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Remembered Today:

Private to 2/Lt in one move, early in War


Myrtle
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I have come across a soldier who appears to have been put through Officers' Training in 1915 although a Private at the start of his service in 1914. When checking his MIC he seems to have gone from Private to 2/Lt without any promotions in between and his address is entered as Kensington Palace. On further research I have found that he lived at the Kensington Palace Carpenter's Cottage, his father being the Palace Carpenter.

Have any members of the forum come across a similar speedy rise of a Private with connections ?

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What was his name ?

Early in the war a lot of men deemed 'suitable' to be officers who had enlisted in the ranks were quickly sent off to an officer training school and appear back at the front as a commissioned officer.

Craig

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Craig

I have come across the jump from private to officer during 1916 when junior officers were getting rather few on the ground, but hadn't realised that there was a similar move to promote from the ORs earlier in the war.

The man was George Owen McEntee; he eventually moved to the RFC and became a POW in 1917.

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Hi Myrtle,

The Artist's Rifles produced circa 50 officers from their ranks in the early months of the war, I believe that all these men served in France briefly prior to being commissioned.

I have come across another couple:

1) 15558 Spr. H.Winton, R.E. was commissioned in the field for "Conspicuous bravery and gallantry in the field at Le Cateau in Sept.,1914." 2/Lt.: 1/10/14 into the 2nd Bn Suffolk Regt.

Harry George Denys Winton was killed in action on the 3rd May,1915. He was also MID, LG. 22/6/15.

2) 1262 Pte H.R.Mansergh, 1/6th Liverpool Regt., to France 24/2/15 and commissioned into the 9th Bn Liverpool Regt. on 7/3/15--now that is quick!! Sadly he was seriously wounded on 18/9/16 and died as a result of his wounds(amputation of both legs)on 12/11/16.

I am certain that there are many more examples.

Robert

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The rapid expansion of the army required a huge increase in the number of officers.

There were some very well to do battalions and plenty of volunteers who were 'officer class'. It seems to have been seen to be the best way of filling the spaces by drawing these men out for officer training.

Craig

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Thanks for those examples, Robert. I've learnt something new. Yes, Craig I can see that with such a small regular army there was a need to find more officers quickly.

George McEntee seems to have gone overseas with the 14th London Regiment on 24.11.1914 and I know that he was back on Officer's Training in October 1915. He survived the war and seems to have been with the RAF during WW2. He settled in South America in 1945 and died in Columbia in the 1960s.

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"It will be over by Christmas"

I keep running across men, serving in University OTCs in 1914, who enlisted as Privates and most served at the front in this rank before being withdrawn for officer training. (Some of course didn't survive for that long)

On several I have found text relating their desire to see action before the war was over.

Ken

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Ken
I understand that George didn't fall into the university category. Since posting I have found an interesting thread on the Forum, naming George as one of the RFC who were court martialed by the Germans for distributing anti Kaiser leaflets from the sky.

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You'll find that a goodly number of men who joined the so-called "Public Schools Battalions", of the Royal Fusiliers, in autumn 1914 were selected to become officers within weeks. All a matter of breeding, doncha know.

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764 Private Harry M, De Bathe - AIF Light Horse 29 July 1915 - Temp 2/Lt - Gallipoli 24/10/1915 AIF - Granted a commission with 9th Bn Sherwood Foresters 31/10/1915.

Not only got a commission but changed armies!

Killed after joining RFC in early 1918

4 November 1918.

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The wifes great grandfather joined the 28th Londons (Artists Rifles) at the outbreak of the war and went overseas with them, he took his commission on the 14th August 1915 just in time to be wounded at Loos as a 2/Lt. with 2nd Border Rgt. Although badly wounded in the shoulder and upper arm he still went on to be an outstanding cricketer

Jon

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So far the men mentioned in posts above who were promoted from privates to officers during the early years of the war were as follow:

Harry Mansergh - Medical and dental student in 1911

Harry Winton - Regular soldier - 19 years old res: India in 1911 - Born: India

Harry M. de Bathe - son of Sir Henry Percival de Bathe (page at Queen Victoria's wedding) and attending Eastman' s Royal Nautical Academy. N.B. Navy, Cavalry, Infantry, Air force !!

