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voltaire60

VICTORIAN "OLD SOLDIERS" AND THE GREAT WAR

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The British casualties, officially admitted, during the whole campaign, up to the 31st of January, 1902, are given as under:

 

Officers

Men

Killed in action

473

4,841

Died of wounds

166

1,697

Prisoners who have died in captivity

5

97

Died of disease

286

11,523

Accidental deaths

21

577

Total deaths in South Africa

951

18,735

Missing and prisoners (excluding those who have been recovered or have died in captivity

7

432

Sent home as invalids

2,731

63,603

Total casualties in South Africa

3,689

82,770

 

http://www.angloboerwar.com/books/37-davitt-boer-fight-for-freedom/870-davitt-chapter-xl-summary-and-estimates

Craig

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voltaire60

   Craig- Thanks for that most interesting tally-  Various sources give slightly different totals for killed and died of disease in South Africa- the figures always showing the latter as the greater number-hence the widely known piece of info. that the Great War was the first British army action where battle deaths exceeded illness.

    BUT- I did not know the truly staggering figure of 63,000 for invalided home- assuming the numbers served at around 450,000-that means a staggering 14% stretchered off. I can see how it would have affected things over the next few years. The great impetus to build a School of Tropical Medicine in the Edwardian decade  suddenly seems to fall into place much more clearly. And it makes the British medical services of the Great War seem comparatively efficient and successful.

    Of course, a number of men of military age come the Military Service Acts must have  been graded at far less than A1 because of the effects of invalidity in South Africa.(I need someone in the Northeast who is an expert on pensions and benefits to tell me how Boer War damage was factored in after 1918 for veterans of both wars-Any ideas?) These are wholly unknown subjects to me- the conventional wisdom seems to be that there were concerns over the poor physical quality of recruits (Interdepartmental Committee on Physical Deterioration stuff) and the quest for "National Efficiency" (which overlapped with the pre-war Roberts/Hamilton conscription controversy). Interesting to think that-alas,as with all wars- that the damaged survivors of 1899-1902 must have been around in quantity come 1914  (Just watched the British Pathe newsreel  from 1949 on the 50th anniversary of Boer War service at St.Pauls- It seems so anachronistic to see the familiar "wartime" Churchill in the company of veterans with their South Africa khaki on- and the immaculately clad Wavell looking younger than all of them. Available on You Tube)

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Stoppage Drill

The estimations made above seem to miss the point that, given their ages by the time of the GW, ABW veterans were very likely to have been employed in less lethal  posts.

 

A man that I have an interest in (Driver RFA, ( DCM Feb 1900 Tugela Heights) re-enlisted in 1914 after his two brothers (1/Wilts) were killed in the October. He elected for AVC, a comparatively safe billet, and I suppose that he had a fair chance of surviving the War. Unfortunately he died of enteric fever at a veterinary hospital in Egypt in August 1915.

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voltaire60
41 minutes ago, Stoppage Drill said:

The estimations made above seem to miss the point that, given their ages by the time of the GW, ABW veterans were very likely to have been employed in less lethal  posts.

 

A man that I have an interest in (Driver RFA, ( DCM Feb 1900 Tugela Heights) re-enlisted in 1914 after his two brothers (1/Wilts) were killed in the October. He elected for AVC, a comparatively safe billet, and I suppose that he had a fair chance of surviving the War. Unfortunately he died of enteric fever at a veterinary hospital in Egypt in August 1915.

 

     SD- Yes, of course-the older men who statistically be more likely to be in the service battalions or the service corps rather than front line-but as your example shows, was is just hazardous no matter where you think you are. Likewise, I have a forebear whom I never knew-  a much older brother of a grandfather. Up to Colour Sergeant and off on pension before the war (He was a postman in Maidstone)- Back as CS with a service battalion of the RWK in 1914 and up to CSM and RSM pretty quickly after that. Trainers and educators in army routine and life will always be wanted when there are mass enlistments of civilians coming in.

