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Highland Light Infantry, Royal Scots or King's Own Borderers?


steve345uk
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Here's a photo of my grandfather's older brother, William Forbes, with my great grandparents. He was from Glasgow and luckily survived the war.

All I know is that he definately served at Gallipoli and that area for most of the war and he appears to have served for four years when the photo was taken (four chevrons on his right sleeve). It looks like he might be a Lance Corporal too?

Looking at the records it looks like the following Scottish Battalions we in Gallipoli, in at least in 1915:

4th Royal Scots Fusiliers
5th Royal Scots Fusiliers
4th King's Own Scottish Borderers
5th King's Own Scottish Borderers
4th Royal Scots
7th Royal Scots
7th Scottish Rifles
8th Scottish Rifles
5th Highland Light Infantry
6th Highland Light Infantry
7th Highland Light Infantry
5th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Given that he's not wearing a kilt, he's probably not in the HLI 6th or the Argylls? Is the hat or anything else a clue?

Any help much appreciated.

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Gary, Thanks for that. Good point, I hadn't spotted those Battalions, but they were in Gallipoli. Is there something about his uniform that suggests the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) - I'm assuming the William Forbes you suggest had started out in the Horse then moved to the Black Watch?

It's a shame he's got such a common name, there are at least one HLI and two Royal Scots with the same name who appear to have been in the region at the time (HLI 1239, RS 1185 and 3205).

His brother, my grandfather, Simon Fobres (pictured below) was a lot easier to find since "Simon" was quite an unusual name at the time and his uniform points to the HLI 1/9th (at least I think this is right?) - kilt with Black Watch Tartan and HLI badge.

I was wondering if the hat (is it a Balmora or an Atholll?) might have narrowed down the search for William Forbes? I also wonder that since Simon was in the HLI, he may have followed his brother into the same Regiment, but I'm maybe this didn't necessarily happen since Simon was a conscript.

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I`m going with what looks like the "Atholl" Bonnet in the picture,for The Scottish Horse,I may be way out.

Gary.

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The photo in post #1 is definitely a soldier dressed in the uniform of The Scottish Horse. The Atholl bonnet and the collar badges tilt the ID to Scottish Horse. The Scottish Horse collar badge is a Crown surmounting a wreath enclosing a St. Andrew's Cross on top of a circlet below which is a battle honours' scroll. The collar badges of the other regiments noted in post #1 do not match those in the photo.

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I would agree that the first photo is Scottish Horse. When they were absorbed by the Black Watch in 1917 they were allowed to retain their insignia. The Scottish Horse had the 1/1st, 1/2nd and 1/3rd Scottish Horse at Gallipoli. War Diaries are quite detailed and include a detailed war establishment including extra men as pipers. MG

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Gary, Thanks for that. Good point, I hadn't spotted those Battalions, but they were in Gallipoli. Is there something about his uniform that suggests the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) - I'm assuming the William Forbes you suggest had started out in the Horse then moved to the Black Watch?

It's a shame he's got such a common name, there are at least one HLI and two Royal Scots with the same name who appear to have been in the region at the time (HLI 1239, RS 1185 and 3205).

His brother, my grandfather, Simon Fobres (pictured below) was a lot easier to find since "Simon" was quite an unusual name at the time and his uniform points to the HLI 1/9th (at least I think this is right?) - kilt with Black Watch Tartan and HLI badge.

I was wondering if the hat (is it a Balmora or an Atholll?) might have narrowed down the search for William Forbes? I also wonder that since Simon was in the HLI, he may have followed his brother into the same Regiment, but I'm maybe this didn't necessarily happen since Simon was a conscript.

I think 9th Provisional Battalion TF rather than 1/9th Bn TF.

It is noteworthy that the photographer was based in Deal in Kent. As far as I know the only HLI unit to be stationed anywhere near Deal was the 21st Battalion TF (originally the 9th Provisional Battalion - rather than the 1/9th (Glasgow Highland) Bn). The 9th Provisional Bn had been formed from Home Service personnel of the TF battalions in 1915. Jan 1917 they were at Sandwich, Kent and by Jan 1918 back at Deal, Kent. May 1918 at Ramsgate where it remained to the end of the War.

