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Remembered Today:

Essex Regiment - Richard Whittington 350544


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I would be grateful for any help or advice in researching my paternal Grandfather, Richard (dob 20/11/1887).

Although his medals show him as in the Essex Regiment, his medal card shows 2 other regiments, namely the Northamptonshire (204900) and Beds & Herts (68124).

He lived till 1966 but little is known in the family of where he was or what he did, it is alleged he was a bandsmen.

Any help would be much appreciated.

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He will have first landed in a war zone with Essex,15 (Garrison Guard) Battalion according to his service number,in May 1918,under orders of 177 Brigade of 59 Division.

At some time he returned to the UK and transferred to 4 Battalion Northamptonshire,a Reserve unit. Later,and the unusual title may give a clue as it's an amalgam of two Regiments,he was posted to what I think was 1/1 Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment as they took some 600 men from 6 Battalion Bedfordshire,the remnants of that Battalion after a battle,and likely came under orders of 112 Brigade of 37 Division in France.

Can't check this as there is no service or pension record apparent,but it makes sense. The order of the Battalions on the MIC usually reflects the sequence of units served.

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It looks a first glance like he may have been posted to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment (as Sotonmate mentions) to go overseas in August 1917 and then sent to 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment on arrival in France (replacing casualties at the opening of 3rd Ypres). My gut feeling at the moment is that his Bedfords number may be just post-war (e.g. re-enlisting in early 1919), but I can't back that up at present with facts.

I shall have a proper look later.


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Having looked at the group of men (numbered 204900-204975) apparently transferring to the Northamptonshire Regiment at this time there appears to have been a consistent pattern of movements. These were roughly as follows:

Enlisted under the "Derby Scheme" (the voluntary deferred mobilisation scheme) in November/December 1915.

Mobilised in mid-1916

Posted to 4th Reserve Battalion of the Essex Regiment for training.

Posted to 65th Provisional Battalion after a few weeks.

65th Provisional Battalion converted to 15th Battalion of the Essex Regiment on 1st January 1917.

When the Territorial Force soldiers received new numbers in March 1917 they received numbers from the 15th Battalion's allocation of numbers.

Upon being ordered overseas they transferred to the 9th Battalion of the Essex Regiment on 16th July 1917 (no number change involved)

The group embarked to France on 16th July 1917.

The group arrived at No 15 Infantry Base Depot on the French coast and was held there awaiting a Regiment and battalion in need of their numbers.

They were posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment, triggering a number change (the No. 204900-204975 range I mentioned above) on 12th August 1917.

The earlier events in the sequence may be different for Richard Whittington, but the units and events from March 1917 will I believe be the same for him as those above. On looking at other service records, my feeling is that Richard Whittington's Essex Regiment service was from the earlier mid-1916 period rather than later.

Looking at the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment number, the records of John Joseph Henderson (No. 68127) suggest that the transfer was made in March 1919, and may have been made from the 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment to the 53rd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment who were both part of the British Army of Occupation in 1919.

The move from 2nd to 1st battalion of the Northamptons does make sense as the 2nd Battalion came to an absolute full stop on 27th May 1918 when the whole battalion was captured at the Chemin des Dames. So, it may be that he transferred from 2nd to 1st Battalions of the Northamptonshire Regiment between August 1917 and May 1918. I will give this some thought!


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Huge thanks to you both, Sotonmate and Steve.

In light of his complicated career, which battles do you think he would have been involved with?

Also, is there anyway of establishing whether he was a bandsmen or not.

Can either of you suggest where I might be able to locate any photos relating to his units.

Thanks again.


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  • 2 weeks later...

7th Essex was 300001 to 325000

8th Essex was 325001 to 350000

15th Essex was 350001 to 375000

350544 would be the 544th man renumbered in 15th Essex.


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