Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Recommended Posts

Dear Forum,

Can you please help me to decide on the identity of the attached uniform belonging to Arthur Cooper of Pontypridd South Wales? This was taken approximately March 1915 from the estimated age of his daughter who was born September 1914 when Arthurs occupation was Coal Miner.

I cant decide if Arthurs uniform is Yeomanry (maybe Glamorgan Yeomanry, D Sqd was based in Pontypridd) or Artillery (1st Welsh Heavy Howitzer Bde RFA TF was based in nearby Cardiff) or even Army Service Corps TF (detachment based at Ystrad, 8 miles from Pontypridd).

Arthur Cooper had previously been a Private in the Welsh Regt 1901-1908, but I suspect he might now be a Territorial who has since been mobilised looking at the 5 years good conduct stripes he sports? Sadly this photo does not depict his cap badge, but maybe the whistle is a clue?

There is no Arthur Cooper in the Glamorgan Yeomanry medal rolls, but plenty with that name in the TF RFA. Also note that Arthurs not sporting an Imperial Service badge, so maybe he never went overseas and was later discharged back to essential war work down the mines?

Thanks in advance, Lyndale.

post-47562-0-64652500-1432105811_thumb.j

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Without shoulder titles it is really impossible to tell in this case where no head dress is on view. Bandoliers can be misleading too as not all TF infantry battalions had received 08 web equipment by the time war was declared and some still had 03 Bandolier equipment.

Locality is the biggest clue as he would not have wanted to spend much money or time getting to and fro from the Drill Hall. Ergo his nearest unit seems the most likely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In addition to Frogsmile's comments, your chap is wearing ordinary infantry style trousers and not cavalry style breeches, so I think a Yeomanry unit is less likely.

However, you can see a shoulder title, just visible on his right shoulder, although it cannot be read. It does appears to be a straight title, not curved (mainly Infantry) and not a "T" or "Y" title. I would suggest that an Artillery unit (ie RFA RHA or RHA); an Army Service Corps or Royal Engineer shoulder title would be good contenders. They also relied on horsepower, hence his puttees are tied at the bottom in the mounted fashion.

Sepoy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The rationale is bang on and I concur with Sepoy on his comments. Unfortunately I cannot see the details so well on my phone screen. I suggest that you research further the men of his name in the RFA.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Frogsmile and Sepoy,

Thank you both for your interest in responding and I've been favouring artillery all along too.

It seems to me (with my better resolution photo) that the leather straps across both ankles of his boots, where one has a visible buckle on the side, might be the supports for spurs, thus association with horses rather than infantry wearing an old leather bandolier.

It was important to ask for assistance to discount yeomanry and start searching artillery records because the Glamorgan Yeomanry were headquartered right in Pontypridd. The TF RFA & RGA were at nearby Cardiff. I dismissed him being a recalled regular reservist because his pre-war regiment was the Welsh Reg't and had that been the case he would be in infantry garb in an early 1915 photo such as this.

With thanks Lyndale.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Frogsmile and Sepoy,

Thank you both for your interest in responding and I've been favouring artillery all along too.

It seems to me (with my better resolution photo) that the leather straps across both ankles of his boots, where one has a visible buckle on the side, might be the supports for spurs, thus association with horses rather than infantry wearing an old leather bandolier.

It was important to ask for assistance to discount yeomanry and start searching artillery records because the Glamorgan Yeomanry were headquartered right in Pontypridd. The TF RFA & RGA were at nearby Cardiff. I dismissed him being a recalled regular reservist because his pre-war regiment was the Welsh Reg't and had that been the case he would be in infantry garb in an early 1915 photo such as this.

With thanks Lyndale.

Glad to help Lyndale. looking now on a large screen for the first time I can see that he does indeed wear spurs and is thus most likely to be an RFA Gunner employed as a team driver.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RfA and RGA TF was Charles street, Cardiff, so very near Queen street station. Taff Vale Railway was a very good service apparently.

