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Labour Corps - Thomas Floyd


suecee
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My grandfather THOMAS FLOYD b1884 enlisted in the 2nd/5th East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) in May 1916.
His service records did not survive and the only information I have is from his letters to my grandmother which were sent to her from Jul 1918- Jan 1919 plus a card sent to her father dated 1 May 1918.
The letters written from Nov 1918-Jan 1919 give details of where he was (when censorship was removed) and what he was doing but there is a gap in my knowledge between his enlistment in 1916 and his letter from Colchester in May 1918.
I do have his medals but his medal record doesn't give any indication of where he was and when.
This is what I know:-
East Kent Regiment number 241693
Labour Corps number 376022
His son said that his father had served in Italy but was sent back with stomach problems.
1 May 1918 a letter comes from
23305 FLOYD
16 Queens, 214 Brigade HQ, Colchester
In an undated letter home (Jul-Nov 1918) he says that it is a year to the day since he first went up the line.
In October 1918 he says that he has been marked Bii from Ai (he hoped that would not change by the time he got to France - it didn't.)
1st - 2nd Nov 1918 leaves for France
letter sent from D Coy, 16th Queens, Ipswich just before he left.
He was with 371 POW Escort Coy in the Mons, Jeumont, Abbeville areas.

When would he have been transferred to the Labour Corps?

When/where/could he have gone in Italy - would it have been with the Labour Corps?

Is 23305 yet another regiment number?

What was 16th Queens?

Thanks for any help.

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Hello suecee and welcome to the Forum.

From "No Labour, No Battle", a book on the history of the Labour Corps, the service number 376022 was issued in the period September to November 1917. It is not possible to say which Company he served with from the number.

16th Battalion Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) was a Home Service Battalion. See here.

Phil

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The 16th Queens (Royal West Surrey Regiment ) was a Home Service Labour unit and did not go overseas, as he was there in May 1918 it is more likely he had transferred into the Queens at that time.

Although Phil dates the Labour Corps number from Sept-Nov 1917 (from an impeccable source) why is Pte Floyd giving the Queen's and the number 23305 in May 1918?

The 2/5th was a Territorial Force second line unit and also did not serve overseas, in May 1916 he would have had a four digit number, the six digit number dates from March 1917 and therefore as only that number is shown on the card he did not go overseas until after that date which accords nicely with the letter that he went on active service in the period Juy- November 1917. The six digit number is in the series allocated to the 5th Bn the Buffs but only the 1/5th went on active service overseas, and they served in Mesopotamia, not Italy.

However...

The British did not campaign in Italy until November 1917, some units were recalled quite quickly others remained throughout the war. One of the units that did serve in Italy was the 2nd Bn The Queen's and the number 23305 which was allocated between September and November 1917 is in the range of casualties from that Battalion.

If he did serve overseas with the Queen's it seems surprising it's not on his medal record. It may be his medal card does not list the Queens because it only lists the unit he was serving in when he qualified for the medal and his last unit that administered their issue.

A possible scenario that fits the story he went to Italy is that he was posted to France with the Buff's in 1917 and then from the IBD posted to the Queen's to bring them up to strength for the transfer to Italy.

More questions than answers as the dates don't fit unless he went from the Buff's to the Labour Corps and then into the Queen's during a relatively short time frame in late 1917, but we know the Labour Corps was his last unit as he is on their medal rolls.

Ken

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Hello Suecee

I'm not sure if you looked at the Medal Rolls Index Card or the Medal Roll. I checked the Medal Roll to see if any other previous units were listed. There aren't any!

Pte Thomas Floyd, 36022 is listed in the Labour Corps Medal Roll (alas no unit number). The only previous unit is the East Kent Regiment as Pte, 241693, no battalion number.

Definitely only two "corps", at least in theory, but I suppose there could be overseas service in more than one company or battalion.

It is worth looking to see if there are any surviving records for men with serial numbers close the Thomas Floyd's.

R.

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Rolt,

I don't have access to the Rolls, but have just ploughed through the MICs for 376021 to 376030 Labour Corps and all of them only show, what I assume is first overseas unit and Labour Corps. Is this consistent with the Labour Corps roll in general?

Seven out of the ten show Queen's service, so I am wondering if they are a batch of transfers.

Phil

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Hello Phil

I suspect that first overseas unit + the unit through which the medals were issued (assuming that the two are different) is probably what is supposed to appear in all cases. However I'm not sure that it's actually that consistent.

I wonder what other people think.

R.

Edit: I didn't take notes, but I did notice that a number of the men with similar numbers in the Medal Roll came from various battalions of the Queen's. Most if not all seemed to come from regiments from south east England. I can remember an ex-Royal Fusilier and a man from a battalion of the London Regiment.

R.

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Rolt,

I don't have access to the Rolls, but have just ploughed through the MICs for 376021 to 376030 Labour Corps and all of them only show, what I assume is first overseas unit and Labour Corps. Is this consistent with the Labour Corps roll in general?

