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Rifleman Frederick John McClelland


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I know very little about my grandfather’s WW1 service and am hoping that members of the forum can help me make the next step in my research. He was Frederick John McClelland, born 1895 in Dovercourt, Essex and died in 1944 in Colchester. I have his medals card: British War Medal and Victory Medal but no information as to theatre of war; he was a Rifleman with the KRRC (Regt No 58979) and 9th London Regt (Queen Victoria’s Rifles) (Regt No 418160). I also have a photograph of him in uniform: the cap badge looks more KRRC than QVR. My mother confirmed he was KRRC and I recall I was told he was also with 1st/9th London Regt and that he was in France. I have no idea which KRRC battalion and I don’t have any dates. I don’t know why he was with a rifles regiment; he was short, possibly less than 5’3” and he lived in Chelmsford, Essex and married in Great Baddow, near Chelmsford, in 1917 (his occupation on the certificate then being an employee of the Hoffman Ball Bearing Company in Chelmsford, rather than as a serving soldier).

I haven’t so far been able to find any other recorded information, including from possible sources identified on the website: there may be some significance in the regimental numbers or that 9th London was a territorial force and that he was at home long enough to get married in 1917. If anyone can point me in the right direction to discover more, I shall be very grateful.

Dick Parsons

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  • 3 weeks later...

His KRRC Service Number of 58979 suggests (inconclusively, I must stress) that he was in 25th battalion.

They were formed in theatre at SAULTY (SW of ARRAS) on 19 April 1918 from drafts from several Garrison Guard companies. It was initially called 2nd Provisional Garrison Guard Battalion and was attached to 199 Infantry Brigade in 66th Division.

On 20 May 1918 the unit moved to VERDREL (W of LENS), was renamed 25th Garrison Battalion, KRRC and attached to 59th Division as divisional troops. On 22 May they were attached to 177 Brigade in the same division.

On 16 June 1918 they relocated to VINCLY (NW of ST POL) arriving on 19 June. On 17 June it was announced the battalion would be formally re-organised as a Pioneer battalion effective 01 June 1918 with the new name 25th (Pioneer) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps.

On 10 July 1918 the btn was attached to 178 Brigade in the same division. Pioneer battalions stayed as divisional troops and were usually not brigaded, but the KRRC Chronicle clearly states these brigade assignments.

The original Garrison Guard men would have been medically downgraded infantrymen or conscripts who had not been passed medically fit for the front line. Their main role was guarding lines of communication facilities (roads, railways, fuel & storage dumps, Bases etc.) guarding military prisons, and acting as escorts for PoWs in theatre, but they also worked on trench, road construction/repair etc.. Once converted to Pioneers, this latter would have been their primary role.

While they were not front line troops, they were expected to be able to fight if necessary and they certainly took casualties from shelling and air raids. After the Armistice, they did a great deal of salvage work on the Western Front before eventual disbandment on 03 Nov 1919

It is not clear which exact Labour Corps Garrison Guard units contributed to the battalion, but elsewhere on the Forum, Pal @Mike Watkins has stated 909 Garrison Guard company and three others were formed into 2nd Provisional Garrison Guard Battalion. Clearly Frederick did not go out to France until after 01 Jan 1916 as he has no Star entitlement. There's no mention on his MIC of any Labour Corps or other pre-KRRC service, which perhaps suggests he was sent out to 25/KRRC as a fresh draft direct.

25/KRRC's War Diary is not yet digitised I'm afraid, so is only available for consultation at Kew. For info, it's NA reference is WO 95/3017/9.

As regards his move to 9th London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles), I cannot really help. Certainly his QVR 418160 Service Number dates after the Territorial Force renumbering of 1917, but we already know he first served in 25/KRRC which was only formed in Spring 1918!

It would be great to see his photo here to round out the thread and the Pals may well be able to confirm whether he's wearing a KRRC or a QVR cap badge, though the two are notoriously similar - see below.

post-20192-0-64435400-1385328064_thumb.j post-20192-0-41927100-1385328075_thumb.j

KRRC 9/LR (QVR)

Main differences ...