      What brings this to mind is a literary reference from WW2- the memoirs of Anthony Burgess, where he was a sergeant in the Education Corps- but his description of wartime sergeant's quarters with a varied bunch of old veterans around is very graphic and there must have been  similar scenes in the Great War. He describes the institutionalized alkies and an elderly Pioneer Sergeant watchmaker as typical of army barracks during that war. That lovely phrase "Base Details" covers a multitude of sins for the Great War- including the unintended double entendre of the the use of the word "base"

   On a little serious note that casualties deserve to be remembered correctly, I have just searched CWGC on the parameters given by you- AVC, Egypt, August 1915- Of the 10 men listed as casualties, none is listed as having the honour of the DCM. If your man is one of them, then surely a little missive to CWGC is in order to correct the record?

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Stoppage Drill
13 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

   On a little serious note that casualties deserve to be remembered correctly, I have just searched CWGC on the parameters given by you- AVC, Egypt, August 1915- Of the 10 men listed as casualties, none is listed as having the honour of the DCM. If your man is one of them, then surely a little missive to CWGC is in order to correct the record?

 

Yes. I must get round to it.

He must have had his reasons for not declaring his earlier service when he rejoined in 1914, and that tends to deter me.

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voltaire60
41 minutes ago, Stoppage Drill said:

He must have had his reasons for not declaring his earlier service when he rejoined in 1914, and that tends to deter me.

 

   Quite intriguing - and a little cracker of a veteran story.  OK- I suspect you are saying that his service record, with the attestation form disappeared in 1941. But I thought - probably mistakenly- that it was part of the King's Regs. that  medal ribbons must be worn. Do we know if he avoided doing this?  

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On 21/02/2017 at 23:03, Stoppage Drill said:

The estimations made above seem to miss the point that, given their ages by the time of the GW, ABW veterans were very likely to have been employed in less lethal  posts.

 

 

This is why taking the average fatality ratio for the whole army for the whole War (11%) is appropriate. The average figure masks the fact that some arms suffered more than others. The Infantry was 65% of the army and suffered 85% of the fatalities for example. Infantry fatality ratios were higher than the average for the whole Army. Even within the infantry, fatality ratios were heavily skewed towards the regular battalions whic saw fatality ratios for the first Cohorts nearly three times greater than the average. 

 

I am am not sure I would necessarily agree that "ABW veterans were very likely to have been employed in less lethal posts" The older ones, maybe, but the vast bulk of them would be in their mid to late 30s in 1916, and well within the age considered for the infantry. The hard evidence is in GARBA which shows men re-enlisting in 1914-15 had a very heavy skew towards the infantry. There is further evidence in the CWGC data; it is not unusual to see men in this age group in the infantry. It is also worth remembering that the a decent proportion of Army Reservists were not much younger when they deployed with the BEF in late 1914 and early 1915. We have hard data on both groups and can calculate very precisely the age profiles of these men. As you know the MSA very quickly changed its criteria to capture older men and married men so eventually all eligible men came within the scope of the Act. 

 

The Army temporarily expanded for the ABW by raising 3rd and 4th battalions for some regiments anchored in high population density recruiting areas. Recruiting would have typically been among 18-19 year olds, and this is reflected in the GARBA data for the period.

 

Men enlisting after August 1902 would still be on the Reserve (12 years service; colours and Reserve). Men enlisting prior to this date would have completed their Reserve obligations. I suspect tens of thousands of ABW veterans had only recently finished their Reserve obligations. I don't have the data immediately to hand but it is possible to calculate the numbers exactly. The GARBA data for shows over 120,000 men with prior military service re-enlisted in 1914-1915; the vast majority would have served during the ABW period. These men would either have joined Kitchener Battalions or the Reserve battalions (we have fortnightly data for both groups). Kitchener battalion turnover was in excess of 100% in the first 12 months of active service and the almost complete drain of the Reserve battalions happened in early 1915 with most regiments falling to less than 100 fully trained and effective men, some falling to less than 50 and five running to zero.

 

At risk of stating the obvious, the flood of men re-enlisting coincided with a period of exceptionally high attrition at the Front, meaning any man with prior military service was particularly desirable; there is hard evidence in the medal rolls that thousands of 'new' recruits from Aug 1914 were arriving at the front from as early as Nov 1914. They can be identified from their Army Numbers. Large scale sampling of the remaining Service Records reveals a very large proportion had prior military service. What we don't know is whether this prior service included South Africa. 

