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voltaire60

VICTORIAN "OLD SOLDIERS" AND THE GREAT WAR

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voltaire60

   The subject of Old Soldiers-the veterans of former wars is always with us- The gradual fading away of the veterans of the Great War, down to Harry Patch et al, has echoes in past wars and their succeeding decades.Only this week, a clutch of D-Day veterans were presented with the Croix de Guerre not for any actions specific to them but for outliving the rest- they are symbols of something France considers worth remembrance.  Keith Roberts has asked elsewhere on the Forum if anything more can be found out about John Danaher,VC, who won his VC in the first Boer War of 1880-1881- and subsequently a publican in Portsmouth (The Dog and Duck-yes,really).Which brings to mind some bits and pieces that might be gathered here on a little thread, with a some more directly relevant undertones.

    Doing "my" local Roll of Honour, as many on this Forum do for their areas, I come across casualties who were Boer War 1899-1902 veterans. The surviving service records-Burnt Documents- show quite a number who stated their previous military service in South Africa-while the number of medal groups at various medal auctions and on Ebay that have Great War as well KSA and QSA show there were substantial numbers who served in both wars. Of course, the number is obscured by the destruction of service files in 1941- heightened by the occasional Great War local casualty,of military age for the Boer War, who is missing from the 1901 Census. Elsewhere again on the Forum, there is good work by QGM and others on the structure of the Regular Army by drilling into the 1911 Census returns-and on Irish recruiting in the war years. One small question that comes to mind in this is:

 

     Were more British soldiers who saw service in South Africa 1899-1902 killed in the Great War than in the Boer War itself?  My guess is "Yes"

      There was a substantial stock of veterans in Britain in 1914 and it is an interesting sideline to see how they fared during the Great War-wheeled out for local recruiting and parades (Sir Evelyn Wood seems particularly busy on this) , articles in newspapers when their sons and grandsons also served, etc. -and already it seems,something of an anachronism when they died-often features in local papers on the passing of a Crimea or Mutiny veteran - a soldier who was 20 at the Peace of Paris would only have been 80 when the Great War started. So does anyone have any sidelights on old  soldiers and what happened to them in the Great War.

     This little sidelight was prompted by 3 local bits of information here for Wanstead in the east of London-but,I feel sure, repliciated the whole country over:

1) In 1915, with patriotism strong at home, an 85 year old Crimea veteran died in the workhouse in West Ham-the local magistrates paid for his funeral out of their own pockets.

2) "My" oldest casualty for the Great War, one Thomas Richard Shapcott, died at Calgary, Canada aged 62 in 1918- a sea-cook with the Canadian navy but an army veteran (obviously institutionalised) of the Burma campaign of the mid-1880s and a veteran of the Boer War with the South Lancashire Regiment.

3) A series of old black and white Rediffusion TV spoken word documentaries from c.1955-1956-one featured 3 old biddies in almshouses in Hackney-while the other had the interviewer talking to 3 old Chelsea Pensioners-men whose military service was largely over by the time the Great War came along-they were,as one of them says in it, "soldiers of the assegai era". Some members may recollect these documentaries as the interviewer was Orson Welles(Yes,really)

   

      And having just having read-again-the War Diary for 1/8th Lancashire Fusiliers at Gallipoli, I am none the wiser for what I wanted but note that the fullest entry in the War Diary is for congratulations from senior officers to the battalion on Minden Day.

So,come on folks, whats out there about Kipling's Tommy Atkins and the Great War?

 

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geraint

Here's one for starters!

4th Royal Welch Fusiliers TF

Sgt. William Preen 7043,

Enlisted 12-10-1885. Served 10 years in India as 1179 RWF, C/Sergeant 1-2-1895, Boer War vet then discharged as TE 30-11-1912. On 1-12-1912 enlisted as Sergeant with TF 4th RWF. Embarked for France 5-11-1914, QMS 31-10-1914. Posted 4th reserve bat 30-4-1918. Discharged Med Unfit 4-6-18.

 

Quite a career eh? 33 years!

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voltaire60

   Thanks Geraint-It is "one for the pot". It is a debating point about the involvement of veterans of Queen Victoria's armies (British and Indian) and those numerous "little wars", that the greatest involvement by the "Soldiers of the Queen" in any campaign was 14-18, with middle-aged and elderly men coming back to the colours.

