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Unknown Sgt. Major (recorded), Royal Horse Guards


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As best I can tell there are 31 men of the Royal Horse Guards (R.H.G.) on the Menin Gate Memorial and none of them are Sergeant Majors. I can see no other short form that would be R.H.G.? Might any other rank show the "Crown"?

 

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The web tells me that the rank "Corporal of Horse" was the same as Serjeant in the Household Cavalry and there are four (4) of those on the Menin Gate Memorial. Odd but the CWGC site does not let me search for that rank, even though it is listed as a rank on their site and in that cemetery.

 

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doc1819989.JPG

Edited by laughton
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I am not a cavalry expert by any means but I hope one will come along and correct any errors that follow. I used Dawnay's work and the 1914 Clothing Regs as sources.

 

Household Cavalry [both regiments] do not use "sergeant" in rank titles. All rank badges included the crown, as a regimental badge.

 

During the Great War the appointments/ ranks were:

 

trooper [no distinguishing badge]

there was no lance-corporal until 1921 BUT SEE POST 9 BELOW

Corporal: 2 chevrons and crown

Corporal of horse: 3 chevrons and crown [= sergeant in remainder of army]

Squadron corporal major: 4 chevrons point up lower sleeve, and crown [= colour sergeant in infantry but see* below]

Quartermaster corporal major as Squadron corporal major [this is an anomaly because in the remainder of the army the Quartermaster sergeant of the unit was one grade higher than the colour sergeant or equivalents. *I think this is because the Squadron corporal major was in fact graded higher than the equivalents]

Regimental corporal major ......... a Warrant Officer.

 

There were numerous band and artificer and skill-at-arms appointments and titles, enough to make the head whirl.

 

In 1915 the introduction of a junior grade of Warrant Officer led to more changes.

 

In about 1960 a new appointment to lance-corporal-of-horse was created, in effect to allow full corporals Mess privileges previously accorded to lance-sergeants of Foot Guards.

 

Standing by for correction

 

Edited by Muerrisch
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Very interesting thank you. CWGC records produce zero dead lance corporals for either Life Guards or RHG.

 

My statement was lifted from Dawnay, who is usually correct but not infallible.

 

Geoff's Search Engine found a meagre total of 12 between 1LG, 2LG and RHG.

 

Very curious.

Edited by Muerrisch
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Presumably Map 28 Square T 11.a.5.7. is able to be located? From what grumpy posted, Corporals also wore a Crown, so that widens the field slightly, but the identity for "Sergt Major" implies the presence not only of a Crown but perhaps the gold wire of stripes? What distinguishing clothing features would enable the identification as "RHG" - the buttons, the discs or the receipt?

PS: The old fall back of Geoffs Search Engine allows the selection of Corporal of Horse.
You can also rearrange the order of the CWGC records by clicking on whichever heading you choose; alphabetically Up or Down; chronologically by Date of Death, by Service Number (but note that it will run through 1 then 10-19  etc before reaching 2***** and so on)

 

Geoffs found these 5 RHG Lance Corporals

001    BURFIELD    FHT    1475    -    19/11/1914    ROYAL HORSE GUARDS (Menin Gate)
002    DACK    O    1564    ATTD MACHINE GUN SECT    17/08/1916    ROYAL HORSE GUARDS (Known burial)
003    DICKIE    JM    2279    -    24/12/1916    ROYAL HORSE GUARDS (Known)
004    DUNN    PR    304168    -    11/06/1921    ROYAL HORSE GUARDS (Known)
005    HARPER    FEA    1548    -    30/10/1914    ROYAL HORSE GUARDS (Menin Gate)

There are also 25 Corporals, according to Geoff, but I haven't gone through for Memorial or burial details

just to complicate things!)

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Steven Broomfield
6 hours ago, Muerrisch said:

 

 

Household Cavalry [both regiments] 

 

 

Utterly pedantically, in the GW, would that be 'all three regiments', the 1st and 2nd Life Guards being separate entities?

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Stephen, In context #2 I was describing current usage.

 

I also acknowledge all three entities in #4.

 

Current practice is well-descibed at http://householdcavalry.info/hcranks.html

although I am rather sceptical that the full range of "trade" badges is worn in tunic order: they are certainly avoided by Foot Guards, as marking the scarlet tunic when removed.

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Steven Broomfield

Fair point.

