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4th (Reserve) and 5th Bns Ox and Bucks Light Infantry


Liz in Eastbourne
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I'd be very grateful for help from anyone with knowledge of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry in interpreting this photograph, given to me by a friend.  

Was it taken on the Western Front, as the family believe?

The number of men isn't even enough for a platoon.  What is it likely to be?  A specialist group? None of them are officers, are they?

 

A friend's grandfather, Pte Joseph Lynn, is 4th from left in the middle row.  His record has not survived but the Victory medal roll says he was first in the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, presumably while training,  EDIT before going to the 5th Bn, with whom I assume he went overseas. Is this the reason for his black buttons, and those of two other men?  I have read that 4th Bn was a former territorial rifles battalion that was still a rifles battalion and wondered if this explained it - but you'd think most men would go through that training.

He has one stripe - what is that for?  I thought of Lance Corporal, or good conduct, or overseas service, but don't know enough about this. I'll post an enlarged clip in a separate post.

 

Joseph%20Lynn%205th%20Ox%20and%20Bucks%2

 

 

Liz

Edited by Liz in Eastbourne
Edited thread title to reflect topic better.
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Sergeant Major in the middle seated, 4 chevrons point up, so no Officers.

Your man has a Lance Corporal chevron, though his MIC and Medal Roll show him to be a Private he may have been acting in the rank.

6 Sergeants and a S/Major plus the few ORs doesn't point to a normal fighting unit, so maybe a course of some sort.

The buttons you mention are worn by 2 sergeants (one of which has crossed rifles of a marksman ?) and 3 ORs.

My instinct is that it is not a Front photo (for one thing I can't find a MIC for the cat).

The Roll shows 4th Reserve as you say but the LLT has no unit like that,only 1/4 and 2/4 Battalions, so he might have been posted as a Reserve and once in France drafted to 5 Battalion as per Medal Roll.

Edited by sotonmate
forgot some info !
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Thanks, sotonmate, that's very useful.

I confess to being a bit confused about 1/4, 2/4 and 4th, and was in that confused state when posting about the black buttons.  I was remembering this post.  But that's not the 4th (Reserve) battalion, is it? 

 

Liz

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10 minutes ago, Liz in Eastbourne said:

Thanks, sotonmate, that's very useful.

I confess to being a bit confused about 1/4, 2/4 and 4th, and was in that confused state when posting about the black buttons.  I was remembering this post.  But that's not the 4th (Reserve) battalion, is it? 

 

Liz

A ' (reserve)' battalion created later in the war would be a different battalion however, for a period in 1914 the 2nd/3rd line of the territorial battalions were called the 'reserve' battalion until they later settled on the 1/4th, 2/4th terminology etc. Depending on what terminology the person relied on they could be referring to a 2nd/3rd line battalion.

Craig

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Thanks, Craig.

I am still confused about this one, though, 4th Reserve Bn Ox and Bucks. And whether the black buttons of five of these men (as sotonmate has said, not three as I first said) have anything to do with their being in that battalion before 5th Bn.

 

Liz

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2 hours ago, Liz in Eastbourne said:

Thanks, Craig.

I am still confused about this one, though, 4th Reserve Bn Ox and Bucks. And whether the black buttons of five of these men (as sotonmate has said, not three as I first said) have anything to do with their being in that battalion before 5th Bn.

 

Liz

The 2/4th Ox & Bucks would have been, as above, known as the '1st reserve' for a period of time in late 1914 however that shouldn't be on a VM as they'd not be overseas under that designation so it may not be anything of relevance on this occasion. I suppose the real problem could be that we may never know why the clerks wrote what they did -  perhaps it was an error, perhaps not.

Craig

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Craig, the VM roll says he was first with that battalion and then with the 5th, hence my thread title, and the picture is thought to be of a group from the 5th. So there's no assumption that they were overseas with the 4th Reserve Battalion at all. I've edited my OP to clarify that.

I became interested in the 4th solely because of the black buttons, which may be red herrings!  There may be some quite different reason for them, especially as this doesn't appear to have been the battalion that was formerly a rifles battalion.  But I thought black buttons were in short supply as the war went on and rifles regiments sometimes had to issue uniforms with shiny buttons, so  there must be a specific reason for these.