Just to throw a spanner in the works. The Charles street drill hall also had RE field company(Frogsmile could confirm they would be Infantry styled?) plus around the corner at Park street you had signal companies RE. This unit also employed drivers for the wagons, However this unit went east so unlikely he attended Park Street. Just so all possible units discounted!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RfA and RGA TF was Charles street, Cardiff, so very near Queen street station. Taff Vale Railway was a very good service apparently.

Just to throw a spanner in the works. The Charles street drill hall also had RE field company(Frogsmile could confirm they would be Infantry styled?) plus around the corner at Park street you had signal companies RE. This unit also employed drivers for the wagons, However this unit went east so unlikely he attended Park Street. Just so all possible units discounted!

Yes the field company would be infantry styled. Pontoon bridging units and signallers largely adopted mounted dress.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Added thanks to Scalyback & Grumpy too,

I checked my book on shoulder titles for TF artillery and yeomanry and Sepoy was on to something IF the bit showing on the edge is straight, because both these organisations had curved titles. Add to this Grumpy knowing that GCS in TF were not awarded in early 1915 and I have to know rethink that Cooper volunteered into a Kitchener or Regular unit when war was declared, or was a recalled reservist. However because his previous service was with the Welsh Regiment (from 1901 to at least 1908) then his recall would have surely been with that regiment.

Because Cooper is not dressed as infantry, it seems to me that he had fulfilled his reserve commitment and volunteered, that being the case would he have been allowed to put up his 2 GCS earned pre-war with the Welsh Reg't?

Cheers Lyndale.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Added thanks to Scalyback & Grumpy too,

I checked my book on shoulder titles for TF artillery and yeomanry and Sepoy was on to something IF the bit showing on the edge is straight, because both these organisations had curved titles. Add to this Grumpy knowing that GCS in TF were not awarded in early 1915 and I have to know rethink that Cooper volunteered into a Kitchener or Regular unit when war was declared, or was a recalled reservist. However because his previous service was with the Welsh Regiment (from 1901 to at least 1908) then his recall would have surely been with that regiment.

Because Cooper is not dressed as infantry, it seems to me that he had fulfilled his reserve commitment and volunteered, that being the case would he have been allowed to put up his 2 GCS earned pre-war with the Welsh Reg't?

Cheers Lyndale.

Yes, the good conduct badge was an Army-wide award and not regimental. As such it would not matter what cap badge he wore, his badges were earned and could be displayed on his uniform. If his reserve obligation still stood he would have been recalled by his regiment, if expired he could volunteer for any corps or regiment. If he had joined the TF whilst still under a reserve obligation to his regiment there were mechanisms to permit him to mobilise with the TF if he so chose.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Added thanks to Scalyback & Grumpy too,

I checked my book on shoulder titles for TF artillery and yeomanry and Sepoy was on to something IF the bit showing on the edge is straight, because both these organisations had curved titles.

Lyndale

What I was trying to say was that units such as the R.F.A.; R.G.A.; R.H.A. ; R.E.; A.S.C.; R.A.M.C.; A.O.C. etc etc have straight shoulder titles whereas many Infantry shoulder titles are curved ie WELSH.R.

Territorial units have quite large shoulder titles ie "COUNTY: R.F.A: T".

If you look at his left shoulder you can see the end of a shoulder title. It is not a curved shoulder title and it is not a Territorial "T" shoulder title. That is why I believe that he is in an Artillery Unit or Engineers etc who wore a straight shoulder title.

Regretfully, I am currently using an old laptop without access to my insignia photos (My main laptop packed up on Friday!) so I cannot post scans to illustrate my thoughts.

One more observation - is he wearing a whistle?

Sepoy

post-55476-0-10446000-1432763370_thumb.j

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A T-bar through the top pocket buttonhole is usually a feature of a pocket watch rather than a whistle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again to Sepoy and Frogsmile,

No need to worry about examples of shoulder titles, I'm aware of the types and I'm right there with you on your observation it's straight on the edge. I believe this eliminates RE, because the "E" would be set further in, plus if ASC or AOC, the edge would be broken as in a "C". This I believe leaves RFA and RGA, since Arthur was a regular in the infantry (Welsh Reg't) 1901-08, but out by 1910, so I don't think he would be RAMC, AVC etc.