George McEntee - 16 year old Trimming Motor Apprentice in 1911

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Myrtle

I've been looking into the Universities and Public Schools Brigade recently (as suggested by John Hartley above). A lot of men thought that by joining as an other rank they would go abroad quickly and see the war; as they found this was not the case many in these units 'jumped ship' sought, or were offered, and accepted, commissions in other regiments. Early on most men who had gone to a decent public or grammar school and who had served in their OTCs were considered suitable; university students and members of university OTCs were often snapped up first by regiments.

In addition, George served abroad with the London Scottish, a fashionable TF battalion, a number of men who had seen action in France and returned wounded or sick were offered commissions when they recovered. They had both combat experience and to serve in such a battalion as a pre-war territorial soldier they were normally of a suitably respectable class for officer candidacy.

Also having connections to the royal household would only strengthen his case. I'd suggest looking up his file at Kew which will hopefully include his service record as an other rank and give details for his application for a commission.

Kind regards

Colin

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Colin

At the moment I am under the impression that George's connection to the royal household was probably a major influence on him being put through the officers' training. His older brother died in 1915 while serving as a private with the 1/13th Btn. (Kensington) London Regiment known as Princess Louise's Own Kensington. Princess Louise was a resident of Kensington Palace. I haven't yet checked with Kew to see if his service papers are available; as he served with the RAF during WW2 I thought that they may not be accessible.

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As someone has pointed out there is nothing particularly surprising about this form of accelerated promotion especially during wartime where the casualty rates were/are particularly high. However, it wasn't unheard of much later either. In 1954 Tpr Meade of 2 Troop The Royal Horse Guards was considered to be suitable and after successfully completing the Mons Officers' Training Course was commissioned into one of the Scottish regiments. I'm sure that there are many other examples, some of them dating right up to the present day.

Harry

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I have a 1914-15 Star to a Leslie Reynolds.

He was a private in the 28th London Regiment ( Artist's Rifles). It became an officers training corps in early 1915, in France.

Leslie reynolds later became a Captain in the RFC.

So Jay Dubaya your wife's great grandfather was probably one of many to be commissioned from the Artist's Rifles.

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As someone has pointed out there is nothing particularly surprising about this form of accelerated promotion especially during wartime where the casualty rates were/are particularly high. However, it wasn't unheard of much later either. In 1954 Tpr Meade of 2 Troop The Royal Horse Guards was considered to be suitable and after successfully completing the Mons Officers' Training Course was commissioned into one of the Scottish regiments. I'm sure that there are many other examples, some of them dating right up to the present day.

Harry

I agree, Harry, it isn't surprising that one comes across soldiers who have been promoted swiftly from privates to officers, however with George McEntee I am trying to ascertain if he was promoted due to his royal connections or for some other reason. He does not appear to have been awarded a medal for bravery or been MIDs.

George's background, as a Trimming Motor Apprentice in 1911 does not tend to fit in with the usual officers' backgrounds of that time. Regular soldiers from before the war being promoted quickly seems to make some sense but with George, it seems to me, that if his family, had not worked at Kensington Palace, he wouldn't necessarily have served as an officer.

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I was interested in what was posted about Harry Read Mansergh.

His name is on the Liverpool University War memorial, in the Victoria Building.

I had him down as being in the 15th KLR, then attached to the 9th battn.

He appears to have been "accidentally wounded" on 13.8.16, and died of his wounds at Etaples on 12.11.16. He is one of those who went from Private soldier to 2nd. Lt. in one go, and then onwards to Lt.

Bruce

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It may actually have been easier to go from private to officer in one leap than via an NCO's rank. The hole left by the loss of a private was probably easier filled than that from losing a sergeant and commanding officers may have been more reluctant to recommend the latter for officer training.

