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Remembered Today:

“Time Expired” - could Territorial Force Soldiers Leave the Army durin


Timbob1001

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I have researched the Bolton Artillery, 1/3 East Lancs Brigade RFA (T), in Bolton Library Local Studies. The Bolton newspapers reported on the Brigade in Egypt and Gallipoli and named men who had returned home "Time Expired". An example was Corporal Grime who was awarded the French Medale Militaire for repairing wire on Gallipoli. He re enlisted into the Bolton Artillery Reserve Brigades (332 Brigade) on his return.

Brian

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Craig

That's right. The Official History of the Bolton Artillery by Palin Dobson records that efforts were made to persuade Time Expired men to stay.

Brian

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  • 4 weeks later...

Interestingly the case I have is of two brothers - both Farriers/Blacksmiths who appeared to have joined together and both left on 3rd MArch 1916 time expired. Neither was recalled to the colours - presumably their work as local Blacksmiths supporting local agriculture was deemed more important.

Hi Tm

How do you know they were not conscripted? They may have been but kept at Home training recruits. A new set of papers could have been raised which were then lost in the 1940 fire.

Pete

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A rough figure can be gained from the annual returns - the Oct 13 one will suffice:

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Your looking at up to 110,000 men of all arms from August 14 to Mid 1916 - bearing in mind that April-June time was generally the busiest recruitment period so most of the men in a year would time expire around that time.

Craig

This beautifully illustrates part of the arithmetic of the problem facing the Govt. After the initial enthusiastic response to Kitchener's call, the monthly run rate in recruiting fell and never regained the dizzy levels of Sep 1914. There was a slight resurgence in Nov 1914 when the Govt relaxed the recruiting criteria but that quickly dissipated. By the end of 1914/beginning of 1915 the Govt had enough data to understand the simple equation: if the casualties rates continued (along with the natural fallout from time expired men shown above) they would simply outstrip the ability to resupply an expanded Army based on existing recruiting rates. Conscription would be an inevitable consequence. This unpalatable truth would have been realised a full year before Conscription was actually introduced. 1915 saw a number of schemes aimed at encouraging volunteers and identifying and registering men of eligible age. In the end it was overwhelmed by the casualty rates.

An important sub-theme was the grand illusion of the recovered wounded. Significant proportions of the wounded recovered to serve again, but significant proportions of these never recovered sufficiently to serve in the front line again. For Commanders in the field, this is a critical distinction not recognised by the early official returns of available trained manpower. Between Aug 1914 and Jan 1915 the official returns did not split out the recovering wounded and the men medically downgraded, giving the illusion of larger numbers of trained men. This changed on 23rd Jan 1915 when the War Office could no longer sustain the grand illusion. New categories were introduced that showed the true extent of the permanent casualties; What were previously categorised as "Fully Trained and Effective" men were split into two: "Permanently Unfit" and "Other". The split was roughly 50/50 meaning roughly half of the alleged effectives at the Reserve battalions were in fact ineffectives. Only three weeks later on 15th Feb further categories started to be recorded: Invalids from the Expeditionary Force: Fit, Temporarily unfit as well as the permanently unfit. This finally provided accurate data and these first returns would have been rather a shock to those members of the Govt who had been misled by the War Office's rather fanciful returns.

The other factor, not fully appreciated by historians is that it took time to properly train men. Having sufficient numbers was one thing but having sufficient numbers of trained men was another. The idea that 100,000 fit, trained men, many with front line experience could be lost to the Army in a single year for contractual reasons must have weighed rather heavily on their minds. It would be interesting to see what proportion of the 100,000 had signed the Imperial Service Obligaton.

The very rapid destruction of the first six Kitchener Divisions happened within a year of their formation and within just 6 months of their deployment. The attrition rate for these Divisions was even faster than that of the BEF in 1914 once they hit the front lines. A Govt involved in a Clausewitzian 'Total War' staring at a munitions crisis could not accommodate the idea of losing 100,000 men due to a small point of law. The law would be changed. On 15th Feb 1915 it became inevitable that the law would be changed. I think the War Office knew this and left it to the politicians to slowly sell the inevitable to the population over the subsequent months. MG

Edit: The more one thinks about it the more one realises how visionary Kitchener was in his call to expand the Army in early 1914. The contractural arrangements of the TF were poor foundations on which to build an Army. He foresaw all of this. Quite remarkable in my view.

