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Idlewild

Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, attached to Royal Highlanders

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Idlewild

Hello and thank you in advance.

Having been looking into the family tree and finding out about my dads side, I thought I might turn my attention to my mothers side. Done quite well but hit a brick wall with my Great Grandfather.

Tried to find him on Ancestry in the Service Records/Pensions but to no avail. All I have to go on are his Medal Card and the Absent Voters list from 1919. Any help would be hugely appreciated. Planning on going to France later this year to commemorate 2 members of my family who died in 1914, but would like to see the ground where my Great Grandfather fought over.

Details

John Finnie

Born 1890

Lived Dundee

Married 1911 to Elizabeth Herd

Medal Card & Absent Voters list states he was a Private in the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, attached to the Black Watch.

Service numbers 1945, 345160. Had a look

Any ideas where he served and what he did or anywhere I could find details? I'v noticed they served in Gallipoli and Palestine and in part on the Western Front. Was it unusual for the infantry to be attached to the Cavalry? Any more details needed, let me know.

Cheers

Andy

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Malcolm

1st Fife and Forfar Yeomanry became 14th Battalion Black Watch and were in 74th Division.

Aye

Malcolm

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Guest

You need to get hold of the History of the Black Watch(Royal Highlanders) in the Great War 1914-1918 Vol III by Maj Gen A G Wauchope CB which has a 25 page chapter dedicated to the 14th Battalion. The 14th Bn was part of 229th Infantry Brigade

The War Diaries for the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry are at at the National Archives and have been digitised, although they have been withdrawn to be re-released at a later date. The Fife and Forfar Yeomanry (along with eleven other Yeomanry units) were converted to infantry and all absorbed as Battalions of Infantry Regiments - usually with some kind of regional affiliation. This happened in late 1916, early 1917. As one might imagine this did not go down too well with the Territorial Cavalrymen (read Yeomanry). Their Divisional emblem was a broken spur. To rub salt in the wounds, the Divisional Cavalry was A Sqn Westminster Dragoons - a Yeomanry unit spared the ignominy of being converted into infantry - or 'crushers' as the Yeomanry called them. One can only imagine how these ex Yeomen felt every time they saw the Westminster Dragoons.

There is also "The 74th (Yeomanry) Division in Syria and France" by Maj Gen Dudley Ward DSO MC.

MG

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Idlewild

Hi,

Thanks for the links, getting my teeth into the book by D.D. Ogilvie. Had a quick look at the casualties list in it but alas he's not listed so I suppose thats a good thing. He had two younger brothers, Nicoll, who belonged to the 11th Royal Scots and James who was with the Royal Scots Fusilliers/77th MGS, all survived the war. I take it there are no Service Records available for him? I have looked on Ancestry but could see none.

Andy

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Tom Lang

Andy,

The Service Records of all Scottish Regiments were transferred between WW1 & WW2 to London for storage.

A German raid on London during WW2 set the warehouse ablaze and most of the records were destroyed.

Some did survive and are known as the 'burnt records' due to their corners and edges being burnt.

Your local library will give you 'free' access to ancestry (spit) and you just never know your luck.

Ancestry website will allow you to search their 'Military' records section. The surviving 'burnt records' are there.

Good luck searching.

Kindest Regards,

Tom Lang.

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Idlewild

Thanks for the reply,

I knew there was an issue with a lot of records being destroyed during the last war and I'm guessing my Great Grandfathers were probably amongst them. I've noticed that with a few family members when researching. Hopfully the units war diaries will shed some light when they are re-released.

Would his service numbers indicate when he joined up? Since its a low number, 1945, would that indicate either being part of the TA before the war or just one of the first to sign up at the outbreak in August? He was listed as a Carter for a mill in 1912 when he was married. Any more help in filling in the blanks would be a help.

Sorry to be a pest

Thanks

Andy

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Guest

Thanks for the reply,

I knew there was an issue with a lot of records being destroyed during the last war and I'm guessing my Great Grandfathers were probably amongst them. I've noticed that with a few family members when researching. Hopfully the units war diaries will shed some light when they are re-released.

Would his service numbers indicate when he joined up? Since its a low number, 1945, would that indicate either being part of the TA before the war or just one of the first to sign up at the outbreak in August? He was listed as a Carter for a mill in 1912 when he was married. Any more help in filling in the blanks would be a help.

