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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Sergt. William Austin 4th London Reg. and W.A.F.F.


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I picked up a nice 1914/15 trio to 2018, 280358 William Austin of the 4th Bn. London Regiment on a on-line auction recently


It was only when I downloaded the medal roll entry for his War Medal and Victory Medal that I found another facet to his WW1 service. The roll reads -

280358 Sgt. AUSTIN, William.

4 Lond R. Sgt 2018. 1(a) 6.1.15 to 12.9.16 (The 1(a) being the theatre of War in which he served - Western Europe) and,

W.A.F.F. 280358 5b 27.10.18 to 29.3.19 (5b is South West Africa)

There's an obvious gap in his service dates. I can find no record of his being the recipient of a Silver War Badge, so I assume he most have been serving in the UK from September 1916.

I'd never come across the W.A.F.F. before and a web search provided little more than the full title, the West Africa Frontier Force. I can find references to their activities early in WW1 but I cannot find any clue as to why a Sergeant from the 4th Londons should find himself in S.W. Africa at the end of the war. Sadly his service records do not appear on Ancestry.

Any information or advice would be most welcome.


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From the little that I have seen of British soldiers serving in the WAFF there seems to have been a number of personnel from quite a few Regiments in the various elements of the Force,which were:

The Queen's Own Nigeria Regiment,

The Gold Coast Regiment,

The Royal Sierra Leone Regiment,and,

The Gambia Regiment.

By 1918 there were 18 Battalions among these four,Nigeria having 9 and the others 9 between them.

I have certainly read of a Londons Sergeant fighting with the Gold Coast Regiment. The difficulty is in finding to what extent our soldiers supported these units,but I do read that they were under the control of the Army Council in London.

You may have seen that the second service number,which you attribute to the WAFF,is the 1917 re-number of the 4 Londons,so likely that he was seconded to the Force.

Also,had you considered that the gap between Sep 1916 and Oct 1918 may have been due to him receiving wounds on the Somme (Battle of Ginchy or thereabouts) ?

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Many thanks for the helpful reply.

The medal roll indicates no overseas service for nearly 2 years which may well have been as a result of wounds as you suggest.

I understand that there is a book, dealing with the W.A.F.F. during WW1, which I shall try and find.


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