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Remembered Today:

Walter Percy Marshall - Royal Berks Regt & Royal Navy


Phil Wood
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Rather an odd case which I am struggling to comprehend - as ever, any insights welcome!

Walter Percy Marshall (born 9 Dec 1891) from Newbury signed up with the Royal Berkshire territorials on 29 Mar 1911 for the usual 4 year term.

In 1914 he must have signed the Imperial Service Obligation since he went to France with the 1/4th Royal Berks in 1915 (landed at Boulogne on 30 Mar).

His time would have expired the day before the battalion boarded the ship bound for France.The 1914-15 Star roll shows he was discharged on 3 Apr 1916.

So far this is consistent with what I understand to have been normal practice - at the end of his 4 year term of service the army took advantage of its right to hang on to him for one more year, after which he was entitled to escape to civvy street.

However, this was after the introduction of conscription and a trained soldier would have been an attractive target. So it is not surprising to read in a newspaper article (Jul 1916) covering the death of his brother to find the information that Walter had been called up for further service on the 3rd of August.

This is where it gets confusing - Walter enlists into the navy on 29 Nov 1916. One can't fault his survival instinct - but how did he manage it?

My only conclusion is that he was able to evade the August call-up either through fitness or being a key worker of some sort and then decided to serve out of guilt, patriotic fervour, or whatever and joined the navy.

I'm not over-happy with this explanation because I suspect he was a drayman (so I'm not convinced he was a key worker) and he ended up as a stoker in the navy (so he can't have been very unfit).

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A man might have received his call up notice in August but they weren't always then asked to report immediately.

The notice would tell them they were wanted for service but it was then down to the military to decide exactly when.

He may also have managed to get a temporary exemption for some reason.

Craig

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I can see possible reasons for the delay - but not for the military allowing a fit infantryman with front line experience to join the navy as a stoker. Perhaps he was exhibiting some PTSD symptoms, mentally fragile but physicaly able to use a shovel.

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If he was not serving in the army, I can see no reason why he should not volunteer to serve in the RN. And I see no way that the army could prevent his volunteering if the RN accepted him. He would have been required to declare his previous military service on RN engagement.

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A lot of time-expired territorials joined the navy after discharge in 1916, presumably they'd rather that than risk going back to the tranches.

Craig

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