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GenetB

Private Thomas William Lowe, South Wales Borderers

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GenetB

Good morning Ken and thank you again for your very clear explanation. I did find in the local paper a recruiting campaign section. I will see if I can find any announcements relating to Alberts death

I can see now from your explanation why it took so long for units to be deployed overseas if they were trying to recruit enough men.

Still not found any documentary evidence online of Thomas' service beyond his medal card. Am looking out for any commentaries on life in India - would there have been a war diary for the Brecknocks in India?

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kenf48

Still not found any documentary evidence online of Thomas' service beyond his medal card. Am looking out for any commentaries on life in India - would there have been a war diary for the Brecknocks in India?

There was no obligation for a unit to keep a war diary unless they were in a 'theatre of war'; therefore there is a brief diary covering the period they were in Aden from January to June 1915. It has not been digitised but if you're still planning to visit the museum they may have a copy, although we know from the medal record Thomas did not serve there.

The museum may hold some personal accounts of life in India but although there were the usual dangers of sickness and injury associated with service in the tropics, and frustration perhaps it seems to have been a fairly relaxed time. Some drafts went to Mesopatamia but for those who remained it was probably a great adventure, some officers even took their wives.

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=173488&hl=%2Bterritorials+%2Bindia#entry1685998

A forum search on India throws up quite a few threads including some recommended reading about garrison life in India. There was an album of photos published in I think the Daily Mail showing a TF unit in India, there was a link posted here but I can't find it now.

Ken

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GenetB

Hello Ken, I have been out of circulation for a while but back on the trail. My visit to the museum offered no extra leads on Thomas so can only assume that his records amongst the burnt. His medal card shows that he did not serve in a theatre of war, so presumably in India only, but that raises the question why he did not go to Aden with the Brecknockshire Battalion.

I suspect he enlisted after his brother Albert, who enlisted November 1914, by which time the battalion had sailed for Bombay. Is it possible to determine from the 4-digit numbers the possible enlistment time? Alberts number was 2932, enlistment November 1914, and Thomas' number is 3413. Would they have been assigned to the same battalion or to different ones? Thomas' medal card says just SWB but his 6 digit number indicates the brecknockshire Battalion.

Might he have been less than A1 health wise and therefore deemed not fit for Aden?

I was fortunate enough to get to the exhibition in Crickhowell last weekend which gave me quite a lot of insight into life in India,but I would still really like to know why he ended up there!

Sorry, all rather garbled but plucking at straws a bit

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kenf48

Hi, a quick scan of the records shows Pte John Griffiths 3418 = 3/1st Brecknockshire enlisted 6th November 1915 also on that date he signed the Imperial Service obligation showing he was willing to serve overseas. His record shows Home Service 6/11/1915 to 26/3/1916 and India 27/3/1916 to 3/4/1919.

His record shows disembodied on demobilisation on the 2nd May 1919 (he re-enlisted which makes his numbers confusing but it looks like his TF six digit number was 201172). There are other snippets in that he was medically examined prior to discharge 'at sea HT Chupra 17/3/19'.

The earliest date in India was admitted to hospital 25th May 1916 when he was stationed at the Barracks One Tree Hill Mhow. He also contracted malaria.

The numbers need a bit of a health warning in that some New Army men were posted into the 3/1st and it needs a bit of unpicking however I did find 3333 and 3339 who were both TF attestations in June 1915. 3339 Rogers was posted to the 1/1st in the same draft as Pte Griffiths i.e. 27 March 1916, he did not leave Bombay until 3rd November 1919 (although he transferred a couple of times while in India). Pte 3355 Stanton attested a month later on 20th July and was once again in the same draft which embarked Devonport on the 25th March [sic] disembarked Bombay 1st May 1916. So at least there appears to be a sequence for the TF attestations. Frustratingly I can't find the ship that left Devonport on any of the above records.

My opinion (and that's all it is!) is that Thomas enlisted around November 1915 and went to India in the same draft as the men mentioned above who were all over the age 30 (Rogers medical category on discharge was B3 i.e. garrison duty so fitness may have been an issue).

If Thomas was in that draft he would have missed service in Aden.

Ken

(I can do garbled too!)

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GenetB

Thank you, Ken, I will go with your opinion since the numbers do seem to tally. Thomas' 6-digit number was 201167, which is very close to the 201172 of Pte. Griffiths. The only slight discrepancy is that Thomas was born June 1894 so would only have been 20 rather than 30. So he was either declared medically unfit or maybe the birth date/age was read wrongly?

Odd that there should be a record for 3418 and not 3413.

In the absence of anything more positive, I will record Thomas as enlisting 6 November 1914 with his brother Albert and attesting some time early 1915, then embarking for India 25th March, arriving Bombay 1st May 1915. I suspect I will not be able to clarify when he was demobbed, all I know is that he was at home in January 1920. I gleaned from my visit to the exhibition in Crickhowell that the vast majority of soldiers left India October 1919 on HMS Navarra, demobbed Folkestone 1December.

Thanks and regards, Genet

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GenetB

Me again. Sorry, Ken, did you mean 1915 for enlistment? I mistakenly read it at first as 1914, which would tally with his brother Alberts enlistment date. 1915 seems late but is it possible that someone with medical problems would have waited this long?