 

There is is a thread on the Reservists somewhere that show the numbers leaving the Reserve in in the years prior to the Great War. There was a bulge in the data for this period reflecting the bulge 12 years earlier when the Army expanded during the ABW. It is possible therefore to calculate exactly the numbers enlisting and the numbers leaving the reserve 12 years later, thereby calculating the wastage as well. 

 

I suspect (but cannot yet prove) that a significant number (possibly as many as 100,000?) of ABW veterans might have re-enlisted in 1914-15. The ones who didn't would have been captured by the MSA. 

 

I recall reading an infantry diary from late 1914 recording the fact that one man in a reinforcement draft had fought at El Teb.

 

A thought; some of the regimental museums might be able to provide figures on the number of men who had the KSA medal and the BWM and VM. 

 

 

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voltaire60

Thank you for your posts and analysis- absolutely fascinating and most informative. It suggests to me that -perhaps- the former conception of late Victorian times of a plucky little imperial army may have been one of the notions that the realities of a European war knocked out of the public consciousness in 1914-1915. With reference to casualties, one thing that has struck me is the different treatment of Great War versus "imperial"  veterans in the Press- the same newspaper that might print the DCL in full-with it's endless but brief details of casualties then might have a feature on an old soldier of Crimea/Mutiny/Zulu/Sudan in some detail. A juxtaposition of mindsets.

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voltaire60

A "myth" /"truth" of the Great War is that the British Army was a weakling compared to Continental states with conscription- just the plucky BEF and then the Territorials. OK, the imbalance is profound and no amount of number bashing will change the fact that the German army had a huge superiority in reservists-or potential reservists-compared to Britain.

  Now, your figures suggest that Britain's small reserve of manpower in Regular and TA army may have had a hidden supplement in the old (Over 30!!) ABW men coming back on enlistment in 1914. Not a formal reserve, army training a bit rusty but perhaps a little factor in the close call of survival that was the British military experience in 1914-1915.

    Also, I have a mental picture of the Mapping our Anzacs site with its totals for Home and Foreign Born for each state- showing just how strong the "British" element was in the AIF- some of the old ABW men must have been there. And-a pure guess- when AIF, NZ, SA and Canadian forces started expanding( and coming into Europe particularly), perhaps there was some little agreement that British reservists still within their reserve engagement were counted as recalled even if serving with another Empire army 

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On 25/02/2017 at 10:28, voltaire60 said:

A "myth" /"truth" of the Great War is that the British Army was a weakling compared to Continental states with conscription- just the plucky BEF and then the Territorials. OK, the imbalance is profound and no amount of number bashing will change the fact that the German army had a huge superiority in reservists-or potential reservists-compared to Britain.

  Now, your figures suggest that Britain's small reserve of manpower in Regular and TA army may have had a hidden supplement in the old (Over 30!!) ABW men coming back on enlistment in 1914. Not a formal reserve, army training a bit rusty but perhaps a little factor in the close call of survival that was the British military experience in 1914-1915.

    Also, I have a mental picture of the Mapping our Anzacs site with its totals for Home and Foreign Born for each state- showing just how strong the "British" element was in the AIF- some of the old ABW men must have been there. And-a pure guess- when AIF, NZ, SA and Canadian forces started expanding( and coming into Europe particularly), perhaps there was some little agreement that British reservists still within their reserve engagement were counted as recalled even if serving with another Empire army 

 

I have started and nearly finished the forensic analysis on this, however I have been waylaid by some family related drama (hospital) all week and this is unlikely to change soon. Bear with me. The short versions is that I have the hard annual data for 1897 to 1913 showing in fine detail the expansion and subsequent contraction of the British Army for the 2nd ABW.

 

One snippet: the Army opened up its terms of enlistment to serve for 1 year, triggering many tens of thousands of additonal enlistments. It is easy to see their subsequent demobilization too (recorded as separate entries) all on a spreadsheet that I will post as an attachment. probably over a thousand datapoints which will require some considered analysis. I am inclined to believe that the veterans who were time expired and had fulfilled their reserve obligations would likely have formed the vast majority of the men who re-enlisted under the Army Order 295 of  1914. I am at home (briefly) and have access to the relevant data. 

