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beresford69

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I'm very curious about a CWGC grave in my local Streatham Cemetery, south London. The soldier in question is a Sergeant Edgar John Brown of the 3rd County of London Yeomanry. He died on 14th October 1915. Two things intruige me about him. Firstly his service number, which is 38. Does that mean he was one of the very first men to join up at the outbreak of the war? Secondly his age. He was apparently 64 when he died. Is it possible that soldiers of this age were involved at this stage of the war? I understand that this regiment was known as the Sharpshooters but surely a 64 year old would have been likely to be a bit wobbly? Perhaps he was an old soldier who died at home and might not have actually participated in the First World War at all?

If anyone has any thoughts on this I would be interested to hear them.

Geoff

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Just looked at the cemetery - wow! If you wanted a research project there seem to be so many interesting cases here - good luck!

Chris

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From Long Long Trail [top left of page]

The regiment was formed on the creation of the Territorial Force in April 1908 and placed under orders of the London Mounted Brigade. It was based at Henry Street in St John's Wood. Its Volunteer Force predecessor had fought in the Boer War as the 3rd County of London Imperial Yeomanry (Sharpshooters).

1/3rd County of London Yeomanry

  • August 1914 : moved with the brigade to Hounslow and then to join 2nd Mounted Division at Streatley.
  • November 1914 : moved with brigade to North Walsham.
  • April 1915 : moved to Egypt.
  • August 1915 : dismounted and moved to Gallipoli.
  • December 1915 : returned to Egypt and remounted.
  • January 1916 : Division broken up; brigade moved to Suez Canal Defences and renamed 8th Mounted Brigade.
  • November 1916 : moved to Salonika.
  • June 1917 : returned to Egypt; brigade under orders of Yeomanry Mounted Division (21 July).
  • 24 April 1918 : division renamed 1st Mounted Division.
  • 22 July 1918: brigade renamed 11th Cavalry Brigade.

Possibility he served in Boer War.

If killed in action unlikely that he would have buried at home.

Is it A CWGC type headstone or a private one?

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In the 1911 census he is listed as an Army Pensioner, Musician living in the Registration District of St George Hanover Square, London, which is the District his death was registered in.

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There are 6 pages of his service record in the Life Guards on Findmypast.

There is a lot of information in his record but a brief skim through suggests he had 22 years service - Boy, Musician, Trumpeter, Corporal when he was discharged in 1889.

Character on being discharged - Exemplary.

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This is not a great photo but I'll pop in there today and try to get a clearer one. Someone has done a bit of research and he was indeed a musician or bandsman and had been in the army for some time. In the 1911 census he is listed as 'army pensioner/musician'. 'Forces War Records' adds that he 'died at home'. The inference seems to be that he was somehow killed in the First World War and perhaps he did serve in some way or would his lengthy service have been enough to get him a CWGC grave?

post-59677-0-96479400-1397202665_thumb.j

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I am going to suggest that as an experienced soldier he re-enlisted (voluntarily?) because of the war.

Unless anyone finds a MIC or any records referring to his service which say otherwise I suspect he only served on the Home Front - and maybe died of illness or natural causes - but as a serving soldier he would have been automatically eligible for CWGC commemoration.

CGM

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I am going to suggest that as an experienced soldier he re-enlisted (voluntarily?) because of the war.

Unless anyone finds a MIC or any records referring to his service which say otherwise I suspect he only served on the Home Front - and maybe died of illness or natural causes - but as a serving soldier he would have been automatically eligible for CWGC commemoration.

CGM

Note that post 6 has him discharged as a corporal in 1889, so, yes, looks like he volunteered for service in WWI and moved up a rank, dying as a serjeant.

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A number of old soldiers rejoined the colours (including some of the Rorkes Drift veterans) and were used for such tasks as recruiting, drilling and sometimes just showing new recruits "the ropes". An old soldier with a chestful of medals (especially gallantry ones) could be a draw.

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Here is a more detailed photo of the gravestone of Edgar John Brown. Its the one on the left in front of a small wooden peg (indicated by the red circle). Incidentally, that's the unmarked grave of a soldier in the Welsh Horse called Arthur Mace (died 1918). The peg indicating the grave of his brother William of the South Wales Borderers is nearby (died 1917). They were both discharged and died of TB. Their cases are known to 'In From the Cold' so hopefully something will be sorted out for them.

www.summerstown182.wordpress.com

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post-59677-0-60516100-1397210773_thumb.j

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Sharpshooters but surely a 64 year old would have been likely to be a bit wobbly?

Geoff

Geoff,

I am 67, and a firearms collector, and own many handguns and rifles which I shoot regularly, and am an excellent shot and not a bit wobbly!