   Still think it's a fair bet that more Boer War men were killed 14-18 than in the Boer War itself. But I hope this little thread can meander long-a little sideline of obscurantism-but interesting for all that

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Fattyowls

I think Fred Collinson may meet your criteria Monseiur Voltaire.

 

Pete.

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voltaire60
41 minutes ago, Fattyowls said:

I think Fred Collinson may meet your criteria Monseiur Voltaire.

 

Pete.

 

     Thank you for that link Pete-  Of course, I suspect that Spion Kop has a longer remembrance in Liverpool than elsewhere. So it is likely that old Spion Kop veterans of 24th January 1900 merited the odd mention in the local Press through the years 14-18. Just a thought

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kenf48

Previously discussed here, since the original posts in 2004 more ecords have become available online though the problems in gathering a global figure remains the same.

 

Ken

 

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Khaki

Everyone's favorite subject, and the post could cover a lot of ground and interest. I do bare in mind that for example the Crimean War only ended 59 years before 1914, compared to the 103 years 1914/2017, There were still a handful of US Civil War veterans when I was a boy, I do have a neat old 'cabinet' photo of two old Chelsea Pensioners (Crimean War Vet's) reading Great War newspaper battle accounts, What memories of muzzle loaders to machine guns.

 

khaki

Edited by Khaki

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voltaire60
29 minutes ago, Khaki said:

What memories of muzzle loaders to machine guns.

 

    Very much so-  Churchill was one of the "Soldiers of the Queen"-and his description of the cavalry charge at Omdurman is one of the most vivid pieces of military writing extant-But as Max Hastings has reminded us, the same man describing sword,lance and pistol in 1898 was the Prime Minister who took Britain into the age of nuclear weapons- 1898 to 1945-only 47 years.

   

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geraint

Had a good look at my records of 4th RWF

Based on the membership of the battalion who disembarked for France on 5 November 1914, only Sgt William Preen (post #2) and two others were veterans who could have fought in the Boer War. Namely

 

Pte William F Cash 5646. Enlisted 2nd RWF 3-3-97 to 23-4-1908. Enlisted with 4th RWF 24-4-1908 France 6-11-14, Cpl 1915, A/Sgt Nov 1915 Did TE 27-7-17.

 

Pte George Chesters 6806. Drummer with RWF 14-7-1885 up to 31-3-1908. Enlisted 4 RWF 5-12-1911. France 6-11-14,posted UK May 1915, hospitalised Feb 1916 disch TE Feb 1917.

 

Of the 848 ORs who embarked for France I'm sure that a few others would have been of a similar background. Though as the 4th were a territorial battalion, such veterans would have been fewer.

Frank Richards states in OSND that as a regular army reservist, hearing the news of declaration of war, whilst in a pub in Newport with fellow reservist friends - they all decided there and then to go by train to Wrexham where they all rejoined their old battalion the 2nd RWF.

Interesting thread mate!

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Muerrisch

one rich source of data will be the soldiers@ regimental numbers. They will show who COULD have served in the Great War as well as the Boer War, but not who actually did.

 

Almost all regiments started a numbering series for their regular battalions in 1881, a series that was still running up to 1914 [and beyond].

 

RWF are particularly well served for data, as Paul Nixon has analysed almost all of the 1914 battalions.

 

see:

 

http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk/p/index.html

Edited by Muerrisch

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Gibbo
On 2/3/2017 at 01:51, voltaire60 said:

   

3) A series of old black and white Rediffusion TV spoken word documentaries from c.1955-1956-one featured 3 old biddies in almshouses in Hackney-while the other had the interviewer talking to 3 old Chelsea Pensioners-men whose military service was largely over by the time the Great War came along-they were,as one of them says in it, "soldiers of the assegai era". Some members may recollect these documentaries as the interviewer was Orson Welles(Yes,really)

  

 

Wikipedia says that the documentary was part of the series Around the World with Orson Welles.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Around_the_World_with_Orson_Welles

 

It is available on DVD.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Around-World-Orson-Welles-2-DVD/dp/B00WQT4OOG

 

 

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voltaire60

Gibbo- Yes-took me ages to locate it-it used to be a space filler for the former Channel One  station-run by Kelvin Mackenzie- topless weather forecasters, weather in Norwegians, darts by dwarfs on trampolines,etc- Not much correlation between it's target audience and membership of Mensa. But they must have bought a bargain bundle from Carlton TV, which held the Rediffusion back catalogue.

