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Alan24

Civil Service Rifles, Somerset House

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Alan24

Had a meeting in London today and passed the memorial the Civil Service Rifles outside Somerset House.

 

I always understood the CSR to be 15th Battalion London Regiment (Prince of Wales Own) Civil Service Rifles.

 

However there were two wreaths of poppies on the memorial which both were written to 1st Bn. (PWO) Civil Service Rifles.

 

Where does the FIRST Battalion come into it?

 

Please educate me!

 

Regards

 

Alan.

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Moonraker

Wikipedia tells us this: "In 1908 the Civil Service Rifles became part of the newly formed London Regiment and was titled 15th Battalion London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles). During the First World War it raised three battalions, with the first Battalion arriving in France in March 1915 forming part of the 4th London Brigade, part of the 2nd London Division. The first battalion was deployed solely on the Western front during the First World War."

 

Moonraker

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sotonmate

First Line 1/15 ?  Also 2/15 and 3/15.

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MBrockway

Yes - these poppy wreaths you have seen are presumably specifically in remembrance of riflemen who served in the 1st/15th battalion.

 

3 CSR battalions were formed in the Great War, only the 1st and 2nd line battalions went overseas.  Both battalions served in France & Flanders, with the 2nd battalion also in Salonika, Egypt and Palestine.  The 3rd line battalion stayed in Blighty.

 

All were 15th London Regt.

 

The memorial covers all three battalions.  It was originally in the centre of the courtyard, but was moved when the courtyard was earmarked as an arts (and skating!) venue in the late 1990's.  It was re-dedicated on 25 Jul 2002 in the presence of Walter Humphrys, the last remaining Great War CSR rifleman, and the RGJ.  The memorial is by Lutyens and was originally unveiled on 27 Jan 1924.

 

Lots of photos of both events in Jill Knight's CSR book.

 

Mark

 

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Moonraker

Mark posted just as I was about to offer

 

this link

 

about the memorial.

 

Moonraker

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MBrockway

Re that Wikipedia article, 'Gasper' Parish was CO of 1st Bn. for only 2-3 months in late summer 1917  He was in fact a KRRC regular officer who had been attached as Adjutant of 1st Bn CSR at the outbreak of war.

 

A search here on the GWF will throw up several topics on this remarkable man.  He was married to Gladstone's grand-daughter.

 

Sadly he did not live to see this memorial unveiled as he died in the 1921 from the effects of a head wound sustained on The Somme in 1916 with the KRRC.

 

Mark

 

Edited by MBrockway

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Alan24

Thanks again Guys,

 

So 1st Battalion (PWO) CSR = 1st/15th Battalion

2nd  Battalion (PWO) CSR = 2nd/15th Battalion

etc. 

 

Alan.

 

 

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Old Phil

The 15th Battalion, The London Regiment (PWO Civil Service Rifles)

I have been retired for a few years now, and amongst other things I have used that time to find out more about my great-uncle who was killed in World War One with the Civil Service Rifles.  I have had some family papers and photos for a long time, but became aware of other areas of research and the existence of several relevant memorials through involvement in a local history project. 

I also discovered that I had missed several important events over the past 20 years: a new regimental history by Jill Knight, the sad death of that author, the moving and rededication of the regimental memorial at Somerset House, and the passing of the last veterans of the Great War.  I therefore feel that a particular effort might now be made to mark the centenary of the end of that war, since relatives of the Civil Service Rifles, like myself, are also getting older.

I would like to suggest the laying of a floral tribute (not necessarily a full wreath) on the regimental memorial, at a separate time from the normal Remembrance Sunday parade.  I believe a wreath is laid on Remembrance Sunday by the Civil Service, but ours could be specifically from ‘relatives and friends’, ie: those with a particular interest in the regiment.  As the Civil Service Rifles were amalgamated in 1921, and have subsequently disappeared into several other mergers, specific connections with, and interest in, them will slowly fade.

If there is enough interest and support for this initial idea, perhaps other ideas could be tried later to preserve the memory of this unique unit.  If you might be interested in pursuing this idea please let me know.

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MBrockway

Phil,

The Civil Service Rifles descend through to the modern day 7/THE RIFLES.

 

It would probably be worthwhile contacting Battalion Headquarters, Brock Barracks, Oxford Road, READING, RG30 1HW.  Telephone: 01189 530 239.