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Centurion

An interesting view. It must have been galling at times for those who had worked their way to a Warrant Officer level with the chance of further promotion, to see privates so swiftly being made into officers.

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I have a 1914-15 Star to a Leslie Reynolds.

He was a private in the 28th London Regiment ( Artist's Rifles). It became an officers training corps in early 1915, in France.

Leslie reynolds later became a Captain in the RFC.

So Jay Dubaya your wife's great grandfather was probably one of many to be commissioned from the Artist's Rifles.

Ron

Do you know Leslie Reynold's year of birth or any other biographical details ?

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With Beau-Geste on this. Not a uncommon occurance.

Happened with gentleman rankers and purchase of commison, happened inwar time, happened in national service and happens today very frequently however this tends to be TA to sandhurst. Very few sign on and then direct entry to sandhurst but easy done if requirments met.

Centurion

An interesting view. It must have been galling at times for those who had worked their way to a Warrant Officer level with the chance of further promotion, to see privates so swiftly being made into officers.

An intresting modern day twist on this, are the Mott brothers. GSM Mott is the Garrison sgt major of London so is the WO1 for drill. His brother started the same time as him and is ranked Major in the same regiment. Both started as privates at the same time. Some choose to stay WO rank.

There is a dit about diffrent ranks of officer talking to god, at end it simply says, the RSM is God!

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Ron

Do you know Leslie Reynold's year of birth or any other biographical details ?

Myrtle,

i've recently started to research him and have a few details

Born; 29/4/1891 Ilford.

1911 census ; living at "Cintra" Woodcote Valley Road, Purley, Surrey.

Occupation; Insurance clerk.

Possible death; September 1968 Eastbourne.

Pte 1973 Leslie Reynolds 28th London Regiment.

Theatre of war; France 29/12/1914

Gained flying certificate as Lieutenant on 22/4/1917

GreatBritainRoyalAeroClubAviatorsrsquoCe

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I agree, Harry, it isn't surprising that one comes across soldiers who have been promoted swiftly from privates to officers, however with George McEntee I am trying to ascertain if he was promoted due to his royal connections or for some other reason. He does not appear to have been awarded a medal for bravery or been MIDs.

George's background, as a Trimming Motor Apprentice in 1911 does not tend to fit in with the usual officers' backgrounds of that time. Regular soldiers from before the war being promoted quickly seems to make some sense but with George, it seems to me, that if his family, had not worked at Kensington Palace, he wouldn't necessarily have served as an officer.

I know Myrtle. I can't comment on the issue you're exploring but I did smile at your very understandable comment that "had (he) not worked at Kensington Palace, he wouldn't necessarily have served as an officer". It's a pretty common perception of the officer class but apart from the Guards, the Household Cavalry and some of the oldest regiments of the line, "needs must" so to speak and the elevation of "pretty ordinary but able" people are often given commissions in line and service regiments and corps. I know this to be a fact because I myself, a CofH in the Royal Horse Guards was commissioned into the Royal Army Educational Corps despite the fact that I came from a working class (but wonderful) family in Liverpool and despite the fact that my father was a postman (God bless him).

I remember a visit to the Army School of Education at Beaconsfield by a brigadier who asked me, a newly commissioned 2Lt, what my father did. I told him he was a postman and was amused at the brigadier's surprise. I quickly added, rather mischieviously I'm afraid, that he was the best postman in the north west. That amazingly made everything OK in this man's eyes. I don't know but perhaps the attitudes of very senior staff officers have changed but I doubt it.

Harry

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If you can get your hands on a copy read Gallant Gentlemen - a portrait of the British Officer 1600 1956 by . E S Turner - particularly chapter XXV which describes the transition to commissioning from the ranks It provides a good description of French halting the Artists Rifles at Bailleul in early 1915 and commissioning 50 men on the spot. They went into action the next day some with paper stars pinned on the shoulders of their privates uniform. He did the same with 25 men of the HAC. He is quoted as saying "I was really. positively at my wits end suffering almost agony, to know where I could get officer replacements." He kept the rest of the battalion at Bailleul turning it into an officer training unit

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