    Good to know its now on DVD-which I shall purchase in the next day or so-for which,again,thanks

Its a good sensible documentary if you should get round to seeing it.

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bif

Sorry for being late, but it took a while to get things together.  I care for 16 groups and one single medal for Seaforth men serving in the Great War.  Of those, six have Victorian/Edwardian service and three have service into WW2.  They are:

Blyth, Hugh # 8453 -- I have his IGS 1909 bar NWF 1908 but am missing his WW trio, (1914 Star,BWM,AVM).  I've been searching for the trio but will probably never find it for a re-unite as he was KIA 1 July 1916.

Dearie, Patrick, #3440 & s/1864 -- I have his Queens Sudan, Khedive Sudan (Atbara), QSA(Cc, Paar, Drie, Trans, Witt), KSA(01, 02).  I'm missing his Great War trio,14-15 Star,BWM,AVM.

Shankley, Alexander, #2708 --  He's complete, IGS 1854( Hazara 1891), India Medal(Relief of Chitral), 14-15 Star, BWM, AVM.

Robertson, Roderick, #2269 &S/10887 -- , DCM(Omdurman), QSA, Khedive Sudan(Atbara, Khartoum),LS&GC, MSM.  He served in the training battalions in the Great War but was not entitled to the Trio.  However, he did apply for and received the SWB, under regulations due to age.  Unfortunately, it's missing.

Thornhill, John Evelyn, Lt thru BvtLtCol -- Complete.  DSO(WW1), QSA(CC, OFS,Trans),KSA901,02)14-15 Sta, BWM,  AVM.

Haggie, William,#6478 --   QSA9CC,OFS, Trans), KSA(01,02),14 Mons Star(bar missing), BWM,AVM, SWB(missing).

 

Gardner, Harold S,#2277 -- 14 Mons Star(bar missing), BWM, AVM, 1939-45 Star, 1939-45 Medal, King's Badge, British Legion.

McDonald, John, #10540 & 2809122 -- BWM, AVM, Defence Medal, LS&GC, Imperial Service Medal(E II).

Taylor, Albert, #10224 -- MM(WW1), 14 Mons Star, BWM, AVM, Defence Medal, LS&GC.

 

 

 

Edited by bif

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voltaire60
16 minutes ago, bif said:

sorry for being late

 

   Hi Bif- as John Wayne says in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"-  "Don't apologies son, sign of weakness"

   Thank you for taking the trouble to do this- Fascinating stuff from the Seaforths. It must be my mindset-though I think I am not alone- that the Great War is somehow not connected in any way with the long series of Victorian (and Edwardian) military campaigns. On the one hand, it's "Fuzzy-Wuzzies" or "Zulu"-on the other, it is the horror of the mud and the trenches of the Western Front or Gallipoli. And nary the two shall meet.

    I had noticed just how common Great War medals groups were that included QSA and KSA as well., Thanks for putting up the Seaforths groups for info.

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stiletto_33853

John Archer, 9919, 1st RB, goes back past South Africa. Taken as POW on 26/8/14. Continuous service.

 

Andy

miuk1914a_083147-01393.jpg

Edited by stiletto_33853

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bif

My pleasure.  Think about a modern soldier in the Uk.  He could've served in the Falklands, 1st Gulf War, and the Iraq War.  Maybe even a stint in NI or Afghanistan ?  

 

PS

Stiletto's reply got under me.  Robertson came to the colors

in 1885.

Edited by bif

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voltaire60

Stiletto-Great stuff!  Poses the question that the Great War killed off "Empire" soldiering. Plenty of little police actions between the wars= but not quite the hold on the popular imagination and the campaign medals of former times. Too many "General Service" unknowns.

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Guest

The criteria of the Military Services Act meant that the vast majority of men who served in 1899-1902 would have been eligible for Conscription. The youngest men who served in the Boer War (ex buglers etc) would have been 19 in 1899-1902  or 32- 36 years old in 1916 when the MSA was introduced. 