Sorry to be a pest

Thanks

Andy

Andy

With that number I suspect he will be a pre-war member of the TF (not TA - that was not formed until the 1920s). His service number would be an indication. You need to trawl Ancestry and the surviving records and do some sampling. That way you will find surviving records (and enlistment dates) for men with numbers either side. Typically with the Yeomanry you can narrow it down to within 3 months from the surviving records. It does take a bit of time but can be rewarding. The man in the avatar was a Yeoman with no surviving record. Plodding through the surviving records reveled two men either side of his number who enlisted within 1 month of each other so It is a reasonable assumption he enlisted within those dates.

Given that he went to Egypt (and possibly Gallipoli) there is a good chance he was a pre-war man as later recruits would have been at the back of the queue. Sadly because the Yeomanry landed in Egypt first and about 25%-30% were left behind to care for the horses there is no way of being absolutely sure he was at Gallipoli unless mentioned in the War Dairy or History or mentioned in despatches for Gallipoli. Only a very few Yeomanry units recorded their nominal rolls. I would suggest you find where their archives are kept and visit them. You never know there might be a wealth of detail. Their published history is rather thin as I am sure you are discovering.

Happy hunting

MG

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Tom A McCluskey

“As one might imagine this did not go down too well with the Territorial Cavalrymen (read Yeomanry).”

According to the History of the F&FY, becoming a battalion of The Black Watch did not cause too many sleepless nights. From page 41 of “The Fife and Forfar Yeomanry and 14th (F.&F. Yeo.) Battn. R.H., 1914-1919”, by Major D. D. Ogilvie:

“NEW YEAR'S DAY saw the Regiment at Moascar Camp, Ismailia, and it was there that the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry were interred " for the duration," giving birth at the same time to a sturdy son—the 14th (Fife and Forfar Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Highlanders. We were all very sorry to see the demise of the Yeomanry and to close, though only temporarily, the records of a Regiment which had had an honourable career, and of which we were all so proud. At the same time we realised that, in our capacity as dismounted yeomanry, we were not pulling our weight either as yeomanry or infantry, and no other regiment certainly appealed to us as much as our own Territorial Infantry Regiment, and we were proud to link our record to the long and glorious record of the Black Watch.”

Aye,

Tom McC

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Loader

I wonder how many of the yeomen were glad they would not have a horse to care for once they became infantry?

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Guest

If the histories are to be believed, not many were glad to give up their horses. Like most military units they took great price in their Regiments and the cavalry ethos. The idea that a pre-war TF Yeoman with years of service embraced becoming an infantryman was not, generally speaking, welcomed. The broken spur divisional symbol alone might allude to that.

When the 2nd Mounted Div was dismounted in Egypt in August 1915 and given infantry equipment before being sent off to Gallipoli as makeshift infantrymen with no infantry training - they had to get hospital invalid infantrymen to show them how to assemble webbing - the regiments marched to the embarkation point wearing their spurs as a point of protest. Anyone who has worn spurs will know just how difficult that is. I often wonder if the broken spurs after this stunt was the inspiration for the later divisional symbol for the 74th (Yeomanry) Div.

I suspect the positive comments in the histories simply reflect the fact that the Yeomanry were at least (in most cases) being absorbed by the associated county infantry. If I recall correctly the Yeomanry absorbed by Infantry Regiments outside their counties were not quite as positive. MG

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Guest

Martin, is it also correct that as infantry battalions they were also well under strength?

Mike

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Guest

Martin, is it also correct that as infantry battalions they were also well under strength?

Mike

They formed new battalions and many were formed from more than one Yeomanry unit which were roughly each 500 strong. Where there were shortfalls the differences were made up from normal drafts from the UK. My understanding is that the newly formed battalions were at full strength at the beginning. I have not researched this as my interest in the Yeomanry sort of ends when they were dismounted. I will see what their histories say as I have all but one Yeomanry history and nearly all the infantry published histories. It may take a day or two to revert as I am up to my eyes in editing diaries. On the home straight... MG

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Guest

The Cheshire (Earl of Chester's) Yeomanry has a long account; some choice words on discovering they were to become part of the KSLI::

'not too popular...had had quite enough of it....irksome...unnecessary...please to be amalgamated with Shropshire Yeomanry...not so pleased when they heard the new battalion was to be commanded by [the Shropshire Yeomanry CO]...great deal of indignation when the note went on to say the [a Major in the Shropshire Yeo and brother of the designated CO] was to be 2IC...an indignant protest was lodged....to the Regiment's disappointment...so the Yeomanry protest was in vain..' etc.

Published in 1971 so quite free with criticism. MG

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