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I have been digging around on the subject of lance-corporals of the Household Cavalry.

 

Clearly they existed!

 

However, my researches suggest that, unlike, for example, the infantry, there was no provision for PAID lance-corporals until soon after the war ended. The infantry had unpaid and paid lance-corporals. The realistic view is probably that, as in the remainder of the armed services, there were often not enough corporals to do duty, so aspirants would be appointed on probation to see if they could hack it.

 

If this is so, the next question would be: did they have a badge, and what might it be?  It was inevitable that a badge was necessary, or any "old-soldier" could claim ignorance. As for the badge, again, surely the regimental crown would figure. Finally, because the Guards had already usurped two chevrons for a lance-corporal rather than the usual one, it seems highly likely that the Household Cavalry would follow suit.

Addendum: Clothing Regs 1926 have a LCpl of Household Cavalry with one chevron and crown. I find that difficult to believe.

 

So my tentative conclusion would be that these lance-corporals were unpaid, and wear two chevrons and a crown. They do so currently.

 

It would be nice to have a captioned photograph from the period.

Edited by Muerrisch
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So we can say he was clearly a "Corporal of the Horse", as he had the 3 Chevrons. That means there are four (4) candidates and we could only separate them if we could distinguish when the Royal Horse Guards were at or near 28.I.11.a.5.7 which is shown in the trench map below. 

 

The candidates and men on these dates are: (see CWGC image in first post)

  • 1 on 15 October 1914
  • 2 on 30 October 1914
  • 1 on 6 November 1914

My guess is that these dates are all too close together to separate the men but it is always worth the try. Sometimes you get lucky! The men deserve the try. Perhaps there is something in the war diary of that period that would help? As a Canadian, this is too far out of our area of expertise so we throw it to the GWF Pals to see what they can find.

 

All worth the effort, as yesterday I knew nothing about a "Corporal of the Horse"! :D

 

49r8zf1f56i5rb26g.jpg

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Laughton, Now you have me going!

 

QUOTE:

 

So we can say he was clearly a "Corporal of the Horse", as he had the 3 Chevrons. 

 

That is not the evidence presented by the exhumation, is it? All we have is crown badge and buttons. As I stressed above, the crown badge was common to ALL NCOs and WOs of the regiment, as a regimental distinction.

 

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For the rank to have been recorded as Sergeant Major, however erroneous in terminology, surely there would have to have been four reversed chevrons and a crown, as Grumpy describes in #2?  I think I'm right in saying other badges of rank existed using four reversed chevrons, but with things other than crowns above them - Drum Majors being the most obvious.  So I think Corporal of Horse is out and that the man was a Squadron Corporal Major, by the sounds of it.

 

That would lead you to Household Cavalry, but not which regiment, which presumably is where the buttons come in.

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Brummell, a straight "sergeant major" [by which I mean regimental corporal major in a HC sense] would have had a crown and nothing else in 1914.

 

From mid 1915 such an august prescence would have the Royal Arms as his rank badge, and a squadron corporal major a crown and nothing else.

 

In any case the exhumation party betrays its ignorance by associating "sergeant" with RHG. The trail is too slender to follow.

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Yes, but if this was a 1914 casualty, and going by the detail you gave in #2, would not a Squadron Corporal Major would have had four reversed chevrons and a crown?

 

What I'm suggesting is that if you had an ill-informed exhumation party, they might well have identified regiment from buttons and knowing it was Household Cavalry, identified the rank as being the equivalent of a Sergeant Major from the presence of a crown rather than anything else above the chevrons, without knowing the correct term?

 

A bit of conjecture.

 

By the end of October, the Royal Horse Guards were up at Zandvoorde, quite far from these coordinates, although of course there is always the died of wounds factor.

 

 

- brummell

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Yes I believe an SCM in 1914 would have 4 chevrons point up, and a crown.

 

But the evidence presented says "crown". Perhaps the chevrons had rotted away ............ I have no idea how quick that sort of process was and don't wish to pursue that thought too far.

 

So, at the risk of being boring, a crown and buttons adduced as evidence for a RHG cadaver takes us no further than "an NCO or a WO" [just had a nasty thought .......... or a major or a lt-col ...............].

 

Did RHG other ranks sport regimental buttons on SD?

 

As I tried to make clear, I am out of my depth with donkey-wallopers, just playing Devil's advocate.

