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An Analysis of the 1/6th King's Liverpool (Liverpool Rifles)


IRC Kevin
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Although it’s taken nearly three months to input all the data from the battalion’s Casualty Book, the effort has been worthwhile. I have been surprised by a number of findings, not the least being just how inaccurate the Medal Rolls are. No less than 82 men are attributed to the 1/6th on the Rolls, who clearly never served with them—this does not include men who were destined for the battalion, but were diverted elsewhere from an IBD, who are recorded in the Casualty Book. The analysis is based on only those who served overseas with the battalion, a total of 4,052 officers and men. It does not include ‘paper postings’ i.e. those posted to the battalion who never actually reached it due to their attachments elsewhere, though appear on their books. Unfortunately, the battalion ceased to record officers in the Casualty Book in late 1916, so I’ve had to trawl through 55 Division's A&Q returns to complete my roll and the analysis does not take into account any officer-sickness from late 1916 onwards—though casualty details have been included, based on A&Q returns and the battalion war diary. The Casualty Book is not infallible, there are quite a few names spelled incorrectly, some numbers wrong, and two men who deployed with the battalion in 1915 do not appear in the record. These are almost certainly clerical errors, as they have identical names to other men and the entries show that the battalion numbers of the missing men were transposed with those appearing in the book. Luckily, the military histories of each were different enough to be able to work out who was who. The analysis includes attached ORs from the RAMC and ASC drivers who deployed with the battalion in February 1915 and also the MOs. There is no record of an Armourer-Sergeant from the AOC, though one of the battalion is designated Armourer-Corporal and possibly worked for either Carswell’s or Wesley Richards, both of whom had premises in Liverpool.

The Liverpool Rifles was very much a white-collar battalion prior to the war, with members required to hold clerical or professional jobs. An analysis of surviving Service Records for the 1/4th King’s Own—centred around the Barrow area—showed an average height of 5’ 5”; a similar study for the 1/5th King’s Own—centred around Lancaster— indicated men were on average taller, with 5’ 7” being the norm. The early Liverpool Rifles up the ante yet again, with an average height of 5’ 9”. The abundance of well-educated men led to large numbers of those sent home wounded or sick, being commissioned in 1915 and 1916—over 40 of whom were killed with their new units.

In the early years of the war, I saw little variation between the Rifles and the two King’s Own battalions in the way disciplinary matters were dealt with, however this changed from late 1917 onwards. Both KORL battalions in 55 Division tended to be fairly understanding when married men arrived back one or two days late from leave—the usual punishment being to be fined the equivalent number of days’ pay and 5 days’ confined to barracks. Not so the 1/6th. Standard retribution for just one day late was 28 days’ pay, plus 10 days’ Field Punishment No. 1. Pretty harsh. A total of six men were caught sleeping on post, the first of whom was sentenced to be shot (not carried out), the next was given 5 years’ PS, later reduced to 2 years’ IHL, the latter becoming the standard. Most of these sentences were quickly commuted/suspended.

I get the impression that the battalion was having issues with discipline in 1918. It is abundantly clear that when other battalions were instructed to post large numbers of their men to them, that they did not choose their finest. The 1/7th were thus instructed in 1916 and sent their old and worn out; within a month and almost to a man, these were graded ‘PB’ and sent to the IBD. The 1/6th were no better—when they were ordered to temporarily attach a large number of men to the 1/9th from 20 May until 25 July 1916, every man they sent had only been at the Front for two weeks. (a good many of whom were underage) When the two Liverpool Irish battalions merged in 1918, the 8th obviously saw this as an opportunity to get rid of their naughtiest soldiers. (And a naughty soldier from the Liverpool Irish was a formidable problem! Fortunately, one or two superb NCOs were also posted across) The Casualty Book for this draft contains many entries of drunkenness, desertion, insolence to officers & NCOs, failure to comply with orders; all of which were extremely rare prior to this. In 1917, noticeably large numbers of men were arriving at 24 IBD from infantry training units England, who were patently unsuitable for military service at the Front, due to infirmity, age, general fitness, or mental capacity and although these are recorded in the Casualty Book as men destined for the battalion, their subsequent re-postings and the reasons why are also noted. There are so many of these- frequently dozens at a time- that one wonders what was going on back in England.

