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Remembered Today:

British Cavalry Entrenchment Battalion


Stevelab
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My Great Grandfather, Harry Labourne, has no WW1 Military Record as it was destroyed when the records office was bombed in 1941. I am consequently trying to piece together his war service from other clues. His Medal Card says he was in The Northumberland Fusilers (But not which battalion), the 20th Hussars, then 15th Hussars. I have a transfer document dated 17th June 1917 from Northumberland Fusiliers to 20th Hussars. 20th Hussars War Diary for that period (18th June) states 32 incoming Troopers from 'British Cavalry Entrenchment Battalion' which I guess was similar to 'Depot'. I can find a Wikipedia article on Infantry Entrenchment Battalions but not Cavalry. Ideally I am looking to trace back which Northumberland Fusiliers battalion he was in (I know there were over 40). Any one got any info on British Cavalry Entrenchment Battalion/s and any connection with the Northumberland Fusiliers? Thanks

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Stephen - at work now but I'll check the cavalry entrenchment battalion angle this evening. As cavalry (by 1917) were frequently kicking their heels the men were often used for digging jobs behind 9and in) the Lines.

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Hello Stephen

The medal roll itself (at the National Archives at Kew in class WO329) should tell you which battalion of the NF he served in. I didn't know there were any Cavalry Entrenching Battalions but they were effectively only temporary holding units anyway and I don't think any EBs have surviving War Diaries.

It's fairly unusual to see men being transferred FROM infantry to other units so it is likely that his NF battalion may have been disbanded.

Ron

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Might there be a connection here?

11th Entrenching Battalion Formed from the Household Battalion, a battalion raised from the Household Cavalry.

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Thanks Ron, I have checked the Medal Roll at Kew and the Medal Index Card (Available online) neither state the battalion (Just Northumberland Fusiliers). The transfer document I have, also just says 'Northumberland Fusiliers'. I have contacted the Fusiliers museum over the years and they cannot help me. The surviving Embarkation Rolls and Nominal Rolls for NF battalions do not contain Harry Labourne's name. My last throw of the dice to get the battalion was the 20th Hussars War Diary, but their only intake through June and July 1917 was from 'British Cavalry Entrenchment Battalion'. So I'm stuck I think, unless someone on this forum has a brain wave ! Cheers

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Neither the histories of the 15th or the 20th Hussars shed much (actually, any) light, although the former does report that men were sent to a pioneer battalion after Arras (mid-June, 17, to be precise). Neither comment on drafts at all, I'm afraid.

When did he go overseas? Is it possible that he didn't proceed to France with the NF? As Ron says, it's unusual to have infantrymen going to the cavalry: vice versa's more common.

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I have very little info unfortunately Steven. With no surviving records I just have the medal roll/index card and his transfer document from the NF's (Which he kept a copy of). He got the British War Medal and British Victory Medal (My dad still has these) but no 1914/15 star so he was definitely not in France before 1916. My suspicion is that he trained with the NF's in the UK but was transfered to the 20th Hussars when he was posted to the BEF. The Northumberland Fusiliers raised something like 40 Service Battallions, some specialist like Bycicle units and I think I read once that some had mounted units. Harry Labourne lived on the south bank of the Humber and the 17th Battalion of the NF's were raised in Hull, but I cannot see him on the Nominal Roll for that battalion. He definitely transferred from NF's to 20th Hussars as I have the original transfer document. His medal card states Northumberland Fusiliers (Army No 34478), 20th Hussars (Army No 32241), 15th Hussars (Army No 32241) in that order. Apart from that I hit a brick wall whichever way I go. I even wrote to the MOD as he was in the Homeguard in WW2 and I though that record might refer to earlier service, but they say they cannot find his Homeguard record and that that is not unusual. So I think I'm out of options. Appreciate everyones thoughts and suggestions though.

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