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When was Left Out of Battle (LOOB) implemented?


sneakyimp

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It's my understanding that at a certain point the British Army started to hold back about 10% of a battalion when sending troops into battle so that the battalion could be rebuilt if many troops were lost. This is commonly referred to as LOOB (although a proper sense of usage eludes me). Can anyone tell me when this policy was begun?

This post says it was 'officially' implemented after the first day of the Somme:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=74121&hl=loob#entry673215

This one says that a cadre of troops would be held back as early as Gallipoli:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=209346&hl=loob#entry2066932

At what point would one see this happening in the BEF/CEF/ANZACs?

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47th (2nd London) Division did this for the battle of Loos - September 1915.

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47th (2nd London) Division did this for the battle of Loos - September 1915.

Thanks for that note. I expect this practice might have been initiated at the Division/Brigade/Battalion level first and only later adopted as policy. The Canadian 2nd Brigade obviously didn't do this at 2nd Ypres in April 1915 and suffered heavily.

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It is in the preliminary Brigade Order for 141 Brigade - For the 18th (County of London) battalion London Irish Rifles cadres were formed from the Major 2 i/c the battalion, 2 Captains, 4 Lieutenants, RSM, 4 Serjeants, 8 Corporals and 80 other ranks to form the basis for rebuilding the battalion in the event of heavy casualties being suffered.

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The Gallipoli instruction was part of GHQ orders dated 13th July 1915, just threes weeks before the third front was opened at Suvla on 6th/7th Aug 1915. It was still being used on 21st Aug 1915 when the last major offensive took place. Thereafter trench warfare set in with no more large scale offensive actions. I have researched this extensively. Every assaulting battalion of th 10th (Irish) and 11th (Northern) DIv complied. It was not known as the LOOB until later (In France and Flanders) but the principle was the same. The troops were held back in a proportion depending on numbers. I can dig out the original and post if you are interested.

Edit. Found it. Attached.

Strength of Bn (ORs)....Numbers Taken into Action

800-850................................700

850-900................................725

900-950................................750

950 and over.............not more than 775

You will see that the numbers actually enforced more than 10% to be kept as a reserve. In fact the lowest proportion from the data above is 12.5%. and the hisghest was 21.1%. The diary accounts are full of records of this being implemented in the August landings. It didn't work. Officer casualties were 98% and OR casualties 68% within 2 weeks of landing (Including the 'LOOB'). The order was from the DAG GHQ MEF dated 13th July 1915. I have never seen anything similar from the Western Front that predates this.

Gallipoli also has early examples of Officers being ordered to dress and equip themselves as ORs in order to lessen their chances of being singled out

MG

post-55873-0-93959800-1397244916_thumb.j

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When the BEF embarked for France in August 1914 each Battalion, and Cavalry Regiment left a small cadre at their Depot with at least one Officer as battle casualty replacements but some of these may have actually been soldiers who had not fully completed their training and/or underage. According to John Lucy on arrival at a Bn. from the Depot a soldier had to undergo further training in the Battalion.

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When the BEF embarked for France in August 1914 each Battalion, and Cavalry Regiment left a small cadre at their Depot with at least one Officer as battle casualty replacements but some of these may have actually been soldiers who had not fully completed their training and/or underage. According to John Lucy on arrival at a Bn. from the Depot a soldier had to undergo further training in the Battalion.

Every Battalion deployed to France with a 1st Reinforcement of one Officer and 93 Rank & File just twenty-odd days behind*. This was part of War Establishment and the 93 reflected 10% of the Rank & File in the Companies. They would remain at the Base (In France) until required. The Officer was typically from the Reserve Battalion as Home based Regular battalions were usually under-strength and these battalion also lost 3 Officers to form K1 battalions. The 93 Rank & File were almost all Reservists from Category B. The BEF Infantry war Diaries are packed with accounts of the arrival of the '1st Reinforcements" and subsequent reinforcement drafts. We see slight variations in numbers around 93 as men dropped out sick on their way to the front. Over 90% of the BEF War Diaries in 1914 record the arrival of these drafts and some maintained meticulous details - the 1st Bn King's Liverpool Regiment for example even recorded the names and numbers of every man in every draft.