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  • 1 month later...

I spotted this entry in the service record of a Territorial who joined the 5th Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regt in 1912. He went to France in 1915. His Army Form B 103 is endorsed "Retained in Service under M S Act (Session 2) of 1916". The entry is dated 11/6/17. This would be the Military Service Act 1916.

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Given that time expired regulars went onto the reserve for a number of years and the reserve could be called back to the colours in time of war it would seem some what academic in their case. If I'm interpreting the questions and answers in the Commons correctly any time expired man under 41 Regular or Territorial was still liable to service under the MSA no matter how long he'd been out of the forces but was treated as if being recalled from the reserve insofar as his rank/seniority was concerned.

A substantial proportion of men had zero reserve obligation, being contracted [or having extended] to 12 years colour service or more. They would be "held to serve" an extra year, regardless.

An interesting hypothetical case on an allied topic concerns a man "held to serve" in peace, say in India, because his time was up outside the trooping season. There would probably be a modest number of these in 1914. One suspects that he might struggle to leave when the boat came in. Diligent searching of Army Orders might show some more weasel words!

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Viscount Haldane foresaw the crisis more or less accurately:

Mr Richard (later Viscount) Haldane, Secretary of State for War:

... The Government should have ready this force of six divisions and four cavalry brigades and keep it alive through regular machinery for six months, and after that the nation should be prepared to do its part. That aid should come, through channels which should be provided for it beforehand, to the support and the expansion of the professional Army of the country. ... . ... with the wastage of war one feels that at the end of six months the resources of the War Office may be at an end with that amount of men, and then an appeal must be made to the nation itself. (Hansard 25th February 1907).

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Viscount Haldane foresaw the crisis more or less accurately:

Mr Richard (later Viscount) Haldane, Secretary of State for War:

... The Government should have ready this force of six divisions and four cavalry brigades and keep it alive through regular machinery for six months, and after that the nation should be prepared to do its part. That aid should come, through channels which should be provided for it beforehand, to the support and the expansion of the professional Army of the country. ... . ... with the wastage of war one feels that at the end of six months the resources of the War Office may be at an end with that amount of men, and then an appeal must be made to the nation itself. (Hansard 25th February 1907).

Which slightly undermines any idea that the Govt or the War Office did not realise that expansion was necessary. Kitchener's call for 100,000 was not exactly visionary.

The BEF's Army of six Divisions would need to be replaced every 6 months (and presumably every additional 6 Divisons would also have to be replaced every 6 monthsi.e 12 mothns into the War they would have seen 200% turnover in the 6 regular Divisions and 100% turnover in K1...which I think is not far off the attrition rate in 1914-15. Certainly the Regular infantry battalions turned over the equivalent of 100% WE within the first six months... The only flaw was that K1 was not ready within 6 months and an Army of 6 Divisions was simply no-where big enough.

I wonder if this is why K1 was six Divisions or whether this is just what fell out of every paired battalion being required to raise a new Service Battalion or both..

MG

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I wounder if this is why K1 was six Divisions or whether this is just what fell out of every paired battalion being required to raise a new Service Battalion or both..

I haven't yet seen anything on the logic of why it was 6 divisions - it may simply have been a case of duplicating the size of the BEF but it would be interesting to know. I suspect the Parliamentary Papers site would have something but I have lost access to it at the moment.

Craig

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I haven't yet seen anything on the logic of why it was 6 divisions - it may simply have been a case of duplicating the size of the BEF but it would be interesting to know. I suspect the Parliamentary Papers site would have something but I have lost access to it at the moment.

Craig

I always assumed it was based on the One New Army Battalion per paired Regular Battalions. The 69 Regular Line Infantry Regiments had 74 paired battalions. Each Paired battalion had to produce one New Army battalion....so in theory the Line Infantry would have produced 74 battalions for K1: Six Division (12 * 6 = 72) with two extra for Army Troops. 74,000 men of the 100,000 called for.

Does not include Guards or the later addition of Pioneer Battalions to each Div.