 

117,482 men re-enlisted between Aug 1914 and Sep 1915. Of these 91,411 re-enlisted in the infantry (78%). To these we need to add the serving men who had served in 1898-1902 as well as the Reservists (roughly 5% of the Army). Calculating the numbers who could have served in the ABW will be the most difficult part as not all men of that period served in South Africa. For example one of the additional battalions raised was used to relieve a regular battalion for service. I am not sure it will be possible to do this without making some educated assumptions which will still be subjective and vulnerable to being easily challenged. The variables might prove to be too great. 

 

Incidentally do you know how many men were awarded the KSA?

 

QSA is about 178,000

 

 

 

 

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Ref Boer War veterans in the BEF in 1914. From a prior discussion on the Mad Minute thread on the proportion of Army Reservists who could have served in the Anglo-Boer War. Again we have to make an educated or informed guess as to the proportion of the ARmy who actually served in South Africa rather than guarding some other outpost of the Empire. 

 

In August 1914:

4.4% of the line Infantry's Army Reserve was old enough to have served in the Boer War.

5.5% of the line Infantry serving regulars were old enough to have served in the Boer War.

 

Assuming a Regular/Reservist split of 40/60 for the BEF this means on average 4.84% of the BEF's line infantry could have served in the Boer War; less than one in twenty. This has to be a generous estimate as a proportion would have been weeded out as unfits and given more sedentary roles in training establishments and depots.

One can not escape the fact that a significant proportion were also '3 and 9' men. The arithmetic of resolving different cohorts under different terms of engagements in the inter-war years is complex. This is not well understood. It is a legacy of the Boer War and the need to contract the size of the Regular Army. In 1902 the Line Infantry numbered 217,966 and by 1907 the numbers had declined to 136,632, a contraction of 37% in just five years. By 1913 the Line infantry was still 135,807 meaning that 99% of the Infantry's contraction took place in the earlier years.

 

The '3 and 9' terms were partly a way of accelerating this contraction; while the Army still needed to recruit young men to maintain rank demographics, larger proportions were becoming Reservists earlier; in 1905, 06 and 07 as the short 3 years with the colours expired the Standing Army declined and the Reserves grew - effectively mirror images. The pool of Reservists in 1914 was skewed towards the cohorts who had transferred in 1905-1907. The table below shows the numbers transferring to the Reserves each year. All would be eligible to be called up in Aug 1914. While this is data for the whole Army the bulk (65%) would be Infantry. The years 1905-1907 generated 44% of all those on the Reserve and these cohorts were heavily skewed towards terms of engagement of 3 and 9. Within the line infantry over 60% of all transfers to the Reserves in 1905-1907 had 3 years colour service.. In 1907 the number of men joining the Reserves was 80% larger than the average number transferring in the subsequent six years.

 

1905.....26,510 .....men transferring from 3 years with the colours

1906.....24,749 .....men transferring from 3 years with the colours

1907.....30,777 .....men transferring from 3 years with the colours plus early transfer to Reserve from disbanded battalions

1908.....21,374

1909.....17,748

1910.....13,818

1911.....13,527

1912......17,269

1913..... 18,428

 

Total....184,200 All Arms

Data source: GARBA 1902-1913

 

Additionally some nine battalions of regular infantry were disbanded in 1907 - the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Northumberland Fus, Lancashire Fus, Manchester Regt and the Royal Warwickshire Regt (as well as the 3rd Bn Scots Guards) . A significant proportion of these regiments were offered terms that allowed the men to transfer to the Reserve earlier than planned. This further boosted the numbers on the Reserve but with shorter terms with the colours.

The compounding effect of these two dynamics distorted the profile of the Army Reserves. The 1st Bn Cameronians went to war with 30% of their Other Ranks from the '3 and 9'. They simply had no choice.

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On 26/02/2017 at 22:32, voltaire60 said:

 

     Not yet-  What I need is a Sussex-based computer whizz-kid to interrogate Ancestry to get a total from the medal rolls they have online. Wonder who!!  I will try to give it a go tomorrow. From memory, it isolates out the ABW awards.

