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Spot the British Regiment


Jack Sheldon
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This photo appears in a contemporary German book about 1914 and is captioned, 'British volunteers ready to be shipped to Belgium'. If anyone, aided by the two close ups, can tell me which regiment is involved, I shall send them a virtual chocolate frog; if anyone can add to the caption, or better still correct it, he or she will receive a double ration of frogs.

Jack

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Can't help with the regiment(s) but they are armed with something other than a SMLE (so, a Long Lee? - I don't know but I do know that a rifle expert will come along and be more precise!), while the lad with his back to the photographer has a short bayonet, so either a P1903 or P 1888. Wouldn't that combination of weaponry in 1914 (assuming the date is correct) make these lads territorials? Either way, the ones who are sitting down present a rather odd assortment with soldiers mixed in with civilians.

Trajan

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Best guess the Paschal lamb of the Queens (RWS) Regiment, which equally admits the 22nd & 24th County of London Regiments who adopted the same badge.

Suddery

Edit - seems I've got like minded company that popped up while I was typing.

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---which equally admits the 22nd & 24th County of London Regiments.

Agreed, but of course they didn't go to France until 16/3/15, unless of course they were simply kept waiting a long time :whistle:

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I think perhaps the elongated shape of the West Yorkshire Regiment badge, the shape does not look squat enough to be the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. It's a difficult call though, I agree.

And the Queen's.

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Thanks for all your suggestions, which are much appreciated. As I said, I absolutely do not know, so I shall need to let a consensus develop and accept your collective expertise in due course.

Jack

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Does the book have a title, author and date of publication? You say it is "a contemporary German book about 1914", but is there anything more?

Trajan

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Can't help with the regiment(s) but they are armed with something other than a SMLE ...

The rifles are the CLLE version (of the long Lee) which fitted the P1888 bayonet, so roughly dating the photo to early war (1914/15)

Cheers, S>S

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The photo comes from Volume 3 of Der Voelkerkrieg, a chronicle publication which provides a blow by blow account of events throughout the war. The copyright date is definitely 1914. Armed with some of the tips passed on so far, I have been dredging through the BOH looking for candidates. What about the thought that they might be men of 2nd Bn The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment? They formed part of 22 Brigade 7th Division which shipped from Dover to Zeebrugge on 6 October 1914. There is a lengthy footnote on p 49 which states that this battalion had been stationed previously in 'the Cape'. That being the case, the older patterns of rifles and equipment could be explicable.

Jack

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Agreed, but of course they didn't go to France until 16/3/15, unless of course they were simply kept waiting a long time :whistle:

...very droll; perhaps they're just incredibly prescient anticipating the arrival of Beckett's famed eponymous, or is it more a case of

"Waiting for Gotterdammerung"

Worthy of a Frog ?

Anyway...

I'm sure I've seen this photo elsewhere and given the publication date it's almost certainly a press photo (not unless someone fancied being banged up or shot). Will have a rifle through me stuff and see what I can find.

Suddery

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Many thanks Suddery. At this rate it is going to be frogs all round and I look forward to seeing what you can find.

Jack

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Agreed, but of course they didn't go to France until 16/3/15, unless of course they were simply kept waiting a long time :whistle:

South West Trains ...

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Had a good hunt to no avail, certain it's a press agency photo. I'll sleep on it.

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FWIW, my immediate reaction on seeing this was Queen's - particularly the chap reclining with his hands behind his head.

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I'd have said Queen's as well.

Are they wearing some rather strange webbing equipment , with only one pouch per side ?

Or is that because the fellow lying down are drummers ? I first thought pistol rig, but they have rifles .

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Earlier pattern webbing with fewer pouches perhaps? The chap standing middle left seems to have an unorthodox way of securing the bayonet and entrenching tool helve as well - stopping it slapping and/or digging in to his leg?

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...Earlier pattern webbing with fewer pouches perhaps...

Now we are almost getting somewhere... It is not enough to identify the regiment from the badge alone, what has to be taken into account here is the totality of the evidence. By which I mean the photo' appears in a book/collection published in lateish 1914, BUT those lads have the CLLE version of the Long Lee rifle and P1888 bayonets (thanks for the confirmation S>S). So, yes they may be soldiers of the Queens according to their badges - but what is needed to confirm that (assuming it is a broadly contemporary photo') is evidence that the Queens had CLLE rifles and appropriate bayonets and webbing in 1914!

Trajan

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Here is another photo that might be useful for comparing the cap badges.

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An education this one.

The caption we are given is "British Soldiers Shipped to Belgium" with a German publisher and a distribution date of 1914.

Personally I'm convinced it's a Queens badge and Queen's unit, but the attribution as to which battalion it belongs to ain't straightforward.

IF the 'Belgian' caption is correct (given this is a German publication) and is not a generalisation for Northern France, then the only Queens Battalion it can be is the 2nd Battalion who embarked from Lyndhurst to Zeebruge and arrived on 06.10.14. However, we are all making the assumption (self included) that the photo description/title is correct and these troops are indeed bound for Northern France or Belgium.

The following movements should be considered:

3rd Batt Aug 1914 Guilford to Chattenden

Nov 1914 Chattenden to Rochester

1/4th 1914 Croydon to Maidstone to Canterbury to Soton (thence to India)

1/5th August 1914 Guilford to Maidstone then similar to above.

2/4th Formed Croydon August 1914 thn internal British postings.

etc etc etc

Point is they all entered into some form of battalion movement during the year concerned and the photo in itself offers no proof as to where they were going; we're assuming it was Belgium but it could actually have been anywhere. This being a German publication then presumably they were seeking to propound an image of some propaganda value, perhaps in this case the rather lackadaisical demeanor of the troops depicted - after all, if there was no propaganda value then why bother printing the photo ?

The same logic also permits the London Battalions for consideration as they were formed in 1914 and then moved throughout England that year.

We either trust the caption of the German publication (in which case it can only be the 2nd Queens) or we'll never know unless we find a secondary proof.

Suddery

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... We either trust the caption of the German publication (in which case it can only be the 2nd Queens) or we'll never know unless we find a secondary proof....

And so in effect I repeat myself... Is there any way of knowing which of the Queens had Long Lees in 1914 AND/OR is there anyway of knowing when the Queens stopped using Long Lees? If there is anyway of discovering the answers to these two points then it would go a long way in helping to resolve the matter of who and when...

Trajan

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I know very little about the different web equipment patterns, however I think there are some clues in the lack of the expected Pattern here.

The earlier version rifle & bayonet is one thing (not all that uncommon during the early war period) but lack of WE ammo carriers is telling.?

It appears these troops have been on an extended training march (ie. drums, casual demeanour etc) and have been given a short rest break.

I understand that kit was in short supply during the mobilisation, but I wouldn't expect to see troops heading to the front 'sans' ammo pouches.

Cheers, S>S

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