Edit: K2 Did not exactly reflect the same proportions as the populous areas produced a surplus and the least populous areas came up short. Added to which the Irish propblem distorted recruiting in Ireland and East Anglia was also slow, meaning the 12th (Eastern) Div was slow in forming. The idea that Lincolnshire and Northumberland were to raise the same number of Battalions was particularly flawed as the asymmetry between geographic boundaries and population densities began to show through immediately.

Edit 3: The WO 114 files show the expansion of the New Armies on a weekly basis from formation. Some battalion swere formed in a single day, others took many weeks. Some Regiments had filled K1, K2 and K3 units before others had barely filled K1. Other distorting factors were the formation of the Ulster Div and the Welsh Div separate to the call for K1, K2 etc...

M

P.S. The original 6 Divs was based on the assumption of a limited war in Europe (I think). The Line Infantry was 148 Battalions strong. Less 72 Battalions for 6 Divs would still leave 76 Battalions to garrison the Empire. Clearly this is not exactly correct as the Guards took some of the places (6 battalions) in the first 6 Divs before the Guards Div was formed but the principle is there.

As we know the authorities realised an expansion was required. Where Haldane and Kitchener differed was on which foundations the New Armies were to be built. Given Kitchener effectively immediately discounted building the New Armies on the TF, this meant that utilising as many Regular battalions from Overseas as possible. Even that was not enough to stem the losses as 19 TF Battalions were used to fill gaps in France before the end of 1914, with 3 (?) TF Divisions relieving regulars in India and Egypt and more TF battalions relieving Gibraltar based Regulars, Malta and the Canadians relieving British Regulars in the West Indies. MG

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Martin

You have shown the practical side of the 6 divisions but could it also be what we now call "managing expectations"? Given the lack of uniforms and other infrastructure, what would be the point in signing up 500,000 men to only turn around and tell them to wait? They would then be reluctant to try again but having the gaps between K1 and K2, it would have made them still feel wanted.

After all, these men were still civilians and could not be managed like soldiers.

Glen

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Martin

You have shown the practical side of the 6 divisions but could it also be what we now call "managing expectations"? Given the lack of uniforms and other infrastructure, what would be the point in signing up 500,000 men to only turn around and tell them to wait? They would then be reluctant to try again but having the gaps between K1 and K2, it would have made them still feel wanted.

After all, these men were still civilians and could not be managed like soldiers.

Glen

A good point Glen... the authorities put the brakes on in late Sep and then took them off in Nov. These measures are very apparent in the recruitment bar charts. It is the only 'smoothing' mechanism I am aware of...

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A quick perusal of the British Newspaper Archive shows that by early-mid September the Army was running out of training space and was sending men home for three and four weeks before there were suitable facilities. At such time of need they even resorted to raising the recruiting standards to keep the numbers manageable.

The army would know they what was needed to raise and support 6 divisions at a time so it was a handy figure to stick to even of they had some difficulties and had to 'tweak' things to try and keep at this level.

Craig

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Another way at looking at the arithmetic:

Parliament sanctions the expansion by 500,000 all ranks on 6th Aug. The pre-War Regular Army was 55.6% Line Infantry which would imply 279,000 of the 500,000 would be Infantry (all other things being equal). Less 4% officers implies roughly speaking 268,000 ORs, so enough to man at least 3 tranches of 6 Infantry Divisions . The point here is that the aim was to raise 500,000 right from the beginning: the methodology and the building blocks of multiples of 6 divisions was (I think) dictated by the structure of the Regular Line Infantry - and particularly the available infrastructure of Depots and Barracks aligned to the Regular Infantry.

Edited: Interestingly the Army Order to form K1 came on 21st Aug, after 96,000 Kitchener volunteers had joined, and the Army Order to form K2 came on 11th Sep after 470,000 recruits had joined

On 1st-5th Sep (inclusive) 147,000 men joined up - enough to theoretically fill 12 Division's worth of Infantry.The peak was 33,204 on one day (3rd Sep 1914)

MG

PS Note the acceleration in recruiting in late Aug when the Retreat from Mons was in full flow.

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post-55873-0-73023300-1398195166_thumb.j

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