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kenf48

Thank you, Ken, I will go with your opinion since the numbers do seem to tally. Thomas' 6-digit number was 201167, which is very close to the 201172 of Pte. Griffiths. The only slight discrepancy is that Thomas was born June 1894 so would only have been 20 rather than 30. So he was either declared medically unfit or maybe the birth date/age was read wrongly?

Odd that there should be a record for 3418 and not 3413.

In the absence of anything more positive, I will record Thomas as enlisting 6 November 1914 with his brother Albert and attesting some time early 1915, then embarking for India 25th March, arriving Bombay 1st May 1915. I suspect I will not be able to clarify when he was demobbed, all I know is that he was at home in January 1920. I gleaned from my visit to the exhibition in Crickhowell that the vast majority of soldiers left India October 1919 on HMS Navarra, demobbed Folkestone 1December.

Thanks and regards, Genet

In your original post you were of the opinion Thomas enlisted late in 1915. I think this was correct, the other numbers seem to confirm this.

It seems the TF recruitment in the SWB moved relatively slowly compared to some other TF Battalions this is probably because most of the recruitment effort seems to have been directed towards the New Army. It may be, and this is speculation, that Thomas joined the TF to serve in the same unit as his brother who was still in the UK at the time. By late 1915 Lord Derby's scheme was in full swing and most men (who earlier in the year had been required to register) recognised conscription was coming.

It needs more study of the numbers from Albert's 2932 through to 3413 to develop a sequence. I meant 1915, though I did a double take as it seems so long to recruit so, relatively

few.

Ken

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GenetB

Dumbo comment this, but am I correct in saying that TF enlistments were Home Service only ( unless countered by an ISO agreement) whereas New Army enlistment was for anywhere in the world?

It sounds as if Thomas was a reluctant recruit, for whatever reason, if he waited until 1915. Or, as a farm labourer, he might have been persuaded to help keep the farm going. Either way, I can understand that he would want to join his brother. Ironic that he ended up going overseas before Albert ( who embarked for France July 1916)!

Genet

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kenf48

'New' or 'Kitchener's' Army conditions of service were effectively the same as the Regular Army.

The TF was formed in 1908 for home defence, however when war was declared soldiers in the TF were asked to sign the Imperial Service obligation. The response varied but for those who enlisted after hostilities began it was virtually a requirement for them to sign up for overseas service (as in the case of Albert).

The process is explained in much more detail on the LLT http://www.1914-1918.net/tf.htm

Ken

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GenetB

Rejoining the scene, have been busy researching, and also made a visit to France and Flanders, where I found Alberts name on the Ploegsteert Memorial and followed the trail of various Welsh battalions etc. Very moving.

Coming back to Thomas, would anyone know where the 1st Brecknocks did their training prior to embarking for India? I assume they must have had some training

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kenf48

The reason the 1/1st Brecknocks were posted overseas so early was because they were probably more or less up to establishment in August 1914 so there would be little time for additional training but I'd suggest they mustered together at Brecon before going to India.

The Battalion was organised into Companies and each Company was based (usually) at the local Drill Hall, many of these have now gone but the list for the Battalion is:

HQ and 'A' Company Brecon (The town was also the Depot of SWB)

'B' Brymawr

'C' Crickhowell

'D' Hay on Wye

'E' Bulith Wells and Llantwrtyd Wells

'F' Talgarth

'G' Cefn-Coed

'H' Ystradgynlais, Brynamman and Seven Sisters

(Westlake)

If the town did not have a drill hall as such the 'Saturday night soldiers' would meet up for drills and parades at similar locations often provided by local landowners. There were summer and weekend camps when th Battalion could come together.

Ken

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GenetB

Would anyone have any information on the name of the ship that brought 1st Brecknock Battalion soldiers home from  India October 1919? Did the entire battalion travel together? 

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kenf48
3 hours ago, GenetB said:

Would anyone have any information on the name of the ship that brought 1st Brecknock Battalion soldiers home from  India October 1919? Did the entire battalion travel together? 

 

The Brecknocks did not travel home together.  They remained in India post Armistice, the first men to be sent home were the miners who left in two large batches in January numbering in total 220 men, with a further 30 in February.  This left 456 men, made up to 500 as men came in from elsewhere.  In August 12 officers and 300 men were sent to the NW Frontier.  The remainder went from Mhow to Calcutta where they remained for a couple of months before embarking for home.  

 

These officers and men left India on the transport ‘Nevasa’ (British Indian Line) which arrived at Plymouth on Sunday 23 November, she was carrying over 4000 troops from various Regiments and units.

(Lots of pics of ship if you do a google images search not the 1950s one!)

 

Ken

Edited by kenf48

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GenetB

Hello Ken,

 

thank you for this. I managed to find an article in The Brecon County Times about the return home of the Brecknocks. As you say, the Nevada. They arrived back in Brecon in cribs and drabs over the course of the week.

thanks for your help

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kenf48
On 11/02/2019 at 12:25, GenetB said:

Hello Ken,

 

thank you for this. I managed to find an article in The Brecon County Times about the return home of the Brecknocks. As you say, the Nevada. They arrived back in Brecon in cribs and drabs over the course of the week.

thanks for your help

 

You're welcome, guessing it was predictive text but the name of the ship was 'Nevasa'  not 'Nevada'.

 

Ken

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GenetB

Yes, autocorrect got the better of me! Only spotted it once I had sent the email lol. And dribs and drabs rather than the new form of transport, cribs . . .

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