Seven out of the ten show Queen's service, so I am wondering if they are a batch of transfers.

Phil

Yes it is consistent with the LC Rolls, all the entries in the series only show one previous unit. As the cards were made up from the rolls then they too would only show one other unit, i.e.the qualifying unit.

The problem is the address for the 16 Queens 214 Brigade is confirmed by the link to the LLT you provided above. According to the letters quoted above he was in the 16th Queens from May to November 1918.

371 POW Company (Labour Corps) was formed in November 1918 according to this post http://royalpioneercorps.yuku.com/topic/1509#.VHkPvouQ5UM

So the question is still how did he get allocated a LC number in autumn 1917 when he was in the Queens the following year?

Allowing for inconsistencies in family recollections the only unit he could have gone to Italy was the 2nd Queens, East Kent men with numbers close to Pte Floyd's went to Mesopotamia.

Ken

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Hi Phil, Ken and Rolt

Thanks for your input. I have no military knowledge and have been trying to find my way through Territorial Forces, composite Kent Battalions, (I had wondered if the 16th was part of the Royal West Kent) and 202nd Brigade 67th Division and 214th Brigade 71st division.

Thomas's letters at home usually had 214th Brigade, 71st brigade. Queens only appears on his first and last letters postmarked 1 May 1918 and 29 Oct 1918.

The links are very helpful but am confused with the 16th Queens as it was transferred to the 214 Brigade 71st in Nov 1917 and then the brigade transferred to the 67th in Feb 1918 according to the link you posted Phil. Where did that leave him in May 1918?

The link to the 371 POW Coy was very interesting and corresponds with where Thomas said he was, he even writes on Xmas morning to say they are to move at once. At Jeumont he says the Jerrys are working on the railways that have been blown up.

I have some photos of Thomas, this one shows him with a section of men (8 altogether - two have royal pioneer crossed axes on their arms) is this likely to have been in the Labour corps 371 POW escort coy taken in France?

Sue

post-118524-0-05828900-1417260081_thumb.

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Hello suecee,

Confusing isn't it.

The picture gives the impression that they may be on salvage work.

Is there any chance that you can zoom in on a cap badge and crop it? It looks like the Buffs.

I was wondering if he was transferred out of the Labour Corps and then back in later, retaining his original service number. There was definitely a strong Queen's link with the sample of medal index cards I looked at.

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The Home Service units were restructured and reorganised throughout the war. The 71st Division had a relatively short life and was broken up in February 1918.

All we know for certain is that he was serving with 16 Queens 214 Brigade (the wiki article puts them in 213 Brigade in 71st Division) in May 1918 by which time they were part of 67th (Home Counties) Division which is consistent with the address on the May letter and his lowered medical category.

http://military.wikia.com/wiki/71st_Division_(United_Kingdom)

The question is when did he transfer to the Queens and did he go to Italy with them? My guesstimate based on his Regimental Number of 23305 is that he was transferred to the Queens between September - November 1917 which is consistent with the 2nd Bn going to Italy in November.

If that is the case if he was taken ill he would have been posted to the 3rd or Depot Bn and on recovery to the 16th Bn.

This seems a very narrow window for him to be so seriously ill he was evacuated back to the UK from Italy but not impossible.

It's not surprising the LC Rolls show a number of Queen's men around this number series, most if not all were from Regiments that were in the same Division and it seems likely the POW Escort Company was formed from men who either volunteered or were compulsorily transferred who were in the medical category 'B' i.e. 'Free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service on Lines of Communication in France, or in garrisons in the tropics'. Thus they were posted to France which is probably where the photograph was taken.

The taller man in the middle is wearing a shoulder title but I can't see one on any of the other soldiers. The cap badge appears to be the same for each of them but my eyes can't make it out though I'm fairly certain it's the wrong shape for the Queen's. Perhaps if you could do a scan of the badge?

The problem with the hypothesis that he was transferred out of the LC and then back in retaining his number is that all the men around him in the Rolls would have had to have done the same thing which seems unlikely.

Ken

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The cap badge looks very similar to the one he is wearing in a formal photograph.

There is some reason for supposing my uncle remembered correctly as Thomas's stomach problems remained with him after the war and Italy was probably mentioned as the cause when whatever it was flared up again.

Sue

post-118524-0-66316000-1417270895_thumb.

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That is the Buff's cap badge. So doesn't take us much further forward, as you say they are Pioneer badges but where? It certainly could be France but the 5th Bn did not serve there only in the tropics and the UK.

Ken

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The photo could just as easily have been taken at a camp or training ground in the UK. Is there any publisher on the back?

It may be worth looking at the medal rolls for the Queen's either side of his number as 10th & 11th Battalions served in Italy with 41st Division. 41 Division were in Italy from November 1917 to the end of February 1918. Looking at SDGW, there are a few transfers from the Buffs with either 4 or 6 digit numbers. The most interesting one, although he didn't die (of wounds) until May 1918, when 10th Bn were back in F & F, is Joseph C W Jenkins, G/23353 Queen's, formerly 241781 Buffs.