 

Liz

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Liz the dark buttons (not necessarily black) are very likely leather, as were issued as a utility measure to meet demand.  Lance Corporal was an appontment rather than a rank (a sort of 'trusty' probationary type position) so on paper your man would still have the substantive rank of private.  Most Lance Corporals were unpaid but a few could be paid by the commanding officer who had an 'allowance' for this.  In general the first substantive promotion from private was corporal, although most men would go through Lance Corporal first, not all did.

 

In general the majority (but not all regular infantry regiments had two battalions with one or two 'Reserve' formerly (before 1908) known as Militia battalions.  Ergo, the Ox&Bucks had 1st and 2nd Battalions (regulars) and the 3rd (Reserve).  Reserve battalions were mostly made up from men who had previously had some regular service, but there were a number of categories to this.

 

The 4th Battalion (later 1/4th) were the first TF battalion in the sequence of battalions of that type.  Before 1908 they had been the 1st Oxfordshire (Oxford University) Rifle Volunteer Corps and would indeed have worn black buttons (see image below).  It is possible that some men still had black buttons on their jackets.

 

The '4th (Reserve)' would imply what was later re-titled as the 2/4th (meaning 2nd line to provide 'replacements/reinforcements' to the 1st line, i.e. 1/4th).  It is quite feasible that he then was sent to the 5th battalion as an alternative destination.  Looking at the rather advanced age of several of the men it suggests that they are indeed a 2nd line unit.  In such circumstances the old boys tended to stay second line, carrying out guarding duties but providing a good influence on the younger men who were gradually fed into a first line unit as replacement drafts.

 

I hope that all makes sense.

volunteer3.jpg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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31 minutes ago, Liz in Eastbourne said:

Craig, the VM roll says he was first with that battalion and then with the 5th, hence my thread title, and the picture is thought to be of a group from the 5th. So there's no assumption that they were overseas with the 4th Reserve Battalion at all.

Liz

I understand that but the VM should only show units he served overseas with - the 'reserve' notation may be an 'archaic' reference to the 2/4th or it could simply be an error. It can't 't be ruled out that it was the 2/4th (or the 3/4th) due to the 'reserve' reference. The 2/4th was the only battalion of the Ox & Bucks that served overseas who would have used 'reserve' at some point but, see below:

Having a closer read of the LLT shows
3/4th and 3/1st Buckingham Battalions
Formed at Oxford and Aylesbury in May and April 1915 respectively.
8 April 1916 : became 4th Reserve and 1st Reserve Buckinghamshire Bns. 4th absorbed 1st Buckinghamshire at Ludgershall on 1 September 1916. Moved to Cheltenham in autumn 1916 and on to Catterick in March 1917. Finally moved to Seaton Delaval in July 1917 where it then remained as part of the Tyne Garrison.

It is feasible that when he was sent overseas he was still nominally on the books of the 4th reserve battalion and that is why it shows on the MIC even though that battalion itself never served overseas (not uncommon to see similar)
 

6 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

Liz the dark buttons (not necessarily black) are very likely leather, as were issued as a utility measure to meet demand.  Lance Corporal was an appontment rather than a rank (a sort of 'trusty' probationary type position) so on paper your man would still have the substantive rank of private.  Most Lance Corporals were unpaid but a few could be paid by the commanding officer who had an 'allowance' for this.  In general the first substantive promotion from private was corporal, although most men would go through Lance Corporal first, not all did.

 

In general the majority (but not all regular infantry regiments had two battalions with one or two 'Reserve' formerly (before 1908) known as Militia battalions.  Ergo, the Ox&Bucks had 1st and 2nd Battalions (regulars) and the 3rd (Reserve) and 4th (Reserve).  Reserve battalions were mostly made up from men who had previously had some regular service, but their were a number of categories to this.

Did they have an extra reserve (4th) battalion - LLT and the T.F. numbering would suggest they only had the 3rd as a reserve battalion and the 4th was then the T.F. battalion http://www.1914-1918.net/oxbucks.htm

Craig

Edited by ss002d6252
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5 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

I understand that but the VM should only show units he served overseas with - the 'reserve' notation may be an 'archaic' reference to the 2/4th or it could simply be an error. It can't 't be ruled out that it was the 2/4th (or the 3/4th) due to the 'reserve' reference. The 2/4th was the only battalion of the Ox & Bucks that served overseas who would have used 'reserve' at some point but, see below:

Having a closer read of the LLT shows
3/4th and 3/1st Buckingham Battalions
Formed at Oxford and Aylesbury in May and April 1915 respectively.
8 April 1916 : became 4th Reserve and 1st Reserve Buckinghamshire Bns. 4th absorbed 1st Buckinghamshire at Ludgershall on 1 September 1916. Moved to Cheltenham in autumn 1916 and on to Catterick in March 1917. Finally moved to Seaton Delaval in July 1917 where it then remained as part of the Tyne Garrison.