Central Boss: KRRC - strung hunting horn; QVR: St George & Dragon

Motto: KRRC - Celer et audax; QVR - South Africa battle honour

Cross Arms: KRRC - battle honours; QVR - blank

Circlet: KRRC - 'The King's Royal Rifle Corps' ; QVR - 'Queen Victoria's'

It's usually possible to differentiate the hunting horn from St George, but the other differences are rarely identifiable in a typical photo.

Hope this helps!

Cheers,

Mark

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Hello Dick,

I had a look at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, and the first death of a soldier with the number 418*** appears to be 1/11/1917 (Harry Dyson 418005). This may not help you much, but it might help you to narrow down the date when your grandfather arrived in France. I stress that this is a very inaccurate method of trying to calculate the date, it is just that I have done a little bit of work with 9th Bn. QVR numbers, and it seems like very often there would be a death within about a month following the entry of the draft. Though I may be corrected here. It might at least give you a date before which your Grandfather had not entered France. Incidentally, I haven't come across too many soldiers with numbers starting 418***, I wonder if it was quite a small draft.

Also, is it possible that he was transferred pretty quickly from the K.R.R.C. to the QVR. For example, on embarkation in France. I have seen quite a few examples of this in service records in the past. It was once suggested to me by some of the kind members on this site that I look on Ancestry.co.uk for service records of other soldiers with a similar service number to the man I was looking for. If any records survive with a similar number to your grandfather, you may be able to speculate further as to his service in France by looking at what they did and where they went. I have done this in the past with some success for men in the 415*** number range. Unfortunately, I do not have access at the moment, otherwise I'd look for you.

Lastly, there are the Medal Rolls at Kew. The QVR rolls have a date for arrival in France. If you can get down there and have a look, you might be able to find out the date when he arrived. This would depend of course whether he is on the KRRC or the QVR medal roll. I am not sure about what information the KRRC roll has.

Regards,

Chris

Edited by Drew1918
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Lastly, there are the Medal Rolls at Kew. The QVR rolls have a date for arrival in France. If you can get down there and have a look, you might be able to find out the date when he arrived. This would depend of course whether he is on the KRRC or the QVR medal roll. I am not sure about what information the KRRC roll has.

The MIC shows his British War and Victory medals are recorded on roll TP9/101b4 p.266.

TP is the letter code for the London record office covering the London Regt, RF, HAC and RDC. TP9 presumably signifies the 9th Londons (QVRs).

KRRC rolls would have been handled by the Winchester Record Office and they all have the letter code M.

McClelland probably does not appear on any KRRC medal roll.

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I see. I wondered what his Medal card said.

All the MICs I have for men who finished up in the 9th London Bn. start TP9, so I think you are right there.

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I'm really grateful to you all for the help and information you have provided. Kew calls! But, before I can, I also need to advance my research of a number of other relatives including great-uncle Leslie Arthur Smith, who was with the Berkshire Yeomanry in Gallipoli and of my wife's grandfather Joseph Alfred Noyes who had been a regular with 2nd Royal Berkshire Regt between 1893 and 1902 and rejoined as a reservist in 1914, two grandfathers both with the ASC, two Suffolk great-uncles Herbert William and Ethelbert Charles Brown - one with the Royal Engineers, the other with the Household Cavalry. All survivors, never thought to ask them anything when they were alive.

Thanks again, I can make some progress. Good idea to search around regimental numbers; and I have access to ancestry.com and obviously can look up the CWGC search website.

I'm attaching the only photo I have of my grandfather

Dickpost-102891-0-44685700-1385666130_thumb.

Dick

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Dick,

The shoulder titles look like KRRC to me - blackened 'KRR'.

I think (more expert Pals will know better) the QVR's ST would have been 'T' and '9' and 'LONDON' stacked as three rows and with LONDON curved in an arc.

Any chance of a zoom in on the shoulder title? Also the centre of the badge?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Dick,

This is what we have on Leslie Smith. I have a couple more group photos which might contain him too

Enlisted c17-19th September 1914. Prev a clerk at Lambourn Railway Station

Berkshire and the War. pp 184

[Gallipoli] Lce.-Corpl. Leslie A. Smith, 50 Addington Road, Reading. – Wounded

First reported missing then later wounded

2260 Pte LA Smith (B Sqn) Later Pte 50722 Herts & Beds Regt WO33721/8

Regards

Andrew French

post-7967-0-26680900-1387133549_thumb.jp

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