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Remembered Today:

MGC Uniform Insignia and other help requested


Minsmom

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I am researching my great uncle, born Henry Joseph Hadley 1885 in London, but who served in WWI as Joseph Henry Scott. I posted about him on this forum a long time ago and got lots of good pointers, but the focus of my questions has changed, so i'm trying again. Why he changed his name I haven't been able to find out, but family stories say it's because he had deserted at some point and re-joined.

Be that as it may, his regimental number was 114315 and he served in the Machine Gun Corps. He was badly gassed and died of the effects in 1929 at the Queen's hospital in Sidcup Kent. He was also injured another time, and all I have as explanation is a family story that says he was shot in the stomach at Passchendaele, but no confirmation. He does have two wound stripes on his uniform sleeve. What are the odds of any medical records surviving, or anything to say when/how he was injured?

On the medal roll it says 114315 MGC Pte., then I can't read the pencilled in theatre of war, then it says Class Z, (A.R.) 25.2.19 Does the 25.2.19 mean he was put on active reserve on Feb 2, 1919? Sounds like that would be too late.

I was reading about the regimental numbering for the MGC and came across this: there were 32,750 MGC numbers by April 1916 and increased by about 100 per day until September of that year. That would be about 21 weeks, so 21 x 7 days = 147 days x 100/day = 14,700. So by September 1916 there would have been about 32,750 + 14, 700 or approximately 47,450 numbers. It further says that there were 180,000 by September 1917. Since his number is 114,315 so is it safe to assume that he joined the MGC sometime between September 1916 and September 1917?

Can anyone tell me what the two insignia above the two wound stripes mean? Any other hints that can be gleaned from his uniform?


I'd appreciate any help at all - my dad is 90 and we're trying to unravel the mystery of his uncle...
thank you
Louise

post-123147-0-04042800-1435669111_thumb.

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The chevron is for a minimum of two years good conduct [next badge at 5 years].

The skill-at-arms badge at top is probably MG in wreath: first class machine gunner

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on the other sleeve overseas service stripes

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And below the chevron looks like two wound badges.

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Great - clues! :D

So if the chevron is time related, is it safe to say he served more than 2, but less than five, years in the MGC?

If he has two overseas service stripes, what does that mean? Two years? Two overseas "tours"?

Any chance whatsoever of figuring out when/where he was wounded? I have a researcher trying to track down pension records, which I feel will be my best hope, but any other suggestions would be most welcome.

Grumpy - why do you say later than Jan 1918? Every little bit of info is another crumb leading me closer to my great uncle. My dad (a WWII vet) just turned 90 - I really want to find out about his uncle. They never met - uncle died when dad was 4 and my grandmother, Henry Joseph's sister, was sent to Canada as a servant in 1890 at the age of ten as a Home Child and never saw any of her siblings again. She spoke very little about her youth, and it wasn't until well after her death that my dad started wondering about Home Children and got me started on this journey.

Thanks everyone - you're a fantastic lot!

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Hi Minsmom. Others here are more knowledgable, but I'll have a go. It's not entirely safe to jump to that particular conclusion following the GC chevron: he might have served longer, but just not qualified for another chevron on account of some military misdemeanour. This is unlikely though, given that no other unit is recorded on his MIC or in the roll (and the MGC was only formed in 1916). The two overseas chevrons signify that he had served between 12 months and 24 months overseas - as soon as he entered his third full year overseas, he'd be entitled to a third chevron. Up to one month leave spent at home in any 12 also counted towards the award of the next chevron. There were no 'tours' as such in the first world war, in the sense of time spent in theatre followed by time spent at home. Most men sent abroad stayed aborad (apart from periods of leave) until they were posted back home (which was rare for men) or were wounded. The photo must be later than Jan 1918 because that is when the chevrons were introduced.

Munce

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Wound stripes (strips) were awarded one for each "occasion" wounded so that fits with your family lore regarding Passchedaele and then gassing.

In 1918 the policy for manning the trenches had changed, mainly as a tactic to reduce casualties from artillery bombardment in the most forward trench line, but also because the British Army had less men available since the PM, Lloyd George, had refused calls from FM Haig for ever more reinforcements. Instead younger men were retained in graduated and young soldier battalions at home and sent out in a more systematic way when they reached 19. This had a number of effects, but there were two especially significant ones. First, all infantry Brigades were reduced from four battalions to three, which meant that brigade frontages when in the line were more thinly manned, and also covered a lesser distance (width ways). Second the forward line was no longer a line, but instead a series of machine gun nests each separated from the next, but with interlocking arcs of fire covering a wide frontage. The idea was that this reduced casualties from pre-attack bombardments by the enemy, and allowed the bulk of the infantry to be set back ready to rush forwards and man the forward trenchline once the enemy bombardment lifted and enemy infantry began their assault. The gap in time between the enemy bombardment being lifted, and our infantry arriving in the forwards line, was to be covered by the machine gunners of the MGC previously mentioned.

In the event, when the great German offensive of March 1918 began, the British plan did not go well. As well as bombarding the forwards area with a mixture of high explosive, shrapnel and above all, gas shells, there was a thick fog that reduced visibility to a minimum. Consequently the MGC's forward MG nests were unable to see, badly gassed, and either, over-run, or bypassed by specially trained, infiltrating "storm troopers". In addition, the Germans had many other batteries of artillery concentrating on both, the area immediately behind the front line, thus sealing it off from reinforcements, and the British's own artillery positions, in order to hamper any counter-battery fire. This was all very successful and a large hole was opened in the British line, especally through the Fifth Army.

I of course do not know for sure, but it seems to me quite possible that Joseph Henry Scott was perhaps one of the forward machine gunners who was badly gassed, but perhaps managed to get to the rear and avoid capture. If nothing else, it is an interesting and entirely feasible hypothesis that would explain his eventual fate, and the fact that he seems to have played no further part in the war.

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The award of each GC badge was conditional on good conduct. All that anyone can say without documentation is that one badge = at least 2 years service [which goes nicely with the overseas chevrons] and two GCBs = at least 5 years service.

Service is "military service" not service in a particular regiment etc.

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Grumpy - why do you say later than Jan 1918?

The presence of the OS chevrons, having been introduced with Army Order 4 in late December 1917.

Cheers,

GT.

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Thanks everybody. This is all fascinating information to me.

Frogsmile - somehow, reading your description gave me a truly vivid sense of the horror of war. Thank you. We owe a great debt to those brave men.

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Hello again. If you can stand one more question...

I've been looking around and have seen a few photos of Machine Gun Corps men and noticed something - in the photo of my great uncle, the collar on his tunic is upright, like a Nehru jacket almost, but in the photos I've seen they are down, like a normal collar. Any ideas why?

thanks

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Hello again. If you can stand one more question...

I've been looking around and have seen a few photos of Machine Gun Corps men and noticed something - in the photo of my great uncle, the collar on his tunic is upright, like a Nehru jacket almost, but in the photos I've seen they are down, like a normal collar. Any ideas why?

thanks

Have a look at:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=219255&hl=hook#entry2178001

It was also common to have them tailored into standing collar, it was a look that was just generally considered smarter than that presented by the ordinary folded collar.

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What Andrew has said is correct and the style was also a reflection of the scarlet 'frock' (loose fitting working jacket) collar that had been the infantries day-to-day and fighting dress prior to the introduction of khaki serge 'service dress' in 1902. The upright collar was also a feature of the full dress tunic and was considered a very smart, soldierly look. It is still worn by the Guards and British Army corps of drums, buglers, pipers and bands in their full dress.

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