The records show no less than 43 soldiers discovered as ‘underage’ and either returned home and discharged, or posted to 24 IBD. This wasn’t entirely due anxious parents reacting to Somme casualty figures, as 6 are from 1915, though the vast majority occurred in the months following 1 July 1916. Only two appear in early 1917, suggesting that the system back in England had got a grip on the problem, no doubt aided by Conscription. One was awarded the ‘MM in the field’ 12 days before he was found out and returned home; additionally, another was mortally wounded in September 1916, aged 17, his ‘misstatement as to age’ never discovered. Just 2 of the 43 returned were picked up at the Divisional Training School, the rest having reached the Front. If the figure of 44 men in this one battalion was the norm, then this would suggest over 500 underage soldiers in 55 Division alone and Heaven knows how many throughout the Army.

Overall, 714 officers and men died from all causes, a total of 17.6%. Casualties in action from all causes (including men taken prisoner) numbered 2,455, a total of 60.1%. (Accidental and self-inflicted injuries are not included in the latter and deaths in England due to accident and illness prior to deployment are not included in the former) It was no surprise to see that 1,340 (55%) of casualties occurred in their first three months at the Front; after that, the odds of becoming a casualty dropped considerably. The table below includes figures for the two KORL battalions in the 55 Division, whose statistics based on a representative sample of just under 2,000 Service Records, are broadly similar. Differences between the battalions can be easily explained by the roles individual battalions had in major attacks—some resulting in much lower losses, or reduced opportunities to evacuate the wounded.

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The health of the battalion has also thrown up a number of surprises. In particular trench foot, with only 15 men noted as suffering from this, a figure well below the two KORL battalions. While this may be due in part to the affliction being recorded as ICT foot, there were none of these diagnoses during wet periods, so these cases have been counted under ICT. 55 Division treated trench foot as a case of negligence and questions were asked rather firmly if a man went down with it. One entry in an A&Q return in the Salient in 1917 actually explains that a man developed trench foot as no waders of a suitable size could be found for him. The difference may be down to sectors served in during 1915, as most cases from the KORL battalions were from this early period in the notoriously soggy Loos and Festubert.

Another figure that did not mirror my expectations was for flu. 315 officers and men are recorded as suffering from flu (7.8%). 242 of these were the usual seasonal flu and only 73 from Spanish flu. (I’ve counted anyone catching flu in 1918 as having Spanish flu) There is not one single case in the record of any personnel who suffered from seasonal flu in 1915, 1916, or 1917, catching flu in 1918. The only example I could unearth was Louis Weld-Blundell, who had seasonal flu in June 1915, left the battalion in October 1915 and (according to the Internet) died from Flu in February 1919 whilst serving with the London Regiment. The vast majority of those who were recorded with flu in 1918 caught it whilst they were in a CCS, or hospital for unrelated wounds, injuries or sickness.

Shell shock totalled 137 officers and men (3.4%) and mirrors the two KORL battalions—all three battalions seeing overwhelmingly the highest incidence in August and September 1916 on the Somme. ICT and trench fever again compare well, but scabies is considerably lower than the in the other two battalions. There are many cases of ‘NYD fever’, which have not been included in the analysis and may well have turned out to be trench fever when diagnosed back in England—these later diagnoses were not recorded in the Casualty Book. There are fewer trench nephritis cases than the other two battalions—possibly some of these were only properly diagnosed back home? There were many impetigo cases, but I didn’t record these, likewise diarrhoea, enteric fever and dysentery. The incidence of diarrhoea falls off considerably by mid 1916 and it is clear that measures put in place to improve men's health are becoming effective. Five cases of typhoid—one fatal—in 1915 demonstrated that not all had received the non-compulsory vaccination. There was also a fatality from tetanus in 1917. Small numbers of men contacted diptheria, scarlet fever and there is even a solitary case of malaria in the Salient in 1915. I have not recorded sexually transmitted diseases, but the incidence of these fits in well with established figures. I’ve lumped other afflictions into two categories. The first concerns myalgia, rheumatism, arthritis and sciatica. A total of 108 men suffered from these, with rheumatism and myalgia accounting for the vast majority—some unfortunates suffered from both. All heart conditions (DAH, VDH, cardiac murmur and tachycardia) are also lumped together, with a total of 40 sufferers, some having more than one, but an almost 50/50 split between DAH and VDH.

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Interesting...thanks.

Bernard

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  • Admin

Thanks - an interesting read. If only more of these books survived.

Craig

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Excellent work Kevin.

Thanks for sharing the fruits of your labour.

Neil

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I feel that there is another excellent book on its way?

John

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I feel that there is another excellent book on its way?