MG

Source: James: British Regiments 1914-1918 page 103.

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Thanks guys, you really know you stuff, that's all very useful! It looks like my Great Uncle is the William Forbes originally suggested by Gary (315108 and 4523), since he is the only William Forbes who was with the Regiments and the medal card mentions the Balkans (entry 21st Oct '15) and he has the 15 star medal.

I'm getting more puzzled about my Grandfather Simon Forbes. He was very easy to find on the medal rolls, since there only one Simon Forbes (355579) for the whole of the British armies (also two Canadians), and his service number is consistent with the HLI.

I was wondering would a soldier of the 9th Provisional Battalion get a British and Victory medal? My mother and aunt as pretty certain he was "in France during the war".

Originally I thought he might be with the 22nd, then the 10th (again because of "Deal" on the photo), but discounted this because of the kilt. Deal is very close to Dover, so I wasn't sure if this was for training or just a stepping off point to Europe. His service number suggests he was conscripted in probably the second half of 1917 and into the 22nd Battalion (the series of TF number is for this battalion). However these numbers seemed to have also been used for other Battalions (eg there are casulties for this range numbers with the 16th, 17th and 1/9th)..

Would a copy of the specific page of the ww1 medal roll clear thing up?

Thanks again for your help, Steve

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Thanks guys, you really know you stuff, that's all very useful! It looks like my Great Uncle is the William Forbes originally suggested by Gary (315108 and 4523), since he is the only William Forbes who was with the Regiments and the medal card mentions the Balkans (entry 21st Oct '15) and he has the 15 star medal.

I'm getting more puzzled about my Grandfather Simon Forbes. He was very easy to find on the medal rolls, since there only one Simon Forbes (355579) for the whole of the British armies (also two Canadians), and his service number is consistent with the HLI.

I was wondering would a soldier of the 9th Provisional Battalion get a British and Victory medal? My mother and aunt as pretty certain he was "in France during the war".

Originally I thought he might be with the 22nd, then the 10th (again because of "Deal" on the photo), but discounted this because of the kilt. Deal is very close to Dover, so I wasn't sure if this was for training or just a stepping off point to Europe. His service number suggests he was conscripted in probably the second half of 1917 and into the 22nd Battalion (the series of TF number is for this battalion). However these numbers seemed to have also been used for other Battalions (eg there are casulties for this range numbers with the 16th, 17th and 1/9th)..

Would a copy of the specific page of the ww1 medal roll clear thing up?

Thanks again for your help, Steve

22nd Bn then 10th is a possibility..I had not noticed the footnote on 22nd Bn and 10th Bn in James' British regiments 1914-1918.

Any soldier could be posted to any battalion. Many saw service with more than one battalion and indeed with more than one Regiment. If his number fits 22nd Bn then that is more likely in my view The window of opportunity was of course small for the photo if that was his route as the 22nd Bn was formed at Deal on 1st June 1918 and absorbed by 10th (Service) Bn at Aldershot on 21st June 1918, giving him just 20 days to get his photo done. That said, it would be no surprise that newly clothed and equipped soldiers wanted to get their portraits done by local commercially minded photographers. The other point is that his window of opportunity to get to France was fairly short...but I note that 10th Bn landed at Boulogne on 5th July 1918, so it would all fit....in fact that might be the clincher if you have to make a probability based decision.

I am not a medal expert (or indeed an expert in anything) but I think the BWM and VM were always paired. Doubtless a medal expert will enter stage right very soon. For Army Numbers you are in luck as one of three genuine experts in the field is GWF member Grumpy (post #8) who wrote the definitive book on Army Numbers with GWF member Graham Stewart.

Good luck with your research. MG

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MG, Thanks for the input. I probably need to correct something, namely his number was one those allocated to the 21st Battalion not the 22nd but the 22nd doesn't appear to to have a range of TF numbers (maybe because it's a service battalion?). All very confusing since the 1/9th is the only HLI battalion that wore the tartan, but I suppose he could have only been wearing it for the photo. I've got a second photo of him his uniform with kilt (same tartan I think), maybe taken at a different time. Not sure if this helps no hat but an apron on his kilt.

