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How long did soldiers have to serve in period after Boer War?


maudson
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I write up life stories of people from Ringstead in Northamptonshire. At present I am researching Arthur Edward Raymond Peacock. I have been shown some letters written by him in 1909 from Barracks in Northampton plus an undated letter from Landguard Camp in Suffolk, In 1911 he is back home in Ringstead as a shoe stitcher. He is called up in 1914 it seems and on 12th September 1914 he enters the warzone (from medal card). He is killed on 16th October 1914. He was in the 1st Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment and his service number was 3/8607. His mother tried to find what had happened to him from November 1914 but kept being assured that he was with his regiment. This continued for some time but it appears that his mother received a pension for him in 1918. He was born in about 1890 (from Census). Is it possible to tell if the time in 1909 was as in the Regular Army - or as a Reservist and was the minimum he could serve three years (and the other years' letters are missing) or could he have done a shorter training period? Many thanks for any help.

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In my opinion, he was almost certainly a Special Reservist serving a Six Year Special Reserve term (part time with a summer training camp). His 3/8607 number is certainly a Special Reserve number (dating from January 1909) and Landguard was where the Special Reserve (3rd Battalion) held their summer training camps in the years leading up to the Great War.

His service would therefore be part-time (after a 5 month full-time training period + three weeks Trainees Musketry course in the run-up to the summer camp*), with a civilian job for the majority of the time, but with obligation to full-time service in the event of war. His period of Reservist service would have expired in January 1916 (1909 + 6 years + 1 additional year for war-time). The Special Reservists seem to have been called up on 8 Aug 1914 and most seem to have been sent to join the 1st Battalion on the 11/12th September 1914.

Regulars generally enlisted for a 12 year term of engagement, normally on 7 years active and 5 years reserve service, though for a period following the (2nd) Boer War this was split as 3 years active and 9 years reserve. However, I am 99% certain that this does not apply to Raymond Peacock.

Steve.

* Dates for 1909 were: Trainees' musketry course: 18-6-1909 to 11-7-1909; training camp : 12-7-1909 to 31-7-1909

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1881

7 years colours and 5 years on reserve

VAH

1902 May

3 years colours and 9 on reserve.

Army Orders (AO) 117/02

1902 Jul

Extensions for those on 3 years or 7 years initial engagement, can extend to 8 years or 12 years

AO 159/02

1904

Proposed, not implemented: a ‘2 years with colours plus 6 years reserve’ engagement for Home, or ‘ 9 years with colours plus 3 year reserve’ for general service

The Development of the British Army

1904 Nov

Terms of service 9 years with colours and 3 years reserve

AO 189/04

1905

2 years with colours and 10 years reserve for certain large regiments tentatively examined

AO/204/05

1906 Sep to 1914

7 years with colours and 5 years reserve for all. Extensions to 7 years allowed

AO 209/06

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Many thanks to you both. That clarifies it for me. I thought the First Battalion was for Regulars but you have made sense of the letters and his service. His medal card says that he entered the war zone on 12th September 1914 but I have seen that the Northamptonshire Regiment's First Battalion sailed on the 12 August. Could the medal card be wrong or would he have joined the Battalion late? Again many thanks for you help. I can get writing it up now (and will acknowledge your help of course)

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To keep a battalion at full-strength on active service, regardless of casualties, required a frequent trickle of drafts to be sent: soldiers fell sick, or were injured, at a high rate even when not fighting.

As an example, three drafts of almost 100 men each were on the way to, and arrived at, 2nd RWF by the end of September even before they were involved in any combat worth the name.

Soldiering was not like a City job!

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The first two drafts that headed out to the 1st Battalion (after the original contingent on 13th August 1914, of course) were:

31st August 1914: 99 men under Captain Ernest Charles Mylne - a mixture of Regular Reservists in their 9, 5 or 3 year Reserve periods and Special Reservists with reasonable experience. This Draft attempted to join the Battalion as the main battalion headed to the Aisne, and so ended chasing the battalion across France for a while before catching them up on 7th September 1914.

12th September 1914: About 70 men under Second Lieutenant Ralph Davison - again a mixture of Regular Reservists and Special Reservists. I haven't broken down the numbers but I think the Special Reservists were probably a majority in this draft. The draft joined 1st Battalion on 21st September 1914 after their first major casualties, suffered during the battle of the Aisne around Troyon between 10th and 20th September 1914.

Steve.

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My thanks again Steve. I believe that as a Special Reservist he reported to the Gibraltar rather than the Quebec Barracks - I presume to be issued with kit etc. Would it have been blue or khaki do you know? I have seen somewhere that khaki was not available until November for some troops.I have a tantalising copy of a rough grey card on which he scribbled a last note - it seems as he was waiting on a train waiting to board a boat in Southampton - unfortunately it is largely unreadable now. From what you say he would have joined the Regiment on 21st September when I believe that they were resting behind the lines. They then went back up to the front until mid October. A E R Peacock was killed on the 16th October. Would this be part of a named battle or just around the Troyan Sugar Factory (Aisne?) ? I have tried to work this out but ended up more confused.

David

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The 16th was the battalion's last day on the Aisne - they were relieved on the night of the 16th/17th October. The war diary is pretty useless for the period of October & November 1914 but I will try to look up in the other sources for the Regiment tomorrow.

The barracks would be Gibraltar Barracks in Northampton itself. Quebec Barracks didn't exist until the last part of the Second World War.

Steve.

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