 

It is a fairly safe bet that (death and medical fitness aside) most Boer War veterans were eligible to be wearing khaki between 1916 and 1918. This is where it begins to become tricky when trying to approximate the numbers who subsequently died during the Great War. If we look at recruiting in the line infantry from August 1902 we can calculate the number of men who theoretically should have been on the Reserve. We find that roughly a third did not make it, meaning pea time 'wastage' was very high (death, medical discharge etc). It would be reasonable to assume similar proportions of the Boer War men were medically unfit for service in 1916-18. It is subjective but it would radically reduce the numbers and proportion of Boer War veterans who were conscripted in the Great War. One then needs to make assumptions on the proportion who served in front line units at the sharp end rather than in training establishments. 

 

Given the the records were not kept in a way that would easily answered the question in the OP, I think it would be extremely difficult to approximate give the large number of variables that are also 'unknowns'. I am struggling to think of ways of approximating these. Large scale sampling of surviving records tells us nothing about the Boer War veterans who did not serve during the Great War.  I suspect it is intractable. 

 

Edited by Guest

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Guest
27 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

Stiletto-Great stuff!  Poses the question that the Great War killed off "Empire" soldiering. Plenty of little police actions between the wars= but not quite the hold on the popular imagination and the campaign medals of former times. Too many "General Service" unknowns.

 Out of interest how many British soldiers served in the second Boer War and how many died?

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voltaire60
On 20/02/2017 at 09:24, QGE said:

 Out of interest how many British soldiers served in the second Boer War and how many died?

 

  From memory, c.400,000+ served, 10,00 battle casualties-12,000+ plus sickness. I will endeavour to retrieve the correct figures. I had a great-aunt whose older brother had served in South Africa and died c.1915 (during the war at least) of the effects of enteric fever-from drinking mud when short of water-In part, why I posed the question on the thread.

    It is of antiquarian interest- we have notions in History (Big H, you notice!!) regarding how the Great War destroyed the Regular Army of 1914 and the Territorial Army thereafter-let alone 1/7/16 and the New Armies. But it seems to me that there is a disconnect in the historical consciousness between "Kipling's Army"-Tommy Atkins, Red Coats et al- and the historical memory of those who served in the Great War. How History is remembered in my lifetime is something I find fascinating.As Eric Hobsbawm and Terry Ranger wrote-it is the myths we live by-and the contradictions and juxtapositions-as with this thread-make it all the more intriguing.

  I think there might be a source that will throw a bit of information on this-other than play with CWGC figures. -The records and publications of the South African War Veterans Association, which I may have to look at shortly for another purpose-See what they had to say. (There are also obscure hints that there was a Sudan veterans association but I have failed to find any trace of this). Of course, we have Huw Strachan's work to remind us that the Great War was-outside France and Flanders - a series of Victorian "little wars" (Yes, I am a fan of Byron Farwell's books) around the world- New Guinea, Tientsin, the Union Rebellion, Togoland ,German South West, German East- Aden!! (The HAC involvement in what was a little imperial war in 1914-1915 was a surprise to me), Afghanistan 1919,etc. In some senses, the Great war outside Europe was an "imperial " war along good old Victorian lines- the industrialised slaughter was a European phenomemon.

   A sideline-but an engaging one- as,after all, is not all History?

 

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Guest

if 400,000 served and say 20,000 were permanent losses (died and medically discharged), gets us to 380,000. The age profile of the Army is easy to proxy by using GARBA data and would imply 85% would still be liable for Conscription in 1916. That gets us to 323,000. 

 

Assuming wastage (medical deterioration, death, unsuitable for military service etc) during in the interwar period was similar to wastage of the men in the Reserve (a third) this would imply roughly 215,000 may have served again. Assuming the average fatality ration for alll men who served in the Army during the Great War at 11%, implies roughly 23,700 fatalities. ....which is more than twice the number who died during the Second Boer War.

 

Clearly the assumptions are highly subjective and need to be stress tested. I will revert with a more accurate figure for wastage in the Reserves as I have researched this aspect before. 

 

I think the assumption on fatality ratio of those who served will be OK as many were bang in the middle of the age range, however a proportion will also have been deemed fit for military service but not front line service. One other swing factor is the number who were exempted due to their civilian jobs if they were in critical industries. 