They haven't been transcribed so this is an impossible task at the moment. Happy to be corrected.

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voltaire60

  Now- a little tweak- I recall many years ago that a former "Times" crossword compiler had died aged 100 or so-as a very small boy, his father had paid 2/6(I think) for him to be photographed sitting on the knee of a Waterloo veteran- sometime in the 1880s.

 

         Now, the last (British) Crimea veteran died in 1938 and the last (British) combat veteran of the Mutiny in 1936. Thus, there should be people still alive who can remember these men-or speaking with them or being photographed with them

 

     Any offers?

Edited by voltaire60

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44 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

  Now- a little tweak- I recall many years ago that a former "Times" crossword compiler had died aged 100 or so-as a very small boy, his father had paid 2/6(I think) for him to be photographed sitting on the knee of a Waterloo veteran- sometime in the 1880s.

 

         Now, the last (British) Crimea veteran died in 1938 and the last (British) combat veteran of the Mutiny in 1936. Thus, there should be people still alive who can remember these men-or speaking with them or being photographed with them

 

     Any offers?

Many moons ago in a Military History lecture at Sandhurst, the lecturer said that when he was a young boy living on a farm, there was an old farmhand who said that when he was first employed by the same farm, one of the farmhands was a man who had fought at Waterloo. His point was to illustrate just how compressed history is in terms of generations. It is worth remembering that life expectancy was less than 50 years for most of the period in question. 

 

Ref the Crimea, there is a moving poem by Kipling, a sort of parody on Tennyson's original, called the 'Last of the Light Brigade'. Given the alleged numbers of homeless ex-servicemen sleeping rough in 2017, one wonders if much has changed. 

 

On the Great War ...in 1914 a CO complained that one of the men who was sent as a reinforcement was so old he had fought at El Teb in 1882 some 32 years earlier. Cameron Highlander if memory serves. 

Edited by Guest

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On 17/04/2017 at 18:26, voltaire60 said:

 

    In the late 1970s I went, as the guest of a friend to a British Legion do where there was an old man in his (early-mid) 90s who had been a Boy Bugler at Omdurman. So, yes, El Teb veteran in 1914 does fit- There are a whole clutch of Egypt 1882 veterans if you zap CWGC with keyword 1882 at the bottom- and few also of the Zulu War. And,of course, Captain George Valentine Williams, died aged 85 in 1916, a Crimea veteran-though his Great War service may have been for recruiting and propaganda.

    I have one local casualty here who died at 62 in 1918- a veteran of India and the Burma campaign of 1885 or so

Makes me hopeful of a response or two about those living now who may have shook hands with a Mutiny or Crimea man.

In former times, this would have been the subject of a correspondence in "The Times"

 

My late father-in-law was the late Colonel of the Scots DGs and had started his career in India in 1931 with the Deccan Horse, following his own father's service in the Deccans. He had met men who had fought in the Mutiny and his own grandfather had fought in the Sikh Wars with the 3rd King's Light Dragoons....one of only a few Officers to have charged in some quite famous battles.  I have the Sikh War medal in a period travel case on my desk. Sadly The 'Brigadier' passed away a few years ago other wise he would have fitted your criteria. Incidentally he knew Montgomery in WWII and couldn't stand the man. 

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clive_hughes

A number of possible things to comment on here, but I'll have a go...

 

In about 1974 the archivist at my local University told me he knew a man, still living, whose father had fought at Waterloo as a boy drummer/bugler.  He hadn't married till late in life and so was quite old when he produced a son.  Said son was also now extremely old.  So much the story anyway.  

 

Martin, forgive me for asking what may be a silly question but wouldn't most Section D Reservists in 1914 be men who had begun their careers during the Boer war period?  They might even have extended their "D" service a second time pre-war as well!  Frank Richards RWF comes to mind.  