John

Good guess, John. The second and third King's Own Volumes are in the queue with the publisher. The 'Liverpool Rifles' is now nearing the end of the research phase, with just the missing archive from the Jeudwine Papers to track down and four years worth of Liverpool newspapers to read through. (Somewhere inside the Jeudwine Papers are the citation papers for 'Immediate Awards for Bravery', but they've been mis-filed at some point and reside Lord knows where.)

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Kevin

I looked at 55 Div's recommendations for awards some years ago. They were then filed under 356 FIF Serial 16 at the Liverpool Record Office.

Charles M

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Kevin

I looked at 55 Div's recommendations for awards some years ago. They were then filed under 356 FIF Serial 16 at the Liverpool Record Office.

Charles M

They had a reorganisation and renumbering not so long ago and the 'Immediate Awards' file for the 1/6th is now an almost empty folder, with just two misfiled citations in it. The relevant documents have obviously been slipped into another folder, but finding which one is going to be the issue. I have asked the archivist to look, but suspect that I'm going to have to work my way through the lot myself.

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THanks Kevin fo an interesing read. I will look out for the book......

Since you mentioned the name, you might also like to know that th Weld Blundell pub in Lydiate closed a month ago.

Bruce

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THanks Kevin fo an interesing read. I will look out for the book......

Since you mentioned the name, you might also like to know that th Weld Blundell pub in Lydiate closed a month ago.

Bruce

Sad- it was a nice place the last time I was there. I haven't been to Lydiate since I took part in the excavation of Lydiate Hall in about 1980.

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Thankfully, the oldest inn in Lancashire.....the Scotch Piper, about half a mile away....is still very much open.

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Kevin - that is a fascinating piece of research. I can imagine just how painstaking it was to input all the data. Congratulations, it is very impressive.

Could I ask a a few questions and make one comparative observation;

1. 'Casualties' in the first table - are these battle casualties or do they include non-battle casualties?

2. The heavy skew of casualties towards the first months is consistent with some battalion data from 1914 and 1915 cohorts of the BEF

3. Shellshock - is there any breakdown between Officers and Other ranks. Also interested to know if neurasthenia was also used as a description. There is one author that claims the latter term was used for Officers. Is there any evidence in your data?

4. Discipline. Is there any uptick in disciplinary problems that might coincide with the arrivals of conscripts? Also is there any correlation between conscription (using their enlistment dates from their Army Numbers) and discipline?

5. The height data - is that from surviving pension and service records - i.e. a sample - of did the casualty book record them all?

Thanks for sharing your research. Regards MG

Edit. Are you able to isolate the First Cohort - the men who landed with the original battalion rather than their subsequent reinforcements/replacements? Curious to understand how many survived without becoming a battle casualty. MG

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Kevin - that is a fascinating piece of research. I can imagine just how painstaking it was to input all the data. Congratulations, it is very impressive.

Could I ask a a few questions and make one comparative observation;

1. 'Casualties' in the first table - are these battle casualties or do they include non-battle casualties?

2. The heavy skew of casualties towards the first months is consistent with some battalion data from 1914 and 1915 cohorts of the BEF

3. Shellshock - is there any breakdown between Officers and Other ranks. Also interested to know if neurasthenia was also used as a description. There is one author that claims the latter term was used for Officers. Is there any evidence in your data?

4. Discipline. Is there any uptick in disciplinary problems that might coincide with the arrivals of conscripts? Also is there any correlation between conscription (using their enlistment dates from their Army Numbers) and discipline?

5. The height data - is that from surviving pension and service records - i.e. a sample - of did the casualty book record them all?

Thanks for sharing your research. Regards MG

Edit. Are you able to isolate the First Cohort - the men who landed with the original battalion rather than their subsequent reinforcements/replacements? Curious to understand how many survived without becoming a battle casualty. MG

Thanks, Martin.

1) Casualties are only for battle casualties, though there one 'grey' example, of a man shot by a sentry when he did not respond to a challenge. This man is listed as KIA in all records, but the Inquiry documents survive, which detail the circumstances. Deaths due to sickness, self-injury, or poor weapon handling by a third party have not been included.