Regards,

LF

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Sharpshooters originally meant much the same as Rifles

I always thought that Sharpshooters, and in particular the Sharpshooters Imperial Yeomanry who were the predecessors of the 3rd and 4th County Of London Yeomanry), were drawn from men who could shoot and ride whereas Rifles were light infantrymen who were never mounted.

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I always thought that Sharpshooters, and in particular the Sharpshooters Imperial Yeomanry who were the predecessors of the 3rd and 4th County Of London Yeomanry), were drawn from men who could shoot and ride whereas Rifles were light infantrymen who were never mounted.

Hence yeomanry with rifles (not carbines) were once called sharpshooters - I did say meant much the same - not were the same.Effectively acting as a sort of mounted rifles, you've heard of mounted infantry no doubt.

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But they are not much the same, there is a fundamental difference between sharpshooters and Rifles. The former were mounted and the latter were not.

Yes, I have heard of mounted infantry.

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In this instance it is just a snappy title added to a yeomary unit to give some elan. TA siganls yeomanry units still do it to this day with odd titles that technicaly mean noting in the use of the unit as a signals unit.

69 (North Irish Horse) Signal Squadron would still do the same bone tasks as any one else. Just did a quick google, this sharpshooter unit the 64 year old belonged to is............a present TA yeomanry unit!!!!!!!! 264 support Squadron.

Sharpshooter in referral to an individual, I thought was a historical term for a sniper?

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The Sharpshooters is the name of C Sqn The Royal Yeomanry who are descended from the County Of London Yeomanry.

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Regarding Mounted Rifles and Mounted Infantry, the former tended to be auxiliary forces (for example, the East Kent yeomanry were the East Kent Mounted Rifles) or colonial (as in Canadian Mounted Rifles). Mounted Infantry were regular infantrymen, mounted on horses (amazing!). The concept of MI was that they added mobility on campaign, particularly in colonial affairs where cavalry tended not to be used.

There was quite a debate about MI usage in the period between the Boer and Great Wars, but MI (I think) were finally abolished in 1912, after the cavalry had been equipped with the SMLE and had morphed into a force which could undertake both cavalry and MI roles. MI were never good horsemasters and could not act as cavalry, but once cavalry could act as MI, the need for infantry units to second men was redundant.

As was said, titles like "Sharpshooters" in the context of a Yeomanry regiment were more about cache - as, for example, was the Rough Riders (another London Yeomanry oitfit). I very much doubt their shooting skills were any better than any other yeomanry regiment.

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... Mounted Infantry were regular infantrymen, mounted on horses (amazing!). The concept of MI was that they added mobility on campaign, particularly in colonial affairs where cavalry tended not to be used...

A very ancient concept... In addition to its regular alae or cavalry units, the auxiliary arm of the Imperial Roman army had both the basic infantry cohortes and the cohortes equitatae, so-called as one part of the unit was on horseback. It seems that when on campaign these guys acted as a subsidiary cavalry arm rather than as mounted infantry per se, although in peace-time they basically did police-patrol type work.

Trajan

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The Sharpshooters were raised on 30th Dec 1899 following a suggestion by a well known explorer, hunter and alleged authority on the rifle; Sir Henry Seton-Kerr MP. He suggested a force of volunteers who could ride and shoot well to counter the Boers. A committee was formed by another politician and big-game hunter the Earl of Dunraven who became the Sharpshooters' first Colonel (he had once held a commission in the 1st Life Guards). There was certainly an emphasis on being a good shot (the hint is in the cap-badge and name of course). it is possible that the Sharpshooters in 1899 were not bad at either, although I have not seen any hard evidence.

The Sharpshooters formed the 18th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry comprising the 67th, 70th, 71st and 75th Squadrons (later Companies). Volunteers were enough to form the 21st Bn (81st, 82nd, 83rd and 84th Companies) and 23rd Bn (90th, 91st, 92nd and 93rd Companies). The 21st Bn was commanded by Lt Col Sir Savile Crossley (Derbyshire Imperial Yeomanry) and its 2IC was Maj A Weston-Jarvis (Derbyshire Imperial Yeomanry) whose personal diaries from the South African Wars and the Great War at at Croydon with the Kent and Sharpshooters Records. They are a fascinating read. Weston Jarvis was in his 60s at Gallipoli where he commanded the Sharpshooters. I suspect he was quite keen to have another 60 year old in the ranks, although I suspect the man in the OP never quite made it beyond the UK in the Great War.