I am pretty certain it's a 'whistle’ on a watch chain. I've been told on good authority that it was fairly common to display these on uniform in formal photos, basically flashing some ‘bling’ for posterity. Whatever it is, I am quite sure it’s not part of his formal uniform.

So let's sum up...

1. Pre war regular from 1901, Welsh Regiment, with sufficient service to gain 2 GCS: out by 1910 when a Collier on his 3rd child's birth certificate.

2. Photo accurately dates to Jan-March 1915 because of the Sep 1914 DoB of his daughter on mother's lap.

3. Associated with horses, no longer connected to infantry units.

4. Eliminate TF, because edge of shoulder titles is straight, plus GCS not issued to TF until 1916+.

5. Probably completed his reserve commitment, otherwise the Welsh Reg't would have claimed him.

6. Arthur has volunteered for WW1 in either the Regular Army or New Army, then produced his previous discharge papers and has been allowed to transfer his Welsh Reg't 2 GCS for his minimum 5-years previous service.

7. Lack of cavalry type boots and style of trousers (not breeches) eliminates the Cavalry.

8. The solid end to the last letter on his shoulder title, plus all other things considered, really only leaves RFA or RGA and his spurs suggest rank of Driver.

I honestly invite any opposing thoughts to my summing up, or indeed endorsements, before I next go off and try and find the right man amongst the very many "Arthur Cooper's" with no middle name in the RFA/RGA in the medal rolls.

One other thing, I also have a photo taken of him on his own in 'Hospital Blues' (no cap again) with nothing identifiable in the background, suggesting he might have been wounded or was taken sick (even sickness in UK service?)but considering the shortage of coal miners by 1916, I'm also thinking he may have not even set foot overseas at all and may have been discharged mid-war for vital war service as a Collier?

Cheers Lyndale.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again to Sepoy and Frogsmile,

No need to worry about examples of shoulder titles, I'm aware of the types and I'm right there with you on your observation it's straight on the edge. I believe this eliminates RE, because the "E" would be set further in, plus if ASC or AOC, the edge would be broken as in a "C". This I believe leaves RFA and RGA, since Arthur was a regular in the infantry (Welsh Reg't) 1901-08, but out by 1910, so I don't think he would be RAMC, AVC etc.

I am pretty certain it's a 'whistle’ on a watch chain. I've been told on good authority that it was fairly common to display these on uniform in formal photos, basically flashing some ‘bling’ for posterity. Whatever it is, I am quite sure it’s not part of his formal uniform.

So let's sum up...

1. Pre war regular from 1901, Welsh Regiment, with sufficient service to gain 2 GCS: out by 1910 when a Collier on his 3rd child's birth certificate.

2. Photo accurately dates to Jan-March 1915 because of the Sep 1914 DoB of his daughter on mother's lap.

3. Associated with horses, no longer connected to infantry units.

4. Eliminate TF, because edge of shoulder titles is straight, plus GCS not issued to TF until 1916+.

5. Probably completed his reserve commitment, otherwise the Welsh Reg't would have claimed him.

6. Arthur has volunteered for WW1 in either the Regular Army or New Army, then produced his previous discharge papers and has been allowed to transfer his Welsh Reg't 2 GCS for his minimum 5-years previous service.

7. Lack of cavalry type boots and style of trousers (not breeches) eliminates the Cavalry.

8. The solid end to the last letter on his shoulder title, plus all other things considered, really only leaves RFA or RGA and his spurs suggest rank of Driver.

I honestly invite any opposing thoughts to my summing up, or indeed endorsements, before I next go off and try and find the right man amongst the very many "Arthur Cooper's" with no middle name in the RFA/RGA in the medal rolls.