It is feasible that when he was sent overseas he was still nominally on the books of the 4th reserve battalion and that is why it shows on the MIC even though that battalion itself never served overseas (not uncommon to see similar)
 

Did they have an extra reserve (4th) battalion - LLT and the T.F. numbering would suggest they only had the 3rd as a reserve battalion and the 4th was then the T.F. battalion http://www.1914-1918.net/oxbucks.htm

Craig

 

I was in the midst of editing my response Craig!

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Thank you

52 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

Liz the dark buttons (not necessarily black) are very likely leather, as were issued as a utility measure to meet demand.  Lance Corporal was an appontment rather than a rank (a sort of 'trusty' probationary type position) so on paper your man would still have the substantive rank of private.  Most Lance Corporals were unpaid but a few could be paid by the commanding officer who had an 'allowance' for this.  In general the first substantive promotion from private was corporal, although most men would go through Lance Corporal first, not all did.

 

In general the majority (but not all regular infantry regiments had two battalions with one or two 'Reserve' formerly (before 1908) known as Militia battalions.  Ergo, the Ox&Bucks had 1st and 2nd Battalions (regulars) and the 3rd (Reserve).  Reserve battalions were mostly made up from men who had previously had some regular service, but there were a number of categories to this.

 

The 4th Battalion (later 1/4th) were the first TF battalion in the sequence of battalions of that type.  Before 1908 they had been the 1st Oxfordshire (Oxford University) Rifle Volunteer Corps and would indeed have worn black buttons (see image below).  It is possible that some men still had black buttons on their jackets.

 

The '4th (Reserve)' would imply what was later re-titled as the 2/4th (meaning 2nd line to provide 'replacements/reinforcements' to the 1st line, i.e. 1/4th).  It is quite feasible that he then was sent to the 5th battalion as an alternative destination.  Looking at the rather advanced age of several of the men it suggests that they are indeed a 2nd line unit.  In such circumstances the old boys tended to stay second line, carrying out guarding duties but providing a good influence on the younger men who were gradually fed into a first line unit as replacement drafts.

 

I hope that all makes sense.

 

 

Thank you very much for this explanation, Frogsmile - yes, that does make sense (though complicated!) and I am pleased to find it's not far in general terms from my original supposition about the buttons, based, in fact, on a discussion on an old thread in which you took part.  

 

What you say about the age of the men suggests that this picture could after all have been taken while in training in England, and so may be of a group of the 2/4th or 4th (Reserve) Battalion after all.  The family's belief that it was taken on the Western Front led me to think it was 5th Bn.  I shall edit the thread title to reflect the doubt.

 

Splendid character in your picture!

 

Liz

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55 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

I understand that but the VM should only show units he served overseas with - the 'reserve' notation may be an 'archaic' reference to the 2/4th or it could simply be an error. It can't 't be ruled out that it was the 2/4th (or the 3/4th) due to the 'reserve' reference. The 2/4th was the only battalion of the Ox & Bucks that served overseas who would have used 'reserve' at some point but, see below:

Having a closer read of the LLT shows
3/4th and 3/1st Buckingham Battalions
Formed at Oxford and Aylesbury in May and April 1915 respectively.
8 April 1916 : became 4th Reserve and 1st Reserve Buckinghamshire Bns. 4th absorbed 1st Buckinghamshire at Ludgershall on 1 September 1916. Moved to Cheltenham in autumn 1916 and on to Catterick in March 1917. Finally moved to Seaton Delaval in July 1917 where it then remained as part of the Tyne Garrison.

It is feasible that when he was sent overseas he was still nominally on the books of the 4th reserve battalion and that is why it shows on the MIC even though that battalion itself never served overseas (not uncommon to see similar)
 

...

Craig

 Hi Craig

Yes, I had been assuming that this was how he came by the ref to the 4th Reserve Bn, not because they went overseas.  

I found that explanation on the LLT a bit hard to follow but think I have finally understood via Frogsmile's explanation. Famous last words.