The formation of a Yeomanry regiment styled as the 3rd County of London (Sharpshooters) Imperial Yeomanry for Home Service was approved on 23rd Jul 1901. Recruits (many of whom were ex Sharpshooter volunteers in the Boer War) were required to pay 20/- on joining and a further 20/- 'on absorption' after training. 40/- was no small amount in 1901 and perhaps an indication that the Sharpshooters desired a higher 'class' of man. A number of TF units in London required a joining fee which created a small barrier to entry for the less well-off.

After Haldane's reforms the unit became the 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) (TF). Their memorial is in St Martin's in the Field Church just off Trafalgar Square.

Despite the emphasis on being Sharp Shooters they decided to style themselves as paragons of the Arme Blanche in green Hussar uniforms. It is worth noting that the regular Cavalry were some of the best shots in the Army; riding and being a good shot were not mutually exclusive pursuits.

MG

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A number of old soldiers rejoined the colours (including some of the Rorkes Drift veterans) and were used for such tasks as recruiting, drilling and sometimes just showing new recruits "the ropes". An old soldier with a chestful of medals (especially gallantry ones) could be a draw.

There was a specific Army Order allowing ex servicemen to rejoin. It was issued in August 1914 from memory. GWF member GRUMPY is the oracle on this point. Given the man in the OP was an ex Life Guardsman (bandsman) and was London based and the first Colonel of the Regiment was a Life Guard it is easy to see how he ended up in the Sharpshooters. MG

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Regarding Mounted Rifles and Mounted Infantry, the former tended to be auxiliary forces (for example, the East Kent yeomanry were the East Kent Mounted Rifles) or colonial (as in Canadian Mounted Rifles). Mounted Infantry were regular infantrymen, mounted on horses (amazing!). The concept of MI was that they added mobility on campaign, particularly in colonial affairs where cavalry tended not to be used.

There was quite a debate about MI usage in the period between the Boer and Great Wars, but MI (I think) were finally abolished in 1912, after the cavalry had been equipped with the SMLE and had morphed into a force which could undertake both cavalry and MI roles. MI were never good horsemasters and could not act as cavalry, but once cavalry could act as MI, the need for infantry units to second men was redundant.

As was said, titles like "Sharpshooters" in the context of a Yeomanry regiment were more about cache - as, for example, was the Rough Riders (another London Yeomanry oitfit). I very much doubt their shooting skills were any better than any other yeomanry regiment.

To further emphasise this point the Training Manual in 1912 that covered these units was "Yeomanry and Mounted Rifle Training Parts I and II". It starts with a definintion of Mounted Rifles, Yeomanry and Mounted Infantry. From Chapter 1, Page 1, Part I - Training:

ORGANIZATION, DEFINITIONS, SIGNALS &c.

1. The term mounted troops in this manual is to be understood to include cavalry, yeomanry, mounted rifles and mounted infantry.

Yeomanry and Mounted Rifles are cavalry soldiers, enlisted and enrolled as such, who are trained to use the rifle as their principle offensive or defensive weapon.Their training is to be directed in the first instance solely to the subjects dealt with in Parts I and II of the manual. and until they have been fully trained in these subjects they are not permitted to receive instruction in the elements of shock action mounted. Such action in the case of Yeomanry and Mounted Rifles even when time permits of their receiving instruction in it is to be considered as for the use on special emergencies only and altogether secondary to fire action which is the dominant method of fighting for these troops.

By Mounted Infantry is meant fully trained infantry, mounted solely for the purpose of locomotion. Such troops are not to be regarded as horse-soldiers but as infantry posessing special mobility. They fight on foot and are not armed or trained for shock action which they are not intended to employ.

The Mounted Infantry School was disbanded in 1912 (I think) . The Yeomanry training manual went out of the window in Aug-Sep 1914 when the Yeomanry were ordered to restructure from 4 to 3 Squadrons (Aug) and in September 1914 adopt Cavalry drill and tactics (based on the Cavalry Training Manual 1912). They also got their swords back.

MG

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Martin

Thank you, that's a really useful extract from the training manual.

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From the Oracle (Angelsey) Vol 4 page 411

"...in 1913 the Army Council decided that Mounted Infantry would not be used in an European War. Consequently the two Mouted Brigades then in being which consisted of Cavalryy and one battalion of Mounted Infantry each, were broken up.

A footnote records that the Times called the Mounted Infantry 'the cavalry of poverty' A further footnote observes that " in the 1907 edition of Cavalry Training the single battalion of mounted infantry which in the 1904 edition had appeared as part of the composition of a cavalry brigade... had been omitted"

So in 1904 a cavalry Brigade consisted of three cavalry regiments, 1 RHA battery and 1 battalion of Mouted Infantry.