2) Interestingly, the skew of casualties in their early months features throughout the war and is not just limited to the early years. For example, a draft of 36 men who arrived on 9 June 1917, all but two of whom had featured in the casualty lists as either dead or wounded by 21 September 1917. (The remaining two were killed in 1918)

3) The records for officers cease after 1916, but any listed with shellshock up to then were recorded as 'shellshock'. Looking at the sequences in the medical chain, (for all ranks) the appellation 'shellshock' is frequently noted next to the 'wounded in action' at battalion, but against the field ambulance, CCS, hospital and 'transport to England' sections both neurasthenia and shellshock are sometimes seen- sometimes alternately. There are two cases of neurasthenia where the record states 'neurasthenia-sick' and these have not been included in my totals.

4) There does seem to be an element of correlation between age and discipline charges levelled, with the younger soldiers more prone to 'gobbing off' and the married men late back from leave- and who can blame the latter? (Something that stood out with the KORL records too.) There don't seem to be any noticeable outbreaks of indiscipline with the arrival of conscripted men. Far and away the worst were the men posted from the Liverpool Irish. Two arrived, already under suspended sentence for desertion, another was a 'paper transfer' as he was in a military prison and no less than another twelve were given a FGCM subsequent to their arrival. One man was brought under escort to the battalion, escaped from the guardroom and declared a deserter again- caught, given 28 days' FP1 on top of his existing sentence, escaped again and was caught and sentenced to 5 yrs in a military prison-commuted to 2 yrs and as it was after the Armistice by the time he'd been recaptured for the final time, his medals were also forfeited. One bad boy not only ended up in the Military prison at Rouen, for a catalogue of misdeeds, but was given an extra 2 years for taking part in a mutiny at the prison.

5) Height data come from Service Records

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Thanks Kevin

I think this shows just what can happen when cold hard data is transcribed and can be manipulated (in a good way). It allows for all kinds of interesting themes and sub-themes to be explored that would otherwise have been dormant or unseen. It brings the data back to life. I have done some similar work, although the casualty book will put this into a class of its own. I was interested to see that some of the results were unexpected which might suggest they are counter-intuitive and will add some better understanding.

Your comments on the skew was interesting. I have done work on first cohorts and subsequent cohorts of reinforcements. It is interesting to see how many of the first cohort became casualties in, say, 3,6,9 12 months as you have done, but it is also interesting to see what happened as a percent of the residual numbers. For example for a battalion of 1,000, if say 40% became casualties in 6 months, what was the casualty rate for the remaining 600 in the next 6 months. If that too was 40%, one can look at what happened to the remaining 360 in the following 6 months. - an analysis on the casualty rates adjusted for the diminishing numbers of the originals...when this is compare the the time-define overall casualty rate, one might be able to measure the differentials and establish if risk of becoming a casualty increased or decreased with time and whether it increased the longer one spent in theatre.

While the circumstances of each battalion will of course vary, I have used it to try and establish if there is any correlation between battle casualty rates and time....to try and establish if the British Army became better at what would now be called 'risk management' (for want of a better expression) - preserving life and reducing battle casualties through tactical changes.. I have data for all Infantry and Cavalry and Staff Officers of 1914 and 1915 (based on the Star medal rolls). As it is a cross-section of the Army, it should in theory reduce the distortions in the data based on individual battalions....So I am very interested in seeing if similar patterns can be seen in individual battalion data to try and gauge the potential distortions compared to larger samples. Clearly Officer battle casualties differed significantly from Other Ranks, however the exercise throws up some rather unexpected results.

Curious to know how many service records survived...

MG

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I've got approx 600 records from the 1/6th, but as about 800 of the names I've ended up with weren't actually on my initial Medal Roll-based list, then there's probably considerably more surviving, as I hadn't searched for those men. These men were missed in my initial trawl as they either transferred out and appeared on their new unit's Roll, or they were 1/6 KLR and different battalions were given for them in the KLR Roll. I expected the Rolls to be more accurate than this case has shown them to be. (This doesn't include the 82 men the Rolls say were with the battalion, but weren't) I'm also surprised the effect of Spanish flu wasn't greater and it appears to have had little or no operational effect- quite the opposite of what 55 Division Intelligence Summaries were reporting for German units facing them- based upon prisoner interrogations. There are even 590 officers and men who were never wounded, did not report sick and were neither transferred, nor posted out for other reasons.

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Fascinating to read about the results of such detailed research. Let's hope the 6/KLR book ccomes out soon.

D

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They had a reorganisation and renumbering not so long ago and the 'Immediate Awards' file for the 1/6th is now an almost empty folder, with just two misfiled citations in it. The relevant documents have obviously been slipped into another folder, but finding which one is going to be the issue. I have asked the archivist to look, but suspect that I'm going to have to work my way through the lot myself.