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Oh, I see what you mean.  Sgt Major rank from a warrant officer-type crown, regiment from buttons.

 

According to CWGC, though, there are no Royal Horse Guards warrant officers buried or commemorated anywhere in Belgium - so to my mind this has to arise from an ill-informed exhumation party misidentifying a Corporal of Horse's badge of rank as a Sergeant Major.  If it was just two chevrons and a crown, the word 'sergeant' surely wouldn't have entered into anyone's thinking?

 

 

- brummell

 

(Edit - also only one Lt Col and one Maj, both with known burials)

 

Edited by brummell
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Grumpy

 

Have you thought that it might be a brass crown rather than cloth? The link that you posted for modern insignia has staff cpl, cpl of horse and l/cpl with brass crowns and only l/cpl of horse with a cloth crown.

 

The returns date from 1921 so the odds are on brass rather than cloth. 

 

The photo that I posted of the two rum dudes cannot be magnified enough to confirm whether the crown above the three chevrons is cloth or brass.

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I assumed brass crown and buttons from their survival.

 

If a cloth crown, why would not chevrons [from essentially same material] also be preserved?

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I am inferring chevrons from the fact that the records show no soldier of the RHG whose badge of rank was simply a crown, is buried or commemorated anywhere in Belgium.

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2 hours ago, Muerrisch said:

Laughton, Now you have me going!

 

QUOTE:

 

So we can say he was clearly a "Corporal of the Horse", as he had the 3 Chevrons. 

 

That is not the evidence presented by the exhumation, is it? All we have is crown badge and buttons. As I stressed above, the crown badge was common to ALL NCOs and WOs of the regiment, as a regimental distinction.

 

 

Mr. Grumpy: 

 

Correct, it should have asked the question "So can we now clearly say he was a "Corporal of the Horse" as he had 3 Chevrons?

 

You are correct in that all it said was they identified him as a Sergt. Major. Perhaps where I wandered too far is on the review of all of those listed on the Menin Gate Memorial (the only unknowns of the RHG). So if I understand you correctly, the list below can be expanded to include the 3 Corporals and the 2 Lance Corporals? It is my lack of knowledge of the details and my assumption that the "Serjeant" implied the chevrons, which you are saying is not true? I perhaps misinterpreted your earlier statement:

 

Quote

Corporal of horse: 3 chevrons and crown [= sergeant in remainder of army]

 

Clearly you said Sergeant and not Sergeant Major, but if the Corporal had only 2 Chevrons, why would the party assume it was a Sergeant Major? Does Sergeant Major imply that he had the CROWN ONLY and no chevrons?

 

l69xq0a16di3b4a6g.jpg

 

On the question of location at 28.I.11.a.5.7 we have him placed northwest of Hooge. If you can believe what Wiki's say: (perhaps someone can provide "real" details on their location)

 

On 30 October the Blues were operating in the zone around the village of Zanvoorde when the Germans attacked. On 20 November the Cavalry Corps had joined up with Edmund Allenby's Division in the Ypres Salient, a front line that went east of Zonnebeke, around Polygon Wood, over the Menin Road(the road from Ypres to Menin) and then west of Zanvoorde towards Wytchaete and Messines. From whence the Composite regiment (Life Guards 1 and 2 ) resisted an offensive on 31 October.[104] A French cavalry brigade was sent east of Hooge as a dismounted detachment in support of 7th Cavalry Brigade at 5 pm.[105] The action had begun on 25 October when the Blues staging a daring operation covered the retreat of 20th Infantry brigade, on horseback. They galloped out to draw German shell fire. 

 

Zanvoorde (Zandvoorde) is at 28.P.3.b.2.4 or about 7,000 yards to the southeast and Wytschaete is at about 28.O.19.a.7.1, so moving westward but still well to the south. There is an inference in the statement above that there was some action around Hooge on 31 October 1914. How do we place him at 28.I.11.a.5.7 ?

 

Could it be they were there in 1915 when only Corporal Eales is missing?

 

Edited by laughton
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11 minutes ago, laughton said:

 

Clearly you said Sergeant and not Sergeant Major, but if the Corporal had only 2 Chevrons, why would the party assume it was a Sergeant Major? Does Sergeant Major imply that he had the CROWN ONLY and no chevrons?