 

We we can approach the question from the other end and ask how many would have served to suffer 10,000 fatal casualties during the Great War. Again using the 11% average fatality ratio, this implies 91,000 or roughly a quarter of those who served during the second Boer War. Put another way, three quarters (289,000) would have needed to find exemptions in one way or another, which seems unlikely. This seems to imply a very wide margin. 

 

 The above (subjective) parameters I suspect that more Boer War veterans died in the Great War than in the Second Boer War. 

 

EDIT. The "wastage" factor will be the most important to try and approximate. Looking back over an old thread, nearly two thirds of all Connaught Rangers recruits in 1902-1909 failed to complete their Reserve obligations. For the Essex Regt it was 46%. The implications being that "wastage" was potentially much higher than a third. Thi is an area that has received no research and it remains a mystery why such a high proportion of fully trained and effective men failed to fulfill their Reserve obligations. I am travelling and not near my data. It will come back to this when I have an accurate figure for the Infantry as a whole. It should be a good benchmark.m

Edited by Guest

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charlie962

Given that medical facilities in the Boer War were abysmal compared to the Great War, leading presumably to higher deaths from wounds, it makes the Deaths as %age of Served of the Boer War seem suprisingly modest.

 

Here is a Great War casualty with interesting service. I do not have his Boer War medals though I hold one of his of the Great War.

 

"The late Lance-Corporal Hatton was the eldest son of the late Mr. F. G. Hatton, of St Leonards, and joined the 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers at Hastings on January 26th, 1896, and served until January 7th, 1900.  He enlisted in the Regular Army (16th Queen's Lancers) ten days later, and proceeded to South Africa on January 24th, 1900, serving under General French.  He was promoted Corporal by the Commander-in-Chief November 22nd, 1901, and was mentioned in Lord Kitchener's despatches, April 25th, 1902, for gallantry in action.  Promoted Sergeant August 30th, 1903 and discharged January 16th, 1912.  He had a medal and four bars, and his service totalled 16 years.  He joined up with the Derby Group on August 8th, 1916, (RE?) {edit}  .He then served with the South Lancashire Regiment 1st/4th Bn.  He went to France 30th December, 1916. Frederick Hatton was killed in action on 11th June 1917 aged 36 and is buried in Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium. "

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962

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michaeldr
Born in New Zealand, served in South Africa, died in Palestine serving with a British regiment
 
http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/644587/GLENNAN,%20JOHN%20BARNARD
 
John Barnard Glennan
Rank:
Private
Service No:
27448
Date of Death:
04/11/1917
Age:
35
Regiment/Service:
Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
 
2nd/4th Bn.
Grave Reference:
G. 45.
Cemetery:
BEERSHEBA WAR CEMETERY
 
Additional Information:
Only son of Mary Boyd (formerly Glennan), of 5, Hessey St., Masterton, Wellington, and the late Thomas Glennan. Served in the South African War. Born at Christchurch, New Zealand.
 
His SA service was also noted on his headstone, seen in post No.16 here http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?/topic/148377-beersheba-war-cemetery/
 
Alas, I know nothing further of his service in either in SA or in the Great War
 
edit to note; regret the unintended intrusion of the background tint
Edited by michaeldr

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Guest

According to Wiki which references Eveleigh Nash, British casualties in the Second Boer War were

 

killed ....................5,774

died of wounds.....2,108

battle fatalities.......7,982

 

died of diseases. 14,210

 

total fatalities......22,192

 

if Boer War veterans died in the average proportions of 11% in the Great War, it would require 202,000 to have served, or roughly half of the men. Given the high wastage in the interwar period, I now think that it is probably marginal whether more died in the Great War than the Second Boer War.

 

incidentally more Boer women and children allegedly died in British Concentration Camps than Brtitish soldiers died fighting. Not Britain's finest hour.

 

PS Ancestry has the database of killed and wounded, but I haven't worked out how to trick the search function into listing those who were killed rather than wounded. 

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ss002d6252

A quick search on Find My Past brings up 20,428 'died' - although like Ancestry the search is relatively limited in trying to filter it.


Craig

Edited by ss002d6252

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