One might reasonably assume the First Reinforcements of 10% were a forerunner of the LOOB, Having said that the BEF diaries are full of examples of the drafts being thrown straight into the trenches. In terms of leaving 10% or more in the immediate vicinity of an attack (rather than dozens of miles back at Base) in 1914 I have seen no evidence of this from any Battalion or Brigade War Diary

The 'cadre' at the Depot had nothing to do with Reinforcements. It is often misunderstood. The role of the Depot was to process the recruits; clothing and equipping them before sending them to their Battalions - typically K1 and K2 battalions in the initial phase of the War. They did not process reinforcements.

Processing trained reinforcements was one of the two roles of the Reserve Battalions. As well as managing their own Special Reservists and training Special Reservist recruits they managed the surplus Army Reservists and under-aged trained regulars as well as recovering sick and injured trained men. Separate to this many of the Reserve Battalions also had War roles in defending key positions in the UK. This multiple role is a source of some of the confusion. In August-September 1914 the Reserve Battalions were full of hundreds of surplus Reservists - Category A, B and D as well as Special Reservists. In late 1914 and early 1915 when the supply of Reservists had been exhausted they also processed and trained recruits

The subtle difference between the Depot and the Reserve Battalion (two independent organisations) is not well understood**. WO 114 at the National Archives has fortnightly returns for every Regimental Depot and Reserve Battalions and the forming Kitchener Battalions starting in early Aug 1914. the pre-war location of Reserve Battalions was very often in the same place as the Depot and during the war some Reserve Battalions remained co-located with the Depots. This is I believe the source of a lot of misunderstanding of the different roles of the Depots and the Reserve Battalions.

There is another thread with lots of numbers and tables covering the Reservists.

MG

* For example the 2nd Infatry Brigade landed at Le Havre on 13th August. Every battalion in the Brigade records the arrival of the First Reinfocements on 5th Sep 1914. Ditto 1st Guards Brigade units. Reinforcement drafts all arriving on 5th Sep 1914. Numbers where mentioned vary from 91-93 with one diary mentioning 100 which I suspect is the diarist approximating.

** GWF Member GRUMPY is the oracle on this subject and I have to acknowledge his considerable help in educating me on this complex part of the Army's organisation.

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Thank you.

You have cleared up a misunderstanding I had re Reserve Bns. and Depot. As they where, in August 1914, generally in the same Barracks or at least Garrison Town I assumed they were both part of the reinforcement system.

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Every Battalion deployed to France with a 1st Reinforcement of one Officer and 93 Rank & File just twenty-odd days behind*. This was part of War Establishment and the 93 reflected 10% of the Rank & File in the Companies. They would remain at the Base (In France) until required

Was the strength of this first draft was on top of the 1000 or so strength of the battalions as they went out to France or part of it ?.

In the case of the 6th DLI I've yet to fully establish which men these were (due to lack of service records) - the problem being is before the 1st draft arrived with the battalion some 230 men had been sent out to France and sent temporarily to entrenching battalions . The earliest of these drafts being sent to France was June 1915 - all I know is that by Jan 1916 there were at least 230 men sent to France and the drafts received by the battalion totalled approximately the same.

Craig

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Was the strength of this first draft was on top of the 1000 or so strength of the battalions as they went out to France or part of it ?.

In the case of the 6th DLI I've yet to fully establish which men these were (due to lack of service records) - the problem being is before the 1st draft arrived with the battalion some 230 men had been sent out to France and sent temporarily to entrenching battalions . The earliest of these drafts being sent to France was June 1915 - all I know is that by Jan 1916 there were at least 230 men sent to France and the drafts received by the battalion totalled approximately the same.