 

 

Laughton, CWGC records no RHG warrant officer, killed at any stage of the war, buried or commemorated as missing anywhere in Belgium.  From that we have to make the (fairly safe) assumption that the body recovered did not have *just* a crown as his badge of rank.  He must have had some chevrons, either two or three.  For the burial party to identify this as a Sergeant Major, I would have thought it was three, as no one would ever take two chevrons as indicative of a Sergeant Major, crown above them or not.  So I think your man was a Corporal of Horse, recognising there are assumptions involved.

 

15 minutes ago, laughton said:

Zanvoorde (Zandvoorde) is at 28.P.3.b.2.4 or about 7,000 yards to the southeast and Wytschaete is at about 28.O.19.a.7.1, so moving westward but still well to the south. There is an inference in the statement above that there was some action around Hooge on 31 October 1914. How do we place him at 28.I.11.a.5.7 ?

 

From the Regimental History: 'In April the cavalry left their comfortable billets to prepare for the great breakthrough that was supposed to occur at Neuve Chapelle, but never materialised.  Instead they were committed once more to the Ypres Salient to plug gaps as the Germans launched their own offensive... On 12 May the 3rd Cavalry Divison moved up at dusk to take over a section of the line near Hooge... The plan was for The Royals to be on the left of the line, with both regiments of Life Guards on the right and The Blues [i.e. the RHG] in reserve.  The forward trenches were mostly blown in, and when the Germans began a massive artillery bombardment at dawn on 13 May, the Household Cavalry took casualties straight away.'  The subsequent German attack was held off, but the CO of The Royals deemed the time ripe for a counter-attack and led his regiment and The Blues in a successful but costly attack.  Casualties for the two days amounted to 7 officers and over 100 of the 270 men who went into the line.

 

So this puts the RHG in the area of Hooge in May 1915, and this is the only time any unit of the Household Cavalry went there.  This suggests Eales - but he was Corporal, so the Sergeant Major description of rank remains problematic, as is the Corporal of Horse theory!

 

- brummell

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1 hour ago, brummell said:

Laughton, CWGC records no RHG warrant officer, killed at any stage of the war, buried or commemorated as missing anywhere in Belgium.  From that we have to make the (fairly safe) assumption that the body recovered did not have *just* a crown as his badge of rank. 

 

Before the body was a body he was a soldier. He was not the lowest rank, a trooper. His badge of rank in RHG inevitably included a crown. 

 

When the body was recovered, only the crown was found. Thus it was probably brass. It was certainly brass unless an unofficial regimental variation was made, I have checked with the Priced Vocabulary of Clothing 1913 [PVCN], and it is "item 1867: crowns gilding metal with plate and pin for Service Dress". Enough evidence has been adduced above to agree that the soldier was not a Warrant Officer. No evidence is presented that three chevrons, or indeed four, or two, or one, were found.

 

So the body might be that of an unpaid lance-corporal, a corporal or a corporal of horse or indeed a SCM or a SQMC or a Staff Corporal, before looking at lists of candidates. PVCN confirms that there was no provision for a one-bar chevron for the HC.

 

That is really all the help I can give on this subject.

Edited by Muerrisch
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The May 1915 date helps as there was only one (1) RHG man identified, Corporal C. A. Waite.  His body was recovered at 28.I.5.d.30.00 which is only 300 yards north of where they recovered our UNKNOWN RHG at La Brique. Note that all it says that he had for identification was the CROWN and NUMERAL so do we take that to mean NO CHEVRONS? Most importantly, look at the COG-BR (4th line from the bottom) and before he was named he was also listed as an UNKNOWN SERGT. MAJOR the same as the man at La Brique. That is a fairly positive link of the CORPORAL to SERGT. MAJOR concept is it not?

 

If all of this is correct, in terms of rank and location, then we know the burial location of Corporal Valentine William Eales.He must thank Corporal Waite for the assistance! There were 15 men listed for May 12-13, 1915 and all but Waite were on the Menin Gate Memorial.

 

doc1824470.JPG

Edited by laughton
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Grumpy, I agree with what you say; I am thinking about what else might have contributed to the identification of the rank as Sergeant Major.  A solitary brass crown wouldn't lead one to that conclusion, suggesting something else (in my opinion).  But this of course is similar in a way to the Kipling discussion and what or may not have been going through an exhumation party's minds, which we can't know.

 

- brummell

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