One other thing, I also have a photo taken of him on his own in 'Hospital Blues' (no cap again) with nothing identifiable in the background, suggesting he might have been wounded or was taken sick (even sickness in UK service?)but considering the shortage of coal miners by 1916, I'm also thinking he may have not even set foot overseas at all and may have been discharged mid-war for vital war service as a Collier?

Cheers Lyndale.

I agree with most of your assessment other than the very minor point of the T-bar and chain. It was much more common for pocket watches to be carried in top pockets (in addition to clasp knives) rather than a whistle, which was really only common with platoon sergeants of infantry (obligatory for the platoon officers). Timepieces were especially important for members of gunner units.

Hospital blues indicate wounding, or 'sickness' requiring bed rest, I agree. Even VD wards wore them.

As a trained and experienced miner he might well have been discharged to support the war effort as you say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Frogsmile,

No doubt then that a watch is at the other end in his pocket.

I also think I can discount RGA on account of him wearing spurs?

Cheers Lyndale.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Frogsmile,

No doubt then that a watch is at the other end in his pocket.

I also think I can discount RGA on account of him wearing spurs?

Cheers Lyndale.

RGA is a lot less likely but you cannot rule it out completely. They too had transport men and some of the lighter siege guns early in the war were drawn by heavy dray horses, you would need to know the nature of his local unit. As the siege guns became bigger and of heavier calibre the dray horses were replaced by steam tractors.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1/1 Heavy (i think) was the local TF unit it also had the ammunition column, would a miner use to hard manual work be ideal for humping shells and supplies?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1/1 Heavy (i think) was the local TF unit it also had the ammunition column, would a miner use to hard manual work be ideal for humping shells and supplies?

Yes, that's a very good point. The ammunition columns were made up of both ASC and RFA / RGA men. They were mixed units.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mystery Solved! Royal Field Artillery was CORRECT!

My thanks to Frogsmile, Sepoy, Scalyback & Grumpy,

I believe in the importance of positive feedback when intelligent guesses have to me made sometimes...

Instead of relying on the soldier's daughter's Sep 1914 baptism, which stated his civil occupation only as Collier, I persuaded my friend to fork out 10 quid and send for the actual birth certificate, because this should tell us what Arthur Cooper's military status was, if recalled as a reservist or volunteered by that date. It arrived today and stated in the occupation column "Driver Royal Field Artillery 27722 (Coal Hewer)". This turns out to be the ONLY document detailing this mans service during WW1, because he's not in the medal rolls, nor the SWB List, presumably served only in UK. His other photo that I mentioned earlier of him in 'Hospital Blues' uniform obviously pertains to sickness in a UK hospital, not a wounding.

Well done to you all, a 100% success due to some very experienced knowledge.

Cheers Lyndale in Melbourne Australia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mystery Solved! Royal Field Artillery was CORRECT!

My thanks to Frogsmile, Sepoy, Scalyback & Grumpy,

I believe in the importance of positive feedback when intelligent guesses have to me made sometimes...

Instead of relying on the soldier's daughter's Sep 1914 baptism, which stated his civil occupation only as Collier, I persuaded my friend to fork out 10 quid and send for the actual birth certificate, because this should tell us what Arthur Cooper's military status was, if recalled as a reservist or volunteered by that date. It arrived today and stated in the occupation column "Driver Royal Field Artillery 27722 (Coal Hewer)". This turns out to be the ONLY document detailing this mans service during WW1, because he's not in the medal rolls, nor the SWB List, presumably served only in UK. His other photo that I mentioned earlier of him in 'Hospital Blues' uniform obviously pertains to sickness in a UK hospital, not a wounding.

Well done to you all, a 100% success due to some very experienced knowledge.

Cheers Lyndale in Melbourne Australia.

Thank you for taking time to provide feedback. It was interesting to help. I suspect he was involved in home defence, as a coal hewer he would have been vital to the war effort in his civilian occupation. As a TF soldier his income would have been topped up by the Army.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...