 

I can think of a fair number of individual examples of old soldiers who rallied to the flag in 1914.  One who was present at the Battle of Kandahar 1880 with the RA  started the Great War by helping out with Remounts, then was given an NCO Instructor job with Welsh Regt. training at Kinmel Park Camp.  He died in the camp hospital there and in recent years has been accepted as "In From The Cold" so his grave now has CWGC status.   A number of the Anglesey fatalities fall into this Boer War/Victorian category but I can't compute the figure easily.   They vary from a Boer War veteran who re-enlisted but had to be discharged as he was in the final stages of syphilis (so got onto a local roll of honour but not onto the war memorial); to an under-age RWF Militiaman c1880 who joined the Regulars 1882 Munster Fusiliers, became a QMS who served in the 1880s Burma campaigns and S.Africa 1902, was discharged c1907 & emigrated to Canada.  Re-enlisted 1914 in the Canadian Infantry, was commissioned and found himself by 1917 a Major and OC company in the attack on Hill 70.  He had told honking great fibs about his age to get to that place; but though the spirit was willing the flesh was weak and he had some sort of breakdown during the action.  Shunted to rear areas, then back to the UK and Canada, he died of cancer 1919 and has a war grave in Alberta.  Another had served with a Town Guard unit in the Cape during the Boer war, moved to Australia, joined up 1914 and was killed in the ANZAC Cove landings 25 April 1915.  And so on...

 

Clive

 

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On 17/04/2017 at 20:16, clive_hughes said:

**** forgive me for asking what may be a silly question but wouldn't most Section D Reservists in 1914 be men who had begun their careers during the Boer war period?  They might even have extended their "D" service a second time pre-war as well!  Frank Richards RWF comes to mind.  

 

Clive

 

 

Yes... however service in 1898-1902 and beyond does not necessarily equate to serving in the Anglo Boer War. The UK still had a vast empire to police and it is an unanswered question as to how many regulars served and the % who served. At a guess I would hazard less than 50% (happy to be corrected). 

 

Incidentally a War where the UK killed more women and children in concentration camps than most care to remember. More than 20,000 I believe.... And we have a minute's silence for the 20,000 killed on 1st July 1916..all that hand wringing and solemn BBC Dan Snowman.....makes one wonder about history and victors. We have a very distorted historiography. Where is the minute's silence for Lizzie Van Zyl  (scroll down) and the other 20,000. 

 

I wonder if men who fought in the Boer War knew of the atrocities committed by the UK Govt to the likes of Lizzie Van Zyl would have worn their medal with such ardent pride. By modern standards these were war crimes on a par with Nazi Germany in my view. I am not a rabid socialist (rather the opposite) but one can not justify this level of inhumanity carried out under the jurisdiction of the British Army. It is a rather large stain on our history. 

 

Kruger: The British Army's best general. 

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Derek Black

Of the 1,930 officers and men of the 1st Bn BW who were awarded the 1914 star, 284 were in the Boer War (from QSA/KSA medal rolls and individual bios).

 

That works out at 14.7%

Derek.

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On 25/04/2017 at 13:23, Derek Black said:

Of the 1,930 officers and men of the 1st Bn BW who were awarded the 1914 star, 284 were in the Boer War (from QSA/KSA medal rolls and individual bios).

 

That works out at 14.7%

Derek.

Derek - interesting stats. Thanks for posting.

 

Are you able to calculate the figure for the first cohorts, particularly those disembarking in Aug 1914. As you know the BW history records that 'every trained man' was in France by end October, meaning scores of re-enlisted men would have been accelerated through the re-training. I am curious to know what the stats are for the Battalion that disembarked in Aug 1914 were. Anecdotally we know that the older men were sent out last (as a general rule) which ight suggest the first  cohort had a significantly lower per cent of ABW veterans. 

 

 

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Derek Black

 

 

Apologies, the above should read 1,940 in total, not 1,930.

Thus making it 14.6% who served in the Boer War.
 

August 13th, First cohort:

1,186 (33 officers and 1153 O.R.) - 181 Boer War (15.2%)

 

August 26th and 30th:

176 men - 65 Boer War (36.9%)

September 11th & 12th:
166 men - 7 Boer War (4.2%)
 

September (mostly) 19th & 20th:
215 men - 15 Boer War (7%)


October (various dates):
13 men - 2 Boer War (15.4%)

November (first third of month):
182 men - 14 Boer War (7.7%)

(Two 1914 star men have no identifiable embarkation date, neither Boer War men)

 

Derek.