Back to William Forbes, reading a bit about the Scottish Horse, it looks like he might have been in the 1/1st or 1/2nd Scottish Horse since these were both absorbed into the Black Watch, as the medal card suggests.

Thanks

Steve

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It is quite possible that the 9th provisional battalion wore kilts. The Provisional battalions were initially formed from Home Service men in the TF and were raised in proportion to the number of TF battalions that they were linked to. The Scots had a long and strong volunteer and (post 1908) TF tradition with typical Scottish regiments having a number of TF battalions. The HLI had its fair share so it would not be beyond the bounds of possibilities that Home Service men from the 1/9th, 2/9th/ 3/9th (Glasgow Highland) battalions (and others) were consolidated in the 9th Provisional Battalion... if there were enough, that might have swayed any decision on kilts. My speculation of course.

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Martin, Interesting points, I guess he may have been in a provisional battalion when the photo was taken and moved to a non-kilt wearing Battalion when he was posted overseas. I think I'll need to try and order the medal roll mentioned on his medal card and see if that sheds any more light.

thanks, Steve

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photo is after Jan 1918 because the overseas chevrons were not issued/ authorised until then.

That's strange. I have seen photos of one of my ancestors who was a piper in 1 RSF and he has overseas service stripes, but the photos were taken in England in 1914.

Furthermore, he died of wounds in 1915, so the photos could not have been post 1914.

In fact the photos were previously posted on this forum.

He was with 1 RSF in South Africa and in India/Burma prior to WW1 and was then posted to England and subsequently to France.

I'm no expert but was wondering whether different units wore them earlier than 1918?

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That's strange. I have seen photos of one of my ancestors who was a piper in 1 RSF and he has overseas service stripes, but the photos were taken in England in 1914.

Furthermore, he died of wounds in 1915, so the photos could not have been post 1914.

In fact the photos were previously posted on this forum.

He was with 1 RSF in South Africa and in India/Burma prior to WW1 and was then posted to England and subsequently to France.

I'm no expert but was wondering whether different units wore them earlier than 1918?

No way for British army*: only with a tardis available.

Authorised and promulgated AO 4 of Jan 1918.

Two other sorts of cuff badges might be confused with overseas badges.

Good conduct: chevrons on left sleeve if correctly worn.

wound badges: ditto, authorised July 1916.

* I do not have dates for first issue of these badges for Colonial forces [now Commonwealth] such as Australia and Canada.

MAY WE SEE THE PHOTO EVIDENCE PLEASE?.

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On 31/07/2014 at 18:24, GRUMPY said:

No way for British army*: only with a tardis available.

Authorised and promulgated AO 4 of Jan 1918.

Two other sorts of cuff badges might be confused with overseas badges.

Good conduct: chevrons on left sleeve if correctly worn.

wound badges: ditto, authorised July 1916.

* I do not have dates for first issue of these badges for Colonial forces [now Commonwealth] such as Australia and Canada.

MAY WE SEE THE PHOTO EVIDENCE PLEASE?.

My apologies......I was wrong.

I was referring to the two upwards facing stripes on the left arm of the piper in the photos posted by Andrew Thornton. Good conduct (6 years) ?

The photos are in this thread:-

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a brief update on my two relatives. I've checked the medal rolls for more details and:

William Forbes was in the 1/1st Scottish horse, which would explain him ending up in the Black Watch. His Black Watch number (315108) also tallies with the 13th Black Watch, so he probably moved with the Scottish Horse directly to the Black Watch.

Simon Forbes was in the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry at the end of the war. Given his number 355579 he must have been in the 21st at some point, probably in march 1917, when the renumbering took place.

There are a number of ways he could have ended up in the 10th from there, but was probably in the 10th by June 1918. Possible routes are:

21st > 10th, but this doesn't explain the uniform..

21st > another HLI battalion > 10th

21st > 22nd > 10th (the photo could have been taken when he was in the 21st or 22nd in Deal but doesn't explain the uniform)

21st > 1/9th > 10th (explains the 1/9th uniform in the photo but would he have been moved from one active battalion to another whilst overseas, seems unlikely?)

I suppose I'll never really know, but any comments are appreciated. Particularly regarding his uniform! Why would he have been wearing what appears to be a 1/9th HLI uniform in Deal, Kent?

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