 

Alternatively there is an active OCA - the Queen's Westminster & Civil Service Rifles Retired Members Association.  They were based at the Davies Street Drill Hall in Mayfair, but with the death of Gerald, Duke of Westminster, his successor, Hugh, has turfed out The Rifles from this historic London Base in order to develop it as a luxury hotel. 

 

I do not know what has happened to the various memorial plaques at Davies Street.

 

The Queen's Westminsters (the amalgamation of the CSR and QWR) continued as a discrete battalion until 1961, so there are plenty of Old Members still alive and kicking!

 

I'm not sure how they can now be reached.  My best suggestion is via Richard Frost, Hon Sec the KRRC Association C/O 1A Iverna Gardens, Kensington, London W8 6TN.

 

Cheers,

Mark

 

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Old Phil

Mark

 

Many thanks for your helpful reply.  I have emailed/written to Customs House (re Civil Service} and Somerset House (re the CSR memorial), but had no response, so now I will try the TA ( sorry ... AR!).  Those precise contact details will be most useful - sometimes it's who you know,isn't it?

 

Regards

Phil

 

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MBrockway

Phil,

I should stress that the OCA is still active, even energetic, and I would be very surprised if they do not already have plans afoot for the commemoration.

 

If my Rifles-based leads fail, then you could also try contacting the Royal British Legion for a contact address.

 

The eviction from Davies Street has only recently happened.

Mark

 

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pat

Hello 'Old Phil'

 

my grandfather, Eric Phillips, was in the Civil Service Rifles.  He was seriously wounded by a sniper at Festubert (May 1915) and never had to go back to the front after that.  He was a keen member of the Old Comrades Association and also, after the war, a journalist on The Times.  On 18 May 1938 he wrote an article in The Times signed under his service number 'No. 1181'.  It's heading is 'Passing of the CSR.  London unit's lost identity'.  Evidently this was the end of the CSR and his article is an affectionate reminiscence.  It mentions that they held annual dinners on 17 March, that being the date they first went to France. I'm trying to attach it here.  I hope it works.

 

He is mentioned with a photo in the late Jill Knight's excellent book.  That's because I was in touch with Jill via this forum when she was writing it.

 

I would be quite surprised if you can track down enough relatives and friends of former members to stage an event at the memorial in Somerset House, but if you do, then count me in.

 

P

1181 article on CSR.Pdf

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Old Phil

Pat

 

Thank you for your reply - that's very interesting.  My great-uncle died of wounds at Festubert 1915.  He was a wartime volunteer in C Company - do you know your grandfather's Company?

Your attachment has come out very clearly - many thanks.  Of course the amalgamation of Territorial units has become commonplace in our post-war era, but it must have hit hard to be among the first affected.

What I had in mind for this year was more laying a simple tribute plus drinks/lunch - perhaps 'staging an event' makes it sound a bit too grand!  I notice from the photo in Jill Knight's book that the memorial rededication in 2002 was attended by less than 20 people (including veteran and buglers), so I would expect far fewer than that. 

Do you say in another forum that you are in the Civil Service?  If so, would you have any idea about who to ask about existing plans for wreath laying at Somerset House by the CS?

 

Phil   

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pat

Hi Phil

 

according to info Jill Knight kindly sent, my grandfather was in D company, B platoon.  That is very sad about your gt uncle.  What was his name?

Yes, a small-scale thing and drinks/lunch sound perfect, though I'm not free on 11/11 itself this year as I am singing in a remembrance concert.

Well I was a Civil Servant, but now retired.  I should think the Cabinet Office would be the lead Dept.  If you google 'Civil Service Rifles War memorial' it takes you to a blog on the Govt website.

 

Pat

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SiegeGunner
On 26/08/2018 at 21:18, Old Phil said:

I notice from the photo in Jill Knight's book that the memorial rededication in 2002 was attended by less than 20 people (including veteran and buglers),

 

It's a long time ago, Phil, and I didn't attend the re-dedication myself, but from the photos Jill sent me afterwards, the ceremony was well attended, with chairs set out all around the courtyard at Somerset House.  If you are referring to the photo on page 228 of Jill's book, that shows Walter Humphrys with members of his family and relatives of other CSR men gathered around the Memorial after the ceremony.

 

The attached, from that day, is one of my favourite photos of Jill.  Note also Virginia Bottomley in the middle background.