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deacs

I have researched a Old Victorian soldier who is buried in Cockermouth cemetery.

 

Sergeant Joseph William Litt.

Joseph was born at Eaglesfield, Cumberland 26th October 1854.

By 1872 he was in the Royal Horse Artillery, and a few years later he went to India where he served for 11 years. On journeying home he was stopped at Egypt as the fierce conflict of 1884 was breaking out, and very soon was engaged in the battles of El Tab and Tomaai, which were fought in square formation. It was in the El Tab clash that Joseph greatly distinguished himself . He was in charge of a section at the very corner of the square when he saw about 100 yards away to the front that 2 Dervishers had Regiment Sergeant –Major Tushy on the ground and were about to kill him with poisoned spears. Sergeant Litt dashed to the rescue and in the nick of time bayonetted the Dervishers before they could kill Sergeant-Major Tushy. Sergeant Joseph Litt was mentioned in despatches for this action.

He was to remain in the army until 1893 when he was pensioned out after 21 years of service.

At the outbreak of the Boer war of 1899 he immediately volunteered with the Royal Irish Fusiliers and was soon at the front. He experienced many ordeals hard service for a year and was invalided out. This however didn’t suit and he soon enlisted into the W.C Imperial Yeomanry and was at the front until peace was declared. He was awarded 2 South African Medals.
 

Although over 60 years of age when the great war broke out in 1914, he could not resist offering his services, He enlisted into the Tyneside Irish on the 15th April 1915 but was discharged on the 28th April 1915 not fit for duty, but again he appeared in khaki in the Royal Defence Corps and served in Cockermouth.

When Joseph passed away on the 15th August 1934,Aged 79. He was given a full military service from the Border Regiment Depot, The coffin was draped in the Union flag and top of his coffin was his medals as he desired.His medals are kept at the Border Regiment museum at Carlisle.


The highest respect was shown by the large number of people who lined the streets as the procession wound it’s way to the little chapel in Cockermouth cemetery. 

 

DSC_0240.JPG

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battiscombe

As a late addition to this I recently found that in 1914 the RSM and at least one Battery SM of the regular 36th RFA Brigade had both served together in the same battery [37th] in the Sudan campaign and at the Battle of Omdurman. Others from that battery were still serving or returned, one was a BSM in RHA, another BQMS in 42nd Bde and another  t/RSM at Shoeburyness and one a BSM 9thDAC, later RSM 71st Bde RFA.

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GrenPen
On 25/04/2017 at 20:27, Derek Black said:

'Of the 1,930 officers and men of the 1st Bn BW who were awarded the 1914 star..'

 

Martin,

 

Apologies, the above should read 1,940 in total, not 1,930.

Thus making it 14.6% who served in the Boer War.
 

August 13th, First cohort:

1,186 (33 officers and 1153 O.R.) - 181 Boer War (15.2%)

 

August 26th and 30th:

176 men - 65 Boer War (36.9%)

September 11th & 12th:
166 men - 7 Boer War (4.2%)
 

September (mostly) 19th & 20th:
215 men - 15 Boer War (7%)


October (various dates):
13 men - 2 Boer War (15.4%)

November (first third of month):
182 men - 14 Boer War (7.7%)

(Two 1914 star men have no identifiable embarkation date, neither Boer War men)

 

Derek.


I should be able to come up with some similar analysis for the South Wales Borderers.

I am aware of the following:

202 Other Ranks serving with the South Wales Borderers at the outbreak of war had fought with this regiment in the Boer War.
10 Other Ranks had fought with other regiments during the Boer War, subsequently transferred across and were serving with the South Wales Borderers at the outbreak of war.
37 Other Ranks who re-enlisted upon the outbreak of war had served during the Boer War, and had received campaign medals.

Whilst this focuses on those men who were with the 2nd Battalion in South Africa, there were other men - both serving, and time-expired who re-enlisted - whose soldiering was not done with the 2nd Battalion, but instead with the 1st Battalion in India.