The Labour Corps number is still a mystery to me, especially as there are two batches of numbers for concentrated building up of the PoW Companies at the time he was transferred to 371 PoW Escort Company, which was one of the last to be formed.

Phil

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Sorry Phil, I don't have the original. My mother still has them and I just took photos for my records. I can look next time I'm home in a couple of weeks but it is possible it was taken in England. The other photos we have are almost certainly taken in the south east somewhere.

I did find the 2nd Bn Queens war diaries for 1917/1918 and shortly after arrival in Italy on Nov 27th 26 men were hospitalised, perhaps he was one of those.

I'll look for medal rolls for the Queen's either side of his number when I get a chance.

By the way what is SDGW?

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SDGW is Soldiers Died in the Great War.

If you have Ancestry, it is available on there. I work from an old CD version.

Phil

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I think we've groped our way to a solution!

The War Diary for the 10th Battalion Queen's reveals this was a 'composite' Battalion; the entry for the 30th November 1917 shows the make up of the Battalion. Listed are 105 men from the 2/5 Buffs, presumably they retained their identity within the Battalion, but were renumbered to the Queen's

http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/war_diaries/local/10Bn_Queens/10Bn_Queens_1917/10Bn_Queens_1917_11.shtml

So the timeline goes something like:-

Enlisted in the Buff's May 1916 possibly a Derby Scheme volunteer

Posted to a Home Service TF Bn, the 2/5 where he remained until posted to France and transferred the Queen's at Pradelles on the 25th -27th September 1917 (see war diary for that date draft of 150 men from 2/5 Buffs). In all probability he went to the Infantry Base Depot as an East Kent soldier, therefore the reference on the Rolls to the TF number and was renumbered when posted to the Queen's.

Went to Italy with the 10th Queen's and at some point between November and March was evacuated back to UK due to sickness.

On recovery medical category downgraded and posted to 16th Queen's another Home Service unit.

In November 1918 transfered to Labour Corps POW escort Coy as detailed above

I'm still unable to account for the Labour Corps number dated to 1917.

Probably the way to confirm this is to look through the Rolls for the Buffs men who remained with the Queens, or as Phil says SDGW

Ken

Sorry to get fixated on the 2nd Queens it's well worth going back a couple of months in the 10th diary to see the number of casualties so wrong Battalion but right reason, i.e. to bring it up to strength before going to Italy.

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Ken,

I think you have got it there.

I always forget the Queen's diaries are online.

That batch of Labour Corps service numbers sits in amongst several others that duplicate / overlap the time period. I wonder if it was under utilised and resurrected again? As I said in post #13, there were two batches used mainly for the PoW Companies. The October 1918 batch ran from 649400 to 655100. If 371 PoW Escort Company was the penultimate on formed, as would appear to be the case, it is possible, but needs more research into service records etc.

Phil

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One day all the war diaries will be transcribed online... I think you may have found the answer unless there are any other Queen's battalions in Italy at the same time.

The diaries make fascinating reading and it is very easy to get side tracked when searching.

Thanks for the timeline Ken it seems to be falling into place now - apart from the Labour Corps number but at least I know where he was then.

Sue

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I have searched for Queen's numbers around Thomas's 23305 and the Medal Rolls would confirm he was with the 10th Battalion. But I can't find any service records for any of these men.

There was a second batch of 190 2/5 Buffs who arrived on Sep 30th 1917 so he could have been with them and not the 25th/27th arrivals.

The Labour Corps numbers either side of Thomas 376022 also came from Queen's, but the Queen's numbers were all very different.

I guess that's as close as I am going to get.

Thanks again for all your help guys.

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  • 3 years later...
On 30/11/2014 at 14:02, Phil Evans said:

 

That batch of Labour Corps service numbers sits in amongst several others that duplicate / overlap the time period. I wonder if it was under utilised and resurrected again? As I said in post #13, there were two batches used mainly for the PoW Companies. The October 1918 batch ran from 649400 to 655100. If 371 PoW Escort Company was the penultimate on formed, as would appear to be the case, it is possible, but needs more research into service records etc.

 

I came across a list of men transferred to 370 Prisoners of War Company, Labour Corps on Find My Past. This is part of their set 'British Army Service Records' for soldier W John 900003 RFA, and is a couple of sheets stamped RH & RFA Records Woolwich

This list gives a date of transfer to 370 POW Co. of 9 Nov 1918 for the numbers 375000-375009 &
375938 - 375979 (all of these men being transferred from non Labour Corps units). These are all in the Starling & Lee Sept-Nov 1917 allocation block and are close to the above 376022 number. So it looks as if there was a year's delay between the numbers being made available and their being utilised?

Richard

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