Craig

Craig

It was additional. The composition of the 1 + 93 was One Officer, two Sergeants and 91 Rank and File. In addition 4 storemen were also added - one per company. War Establishments are a rather arcane subject. The numbers sent from the Reserve Battalions and the numbers arriving at the front line battalions often differ. The big swing factor was what happened at the Base. As you have noticed the Reinforcements could be plundered and there was plenty of leakage. I think as the war progressed reinforcements were treated rather more as a 'pooled' resource.

You need to deduct three officers from the totals below as they represent the War Establishment prior to the decision to send 3 Officers and 15 NCOs to Depot for the formation of the New Army Battalions. A later order in Aug 1914 instructed battalions that the loss of three officers would be permanent. The NCOs were replaced.

Images are courtesy of GWF colleage GRUMPY.

post-55873-0-13938200-1397490214_thumb.j

post-55873-0-11849400-1397490229_thumb.j

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Craig

It was additional. The composition of the 1 + 93 was One Officer, two Sergeants and 91 Rank and File. iN addition 4 storemen were also added - one per company.

Images are courtesy of GWF colleage GRUMPY.

Thanks Martin, I had a feeling that must be the case.

Craig

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Thanks Martin, I had a feeling that must be the case.

Craig

Craig

I assume the draft and the battalion disembarked on different dates. James tome records 17th April for the disembarkation of the Battalion. If this is so, to solve your conundrum if you had the 1914-15 Star roll for the 6th Bn DLI it would show when the 230 arrived (presumably in one large group). If another 230 arrived at a subsequent date it would show that the original 230 were plundered for good. I suspect if the numbers are that close, the 230 were returned to the Battalion. Battalions had to state numbers required and I cant see them simply accepting that 230 men were not forthcoming, especially in mid 1915 when the system was bursting with trained men.

A short cut is to get the 1/6th Bn Casualties for 1915 and do some sampling against the MICs and their entry dates. Geoff's Search Engine returns 121 men for 1/6th DLI in 1915 with high concentrations of casualties on 26th April - 43 men or 35% of the total on a single day. This means the remaining 65% will be scattered across the remainder of the year and hopefully will have enough data points to identify distinct entry dates for drafts.

MG

M

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I assume the draft and the battalion disembarked on different dates.

I've been digging a bit deeper and gone through my spreadsheet of men - the battalion landed 19/20 April 1915 and the first draft to France on 27 June 1915 (although some transport elements went ahead of the original bn) - I've managed to tie down some of these men as being those who finally reached the Bn as their first reinforcements on 04 August 1915 but it involved going through service records one by one. What threw me was that the first draft sent across to France was of 160 or so men (naively I was looking for a draft of 90 or so men).

A short cut is to get the 1/6th Bn Casualties for 1915 and do some sampling against the MICs and their entry dates. Geoff's Search Engine returns 121 men for 1/6th DLI in 1915 with high concentrations of casualties on 26th April - 43 men or 35% of the total on a single day

They got hammered on the advance from Ypres to Zonnebeke and Hill 37. They lost a lot of men and temporarily merged with 8th DLI (even heavier losses) - by mid July 1915 the 2 battalions combined could muster 872 men (320 from 8th DLI and 552 from 6th DLI)

Craig

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I've been digging a bit deeper and gone through my spreadsheet of men - the battalion landed 19/20 April 1915 and the first draft to France on 27 June 1915 (although some transport elements went ahead of the original bn) - I've managed to tie down some of these men as being those who finally reached the Bn as their first reinforcements on 04 August 1915 but it involved going through service records one by one. What threw me was that the first draft sent across to France was of 160 or so men (naively I was looking for a draft of 90 or so men).

They got hammered on the advance from Ypres to Zonnebeke and Hill 37. They lost a lot of men and temporarily merged with 8th DLI (even heavier losses) - by mid July 1915 the 2 battalions combined could muster 872 men (320 from 8th DLI and 552 from 6th DLI)

Craig

I did some sampling and I have 3 men out of the first 15 had disembarked with the First Draft on 27th June 1915. All died on 19/20 December. Too early to extrapolate.

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