 

Liz

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1 hour ago, ss002d6252 said:


It is feasible that when he was sent overseas he was still nominally on the books of the 4th reserve battalion and that is why it shows on the MIC even though that battalion itself never served overseas (not uncommon to see similar)
 

 

Like this example?  I guess a clerk might easily think this was the first unit when entered theatre and he would be correct, if only for two days.  This man Pte 203035 Henry Samuel Britton was transferred to the Queens on arrival in France, his medal roll does not mention the 4th Reserve Bn OBLI.  There are other OBLI records with similar entries.
4th Reserve.png

Pte. Lynn's regimental numbers are consistent with the 4th Reserve Bn and suggest enlistment early 1916 (as previously noted the Bn was formed under that name in April 1916).  That said there were a number of different classes of reserve nominally posted to that Battalion.  The 5th Bn was reduced to cadre in 1918 so a relatively small window for service.

 

I'm not sure it helps but the two sergeants on the right of the Sgt Major each have a wound stripe.

 

Ken

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18 hours ago, Liz in Eastbourne said:

Thank you

 

Thank you very much for this explanation, Frogsmile - yes, that does make sense (though complicated!) and I am pleased to find it's not far in general terms from my original supposition about the buttons, based, in fact, on a discussion on an old thread in which you took part.  

 

What you say about the age of the men suggests that this picture could after all have been taken while in training in England, and so may be of a group of the 2/4th or 4th (Reserve) Battalion after all.  The family's belief that it was taken on the Western Front led me to think it was 5th Bn.  I shall edit the thread title to reflect the doubt.

 

Splendid character in your picture!

 

Liz

 

I don't think it shows a unit in France Liz, stiffened caps, absence of equipment, and a typical barracks hut (just a door on the gable end) chalked up with a capacity of 35 men as a back drop, all imply a photo in the UK.  Below is a rundown on the movement of 4th Reserve / 2/4th OBLI:

 

2/4th Battalion
Formed at Oxford in September 1914 as a second line unit.
January 1915 : moved to Northampton and attached to 184th Brigade in 61st (2nd South Midland) Division. Moved to Writtle and quickly on to Broomfield (Essex) in April 1915.
January 1916 : moved to Parkhouse Camp, Salisbury Plain.
24 May 1916 : landed in France.
March 1919 : sailed for Egypt and was still there by the end of that year.

 

Ergo, the photo probably shows a hut on Salisbury Plain.  Wound stripes were not issued until 1916 and, after recovery, wounded TF men would go to their reserve battalions until fully fit.  You can read the history of the battalion here:  http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20395

 

From the 5th Battalion onwards were all Kitchener raised 'Service Battalions', who had no reserve units and so ALL reserve battalions (after 'military service act', 1916) were obligated to provide replacement drafts for ANY battalion that needed them.

 

N.B.  Most of the men seated in the front row appear to be SNCOs of the battalion HQ, if so this would explain the advanced age of some of the others.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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This is terrific, FS - thank you so much.  

This means he could in fact have gone to France with them and been moved to 5th BN later, which would explain the point Craig raised earlier in the thread regarding the VM roll.  

I shall pass the info on to my friend who will I'm sure be pleased.  My original assumption was misleading.

 

Liz

Edited by Liz in Eastbourne
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1 hour ago, Liz in Eastbourne said:

This is terrific, FS - thank you so much.  

This means he could in fact have gone to France with them and been moved to 5th BN later, which would explain the point Craig raised earlier in the thread regarding the VM roll.  

I shall pass the info on to my friend who will I'm sure be pleased.  My original assumption was misleading.

 

Liz

 

Glad to help Liz.  Bear in mind that once the 2/4th deployed to France then the 3/4th took up the function as the only TF reserve, providing drafts of replacements as necessary.

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Sorry to throw a spanner in the works but the 2/4th Bn was not the same as the 4th Reserve Bn which as cited above was formed from the 3/4th Bn in April 1916. 

 

In the example I posted the soldier was in the 4th Reserve Bn on the day he landed in theatre, two days later he was posted to the Queen's.  A man had to belong somewhere, most Roll entries show only active service Battalions but there are plenty that show Battalions that did not go overseas. If the photo was taken in the UK, and one army hut looked much like another, it could just as easily  have been at Catterick Camp as Salisbury Plain.

