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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

The role of a District Officer in RGA


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My Great Grandfather Major Joseph Thomas Chapman OBE, was a OC for No1 Depot RGA, based at Newhaven Fort, Fort Burgoyne Dover, Rugeley Camp, Clipstone Camp and Racecourse Derby during WW1. Prior to that I understand that he was a 'District Officer', which according to the archivist at the Royal Artillery Library in Woolwich (Firepower), he would have trained the local militia and territorial units to effectively maintain and use heavy artillery as found at coastal forts, and would have had to have been "professional beyond professional" before taking up such a role.

Could anyone please shed a bit more light on what would have been required of a "DO" during this period and the training he would have had to receive prior to such an appointment?



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District Officers were former Master Gunners of Serjeant Majors (WO 1s) in the Royal Garrison Artillery who were later commissioned. Generally they were experts in armaments and gunnery equipment and were usually assigned to District Establishments, RGA or as Technical Instructors of Gunnery.

I notice that you have an excellent page on him on Ancestry, but below are some of his assignments as a Serjeant Major and officer:

Serjeant Major, RA, 8 April 1894

Served at Chatham from 1894 to 1899

Commissioned Lieutenant (DO), 24 May 1899

Served as District Officer, Cork, RGA from May 1899 to 1902 (was Acting Adjutant in 1902)

Promoted Captain (DO) on 19 July 1902

From 1902 to 1904 he was District Officer, Chatham

Was District Officer, Tilbury from 1904 to 1907

From 1907 to 1910 he was District Officer and Acting Adjutant at Newcastle-on-Tine Defences

Posted as Armament Officer and District Officer, RGA, Sierra Leone from Feb 1910 to Sept 1911

From Sept 1911 to 1915 he was District Officer, RGA Newhaven

Promoted to Major (DO) on 2 July 1902.

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Well thank you very much for the explanation and for putting some flesh on the bone regarding some of assignments. I spend many hours at Firepower tracking his movements over his 45 years career and a heap of money photocopying the relevant document.

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