Some pertinent points from both Keith and Martin earlier in the thread
 

Quote

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.

 

Quote

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"



Regards

GP

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GrenPen
On 22/02/2017 at 09:29, Guest said:

 

This is why taking the average fatality ratio for the whole army for the whole War (11%) is appropriate. The average figure masks the fact that some arms suffered more than others. The Infantry was 65% of the army and suffered 85% of the fatalities for example. Infantry fatality ratios were higher than the average for the whole Army. Even within the infantry, fatality ratios were heavily skewed towards the regular battalions which saw fatality ratios for the first Cohorts nearly three times greater than the average. 

 

I am am not sure I would necessarily agree that "ABW veterans were very likely to have been employed in less lethal posts" The older ones, maybe, but the vast bulk of them would be in their mid to late 30s in 1916, and well within the age considered for the infantry. The hard evidence is in GARBA which shows men re-enlisting in 1914-15 had a very heavy skew towards the infantry. There is further evidence in the CWGC data; it is not unusual to see men in this age group in the infantry. It is also worth remembering that the a decent proportion of Army Reservists were not much younger when they deployed with the BEF in late 1914 and early 1915. We have hard data on both groups and can calculate very precisely the age profiles of these men. As you know the MSA very quickly changed its criteria to capture older men and married men so eventually all eligible men came within the scope of the Act. 

 

The Army temporarily expanded for the ABW by raising 3rd and 4th battalions for some regiments anchored in high population density recruiting areas. Recruiting would have typically been among 18-19 year olds, and this is reflected in the GARBA data for the period.

 

Men enlisting after August 1902 would still be on the Reserve (12 years service; colours and Reserve). Men enlisting prior to this date would have completed their Reserve obligations. I suspect tens of thousands of ABW veterans had only recently finished their Reserve obligations. I don't have the data immediately to hand but it is possible to calculate the numbers exactly. The GARBA data for shows over 120,000 men with prior military service re-enlisted in 1914-1915; the vast majority would have served during the ABW period. These men would either have joined Kitchener Battalions or the Reserve battalions (we have fortnightly data for both groups). Kitchener battalion turnover was in excess of 100% in the first 12 months of active service and the almost complete drain of the Reserve battalions happened in early 1915 with most regiments falling to less than 100 fully trained and effective men, some falling to less than 50 and five running to zero.

 

At risk of stating the obvious, the flood of men re-enlisting coincided with a period of exceptionally high attrition at the Front, meaning any man with prior military service was particularly desirable; there is hard evidence in the medal rolls that thousands of 'new' recruits from Aug 1914 were arriving at the front from as early as Nov 1914. They can be identified from their Army Numbers. Large scale sampling of the remaining Service Records reveals a very large proportion had prior military service. What we don't know is whether this prior service included South Africa. 

 

There is is a thread on the Reservists somewhere that show the numbers leaving the Reserve in in the years prior to the Great War. There was a bulge in the data for this period reflecting the bulge 12 years earlier when the Army expanded during the ABW. It is possible therefore to calculate exactly the numbers enlisting and the numbers leaving the reserve 12 years later, thereby calculating the wastage as well. 

 

I suspect (but cannot yet prove) that a significant number (possibly as many as 100,000?) of ABW veterans might have re-enlisted in 1914-15. The ones who didn't would have been captured by the MSA. 

 

snip

 

 

 

Some very interesting points raised by ****. If you take a look at my most recent post, there are some figures which highlight the rise in the demographic of those who enlisted after the outbreak of war, and who for the most part were men with prior military experience. 

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/254872-south-wales-borderers-in-1914/?page=2&tab=comments#comment-2696842

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GrenPen

Boer War and 1914 Star recipients of the 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers:

115 Other Ranks serving with the South Wales Borderers at the outbreak of war had fought with this regiment in the Boer War, of whom 27 died in 1914.
7 Other Ranks had fought with other regiments during the Boer War, subsequently transferred across and were serving with the South Wales Borderers at the outbreak of war.

 

With regard to older soldiers, John Fielding V.C. (1857-1933) and Edward Honan (born 1856), both veterans of the Zulu War in 1879, were to return to the colours, serving at home and drilling recruits. 

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