 

Mick

SoHo 25 Jul 02 011.jpg

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Old Phil

My latest intelligence is that a wreath is organised by Somerset House themselves, not the TA/Reserves or the Civil Service as I first thought.  Members of the public would be welcome, so It would be best to fit in with them, but they have not apparently finalised their arrangements.  Watch this space!

 

Mark - Thank you for your suggestions, I am following all these leads up.

 

Pat - My great-uncle was Pte George Marchant.

 

Mick - Thank you for that info, so hopefully some of those people know what goes on already.  Unfortunately, I never met Jill Knight - her book is a major achievement.

 

Phil

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Old Phil

The KRRC Association inform me that "the CSR are remembered each Thursday before Remembrance Sunday with representation at the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey".  That would mean 8 November this year. 

 

I am still looking for something more focused at Somerset House, but have yet to receive any further information from them. 

 

Phil  

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Old Phil

Civil Service Rifles War Memorial - Remembrance Day Ceremony

 

There will be a small ceremony and wreath laying at this regimental memorial, at Somerset House at the traditional time - 11am on Sunday 11 November.  Brief details are at:  https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/remembrance-sunday . (I don't know if any more information is going to be added).

 

I know that this means many people will already be committed elsewhere, but those with CSR connections might consider this as an alternative to mark the centenary of 1918.  (RSVP would be useful). There has not been the response to plan any alternative event, but I will attend and hope to see some of you there - possibly with some refreshments before and/or after. I am taking the liberty of laying a floral tribute on behalf of 'The Relatives and Friends'.  

 

Best wishes

PL

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MBrockway
9 hours ago, Old Phil said:

Civil Service Rifles War Memorial - Remembrance Day Ceremony

 

There will be a small ceremony and wreath laying at this regimental memorial, at Somerset House at the traditional time - 11am on Sunday 11 November.  Brief details are at:  https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/remembrance-sunday . (I don't know if any more information is going to be added).

 

I know that this means many people will already be committed elsewhere, but those with CSR connections might consider this as an alternative to mark the centenary of 1918.  (RSVP would be useful). There has not been the response to plan any alternative event, but I will attend and hope to see some of you there - possibly with some refreshments before and/or after. I am taking the liberty of laying a floral tribute on behalf of 'The Relatives and Friends'.  

 

Best wishes

PL

 

I'll be at the cenotaph in Liverpool I'm afraid Phil, but I'll be sure to include in the silence thoughts of Somerset House and 'Gasper' Parish commandeering a bus in the Aldwych by flagging it down with his drawn sword!  :lol:

 

We will remember them :poppy:

 

Mark

 

 

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Old Phil

Mark - Thanks for letting me know.  I thought this would be the case for many - but wherever you are, it's the thought that counts!

 

Phil

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Steve Tunnicliffe

This is really helpful info. I have contacted Somerset House but radio silence on what is being planned for Remembrance Sunday. 

 

My great uncle Pt Walter Summerfield is mention on the memorial and perished on 3rd July 1917. My grandfather Sgt George Hoare also served along side my great uncle in the 1/15th Battalion and was wounded in the same incident. It is through this bond that my grandfather met my grandmother (Hilda Summerfield) on paying his respects to the Summerfield family. 

 

I will endeavour to make it to the service but if I am unable to I will certainly pay a visit on another occasion. I am certainly appreciative of PL laying a wreath on behalf of relatives and friends. 

 

Thank you for sharing this valuable info. 

 

Edited by Steve Tunnicliffe

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Old Phil

I am pleased to report that Somerset House organised a very successful Remembrance Service at the CSR memorial on 11 November.  I was told that the wreath laying here is usually a very small affair, but this year they made an extra effort for the centenary of the armistice.  There were over a hundred people plus the Civil Service choir, and I was particularly pleased that the service did focus on the CSR.  I laid one of several tributes and was able to talk to another family of relatives - and there were, hopefully, other relatives there as well.   

 

PL

CSR.jpg

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MAW

Is the scroll of names still within the column?

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MBrockway

Thanks for letting us know Phil - I'm so glad these brave men were suitably commemorated.

 

We will remember them.

:poppy:

 

Mark

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andyfear

So sad to have missed this thread, as only just joined the forum! My Great Uncle was Harry Harris , "D" company, I believe, he was awarded a DCM at Festubert, as one of the surviving bombers on the night of 24th May 1915, would have loved to have been able to honour his four comrades who fell on that night.

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