For the sentimental romantic view, here is Kipling's slant:

(Mounted Infantry of the Line)
I WISH my mother could see me now, with a fence-post under my arm,
And a knife and a spoon in my putties that I found on a Boer farm,
Atop of a sore-backed Argentine, with a thirst that you could n’t buy.
I used to be in the Yorkshires once
(Sussex, Lincolns, and Rifles once),
Hampshires, Glosters, and Scottish once! (ad lib.)
But now I am M. I.
That is what we are known as—that is the name you must call
If you want officers’ servants, pickets an’ ’orseguards an’ all—
Details for buryin’-parties, company-cooks or supply—
Turn out the chronic Ikonas! Roll up the —— 1 M. I.!
My ’ands are spotty with veldt-sores, my shirt is a button an’ frill,
An’ the things I’ve used my bay’nit for would make a tinker ill!
An’ I don’t know whose dam’ column I’m in, nor where we’re trekkin’ nor why.
I’ve trekked from the Vaal to the Orange once—
From the Vaal to the greasy Pongolo once—
(Or else it was called the Zambesi once)—
For now I am M. I.
That is what we are known as—we are the push you require
For outposts all night under freezin’, an’ rearguard all day under fire.
Anything ’ot or unwholesome? Anything dusty or dry?
Borrow a bunch of Ikonas! Trot out the —— M. I.!
Our Sergeant-Major’s a subaltern, our Captain’s a Fusilier—
Our Adjutant’s “late of Somebody’s ’Orse,” an’ a Melbourne auctioneer;
But you couldn’t spot us at ’arf a mile from the crackest caval-ry.
They used to talk about Lancers once,
Hussars, Dragoons, an’ Lancers once,
’Elmets, pistols, an’ carbines once,
But now we are M. I.!
That is what we are known as—we are the orphans they blame
For beggin’ the loan of an ’ead-stall an’ makin’ a mount to the same.
’Can’t even look at their ’orselines but some one goes bellerin’ “Hi!
“’Ere comes a burglin’ Ikona!” Footsack you —— M. I.!
We’re trekkin’ our twenty miles a day an’ bein’ loved by the Dutch,
But we don’t hold on by the mane no more, nor lose our stirrups—much;
An’ we scout with a senior man in charge where the ’oly white flags fly.
We used to think they were friendly once,
Didn’t take any precautions once
(Once, my ducky, an’ only once!)
But now we are M. I.!
That is what we are known as—we are the beggars that got
Three days “to learn equitation,” an’ six months o’ bloomin’ well trot!
Cow-guns, an’ cattle, an’ convoys—an’ Mister De Wet on the fly—
We are the rollin’ Ikonas! We are the —— M. I.
The new fat regiments come from home, imaginin’ vain V. C.’s
(The same as your talky-fighty men which are often Number Threes),
But our words o’ command are “Scatter” an’ “Close” an’ “Let your wounded lie.”
We used to rescue ’em noble once,—
Givin’ the range as we raised ’em once,
Gettin’ ’em killed as we saved ’em once—
But now we are M. I.
That is what we are known as—we are the lanterns you view
After a fight round the kopjes, lookin’ for men that we knew;
Whistlin’ an’ callin’ together, ’altin’ to catch the reply:—
“’Elp me! O ’elp me, Ikonas! This way, the —— M. I.!”
I wish my mother could see me now, a-gatherin’ news on my own,
When I ride like a General up to the scrub and ride back like Tod Sloan,
Remarkable close to my ’orse’s neck to let the shots go by.
We used to fancy it risky once
(Called it a reconnaissance once),
Under the charge of an orf’cer once,
But now we are M. I.!
That is what we are known as—that is the song you must say
When you want men to be Mausered at one and a penny a day;
We are no five-bob Colonials—we are the ’ome-made supply,
Ask for the London Ikonas! Ring up the —— M. I.!
I wish myself could talk to myself as I left ’im a year ago;
I could tell ’im a lot that would save ’im a lot on the things that ’e ought to know!
When I think o’ that ignorant barrack-bird, it almost makes me cry.
I used to belong in an Army once
(Gawd! what a rum little Army once),
Red little, dead little Army once!
But now I am M. I.!
That is what we are known as—we are the men that have been
Over a year at the business, smelt it an’ felt it an’ seen.
We ’ave got ’old of the needful—you will be told by and by;
Wait till you’ve ’eard the Ikonas, spoke to the old M. I.!
Mount—march, Ikonas! Stand to your ’orses again!
Mop off the frost on the saddles, mop up the miles on the plain.
Out go the stars in the dawnin’, up goes our dust to the sky,
Walk—trot, Ikonas! Trek jou, 3 the old M. I.!
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