Kevin,

I copied all of the recommendations and associated records some years ago, before the unhelpful 'reshuffle' of the papers. I have them filed by unit if I can be of assistance.

Ken

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Kevin,

I copied all of the recommendations and associated records some years ago, before the unhelpful 'reshuffle' of the papers. I have them filed by unit if I can be of assistance.

Ken

Many thanks, that would be great, Ken. Helena, the Archivist is on leave till Monday and if she doesn't have any joy, then I'll get back to you.

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Fascinating to read about the results of such detailed research. Let's hope the 6/KLR book ccomes out soon.

D

Probably going to be 2-3 years, as there's still some research to be done and the lead-time with publishers runs to about 8-10 months from acceptance. I reckon it will be a similar size to the first two King's Own volumes and end up around 250,000 words.

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Many thanks, that would be great, Ken. Helena, the Archivist is on leave till Monday and if she doesn't have any joy, then I'll get back to you.

I have a database of all the men named in the records, so if you want to message me with your e-mail address I can send the 6KLR men over to you for future comparison with the records that are still at the Record Office. It may be that some have gone missing since I copied them.

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I have a database of all the men named in the records, so if you want to message me with your e-mail address I can send the 6KLR men over to you for future comparison with the records that are still at the Record Office. It may be that some have gone missing since I copied them.

Thanks, Ken- message sent.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there,

My name is Paul Murphy and I'm doing a little research on the 2/7th KLR as my grandfather served with them from May 1915 to January 1917.

In all i have found that about 30 men ended up in the 2/7th coming from the 1/6th and 2/6th. There could be more....

My research is very limited as I live in Australia and it's all internet based. I've gathered my info from the War Diaries and looking through the Medal Rolls.

So far about 2129 OR and 117 Officers served in the 2/7th from landing in France Feb '17 to Nov '18.

My aim is to find all the originals who went to France. i have around 900 that would have sailed on the 15th Feb 1917. Another aim is to get myself to Liverpool and search the libraries and museums.

I'm lucky enough to have a couple of the Battalion photos before they embarked, one the full battalion, "A" Company and "C" companies panoramics. Would love to get the full set as my grandfather was in "B" company.

If you want the names of the 1/6th fellows who ended up in the 2/7th give me a bell.. I know it's not much!!

 

Cheers

 

Paul

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Thanks, Paul. I probably already have this information, as my original trawl last year was based on the Medal Rolls; any postings of men already on the roll of the 1/6th, or destined for them when they left England, but were diverted at the IBD, are also recorded in the Casualty Book. I'm not sure if there's much  information in the various archives in Liverpool about the 2/7th- the real treasure trove being the Jeudwine Archives for 55 Division, but it's worth contacting the Museum and archivist at the Record Office to see just what they've got. With the Record Office, you need to book the item a couple of days in advance- you can't just turn up and browse through. Sometime over the next couple of months I've got to go through four years worth of Echo and Daily Post on microfiche- if I find anything on the 2/7th, I'll photograph it and let you know. It's worth setting up a search on Ebay for photos, of the 2/7th- you get an e-mail if any items come up auction. I've done this for the 1/6th and already have four photos I'll be able to use for the book. 

regards,

Kevin

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57 minutes ago, IRC Kevin said:

Thanks, Paul. I probably already have this information, as my original trawl last year was based on the Medal Rolls; any postings of men already on the roll of the 1/6th, or destined for them when they left England, but were diverted at the IBD, are also recorded in the Casualty Book. I'm not sure if there's much  information in the various archives in Liverpool about the 2/7th- the real treasure trove being the Jeudwine Archives for 55 Division, but it's worth contacting the Museum and archivist at the Record Office to see just what they've got. With the Record Office, you need to book the item a couple of days in advance- you can't just turn up and browse through. Sometime over the next couple of months I've got to go through four years worth of Echo and Daily Post on microfiche- if I find anything on the 2/7th, I'll photograph it and let you know. It's worth setting up a search on Ebay for photos, of the 2/7th- you get an e-mail if any items come up auction. I've done this for the 1/6th and already have four photos I'll be able to use for the book. 

regards,

Kevin

Many thanks for the info Kevin. I've contacted the Museum and records office before with no luck. BTW I have a Shipman,J 240827 in my list. Is he one of yours?? And if he is do you have a first name as I can't find it anywhere... not sure if he was 1/6th of 2/6th

 

Regards

 

Paul

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