 

We don't know if he served in the 2/4th, he may have done but there is no documentary evidence that he ever did.  

 

The assumption he served or landed with the 2/4th is based on speculation that a clerk made an error and meant to type 2/4th in the Rolls.  This is pretty shaky ground, a cursory glance of the Rolls shows where a man entered theatre with the 2/4th this is shown.  There are also entries for the 3rd Reserve Bn. in the Rolls.  As we know that neither the 3rd nor the 4th Reserve Bn went on active service overseas it seems more likely his entire active service in France was with the 5th Bn.   

 

We don't know when he went to France except it must have been after the 31st December 1915 and before April 1918 when the 5th Bn was reduced to a cadre, although replacements arriving at these Battalions right up until they were reduced, (200 men from other regiments joined the 5th on the 31st March 1918).  

 

The fact the four digit number is shown on the medal roll strongly suggests Pte Lynn entered theatre before the renumbering in March 1917.  The six digit number is in the series allocated to the 4th Battalion. This process made no distinction as to 1/4;2/4 or 3/4.  A man was designated as TF as shown on the LLT here .

 

What is interesting is where he went when the 5th Bn was finally disbanded on 20th June 1918 and formed the 18th Gloucestershire Regiment.  The small cadre that remained after April was meant to train American soldiers, but that didn't happen, as noted in the OP the photo shows an 'imbalance' of ranks.  Was it taken in France and these men formed a training cadre?  There is a note in the war diary that when the 5th Battalion returned to the UK 'the various cadres came together', was he in one of those?  


Joseph Lynn enlisted on the 23 July 1915 and was discharged from the OBLI on 25 March 1919 as a result of sickness.  He is in the Silver War Badge Roll (it's an SWB mic) which confirms he served overseas.  His enlistment date makes it even more likely he joined the 3/4th Bn.

 

Incidentally and while we're speculating, there's an entry in the 5th Bn war diary that says 'eight NCOs returned from a Pioneer course', including L/Cpl Lynn I count 8 NCOs! (as suggested at post 3). That would be too easy.

 

Ken

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Ken

I am out of my depth here but this is very interesting.  I didn't mention it in the OP, sorry, but my friend gave me another photograph of Joseph Lynn in a hospital group, which I posted on this thread. He was wounded at Arras,  I therefore assumed he was with the 5th Bn by spring 1917, as that fits with their movements.

 

Where is his enlistment date given - on his SWB MIC?

 

Liz

Edited by Liz in Eastbourne
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His enlistment date is on the SWB Rolls and the mic

 

The rolls list 'causes' as sickness or wounds.  I can find no casualties on CWGC for the 5th Bn with the number prefix 203***, they are either in the 1/4th or the 2/4th.

 

Off to the smoke today but will look later,if he was wounded he should be on a casualty list somewhere which might nail it.

 

Ken

Edited by kenf48
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Can't find a casualty record although  more transcription errors.  The British Jewry Roll of Honour under OBLI lists 203032 J. Lynn 5th Bn. and 203022 as Pte Lyman J 2/4th  The medal rolls list Pte Jesse Lyman as 5738 4th Reserve Bn and 32723 2nd Bn OBLI.

At least that's a second source for the 5th, if somewhat unreliable.

 

I found a news item in the Leamington Spa Courier and Warwickshire Standard November 30 1917 that Joseph Lynn OBLI a patient at Warneford Hospital was being pushed by 'a comrade' in a bath chair when, as they were crossing the road the front of the chair was struck by a motor car and tipped him out, reopening his wound.  That may identify the Hospital in the other post.

 

The war diary for 1916 for the 5th Bn. shows few drafts.  I could only find two:-
5th September 1916 Draft of 55 Ox and Bucks + RSM Arlett (and drafts from elsewhere) might be worth pursuing.
12th December 1916 83 ORs joined.
As you already know he was wounded at Arras.  CWGC shows many casualties with six digit numbers (202***series mainly) killed on the 3rd May 1917. The diary reports 150 OR wounded, 17 killed and 112 missing.

 

Returning to the photo as post 2 on this thread shows thewound stripe was  introduced July 1916, therefore the photograph must be later than this date.  I wonder if it's pre-embarkation.  Is there anything else on the original?

 

Ken

Edited by kenf48
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Ken,

 

This would be the action by Cherisy in front of Triangle wood by 14th Division.

 

Andy

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